The First Quaestor of Togo’s National Assembly lives politics like a priesthood. Here is a fascinating and moving account of her commitment.
Always the presentation is as neat as the well-articulated words. Abira Bonfoh makes courtesy his mark of education. This label sticks to his skin, like a glove. In the aisles of the National Assembly of Togo, the breeze of May lulls the visitor. Under the golden wart of the legislative chamber, guests wait in the hushed waiting room of the First Quaestor. The meeting of the Office of the National Representation is shaking up its agenda. In the end, here is the elected representative. Abira Bonfoh opens the door, displays a slight smile and reassures.
Time for the interview. When asked about her motivation to get involved in politics, she pauses and settles back at the end of the chair. Her elocution and words remain controlled. Her face beams and lights up. She sums up the essence of her mission, with emotion. “I put myself at the disposal of the country, the electorate and young people”. The Bassar’s elected political commitment sometimes affects her family schedule. Under certain circumstances, she is forced to withdraw from her private obligations. Despite these renunciations, she stays the course. “I temper this by saying that my family and I take second place to the country”. She adds: “I could say that my duty to Togo is greater in terms of impact”.
Strictly self-management and the perfect figure of an elected representative, her vocation to serve the people is also administrative. As the Quaestor of the National Assembly and the person responsible for public contracts, these duties impose many restrictions on her. “I’m not dependent on my agenda,” admits the elected representative, who constantly has to balance her role as mother and elected representative. And it’s the latter that takes precedence. And the family sometimes feels neglected. “But life is a choice,” she admits philosophically.
Return to the roots.
It is precisely this arbitration that pushed her to return to settle in Togo, after two decades spent in Europe. “No one can escape belonging”, she likes to explain the intimate ambitions of her return to Togo. In the same vein, she makes her own proverb that says: “There is no stranger than the one who returns”. If cultural ties should be broken, it is still necessary to feed on them to innovate and build bridges. In doing so, the return also offers itself as a springboard to participate in the development with other recipes. Besides, the fruits already carry the promise of flowers for Abira Bonfoh.
This Bank and Finance graduate is also an experienced businesswoman, at the head of several companies. Her expertise ranges from financial engineering to public and oil procurement. A member of the “Women Working for Change” network, she also chairs the Togo-Democratic Republic of Congo Bilateral Chamber of Commerce (CCT-RDC).
It’s a similar dynamic that drives the actions of the Asaal Foundation, “gentleness” in Tuareg, of which she is the founder. It provides the most vulnerable with resources… and sources of motivation. Since 2014, the structure has been sowing small seeds to support the sponsorship of schoolchildren, the empowerment of women, cultural projects, youth initiatives and, above all, the Queen of Science and Technology: designed to “make young girls feel less inhibited and open them up to the world”, according to Abira Bonfoh. She also promotes African Women Actions (AWA), which aims to promote and develop women. This social apostolate whose seeds never cease to bloom makes Abira Bonfoh sail on the waters of her passion. It is more like a watchdog of the women’s cause.
Serving the general interest
The driving force behind this dynamic has led her into the political arena. In 2018, the voters of Bassar, in the northwest of the country, gave her the mandate of MP for her home town. “Through legislative action, the Togolese people benefit from the public policies pursued by the National Assembly in the general interest”, she says. To achieve this, she believes it is her “duty to give all to the country and to renew this commitment on a daily basis”. In addition, it is thanks to small daily interactions, through social networks or meetings with the average citizen, like the elites that she draws inspiration to fuel.
Abira Bonfoh has a good reputation in the organisation and work. This rigour has been forged in the family circle. It cannot be otherwise for the daughter of an officer who climbed all the high steps of the military command. Years later, she continued to stare at her loved ones. “I cherish family moments, the happiness of being loved and also of loving, the happiness of being admired by those close to me and of admiring those close to me”, poetises the chosen one. Cooking, gardening, reading, swimming, and horse riding with his two horses complete this table of passions that feed his joie de vivre.
Exploring the regrets of this political commitment, one realises that the honourable lady from Bassar remains constant. “I’d rather say embarrassment,” she hastens to observe. “I’ll put the emphasis on the family. My son needed me, but unfortunately, I was taken for a job and I was embarrassed. When you look into your child’s eyes and see his pain because his mum is unavailable to help him perform at school, as a mother you also feel pain. But I’m more reassured by the greater impact of the Asaal Foundation’s actions than by my political commitment”.
And finally, this note is topped by the elected representative’s satisfaction. “It’s knowing that you’re getting up in the morning, that you’re contributing to something great, that you’re being useful to your fellow citizens. That’s a blessing every day, and that’s what satisfies me”. The gratitude of the beneficiaries of the projects she supports reinforces this personal satisfaction. Moving and exciting. Abira Bonfoh remains a promising public figure, in Togo and beyond. Without doubt.