Placed at the foothills of Atakora Mountains in the north-east of Togo, we find Kutammaku region, home of the Batammariba, people of ancient traditions. Kutammaku reaches up to Benin and in this country they are called the Somba.
Kutammaku, which means the men who work the land, was listed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 2004.
Kutammaku is a very beautiful region as well as interesting; landscapes are closely linked to the traditions and to the religious beliefs and even during these times, people live in harmony with nature.
Inhabitants live in takietas, a kind of miniature castles laboriously constructed with clay, wood and straw. These fortress-like mud houses usually have two floors. Under the terrace there is the kitchen and a space destined to keep animals. On the top, the towers are used for storing corn and millet; there are other rooms and a formidable terrace used for drying the grain. After dinner the terrace is also a meeting point for friends and neighbors, gathering around the “chief”, they listen attentively to the stories and tales some of them recent and others more ancient.
In the outside of the compound there may be a fetish shrine as well as animal skulls on the walls. These fetishes protect every inhabitant of the house and prevent from bad spirits in the surroundings the interior of the compound.
The fortress nature of theses extraordinary structures have their origin in the XVII century, they helped ward off slave-grabbing forays of Benin’s Dahomeyan kings. Two centuries later would serve to be protected from Germans.
Nowadays the takietas have become undoubtedly the symbol of Togo.
The Batammariba are a strongly united and organized people, where the hardest field works, in the forest, construction or hunt are realized in community groups. Whereas young women prepare themselves to be good wives, adolescent boys face ancestral initiation rites that can take them from 2 to 4 years.
The main food of the Batammariba consists of sorghum pasta mixed with sauce of baobab leaves or also fermented baobab seeds, or the famous sauce of the whole West Africa made of okra. If they have been lucky with hunt, the fest will be prepared of hare or other small or medium sized animal.
If you take your time to discover the valley, you will realize that as the evening passes, more and more inhabitants assemble calmly in a shade to chat and to drink their local beer made of fermented millet or sorghum and served in calabash bowls. A beer that by the way is pleasant and easy to drink.
If you want to discover Tamberma amazing valley and the The Somba (Benin) with us, you can consult our trip of 18 days to Ghana, Benin and Togo.