Togo as a Case Study for Neo-Colonialism in Africa
Kwame Nkrumah gave the following description of neo-colonialism: “Neo-colonialism is…the worst form of imperialism. For those who practice it, it means power without responsibility, and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony, those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism, neither is the case.”
The end of the colonialism in Africa gave rise to a system of neo-colonialism in which African leaders continued to serve the interest of the colonial powers. The difference was that neo-colonialism did not involve direct rule from the colonial powers. In this regard, Togo provides the classic case study of a neo-colonial regime. In fact, Togo is the oldest neo-colonial military dictatorship in Africa. The regime came into power in 1967 when Gnassingbé Eyadéma seized power in a coup. Today his son Faure Gnassingbé continues to retain control over Togo.
As is the case with most neo-colonial regimes, the regime in Togo oppresses its people and relies on support from Western governments for its survival. As Walter Rodney explained that the neo-colonial leaders in Africa “do not have the economic base. They are entirely dependent on two things: firstly, their external support; and secondly, whatever local police forces they can muster.” This is the case with Togo. The power of the regime comes mainly from its external support from countries such as the United States, France, and Britain. It also relies on its security force to suppress resistance on the part of Togolese people who dare to challenge the regime. Moreover, the security force in Togo would not be what it is without the military equipment it receives from its external supporters. The regime in Togo understands how precarious its situation is. The loss of its external support and/or the loss of the local police forces would mean that the regime losses its power. The Gnassingbé dynasty has been very effective thus far at retaining both, but the protests in 2017–8 demonstrated that the regime in Togo is not invincible. The people of Togo came close to ending the Gnassingbé regime then and the regime itself seems to understand that it may not be able to withstand the next mass uprising.
Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.