Thursday 25 April 2013

G Adventures West Africa. Day 15: Togo

pics: drummer greets our ship in Lome, the king and queen, village girl at
Akako Viepe, shriveled baboon heads at the fetish market

Day 15: Togo

The prospect of visiting Togo always held some trepidation if for the only
reason that here we were going to see a step-up in the voodoo stakes and our
tour kicked off at the deep end – the famous Akodessewa fetish (voodoo)
market in Lome, our port of arrival. Part of the once notorious 'slave
coast' Togo became a model German colony until 1914, after which it
developed into a Francophone nation comprising several dominant ethnic
groups, all of whom still cling to superstition, animalism and voodoun (aka
voodoo). Not all of our contingent could stomach the display of desiccated
wildlife laid out for display. It seems an entire zoological catalogue was
laid out for us in a grisly array on makeshift trestles and on the ground of
the dusty courtyard about the size of a large basketball court.

We were immediately set upon by hucksters of all ages eager to make a meal
from the goggle-eyed tourists. The few of us buying the macabre little
trinkets snapped up tiny nail-riddled tourist dolls and talismen for all
kinds of ailments, woes and protection. A few, including myself, even
ventured to the rear stalls for the "good stuff" and readings by oracles.
With the valuable assistance of our resident ethno-historian, David Conrad,
I left with a genuine, blood-stained sacrificial item from one of the
darkened and decidedly spooky back booths. Just exactly what it does, we're
not sure yet!

The afternoon was spent at the traditional village of Akako Viepe where,
again, we were treated to raucous and vibrant song and dance. All this was
in preparation for a meeting with the paramount chief and his court of
officials – quite a novelty and an event that will last in our memories fo
some time. Entertained by the residents and bewitched by the gorgeous kids,
we were feted like a regal delegation before a presentation of school
materials was made by our team at the feet of the chief. The little
mud-brock and tin huts formed the basic dwellings of this traditional
community who showed us such warmth and welcome. Song and dance continued
for an hour or more before the 'king' bade us farewell

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