Everyday life in Togo – at home
Families in Togo are big. There are many children and often grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins and their children live in the house. Every woman in Togo has more than four children on average. Overall, there are many more children and young people than here in Germany.
Many families are poor. Most of the people live in the country. Life mostly takes place outside, including in the city. You get up early and the children take over work in the house. The yard is swept, the chickens fed or washed. It also takes some time to cook. Babies and small children are carried around on their backs, sometimes by older girls too.
Not every house has a toilet, and certainly not with running water, especially in the country. Then there is a hole in the floor or an outhouse or there is a toilet, but you have to pour the water into it from a bucket to flush it. Water – for showering, washing or cooking – has to be fetched from the well if there is one, because that is not the case everywhere either.
There is usually no refrigerator either. Therefore, no dairy products are eaten – they would go bad quickly. The laundry is washed by hand in large tubs – washing machines are also rare.
By the way, you get up early in Togo – five o’clock is not uncommon! There is no breakfast like ours in Togo. You prefer to eat warm meals anyway. This can be a pâté, for example, a porridge made from corn flour. School starts at seven o’clock.
The children hardly have any toys. You play with what is there. This can also be old bicycle rims that are driven with a stick. Generally you play in a group and not alone! Football is very popular with the young.
The belief in voodoo plays a major role in Togo. In voodoo ceremonies, the faithful seek protection from a voodoo god, for example through animal sacrifices or dances. An ancestral cult is also practiced: the ancestors are appeased by sacrificing animals (for example a chicken) and laying down fetishes. These are, for example, small dolls or animal skulls from monkeys or dogs. There is a large market for these fetishes in Lomé. Many people believe that they can protect themselves from evil spirits by scratching small wounds in the skin and sprinkling a powder made of coal and plants on them.
Everyday life in Togo – on the go
Everything you need to live, especially food, can be bought from stalls on the street. There are also many street vendors who carry their wares with them, mostly on their heads. This can be bananas or mangoes, but also towels or water. Water is sold in plastic bottles or in small plastic bags.
Then there are also small shops called boutiques. Here you can get cans or anything else that is made in factories. But the main shopping area is the market. There is not only vegetables and fruit here, but also fish and meat, herbs and spices as well as clothing, car tires and live animals. The price is traded. Fruit and vegetables are available after they are harvested. So there are usually only two or three varieties on offer and not twelve or 20, as in German supermarkets.
On the streets you can see many motorbikes and mopeds, the motos. They are also used as taxis. You call them by hissing: Kssssss! For further journeys you take the bus. Paved, i.e. paved, roads are only found in the big cities and on a few country roads. There are also a lot of potholes so driving is not exactly a pleasure…
The women mostly wear dresses or skirts, and the colorful dresses are often seen in the traditional way. Men tend to wear plain clothes, trousers and T-shirts or shirts. Music, dance and singing are very popular. The drumming in particular is very popular and can be heard at every festival.
Eating in Togo
Food in Togo
Yams are the most important staple food in Togo. In the north, where it is drier, millet and maize are mainly grown. The most important Togolese dishes are pâté for everyday life and fufu for Sundays! To get more information on Togo and Africa, check animalerts.
Pâté is made from corn, more precisely: from corn flour. This is stirred into hot water to create a paste. There is also a hot sauce. The corn porridge is eaten in the morning if you have breakfast at all. The most important meals are namely those at noon and in the evening.
The national dish of Togo is fufu. It is often eaten on Sundays or at parties. Fufu is pounded out of yams. People like to eat it in Ghana too. Here is a video of Fufu being stomped on. The pounding takes quite a while and is quite exhausting! That’s why fufu pounding is the only household activity where you can see a man…
Fufu is also eaten with a hot sauce, which can be made from tomatoes, palm oil or peanut butter. Then there might be some goat or chicken meat. Meat is expensive, however, so it is rare.
Bananas and beans, cassava, rice and noodles
People also like to eat plantains and beans. The beans are served with gari, which are grates made from roasted cassava, or rice. And finally: there is also pasta. It’s almost always spaghetti that you eat with a sauce or as a pasta salad. Rice and noodles are sometimes served together – probably rather unusual for us. Vegetables include eggplant, tomatoes or corn on the cob, for example.
With the right hand!
In Togo, people traditionally eat with the right hand and from a large pot. But sometimes everyone gets their own small bowl. Before and after eating, the hand is washed in a bowl of water that is also ready. To eat, the Togolese actually only needs two or three fingers, with which, for example, he picks up the fufu. You form a ball with a hole that you can use to hold the sauce.