Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Political Protocol in Togo
J’ai faire la connassiance du Chef Canton au-bata-maund. (I met the Chief of the area of Abatamand, which includes twenty-seven villages) This was a training exercise as well as honoring and paying tribute to the Chief of the villages we are living in. The training exercise taught us what the protocol might be like when we go to our own villages, and how we should introduce ourselves to the chief of our village. It will be important for us to get the support of the Chief of whatever village our “post” is in. Just as in American communities, there is a political structure and protocol that needs to be honored if we are to accomplish our goals. Chief Canton seemed to be a kind, wise man. He oversees the governance of these twenty-seven villages. All twenty-four of the Peace Corps volunteers and about twelve of our trainers went to his compound for a formal meeting. You cannot or do not speak directly to the Chief. You speak to him through his secretaire who is sitting right next to the Chief. The Chief welcomed us and gave a little speech. He said he was very happy we were there, because it is one world now. He wanted to know how we’d been treated so far, and he wanted to be sure to let him know if we ran into any problems. He has been governing this territory for twenty-six years. He was a doctor prior to being Chief. I’m not sure how he was elected, but was told that usually a Chief is a Chief until death.