Coconut trees, fruit stands and bags of gari parade before my eyes. The wind whips my face. The Salsa is playing from the car radio. Earlier this year I rediscovered Lomé La Belle and a bit of Togo. Car, motorcycle cab, dugout and walking; dear family, old friends and new encounters. Here are some places not to be missed if you visit Lomé!
To understand an African city, there is nothing like a trip to the market! At a time when the neighboring country is thinking of destroying the largest market in Africa, I hurriedly went to wander among the stalls of a thousand colors and scents, guided by my wise aunts. A short stop at the Lomé Cathedral, a classic must-see of a visit, then I get lost among the spices, dried fish, flours, wax and other loincloths, chargers, buckets, shoes,… We haggle, we compare, we give up, we buy, we get angry, we laugh, we complain about the cost of living, we find compromises. Tomorrow I’ll go to another corner, to see the ‘venues de France’ and go visit the Malians, they sell good radios and my auntie needs a new one!
Asrafobawu, a brand ‘made in Togo’ that celebrates African know-how
A few days late, I miss the man known as Elom 20ce, prolific Togolese artist. Music, documentaries, fashion, the projects follow one another and are intertwined for the pan-African rapper.
Unfortunately, he was abroad while I was in Lomé. Thanks to his recommendations, I had the pleasure of discovering his brand Asrafobawu in different stores in Lomé.
A tribute to the know-how of the country and the continent, shirts, dresses, boubous and hooded jackets embrace contemporary fashion while celebrating tradition and originality. KENTÉ, BOGOLAN, TYE&DYE, INDIGO, PATCHWORK, EMBROIDERIES… all these textiles are brought up to date and the choice is difficult as the models and colors are all beautiful.
All these treasures are ours’ as Elom 20ce says, and as a guardian of traditions he knows how to value them: exploring materials, knowing the history of techniques, keeping them alive, working with craftsmen and thus encouraging the made in Togo, this is one of the many exciting missions of Elom 20ce, a precious knowledge broker!
Discover the complete Lonlon catalog, including all Asafrobawu collections here.
Asrafobawu clothes can be found at Ikonik Glam and at Tcha Tcha cafe in Lome.
The Palace of Lomé, art and culture center and green lung of the city
Taking advantage of the morning breeze, I get up and walk through the streets of Nyékonakpoé and Kodjoviakopé down to the sea. There, in front of the beach, the Palais de Lomé imposes itself to me. Majestic, imperious, draped in white, surrounded by its abundant park. Since 2019, this vestige of Togo’s colonial and political history has recovered its beauty to welcome art and culture and open its doors to the general public. A magnificent park extends over several hectares. The diversity of the vegetation, the wind blowing in the palm trees, the chirping of the numerous birds greet me. The hundred-year-old trees, like old folks, look at me as I walk by. The pools at the entrance soothe me. I approach and admire the carefully renovated building, especially its woodwork. Then, intimidated, I climb the stairs, excited to discover the exhibitions presented by this new institution.
I continue the tour and discover 10 contemporary artists from Lomé thanks to an untitled exhibition that combines a wide range of mediums: painting, collages, sculptures, drawings… Finally, upstairs, a journey through time awaits me with the exhibition Lomé, portraits of a city.
Before resuming my walk, I take in the postcard view of the infinite ocean and take one last look around the huge park. Next stop, an oasis in the heart of the neighborhood: heading up to Tcha Tcha.
Discover the 3 exhibitions inaugurated in 2022 at the Palais de Lomé by reading our article here.
Palais de Lomé Public entrance : avenue Sarakawa, Lome Hours : saturday and sunday 10am – 5pm
Tcha Tcha, an oasis in the heart of the city
Arty café, boutique and guesthouse, Tcha Tcha is an artistic villa full of charm. House of de 60s tastefully furnished, the place is welcoming and the garden is neat, ideal for a break in the heart of the city. Without a doubt a real lover of Lomé initiated this place! The team is friendly, the terrace pleasant as well as the proposed readings inspiring. The succulent menu highlights local ingredients and the store offers a refined choice of handicrafts, mottled objects and Togolese brands: Kari Kari, Asrafobawu, etc. Sheltered from public view, the guest room is elegantly arranged and I would almost give myself up to a nap in this haven of peace… but other parts of Lomé await to be explored!
Tcha Tcha Café Kodjoviakopé neighbordhood – Lome Hours: tuesday-saturday 9am-6pm
Handicraft, Creative Lome
Togo is famous for its wood and its weavings… workshops, small stores, craft centers. So many materials and know-how that surround us since childhood and that I like to re-explore at each trip. For this afternoon, it is Estelle who accompanies me. Between Paris and Lomé, the designer initiated Kente Project at the crossroads between sculpture, design and fashion, reinterpreting the customs in collaboration with local craftsmen. We enter her favorite stores, meet artisans and thanks to her I enter the Tayé Tayé workshop, temple of wood with which she collaborates closely.
From this escapade, I come back with a few favorite items, a timid glimpse of the richness of an African country that was not yet represented in the Africa Blooming collection. You can find them here.
The Togolese coast
On the way back to Benin, I stop in places close to my heart… I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscapes, the generosity of nature, the simple life in the village and the kindness of those who make this visit so special. I will be back soon.