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View From a Pandemic: Feeling Symptoms in Togo

STORY AND PHOTOS BY AJ JOHNSON
ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY KRISTEN VONNOH

Covid-19, entre corruption et angoisse

J’ai récemment voyagé au Bénin, un des pays voisins, dans le cadre de mon travail. Avant de partir je me suis assuré de faire un test Covid qui s’est avéré négatif. Pour ce voyage j’avais décidé de prendre la voie terrestre puisque, de sources sûres, quoiqu’officiellement les frontières terrestres étaient fermées, il était assez bien possible de traverser la frontière sans aucun problème—à condition de payer des frais, non déclarés, aux différents postes de contrôles que ce soit du côté du Togo, mon pays de départ, que du pays d’arrivée.

COVID-19, Between corruption and anguish

I recently traveled to the neighboring country of Benin for my work. Before leaving, I made sure to take
a COVID-19 test, which was negative. I decided to take the land route for this trip since reliable sources
informed me that although land borders were officially closed, it was quite possible to cross the border without any problem, provided I paid undeclared fees at the various checkpoints on the Togo side, my country of departure, as well as on the Benin side.

View From a Pandemic: Togo’s Informal Laborers’ Hope for Survival

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY/PHOTOGRAPHIES ET TEXTE PAR A.J. JOHNSON
FRENCH PROOFREADING BY/RELECTURE FRANÇAISE PAR CAROLINE BERNARD-GILBERT
ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY/TRADUCTION ANGLAISE PAR KAMI L. RICE

While the horns of two taxis blare, further noise rattles the Lomé intersection of Sagbado. “Olé yia, Olé yia?” (“Do you need a ride?”) cry out the drivers of motorcycle-taxis as they rush toward the car taxis that have just stopped in front of the Sanol gas station. The motorcycle drivers hope to attract the attention of passengers exiting the larger taxis and gain another fare by taking them to the passengers’ final destination. The scene is nothing new. It takes place over and over again all day long, from the rising to the setting of the sun. However, for the past few months, since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and especially since the government decreed a curfew and state of emergency, a new group of venders has joined the motorcycle-taxis at this intersection.