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The Yovo Song

Yovo, yovo, bonjour! Ça va bien? Merci!

This piece, recently aired on AARP’s Prime Time Postscript, was produced while Carla was serving as a Girls’ Education and Empowerment volunteer in Togo. It deals with the common annoyance faced by herself and other volunteers of being constantly confronted with a chant by local children that drew attention to their race, their whiteness, their difference — and this, when volunteers were doing their best to integrate into and become part of their new communities. “The Yovo Song” examines reactions to and history behind the song, ultimately concluding that acceptance of this chant is a better path than resistance.

Maba Ela

Singing with Togolese music group Kotr Wiss in Kante, Togo, December 2010.

“Malaria has killed my friends. Poverty has killed my neighbors. AIDS has killed my friends. Sorcerers have killed my companions.”

“I have only my voice to sing their memory. My guitar to cradle their crying hearts….my voice to bring back joy.”

—Klenwa Toua

Fufu

Fufu is a starch staple food pounded with a big mortar and pestle and made from large tubers called ignams . While serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Northern Togo in 2010, producer Carla Seidl talked with Madame Helim, a pâte and fufu seller, about the process of making fufu.

Host Intro:

In the small West African nation of Togo, a typical meal consists of one of two staple foods: pâte (pronounced like “pot”), made from corn flour and water, or fufu, made from pounded yams. For those in the North of the country, where yams are too expensive to be eaten year-round, fufu season comes as a welcome change.

Blog Post

“When I first tried fufu , I was less than impressed. While the flavor was mild and harmless, the texture was so gluey and unfamiliar that I found it difficult to swallow. Now, though, after over a year in Togo, I’ve grown fond of the food, and will go out of my way to order it if I’m out and about. It goes especially well with what is known as wagash , a cheese made from the milk that the local herding Pulaar people sell.

Locals eat fufu , like pâte and other foods, with their right hand, taking a piece of the fufu and using it to scoop up some sauce before putting it in their mouths. The yams used to make fufu are huge tubers with a skin that flakes off like thick paper. During yam season, you can often see a mound of seven or eight of them stacked and tied onto the back of a bicycle, the rider straining at the slightest incline, despite his physical fitness – that pile of yams must weigh a hundred pounds!”

Radio Réussite (Radio Success)

Radio Success: Togolese Girls’ Radio

Listen to the series here.

A series produced in French in Kante, Togo, West Africa, by Girls’ Education and Empowerment volunteer Carla Seidl in 2010. The goal of the program was to educate and empower Togolese girls. The program featured the voices of Togolese girls and women, as well as advice and inspiration that they could use toward achieving personal success. The show mixes interview, skits, poetry, and music.

Themes treated in the shows in the Radio Réussite series include: prostitution, forced marriage, gender equality, sexual harassment, beauty, infidelity, role models, the value of work, and study tips.

The show features original songs related to female empowerment composed and performed by Carla Seidl and the group Kotr Wiss of Kante.

Description en français:

“Réussite: La Radio des Filles Togolaises”

Radio Réussite était une initiative de l’americaine Carla Seidl, volontaire de Corps de la Paix à Kante, Togo, dans le domaine de l’éducation et la promotion de la jeune fille. Le but de cette émission, réalisée en 2010, était de valoriser les voix des filles togolaises en leur donnant l’opportunité de s’exprimer. On voulait aussi offrir des conseils et de l’inspiration qu’elles pouvaient utiliser pour réussir. L’émission mélange l’entrevue, la musique, la poésie, et des sketchs pour transmettre son message.

Thèmes traités dans les émissions de Radio Réussite sont: la prostitution, le mariage forcé, l’égalité genre, le harcèlement sexuel, la beauté, l’infidélité, les rôle modèles, la valeur du travail, et des conseils d’étude.

Cultural Center Espoir: Hope for Kids in Togo

Here is a video showing a bit of life in Togo and introducing the plan for the construction of the Espoir Cultural Center. To read more about the center and to become a friend/supporter, visit the initiative on its new page on Facebook here.
Ready to donate? You can do that online here, or call the Peace Corps office to charge by phone: 1-800-424-8580 x2170. When you call, make sure you’re donating to the right project by mentioning project number 693-355, volunteer last name Seidl.