January 13 – Liberation Day in Togo

Posted on January 13, 2014

"Let's celebrate!"
   --   "No! This is a horrible day to celebrate!"
I can think of several examples of holidays that some people enjoy commemorating and others find offensive or sorrowful. For example, some Native Americans and others argue that Christopher Columbus should not be celebrated as a hero, and some even think that celebrating Thanksgiving is questionable because of the mistreatment of Native Americans by “the Pilgrims” and other European-born settlers.
Today is one of those questionable days in the African nation of Togo. For centuries Togo was part of the “Slave Coast,” a trading center for Europeans to obtain slaves; in the late 1800s German declared Togoland a protectorate; and after World War II Togo became French “property.” In 1960 French Togoland became independent under President Sylvanus Olympio. However, on this date in 1963, Olympio was deposed by military forces, and when Olympio tried to reach the U.S. embassy, he was shot and killed.
It is the winners who write the history books, many have said, and it is the winners who set up the holidays, too. The winners, in this case, include the military forces under the leadership of Eyadema Gnassingbe. Gnassingbe ended up assuming the presidency several years later and ruled for 38 years, until his death, and it was his government that set up the holiday called “Liberation Day” for the day that he helped kick Olympio out of power and ended up killing him. Eyadema Gnassingbe's son Faure is now the president and has been sensitive enough to the people who don't want to celebrate coups and assassinations to call for the end of Liberation Day celebrations.
Togo's topography
Lome is the capital of Togo--
and it's on the Atlantic coast.
The topography of a nation is the altitude, the various landforms, the natural, physical features of the nation.
Togo is long and skinny, squished between Ghana and Benin. As you can see from this topographic map, Togo is divided roughly in half by a band of hills. The northern half has gently rolling savanna, and the south is a woodland plateau that slopes down to a coastal plain with lagoons and marshes.

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