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Agbanga Karite

Short background on Togo

Humans have inhabited Togo for several millennia, although exact dates are unknown. Pottery and grinding stones at least 3,500 years old have been found in Togo. In addition, there is archeological evidence, including edge-ground axes and pottery, in the central region of Togo that dates back 4,200 years ago (de Barros 2001). However, Europeans did not come into contact with this region until the 15th century.

The first Europeans to reach Togo were Portuguese explorers traveling between 1471 and 1473. However, the Dutch, French, English or Portuguese never officially claimed the Togolese land. There were two factors that lead to the unclaimed Togo territory. First, the European merchants characterized the people of Aneho, the main trading town, as having "bad dispositions" and "sharp middleman practices". Secondly, Dahomy (Benin) and the Gold Coast (English Ghana) were the major slave trading posts and produced a "plentiful supply of slaves", leaving the two powers (England and France) uninterested in Togo land.

It was not until 1884 when Germany, who was aggressively trying to claim colonial territory like England and France, sent a German Imperial Commissioner to try to seize domination over the Togolese people. The Germans were also trying to avoid the high import duties that the English charged them on goods from their African colonies. Moreover, the death of the Aneho King Malapa II in 1883 made Aneho politically unstable, leaving the town vulnerable to German settlement.

On July 4, 1884, the German Imperial Commissioner Gustav Nachtigal signed the first protectorate agreement with Chief Malapa III. From this date until the First World War, Togo was under German rule. However, the German Togoland was not finally determined until 1897 because of the resistance of people in the inner land. By the end of the 19th century, German domination in Togo was replaced by French rule. This change of power occurred in 1914 during the First World War, when French and English attacked Germany from both sides. Eighteen days later, the Germans were defeated in the first allied victory of World War One. Togoland was divided among the French and English without the participation of native leaders. The French were accorded 56,000 square kilometers and the English acquired 33,800 square kilometers. The English "portion" was added to their Gold Coast Colony (Ghana); the remainder became a new French colony.

Similar to the conduct of the Germans, the French ruled with an authoritarian government, which acted with severe brutality towards the Togolese and was involved in forced labor for their cotton and cocoa plantations. In addition, the Togolese were barred from holding important positions in colonial administrative offices. It was not until 1960 that Togolese once again had control of their own country.

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