Lomé is the capital city of Togo and takes its name from "alomé", the Ewe word for the trees that were once abundant in the area.
Originally founded in the 1720s as a settlement by the Ewe people who lived in
parts of modern day Ghana, Benin and southern Togo, by 1882 it was still small
but nonetheless a
relatively important trading centre then known as "Bey Beach" used by the Forster and Smith, F and A Swanzy and Hutton
In 1884 Germany signed a treaty with King Mlapa III making much of the
coastline, including Lomé, a German protectorate however after the Berlin Conference the
following year they took control of the entire area naming it as "Schutzgeblet
Togo" with the town of Aného as the country's capital. In 1897 the capital was transferred to Lomé
and it was then developed as a commercial and administrative centre.
At the outbreak of the first world war on
26th August 1914
Schutzgeblet Togo was occupied by the Allies with the territory being
divided in 1916 into two administrative areas run by the British and French
with Lomé itself coming under British occupation. In 1920 the League of
Nations made Togo a mandate territory and divided it into French Togoland
and British Togoland in 1922 with the French assuming control of Lomé as the
British withdrew to Ghana on the west. At that time the population of Lomé
was some 10,000 having risen from just 2000 when first named as the capital.
Former Togo prime minister and then
president Sylvanus Olympio wrote of the confusion for young people in
particular at the time. "I was born in 1902 went to school until 1914 under
the German system, then until 1920 under the British system; when I returned
from London University a few years later, I had to learn a third European
language - French - in order to be qualified to earn a living in my home
town." The French further developed Lomé, building a modern town
with a jetty to facilitate the export of raw goods including coffee,
cocoa, cotton, palm and coconut oil. This jetty was modernised with a deep
water harbour in the 1960s as Togo became independent with Lomé confirmed as
the republic's capital city.
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