I’m still fascinated with my ESL folks. Each time they leave I find myself scribbling little facts for further research or heading home to tell the kids.
The latest gem is the story of the Nana Benz.
I met JK last year after delayed paperwork from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. After straightening that out, she would drop by my office just to talk about different things. When I started evening Civics, JK assisted me with the class, and we became friends.
Last week, my friend was bursting with excitement because for the first time in over five years she will be visiting her home country.
Home is Lome, Togo. I admit until I met this woman I knew NOTHING about Togo. Together we played around with Google Maps and she pointed out some of the landmarks and places she remembered. I asked about Togo and what they were known for. Like if she was to hint hint bring a present back, what would that be.
That’s how I learned about Nana Benz.
Nana Benz are women who took the textile industry by storm, controlling 40% of the economy with their bright clothes and intriguing patterns. JK explained that these were older women who would trade with the Dutch and offer fabrics that were in high demand. The women were older women with a mind for business. They were so successful they drove Mercedes-Benz, hence the moniker Nana Benz. When China begin to offer the same fabric at a lower price, the women begin to lose money, eventually finding it harder to maintain their hold on the market. Today, their daughters are trying to rebuild, calling themselves the “Nanettes.”
Here are additional sites to get additional information about the Nana Benz:
- The trailer for the documentary about Nana Benz.
Some facts about Togo
President: Faure Gnassingbé
Population: 6.155 million (2011) World Bank
National anthem: Salut à toi, pays de nos aïeux
Official language: French Language