One of the big differences between landing at night in a western city and an African one is the relative darkness . Its not that there are significantly fewer people, its just street , house and industrial lighting are lacking. But on the ground its lively, thousands of people are milling around ; street sellers, family businesses, music bars and petrol bottle vendors orchestrate a lively spectacle illuminated by tiny parrafin lights and the occaisional tv.
Just over the dock fron the Africa Mercy are dozens of lorries, ready to collect rice from a waiting Thai tanker, and Chinese containers full of goods for the local markets. Lome port offers the landlocked countries of the Sahara a vital lifeline and is a good source of business for Togo. Perhaps the trade is a bit one way, but Togo feels a little more prosperous than Benin and Liberia with a great deal of potential for agriculture and minerals. From the ship we see a gorgeous rolling Atlantic beach- surf waves crashing onto the sand- green sand dunes and lushious trees- ideal for tourism. Though none come. It’s too dangerous and there is no infrastructure, but lots of potential .
Togo doesn’t do branding – its off the radar, streets are relatively free of communications and its refreshing just watching the people doing their thing. Nevertheless branding can be a force for good – raising country profiles,branding their commodities, authenticising products and increasing margins and income- helpful stuff. There’s a project here somewhere.
Tonight we enjoy a service with the local African choir- Gospel pop meets French Africa. Good singers. I wonder why they prefer it to the natural sophistication and richness of native African music :Felakuti,Chora,Ladybird Black mambasa(?) and AliFakatori . Tomorrow we’ll visit the wards and hospitality centres.