After a few years away, I find myself once again walking the sandy streets of Lome. There are new street lights, some newly paved roads, some of the kids I once knew are older, and Whatsapp has revolutionized communications for those with a smart phone. Other things like how amazing fufu with sauce d’arachide tastes, the importance of speaking a local language as well as French, and saluer-ing (greeting people) everyone before starting anything else remain unchanged.
Yet, after a few weeks in Togo, I struggled with the best way to describe this country in which I have so many memories and also new experiences. So after some consideration, I decided that I believe the best way to describe my experience in Togo is to give Togo a face, a personality, an individual identity. That face is none other than – Grandnay.
I asked Grandnay’s permission before creating this post, photo and video, and she happily agreed to be my representative for this post and for so many of the things I love about Togo.
Grandnay is a vibrant, elderly, Ewe lady with a spunky personality and a love for singing. She sings traditional songs whenever she moves, eats, or feels the spirit is compelling her. She has family and friends who visit often, especially on Sundays, which is her favorite day of the week. Normally when people call me yovo (white person), I do not take as a term of endearment, but when Grandnay calls me “her yovo,” I smile knowing that she has opened her heart and her home to me. Grandnay represents the warmth of the people in Togo and the importance of forming relationships with community and family. She is the type of person who makes me smile just thinking about her as I write this.
This blog post may not tell a story of my daily life here in Togo, but Grandnay represents why I love being in Togo and why I wish to continue to promote cultural exchange between this country and my own.
So, to round out this post, I will leave you with me practicing my numbers and a greeting in Ewe with Grandnay (Grandnay helps out with my Ewe review every by often being the best dictionary of Ewe words one can find): https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6nq98ElgvfwTVFSdmtfdURlM28/view?usp=sharing