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With Ray Mackaway and the Togo team.
On my recent trip to West Africa, I travelled into Togo in order to help my GRN colleagues, Sodalo and Atta, get equipment into their country.
We travelled from Ghana in their GRN vehicle. On the Ghana side of the border I had my passport stamped to exit Ghana. Then we had to walk 30 yards to have my passport stamped in order to enter Togo. This may sound a simple exercise, but I can assure you that it is an exercise that one doesn't want to undertake too often! It is quite chaotic to say the least. You have to be so careful that you don't get your pockets picked or your goods stolen. In the past our staff have been threatened at knife point and forced to hand over all their money.
This time the Lord did a very special thing for us. The customs official who came to check our car turned out to be a Christian who knew Sodalo. The official spoke to one of the men and they let us go through. This was so unusual that Sodalo said, "This is not Africa!". Normally, people are expected to pay some money before they can pass. My passport was stamped and off we went - as quick as possible, in case someone changed their mind. The return trip back however, was a different story!
Sodalo decided that he would travel with me because he was concerned for my safety. We chose to go by private car because the drivers have 'a paid understanding' with all the checkpoint police so that they could get through without hassle.
We arrived at the Togo border in the GRN vehicle. As soon as we stopped we were accosted by a hoard of people - those wanting to carry my bags and others wanting to 'protect' me. A lady with a baby strapped on her back loaded my bags into a big basket which was placed on her head. Our 'protector' then led us to the Togo check-out point. My passport was stamped without any problem. We went on to the office on the Ghana side of the border and filled out the appropriate form. This was checked by a lady-official. She insisted that my visa was out of date! It had been granted in Australia - a multi entry visa that was valid until 2009! However she was not going to change her mind so she gathered everything up and off we went to another official. Fortunately that fellow was more reasonable and he told her to stamp the passport. She still wasn't happy and told me so. I did not argue since it would have made things worse but I breathed a prayer of thanks when the passport was stamped and I was on my way back to Accra.