People in Togo celebrate Christmas

Christmas in Africa ... - Togo

Hello, I am Agnès from Togo. I grew up in the village of Adomi-Abra Uhi on the Togolese high plateau, in the Akposso region. I look back fondly on the Christmas parties of my youth in the 1980s.

The Christmas season always started for us with a big celebration on the first day of Advent. But it really started two or three days before Christmas. The girls in our village, all between 12 and 16 years old, then went to the river together to dig up a special chalk sand on the bank, with which all the houses in the village were whitewashed. The sand was applied by hand by our parents to both the outer and inner walls, so that all houses shone brightly in the sun during the day. The houses were often decorated with a wide variety of very filigree patterns. My mother was a real master of this art. By the way, the boys weren't allowed to be there when they fetched chalk because we girls were barely clad working on the river.

After the chalk hunt, we girls, again dressed more modestly, and the boys fetched wood from the forest with which our mothers would prepare the Christmas meal on Christmas Day.

On December 24th we put on our latest traditional clothes, most of which our parents had bought us for Christmas, and then went to the service at 10 p.m. There was always a very solemn atmosphere there. It was never boring there and after Mass the Christmas Eve really started.

At midnight, all the residents of our village moved to the village square in the moonlight and our parents then went home little by little. The boys from our village now each had to take a little wood from their mother's kitchen and then come back to the village square with it. Those who did not bring wood were condemned to get all the more wood the next day. With the "borrowed" wood a big fire was lit, comparable to the Easter bonfires here, and we sang and danced all night long. We all danced the "Akbé" together in a circle, the "Tumba" girls and boys danced in pairs. The boys grilled cassava and enyam in the embers and shared it with us girls.

Around 5 a.m. on Christmas Day, when the sun was slowly rising again, everyone brought some embers home, where the mothers were already preparing the kitchen. Then we went, this time boys and girls together, down to the river to fetch water to boil for our mothers.
At 8 o'clock they ate, mostly rice, fufu and an akposso specialty called fonyo, along with beef or goat meat. And at 9 o'clock we went back to the service.

After the morning service we girls went singing in groups from house to house through the village. For the singing we were given small gifts and money at each house. Palm wine was always served in one house, which led to an incredible chatter and giggle among us girls. By then at the latest, even the strongest of us will slowly fall asleep.

A week later, on New Year's Eve, we repeated the whole thing again.

Agnes Kabambe