The Tamberma, a group belonging to the Batammariba, occupy the Koutammakou area, located in the North-Eastern part of Togo, bordering on Benin; the valley, named after this people, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004 because of the way this population lives in harmony with its territory and the typical fortified houses they build .
The fortress houses, typical of the Tamberma Valley, the Takyenta, represent one of the most important examples of traditional African architecture; they are admirably built with the use of mud, branches and straw and they resemble a little the European medieval castles, due to the sloping roofed turrets.
These fortified houses date back to the 17th century, when the Tamberma took refuge in this area to escape slavery ordered by the rulers of Dahomey of the nearby Benin.
Then these fairy-tale houses served to oppose a fierce resistance to the German invaders, Germany, in fact, occupied the present Togo making it a colony of the German empire and called it Togoland.
The Tamberma villages differ from the villages that are commonly found in Africa, usually in an African village, the houses are built close to each other and are often protected by a fence surrounding the whole village; the Takyenta instead are positioned distant from each other and each is surrounded by the fields that the family cultivates, thus giving life to a lost village.
A tradition of these people wants that a young man, ready to marry, to determine the place where he is going to build his home, shoots an arrow, the point where the arrow will stick to the ground will become the chosen place.
Another curious tradition is the use by women of hats covered with antelope’s horns, horns are also present on the houses, they are reproduced with the mud above the front door.
A population who practices animist religion, the Tamberma protect their homes with fetishes and altars on which they make sacrifices to the spirits; they also believe in a god of the sun and a goddess of the land responsible for fertility.
The Tamberma perform elaborate funeral rites, in particular the Tibent, or drumming dance, is a death dance that has the task of honoring the dead; those who represent this elaborate dance are a group of people who specifically deals with this complicated ritual with lights, themes and a perfect choice of times.
During the celebration of funerals, the deceased's home is draped and the circular flat stone in the center of the terrace, usually used as a table, is removed and used as tombstone.