City Focus: Lome Togo

City Focus: Lome Togo

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Lomé, (with a population of about 837,437) is the capital and largest city of Togo. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country’s administrative and industrial center and its chief port. Lomé was a small village until 1897, when it became the capital of the German colony of Togo. The city exports coffee, cocoa, copra, cotton, and palm products. It also has an oil refinery. Lomé is the home of international airport, thermal power plant, and the Maison du Peuple, a conference hall. The Université du Bénin was founded in 1965 at Lomé. The Togolese capital was also the site of several important summits; the first Lomé Convention was signed there in 1975, establishing an aid and trade agreement between African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries (ACP) and the European Union.

Weather: As in most equatorial climates, the city has two rainy seasons, classified as tropical wet and dry (Aw) by Köppen-Geiger system, the first starts in April and ends in July, then a second rainy season starts in early September and ends in late November.

The heat is constant, the average maximum temperature in the shade is on average 30 °C (86 °F) in the afternoon, and the average minimum temperature is 23 °C (73 °F) in the morning. Earlier this year, a dry wind from the Sahara brought down the temperature to as low as 19 °C (66 °F) in the morning.

The climate of Lomé is also greatly influenced by the ocean. The heat is stable, without excessive peaks, and the wind coming from the sea makes it quite pleasant.

The city has a distinctively low rainfall for this latitude; in fact, Lomé enjoys a micro climate that allows it to reach a low rainfall for the region (800 mm (31.5 in) per year). By comparison, Paris receives an average of 650 mm (25.6 in) per year.

Population: The city, Lomé, grew from 375,499 in 1981 to 837,437 in 2010.

In the maritime region, the capital city of Lomé, one is bound to see the most exquisite and the most rudimentary of handicrafts that the industry can offer. On arrival in the urban centre of Lomé, the visitor is easily impressed. At the Lomé General Market, you may feed your eyes with the display of colorful beads, wooden, clay or basket-kitchenware and sacred statuettes.

Music: In Lomé, the interests for music range from the traditional popular music to the most recent dancing arenas in West Africa and to the latest in-clubs in town play Togolese-brewed Hip Pop modernized traditional music, Congolese and Ivorian music, Zouk, Salsa and Caribbean reggae.

Lome and Arts: Togolese art includes different kinds of textiles, handcrafted marble ashtrays, handcrafted gold and silver jewelry, traditional masks and wood carvings

Getting There

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Lome is well connected internationally with regular flights on various airlines

Getting Around in Lome

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‘Motos’ are plentiful throughout the capital, and a good distance on a ‘moto’ will cost you 300CFA. Taxis can be rented from around 500CFA and up, with 2000CFA getting you basically anywhere in town. There are route taxis, costing normally 200-400CFA, but if you are visiting they are difficult to figure out and only ever really used by local folks.

Car rental services are available, but if you are just coming for a few days commercial ‘motos’s are your best option.

The beach road runs directly beside the ocean from Ghana to Benin. The Boulevard Circulaire (le 13 Janvier) acts as a main artery through downtown Lome, a hemisphere that encloses the Marche and Government buildings. It starts at the beach in Kodjoviakope and wraps around to the beach in Bea.

Where to GO

Le Marché aux Fétiches

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Le Marché aux Fétiches in Lomé is about the biggest voodoo market in West Africa, Le Marché aux Fétiches, though it is a real functioning African voodoo market, tourists are welcome…at a price. You have to pay 3.000CFA for a tour of about 20 minutes + 2.000CFA more to take pictures. This is a real African voodoo market. The “fetisheurs” stands hold all of the components needed to create the “fetish” for various purposes, such as healing and protecting and luck. The guide will take you around each shop, which has large tables. No herbs and plants to be seen: everything is bones and heads and feathers and fur. The sights are quite gruesome, not recommendable for animal lovers. Following this, you go into one of the stands where there is an altar with actual fetishes. You can have a consultation if you want and the guide will explain to you the purpose of the different fetishes.  On the one hand, visiting the fetish market lets you see another side of Africa, and think a little bit about how people see the world here. On the other hand, many Africans themselves will tell you the ways the harm that these old beliefs continue to pose to their societies and their environment.

Lomé Grand Market

Grand Marché de Dantokpa

Lomé Grand Market is a large market place in the city of Lomé, the capital of Togo. Located near Lomé Cathedral near the city centre, the market often has live African music by local performers. The market, referred to in French as “Grande Marche” (Main Market) consists of three sections, known locally as Atipoji, Asigame and Assivito. The market occupies an entire city block in Lomé. The majority of the vendors are women and children.

Le Grand Marche meaning ‘the big Supermarket’ in French is located in Togo is near the Cathedral in Lome town .It is a good daily business place .It is full of people in the day .The market of two floors was burnt in January 2013 but it is still alive.

Monument de l’Independance

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Located in the administrative district of Lomé, the Independence Monument is the symbol of the liberation of the Togolese people from the yoke of the French administration. It was built shortly after the independence of Togo in 1960. It says on the eastern flank of the monument this: “Togolese People by your faith and your courage a nation was born.” The monument is now being renovated by the government.

Togo National Museum

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Togo National Museum is the national museum of Togo. It is located in the capital of Lomé.

Founded in 1975, it houses ethnographical, cultural and artistic exhibits.

 Village Artisanal

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At this easy-going centre you’ll see Togolese artisans weaving cloth, carving statues, making baskets and lampshades, sewing leather shoes and constructing cane chairs and tables – all for sale at reasonable fixed prices.

Le Mandingue Jazz Club

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Le Mandingue Jazz Club is the best and the oldest bar in Lomé. The club features live music on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday: jazz, blues, rock, reggae, pop, afro-beat and so much more. Created in 1994 Le Mandingue Jazz Club is still the first and the oldest jazz-club in Lomé.

 Musee International du Golfe de Guinee

Musee International du Golfe de Guinee

Musee International du Golfe

The Musee International du Golfe de Guinee is an interesting “sight” in Lome. It has an excellent private collection of African sculpture from the last 200 years or so, with West Africa dominating. (Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Ghana). There are some pieces from East and Southern Africa, however. There are so many pieces that the guide will invite you to ask about ones you feel drawn to rather than give you an overview.

 Lome Cathedral

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The cathedral of Lomé’, named Sacré’-Cœur, or German cathedral, the cathedral of Lomé’ was built in 1905. Its architecture is of Gothic style with ogival shape.

Where to Eat

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Local street food is plentiful, and a large plate of rice or pate will cost you 200CFA.

Lebanese restaurants are peppered throughout Lome, with the best being in Kodjoviakope and wrapping around with the Boulevard. I recommend Al Mohatas by the Route de Kpalime and Al Sultan’s in Kodjoviakope. Most plates run 1000 – 2000CFA

There are two chinese restaurants, one in Kodjoviakope, the other in Asigame, down the street from the Togocel main offices.

The Galion, a swiss owned hotel near the beach in Kodjoviakope, has an excellent restaurant serving steaks, salads, desserts, etc. Mains run 3000-5000CFA, but it is worth it.

  • La Belle EpoqueFrench Restaurant on the backside of the German embassy. Menu of the day from 6500 FCFA, Hamburgers from 1500 FCFA.
  • Marox Grill24, Rue du Lac, B.P. 1268, Tel. 222 41 38 The official name is “Bena Grill”, but no one uses this. German-style Schnitzel from 3300 FCFA, fries start at 900 FCFA and a liter of beer will cost you 2200 FCFA.
  • Alt München 227 63 21, near the roundabout at the freeport. Munich cuisine, but a little bit expensive.

Where to Lodge/Sleep

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Basic hotels can be found in the city center for about 5000 CFA and upwards. Camping is possible at Chez Alice for 1500 CFA in nearby Vepozo where some of the nicer beaches are, about 15 km out of the city center (350 CFA with shared taxi, 200 CFA with Soltran in the morning and the evening). Rooms and a parking for vehicles are available too.

Decent hotels (as in there is a bed, sink, and shower) are in northern Lome and cost about 15000 to 16000 CFA (about $30 at the time I travelled).

Fevrier Sofitel Hotels

2 Fevrier Sofitel Hotels

Fevrier Sofitel Hotels, Place De L’independance St. With its 36 floors this is Togo’s tallest building, and is visible from anywhere in the city. It was finished in 1980.

Hotel Bellevue

Hotel Bellevue

Has wireless internet access, and a lovely atmosphere with a waterfall running into a small swimming pool. The food is delicious, and it’s a pleasant nice place to stay. The owners are French, and very welcoming.

Hotel Cote Sud

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Hotel Cote Sud, French run and the food is excellent.

Hotels are a dime a dozen the closer you get to the beach, the most expensive being the 2 Fevrier and Hotel Sarakawa, on the beach road. Amenities are very accommodating, but they are incredibly expensive for Lome – 100,000+ CFA / night.

There are a few nice hotels with A/C in Kodjoviakope and surrounding areas that will run you 7000 – 15000CFA. Check out The Galion, My Diana’s, and for the budget traveller, ask for Mammy’s, down the road from the Angolan Embassy (3500CFA per room, rooms fit 2-3).

Night Life in Lome

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Lome really comes alive at night, the local Lomeians dressing to the nines and going out to the numerous bars and discotheques. There are many western style dance clubs downtown. Two of the best (and most expensive) are Privelege, attached to the hotel Palm Beach and 7Clash, in Dekon on the Boulevard.

For a more relaxed time, check out the beach close to the border with Ghana – seating is plentiful and, if you’re lucky, the Castle Milk Stouts are pretty cold. Be sure to get off of the beach soon after nightfall, as it is easily the most dangerous part of the city.

Tunde is a very versatile African traveler with visits to close to 20 countries on the continent and 10 others outside Africa. He enjoys photography and meeting people from different background.

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