Glossary and Pronunciation Guide

Aralen®:  trade name for chloroquine phosphate, anti-malaria medicine, taken once a week to prevent malaria symptoms. Even when taken faithfully, one could still get malaria, since chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria started to appear in West Africa in the 80's.

Atakpamé (Ah-tok-pam'-ay): Large, hilly town at the foot of the Togo Mountains, about 80 miles north of the coast.  Site of the first phase of training. My monthly living allowance was deposited here, at BIAO (International Bank of West Africa).  See map.

cfa franc:  currency in Togo and other francophone West African countries.  It was roughly 350 cfa per dollar when I was a volunteer.

compound:  walled enclosure containing several apartments or houses.  In Lome, the compound may be gated, and the walls may be topped with shards of broken glass to keep intruders out.

fufu:  sticky, starchy ball of boiled and pounded yam, plantain or manioc.  Pieces are pinched off with the fingers and dipped into a spicy sauce. Click on the picture to see it being pounded.

Fulani: nomadic West Africans, mainly herders and traders.

harmattan:  dusty wind that blows down from the Sahara during the dry season, from November to March.

Lomé (lo'-may): capital of Togo located on the coast in the south west corner of the country.  The international airport and Peace Corps office are located here.  See map.

Lycée (lee-say'): a high school in the French educational system, roughly equivalent to American 10th grade through "13th" grade (1st year college).

manioc: starchy tuber smaller than a yam, used to make tapioca and fufu.  Some varieties contain cyanide and must be cooked properly before eating. wpe5.jpg (21884 bytes)

plantain:  wild banana, longer, thicker, tougher than common bananas in the states.  Soft, over-ripe plantain, fried in oil and dipped in hot pepper was my favorite Togo street food.

proviseur:  headmaster or principal of the lycée.

seconde: first year in French High School, equivalent to American 10th grade.

sodabi: strong drink made from distilled palm wine.

terminale: final year in French High School, "13th" grade.  To pass High School, the Togolese students must pass the "Bac," the national high school exit /college entrance exam.

tchuk (tchook): millet beer.

wagasi: cheese made and sold by the Fulani.

woezo: Mina greeting meaning "welcome."

yam or ignam: big starchy tuber, typically 1.5 feet long, about 5" in diameter.  It is boiled like a potato, then can be cut into pieces and dipped into sauce, or it can be pounded in a mortar to make fufu. Photo:  piles of ignams in the Badou market.


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Copyright © 2000 Bill Crozier