Facts About Togo's Culture, Geography, and History
Togo is a West African country appearing on the map as a thin strip of land etched between Benin to the East and Ghana to the West. Burkina Faso caps its northern end while the Atlantic Ocean opens up its southern end. We have compiled these 12 interesting facts about Togo to help you get a glimpse into this former ‘slave’s coast’:
12. In 1956, British Togoland joined what the following year was to become the independent state of Ghana, the former Gold Coast. The remainder became independent Togo in 1960.
Togo was originally colonized by Germans who were defeated during the First World War by British and French forces. As a benefit of the spoils of war, Togo was split into two whereby British occupied English-speaking Western Togo while French occupied French-speaking Eastern Togo. Since Ghana was an English-speaking country, Western Togo drew closer to Ghana and the trappings of early independence made Western Togo join Ghana. French-speaking Eastern Togo remained autonomous and later gained independence some three years later.
11. Togo is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that provides good growing seasons. Togo is one of the smallest countries in all of Africa.
Despite its small size, Togo has a rich agricultural land where both cash crops and subsistence crops are grown. The main cash crops are coffee and cocoa. The most popular subsistence crops are yams and cassava. Yams are used to make fufu - the famous traditional West African delicacy.
10. Lomé Grand Market is a large market place in the city of Lomé, the capital of Togo. Located near Lomé Cathedral near the city centre, the market often has live African music by local performers.
Lome Grand Marketing is a busy market with throbbing entrepreneurial spirit and colorful cultural display of the Togolese people. It is a place where you can get everything you want for your everyday life – from food to clothing, from voodoo fetishes to souvenirs, from local to international products. Here you get to experience a great feel of the Togolese people going about their daily lives. You also get a chance to be entertained with African music and artistic performances. Your trip to Lome cannot be complete without visiting Lome Grand market. Get astonished by the voodoo fetishes, entertained by the throbbing African drums and cap your memory with African souvenir.
9. Koutammouko, the Land of the Batammariba is a cultural landscape designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Togo.
Koutammouko is a traditional settlement found in North-Eastern Togo and extends into Benin. It is famous for its ancestral mud-built tower houses traditionally referred to as ‘takienta’. You cannot claim to have experienced Togo if you have not visited and had some good moments in a takienta. Get to Koutammouko to experience ancestral African way of life.
8. Togo is the world’s 4th largest producer of phosphate.
Despite being a top producer of Phosphate and other minerals, Togo still lags behind economically. It is one of the least developed countries in the world. Resource management is a key challenge, which cries for experts to come and offer help. You could be that candle in the dark that lights up a glimmer of hope by enlightening and sensitizing Togolese people of the abundance within their reach that they can utilize to end biting poverty.
7. The green stripes in Togo’s flag symbolize hope and agriculture.
Green is traditionally the color of vegetation. Most countries that have the green color on their flag, it symbolizes nature, fertility, nativity, vegetation, among others. Togo's green stripe adds hope to this. Besides the green stripes, there are also yellow stripes, which symbolize Togo’s rich mineral wealth. There are five stripes in total each representing one of Togo's five main regions. There is also a red square with a whit start in the middle. The red color symbolizes bloodshed in the independence struggle as a symbol of patriotism. The white star symbolizes peace and prosperity.
6. Togo has a Voodoo Market and many other colorful markets.
Traditional African religions account for over half of the religious population in Togo. Voodoo is the oldest traditional form of African religion in West Africa, to which Togo and Benin are its heartlands. Visiting Voodoo market and joining Voodoo traditional festivals is one of the best ways to experience Africa’s ancestral spirit in the West of Africa.
5. Togo greetings include a handshake and verbal “Hello” in French (Bonjour), Ewe (Woezo-lo!), Kabiye (Alafia-we) or another tribal language.
Greetings are important in African tradition. They are not only used for an introduction but also bonding, expressing best wishes and blessings. Get a grasp of some few greeting words from Togo and you will be highly welcomed as you greet locals in their own dialect. Greetings are a way of opening up people’s hearts. It is the best way to strike a new relationship with locals.
4. If you're in Togo and someone older than you is carrying heavy stuff, as a sign of respect, you should take it from them immediately. Don't leave them carrying it.
African tradition places a great emphasis on respect for elders. The elders are the source of wisdom and blessings. Tradition expects the younger generation to appreciate the elders' role in bringing them up by relieving them of heavy burden in their old age. Taking up heavy stuff, standing up for the elderly to have a sit, bowing your head while greeting the elderly, and serving them food are some of the ways to show this appreciation and respect. It is a common belief that those who treat their elders well receive blessings, wisdom, and happiness from them. They also receive constant guardianship from ancestral spirits.
3. Fufu is a traditional food item of Togo is made from yam.
Fufu is a traditional food delicacy in Togo and some other West African countries. It is easy to make. You just boil yams and cassava the normal way. Once ready and drained, pound it until it forms a soft paste. Mold the paste into roundish mountain mass on a dish. Serve it with your favorite soup.
2. Togo culture is highlighted by its prominent festivals, out of which Evala is the traditional fighting festival that lasts for ten days at a stretch.
Almost all traditional African societies performed ‘coming of age’ ceremonies. Evala is one of these traditional ceremonies performed by the Kabya people in Northern Togo. It is a two-week long ceremony performed in the first half of July each year. The main activity is wrestling. Youths aged about 18 years old participate in Evala as a ritualistic form of transition into adulthood. Wrestling symbolizes readiness to take up challenges of adulthood such as defending your community against enemies. Evala is an event that attracts dignitaries, diplomats, and tourists from around the world to witness this spectacular initiation festival. The president hardly misses this event. You can be part of this festivity while on your visit to Togo. It is a very enjoyable ceremony.
1. Worn-out tires in Togo are recycled into sandals, toys or fuel for smoking meat.
Sandals made from worn-out tires are known to be extremely durable. They are also almost impenetrable by thorns. This makes them loved by desert communities and those in areas with thorny vegetation. Toys can also be made from worn-out tires. However, the most controversial usage is that of singeing meat by using fire from worn-out tires. This has become a common practice in Togo, Nigeria, and Ghana, among other West-African countries. Under heat, tires emit toxic and carcinogenic compounds that can cause serious health hazards. Thus, while on a tour in Togo, it is important to be cautious about eating roast meat without knowledge of how it has been roasted.
Togo is a tiny country but with a culture much bigger than its size. Togo has more to offer the world than you can ever imagine. Stepping onto the land of the Togolese people can be an eye-opener to a fascinatingly unique dimension of Africa.
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