I arrived in Togo in 2015, not long after the controversial reelection of its president. When my eyes finally opened, the outside ambient noise was the first thing that hit me as I came out of the airport. Lomé by day is a disorganised orchestra where music, horns, cries and engine noises clash. I lived near Lomé’s market, next to the church. The apartment, which I shared with a local family, was pleasant and gave me an unrestricted view of the Atlantic Ocean. I went there with the aim of creating a documentary on the political and social conditions of this small country, ill-treated by France for centuries.
The air charged with thick dust coming from North Africa, I roamed around every day on my trusty Rato with the desire to get lost and discover this brand new space. I concentrated on my documentary and my research led me to better understand the individuals that surrounded me, their stories and their aspirations. My wanderings brought me face to face with muzzled and threatened political opponents, and allowed me to enter public hospitals left to deteriorate by the State, slums, the State media and, most of all, people’s homes.
Their tales, often filled with hope, made me realise how much this government, near-monarchical since 1967, left its population to fend for themselves. The Togolese, marked by decades of oligarchy and poverty, were able to find lifelines to survive: their devotion to their religion, their family, and their jobs, as well as learning about democracy enable them today, in 2017, to rebel and demand that the will of a people ignored for 60 years be heard.
This work, this country, these people left their mark on me; I discovered what the will of a people is, and I was amazed.
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