Village Life in Benin and Togo

Along with learning how the people of West Africa celebrate their religion, I’ve been able to see other aspects including how they live and work. Both the Republic of Benin and the Togolese Republic have outrageously high unemployment rates especially the bush people who live in the countrysides and account for more than half of the populations of these countries. They make a living and live the way their parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on before them, off the land and the lakes.

Traveling through these countries by bus allowed us to make stops along the way to see and experience everyday life in action.

We visited a voodoo priest, his family and shrine in Benin along with a powerful voodoo fetish, on the road to Djougou, where sacrifices are performed to seek the favor of the gods. We also visited the old Taneka Village in the Taneka mountains of Benin around the Dassa area that are made up of round houses with a cone-shaped roof protected at the top by a terracotta pot along with a village where the community was working together to build a mud brick home in Togo. And, we visited the two villages of the Batammariba people who straddle the border between Benin and Togo. The little fortresses in the village look like miniature castles made of thick walls built using the red clay/mud of the earth, branches and straw. These mud castle-like huts were capable of shielding an entire family and their livestock from invaders.

Here’s more about the different kinds of village life in Benin and Togo.

Village of Gagaitocondji in Togo

The voodoo priest, Yaovi, allows us to peer into his shrine where he is in contact with the spirits and also helps his people in the Gagaitocondji village in Togo. (Jan. 9, 2019)
Visiting a Togo village with a voodoo priest who welcomed us to the village of Gagaitocondji. (Jan. 9, 2019)
The Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
The Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
The Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
The people of the Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
The people of the Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
A sacrificial voodoo shrine in the Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
A young boy getting water from the well in the Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)
A young boy getting water from the well in the Togo village of Gagaitocondji. (Nov. 9, 2019)

The Dancoli fetish in Benin

The Dancoli festish in Benin is considered the most powerful fetish in Benin where sacrifices are performed to ask for the favor of the gods. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Dancoli festish in Benin is considered the most powerful fetish in Benin where sacrifices are performed to ask for the favor of the gods. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Dancoli festish in Benin is considered the most powerful fetish in Benin where sacrifices are performed to ask for the favor of the gods. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Dancoli festish in Benin is considered the most powerful fetish in Benin where sacrifices are performed to ask for the favor of the gods. (Jan. 12, 2019)

 

The Dancoli festish in Benin is considered the most powerful fetish in Benin where sacrifices are performed to ask for the favor of the gods. (Jan. 12, 2019)

Village of Taneka in Benin

It was an uphill dry and dusty road to the Taneka village, located in Benin along the Atakora mountains, home to the Taneka people, a group of ethnic minorities. The air in the Northern part of Benin is dry and so is the land which makes the red clay dirt go everywhere. (Jan. 12, 2019)
As we enter the Taneka village, located in Benin along the Atakora mountains, home to the ethnic Taneka minorities, we are greeted by one of the villagers. The people of the village are farmers who must work away from the village because the land is too dry to grow crops, except for yams. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Taneka Village is located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. The huts or houses are round made of the earth’s clays and the roof is made of straw that’s protected by a clay jar on top. Many of the homes seem uninhabited supposedly due to the people, who are farmers, moving out into the fields. The huts also get rebuilt during dry season ceremonies. (Jan. 12, 2019)
Our guide, Amadee with TransAfrica, explained that this beautiful, old and entangled Baba tree is sacred to the Taneka people of the Taneka Village located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. (Jan. 12, 2019)
Me at the Taneka village located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. The mosque, like many throughout the various villages, are numerous lay built to convert the people yet many, like this one, are left abandoned. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Taneka village located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Taneka village located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The Taneka village located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. (Jan. 12, 2019)
A young Taneka woman lighting the fire to the outside stove of her home in the village of Taneka located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The ethnic people of the Taneka Village, located in Benin along the Atakora mountains, are from varying religious and cultural backgrounds but they live and work together. (Jan. 12, 2019)
A woman in the village of Taneka located in Benin, along the Atakora mountains, brewing dinner in a huge kettle. (Jan. 12, 2019)
Elders of the Taneka village located in Benin along the Atakora mountains. (Jan. 12, 2019)
The King is the leader of the Taneka Village in Benin and he welcomed us here into the village at this gathering area. The painted picture on the wall was done by one of the king’s sons when he was young. It’s a young boy’s version of what he thought a white person would look like. On the floor are locally made crafts for sale as souvenirs. (Jan. 12, 2019)
A close-up of the King of the Taneka village in Benin. The King, who is 57 years old, has been the King for the past 15 years. He has two wives and his 11 children who range in ages from 25 to 35 years old and welcomed us into the village. (Jan. 12, 2019)
These mounds are yams being grown in a field along a dirt road leading to the Taneka Village in Benin. (Jan. 12, 2019)

The Tata Village of the Batammariba people in Benin

The fortified Tata castles of the Somba people in Benin’s Tata Village. The Batammariba people are skilled builders who live on the border of Benin and Togo. This is in Benin and the Batammariba people in Benin are called Somba and the buildings of this Tata Village, located deep into the woods, are called Tata or Tata-Somba. (Jan. 13, 2019)
The Batammariba people, known as Somba, in Benin. (Jan. 13, 2019)
A Somba woman welcoming us into her fortified Tata-Somba castle in Benin. The Batammariba people are known as Somba, in Benin while in Togo they are known as Tamberma. (Jan. 13, 2019)
A sacrificial alter outside a fortified Tata-Somba castle in Benin. (Jan. 13, 2019)
The Somba woman’s home, in Benin’s Tata Village, has two levels. The below level, with a small fire pit in one end, was a little too dark to take photos, but this is the ladder leading to the upper floor where the family cooks, dries their harvests and sleeps. (Jan. 13, 2019)
The Tata Village woman in Benin climbing up her wooden, notched ladder to look into the granary on the upper floor of her Tata home. (Jan. 13, 2019)
Standing on the upper level of the castle fortress in the Tata Village of Benin overlooking the village’s fortified castles. (Jan. 13, 2019)
Grains drying on the roof of the Somba woman’s Tata-Somba castle in Benin’s Tata Village. (Jan. 13, 2019)
Our guide, Amedee with TransAfrica, and the Somba people of Benin’s Tata Village. The fortified houses of this Tata Village have been declared a World Heritage by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations based in Paris). (Jan. 13, 2019)
A young woman and baby emerging from the residential portion of the Tata upper level portion of the castle at Benin’s Tata Village. (Jan. 13, 2019)
The Batammariba people, known as Somba, in Benin. (Jan. 13, 2019)
Our guide, Amadee, enjoying some song and dance with the Batammariba people, known as Somba, in Benin. (Jan. 13, 2019)

The Tata Village of the Batammariba people in Togo

After leaving the Republic of Benin and crossing the border into the Togolese Republic, we came across these clay huts of the Batammariba, who are known as the Tamberma in Togo and the houses are called Tekyete. The netted area is used to dry plants. While in Benin, we met other Batammariba people, but they were called the Somba whose very similar homes are called Tata. (Jan. 13 2019)
The deities in front of the Tekyete home in the Tamberma Village in Togo. (Jan. 13, 2019)
Tour members entering the front of the Tekyete home in the Tamberma Village in Togo. (Jan. 13, 2019)
This is inside the lower level of the Tekyete in the Tamberma Village in Togo, that leads to the upper level. (Jan. 13, 2019)
The small Tamberma Village people, just within the border of Togo from Benin, with their Tekyete in the distance. The people here cultivate cotton. (Jan. 13, 2019)

The Fire Dancers in Sokodé, Togo

This was an excruciating experience for me to watch men eating fire and placing fire branches along their bodies without injuring themselves. (Jan. 13, 2019)
This was an excruciating experience for me to watch men eating fire and placing fire branches along their bodies without injuring themselves. (Jan. 13, 2019)
This was an excruciating experience for me to watch men eating fire and placing fire branches along their bodies without injuring themselves. (Jan. 13, 2019)
This was an excruciating experience for me to watch men eating fire and placing fire branches along their bodies without injuring themselves. (Jan. 13, 2019)
This was an excruciating experience for me to watch men eating fire and placing fire branches along their bodies without injuring themselves. (Jan. 13, 2019)
This was an excruciating experience for me to watch men eating fire and placing fire branches along their bodies without injuring themselves. (Jan. 13, 2019)

The Babade School in Togo

The Babade School in Sotouboua, Togo, with six teachers and 148 students from ages five to 12. We stopped at the school while traveling from Sokode, Togo to Kpalime, Togo, for the night. (Jan. 14, 2019)
The Babade School in Sotouboua, Togo with six teachers and 148 students from ages five to 12. (Jan. 14, 2019)
The Babade School in Sotouboua, Togo with six teachers and 148 students from ages five to 12. (Jan. 14, 2019)
The Babade School in Sotouboua, Togo with six teachers and 148 students from ages five to 12. (Jan. 14, 2019)

Village of Garongee in Togo, home to the Losso people

When we left the The Babade School in Sotouboua, Togo, while traveling to Kpalime, Togo, our destination for the evening, we stopped at this small village, Garongee, where the community of the Losso people were working together to make bricks to build a home for a member of the community. (Jan. 14, 2019)
When we left the The Babade School in Sotouboua, Togo, while traveling to Kpalime, Togo, our destination for the evening, we stopped at the Garongee village of the Losso people where the community was working together to make bricks to build a home for a member of the community. (Jan. 14, 2019)
Mud bricks made by the Garongee village of the Losso people in southern Togo. (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Losso people in the village of Garongee in southern Togo. (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Losso people in the village of Garongee in southern Togo. (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Losso people in the village of Garongee in southern Togo including the roasting of rats.  (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Losso people in the village of Garongee in southern Togo. (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Losso people in the village of Garongee in southern Togo including cutting up a roasted pig. (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Losso people in the village of Garongee in southern Togo. The loofah trees that produce the loofah sponges. (Jan. 14, 2019)
A look inside the everyday life of the Garongee village in southern Togo. Amadee, our guide, peeling the skin off of a loofah sponge from the surrounding village loofah trees. (Jan. 14, 2019)
An adorable young boy, just being curious as we take a look inside the everyday life of the Garongee village in southern Togo. (Jan. 14, 2019)

Back in Ghana and stopping for lunch

Our tour bus with our luggage on top of the bus. Michael, our driver, got us from place to place in good order in this business. Here we are, back in Ghana and stopping for lunch, after spending close to three hours to cross the Togo border into Ghana. (Jan. 15, 2019)
While traveling through Benin and Togo, we had a cook, Mensah, who traveled with us and prepared our lunches. We would have breakfast at the hotel and a dinner buffet at the hotels we stayed at in the evening. Today, we crossed the border from Togo to Ghana, which took three hours to do so. As we have done everyday since leaving Ghana in the beginning of the tour, we stop at a local restaurant and Mensah, with the green towel draped over his shoulder, prepares our lunch. (Jan. 15, 2019)
Our cook, Mensah would prepare a number of items for us to choose from for lunch. (Jan. 15, 2019)
My lunch plate with usually a bottle of Sprite. (Jan. 15, 2019)