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Togo, Home of the Fire Dancers

Togo is the French-speaking nation right on the Gulf of Guinea, nestled between Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso.

The country’s name, Togo, originates from the Ewe language, which means “house of the sea.”

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the Europeans scouted the region for enslaved people, which earned the country “the slave coast.”

The voodoo religion is still a big part of the culture and traditions of the Togolese people, and Fetish markets and traditional remedies can be found in Lomé, the country’s capital.

The country is known for its palm-lined villages, mountains, and plateaus. In fact, some Togolese towns are built on Hilltops.

Port of Lome
Port of Lome

Togolese People

Agriculture is a way of life in Togo, and the majority of Togolese people grow their food.

A little over 60% of the Togolese labor force works in agriculture – mainly in cocoa, cotton, and coffee, enabling this industry to generate approximately 40% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Cotton is the most important cash crop. Togo’s cotton is produced by largely small-scale farmer, usually with two hectares of land.

Here are some of the fascinating cultural nuances in Togo.

1. Music in Togo

An essential part of Togolese culture is traditional music and dance.

Values, teachable real-life experience, history, and folklore are passed down from generation to generation through music.

The music is fierce and dominated by drums. It stems from ancient initiation rites that celebrate bravery, purity, strength, and honor.

Types of Togolese drums include the aziboloe, amedjeame, and adamdom. And the music also involves other instruments like the gong (“gàkongoé”), the flute (“olikpo”), and the horn (“dégândrê”).

Often the music is accompanied by dancing, which could be spiritual. An example of that is the fire dance that requires participants to hold burning embers of a fire and pass them over their bare skin, but no visible damage or pain is done to their bodies despite the fire.

Dance of Fire in Togo
Dance of Fire in Togo

2. Cuisine in Togo

The Togo cuisine bears the mark of French, German, and West African influences.

Staple foods include rice, maize, millet, beans, cassava, plantains, and yams.

The Togolese grilled chicken is a delicious West African dish, flavored with garlic, onions, ginger, and lemon.

Another everyday staple in Togo is fufu, made from cassava or yam and pounded until it forms a smooth, sticky dough. Fufu is served with soup.

For dessert, Togolese baked bananas are a winner. Banana is baked in the peels and then split open to be garnished with brown sugar, cream, peanuts, and lime juice.

A popular drink in Togo is Bissap Juice brewed from hibiscus leaves with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, depending on the recipe.

Togolese baked banana
Togolese baked banana`

Agriculture in Togo

Subsistence Agriculture contributes to the growth of Togo’s economy. While other African countries rely on their natural resources, Togo has utilized cash crops like cotton and cocoa.

With the world rapidly becoming a global village and the technological advancement provided, Agriculture can take Togo to the next level with these cash crops and maximize production.

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