Togo is a rich and enticing French speaking West African country. Seeming like just a strip of land cocooned between Bènin to the East and Ghana to the West ,Togo is blessed with “pristine coastlines, lush rain forests and untouched, sun-scorched savannas”. It is more serene and reputedly safer than Nigeria .
Among the many ethnic peoples of Togo are the people of Atakpamé. Atakpamé is the fifth largest city in Togo by population. It is surrounded by a range of mountains and developed in the 17th Century as both a commercial centre on a major north-south caravan route and as a haven for refugees fleeing from war. West Africa was very unstable at the time, and the Oyo empire was experiencing many challenges. The Yoruba speaking people who founded Atakpamé fled from Ile Ife.
“In the 1764 Battle of Atakpamé, the town played host to a clash between the rebellious Akyem vassal state with the help of Yoruba mercenaries of the Oyo Empire and the Dahomeans against the forces of the Ashanti Empire under their Asantehene, Kosi Oboadum.” – Britannica .
Linking to the global events of the time, battles such as this would have fed many Yoruba prisoners into the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.
And like the Yoruba who found themselves enslaved in the Americas , the people of Atakpamé did also hold on to their spirituality and customs . They retained the Yoruba language which they refer to as Ife, in its purest form.