Before going down, I admired the view
The reality is that the senoufos, armed by the Germans, practiced slavery for their masters (Togo was a German colony until 1914)
It’s Laré who makes me visit. He is an animist, of the Moba ethnic group.
Yes, it goes down hard!
He descends face against the wall because he has vertigo.
Between 70 and 100 people lived here in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The caves are located against a cliff, facing north, hidden by vegetation, still in the shade with a peak of 230 meters. When the enemy arrived on the plateau, with his horses and Mauser rifles, the population clung to the vines and descended as shown by Laré.
Never did anyone find them!
The caves contain 134 millet granaries. These are made of clay mixed with straw.
Or clay and stones
Some are compartmentalized
There is space for women. Here is the entry
We can clearly see the traces of the fire that they made at night.
“Women and children were protected by Lentelik, a deity, that’s why no one found them”
We access the space of the men by a corridor
(Provided you walk on all fours)
And we come to men’s space
Adjoining this place, the treasure of the chief in hard currency, cowry shells
Sorry, the photo is fuzzy but we were moved to have found a shell of the time, a cowrie. We put it back where we found it …
About leader, here is his throne
This is where the initiation ceremonies of the young warriors were held to have the right to shoot poison arrows (decoction with toad’s head, crocodile bile and snake venom)
In my humble opinion, venom would have been enough. But I am not an expert.
Here is a quiver
When they returned from combat, the warriors carefully tidied their poisoned arrows and filled the holes with clay
There was a flat stone on which millet was milled
To drink, a source that never dried up.
It’s been four weeks since she stopped flowing and Laré wonders if this is due to global warming or the gods who are angry. I confessed to him my ignorance.
To purify the water, they used a cactus
They cut the buds and let the sap flow, which, it seems, made the water drinkable
Outside a chicken coop
There was even the school where children learned to count using the natural cavities of the place
To heal themselves they used wild aloe vera …
It was at this moment, that questioning Laré I measured the extreme poverty of his village
Well, we must go back!
And there, surprise!
Here we lie on the laterite Laré and me to set up the jack. In a good mood and in front of the kids from the village who came to watch the show (thank you pens)
“It’s weird that Sensein (another god) did not protect us”
It ends with a place that was built by a French association. This is where Mikabini concludes the visit
On my way back to Dapaong, I was stopped at a police checkpoint by a senior Togolese army corporal, 50 years packed, who does not seem to have been among the first of his class. I feel he wants money
- Where do you come from ?
- The caves of Nok (He has trouble to understand, I must repeat several times) Suddenly I see that he just had an idea
- You have to have a guide
- I had a guide
- You need a sworn guide
- He was sworn
- (Disappointed, he’s looking for something else) Show your papers
- Which ? And I quote pell-mell my Vitale card, my boat license, the Fnac card, the subscription card of the Saint Hilaire gardening …
- (Bored) Whatever you want
- Here, my passport (I tell myself that we must not push the cap too far)
- (He opens it at random and falls on a stamp of Montenegro) It’s not the right visa
- I put the Togo visa under his nose biting my lips not to laugh.
- (Tired but keeping my passport) Well, I’m thirsty.
- Give me something to buy water
- (I hand him a pen)
- (Falsely naive, eyes narrowed) You think we can drink with a pen?
- Listen I have never tried but it is tempting
- (He bursts out laughing and gives me back my passport) You’re a smart guy!
I just reread the paragraph with the corporal. It’s the verbatim transcription of our dialogue. No exaggeration. I know, it’s another world. It’s Africa …