Expatriation

Over night the Goetheinstitut in Lomé has been burned, probably by soldiers
or at least affiliates of the RPT. So now it is probably becoming dangerous also for Germans. We
had to evacute to Ghana (by ourselves) (what we figured out after a lasting discussion whether we should
go to Ghana or Benin due to ticketprices). The German Embassy was supposed to call their
colleagues in Ghana to organize some VISA for our where it would usually not be possible.

But they didn’t!

The first borderpost din’t have a telefone but could accompany us to the interior of the country
where they had a telefone, but not the permission to grant VISA! For that we had to go to Ho,
which were another 80 kilometres. But our drivers refused to take us there since it was getting late
and one of them had already lost his pastis to the customs after attempted smuggling!
The nice immigrations officer still tried to find some other vehicles by going throught the
different adjacent villages on his dirt bike, but he didn’t succeed. So we went to our accomodation,
the waterfall lodge, which was also led by Germans. The owner also came from Neumünster
and her grandmother lived in the same street as me! :).
The next morning we were preparing to go to Ho but after we had been looking for a bus
for one hour and loaded it for another two hours two officers from the immigrations department
arrived and told us, that about 850 new refugees had arrived just a little down the border
and so now every available man had been sent there and they did not have anyone left
for us and since we could not go by ourselves, we had to stay until tuesday, another 3 days,
since monday was the first of May! Until then we were illegal immigrants and could not leave
a radius of 15 miles!
During the during the american Ambassy was supposingly still taken apart.
Horace still went back to Kpalimé. We spent the evening in another accomodation
that the owner had organized. During the day we still had to stay at the Waterfall Lodge,
but at night we would sleep there.
Before I had still been to the village chief with the owner to announce us officially and
to ask for the next day if we could go to the neabry waterfalls for free, since they were the
highest in Ghana (about 300 metres high and you usually had to pay a fee) – what a touristic escape!
We were still supposed to present oursevles to the council of elders (20 – 30 ppl) and suprisingly I was voted
the spokesperson for the group :O. At the end there was the usualy alcohol that always goes
along on these procedures!
The waterfall was refreshing and relaxing. When we arrived, there were a lot of bats flying
over our head – it became even more when someone shot at them and also got one.
They are selling those on the market. The rest was rather calm.
While we were there apparantly 10 soldiers came looking for us but we were not there
at the time :).
In the evening we still received a delegation from the village with presents: a box of beverages,
one with coconuts, one with bananas and one with oranges! We had been told that both parties
usually bring palm whine and it is drunk together but in this case we were the only ones bringing
some and still had the honor of drinking it ourselves :). The human warmth and kindness
of therse people is just undescribable! They also saw the possibility to revieve their relationship
with the Germans through this, since they had been the first colonists and were still remebered
in a good sense.

Retreat

For some time now we have been staying in the orphanary of Campagne des Hommes,
which is about 6 kilometres away from the city, since demonstrations of the opposition might attract
the fire of the military. So far only the RPT demonstrated (“victory demonstrations”),
but at night and now also during the day soldiers moved to certain corners of the city
and started beating up people in their own homes!

In some adjacent villages on the route to Atakpamé the population has started
to stab soldiers at night at not stay calm anymore.
Some africans also fled over the border to Ghana.
The opposition has demanded the publication of the real election results, otherwise they will
start a commotion.
Bob Akitani has claimed over BBC that he himself is the president but has not been recognized
by the sorrounding countries.
The French,Germans and Libanese in Lomé are beeing kept under military surveillance
by now. Also in Lomé they had 10 – 20 dead each day.

first casualties in Kpalimé

One day after the elections the police is everywhere and is forcing pedestrians back into
their houses, since two soldiers have been killed during the night in a side street.
The Opposition tried to destroy a radio station at night, because a self-declared “neutral”
party leader had first welcomed Faure on his campaign and announced later on the radiostation
that every youngster not voting for the RPT is a fool.
The military has been waiting there and fired at the people. Most of the injuries were within the
leg region, but in the community hospital the doctors would not even have come if it had not
also been for some militaries.
In front of the prefecture some demonstrators started to throw bricks on the soldiers
Vor der Präfektur sind auch einige Demonstranten ausgerastet und haben Steine auf die
Soldaten geworfen, whereupon these fired back. Even this morning one could see burned
tires and rubble all over the street.
By now even the fixed lines do not work anymore. Only calls from foreign countries can be
received. Otherwise they say that the dialed number does not exist.

Elections

So there we have the elections themselves. It is clear that the opposition won,
in Kpalimé with about 80 percent. The officials in the prefecture first refused to sign
the final results but after some pressure from the side of the opposition they finally did it.
A lot of people are moving trough the street and try to prevent fraud but also to ease their
tension. All cellular networks have been shut down and will probably stay it for some time.

Sports tournament, chickens and campaigning

Ok, once again, quite some time has passed since the last entry!
The soccertournament is over by now. Here a short description of the tours in the villages:

1st day

The first day in Kpimé passed quite nice. We had a lot of audience, but after the match
it started to rain, so we could not do the movie projection that night.
Kpimé – Kpalimé FC: 1:0

2nd day

In Yoh war the intereset was a little less, but we had a success nonetheless and reached some people.
The wooden penis to show how to use a condom was also quite an attraction :).
Yoh – Yokelé: 0:1

3rd day

In Kpodzi we had an excited chicken running over the field in the middle of the game
but the projection of the movie passed calmly with a lot of interest.
Kpodzi – Gbalavé: 2:0

4th day

Since we also had a team from the town of Kpalimé, this match was held in the local stadium
There was a little commotion due to a referees decision but it handled pretty quickly and we went on.
The sheep on the field also disappeared as quickly as it had come. :).
Kpalimé FC – Kpimé: 1:1

5th day

In Yokelé we had the largest crowd with about 600 to 700 persons.
Also for the film in the evening about 400 were still present.
Yokelé – Yoh: 0:2

6th day

Gbalavé was supposed to receive Kpodzi but they had not mowed a single metre square
of their field and proposed to play in one of the neighbouring villages. According to the rules
they had to be excluded, but we said, “Hey, we have come here to teach the people something, not to play soccer!”
So we tried to organize it but apparently they had not even asked in the neighbouring village and to organize
an authorization for the afternoon it was too late – so they were excluded, since they were also the
only one who had not payed their participation fee yet – they had not made ONE SINGLE EFFORT, which is sad.
We used the afternoon to catch aup with the sensibilisation and the movie in Kpimé. It was also raining
this time, but only at the end, whn we had already succeded!
=>Win by disqualification:
Gbalavé – Kpodzi: 0:3

Finals:

The Finals took place in the stadium of Kpalimé. We had some chaotic phases but nonetheless
we succeded. After the aftermatch party I just crashed into my bad. 🙂 We had touched about 2.000 with
our sensibilisation altogether. In between we still gave interview on the radio – an interesting experience
to speak to 45.000 people at a time! 🙂

Links concerning the tournament:
first day
second day
third day
fourth day
fifth day
sixth day
Finals
others (Interview at the radio, 2x)

Today also Faure Gnassingbé shoed up for his electoral campaign in Kpalimé.
There was some commotion and heavy arguments between soldiers and protesters but since Faure
is gone again I think that it will stay calm.

German Development Service, cheese and belgian lawyers

Yesterday I had been over at a friend’s from my volleyball team. He is janitor / gurdian for
the house of a belgian retired lawyer. The Belgian is living here 3 months each year.
He had already worked for “Lawyers without frontiers” in Africa and passed through here
during his stay. He fell in love with the countryside and the people and now he build a house here.
The whole neighbourhood profits from him, since it is a house open to all. The kids can study for school
at night, since his house is one of the few with electricity. Occasionally they even come at 2 am!
He even build a small studyhall next to his house now. They can also watch TV (Satellite).
The whole neighbourhood knows that if something is missing in his house it won’t be open anymore,
so there are no robbers. He is also financing a healthcare centre and collecting donations (hospital beds, etc.)
and bringing them down here.

So I talked a lot with the belgian guy and also had lunch there. We had salat and sausages!
Afterwards we still watched TV: Cartoon Network in French. – An interesting afternoon!

Today I helped a lady from the “German Development Service” (DED) to translate
documents into German (she is belgian also). She is married to a Togoian and has already worked in
Benin and the north of Togo. When we arrived, she was still having breakfast and in the end she
gave me 4 pieces of cheese – what a luxury in this country :).

The donations for the soccer project also arrived today – 1.600 € for the beginning –
and of course we already counted it, split off a part to put in a banking account and registered
the bills of the stuff already bought in Lomé the same day. (It was my duty to do the
last part as the cashier 🙂 ).

Meetings and election campaign

By now the policital climate has cooled down a little, since there are going to be elections
on the 24th of april , but the election campaigns are only starting on the ab 8th.
At least in Lomé, but also in the north of the country have always some people been killed
during the campaigns.
A member of the independent elections commission told me that the RPT (Eyadémas party)
has always exchanged members of the commission to gain votes.

The sports project is at full throttle now. Today we a meeting with all the representatives
of the villages (only 4 out of 6 were represented). Now we have to see if we exclude the others,
since it is already to late to invited new villages but we cannot wait for the lazy ones either.

Riding a bike at work and a refreshing rain

By now the preparations for the sports project are running. With Bruno (one of my
colleagues) I already went to several villages around Kpalimé to see, if there are
any soccer teams present and there are :). For our tour, we used a 125cc motocrossbike and went
around 100 kilometres over sticks and stones. The last six kilometres were even in the pouring rain on
thursday evening 🙂 we just did not want to wait any longer! When we talked to the representatives
of the village ealier, one boy always passed me candy – usually it is just the other way around :).
We also could not leave directly when we wanted to, since Bruno’s aunt was living in the village
and did not want to let him go before he had had supper at her house :).
It is fun and you can see that something is happening! Unfortunately the
bike was a little broke this morning but in Africa the most inportant skill is improvising – we
are going to get it done one way or another! :).
About Festesco: there seems to be some change! During the reelections the ministre of eduction
is going to be replaced in any case since already messed up big time not only in our case
– so the way is free again!

Canadians, Coco Beach and Uprisings


soldaten
lkw

I spent this weekend at Coco Beach, near Lomé with the canadians, who I got to know last weekend.
On friday on my way to Lomé I already saw some patrol jeeps with mounted guns and
finally arrived, a truck turned over and blocking half the road in the middle of the city.
The things looked worse than they were; besides, it is pretty normal now in Lomé.
After lunch and a few drinks with Fanny and some togolese I still gathered some information
(since I am already there…).

When the motortaxi stopped at a traffic light, where about 50 mototaxis (each with driver
and passenger) had found their way all the way to the front, a state convoi passed by and
a soldier was blocking the street. When the light turned to green for us, the drivers started
blowing their horns and shouting, since a convoi here consists of around 7 or 8 cars, not 3.
The whole situation reminded me of a soccer game, but when the soldier finally left the street,
the party really started with a lot of laughing and joking :).

That night Fanny, Emil, Martin and I went to the farewellparty of another canadian volunteer
(does this never stop?) where I also met the employees of the german embassy, who I actually
wanted to meet on monday. 🙂
They also gave me some
information concerning the current crisis.

Afterwards we still went into a disco until 4 am. The discos here are not much different
from the discos in Europe, besides the dancing rastas :). On the way back we still passed two
greedy military patrols which wanted money, since I did not have my passport with me, but also
from on of the canadians, since they did not accepted the authorized copy of his passport (all about the money!).
We sleeped in the next morning and missed the manifestation during which we were supposed
to stay at home.

That afternoon we left for Coco Beach. The night was nice with the sea, djembes (drums),
a camp fire, Canadians, French, a Nigerian and a German :).
We were about 15 persons altogether, slept in palm huts and just relaxed :).

strand

When we wanted to return back home on sunday afternoon (4 pm), the road was blocked by
the opposition, which we only noticed, because trucks started coming backwards at us!
We had to pass through a neighbourhood in which almost every street parallel to the main road
was blocked. At first it stayed calm, but when we wanted to turn back onto the main road,
a manifestant tried to throw a boulder the size of a head on the car in front of us.
While this car tried to flee and we had to evade it, the manifestant had already called upon his
colleagues to stop our car. So we found ourselves menaced by about 20 people with boulders
like the first one, screaming: “ARE YOU FRENCH?? IF YES, YOU ARE DEAD, IF YOU ARE
AMERICANS, YOU ARE OK!!”
Besides me there were fortunately only Canadians and a Nigerian in the car, but I had to
show them my passport. I was lucky that I still got it back at the end.
So we decided to return to Coco Beach but had to pass a second crowd who wanted money in
order to let us pass.
We had been one of the first cars entering the neighbourhood, we just had bad luck, but the canadians
also said that it had not been this crucial so far. If anything happens, it is still in Lomé,
thought. It stays calm in Kpalimé.

So we spent another night at Coco Beach, playing Yazee and listening to the radio. The
next morning I still got the most part of the Metal-CD-collection of one of the Canadians, since
he is leaving in three weeks and does not need them anymore :).
Right after that I returned to Kpalimé – what a weekend!

French fries and Gabun

pommes

Last night we had another campfire. We wanted to fry a chicken for some of, and french
fries for all of the volunteers :). The chicken had been slaughtered by Johannes, Constantin’s
brother (he had a relationship to that chicken – as a medical student, I hope that there
are no consequences 🙂 ).
Most of the volunteers already left at around midnight, so they did not eat too much.
So Michael, Daniel and I still fried and ate the rest of the french fries (really crispy !) – for 6 hours!
At 4 am we finally had enought and went to sleep – I had enough fries for quite some time now :).

At the same time it was the last evening for Johannes, who had only stayed several weeks
to travel with Constantin, but has become a part of the group nonetheless! This morning we
got to know that his flight has been cancelled, no clue why (political or economical reasons).

The president is now in Gabun, because he was invited there. There also reigns a dictator
who is trying to figure out, if his son can take over after his death. It all depends on the
African Union, which is still young and did not have such problems to solve yet. So this is
where it becomes clear what they are capable of. In the opinion of some the french are
supporting the regime in Togo and have always been. Maybe they had some influence…