Togoville is a lakeside town in southern Togo, lying on the northern shore of Lake Togo which we visted as part of our trip to Togo and Benin in 2018. It was originally known as Togo, then Togoville and later of course is how the country of Togo took its name. Togo took its name from this town, Togoville when Gustav Nachtigal signed a treaty with the town’s chief, Mlapa III, in 1884 at the time when Germany controlled Togo. Yes, that’s right – it was not the French – it was the Germans. Despite this, French is the main foreign language spoken here these days, secondary to the many local dialects of course.
We toured Togoville as well as checking out the sights of Lome (the capital), enjoying relaxation at Coco Beach Hotel, crossing Lake Togo, watching the African Nations Cup qualifier between Togo and the Gambia, visiting a Voodoo Market and drinking in the country’s bars.
Getting to Togoville
As I documented before, we got to Togoville by boat from an unknown village. The boat trip took 30 minutes, this after a drive east from the capital city Lome.
These are my top eight things to check out when backpacking in Togoville.
We arrived into Togoville at the main harbour. Here there was a jetty and a beach. Togoville is a lakeside town and you walk up the hill towards to town centre.
Togoville Cathedral is probably the number one tourist sight for me here. For two main reasons. The Cathedral was built in 1910, and has a shrine to the Virgin Mary. This made for an interesting story as our guide told us – the Virgin Mary shrine is rumoured to have appeared here magically as an image over the lake, back on the 7th November, one year in the early 1970s.
As well as this, the church has a large interior, and many smaller rooms and chapels including a huge outer courtyard. It was in this outer courtyard where Pope John Paul II preached back on the 9th August 1985.
When Pope John Paul II was here, he met tribal representatives wearing traditional costumes and bow and antelope head-dresses. They trumpeted good wishes through wooden horns, danced joyously and sang out in tribal languages, French, Latin and even the Pope’s native Polish.
Late in the day, John Paul exchanged greetings with leaders of the country’s traditional animist religions. About 60 percent of Togolese subscribe to these beliefs, and many professed Catholics still practice some of the old rituals.
Speaking at a shrine to the Virgin that faces Lake Togo and is near a forest that has powerful symbolism for animists, the Pope gave an unusual speech that emphasised the beliefs that animists and Christians shared.
Animists venerate nature, often worship their ancestors and believe that plants, animals and totems can have spiritual powers. They also often emphasise the power of evil spirits. There is a stained glass window, a quote and a shrine all dedicate to the Pope’s visit.
3.Shrine to Pope John Paul II and the Boat He Came In
The Boat that the Pope arrived in has been restored and put on display next to the small room which is used as a Shrine to the Virgin Mary and to the Pope’s visit.
There isn’t much in the way of commerce or offices in downtown Togoville. A main crossroads and a few market stalls are as busy as it gets. To all intents and purposes we visited the CBD in central Togoville. It just looked a bit like this.
5.Voodoo References and Shrines
Togoville is a Voodoo town as much as it is a Catholic town and this becomes glaringly evident on our walk through many and various Voodoo shrines…as well as trees.
The Togoville Monument features one local Togolese person and a German person on a joint statue on the edge of the city. The monument commemorates the 100th anniversary of the date the treaty was signed between Togo and Germany. The monument was erected in June 1984.
Just before leaving Togoville, we visited the souvenir shop. If you followed my Travel Collectables page you will know that I always try to buy a fridge magnet for my Mum, send a postcard to my youngest brother and buy/collect for myself some stamps, beer bottle tops, coins, banknotes, postcards and beer labels. However. this shop was crap. There was nothing of interest for either myself or Malina in it. Not even a postcard, so we bought nothing and left unimpressed.
8. Finally – Education in Togoville
We also learnt that Togoville is widely recognized as an excellent place of study for High School students. Three main schools are located in the town, the College Notre Dame Du Lac of Togoville, The College Saint Augustin, and the College d’Enseignement General of Togoville. Many students come from all over the country and the African continent to attend school in Togoville. We saw one of the schools but I was still surprised when I heard about this fact.
Here are the details for organising a Togoville tour with Jeremies from Mowoki Tours and Fly for Life:
Here are some videos from my time in Togoville: