Colonialism in Togo

Like every other European colony, Togo came into contact with the first Germans, who came to the country about 1847 as missionaries. Their relationship grew as the number of Germans rose in the coastal area of the offshore Anecho (Esteves 50-52). Bismarck then agreed to bring the three west coasts together by mobilizing the peasants to embrace German defense by flying their banner, demonstrating allegiance. Although France Dahomey to the east, Britain had secured the Gold Coast (Baranowski 69). After a decade, war broke out between the three allies, with Germany winning by farming cotton and cocoa to establish a stronger economic center. Suddenly, the German government came to an end in 1914, when France and British captured all her west colonies thus defeating them. The land was therefore subdivided between France and British colonies by the League of Nations agreement in 1919 (Esteves 50-52). This paper will explore the history of Togoland from the pre-colonial era sequentially to the independence time highlighting the consequences the ruling method had on the people.

Pre-colonial Era

Before the scramble for Africa, Togoland was divided into three tribes namely; Ewe, Dagomba, and Mamprusi each led by chiefs. They had plenty of agriculturally viable land that made their economy self-supporting through the production of cash crops such as yams, cotton, and palm. They believed in the unity of Togolese culture and had a mixture of indigenous, Christianity and Islamic beliefs (Apoh 115). Moreover, they spoke different dialects, but majority spoke French due to infiltration of Europeans during the trade. The Germans motives were to control the agricultural production in the area as well harboring ports.

The Colonial Era

The Germans effectively applied the 5 W’s method of the rule to their prospects. The Togoland was declared the German protectorate in 1884 after the Berlin Conference. Due to the existence of various natural resources in the colony, Germany recognized the importance of area chiefs in the administration of the colony at a small package salary. However, they were not allowed to process exports. This was called indirect imperialism (Baranowski 81). Surprisingly, flogging was the primary method used to coerce Togolese to provide forced labor during cultivation of crops in the farms. Germany used their authority to divide the land and to set their boundaries and development structures such railways and roads. Their main interests were controlling trade and agriculture in the region. Till then there was no rise of political movements.

Independence Period

Togoland independence was characterized by several turmoil and coup attempts. In 1961, an independence constitution was adopted through a referendum with posts of the executive president serving for seven years in conjunction with National Assembly. He had the power to appoint ministers and dissolve national assembly (Baranowski 112). In the first elections year, Olympoi won while Grunitzky’s party was dissolved. Due to the rivalry between Olympio and Grunitzky, Olympio suspended PTP party in 1962 and jailed Grunitzky and Meatchi. Ablode Sodjas staged a coup de tat that overthrew Olympio in 1963 (Bawa). A general election was held, and Grutinizky clinched the Presidency with Meatchi as the vice president till 1972 when Eyadema was confirmed the new President under the new constitution (Douglas 19). Indeed, the independence period was marked by several challenges of instability and self-fights. The legislature structure was weak as well. The start of Eyadema’s rule was marked economic slowdown with phosphate, important export good plenty in the market reducing its price.

Togo enjoyed economic developments through the imperial colonization regime. The eager of the Germans to establish stable and well-modernized farms and mining structures enabled them to pump more resources on infrastructural developments (Esteves 79). Longtime capital assets were built like machinery for production. The regime also promoted the yields and exportation of Togoland agricultural goods into the world’s market. Efficient mining of gold, phosphate, and limestone brought income to the colony (Douglas 95). Consequently, the Togolese standards of living improved tremendously.

Also, the level of education developed during the German regime. Through missionary societies learning institutions were built. It is evident towards the end the administration embarked in developments of governmental schools despite the limited rate of enrollment recorded. Most pupils went to as far as Gold Coast to seek post-primary education. Some other families escaped to neighboring British colonies to escape the German brutality during their occupation.


In summary, the history of Togoland colonization regime seems unique and competitive. Ideally, the European learned about the Land endowment with natural resources through Christian missionaries. Afterward, they started tripling in as traders before luring local chiefs to accept their protection. The colony scrambled for Togo because of her natural resources causing battles among France, British, and Germany (Goldstein 27: Esteves 79). Soon after independence, the period of war and turmoil continued to exist among African leaders. Olympio dissolution to all political parties led to the rise of weak National Assembly and several coup attempts. It is also worth noting that imperialism left significant consequences to the inhabitants of Togoland such as improved infrastructures and education system.

Work Cited

Apoh, Wazi. “Embroideries of Imperialism: An Archaeo-Historical Overview of Akwamu, Asante, German and British Imperial Hegemonies at Kpando, Ghana.” Current Perspectives in the Archaeology of Ghana 6 (2015).

Baranowski, Shelley. Nazi empire: German colonialism and imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler. Cambridge University Press, 2011.


Douglas, R M. Imperialism on Trial: International Oversight of Colonial Rule in Historical Perspective. Lanham, Md. [u.a.: Lexington Books, 2006. Print

Esteves, Rui. “Between Imperialism and Capitalism: European Capital Exports Before 1914.” (2012). . Accessed on 5/7/2017.

Goldstein, Y. “RUPPIN AND NAZI-ZIONIST RELATIONS.” Studies in Jewish History and Culture (2011): 333. Goldstein, Y. “RUPPIN AND NAZI-ZIONIST RELATIONS.” Studies in Jewish History and Culture (2011): 333.Goldstein, Y. “RUPPIN AND NAZI-ZIONIST RELATIONS.” Studies in Jewish History and Culture (2011): 333.Goldstein, Y. “RUPPIN AND NAZI-ZIONIST RELATIONS.” Studies in Jewish History and Culture (2011): 333.Goldstein, Y. “RUPPIN AND NAZI-ZIONIST RELATIONS.” Studies in Jewish History and Culture (2011): 333.Goldstein, Y. “RUPPIN AND NAZI-ZIONIST RELATIONS.” Studies in Jewish History and Culture (2011): 333. Accessed on 5/7/2017

Olson, James S, and Robert Shadle. Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Print

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