As I type, we are still sitting out in the Lome harbour taking on fuel. We were supposed to depart at 7:00 pm Sunday evening, but it is now almost 2:00 am, and we are still here. It is actually 1:00 am, but we lost another hour tonight. We have been losing one hour per day almost all the way across the Atlantic. It does eliminate jet lag though.
Togo is a small, West African country bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east, and Burkina Faso to the north. It is a very narrow strip of land beginning at the Atlantic or Gulf of Guinea. In the late 1880s, it was a German colony and after the second world war and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the colony was divided between France and Great Britain. In 1956, British Togoland became Ghana and French Togoland became Togo and gained its independence in 1967. The population is around seven million and the official language is French although many people speak German and English. Ewe & Kabye are the two main national languages. The children learn both French and English in school and school is free for children up to grade 8. The main religions are Christians and Muslims, but most Togolese practice Animism which is the beliefs that link man, the forces of nature and the occult.
My excursion here today was a Voodoo Ceremony in Sanguera. It was billed as “A true ceremony and not a show”. We were greeted by the chief priest and a band of drummers and dancers. Some dancers seem to dance until they were in a trance and fall down. There were male and female dancers. I am not sure how authentic it was, but it was very interesting. Although I was sure it was to be something different using fetishes and such. There is a huge fetish market in Lome for voodoo practitioners. A gruesome place known around the world with rows of animal parts and plants. Apparently it is pretty stinky also with all those rotting claws and heads and tails.
The trip to and from the village was also very interesting It seems like a very poor country with many shacks and half-finished buildings and lots of garbage all over the place. It was wonderful to see the women swaying along the side of the road with all manner of goods – from fruit to bread to huge baskets and containers – balanced on their heads. There were lots of babies. And it seems the “family car” is a motor scooter. I often saw a baby either seated in front of the driver or between the two passengers. These scooters also transported goods like long 2 x 4s, and mattresses and bags of who knows what. But to a person, there was always a big smile and a wave of the hand.
Sidebar: Apparently the fueling barge was five hours late coming to give us fuel last night and so we did not get away from Lome until 5 am this morning(Monday). We are now in Cotonou, Benin and getting ready for our tours that were supposed to leave early this morning. I am having trouble uploading pbotos onto my WordPress site and will post more later. Maybe the chief priest put a spell on my camera so my photos won’t cooperate!!
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