Situated at the foot of the Atakora mountain range in north-eastern Togo is the region of Kutammaku, home to the Batammariba, a people of ancient traditions. Kutammaku stretches all the way to Benin, where they are called the Somba. Kutammaku (the men who work the land) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. This is a very beautiful and interesting region, the landscapes are closely linked to customs and religious beliefs and where even today, man lives in harmony with nature.
Takietas, fortified houses in the Tamberma valley
Its inhabitants live in takietas. It is a kind of miniature castles laboriously built with clay, wood and straw. These fortified houses usually have two floors. On the lower floor is the kitchen and a space for animals. While on the upper floor are the barns, rooms and a formidable terrace used to dry the grain.
After dinner, the terrace also serves as a meeting point for family, friends and neighbours. They gather around the « boss » and listen attentively to the stories he tells about his country, some recent and some old.
Fetishes and spirits
On the outside of the house we find the fetishes that keep the bad spirits away. These fetishes protect each inhabitant of the house and prevent bad spirits from being in the surroundings and from accessing the interior of the house.
These fortified constructions have their origin in the 17th century and were used to protect themselves from the slave raids of the kingdom of Dahomey (Benin). Two centuries later, they would serve to protect themselves this time from the Germans.
Today, the takietas have undoubtedly become the symbol of Togo.
The Batammariba of Togo
They are a highly cohesive and organized people. For example, the hardest work in fields, forests, construction or hunting is done in community groups. As young women prepare to be good wives. While adolescent boys are confronted with ancient rites of initiation that can take them from 2 to 4 years.
The main diet of Batammariba consists of sorghum paste, mixed with baobab leaf sauce. Or fermented baobab seeds, or the famous West African okra sauce. If you were lucky with the game, the feast will be of the hare or the strange small or medium sized animal.
If you take the time to discover the valley, you will see that as the evening progresses, more and more people gather quietly in the shade. It’s to chat and drink their local beer, made of millet or sorghum and served in pumpkins. A beer that, by the way, is « not bad » to drink.