Located on the Guinea coast of West Africa, Togo extends as a narrow corridor about 550 km inland and offers an astonishing variety of landscapes and natural spaces in a small area. The more than 40 different peoples live together peacefully, if not always without tension and have preserved their traditional culture.
The military, the Forces Armées Togolaises – FAT, had in the past – as already during the German colonial era – no external threats to ward off, but was repeatedly used by the Eyadéma regime to “maintain internal security”. The approximately 8,500-strong military apparatus is dominated by Kabyé and the higher ranking officers and decision-makers come for the most part from Pya, the hometown of Gnassingbé Eyadéma. The army consists of around 8,100 men (other sources speak of around 13,000 soldiers), the navy consists of 200 people and the air force has around 250 men. In addition, there are paramilitary groups such as the gendarmerie, around 750 men, and militias, which are made up of soldiers and civilians.
According to computerannals, Togo is involved in non-violence and cooperation agreements with CEDEAO. Togolese soldiers also took part in various foreign missions and UN missions. For the military mission ‘Mission internationale de soutien au Mali – MISMA’ led by the CEDEAO, Togo provided a contingent of almost 500 soldiers, which was increased to around 1000 soldiers by September 2015. In May 2016, five Togolese soldiers were killed during their deployment in Mali.
In January 2008 the Conseil des Ministres passed several decrees reforming the army and the gendarmerie. After the attempted coup on the president Several people at the top of the army were replaced or demoted. At the end of 2015, the government adopted a decree establishing an operational reserve unit.
During the visit of the FAT General Staff to the USA, the expansion of military cooperation was agreed. In the spring of 2016, 57 Togolese officers were trained by American soldiers. Deutsche Welle reported on an ‘open day’ for the Togolese armed forces. Like the police, the gendarmerie and the military are also affected by restructuring and changes in leadership positions.
Opposition voices claimed that the Togolese military were present in Burkina Faso during the protests against President Blaise Compaoré, while the government claimed that soldiers were in transit from Mali back to Togo. Togo and Burkina Faso want to combine their military forces in the fight against instability and insecurity.
In April 2014, the first of two speedboats arrived from France, which President Faure Gnassingbé had ordered in France in 2013 in order to better equip the fight against piracy, which has increased in the Gulf of Guinea in recent years, against terrorism and drug trafficking be.
Since the riots in summer 2017, the military presence in the public in Togo has increased sharply. The armed forces are taking violent action against the mass protests of the population and supporting the government. The loyalty of the military has always been the most important support for the Gnassingbé family’s retention of power and also plays a decisive role in the country’s current political crisis.
Country name and national symbols
Togo means in Éwe: over there on the hill (across the lagoon) or on the other high bank. This is the name given to the five villages that make up Togoville today when the Germans signed protection treaties with representatives of these five villages in 1884.
The Togolese flag was designed in 1960 for independence by the artist Paul Ahyi in collaboration with Jean Johnson. It consists of five horizontal stripes, three green, two yellow and one white star in the red square. The color green stands for agriculture and yellow for mineral resources. The white star for hope and red for the struggle for freedom and independence and the blood that has been shed. The coloring corresponds to the pan-African colors. This movement, which advocated the unity of Africa and all people of African origin, had the colors of the Ethiopian flag as a model, since Ethiopia was the only country (besides the “special case” Liberia) in Africa not to be a European colony.
The coat of arms of the Republic of Togo is represented by the Constitution of the Fourth Republic as of 27 September 1992. Silver coat of arms in oval shape with green trim, top of the national insignia, two inclined flags, in the center the initials RT of the Republic of Togo on a gold cut-out serrated background and two lions with slightly opened snouts. The words: work, freedom, fatherland are written on the banderole. The two young lions represent the courage of the Togolese people. They hold bows and arrows, the traditional weapons, to show that the true freedom of the Togolese people is in their hands and that their strength lies primarily in their own traditions. The lions, standing upright, express the constant vigilance of the Togolese people in maintaining their independence.
The national anthem Salut à toi, terre de nos aïeux – Greetings, the land of our ancestors was adopted on April 23, 1960 from 40 proposals. The first movement that determines the hymn is derived from Sikeli, a tam-tam song. The melody contains elements of African and European character. Alex Casimir Dosseh (1923–2007) from Togo, who studied at the Cesar Franck Music Academy in Paris, wrote melody and text. In addition to the text in French and Ewé, there is now an official version in Kabyè. Bishop Emeritus Kpodzro proposed a contemporary text change in the national anthem in which the slogan ‘Vainquons ou mourrons mais dans la dignité’ should be replaced by ‘Vainquons et vivons dans la dignité’.