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FunTimes Magazine

Togo Independence Day: Ewe & Afro-Brazilian Migration, Culture, and Cuisine

Apr 27, 2021 09:00AM ● By Oga Africa
Today in 1960, Togo achieved independence from the British. This West African country, situated between Ghana and Benin, and under Burkina Faso, is a melting pot of African diasporan sub-groups and preserves rich traditional African customs, including the use of festivals, traditional drumming, dance, and cuisine. In honor of independence, we are taking a glimpse inside colorful Togolese culture. Let’s jump right in!

(Ghana-Togo border at Aflao)

With around 20 ethnic groups in the country, Togo’s ethnic variety is vast. About 23% of Togo is composed of Ewe sub-tribes, who migrated from the Yoruba region of present-day Nigeria and Benin between the 14th and 16th centuries. In 1835, enslaved Muslim Africans led an uprising in Bahia, Brazil. The Portuguese subsequently deported these communities and sent them to countries like Togo and Ghana. Many other Afro-Brazilians resettled in these countries due to various other reasons, including participating in the Portuguese slave trade and resettling after the abolition of slavery in Brazil. It is estimated that from the 18th to 20th century, between 3,000 and 8,000 Afro-Brazilians returned to Africa. Today, descendants of Afro-Brazilians inhabit many West African countries, namely Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, and Benin, and carry last names like Silva.

(Aneho, Togo)

Togo hosts various traditional festivals, like the Epe Ekpe festival (a celebration that commemorates the ethnic group Mina’s end of the year), the Gadao-Adossa or the cutlass festival, the Bassar yam festival, and the Tem tribe’s voodoo-based Fire Dance festival.

The fragments of French colonialism is evident in Togolese society through the French language, which is the national language of the country. However, traditional culture still thrives.. Some Togolese traditional dances exemplify the foundations of twerking, as evidenced in the artform ‘Borborbor’, which includes men playing drums, accompanied by women singing and shaking their pride and glory to the drumbeat.

Maize is a main staple of Togolese food. Common dishes in the country include Djenkoume, a corn cake dish served with tomato sauce and meat, Sauce de gombo or Okra soup, and Ablo, a maize based bread. The national dish of the country is fufu, a common staple across West Africa. Togolese fufu is made mostly of yams.

 (Sauce de gombo)

Have you ver tried fufu? Which soup did you try it with? Comment below!