How Trans Volta Togoland Came About (Part 1)
Generally speaking, Ewes are a group of people who desire to uphold the truth. In fact, they revere the truth, and this stands for virtue. However, there is also a vice associated with this noble tribe, and that is accepting old wives’ tales as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In such a situation, anything told by the elders are upheld and defended by the people, even at the peril of their lives. In some cases, such stories are purely fabricated just to bring some undeserved honour to the people.
We have a situation in Ghana today, when one such fabricated story about the origin of the Volta Region is driving un-informed youth onto the streets, threatening central government and even daring to go to war, should the region be divided.
Also awash on social media are proclamations made by some otherwise very learned Ewes, who are spewing untruths about what they chose to call Western Togoland.
The main reasons these Ewes are fighting about include: 1) that Western Togoland (Volta Region) is not part of Ghana to be divided, and 2) that the 1956 Plebiscite expired after fifty years, and so that region must be allowed to go independent.
In this four-part submission, I will go through the historical facts about that part of Ghana, just to prove to all that the Volta Region is part of Ghana, and later make my conclusions.
The Region Called the Trans Volta Togoland
In the year 1884, when Europe scrambled for overseas colonies, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck took possession of that piece of land in West Africa, and it became the German protectorate called Togoland, with French Dahomey (Benin) on the east, and British Gold Coast (Ghana) on the west. Intending to make it a model colony, the Germans concentrated on agricultural development, because the region lacked mineral resources (its phosphate reserves were not discovered then). Lomé was developed to be the administrative capital.
The eastern half of German Togoland stretched from the borders with Upper Volta and down to the coast. On its western section, however, it had its southernmost border beginning from Sokode area through Ho and up north. This is to debunk the untruth trumpeted about that the whole of the Volta Region was once BritishTogoland. The regions south of Sokode, which include Tongu and Anlo, were part of British Gold Coast.
On August 6, 1914, during the First World War, the French and British troops conquered German positions in that colony, and on August 27, 1914, the two nations jointly occupied Togoland. On December 27, 1916, Togoland was separated into French and British administrative zones, with the French taking the eastern half, making up two-thirds of the land, and the British, the western.
Following the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles on July 20, 1922, Togoland became a League of Nations Class B Mandate.
(Ref: Togoland Historical Colony, Africa-Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica and Togoland Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org).
The two Togolands, including the British Togoland, the area under contention now, became United Nations Trust Territories on December 13, 1946, and given to the British and French to administer.
United Nations Trust Territories were the successors of the remaining League of Nations mandates, and came into being when the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946. All trust territories were administered through the United Nations Trusteeship Council. (Ref: British Togoland Wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org,
and United Nations Trust Territories Wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org).
While the British administered their part of Togoland from Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast, the French chose to administer theirs from the trust territory itself, and not from Dahomey nor from Upper Volta.
The Gold Coast
The first Europeans to arrive in the Gold Coast were the Portuguese in 1471. It became a colony in 1821, and was administered by the Portuguese, the Danes and the Dutch, before the British came along to make it a British colony by 1867, and by 1872 they began annexation of the north through wars or peaceful surrender by the indigenes. On July 24, 1874, the British colony of Gold Coast was fully established, and shortly after, the capital was moved from Cape Coast to Accra, with the seat of government at the Christianborg Castle.
The south was known as the Colony, and after running battles with the Asante Kingdom, winning some and losing some, the British suppressed an Asante uprising in 1900, and made Ashanti its protectorate on January 1, 1902. And later that year, with much interest in the areas north of Ashanti, the Northern Territories were established and proclaimed British protectorates as well.
The Gold Coast was effectively divided into three main regions, the Colony (the coastal regions), the Asante Kingdom and the Northern Territories.
By definition, British protectorates were territories in which the British crown exercised sovereign jurisdiction. These territories already had local rulers, who the Crown negotiated with through treaties, acknowledging their status, while simultaneously offering protection. British protectorates were, therefore, governed by indirect rule. They benefited from Pax Britannia in return for the control over their international relations and taxation powers, which were exercised through the role of British advisors, who oversaw the governments. (Ref: British Protectorate Wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org.)
The fourth “region” under the British jurisdiction was the British Togoland, which was a different ball game. It was a UN Trust Territory administered by the British. As a trust territory, the region was autonomous from the Gold Coast Colony, except that it was administered from Accra.
The problem that later faced the British was that the Gold Coast was to gain independence soon, and the fate of British Togoland must be decided, and decided fast. In 1954, the British served notice to the UN that it had no intention of handling Togoland’s case once its mandate over the Gold Coast expired on March 6, 1957, because as soon as they pack out of Accra, the British were not interested in relocating to Lome or elsewhere to administer the Trust Territory. The United Nation decided that the only solution to this problem was to have a Plebiscite to make the indigenes of the trust territory decide their own fate.
(Next Part 2: The 1956 Plebiscite and Matters Arising)
Hon. Daniel Dugan