On this day in Black history, the west African country of Togo gets its independence in 1960. Prior to claiming its independence, Togo was under British and French rule at different points since the early 1880s.
Togo’s first exposure to Europe came via Portugal in the late 15th century. The country then began a port territory during the slave trade. By the early 1880s, Germany and Togo established a treaty that saw the country grow as a colony. Known as Togoland, it was a land where the colony grew cocoa, cotton and other crops.
During World War I, Britain and France invaded Togoland which saw the country split between the two allies. By 1957 British Togoland–the west–had elected to become what is now known as Ghana. French Togoland became a self-governing part of what was now the French Union. It would make its move towards independence a few years later.
On April 27, 1960, Togoland declares itself the Togolese Republic. In early April 1961, Prime Minister Sylvanus Olympio—representing the Party of Togolese Unity—became the president. The first election’s turnout was 90-percent with Olympio taking 100-percent of votes. The Party of Togolese Unity took all 52 seats in the country’s National Assembly.
Olympio would only be in power for a little under two years. Policies that alienated farmers and academics and a more authoritarian stance resulted in his assassination in 1963. The coup by the military saw exiles former Prime Minister Nicolas Grunitzky and Antoine Meatchi installed as President and Vice President. He would be ousted by a coup in 1967 and again exiled to France.