Togo: Markets, ordinary and…not so ordinary

 

With its central location, deep-water port and long trading traditions, Togo is a major trading hub for West Africa.

Lome’s Grand Marche is the region’s main trading hub where people trade every kind of product. People from Benin sell ready to wear, the Lebanese specialize in alcohol and spirits and the Togolese focus on traditional cloths. These traditional cloths, worn by all women, are vital in West African society and people come from all over the region to purchase them here. They serve as status markers and are the main component of a dowry, with the top quality ones selling for hundreds of Euros.

The big cloth traders, ladies known as “Nana Benz” (litterally “Grandmother Benz (from the cars they like to drive)”) are powerful figures in Togo. Wealthy figures with strong personalities, they bankroll many a political campaign and have both economic and social influence.

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Church built by Colonizers No.1 (the Germans) in 1892…in the background

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As interesting, if a little more spine chilling, is the FETISH MARKET, Africa’s largest. This is where the Voodoo medicine men and “fetish masters” officiate and create magic potions, charms and cures. It is strictly about “white magic” – or so we are told. The Voodoo animistic religion permeates society in Togo, with 51% of the population being “adepts”, and the Fetish Market is where people come to have evil spells cast on them removed, to get healed when they are ill, to break a spell of bad luck or even to improve their mental powers before an examination.

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Decisions, decisions…which one shall I take ?

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Dr Dako Assou Sourou…in hard selling mode !

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