A group based in Ho, known as the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF) in the Volta Region, has been pushing for the secession of parts of Ghana along the border with Togo. These areas cover the Volta, Oti, Northern, North East and Upper East Regions of Ghana.
The group claims that the areas which formed this part of Ghana was an independent state before being made to join Ghana in a plebiscite in 1956.
The group further argued that by the dictates of the 1956 plebiscite, the terms were no longer binding on the parties, and that, even certain portions of present Ghana were not considered during the referendum.
To this end, the group claims the time has come to separate Western Togoland from Ghana and make it stand as an independent state.
The Leader of the group, an 86 year old Charles Kormi Kudzodzi, has thus, declared independence for the ‘Western Togoland’ territory on November 16, 2019 at a group meeting in Ho.
He has since been in exile, following an order by the Ho District Court for his arrest and two others for the “unlawful independence declaration”.
As if this is not enough, the group had designed their own national currency, flag and composed their own national anthem.
In February, 2020, 21 persons alleged to have been recruited to be enlisted into the Western Togoland army were arrested at a secret training camp at Kpevedui in the Ketu North Municipality of the Volta Region.
With the mounting of billboards and hoisting of flags in some parts of the Krobo area on Thursday night (at Akorley and Akuse junction), it means they are seeking to include the Krobo area and for that matter parts of the Eastern Region into their ”Western Togoland territory”.
The activities of this group have now come closer to us as a Krobo people than we could ever imagine. Many, have thus, being making enquiries to know about the history of the Trans Volta Togoland, the Plebiscite of 1956, and whether the claims of the secessionists are valid or not.
In view of this, Kloma Hengme has put up the following together for educational purposes:
1. British Togoland, officially the Mandate Territory of Togoland and later officially the Trust Territory of Togoland, was a territory in West Africa, under the administration of the United Kingdom. It was effectively formed in 1916 by the splitting of the German protectorate of Togoland into two territories, French Togoland and British Togoland, during the First World War .
In 1922, British Togoland was formally placed under British rule while French Togoland, now Togo, was placed under French rule .
2. However, with the advent of independence in the Gold Coast, “some of the Ewe leaders including Daniel Chapman and Gerald Awumah expressed the view that the best hope for the Ewe people lay in the integration of British Togoland with the Gold Coast.” Despite the pro-unification Togoland congress claiming to be acting on behalf of all, the historical records show that it really spoke only on behalf of the Ewes in the South – i.e. between Ho and Keta.
3. In 1954, a United Nations Visiting Team to British Togoland recommended a plebiscite to be held to decide on the wishes of the Togoland people on the issues of whether the Trust Territory should be integrated into or secede from the Gold Coast. The plebiscite came about because the British government, having granted internal self-government to the Gold Coast in 1954, informed the UN it could no longer administer British Togoland separately after the Gold Coast had achieved full independence (Bening, 1983; p205). The future of the Togoland territory was decided based on majority votes of the plebiscite from these four areas:
a. Northern Section of British Togoland
b. Kpando and Ho Districts
c. Buem-Krachi District north of the southern
d. Buem-Krachi District
4. On 9 May 1956, the poll was held with an 83% voter turnout estimated at 160,587 persons. A resounding 58% of the population backed the union with the Gold Coast with the remaining 42% voting against it. The same plebiscite in French Togoland, showed a majority of the people voting in favour of the territory becoming an autonomous republic within the French Union (Prescott, 1963).
5. Interestingly, the results showed that there was an overwhelming support for the union in the Northern Togoland region whereas the Ewe-speaking areas of the south namely in Ho and Kpando voted strongly in favour of seceding from the new Ghana. To put this into context, Ho and Kpando regions comprised only about 15% of the territory in terms of landmass.
On this basis, the British government therefore recommended that the Trans Volta Togoland should be integrated into the Gold Coast (now Ghana). This suggestion, however, did not go down well with a portion of those from the Ewe speaking regions as they had opted to join the French Togo in the plebiscite which had then attained the status of an autonomous republic. There was even an armed rebellion by the people of Alavanyo against integration with the Gold Coast.
6. Following the recommendation by the British government on the basis of the poll results, the Fourth Committee of the Eleventh Session of the General Assembly of the UN approved the union “…. and their recommendation was adopted by the General Assembly and on 6 March, 1957 the British trust territory of Togoland and the Gold Coast became the independent and unitary state of Ghana.”
7. The new Parliament of Ghana after independence adopted the UN resolution to merge and integrate the Trans-Volta Togoland with Ghana which was then given the name Volta Region.
8. From the above historical exposition, the claim of the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF) does not hold. In fact, their claims are null and void, and without any basis. The union of Trans-Volta Togoland and the Gold coast followed the requisite protocols. The process adopted, and the results of the plebiscite were very transparent, clear and fair. The vote was not for federal union but rather it was to join a new unitary state called Ghana.