by Dwayne Wong Omowale
For the last 50 years, Togo has been ruled by a neo-colonial dictatorship. Togo’s first president, Sylvanus Olympio, was assassinated in 1963, which was only three years after Togo received its independence from France.
Gnassingbé Eyadema was one of the people involved in this assassination. Eyadema would go on to become Togo’s president in 1967. Eyadema’s rule lasted until his death in 2005. Following his death, the military swore in his son, Faure Gnassingbé, as the new president of Togo. Faure has been the president of Togo ever since.
During the last 50 years, the Gnassingbé dynasty in Togo has maintained itself in power through brutalizing and terrorizing those who dare to speak out against the corruption and misrule of the government. Under the rule of the Gnassingbés, Togo has been one of the poorest and most miserable countries in Africa.
The people of Togo have decided that they have had enough of being ruled by a neo-colonial regime that exploits and murders them for the benefit of their former colonial masters. They have launched a movement known as “Togo Debout,” which means “Togo Standing.” The aim of this movement is to force Faure to resign and to establish a free and democratic Togo.
One of the challenges that the Togolese people have encountered in their struggle is a lack of international allies. The international community has virtually ignored the uprising in Togo, which is not very surprising. For the last 50 years, Western countries such as the United States and France have overlooked the abuses of the Gnassingbé dynasty. Gnassingbé Eyadema was even considered a personal friend to France’s President Jacques Chirac.
The people of Togo have decided that they have had enough of being ruled by a neo-colonial regime that exploits and murders them for the benefit of their former colonial masters. They have launched a movement known as “Togo Debout,” which means “Togo Standing.”
The international community has done nothing about the fact that the regime in Togo has responded to the peaceful protestors with violent and even deadly force. Many protestors have been severely injured and killed.
Among those killed by the military in Togo are even protesting school children. Others have been jailed and tortured for protesting against the dictatorship in Togo. When the government of Togo is not using violence to suppress the protests, it also undertakes actions such as cutting off the internet access of the Togolese people.
The people of Togo have undergone 50 years of some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable and they are fighting for their liberation. In the past, the African Diaspora has assisted our brothers and sisters in Africa when they needed it.
African Americans and West Indians supported Ethiopia during the Italian invasion and occupation in the 1930s. Some in the Diaspora felt so strongly about Ethiopia’s cause that they traveled to Ethiopia to fight the Italians. Africans in the Diaspora also stood in solidarity with countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia as they fought for their freedom from European colonial rule.
Now it is the duty of those of us in the African Diaspora to stand with Togo and to assist their struggle in whatever capacity we can. Many of us are the descendants of Africans who were stolen from Togo, so for many of us Togo is our motherland.
The Black Lives Matter movement was created in the United States to address the fact that African Americans are regularly victimized by the justice system and nothing is done about it. The slogan itself is a reference to the fact that Black life in the United States is treated as if it has no value.
The people of Togo have undergone 50 years of some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable and they are fighting for their liberation.
This is not just a national issue, but an international one that involves all people of African descent. The lives of the Togolese people have been treated with complete disregard by Western countries and by the neo-colonial government that is currently in power in Togo.
It is for this reason that African Americans and others in the African Diaspora need to stand in solidarity with the Togolese people as they fight for their liberation. Togo’s struggle is our struggle.
Dwayne Wong Omowale is a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist and author. He has published 16 books on the history and culture of African people. Dwayne is also the founder of the Movement for Restoring the African Mind. He can be contacted at Dwomowale@gmail.com.