Kabye people

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Kabye or Kabiye is the name for a language and the peoples who speak it in the northern plains of Togo, West Africa. The Kabye are primarily known for farming and cultivation of the stony Kara Valley area of Togo. They are one of the two major ethnic groups within the country of Togo (the other being the Ewe). The region inhabited by the Kabye has experienced significant infrastructure improvements due to the country's former president, Gnassingbé Eyadema, who was of Kabye ethnicity. Togo is now led by Eyadema's son, Faure Gnassingbé.

Kabye people also live in northwestern Benin near the Togolese border. The Lokpa or Lukpa people of Benin are closely related to the Kabye.

Evala wrestling[edit]

Main article: Lutte traditionnelle

Evala is a form of traditional wrestling practised mainly by the Kabyé of northern Togo, in West Africa. Competitors meet yearly at a festival following a retreat marking the initiation of young men into adulthood.[1][2]

Evala is the penultimate element of this initiation rite, during which young men are separated from their families for one week, residing in special huts where they are fed and subject to mental training. Prior to wrestling, participants go on a pilgrimage which involves climbing three mountains; those who do not complete it are not initiated into adulthood. Although wrestlers are initiated regardless of whether they win or not, losing is considered shameful to the family name. The last of these initiation rites is circumcision.


  1. ^ Jim Hudgens, Richard Trillo, and Nathalie Calonnec (2003). The rough guide to West Africa (4th ed.). Rough Guides. ISBN 1-84353-118-6.
  2. ^ Gemma Pitcher, David Andrew, Kate Armstrong, James Bainbridge, Tim Bewer, and Jean-Bernard Carillet (2007). Africa (11th ed.). Lonely Planet. pp. 524. ISBN 1-74104-482-0.

Further reading[edit]

  • Samuel Decalo (1987). "Evala". Historical dictionary of Togo (2nd ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 88. ISBN 9780810819542.