Opinions & Features January 21, 2019 at 01:38 pm

Opinion: Sylvanus Olympio’s assassination two days before he withdrew Togo from the CFA franc zone

Koffi de Lome January 21, 2019 at 01:38 pm

January 21, 2019 at 01:38 pm | Opinions & Features

Bob Marley once asked in Redemption Song: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” When is enough enough? Africa is a continent drenched in the blood of revolutionaries, visionaries, nationalists and intellectuals simply assassinated by Western imperialism.

Sylvanus Epiphanio Kwami Olympio was born on the 6th September 1902 at Kpando in the former German protectorate of Togoland which eventually became British Togoland after the defeat of Germany in World War I (1914-1918). He went to primary school in Lome and secondary school in the Kpando area of British Togoland.

At the age of 18, Sylvanus Olympio continued his education in London where he completed the London Matriculation Examination with distinction before enrolling at The London School of Economics and Political Science (1922-1926) where he studied economics under Professor “Harold Laski”. After graduation, he went on to study International Law at Dijon (France) then to Vienna (Austria).

At the end of his studies by 1927, he started his career at Lever Brothers Co. in London. By 1930, he returned to West Africa and moved to Lagos (Nigeria) as assistant director of Unilever before he was promoted and transferred to Ho (Ghana) as the director general of Unilever for both Ghana and Togo.

By 1932, he was transferred to Togo to take over the position of director general of United Africa Company (UAC), a subsidiary of Unilever in Francophone Africa. Talk about an exceptional career for a black African in the 20s and 30s and at the time of colonial rule.

Eventually, Sylvanus Olympio was forced to choose between his rise in the business world and his passion for politics and the future of his people. He gave up his corporate career and started agitating for self-rule in the early 40s and on 8th December 1946, Sylvanus Olympio was elected member of parliament and president for 5 years of the first representative assembly of Togo after his political party Comité pour l’Unité Togolaise
(CUT) won almost every seat. He then led Togo to independence from France on 27th April 1960 and became The Republic of  Togo’s first ever elected head of state on 9th April 1961.

It was a long and painful journey to independence. In order to obfuscate or block the hopes of emancipation and aspirations for self-government by Olympio and the Togolese people, France requested a payment of 800 million francs from the tiny West African colony with meagre earnings as the cost of France’s colonial administration.

Being a trained economist and international businessman, Sylvanus Olympio quickly understood the game. There is no real independence with “debt trap” and he quickly went to work for two years by putting Togo’s  land and human resources to work in order to come up with the funds to pay France.

Even after paying France this colossal amount and gaining nominal independence, General De Gaulle wasn’t going to let go because he believed all French colonies were France’s property independent or not.

Sylvanus Olympio’s vision of a free and self-determining Togo, free of western interference by putting the people first above all other interests didn’t go down well in Paris. The last straw was his decision to break away from the CFA francs currency which was imposed on France’s colonies in 1945 at gunpoint. 

Olympio set out to issue Togo’s own sovereign currency backed by the resources of the country and guaranteed by the German Bundesbank.  Two days before Sylvanus Olympio was due in Paris at the Bank of France to sign the withdrawal agreement of Togo from the CFA francs currency, France, with the help of USA ordered his assassination.

He was handed over to his assassins by U.S. ambassador Leon B. Poullada in Togo on 13th January 1963 and the rest is history. History is our bible, if you want to understand the current material backwardness of Africa, look upon its history and how the West systematically underdeveloped Africa and killed off our revolutionaries and intellectuals only to replace them with African puppet “hyenas” they control surrounded by CIA, DGSE and all the other nefarious western agencies. Togo today is ruled by the most repressive totalitarian neocolonial puppet regime aided and abetted by the West namely France, USA, Israel and UK.

May our land, people, culture and rich history be our guide for emancipating Africa but first, all Africans must reject Western imperialism in all its forms. Had Sylvanus Olympio succeeded in breaking away from the CFA colonial currency, the domino effect would’ve destroyed the poison of French imperialism in Africa. Let’s rise up against local African traitors and agents of the empire, tell the youths the truth, prepare the youths for the long, tough, but noble struggle for liberation.

The race is renewed through its children, we are our ancestors. Our struggle continues till victory is ours.

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