My name is Fanny Etonam Okaikue. I lived in Togo, West Africa, for most of my childhood and teenage years and moved to the United States when I was 17 years old. Experiences such as going to the market on Saturdays, which is similar to going to the farmers’ market in the summer, and waking up early in the morning to wait for the bread vendor made Togo home. As a child, I remember waiting for the clock to strike 5 pm every day because that was when the vendors of koliko (fried yams) started their business. All of the children in the neighborhood would line up to get their afternoon snacks.
When I think of Togo, I think of my extended family gathering together for lunch every Sunday after church. Sunday lunches in Togo are particularly special because it is when most working families have the time to sit down and enjoy each other’s company. My mom would cook some festive meal or, to keep it simple, would make foufou. I remember sharing meals with other households in the neighborhood on Christmas, New Year and Easter and making trips to the beach every other weekend with friends and family.
All of these pleasant memories are what made Togo home.