Colon, Colon...


I doubt that any yovo has ever paid a visit to Togo without hearing, ad nuseum, the yovo yovo chant. The first time you listened to it (which may not have been the first time you heard it.... it may have been shouted at you any number of times before the realization hit that the bizarre chant was being directed at YOU!) you may even have thought it was cute. Its charm quickly faded, and you of course learned to despise it.

But the most offensive chant that was ever directed at me was one I only heard once.... and it shocked me so I almost fell off my bicycle. I was pedalling one day through a tiny town when two little girls emerged from behind a bush and and chanted in unison, staring at me while they sang, the following refrain:

Colon, colon....
Vous mentez - Allez!
Vous trichez - Allez!

I was so astonished that I immediately braked my bicycle and stared at them, slack-jawed. But they were gone: as soon as I had stopped, they disappeared back into the bush.

I'm sure there must be a fascinating story behind how it came to be that those two little girls, fifteen years after Togo had achieved its independence, and in a tiny town that was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, came to chant that song at the young white Peace Corps volunteer pedalling his bicycle through their town. But -- alas! -- it is a story I will never learn.

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