Exactly sixty years (60years) ago, 1956 – 2016, Kotokolis in the then British Togoland, were among some ethnic groups such as Ewes, Akans, Mamprusis, Dagombas, Nanumbas, Bimobas, Konkomba, Chokosis, Kusasis, Basaris,, Bisas (Busanga), Akebus, Adele, Buems, Adwodes, Gonjas of Salaga and Guans among others in the present Volta Region of Ghana, went to the polls to decide their future with the union with the then Gold Coast.
On Wednesday, the 9th of May 1956, the election, popularly known as the Plebiscite, was held under UN Supervision with the choice between formal integration with the future independent Gold Coast or continuation as a Trust Territory.
There were only two items on the ballot paper, did the people of the British Togoland sometimes known as Transvolta Togoland (TVT), want to continue with union with the Gold Coast or be separated from it and remain under British mandate pending a decision on its future by the UN.
THE BRITISH TOGOLAND
The Territory of British Togoland was first formed after a partitioned of the Togoland on 27th December 1916, during the First World War (World War 1) British and French forces already occupied Togoland. After the war, on 20 July 1922, the League of Nations (Now United Nations) UN/gave its mandate to formally transfer control of British Togoland to the United Kingdom.
The area was partitioned with between the two occupying powers in 1916 with the British taking 33,775 sq km of area stretching from Ho to almost near the border with the then Upper Volta, now known as Burkina Faso.
This land became known as British Togoland, Transvolta Togoland (TVT) or UN Mandated Territory with the capital Ho. Languages spoken are mentioned earlier, Ghana-Togo languages with English as official.
In 1954, the British government informed the UN that it would unable to administer the Trust Territory after 1957 in response, in December 1955; the UN General Assembly passed a resolution advising the British government to hold a plebiscite on the future of British Togoland.
Three (3) main political parties were involved in the plebiscite, the Togoland Congress Party (TCP), the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and the Northern Peoples Party (NPP).
The Togoland Congress Party (TCP) was a local party, led by the late S.G. Antor a native of Lobga Alakpeti,in the now Hohoe Municipality, with slogan: Abladee, Abladee, Gbadzaa (Freedom,Freedom, Real Freedom), was formed in 1951 which had won three seats in the Gold Coast elections of April 1954 and two seats in the July 1956 elections, but did not survive for long afterwards.
The TCP secondary goal was to campaign for the unification of the Ewe people in British Togoland and French Togoland as a separate Ewe State, however the Party yet again failed in May 1956 UN plebiscite held in British Togoland and the Gold Coast.
The party was dissolved in 1957, and merged into United Party (UP), in the Gold Coast.
Nkrumah and the CPP, with Gbedemah campaigned excessively in area for unification. A total of 194,230 people were registered and 160,587 voted. 90,095 (58%) voted for unification with Gold Coast while 67, 492 voted (42%) for separation. The United Nation then decided that British Togoland should become part of Ghana, and in March 6, 1957 it did so.
The word ‘Kotokoli’ is a popular name for tribes, called Tem. Tem form part of group of tribes put under the Gur ethnic group of West Africa found in present Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso and Benin.
The language Tem (Kotokoli), are believed to have migrated from around the present day Chad and settled in present Sokode and Bafilo in Togo and Republic of Benin, where some of them further migrated to Kue-Kotokoli, in the Volta-North of Ghana, with the administrative capital at Nkwanta, in the Nkwanta-South District of the Volta Region.
Now Kotokolis are found almost everywhere in Ghana, but still maintain Kue-Kotokoli as their traditional home. Wuro Alhaji Dauda Chedre Brenan11, is the Chief of Kue-Kotokoli,and also the Paramount Chief of Kotokolis in Ghana.
The town of Kue-Kotokoli and its immediate neighboring villages like Abdulai krom in the Nkwanta-South District of the Volta Region form part of the Kotokolis lands that extended from present Togo. And until 1956 plebiscite that confirmed the region acceptance to be part of the Gold Coast at independent the whole Volta Region including Yendi, Salaga extended to Bawku was ruled by Germans and later by the British.
Kotokoli is one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Being industrious they indulge in Cocoa farming, Cola trades and commercial vehicle drivers.
Kotokolis embraced Islam as far as 16th Century with many Islamic Scholars, some included our late Father, Uncle, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and Professor, Sheikh Alhaji Abdulai Gomda of Yendi, the then Togoland section of Dagomba District, the late Sheikh Abdul Nasir, who established Siddique School Complex and Vocational Centre at Agona-Nyakrom and former Deputy National Chief Imamof Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama Muslim Sect. among others. May dear souls rest in perfect peace.
Some even fought for the British in the West Africa Frontier Forces (WAFF) in the First and Second World Wars including Congo wars and the present UN Peacekeeping Forces, because of their bravery.
Historically they fought against Musa Indewura Japka, Slave traders like Samori and Babatu, due to their prowess which culminated in the formation of a warrior group called the Semasi which was so strong that it conquered other smaller tribes in the Northern Togoland.
Apart from peaceful co-existence, tribes like Kotokolis, Dagombas, Bassaris, Gonjas, Chokosis, Bimobas and Konkombas etc, are all intermarried and have the same traditions and culture that are often portrayed in festivals such as Damba, Bugum of the Dagomba,the Maariborwu,Adosa, Kamaka, Dilla and Maulud-Nabih (Birth Day of Prophet Mohammed PBUH) of Kotokolis and also in the Takai dance of both tribes.
COLONIAL BORDER DEMARCATION PROBLEMS
The arbitrary demarcation of the nations boundaries in Africa by the Colonial Masters created the problem of tribal divisions which culminated into certain tribe found in either side of Ghana and other African Countries. For examples in the West we have Nzemas, Wassas, Akans etc found in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In the North we have Dagarti, Sisalas, Gurunshies, Builsas, Kusasis, Frafras and Busangas found in Ghana and in Burkina Faso.
The Eastern border has tribes like the Ewes, Kotokolis, Adele, Atwodes, Basaris, Konkombas, Chokosis, Bimobas, Likpes, Buems, Guans etc. found in Ghana and Togo, that is why Kotokolis, Basaris, Chokosis, Bimobas etc. have historically lived together as brothers and playmates and never harmed each other.
In all elections in Ghana from 1957 up to 2012, Kotokolis played important roles as party adhere, such as the Action Troopers and Verandah Boys of the then Convention Peoples Party (CPP), the Action Group of the then National Liberation Movement (NLM), The Muslim Association Party (MAP) and latter United Party (UP), also the Founding Members of some Political Parties, Party Agents, Leading Members, Foot Soldiers etc etc. and exercised franchised in all the various elections.
Presently they could command a force of about three million votes. And some parties having realized this have taken advantage of this. The major revolutions in Ghana that is the 1979 and 1981 revolutions involved the Kotokolis who participated like any other Ghanaian to fight against corruption and eventually establish democratic rule.
Most of the Kotokoli students by then took part in the cocoa evacuation from land locked areas to the harbours. Historically Kotokolis led certain tribes in Ghana to fight for and capture lands on which they live today. But some of these tribes relegate the Kotokolis to the background and call them aliens to the land they fought for and captured such as Agona-Nyakrom in the Central Region and others.
How can such people become aliens or immigrants in the land they fought for, struggled for its independence contributed to its economic growth and development? I wish to reiterate to those who know historically and those who do not know that Kotokolis are spared the embarrassment caused by misguided utterances and torture by some unscrupulous Ghanaians by allowing our votes to be counted in the 9th May 1956 plebiscite. END
The writer is a Veteran Journalist and Politician.
Email: [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."