Togo & Ghana
A voodoo shrine in Abomey, the capital of the Dahomey empire.
European colonial rule moved the capital subsequently to the coastal
town of Porto Novo, but the cultural heart of the nation remains in
Abomey, home of some of the most brutal and darkest warriors and slave
traders the world has ever known. It wasn't Europeans who
enslaved Africans for shipment to the new world. It was the
Abomey empire who captured them deep inland and sold them to the
Europeans for arms. The last Dahomey king fiercely resisted
French rule and wound up in exile, and lived to the age of modern
photography. Communist rulers in the 1970s bizarrely renamed the
country of Dahomey to Benin, an ancient civilization based in
Spooky voodoo doll hanging on a wall in Abomey.
The legendary Dahomey tree. The Abomey king was warned by his
oracle that his rule could never be secure unless he could eliminate
the powerful sorceror Dan, who could kill with a gaze. So the
king befriended Dan, who asked him to share his kingdom. After
agreeing to share, and then reneging on his word, the King eventually
tricked Dan to exit from his home and killed him by stabbing his
belly. Dan was buried at this site and this tree sprouted out
from his belly, or Ho in the local language. Hence, Dan-Ho-Mey.
The independence monument in Lome, Togo.
A seedy beach in Lome. OK, there's just not much interesting to
see in coastal Togo!
Youngsters play soccer on the beach in Elmina, a historically important
port near the city of Cape Coast. Ghana is visibly more developed
than its francophone neighbours, and an object of envy in the
region. Stable politics, sound economic governance, good
infrastructure, and national pride have all contributed to Ghanaian
prosperity. Ghana was the first nation in the region to fight for
and win independence from colonial masters, and the name Ghana stems
from an ancient civilization based in Mali.
An overhead view of the Elmina castle, fought for and from by European
colonial powers. A Dutch cemetery can still be visited in Elmina.
The market in Kumasi, Ghana, may well be the largest market I've ever
seen. The dimensions are staggering and even this photo from a
remote corner of the market hardly gives you a fair idea.