The British School of Lome

The British School of Lome was created in 1983 by an English couple, Ian and Jeni Sayer, in a pleasant suburb of the Togolese capital, Lome. To begin with it only had three students but by the time Mike began teaching there, in August 1992, it was one of the finest schools in Africa with an enrolment of more than 200. He ended up staying at BSL for 11 years and – besides teaching history and football, and organising trips to a variety of exotic locations – he took thousands of photos, the bulk of which appear on this website.

Living in Togo has its drawbacks for anyone brought up in a first world country. The water supply is erratic and power cuts common (between February and April 1998, for example, Lome residents who didn’t have their own generator had to do without electricity for at least 12 hours a day). Malaria is an ever-present threat and Mike succumbed to it on five occasions. Worst of all, for much of the 1990s Togo was racked by political convulsions which brought about severe disruptions, including a 10-month general strike, and outbursts of violence, some of which occurred close to the school.

But despite these and other difficulties Mike thoroughly enjoyed his stint at BSL. He travelled extensively in Togo and nearby Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso and got to know this part of Africa very well. As for the school, it was close to teacher heaven: the students were positive, cheerful, co-operative and a joy to be with; their parents were supportive; and unlike their erstwhile colleagues in the UK BSL teachers weren’t shackled by a national curriculum and expected to churn out masses of useless paperwork. Instead of having to worry about levels of achievement, attainment targets and similar such meaningless nonsense Mike was able to spend the bulk of his time doing what he could to ensure the BSL students had a stimulating education. He estimates that he supervised football practice on at least 800 occasions, led numerous trips into the interior of Togo and to the slave forts in Ghana and on two occasions took a large group of BSL students to London. A photographic record of what went on at BSL during those halcyon days can be seen on this website.