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Togo - Religion

Animism or fetishism is practiced by a large number of Togolese even those converted to other religions such as Islam and Christianity. Ethnically and socially, the country is slightly anomalous in that about half the population is animist with 10% (in the north) Muslim and 30% Christian.

The US government estimates the total population at 7.5 million (July 2015 estimate). According to a 2004 estimate by the University of Lome, the most recent data available, the population is 33 percent traditional animist, 28 percent Roman Catholic, 14 percent Sunni Muslim, 10 percent Protestant, and 10 percent other Christian denominations. The remaining 5 percent includes persons not affiliated with any religious group. Protestant groups include Methodists and Lutherans. Many Christians and Muslims also engage in indigenous religious practices. Reliable figures are difficult to obtain due to migration and because the government does not collect religious and ethnic data.

The constitution states the nation is a secular state and ensures equality before the law of all citizens, regardless of religion, respects all religious beliefs, and prohibits religious discrimination. It provides for freedom of conscience, religion, and worship, the free exercise of religious belief, and the right of religious groups to organize themselves and carry out their activities consistent with the law, the rights of others, and public order.

The law recognizes Catholicism, Protestantism (including Methodism and Lutheranism, the largest Protestant groups), and Islam as state religions. It requires all other religious groups, including indigenous groups, to register as religious associations. Official recognition as a religious association affords these groups the same rights as those afforded to the three state religions, including import duty exemptions for humanitarian and development projects.

Togo's Muslim community, which comprises anywhere from 12-20% of the population, has historically been moderate. A recent influx of Lebanese Muslims and growing population of Nigerian Muslims has raised concerns among some observers about the prospects for radicalization of the indigenous Muslim community.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread. A 2009 survey by Gallup found that just over half of sub-Saharan Africans believe in the practice. It's often seen as the cause for anything unusual, from sickness to crop failure. Those accused of being witches or wizards are abused and ostracized and many are children. Mob violence and summary justice against those suspected of theft and the practice of witchcraft continued to result in deaths and serious injuries.

A strong belief in witchcraft continued in many parts of the country. Most accused witches were older women, often widows, who were identified by fellow villagers as the cause of difficulties, such as illness, crop failure, or financial misfortune. Many of these women were banished by traditional village authorities or their families and went to live in witch camps, villages in the north populated by suspected witches. The women did not face formal legal sanction if they returned home; however, most feared that they could be beaten or lynched.

Witchcraft traditionally has been a common explanation for diseases of unknown cause. Medicine is a problematic term - it can refer to anything which corrects or prevents an undesirable condition. The term is used as a favorite one-word explanation for the unusual power of a chief, a witch, or a highly successful curer or hunter. G healers invariably obtained their medicine from outside G or neighbouring Twi or Fanti country. Instead, medicine was obtained from Togo or northern Ghana.

Rarity of ingredients can be a factor in the perceived efficacy of medicine. A survey by Taylor and Fox in 1992 of the largest market in animal remains for medicinal and magical purposes in West Africa, the so-called fetish market at Lom in Togo, recorded 15 bird species, 30 mammal species and six reptile species for sale as well as molluscs, amphibians, and echinoderms. The mammals represented included species from outside Togo such as the chimpanzee (pongidae), Baboon (cercopithecidae), lion (felidae), and aardvark (orycteropodiddae), and Taylor and Fox estimated that the total number of animals represented were 420 reptiles, 4080 mammals, 4360 birds, 1540 snails, 244 fish, and 1570 amphibians attesting to the level of this trade.

Despite the penetration of Christianity and Islam, the people remained deeply attached to their animist beliefs and ancestral customs. Almost all ethnic groups in Togo believe in the existence of a superior Being to which are added intermediate divinities that serve as relays between men and divinity. These intermediate divinities may have their followers and even their convents.

The dwellings often include family altars on which sacrifices are regularly made to ensure the protection of deities. The role of witchcraft and diviners remains considerable . Eight doctors, half magicians, these fetishists are the dispensers of gray-gray, individualized amulets which protect against the evil spells or multiply the forces of their owner. Everywhere a traditional medicine, more or less botanical, more or less mystical, continues to be practiced in parallel with modern medicine.

The majority of the Togolese practiced animism , polytheistic religious beliefs , which bind man and the forces of nature in a set of customs and rites. The main purpose of religious practices is to preserve or restore balance and harmony among all the forces of the universe.

They concern all aspects of life. Practices differ widely across regions and ethnic groups , but most believe in a superior being and other secondary divinities that serve as intermediaries between man and the supernatural. They often include a form of ancestor worship and social initiation into adult life in the community, as well as various practices affecting most events and activities: birth, marriage, death and life in the afterlife, sowing, and healing of the sick.

In the South much people practice voodoo or cults based on the worship of the great spirits as Legba, Hebiesso, Dan and Egou. Insiders use a secret language and rigorously observe religious customs and taboos. During the voodoo ceremonies, the followers enter into deep trances and communicate with the spirits.

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