Togo was populated by the ewes people, who still
make up a third of the population. They are akin to the
Ibo and Yorubans in Nigeria and the
Ashantis in Ghana. They were poor, lived in peace and
their late state formations used the Dagomba kingdoms in the
northern part of the area as role models.
The huge human trafficking gave the area the sad name of
the Slave Coast. From here, millions of slaves were shipped
in 16-19. century to be sold on the American continent.
Togo became a German colony in 1884 after small local
chieftains along the coast signed "treaties" with the
Germans, but German domination did not last long. During
World War I, English and French troops occupied the country,
and after the war it was divided between them with the
approval of the League of Nations. The western part was
incorporated in Ghana in 1956 following a referendum
organized by the British, while the eastern part remained
under French colonial rule.
In 1958, Sylvanus Olympio of the Unité Togolaise won the
election in the country, then called "the overseas territory
of Togo". His program was oriented towards independence but
moderated. The country gained its independence in 1960, and
by that time everyone had forgotten a contract signed in
1957 with Benin's Mining Company. According to this
document, the French consortium owned the deposits of
phosphate, which was the country's most important natural
resource. It was a significant cut in the joy of
independence. In 1963, Olympio was assassinated by a
military uprising led by Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema, who was
then an officer in the armed forces. In the same year,
Olympio embarked on a series of fundamental reforms inspired
by N'Krumah's radical reform program in neighboring Ghana.
Olympio was succeeded in the presidential post by Nicolás
Grunitzky of Parti Togolais du Progrčs. He had been in
opposition to the assassinated president and his
neo-colonialist tendency. In 1967 he was overthrown at a
coup d'état by General Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema, who
inaugurated himself as new head of state.
In 1969, the Association of the Togo People (RPT) was
formed, which served as the country's only legal party and
chaired by Eyadema. His government was basically
characterized by nationalist attitudes, which he later
backed down from. In 1972, he nationalized 35% of the mining
company, in 1975 51%, and in 1976 the entire production and
export of phosphate was nationalized.
On December 30, 1979, a new presidential constitution was
adopted, and Eyadema was elected president for a seven-year
term. His government benefited from the favorable economic
development based on tourism, oil and rising global
phosphate prices. But in 1981, international prices fell to
half, and the international economic crisis also led to a
drastic reduction in tourism from Europe. The current
account deficit increased and the foreign debt reached $ 1
In June 1984, the government signed a loan rescheduling
agreement with the Paris Club, setting even tougher terms
than the IMF had already provided. The consequence was total
wage halt, reduced state investment to a minimum and the
introduction of new sources of income such as the fiercely
criticized "solidarity tax" which lowered all wages by 5%.
In January 1985, the so-called "Lomé-3" agreement was
signed in the capital of Togo, setting the framework for
cooperation between the ACP countries (the old colonial
areas of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) and the EU.
In January, Eyadema was re-elected for a further 7-year
term with 99.95% of the vote. After a brief interruption of
contacts, Togo signed a new agreement with the IMF in 1988.
With a deficit in both the trade and balance of payments and
a foreign debt that amounted to $ 1.27 billion in 1990, the
government launched an economic crisis program that included
the privatization of public companies.