African Voices and Visions

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Nana Benz in West Africa

Thirty years before Independence, in the 1930’s, the women of Togo made their mark internationally by trading in wax printed cloth called Avo. They did not manufacture the fabric but imported it from Dutch companies based in their former Asian colonies, especially Indonesia. From there the material arrived on Togo shores and the women distributed it throughout the continent. They became known as Nana Benz's beacause in the mid-50’s they had made so much money that they were the only people who could afford Mercedes Benz cars, so much so that the President hired them when he had important guests. If you are ever in Lome, whether it is the market or a fancy shop make sure you buy the right fabric known as Vlisco that made these women famous. It is the best quality and you can get it at 35000 francs or seventy dollars for six yards.


At 6:39 PM, Blogger rosalie said...

If you reside outside TOGO/Africa, you can still buy 100% original VLISCO at

At 6:54 AM, Blogger SPACE AFRICA said...

Interesting posting. I have been to Lome many times. Yes, it is true those market mummies command a lot of power. One thing is that the Republic of Togo border police needs more pay, to stop them from taking bribes from every passenger. They also need better uniforms.

At 4:51 AM, Blogger queen cisse said...

I have never been to Togo but I admire the Nanas and their Strength in business, something we women in business can strive for more of.


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