As the second largest city after the capital Lomé, Sokodé, a city of 95,070 inhabitants, is renowned for the art of weaving, an activity that is highly regarded among craftsmen and women. Although intended to produce the day-to-day clothing of the city’s inhabitants, the weavers’ wrappers are also used to sow the tunics and large embroidered boubous that Tem knights wear on festival days. Weaving accounts for over 35% of all activity among the many guilds within the craft sector of Sokodé. The strength and dynamism of the craft sector are major drivers of the local economy and contribute significantly to the income of both the city and the country.
Sokodé hosts major events that play a role in promoting the crafts and folk art sector, including the Togo Sokodé International Fair, the Togo Craft Fair and annual events such as the Gadao-Adossa Festival. The name Gadao-Adossa is the common term designating two major festivals, namely Gadao for the Tem, and Adossa for the community of Didaouré. Sokodé also hosts the Inter-Professional Grouping of Craftsmen and Women of Togo (GIPATO), a national weavers’ training centre, which is currently training a number of trainees in new methods for weaving wrappers and traditional clothing.
The Sokodé municipality, through its 2015-2019 Communal Development Plan, has established culture as a priority for sustainable urban development through two programmes. The first seeks to promote local tourism, crafts and the historical values of the commune through the organisation of a number of training workshops supporting craftsmen and women in the development of their businesses and a feasibility study for the setting in place of food-processing and semi-traditional crafts units. The second programme envisages the building of a communal museum, supporting the organisation of cultural festivals and building a large capacity auditorium.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Sokodé envisages:
- implementing the Projet SOS Artisanat [SOS Crafts Project] to promote the know-how and craft trades and to encourage younger generations and excluded women to become involved in the sector to make it a strategic socio-economic sustainable development tool;
- helping to revitalise and promote the works of craftsmen and women and artists through the creation of a crafts and folk art farm in the Central Region;
- fostering the participation of other Creative Cities in the Foire Artisanale et Culturelle de Sokodé [Crafts and Culture Fair], organised annually to promote socio-economic development based on crafts and culture, skills-promotion and capacity-building; and
- implementing a joint-working framework, to enable dialogue among craftsmen and women on current and future issues facing the crafts and folk art sector, sharing experience, presenting and promoting concepts and stimulating research.