Togo is truly
representative of the heart of emerging Africa - actually
representative of the part just beginning to emerge. The Portugese
were the first Europeans here in the 1400s when they occupied West
Africa. Germany took over in the late 1800s forming the protectorate
of Togoland which was then taken over and shared by both Britain and
France. The British portion then merged with the Gold Coast while
the French possession formed its own entity which eventually became
an independent country in 1960. French is the official language. The
politics is unstable and corrupt meaning there is virtually no
infrastructure or visible modern progress as we think of acceptable
living standards and conveniences. The people are predominately
agricultural and self sufficient - living off the land.
However, one of the guiding factors in Togolese life is the religious influences of voodoo - about a quarter of the population are Muslim and a quarter Christian and the remaining half are animists (mists not animators). It is here (and in Benin) that Haitian and Louisianan voodoo originated. It is important to realize that the animistic or voodoo culture deeply infiltrates and affects both the Christian and Muslim sects within the country, and most Togolese still cling to some aspects of the voodoo lifestyle despite their belief in Islam or Christianity.
When our ship arrived in various ports, it was not uncommon to have
a reception for us upon our arrival at the dock.
It can be as impressive as a fireboat(s) escort into the harbor (Semester at Sea often is honored with these) or as simple as a bagpipe band playing on the pier, or a hula performance ending with a nice lei for each of the passengers on the dock.
Here in Togo, the indigenous tribes, especially the Ewe, are known for their ritualistic dances and colorful costumes.
The presentation organized for our arrival was one of the more lively and colorful of any I have experienced anywhere.