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What Togo’s first president said about Nkrumah taking over Western Togoland

Togo’s first president, Sylvanus Olympio, was a vocal critic of Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, especially over his attempt to take over the Western Togoland, now Volta Region.

According to him, Ghana did not only want to merge Western Togoland to it, but it also wanted to integrate the whole of the Republic of Togo into Ghana.

He said Nkrumah’s aim was illogical and unacceptable, and that no one would willingly join Ghana unless by force.

In an old footage sighted by GhanaWeb, Sylvanus Olympio said: “It is not so much the Ewe portion of Togoland, Ghana would like to integrate the whole of the Republic of Togo, having achieved one-third of it which was a British-mandated Togo. Ghana feels the logical conclusion of such a deal is to incorporate the remaining part of Togo, to which of course we object.

“You’ll agree with me that in the present condition in Ghana, nobody will willingly join such a country unless by war.”

Olympio, before becoming the president of Togo, wanted to help the country gain independence and also to unify the Ewe tribe, who were partly living between Togo and Ghana.

When asked by the interviewer if there was a contradiction between his desire for independence and tribal unity, he stated his reason for fighting for independence for the Republic of Togo was to fight the challenges faced at the various borders between the countries, which impacted largely on trade and people movement.

To him, these challenges would have only be solved better if both countries had the same powers as independent states.

It was only through this, he added, that Togo would have achieved independence and also unified the Ewe tribe.

“I don’t see any contradiction in it at all. If you have followed our history, during the colonial regime, we didn’t come out with an outright demand for independence at the start.

“We only pointed out the difficulties in the hardship these arbitrary boundaries created; that is between ourselves and Ghana. We sought at the time to overcome some of these difficulties. For instance, to do away with the customs barriers, harmonies taxation and also to facilitate the movement of persons and properties in a large way.

“… Therefore, if you are independent, I hope that if the Republic of Togoland is independent and Ghana becomes an African independent state, it should be very much easier to achieve these ends, which are to abolish the customs barriers, facilitate the movement of persons and properties and thereby making that very easier for the Ewe people,” he added.

Ghana, in 1956, had a plebiscite to vote for the Western British Togoland to be integrated into Ghana.

At the end of the vote, 58% of the western Togolese voted to integrate into what would, in 1957, become independent Ghana.

On May 9, 2017, a Homeland Study Group Foundation (French: Fondation du Groupe d’étude de la Patrie) unsuccessfully tried to declare the independence of Western Togoland.

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