Flashback: Togo Chronicles - Day 4 - Lome - University visit & Campfire sing-a-long


Originally Posted by Keri Chryst on February 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM


After a bit of hemming and hawing over departure times, I decide to head back to Lomé with the early birds around 7am (so unlike me!) while Jeff sleeps in a bit longer back in Atakpamé.

I'm looking forward to some much needed downtime, both in the car, and once settled back into the hotel in Lomé. From here on out, we'll be staying in one place - thanks goodness! All that packing, unpacking and shlepping was making an already tiring schedule that much more exhausting. Anyway, all's well that ends well. Back in Lomé, I manage catch a little shut-eye then order some Mafé for lunch while taking advantage of the hotel's wi-fi. It's really good to chill out for a little bit. Then I meet up with Jeff in the lobby to head over to the University down the road to meet with some youth who are interested in both music and English language culture. Jeff and I have elected to do our blues shtick, which goes over pretty well, as long as we keep them interested with the participation (singing and swaying) rather than getting too pedantic with the scholarly side of things. Their twist on Sweet Home Chicago (Sweet Home TOGO ;-) ) is a real hit! As usual, Jeff tears it up with his blues licks, and they all get into that. Then we're made aware that a few local groups want to perform for us, and we have the pleasure of listening to one band that plays a song in Togolese, as well as a classic Bob Marley tune. Then, surprise surprise, a couple of poets pop up to do some slam about social struggles and self-empowerment! Very cool :-) And last but not least, a group of dancers do their moves to a pop-dance tune that is apparently a current craze. Jeff and I are invited to talk about our music studies, and then give 'em one last tune to send 'em home singing - we go for a trip down Rout 66, and by this time the kids in the back can't help getting up to shake their booties ;-) Then we're carted over to the Embassy, with it's obligatory security rigamarole, where we chill a bit before setting up and getting ready for tonight's gig. It's Brenda the local Public Affairs Officer's pet project - She wants to introduce the local community to a good old fashioned American Camp Fire - complete with s'mores and a big ole sing-a-long :-)

First, we're invited to do a bit of our usual repertoire on a small stage that's been set up outside - but then the chairs are turned back in to form a circle and the campfires are lit... and then the real fun begins! Another one of our hosts, Koffi Awute, kicks off the evening with some classic Simon & Garfunkel while I run off to change into something more campfire-like.

6 months in the making... S'mores for everyone!

After that, we all take turns running the gamut with everything from "Blowin' in the Wind" to "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" to "The Chicken Dance", making a surprise hit of "The Hokey Pokey"- HA! Who knew that that would go over so well with the Togolese. It's a very mixed crowd... English, South African, Togolese, American, French... And the little ones couldn't resist coming up and having their turn on the microphone, with multiple versions of Twinkle Twinkle, and the ABC's in various languages (I may have trumped them all with my rendition in Arabic ;-).

Keri joins Koffi in a little folk singing

All in all, the evening was a great success - a good time was had by all. And, Jeff says he saw a side of me tonight that he never knew I had in me ;-)

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