Togo is bordered by Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso, and has a 56-kilometer coastline that runs along the Gulf of Guinea. In 2018, its population stood at 7.8 million. The national poverty rate declined by just over 6 percentage points from 61.7% to 55.1% between 2006 and 2015. Despite this progress, poverty remains widespread, especially in rural areas where 69% of households were living below the poverty line in 2015. Female-headed households experience higher rates of poverty than male-headed households—57.5% against 55%. Vulnerability is higher among women because they have fewer economic opportunities and are underrepresented at high levels of decision making. (World Bank 2020).
Our baskets from Togo are woven with Elephant Grass.
Using their teeth, the artisan splits the straw down the middle creating two thin pieces. The artisan then repeatedly rolls the two pieces together, known as twisting–this process requires a smooth flat surface to achieve just the right kind of twist for weaving. Once the straw is twisted, it is put into a pot of boiling dye. Depending on the color and amount of straw being dyed, it takes about 20 minutes for the straw to achieve the full color of the dye. The straw is laid in the sun to dry. Only after the straw is dried does the weaving process finally begin.
TECHNIQUE: “over/under” technique, which enables the artisan to create beautiful patterns and shapes
HANDLES: elephant grass wrapped with goat leather
TIME FRAME: It takes the average Tog artisan 2.5 days to weave a basket.