Gnassingbe Eyadema, the president of Togo and Africa’s longest ruling leader, has died of a heart attack. The army has installed his son as the head of state in order to "maintain stability."
This is the BBC’s
coverage. And this is the CIA’s recently updated factbook. Note that the country--sandwiched between Ghana and Benin--a former French colony, is smaller than West Virginia and, while French is the official language, there are almost three dozen languages used in a country of about five and a half million. This is a good language map of Togo. Most people use a pidgin French to communicate between different groups. The word pidgin is a Chinese corruption of the word business.
The large number of languages in Togo reminds me of something I recently read. The island of New Guinea (part is an independent country called Papua New Guinea and part is part of Indonesia) has more languages than any other area of the world. It is about twice the size of Britain, has about five million people, and just under one thousand languages, i.e., about twenty percent of all the languages on the earth!
(just for Papua New Guinea). The explanation for this is that the place is so hilly and sparsely populated, with very primitive agriculture, that people have had (until recently) very little contact with each other. So each language is spoken by only a few hundred or a few thousand people at most. A kind of common language has developed over the years called Tok Pisin (as in the English "talk pidgin"). As in all cases, the root of this pidgin language began at a port, a center of commerce and exchange where various ethne came together and had to find a way to talk to one another. Its vocabulary comes mainly from English. Very interesting, see this pidginist. The Australia Broadcasting Corporation even has programming in Tok Pisin.