Lome Airport – Corruption Central

“Where is my gift?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. A Togolese passport official had just asked us for a “service fee”, which we refused, and now the customs guy was requesting his share. And what blew my mind was that he was asking for a bribe just like that, in front of four other customs officials. Do these kind of things really happen in real life?

“Why should I bring you a gift?” Eduardo played stupid. “I haven’t even bought my mother a gift.”

The customs guy started opening up Eduardo’s backpack.

“What do you have in here?” he asked, trying to dig in deep, searching for something valuable, and pulled out our bag with dirty (and pretty stinky) clothes.

“Just clothes. Just dirty clothes. You want that as a gift?”

The guy finally gave up when Eduardo offered him a handshake as a gift, thinking we were especially thick who didn’t get his point.

As we picked up our bags, and took two steps towards the exit, the next official wondered:

“Do you have the money for my coffee?”

There was no “Welcome to Togo”. No “Can I buy you a coffee?”. No “Thanks for visiting our country”. Just corruption all the way.

So we felt very welcome to Togo. And got ready for a rough trip.


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