14 April 2013

Togo is one of African's smallest countries and ― like many countries on this continent ― it seems to have little rationale aside from arbitrary borders drawn by European powers during the days of colonial empires.

Soon after independence from France in 1960, Togo was cursed with what became Africa's longest-running dictatorship lasting almost four decades, although some progress has been made since his death in 2005.

On trips outside the cities, we had a chance to see some villages that, while expecting us, did not seem to be on a regular tourist circuit and were not yet jaded toward visitors.

Wonderful welcoming committee at this Ewe village (northwest of Lomé).
School kids singing at the Ewe village; older women watching their daughters dancing.
Of the many traditional singing and dancing groups we've enjoyed over the past three weeks, this group in Kpalime in the highlands of Togo near Mount Agou was definitely the best. 
Really cool to sometimes be on
the opposite side of the camera!
A change from my usual shots of kids with broad smiles are these more pensive ones.
Left: A surprisingly boring voodoo ceremony at a small village.
Right: Part of a large "fetish market" with animal remains for use in voodoo potions and magical concoctions.
Bustling central market in Lomé (the capital of Togo)
Left: Togo's impressive monument to freedom and independence.
Sadly, it was erected just before the start of the long-running dictatorship.
Right: The dramatic German cathedral towering ― in an odd cultural
juxtaposition ― over the busy streets of Lomé's central market.

Togo photos are also featured in this photoshow from my 2005 trip to west Africa: