Whenever there is a groundbreaking in Togo or Benin, community members perform a traditional ceremony to bless the construction site and the future building. The person performing the ceremony stands in the middle, with local community members on one side and visitors on the other. They poor water and corn on the ground as a symbol to the visitors present that they are welcome peacefully at the site. Because of the substantial nutritional value of corn and its common usage in Africa, the corn symbolizes that when visitors come to the site, they will be provided for, given a metaphorical (and sometimes literal) “satisfying meal”.

In the next phase of the ceremony, two types of alcohol are poured on the ground. The first, pictured above in the green bottle, is local-made alcohol. The second, pictured in a white bottle, is foreign-made alcohol.  This says to all those present that ALL are welcome to the site, local or foreign.

This tradition is believed to welcome all peaceful travelers to the site. However, locals believe that when someone attempts to come to the site in a non-peaceful manner, the alcohol poured on the ground will make them drunk so they miss out on the visit.