Where is Andy Graham? January 20-30, 2013
Traveling North in Togo West Africa 2013
I leave Monday for Atakpame, Togo; this is about 3-4 hours north of Lome, Togo. I will hang out, eat Lait Caille at a local cafeteria, explore the market and see how the city has changed in the last couple of years.
Then, I will proceed up to Kara, Togo to stay for a week, I truly never know how long, so this is a guess.
View Andy Graham 2013 West Africa Trip in a larger map
I have been studying the map, trying to understand the Togo, Benin border crossing. I decided to search for most indigenous, tribal type cultures as I move away from Lome towards into Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon.
Most of the cultures of Africa are tribal in language, and they normally have a chief, but they do not dress tribal. I suppose a little, but it not easy to tell an Ashanti from Ewe, Kotokoli, or Tem, all is rather a mess to understand.
Two tribes may speak the same language, but be from different tribes, maybe you can say; they have allegiance to a specific Chief, or Chef in French. You ask them what they are, they will say the language, and not the tribe, and this is the messy part.
I will know I am getting closer to tribal area, if I am lucky, and choose the correct city when western clothing is less, they speak less French, and maybe they take on some interesting clothing, or scarafice, or tattoos.
When reading about Tribes, I read with great skepticism, it takes many days, if not weeks to understand the race, tribe, language, and percentages in any one village. Migrations are rampant now in Togo, and the tribal systems are breaking to pieces. I am not even sure if the Chief gets involved often, I think he just take the money and stays out of things.
You will hear comments, like the Chief decided this, but generally it is difficult to find the chief, unless you go find him. I know where the Chief lives in the Kodjoviakope neighborhood of Lome, Togo, but the house looks like a rich house. I think they play a big role in funerals, and violent feuds.
I learned while at Breu, Peru looking for uncontacted tribes that the most remote tribes are upriver and up the mountain. If I follow a river upstream, I can find remote peoples.
Roads are misleading, so if I could find the start of a river, up in the hills, with one road leading to the village, this would generally be remote.
One way into the village means nobody enters by accident, if the village along the path, more or less a dead end.
I am going to use my knowledge of tribes, and hunt down more remote people this time in Africa.
I have a google alert something like “Ghana Tribe” and “Togo Tribe” and “Nigeria Tribe.” I look at the results, then switch to images, and see if photos exist.
I am annoyed by Tumblr, and Flickr, and other photos storage sites, the users steal photos and compile mixed up collages of crapola, nothing was taken by the person, and he or she collected. The information on the Internet is never to be trusted; people collect photos, information, and data and show in plausible ways. It is hard to imagine, wanting to collect information about an area of the planet where they have no idea what they are talking about, never went there, and truly should be stating that up front, but the Internet enables liars to thrive.
They will have West African photos mixed in with East Africa, and always grabbing some tribes in Ethiopia that are topless, or at least pose for photos.
I have never met any culture that in mass did not wear tops, there is always an old Mama walking around, there is one down the street here in Kodjoviakope who walks around topless.
Trust me, there is nothing intriguing, or wonderful about see old women with sagging breast to their waist walking around.
Most lack of clothing is walking to the shower, or walking to around the house, it is not done. Although there are many truly crazy people, walking around nuts, with no clothing.
Generally the heat makes people take off their clothing, a shower, or some form of tribal ceremony, that only happens one time per year.
Well, I will go north to Atakpame, stay a few days, then work my way to Kara, then see what type of people live in the border area between Togo and Benin as I enter the country of Benin.
I will look for the dead end road, dead end rivers, place there is no reason to go, only as a destination run.
I will stop eating the sugar coated peanuts, not the food to eat prior to "Cinq Place" taxi rides...
I will be snagging one of these "Cinq Place" cars. 5 seaters, but they try to put in 7, truly a misnomer. This is an excellent way to travel, with a big IF.
If you can tell the Motorcycle Taxi to take you to Atakpame, "Cinq Place."
If you do not allow them to treat you like a cow, and give you a bad deal.
If you buy the front two places, so you can have a nice trip.
If nobody in the car has excess body odor, in West Africa this is almost never a problem, in East Africa it is SOP.
Sometimes, when I am truly up to longer Moto trips to the edge of Lome, I go beyond the Fwee, not sure how to spell it, but there is a pay-a-toll stop for cars leaving the city of Lome. If you can get beyond that point, where the police cannot see you, you can hitch a ride with regular cars, pay them the same fare, about 3000-5000 CFA to go to Atakpame, (I cannot remember.) and you ride without stopping, sometimes in Mercedes, or even Air Conditioned cars, but normally about the same as above.
Note - Less than 5 percent of foreigners use these cars, Africa is safer than Central, South America or Southeast Asia, and the 95 percent of travelers have cars. It is sort of like the Motorcyle drivers in India, I personally do not think the Whites like riding up close and friendly with blacks, sort of I will come look at you, sleep with you, but not share my home or car with you.
You truly have to remove this myth from your head that Africa is dangerous, but then again, your friend's daughter is having sex with a dread guy, and got robbed, cheated, and she spent all her money on him, go figure it out!
The abilty to drive cars tells everything, yes, they pay bribes, but they do not get robbed the same as the "Americas."
Note - I am not going to Kpalime as is my custom, because everyone here in Lome says it has been invaded by the Dread Drummer Dicks preying on the Peace Corp naive girls who train close to there. (The end of Kpalime.)
Andy Graham Togo, West Africa 2013