Sylvanus Olympio

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Shortly after midnight on 13 January 1963, Olympio and his wife were awakened by members of the military breaking into their house. Before dawn, Olympio's body was discovered by the U.S. Ambassador Leon B. Poullada three feet from the door to the U.S. Embassy. [11] It was the first coup d'état in the French and British colonies in Africa that achieved independence in the 1950s and 1960s, [18] and Olympio is remembered as the first president to be assassinated during a military coup in Africa. [19] Étienne Eyadéma, who would claim power in 1967 and remain in office until 2005, claimed to have personally fired the shot that killed Olympio while Olympio tried to escape. [20] Emmanuel Bodjollé became the head of the government for two days until the military created a new government headed by Nicolas Grunitzky, as president, and Antoine Meatchi, as vice president. [21]

Women mourning the murder of president Olympio African-women-mourn-president-Olympio-1963-142353797830.jpg
Women mourning the murder of president Olympio

The assassination sent shock waves throughout Africa. Guinea, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and Tanganyika all denounced the coup and the assassination, while only Senegal and Ghana (and to a lesser extent Benin) recognized the government of Grunitzky and Meatchi until elections in May. The government of Togo was excluded from the Addis Ababa Conference which formed the Organisation of African Unity later that year as a result of the coup. [22]


The army increased dramatically from 250 in 1963 to 1,200 by 1966. [13] When protests in the Ewe region, Olympio's ethnic group, caused chaos in 1967, the military under Eyadéma deposed the government of Grunitzky. [21] Eyadéma ruled the country from 1967 until 2005. Olympio's family remained in exile for much of that period and only returned to the country with democratic openings at the end of Eyadéma's rule. Olympio's son, Gilchrist Olympio, is the head of the party Union of Forces for Change and has led the main opposition in Togo since the mid-1990s.

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Togo Country in West Africa

Togo, officially the Togolese Republic, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. The country extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, where its capital and largest city Lomé is located. Togo covers 57,000 square kilometres, making it one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population of approximately 8 million, as well as one of the narrowest countries in the world with a width of less than 115 km (71 mi) between Ghana and its slightly larger eastern neighbor, Benin.

The history of Togo can be traced to archaeological finds which indicate that ancient local tribes were able to produce pottery and process tin. During the period from the 11th century to the 16th century, the Ewé, the Mina, the Gun, and various other tribes entered the region. Most of them settled in coastal areas.. The Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century, followed by other European powers. Until the 19th century, the coastal region was a major slave trade centre, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name "The Slave Coast".

Politics of Togo

Politics of Togo takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Togo is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. After independence, the party system was dominated first by the authoritarian Rally for the Togolese People, and later by its successor party, Union for the Republic.

Gnassingbé Eyadéma President of Togo from 1967 to 2005

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Elections in Togo Political elections for public offices in Togo

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Faure Gnassingbé President of Togo since 2005

Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma is a Togolese politician who has been the president of Togo since 2005. Before assuming the presidency, he was appointed by his father, President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, as Minister of Equipment, Mines, Posts, and Telecommunications, serving from 2003 to 2005.

Nicolas Grunitzky 2nd President of Togo (1963-67)

Nicolas Grunitzky was the second president of Togo and its third head of state. He was President from 1963 to 1967. Grunitzky was Prime Minister of Togo from 1956 to 1958 under the French Colonial loi cadre system, which created a limited "national" government in their colonial possessions. He was elected Prime Minister of Togo —still under French administration— in 1956. Following the 1963 coup which killed his nationalist political rival Sylvanus Olympio, Grunitzky was chosen by the military committee of coup leaders to be Togo's second President.

Gilchrist Olympio is a Togolese politician who was a long-time opponent of the regime of Gnassingbé Eyadéma and was President of the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), Togo's main opposition party from the 1990s til 2013. Olympio is the son of Sylvanus Olympio, Togo's first President, who was assassinated in a 1963 coup. He is now an ally of the current regime of Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late President.

Union of Forces for Change Political party in Togo

The Union of Forces for Change is an opposition political party in Togo. The President of the UFC was Gilchrist Olympio and its Secretary-General was Jean-Pierre Fabre until 10 August 2010. Olympio is the son of the first President of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, who was assassinated in a 1963 coup. On 10 August 2010, Jean-Pierre Fabre was elected as President of the party.

Emmanuel Bodjollé Togolese soldier who led the 1963 coup détat

Emmanuel Bodjollé is a Togolese former military officer who was Chairman of the nine-member Insurrection Committee that overthrew the government of President Sylvanus Olympio on 13 January 1963.

Kléber Dadjo served as Interim President of Togo in his role as Chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee from 14 January 1967 to 14 April 1967 following the overthrow of President Nicolas Grunitzky's government.

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The strains in Ghana–Togo relations stretch back to pre-independence days.

Antoine Meatchi Togolese politician

Antoine Idrissou Meatchi was a Togolese politician. He was vice president of Togo under Nicolas Grunitzky following the 1963 coup which overthrew Sylvanus Olympio. Additionally he served as minister of finance from 1963 to 1966. He was deposed in January 1967 in the coup organized by Étienne Eyadéma.

1963 Togolese general election

General elections were held in Togo on 5 May 1963, alongside a constitutional referendum. It followed a military coup earlier in the year which had ousted President Sylvanus Olympio, who had dissolved all political parties except his own Party of Togolese Unity in 1961. Nicolas Grunitzky, who had served as Prime Minister since shortly after the coup was elected President unopposed, whilst in the National Assembly election, a single list of candidates containing members of the Party of Togolese Unity, Juvento, the Democratic Union of the Togolese People and the Togolese People's Movement was put forward under the name "Reconciliation and National Union". It was approved by 98.6% of voters. Voter turnout was 91.1%.

1963 Togolese coup détat Coup that assassinated President Sylvanus Olympio

The 1963 Togolese coup d'état was a military coup that occurred in the West African country of Togo on 13 January 1963. The coup leaders — notably Emmanuel Bodjollé, Étienne Eyadéma and Kléber Dadjo — took over government buildings, arrested most of the cabinet, and assassinated Togo's first president, Sylvanus Olympio, outside the American embassy in Lomé. The coup leaders quickly brought Nicolas Grunitzky and Antoine Meatchi, both of whom were exiled political opponents of Olympio, together to form a new government.

Democratic Union of the Togolese People

The Democratic Union of the Togolese People was a political party in Togo.

Protests against Faure Gnassingbé

Protests against Faure Gnassingbé have occurred throughout Togo, starting when President Faure Gnassingbé assumed power after the death of his father Gnassingbé Eyadéma in February 2005.

1967 Togolese coup détat 1967 coup in Togo

The 1967 Togolese coup d'état was a bloodless military coup that occurred in the West African country of Togo on 13 January 1967. The leader of the coup, Lieutenant Colonel Étienne Eyadéma ousted Togo's second President, Nicolas Grunitzky, whom he essentially brought to power following the 1963 coup d'état.

1986 Togolese coup détat attempt 1986 coup attempt in Togo

The 1986 Togolese coup d'état attempt was a coup attempt that occurred in the West African country of Togo on 23 September 1986. The coup attempt consisted of a group of some 70 armed dissidents crossed into capital Lomé from Ghana in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government of President General Gnassingbé Eyadéma.

Ewe Unification Movement

The Ewe Unification Movement was a series of west African ethno-nationalist efforts which sought the unification of the Ewe peoples spread across what are now modern Ghana and Togo. It emerged as a direct political goal around 1945 under the colonial mandate of French Togoland, however the ideal of unifying the group has been an identifiable sentiment present amongst the ethnicity's leadership and wider population ever since their initial colonial partitions by the British and German Empires from 1874 to 1884. While there have been many efforts to bring about unification, none have ultimately been successful due to both the platform itself often being a secondary concern for political leadership, or inter/intrastate conflicts overshadowing them.



Books and Journals

  • Amos, Alcione M. (2001). "Afro-Brazilians in Togo: The Case of the Olympio Family, 1882–1945". Cahiers d'Études Africaines. 41 (162): 293–314. doi: 10.4000/etudesafricaines.88 . JSTOR   4393131.
  • Grundy, Kenneth W. (1968). "The Negative Image of Africa's Military". The Review of Politics. 30 (4): 428–439. doi:10.1017/s003467050002516x. JSTOR   1406107.
  • Howe, Russell Warren (2000). "Men of the Century". Transition (86): 36–50. JSTOR   3137463.
  • Mazuri, Ali A. (1968). "Thoughts on Assassination in Africa". Political Science Quarterly. 83 (1): 40–58. doi:10.2307/2147402. JSTOR   2147402.
  • Onwumechili, Chuka (1998). African Democratization and Military Coups. Westport, Ct.: Praeger. ISBN   978-0-275-96325-5 . Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  • Rothermund, Dietmar (2006). The Routledge Companion To Decolonization. Taylor & Francis. ISBN   978-0-415-35632-9 . Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  • Wallerstein, Immanuel (1961). Africa: The Politics of Independence And Unity. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN   978-0-8032-9856-9 . Retrieved 29 December 2012.


(organized chronologically)

  • "Protest Speech Sets UN Record". New York Amsterdam News. 13 December 1947. p. 1.
  • "Energetic Togo Leader: Sylvanus Olympio". New York Times. 8 April 1960. p. 11.
  • "A Robust Leader Speaks for Togo". Washington Post. 1 May 1960. p. E4.
  • "Togo backs Olympio: Returns show 99% Support Ex-Premier as President". New York Times. 11 April 1961. p. 6.
  • "Togo's President Slain in Coup: Insurgents Seize Most Of Cabinet". The Washington Post. 14 January 1963. p. A1.
  • Lukas, J. Anthony (22 January 1963). "Olympio Doomed by Own Letter: Sergent whose job appeal failed slew Togo Head". New York Times. p. 3.
  • "France and the Olympios". New African (377). September 1999. p. 13.
Sylvanus Olympio
Sylvanus Olympio.jpg
Olympio in 1961
1st President of Togo
In office
27 April 1960 13 January 1963
Preceded by Prime Minister of Togo
Succeeded by
Preceded by
President of Togo
Succeeded by