Tuesday, January 27, 2009

le 13 Janvier, Liberation?

The local "foo" came down from the mountain to parade around and show his defiance for this spectacle as the local choir warms up.

I sit and watch as the "foo" gives his reasoning for a faulty governement.

I sat up on the steps of the school with all the dignitaries and chiefs of my village

Mainly a "free day" from school, I am sure many of these children don't know why they all line up to march like militants.

I was there with my Womens Group UAPF (Union des Femmes Rural de Kpele-Akata),Many of these women were alive when the day of celebration was born and held contradicting feelings on the days events.

Women dressed in matching outfits celebrating the current administration.

My community marching back through village after the festivities.

A couple of weeks ago, I was back in Togo in time for the 13 Janvier. I had a meeting that morning with my group of women farmers in village and had no intentions of attending the celebration that was taking place at the middle school. My womens group are well aware of the history of the celebration and were not at all interested in participating but knew it would be good to get a little publicity. So I decided to see what all the buzz was about and attend the schinanigans....

So just to let you know the history of this day in Togo..here are some excerpts from the articles I found on it....
The recall of facts

In the beginning there was Togoland, administered by the Germans from 1884 following a protection treaty signed with a local king. After the First World War, the League of Nations and the United Nations put the territory under protection of France and England, which eventually split into two: Togo and Ghana. The United Nations requires guardianship to empower people in their care. Although this colony attached to them which predicts "positive aspects" withdrew, France is forced to lead, willy-nilly, Togo towards democracy and autonomy.

On 27 April 1958, the national parties CUT (Unit Togolaise Committee led by Sylvanus Olympio), JUVENTO (Togolese Youth Movement, an offshoot of the CUT) and MPT (Togolese People's Movement) won the elections. They lead Togo to its independence on 27 April 1960 and Sylvanus Olympio becomes the first president of the Togolese Republic. But this politician advised to turn to the former German and guardianship to England instead of allowing France to decide what is good or bad for its former colony. Many of his initiatives were deployed in Paris.

On 13 January 1963, Sylvanus Olympio was assassinated by former non-commissioned officers of the French colonial empire, including a former sergeant Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema. The young republic did not deliver, the coup failed, and a popular uprising in 1966 was quickly suppressed by the army, which became more and more present. It is still January 13, but in 1967,a second coup is administered and puts the power in the hands of Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema, who became general in the meantime.

Dynasty Gnassingbé
The Rally of Togolese People (RPT) is founded by Gnassingbe Eyadema, the year of the coup of 1967. It took power and a totalitarian regime has arisen. Militias have repeatedly clash with the AFL (Armed Forces Togolese) after a popular uprising quickly suppressed on 05 September 1990. Youth are grouped under the names of Ekpémog (stone), Etumog and Abrafos (coupeurs heads) to name a few. Their struggle makes it possible to obtain a "charter party" on 12 April 1991, paving the way for a multiparty embryonnaire.
But when Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema died on 05 April 2005, it is "natural" that his son Faure Gnassingbé Eyadema inherit power. Despite the changes announced, he clings to the presidential seat left by his father.

Meditation or celebration ?
In addition to the birth of multiparty politics, the popular uprising of October 05, 1990 will permit the establishment of a Sovereign National Conference which one of the symbolic, but significant, was the proclamation of 13 January as "day of reflection." Unfortunately, the powers that be do not hear as well and son prefers "celebrate" the "festival of liberation." One need visit Republicoftogo.com, the site of the Government of Togo:

Gilchrist Olympio, son of Sylvanus Olympio, has lived in exile since he survived an assassination attempt in 1992. The power changes in the electoral code in the same year so that a presidential candidate must have resided in Togo without interruption during the 12 months preceding the election. Faure Gnassingbé Eyadema remains supportive of this "day of worship" without it and erasing it from public celebration could defuse tensions and is necessary for reconciliation or democracy in the country.
Source: http://cpasnet.sebsite.org/article.php3?id_article=24

Togo Sweet Togo

Snowflakes sent to togo from Grams
with Dagby by my side

Sorry I’m late in sending this post to let you all know that I am safe n sound back in my African village. I was really glad to have seen all you over the holidays even if it was touch and go. Life is as usual here and I was welcomed back with open arms. If it weren’t for the warm nature of the people here then I’m sure I wouldn’t have lasted this long. Yes, they can annoy me from time to time and it can be utterly exhausting dealing or working with them, let alone conversing in other tongues but…they are open and inviting. Something that is hard to find these days in the states. I’ve already been invited to dine at many homes to catch up times since I’ve left. Which usually results in asking how the family is, how Will is, how the weather was, how I celebrated the holidays…and where is their cadeau (what did I bring back for them)…then I ask the same of them.

The weather has been a bit more bearable here as we are now entering Harmattan (dry season when the winds from the Sahael kick up dust covering the skies and all else) It’s been in the mid 80’s yet I just glanced at the temp and it says 91 huh.. Brush fires are on the rise as the farmers and hunters take to clearing out patches of field by carelessly burning debris. So the winds kick up the ashes along with the sand and that’s what you breathe in for three months. There is a cool breeze and it cools at night and through the morning. Once I get back to my old sleeping schedule I may start running in the mornings again. Update : I went running this morning and felt good, since it is a lot cooler then when I had been training for the marathon. And…there weren’t as many lil school kids en route to class as I was afraid I was going to have to dodge the packs of them

Some say Harmattan is not quite here yet, since this year there wasn’t that final big storm and huge rain that signaled the change of seasons and it has some worried. I have noticed climate change here maybe more that if I were home because life revolves around it. I’m living in a culture that lives day to day supported by the harvest. Where office jobs are scarce, people depend solely on an income from what they can grow. So weather is a huge deal here, and you notice the changes quickly. From the size of the produce at the local market to the changes in the moods of the people to the visual nature of the village, you can tell a difference.
You see the economy crisis play on the revenue of produce. In working with my coffee farmers the price of coffee dropped exponentially three times in the last month (unusual, but when there’s a crisis in the developed world, the undeveloped countries feel it too with a loss of market value). It is all very interesting to see how they view what goes on in other countries but have no way of counteracting the effect it will have on them. What’s also sad here is that there aren’t even stable electricity and water sources. I’m lucky to be equipped with it here but every day since I’ve been home it has cut and been unreliable. I hope when I go home I’ll carry with me the conservation skills I’ve used here.

Well not much else, I have counted the days and have roughly around 180 to go…wow. I can’t believe I’ve been here this long. As for post Peace Corps, I am going to apply for some jobs but in March we will know what schools Will was accepted at and if he has decided. If he decides to go back to school I will begin to tailor my job search to that location…but for now…the village awaits my presence.
could be Pittsburg, Seattle, Chicago…and others… Will knows his final close of service date in March and I will know mine around May so we will be able to coordinate all. I think we may try to travel a bit before heading home if we have time and take a trip through Morrocco…Spain…France then home? Not sure…all depends on a lot of things but that’s what we are thinking as of now.