In his 6 March 2023 Independence Day Address at Ho, it was extremely refreshing and comforting to note that H.E the President boldly referred to the British Togoland. “I am referring, of course, to the 1956 plebiscite in which, on May 9 of that year, the people of the then British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast on the attainment of her independence a year later. Without that significant historical event, we would not have Ghana as we know it today”
However, this refreshing piece reference tells only part of the story. By UN Resolution 1044(XI) Britain was, after the plebiscite results were declared, invited to take such steps as necessary to bring about the union between British Togoland and independent Gold Coast
But was there any political union effected between Independent Gold Coast (Ghana) and the UN Trust Territory of Togoland under Britain (British Togoland) on 6 March 1957 as claimed by the Notification Letter sent by Britain to the UN Secretary-General?
The Notification Letter stated in part that,
“…Under the 1957 Ghana Independence Act the Union of the former Trust Territory of Togoland under Britain with the independent State of Ghana took place with effect from mid-night on 5/6 March, 1957.”
It is common knowledge and universally accepted that forming a political union in this era between different/separate states or even colonies/territories had to be done democratically under due process, negotiation and dialogue. Unfortunately, in the case of Ghana and British Togoland, Britain did not allow that.
The Notification Letter claimed that the union was formed under the 1957 Ghana Independence Act. But that Act was not applicable nor had it any relevance to British Togoland. In fact, the 1957 Ghana Independence Act was wrongly applied to Togoland. It was an inappropriate and wrong Act which was not suitable or appropriate for effecting or bringing about the Ghana-Togoland Union.
Did the 1957 Ghana Independence Act bring about the Ghana-British Togoland Union? That was extremely doubtful but Britain claimed it did! If Britain and her collaborators in the UN claimed it did then,
(1) How and where was the Union negotiated and enacted and who were the contracting parties?
(2) Where was the Union Document/Agreement/Deal that recognized, supported and gave the union legal acceptance and backing?
(3) Where was the Union government and how was it constituted?
(4) Where and when was the Union celebrated or marked?
(5) Where and what were the Union’s coat of arms, flag and union anthem?
(6) What type of union government was formed? Was it unitary, federal, monarchy or some other?
(7) Did the so-called partner in the union, independent Gold Coast (Ghana), accept and approve of the Union?
This question cannot be answered because the Gold Coast did not participate in the May 1956 Plebiscite
The Notification Letter was not only misleading, bogus and fraudulent but also a sham and it should have been treated as such. The UN should have scrutinized and conducted stringent due diligence on it. It is very clear and obvious that instead of a union, similar to that of England and Scotland, that was prescribed by UN resolution 944(X); voted for by the people of Togoland; approved by the Trusteeship Council resolution 1496 and equally approved by UN Resolution 1044(XI), forcible integration, like Morocco and Saharawi, was rather unfairly and unjustifiably imposed on British Togoland. This was, and is still, wrong and it must be rectified without any further delay.
As stated earlier, the 1957 Ghana Independence Act was not applicable or appropriate to British Togoland. The Act was meant for the Gold Coast and its component parts, Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti and the Northern Territories. The title of the Act clearly stated it “An Act to make provision for, and in connection with, the attainment by the Gold Coast of fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations” (7th February, 1957). The section of the Gold Coast (Constitution) Order in Council, 1954 which was smuggled into the 1957 Act to implicate British Togoland was superfluous and inconsequential because Togoland was a UN Trust Territory which was administered by Britain on behalf of the UN. Togoland was not a British colony, Britain was just holding it in trust for the UN.
To that extent, the UN Charter and Trusteeship Agreement on Togoland took precedence over the Gold Coast (Constitution) Order in Council, 1954. With regards to Togoland, British laws and ordinances were inferior to and “subject to the provisions of the United Nations Charter and of this Agreement” (Trusteeship Agreement on British Togoland Article 5(a)). Britain should have sought and obtained permission from the UN before including British Togoland or any part of it in the 1954 Gold Coast Constitution. What was more, the 1957 Ghana Independence Act violated the principles of retroactive legislation
It must be noted that the British Togoland, on the pretext of quelling a rebellion there, was invaded and occupied by Britain and the CPP Government around 4th March 1957. You may well recollect the brutal Alavanyo/Kpando crisis! After the occupation, British Togoland was subsequently forcibly integrated with independent Gold Coast (Ghana) on March 6 1957. Through this forcible integration British Togoland lost its national identity, dignity and inalienable rights. Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke, the last Governor of the Gold Coast, described this as the triumph of Gold Coast imperialism. “I am glad that Gold Coast imperialism has won.” Definitely, the imposition of Gold Coast imperialism on British Togoland was wrong and contrary to UN’s Charter and principles.
Note that UN resolutions 944(X) and 1044(XI) resolved that there should be a UNION, similar to England/Scotland model, not forcible integration like the Morocco/Saharawi model. Remember that the people of Togoland voted for union, not forcible integration or occupation. But what Britain installed on March 6 1957 was not a union but forcible integration.
How can the British Togoland Question be solved?
It is very clear that the British Togoland Question can only be solved if, and only if, the UNION (England/Scotland model) that was cited by UN Resolution 944(X); voted for by the people of British Togoland in the May 9 1956 Togoland Plebiscite and approved by UN Resolution 1044(XI) is accepted, respected and implemented to the letter. This must be the concern of Britain, Ghana, the UN and the International Community.
But it is necessary to ensure that the resolution of this Togoland Question should be done peacefully through negotiation, dialogue, due process and diplomacy devoid of state arbitrary behavior, harassment, prosecution and intimidation.
Issued by Former MP for Hohoe South
(Hon KOSI KEDEM.)