The White French Queen in Africa

MON NOV 6, 2006 / 5:05 PM GMT

French queen of Togo village takes on witchdoctors

Marie Claude Lovisa, a French woman crowned last year as Queen Mawulolo, speaks with journalists in Lovisakope, 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Lome, November 5, 2006.REUTERS/NOEL KOKOU TADEGNON

(Reuters) – A French woman who rules as queen of an African village has launched a campaign to woo her subjects away from witchdoctors.

Marie Claude Lovisa was crowned last year as Queen Mawulolo, which means “God is Great” in the local Ewe language of the small West African country of Togo, which along with neighbouring Benin is the birthplace of the voodoo religion.

The village of Tove, some 80 km (50 miles) northwest of the capital Lome, has renamed itself Lovisakope, which means “Lovisa’s village”.

Having built the settlement’s first health centre, Lovisa toured the village of some 300 inhabitants on Sunday to urge people to take advantage of the clinic’s free medicines.

“I realised that people weren’t going to hospital because it was so far from the village and they preferred to treat themselves traditionally, which prompted me to install this health centre with help from friends in Togo and Europe,” Lovisa told Reuters.

She added she was making door-to-door calls to persuade her subjects to visit the health centre instead of witchdoctors.

Lovisa recognises her situation is exceptional in a conservative country where female chiefs are extremely rare.

“I was crowned traditionally, something really extraordinary for a European, a white woman in Togo.”

The French woman, who has lived in Togo for eight years, has adopted 10 children who live on her farm and she regularly organises the distribution of clothing to local people.

“The women here, we are proud to have a woman as village chief. She has done a lot for this village. She is our sister,” said elderly villager Amah Eklou.Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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