Most obedient servants: The politics of language in German Colonial Togo

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17 Scopus citations


Education policy was an integral component of Christian missionary activity in the Volta Basin, and remained central to the German administration's Germanization of Togo. Differences arose, however, as to the choice of language for instruction. This is interpreted as struggle of linguistic colonialism drawing on the model of Fabian. Documents from the period point to a complicated battle of desires and egos, and between the English, German and Ewe languages, that was a precusor to the nationalist struggle. In 1904 German administrators decided to eliminate English instruction in mission and state schools, and to this end pressured church leaders to ensure the spread of German language, customs, and economic practices. But the southern Togolese population had a very different opinion and took every opportunity at their disposal to learn English and aggrandize the influence of the new standardized and grammarized Ewe language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-524
Number of pages36
JournalCahiers d'Etudes Africaines
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Colonialism
  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Ewe/Ehve
  • German
  • Language
  • Missionarie s
  • Nationalism
  • Togo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Development


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