Located in West Africa, Togo is an interesting country with unique traditions and cultures. Even though they had a complicated political situation for almost half of the 20th century, they have overcome these circumstances and enjoy a stable condition today. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the country!
1. Togo and its surrounding regions were known as “the slave coast” between the 16th and the 8th century because Europeans would come to the region in search of slaves. However, slavery was finally abolished in Togo in the 19th century.
2. Traditional Togolese houses are beautifully constructed by hand from mud, with thatched roofs. They come in all shapes and sizes and can look like miniature castles!
3. Voodoo is the oldest traditional form of African religion in West Africa, to which Togo and Benin are its heartlands. So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a Voodoo market. There are many of them, and they are well visited.
4. Togolese business people inflate prices so as to make handsome profits. So if you are in the country, always bargain for the price and see for yourself how low you can buy the item for. The buyers should offer about half of the price the vendor has given them.
5. Food is not served in ceremonial functions except when carrying out animist rituals when animals are sacrificed, cooked and served. However, beer and gin are essential. The French three or four meal course is served to the wealthy middle-class Togolese during functions.
6. African tradition places a great emphasis on the respect for elders. If you’re in Togo and someone older than you is carrying heavy stuff, as a sign of respect, you should take it from them immediately. Don’t leave them carrying it.
7. Sylvano Olympius became Togo’s first President to have been democratically-elected. However, he was overthrown in 1963 and was then shot and killed by Sargent Etienne Eyadema. This occurred while he was attempting to scale the walls of the United States Embassy to seek asylum.
8. Grunitzky was the second president of Togo and its third head of state. Two days after Olympio was assassinated, Grunitzky came back to Togo to head the government as prime minister. He served for thirty-eight years, after being the longest dictator to hold occupation in Africa, at the time of his death.
How to reach?
Fly to Lomé–Tokoin International Airport in Togo, with the services offered by Air India, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, and Vistara. The scheduled flights will stop at either of the layover airports such as New Delhi, Addis Ababa, and Mumbai, as there are no direct flights to Togo.
Mount Agou: This mountain is located near the Ghana border and is the highest point in Togo. It’s forested all the way up with cocoa and coffee plantations, all connected by a rough dirt road. It’s a good spot for hiking and has awesome views of the surrounding countryside.
Kpalime: Kpalime is the closest town to Mount Agou which is peppered with German colonial relics and the occasional European-style churches, it’s famed for its backcountry and bazaars. This hill country offers a range of hiking opportunities which offers a rewarding view of the spectacular scenery. Just northwest of the town is Missahohe Forest, which is known for its butterflies.
Fazao Malfakassa National Park: Make sure you visit Fazao Malfakassa National Park, which is the biggest national park in Togo well-known for its riparian woodlands and dense forests, as well as being the home to the extremely rare forest elephant.
Koutammakou: Hailed as the ‘Land of the Batammariba’ by the UNESCO organisation that gave it that coveted World Heritage Site status back in 2004, the Koutammakou of northern Togo is a region of rustic villages built from mud walls and thatched roofs. Visit this place if you want to know more about the traditions of the tribal folk who fled here to avoid capture during the years of the Slave Coast, but also breath-taking vistas of mountain-topped horizons and lush greenery.