Tamberma Valley It would be a crime to visit Togo and not check out this amazing valley

Its unique collection of fortified villages were founded in the 17th century by people who fled the slaving forays of the Benin’s Dahomeyan kings.

The valley was isolated until recently but is now the closest thing northern Togo has to a tourist hot spot, with the attendant overzealous guides.

A typical Tamberma compound, called a tata, consists of a series of towers connected by a thick wall with a single entrance chamber, used to trap an enemy so he can be showered with arrows. The castle-like nature of these extraordinary structures helped ward off invasions by neighbouring tribes and, in the late 19th century, the Germans. As in the Somba people’s tata somba nearby in Benin, life in a tata revolves around an elevated terrace of clay-covered logs, where the inhabitants cook, dry their millet and corn, and spend most of their leisure time.

Skilled builders, the Tamberma use only use clay, wood and straw – and no tools. The walls are banco, a mixture of unfired clay and straw, which is used as a binder. The towers, capped by picturesque conical roofs, are used for storing corn and millet. The other rooms are used for sleeping, bathing and, during the rainy season, cooking. The animals are kept under the terrace, protected from the rain.

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