Togo: a Weekend in Lomé

by Piotr Buraczewski January. 12, 2021 240 views

The Togolese Republic or Togo for short is a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Ghana and Benin. At 57,000 (22,000 sq.mi.) it is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Its capital Lomé is situated at the Gulf of Guinea. Despite the population that exceeds 1,8 million people, Lomé is surprisingly laid back, particularly in comparison to Nigerian cities of similar size.

Social life of Lomé centers around its sandy beaches that stretch along the entire coastline of Togo. Do not get deceived by the inviting looks of the sea, though. Common undertow and rip currents are dangerous here and locals will advise you not to go into the water any further than knee-deep.

There are about forty languages spoken in little Togo. French is the official one. The Ewe are one of the most numerous ethnic groups in the country. The word "togo" derives from their language and means "behind the river".

"It is one of saddest countries in the world" - this is the most surprising statement about Togo I found in internet. Who could come up with such an original idea? Smiley and polite people surround you and if you make the effort and learn a couple of words or phrases in Ewe, everyone around will be thrilled.

Perhaps the misconception of general "sadness" of the Togolese is associated with the infamous history of this part of Africa known as the Slave Coast. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century trans-Atlantic slave trade throve here. You may wish to refer to the map at the end of my post to learn more about it.

The coast was also known as a "white man's grave". A lot of Europeans died here of yellow fever, malaria and other diseases. Anyone travelling across West Africa should be aware of health risk even today.

In 1884 Togo became a German protectorate known as Togoland. After the First World War it was transferred to France. Like many African countries, Togo gained independence in 1960.

Nowadays Germany and France are the main economic partners of Togo. The affection to its past reflects not only in the street names of Lomé but also surprising eagerness of the people (in particular the elderly) to practice their German.

Football (soccer) is king in Togo and children play it on dozens of permanent and makeshift pitches all around the place. Every boy wants to be a Messi or a Lewandowski. Although this passion does not translate to major inernational sports achievements, it is great fun and passers-by can always join the game.

After a quiet weekend in Lomé, it is time to head north. Numerous second-hand minibuses imported from Europe ply the roads of Togo. The procedure is very simple: you find a station, ask around for a minibus or collective taxi to your destination, get in the vehicle, wait 30, 60, 120 minutes until other passegers come so it is packed like a tin of sardines and ... of we go on the next adventure.

To be continued... and now the maps:

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There are 12 comments , add yours!
R Kuerbovich 2 months, 3 weeks ago

#7Fantastic portrait! What a smile the man has!

2 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Piotr Buraczewski Replied to R Kuerbovich 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow! How surprising. This was the photograph I wanted to delete from my hard drive. I thought nothing worked there, no action, wrong composition and it was overexposed. How interesting to see at it with the eyes of someone else!

2 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
R Kuerbovich Replied to Piotr Buraczewski 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Do you really wanted to delete it?? Maybe it's a matter of taste, maybe that smile awkes memories of friends and people i met, but i find it the most visually appealling of the set... I agree it's a bit overexposed, but you should not have major issues changing this...

2 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Piotr Buraczewski Replied to R Kuerbovich 2 months, 2 weeks ago

My brother always advises me not to throw away pictures, exactly for the reasons you mentioned in your comments. This is why I find Photoblog even more interesting: judging my pictures myself, I am alwys biased. The others are more objective from my POV. Thanks a lot for your feedback, Rabino.

2 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Rachele Schneekloth 3 months ago

Thank you for sharing and educating! Your travel photos delight me - especially the smiling welcoming faces.

3 months ago Edited
Piotr Buraczewski Replied to Rachele Schneekloth 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Hi Rachele, Thank you so much for your kind words. True, Africa is smiley and welcoming. We could learn so much from the Nigerians, Togolese, Malgache... They do not have much in general, yet they do their best to enjoy every day of their lives. Lack of planning (as Europeans often see this) may not be quite to our taste but living in Africa has taught me to enjoy the moment, here and now. 😁

2 months, 4 weeks ago Edited
Camellia Staab 3 months ago

Just love your posts Piotr, they are such "feel good" posts smile

3 months ago Edited
Piotr Buraczewski Replied to Camellia Staab 3 months ago

Thanks, Camellia. 

Despite all problems people in Africa have, they look happier than the Europeans. They may not know will happen tomorrow but it does not bother than as much as us.

I feel good when others like my pictures and this motivates me to try writing more. I hope it also helps all of us to survive the pandemic. Since my flight back from India in February last year, I have not been outside Europe. Let’s try to make the most of what we can do while being stuck in home office.. 😁

3 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 3 months ago

Love to see your travel pictures

3 months ago Edited
Piotr Buraczewski Replied to Antonio Gil 3 months ago

Thanks a lot, Antonio. i have so many more travel plans, though. Since I came back from Gujarat ten months ago, I have seen the airplane from inside not more than ten, twelve times and only on short haul flights...

3 months ago Edited
Leon Linder 3 months ago

Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

3 months ago Edited
Piotr Buraczewski Replied to Leon Linder 3 months ago

Thank you, Leon. More to come. This blog is the first time share my travel stories with a wider audience. I am really happy if people like them.

I do hope the pandemic will let go in the foreseeable future and we can all travel again, around Europe and beyond.

3 months ago Edited