Sunday, July 8, 2012


Richard brought me back from our conference in Kara last Tuesday.   Since we were on his moto, we came back the northern way.  This route passes through the village of Sarakawa.  January 24, 1974, the father of Togo's current president, President Gnassingbe Eyadema, was flying to his ancestral home in his C-47 when it crashed near Sarakawa.  The plane apparently broke into 2 pieces on impact. Eyadema emerged alive from the wreckage of the rear section while most of his entourage was killed (wikipedia and Richard differ as to how many others walked away).  The crash, and his miraculous survival, played a major role in the construction of the mythology surrounding Eyadema, and in the development of his personality cult that was partially responsible for the duration of his rule in Togo.
Anyway, I've always wanted to see this place, so Richard and I stopped by.  I wish I'd had my camera.  The rear section of the plane, basically the tail section, a couple engines, and one wing, was left as-is-- a crumpled pile of wreckage in a field. A concrete courtyard was poured around it, and a circular ceremonial reviewing hall that looks like a mausoleum was built around that. You can walk through the wreckage, spin the tail wheel, flick the propellers, run your hand along the wing, rap on the fuselage, if you want. Its kind of amazing that anyone walked away the wreck.  Richard, hat in hand the whole time, told me that Eyadema climbed out and ordered his rescuers to take him straight home.  The front half of the plane is still piled in a field. 

It was pretty cool to see.  Although we um, angered the 2 soldiers guarding it because we didn't . . . pass by their outpost behind the place and just walked in. The photo on wikipedia is worthless.

Then, back on the road, we went by the natural preserve in Sarakawa and saw zebras.  That was cool too.

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