Below is the translation of a letter in which the Kings and Chiefs of Little Popo and Grigi in Togoland (actual Togo) are asking for their lands to be placed under the protection of the German Imperial Majesty the Kaiser, i.e. to be placed under German protection, or rather placing (not knowing the full extent) their lands under German protectorate. This was signed on March 5th of 1884. Remember that Little Popo is now known as Aného in Togo. Grigi might have been the town of Glidji.
I. We, the signatories, Kings and chiefs of Little Popo and Grigi, express our gratitude to Your Majesty for having assisted us in upholding peace in our land.
II. There would be no threat and no uncertainty, if the British government would refrain from interference in the affairs of our lands, which it desires, while we desire her not to have it.
III. We ask Your Majesty to provide us with protection and to avoid such an annexion.
IV. We implore Your Majesty to come to our aid, as we have placed ourselves fully under your protection.
V. We humbly request to take quick action.
signed King Aiaushi Agbanor of Little Popo and Grigi, Caboceer Quadjovi, chief Pedro Quadjo and 11 other signatures
Today, I present to you the text of the treaty signed between King Mlapa– the King of Togo, or rather his representative Chief Plakko or Plakkou, and the Consul General Gustav Nachtigal thereby placing his land under German protectorate. This is the famous July 5th 1884 treaty which marks the beginning of the German protectorate in Togoland and the birth of this German colony in West Africa. As you read it, remember that Porto Seguro is now Agbodrafo and Bagida is Baguida in Togo. Note also that when it is said ‘King of Togo,’ Togo in this case refers to the area around Togoville, the village which gave its name to the entire country. As always, European colonizers used one main treaty in one area of the country (mostly coastal) to claim ownership over the rest of the country. The original in German can be found in Geschichte der deutschen kolonien by Horst Gründer, UTB (2018) p. 91-92
The Consul General for the German Reich, Dr. Gustav Nachtigal, in the name of His Majesty the Kaiser of Germany, and Mlapa, King of Togo, represented for himself, his heirs and his chiefs by Plakkou, carrier of King Mlapa’s stick, have come to the following agreement :
Article 1 King Mlapa, desiring to protect legitimate trade, which mostly is carried out by Germans, and to grant the German merchants full security for their lives and property, requests the protection of His Majesty the German Kaiser, so that he is enabled to uphold the independence of his territory, which stretches from Porto Seguro‘s eastern border to the western border of Lomé or Bey Beach. His Imperial Majesty grants such protection, with the reservation of legitimately acquired rights of third parties.
Article 2 King Mlapa will cede no part of his lands and sovereignty rights to any foreign country of person, and he will not sign any treaty with any foreign power without the previously given approval of His Imperial Majesty.
Article 3 King Mlapa grants protection and free trade to all German subjects who live in his land, and promises never to grant merchants of other nations privileges, preferential treatment or protection beyond what is granted to the Germans. King Mlapa, without His Imperial Majesty’s approval, will refrain from collecting tariffs other than those presently collected, which are 1 Shilling for every ton of palm kernels 1 Shilling for every barrel of palm oil which are to be paid to the chief of the respective location.
Article 4 His Majesty the German Kaiser will respect all trade treaties previously signed by King Mlapa and others, and will in no way place burdens upon free trade in King Mlapa‘s land.
Article 5 His Majesty the German Kaiser will not interfere in the manner the tariff so far has been collected by King Mlapa and his chiefs
Article 6 The signatory parties reserve matters of mutual interest, not included in this treaty, for future agreements.
Article 7 This treaty takes force immediately, reserved ratification by the German government. In order to testify, we have signed in the presence of the witnesses which have signed
J.J. Gacher, J.B. Ahpevon, interpreters H. Randad Josua Lenze Mandt, Lt. at sea Dr. Max Buchner Chief Plakko Chief Adey of Lomé or Bey Coodaycee Hadji, 2nd chief of Bey Okkoo Nukoo King Garsa of Bagida
1 Translator’s footnote : Here a text originally written in English, and printed in German translation in the RTA, has been re-translated into English. Thus it might differ slightly in diction from the original text.
A few years back, I met some German colleagues who did not know that Germany had African colonies. I was astounded, especially given that some of these colonies (territories, people, cultures) were broken into two as a result of Germany’s loss of World War I: Great Britain and France divided Kamerun (Cameroons) and Togoland. Belgium gained Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda and Burundi) in northwestern German East Africa, while Great Britain obtained the greater land mass of German East Africa (Tanzania), Portugal received the Kionga Triangle, a sliver of German East Africa, and South Africa gained German South-West Africa (Namibia). It is like getting punished for someone else’s sins: Africans had no say in it! Here is one of those treacherous colonial treaties Africans had to sign, and then overnight became a ‘COLONY‘, in this case a German colony. On 12 July 1884, King Ndumbé Lobé Bell and King Akwa of Cameroons River (Wouri River, Douala) signed a treaty in which they assigned sovereign rights, legislation and administration of their country in full to the German firms of Adolph Woermann and Jantzen & Thormählen. The treaty included conditions that existing contracts and property rights be maintained, existing customs respected and the German administration continue to make “comey”, or trading tax, payments to the kings as before.
Prior to signing this ‘famous’ Germano-Duala treaty of 12th July 1884, the Duala kings had the German consul sign a pre-treaty in which their rights were preserved. Little did they know that none of these clauses will be respected by the German party afterwards. The original text is found below; for more information, check out the amazing work of the Pr. Kum’a Ndumbe III of the Afric’Avenir foundation, who has done a marvelous job researching these German treaties and impact in Cameroon.
“We, the undersigned independent Kings and Chiefs of the country called Cameroons situated on the Cameroons River, between the River Bimbia on the North Side, the River Qua-Qua on the South Side and up to 4°10’ North Lat. have in a meeting held today in the German factory on King Aqua’s Beach, voluntarily concluded as follows:
We give this day our rights of Sovereignty, the Legislation and Management of this our country entirely to Mr. Edouard Schmidt acting for the C. Woermann and Mr. Johannes Voss acting for Misters Jantzen & Thormahlen, both in Hamburg, and for many years trading in this River.
We have conveyed our rights of Sovereignty, the Legislation and Management of this our country to the firms mentioned under the following reservation:
Under reservation of rights of third persons
Reserving that all friendship and commercial treaties made before with other foreign governments shall have full power
That the land cultivated by us now and the places, the towns are built on shall be property of present owners and their successors
That the Coumie shall be paid annually as it has been paid to the Kings and Chiefs before
That during the first time of establishing an administration here, our country fashions will be respected.
Cameroons the twelfth day of July thousand eight hundred and eighty four.
Source: L’Afrique s’annonce au rendez-vous, la tête haute! Du Pr. Kum’a Ndumbe III, P. 147-148, Ed. AfricAvenir/Exchange & Dialogue 2012