back to Togo informations                    Togo impressions

history of Togo, West Africa                precolonial Togo

German Togoland                                independent Togo

Though the two parts of Togoland were to be held in "trust" with the implicit goal of future reunification, the French and British incorporated the mandates into their respective colonial spheres. The French administered Togo jointly with Dahomey from 1934 to 1936 and as a subunit of French West Africa from 1936 to 1946. In 1946 Togo became a United Nations trust territory, separate from the rest of French West Africa, with representation in the French parliament and an eventual goal of independence.

The French built on foundations laid by the Germans. They introduced coffee cultivation in the Togo Mountains, extended the railway network, and improved the Lom? port. They also replaced the German requirement of forced labor with a system of taxation that more effectively compelled cultivation of cash crops or wage labor. Like the Germans, the French focused most of their investments on the country's more developed south. An international consortium to exploit Togo's rich phosphate deposits formed in 1954 but would not begin extensive production until the country had achieved independence.


Beginning in 1947, the All-Ewe Conference, based in the Gold Coast, and the Comite de l'Unite Togolaise (CUT) argued before the UN Trusteeship Council for reunification of the French and British portions of Togoland, or alternatively for the unification of all Ewe territories, including those in the Gold Coast. The French viewed this Ewe unification movement with alarm because it played into the hands of Kwame Nkrumah's campaign to unify Togo with Ghana, which would eliminate French influence in the region. Meanwhile, in 1956 a plebiscite in British Togoland approved a merger with the Gold Coast, although a majority in the southern Ewe districts opposed the merger. British Togoland merged with the Gold Coast and in 1957 gained independence under Nkrumah as Ghana.

The French held a referendum in 1956 approving the creation of an autonomous republic of French Togo, despite Ewe opposition. Nicolas Grunitzky, a northerner, was appointed premier. After a protest by the mostly Ewe CUT to the United Nations, an election held in 1958 approved complete independence for Togo and replaced Grunitzky with a government led by CUT's Sylvanus Olympio. Togo proclaimed full independence on April 27, 1960.