Togo is the most populated country in
West Africa, with over four million people and about 30 tribal groups; the largest being
the Ewe in the South and the Kabre in the north. Ewe, the largest ethnic group in Togo
migrated from Nigeria to the coast of Togo between the 14th and 16th
century, where they started living in loose village groupings separate from the other
tribes. The other ethnic group Kabre were very cohesive though less influential and had
their stronghold in the surrounding areas of Kara and Sokode.
Togo has a rich and multifaceted culture full of traditional rituals and
practices. The Ewes for example give lot of importance to spiritual life and life after
death and this is the reason why the most important event in cultural terms is the
funeral. They believe that after a person dies, his reincarnated soul or djoto will
return in the next child born in the same lineage while his death soul or luvo may
linger amongst the living.
Half of the population believes in
animism, a tribal sort of spiritualism practised through the worship of souls, 30% are
Christians and the remaining 20% are Muslims.
French is the official language. Mina is widely used in commerce whereas
other African languages spoken in Togo are Ewe, Kabre, Cotocoli and Hausa.
Togolese food habits have been
influenced by the countrys colonial legacy. The Germans left a legacy of beer and
the French the baguette, which is preferred to any other kind of bread. Maize is the
staple diet and is cooked in a variety of ways from eaten off the cob to ground into flour
and mixed with water to make porridge called pātes or akume. Pātes or
porridge is a savoury dish served with 'sauces' - thick stews usually made of
vegetables, like okra and spinach. Sauces are also made with meats, smoked fish, including
fish heads, cow skin and large bush rats, known locally as grasscutters or
Another very well known Togolese dish is fufu. The
preparation of fufu is a community ritual involving endless hours of pounding yams till it
resembles bakers dough, a hard, laborious task done exclusively by women. The noise
the fufu pounders make is one of the most recognisable sounds in Togo. Fufu
is eaten with a variety of meat and vegetable sauces, just the way pates are.
The locals dont eat very often, but when they do, they head for the
inexpensive roadside stalls that sell roasted and boiled maize and corn on the cob,
peanuts, omelettes, brochettes and cooked prawns. The bigger towns have bars, cafes and
restaurants patronised by foreign visitors, businessmen and government officials.
Togos mixed culture and warm
people are the main attractions. They mainly believe in animism where they respect and
worship the soul. This form of spiritualism has lead to a society in which funerals are
important events in the lives of the Togolese people.
The main crafts are wood sculptures, batik work and leatherwork.
Most of the schools in Togo are state
schools, but there are also private schools, run by Christian or Islamic organisations, or
by individuals. Some of the private schools in Lomé have excellent facilities and provide
a first-rate education, keeping in mind the lack of development and years of political
upheaval. The Togolese government has built primary schools all over the country in an
effort to educate the population. The government claims that 70% of children in Togo spend
at least five years in primary education