The Ewe people migrated into the coastal area of from the Niger river from the 11th to the 16th centuries while the Mina and Guin were moving in from Ghana. In the 18th and 19th centuries when the area was a no manís land between the powerful Ashanti Kingdom and Akwami Confederacy in the west and the Kingdom of Dahomey in the east.
The German protectorate of Togoland was established in 1884. The Germans created the port of Lomé and developed the resources of the region until they had to surrender the region after an invasion by French and British forces in 1914. In 1922 the League of Nations granted both nations mandates over respective French and British zones. In 1956, the British territory became part of the Gold Coast and was later incorporated into Ghana.
The French territory became independent in 1960 with the Mina Sylvanus Olympio as president. Olympio was assassinated in January 1963, during a military coup that installed Nicolas Grunitzky as president who ruled until 1967 when the army staged another coup in favour of the chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma who abrogated the constitution and dissolved the legislative body. Eyadéma promulgated a new constitution in December 1979, under which he was almost unanimously elected. Reelected to another seven-year term in December 1986 and in 1993 multiparty elections. In December 1998 he once more won elections whose fairness has been widely questioned.
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It took three hours to cover the hundred km between Ho and Kpalimé because of police roadblocks and slow border formalities. Kpalimé is small enough to visit most of it on foot in a couple of hours. After a couple of beers is at the New Harlem Bar, I walked up the street to the best restaurant in town and had an excellent poulet basquaise with French fries before turning in at the Hôtel Domino shown here.
Here is the New Harlem Bar on the main drag, rue Singa.
And this cross street with the lady selling freshly baked bread leads to the bus station where I took a taxi brousse to Atakpamé the next day.
Atakpamé enjoys the same mild climate as Kpalimé but it is bigger. There is a train station, two big churches, some secondary schools and a busy market.
I stayed at the Peace Corps' "maison de passage" up the hill from this big church. The Peace Corps people were friendly and did not mind answering my questions about their work and living conditions. It was most interesting. They have an extensive collection of paperbacks they will trade with you. I spent a couple of days there doing nothing, reading on the front porch and drinking beer with the kids. Then, I took a taxi brousse for the four hour drive to Lomé
Lomé is a fine big city with a great beach on the Atlantic Ocean. I first stayed at the California Hotel, two minutes on foot from where I took this picture, in a residential western suburb.
Hôtel California's environment was nice but much to quiet so I moved here at the Hôtel du Boulevard where there was more action. Then I did my sightseeing and made appointments to meet my internet contacts.
Victor, a retired high ranking Togolese came over and we had a good conversation on the long term future of Africa, on the utopia concept of a Federation of Ethnics and on the necessary struggle against corruption. The next day his chauffeur picked me up and we continued solving Africa's problems over whiskeys until late at night. There was no way I could have had this contact without the internet!
The three big buildings across the Boulevard Circulaire from my hotel are the headquarters of the Banque Togolaise du Commerce et de l'Industrie (BTCI), of the (CDEAO) and almost hidden behind, of the Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD).
I visited the informatics division of the CDEAO where one of my contacts, Alain Patrick Aina was computer engineer.
This is the Palais des Congrès where the President's party holds its meetings. The National Museum is also here but its entrance is in the back. I had just taken this photo when two uniformed guards rushed out screaming at me that taking pictures was forbidden. I was in trouble and I could see that they were really upset about having their picture taken. I had to convince them that they could not be recognized at that distance to get away without surrendering my camera nor paying a bribe.
My friend Alain with his wife and daughter in front of the house after pleasant lunch (now, they have two daughters!).
Alain brought me to visit the fetish market where the guérisseur Bénoît Guedenon made a gris-gris especially for me after holding my hands and going through the appropriate incantations. When I asked him how much it was, he threw a handful of bones of the dirt floor of his hut, examined them and said that the spirits had decided it would be so much. when I told him that the spirits must have made a mistake and that it couldn't be so high, he did not demur, he threw the bones down again and quoted a much lower price with which I agreed.
I wore the gris-gris for while to show it to my friends and now I keep it at the head of my bed so it can bring me pleasant dreams and keep the evil spirits away.
Lomé's fetish market is quite large with at least two dozen stands like this one where local sorcerers can find all the exotic ingredients they need to concoct portions and elixirs that will cure anything that ails you or for a higher price makes the object of your desires fall in love with you or for a higher price still, wreak a frightful vengeance on anyone who has wronged you.
My next stop was at the Hôtel de l'Oasis, where I took this picture of the lagoon joining the Atlantic in front of Aného, the last town before Benin
It was not a very pretty church but it was the last easily recognizable landmark in Togo so I took a shot of it.