traditional woman tamberma valley togo

Fortress Houses of the Tamberma Valley – Togo

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To escape slave-grabbing raids by the neighboring Benin kingdom in the 17th century, the people of Tamberma Valley built these fortified houses.


Slideshow: Fortress Houses of Togo


hunter-with-bow-arrow-tamberma-valley-togo
Today, villagers still hunt with bow and arrow, often getting monkeys.

Constructed from clay, wood and straw, these fortified houses – called Tata – are group of towers and rooms connected by a thick outer wall.

mud fort houses tamberma valley togo

The houses can only be entered through a single narrow door that leads into a dark chamber, which was once used to trap an enemy so he could be showered with arrows.

man rebuilding mud house tamberma valley togo
Rebuilding mud walls after a recent storm damage.

For the people of the Tamberma Valley life still revolves around their enclosed elevated terrace, where families relax, cook and dry crops.

boy staring tamberma valley togo
I hung out with a chief and his family for a day, drank alcohol that evening and slept the night on the terrace of a mud house.

Above the ground floor, the conical-roofed towers are used for storing corn and millet. While other rooms are for sleeping and washing.

birds following woman tamberma valley togo
Birds follow the leader.

Animals – dogs, chicken, goats – are kept below, under the family terrace.

traditional woman tamberma valley togo 1
This woman put on her ‘hat” for my pic as she was preparing dried fruit. NOTE: bulging bellies indicate poor nutrition.

At the front of these fort houses, traditional shrines and animal skulls protect the inhabitants from evil spirits.

Travels in Togo – 2008


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