Focus on Family: Togo

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Togo (Togolese Republic) in West Africa is one of the smallest countries in Africa, covering 57 000 square kilometres.  It is bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north.

Back in 1911, the OLA Sisters extended their reach from Keta in Ghana, where they had established a new convent school and were able to offer education to the girls from the interior of the Volta region and neighbouring Toga.

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Rural Village in Northern Togo - photo by David Stanley

Togolese national, Akwasi Agyenim tells us more about family Life in Togo.

I am Akwasi Agyenim and I am from Togo.  I have been asked by my friend to speak about the family in Togo, and about myself.  I am 31 years and I live in the north of Togo, near the border of Ghana.

I am very lucky to have work as a translator with a big company. I speak four languages and many dialects, so I am always busy.  It is not so easy for many other people in Togo.

I have a wife and four children.

The family in Togo is large.  It is not just the wife and the children like that of my friend, it is all the blood relations and the ancestors.

Family is very important, but it is difficult because there is very little work.  Many people are married, but the wife and the children stay with her parents.  The men have to travel to find work and many are unable to provide for their children.

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Women wating at an outdoor clinic in rural Togo

In the rural area’s the marriage ceremony is still as it was.  When the man chooses a wife, he must pay the woman’s family a bride price that is fair.  Traditionally the bride price was land, but this has changed in modern times and now includes cash and other gifts.

Family life is very different for my family and my children than when I was growing up.  My father was a famer and there was nothing modern.  I was lucky to go to university and receive an education.  My children are lucky that I have a good job and I can take care of them and their mother.

Technology has changed life in Togo for those who live in the cities.  Everyone has a cell phone and the young people are very active in Social Media.  The young girls are always chatting in Facebook and Whatsapp.

There are many Catholics in Togo.  I too am Catholic.  The church that is closest to me is in Tatale and when I am not travelling for work, my family and I will make the journey on a Sunday to attend the Mass.

For Christmas we travel to my wife’s family home near Lome in the South of Togo and we celebrate Christmas with them.

I would like to meet the Pope one day.  Maybe he will come to Togo. It is important to have the World Meeting of Families, family is important.  It is more difficult for families today, many men still have many wives or girlfriends, and they neglect their children because they do not work. There is confusion with the old ways and the new ways.  It is important for people to understand that family is important.  Even though it was different in the past, family was more important than it is now.  That is what I think.