Togo 50 Francs Banknote, 1958 – Face and Back
The name Togo is translated from the Ewe language as “land where lagoons lie”.1. The Ewe are perhaps the largest of about 30 ethnicities inhabiting Togo.
The Portuguese arrived in 1490, two years before Columbus set sail to the West, and, thus, just on the cusp of the colonial age. In a few short decades the colonial era took off, and with it, the Atlantic Slave Trade. Togo and its neighboring regions earned the infamous name “The Slave Coast”.
The Map below is found in the Wikipedia article on the Slave Coast of Africa.2 Outlined in yellow towards the left of the map is Togoland, the name given to Togo during the period in which it was a German protectorate. The concave Atlantic Coast below is known as The Bight of Benin and bears the name Slave Coast in this map.
Togoland became a German protectorate following the Berlin Conference of 1884, which effectively launched the Scramble for Africa.3 Just about a decade prior to the Berlin Conference, about 10% of Africa was under formal European control. It was about 90% under formal European control about 3 decades after the conference. During those few decades, European governments channeled their national ambitions and martial energies into Africa. But they weren’t exhausted as evidenced by WWI.
The German protectorate was invaded and taken by French and British forces early in WWI and subdivided into British Togoland and French Togoland.