[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 06:06 GMT
Impressions of Togo after the 'coup'
By Kwaku Sakyi-Addo
BBC correspondent, Ghana

Despite the death of Togo's President Gnassingbe Eyadema, and the controversial elevation of his son Faure to the presidency, I strolled across the border from Ghana into Togo with surprising ease.

Ghanaian trader
Hawkers and loiterers shuffle across the boundary

The border crossing point at Aflao is one of the busiest in West Africa. Traders, hawkers and loiterers shuffle across the boundary, as if the two countries were one village.

Ghana's Volta Region was once part of Togoland, until the people there voted in a plebiscite to join Ghana at independence 47 years ago. So the Ewes on either side of their common border are, indeed, one people.

And many Togolese keep one foot on either side of the border, living in Ghana by night and working in the markets of the capital, Lome, by day.

Busy streets

In Lome, the purring of little scooters filled the air.

It was an off-day for the opposition protest action - and so the shops were open, the streets were busy and there were no soldiers on patrol.

The day that we heard Eyadema died, we were happy
Togolese man in Aflao

Even so, I was advised that if I wanted to interview any Togolese people, it would be safer to do so on the Ghanaian side of the border, unless I was desperate to get a taste of Togolese military hospitality.

Being a proud coward, I joined the traffic of shuffling feet back across the border to Aflao.


There I met Koshi, who sells used clothes at a market in Lome.

"I'm a Togolese, I am based in Ghana because of the politics in the country. So I always wake up early and go to Togo to do my business.

"Now I cannot go to market, I cannot sell because I'm worried and afraid."

Another man said he had no more freedom with Eyadema dead than he did when he was alive.

"Eyadema died, but we're not free, because of his children," he said.

"The day that we heard Eyadema died, we were happy."

But Catherine Nutakor, who goes to Togo to sell plastic bowls, says she's not worried by the events of the last 10 days.

"It's not affected my business or anybody in Togo. But I didn't open my shop on the day of the general strike, I stayed at home."

Ms Nutakor is Ghanaian, and maybe that makes it easier for her to have a more relaxed attitude.

Shared music

Indeed, it was difficult to find any Togolese people at Aflao who were prepared to speak kindly of Eyadema and the takeover by his son, Faure.

Faure Gnassingbe at his inauguration
Most people at the border do not speak kindly of Faure or his father

With all the anxiety in Togo when Ghana is at its most stable, I wondered if the Togolese sometimes wished that the rest of their country had joined their cousins in the Volta Region and become part of Ghana back in 1956?

"No, I don't like it so. Let Ghana be Ghana and Togo be Togo," Koshi said adamantly.

For Koshi, having a hospitable place to run to, where there is a shared history and a common culture, and where the music after sunset isn't alien, is good enough.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific