– drawing by Samer Kawar
Tucked in between Ghana and Benin, Togo is a small country in West Africa, whose tourist attractions are still largely unknown. Probably, the most interesting site in the country is Koutammakou, founded in the 17th century by people fleeing the slave-grabbing attacks from Benin’s Kings.
Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba is a cultural landscape in northern Togo which was designated in 2004 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is one of the most scenic in the country, with stunning mountain landscapes and features traditional mud tower-houses (known as takienta), a national symbol of Togo.
Batammariba means ‘the real architects of earth’ and they use only clay, wood and straw for their mud-houses. A typical takienta is a cluster of mud structures connected together by a continuous mud wall. Each structure has a dedicated function like housing kitchens, bedrooms or granaries. The mud walls are built in layers, resulting in a pattern of horizontal stripes. Some buildings have flat roofs while others are surmounted by a thatched roof. Many of the mud houses have two floors and still remain the preferred style of living.
“Koutammakou, Togo – my sketch of a typical tamberma house in the koutammakou region (land of the batammariba) of northern togo. The valley and its unique architecture of fortified mud tower houses was listed as a unesco world heritage site in 2004.”
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