Military Strategy

  1. L. K. Djokoto’s Diary: Anlɔ-Eʋe military strategy & diplomacy.

 The Anlɔ-Eʋe were great and brave warriors in their day noted for their valour. They triumphed over great odds and difficulties despite endless circumstances of internal and external aggression. The Anlɔ army consisted of the entire effective male population and an elite female battalion. It was the dream of every man of Anlɔ-Eʋe to die on active service to the fatherland rather than perish by natural causes. Death on the battlefield was regarded as the most honourable civic achievement of any Anlɔ-Eʋe citizen.

The principal war god of the Anlɔ is known as TɔgbiNyigbla. The Anlɔ army, led by the Aʋadada, or the supreme commander, launches an offensive using three wings. The Aʋadada is the Fiagã of the Dome or Centre Wing. The Ɖushifia is the Fiagã of the Ɖushi or Right Wing. The Miafia is the Fiagã of the Mia or Left Wing. Anlɔ Warrior-Kings were always installed on battlefields.

All three Kings traditionally resided in Anlɔga. This allowed the Awɔmefiã, as the Anlɔ King of Kings, or Supreme Head of State, to call upon them conveniently should the need for this arise. The war stool, arsenal and food supplies are kept in Atsifoame, where the Aʋadada traditionally resides with the Aʋadzikpɔlawo/Council of Military Intelligence. The Atsifoame also serves as a reservist war camp and provides reinforcement and military supplies for all the three wings.

In the event of war, the warning signal is the distribution of corn seeds to all allies through their group captains. The number of corn seeds allocated to an ally is indicative of the time preparation and the day for the offensive. Everyday each allied war captain puts by a corn-seed and on the final day, with only one seed left, the militia moves out accordingly to plan, on the offensive.

It is custom for the Woe division to trigger off the first bullet, followed by the Lashibi or Aklɔbɔwo division and finally with the Adɔtri attacking the enemy from their privileged central position, to announce the commencement of hostilities.

A number of sophisticated rituals and ceremonies are held in shrines by the Chief fetish-priest and the Aʋadada to purify and render all warriors bullet-proof to western guns, swords, spears, bows and arrows. The ritual ceremony was also a way of determining those fit for the battlefield. Military strategy and exploits are closely-guarded state secrets. Therefore, the Agave-clan of Anlɔ are exclusively entrusted with the sacred mysteries of the Anlɔ State military.

Tɛngɛ Dzokoto II’s return to Anlɔ in 1889 and a visit to Christianborg Castle in Osu, Accra.

King TɛngɛDzokoto II served as Dufia, or City Ruler, of Anyako and Miafiagã of the Anlɔ State between 1873-1911, after succeeding General TɛngɛDzokoto I, who previously served in the same capacity from 1825-1866.

General Dzokoto I had notably led the successful Datsutagba war effort and the siege of the Keta Fort in 1865 –1866 for which he was awarded by the Omanhene of Akwamu, Nana Akoto for his valour.

King TɛngɛDzokoto II famously “disappeared into thin-air” after an assassination attempt by the Keta-based British forces, leaving just a cloth behind, which was presented to Queen Victoria for a museum showpiece. After the burning of Alakple, Kodzi, Fiawu and Dudu by the British, King TɛngɛDzokoto II was exiled in Ŋɔtsie with his battalion, together with members of his Yeʋe secret society, for almost a decade.

He later voyaged to the German-administered Lomé,then referred to as Bey Beach, and petitioned the elders of Avedotui land for territory. He chose a site near Gafe. The elders named TɛngɛDzokoto II’s settlement TɛngɛKpedzi at Gafe,Togo to honour him.

Tɛngɛ Dzokoto II took this opportunity to reorganise his battalion, posting AdabragaPreku and his regiment at Tsikalekope, at the main entrance of the settlement. Tɛnge settled Kpogo and his battalion at Anyro to ward off enemies from the Adzanju end. He then embarked on visits to Assahoun and Tsevie to develop relations with other Anlɔ’s settled there and in other parts of Togoland.

Tɛngɛ was introduced to the German Governor-Resident in Lomé, then referred to as Bey Beach, and received the full support and patronage of the German Government. TɛngɛDzokoto II was initially pro-German and favoured Otto von Bismarck’s foreign policy of non-interference in Anlɔ Affairs. Until the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, Bismarck was disinterested in Africa, yet felt it necessary to colonise Togo in response to British Aggression. Representatives of the German Government later visited Tɛngɛ’s settlement regularly from Lomé, especially over the weekends.

United by a common enemy, the Germans found in Tɛngɛ a faithful ally and built for him in his settlement a military training depot with a horse-stable. The British at Keta and Cape Coast heard of Tɛngɛ’s rearmament and growing influence and, in their view, the dangerous Anlɔ-German alliance he had established. They regarded this as a direct threat to their sphere of influence within the Gold Coast.

The British lured a few Anlɔ Chiefs with bribes and presents, and they in turn, provided their embassy with information about Tɛngɛ’s Bate clansmen: James Ocloo I and William Henry KlutseKobla Chapman, a former District Commissioner of Keta, later travelled to Togoland to meet Tɛngɛ at his settlement. He assured TɛngɛDzokoto II that the motive behind the ardent request for his presence in Anlɔ was not sinister but complimentary. TɛngɛDzokoto II was needed to lead an Anlɔ delegation to Accra to sign a treaty of peace and friendship with the British who were now supposedly desirous to help the Anlɔs become a great nation. James Ocloo remained behind at TɛngɛKpedzi to deal with any mails and other confidential matters relating to TɛngɛDzokoto II.

  1. H. K. Chapman cautioned Tɛngɛ not to ride triumphantly with pomp and pageantry but to ride in unannounced as the official guest of the British Government. He was to be lodged at the Keta Fort and board a vessel from the Keta Beach to Accra, to lead a delegation of senior Anlɔ statesmen.

On reaching Kedzi, the news had spread and all Anlɔ flocked to welcome their idol and great hero. Tɛngɛ was forced to address the gathering.

King TɛngɛDzokoto II was brief as brevity is the soul of wit – “I have denounced all wars and hostilities against the British. Everyone must return to his base camp. I am bound for Accra and shall return unharmed shortly”.

King TɛngɛDzokoto II sailed for Accra with Chapman, Fomenya, Kwasi Ahiakonu and District Commissioner Mr. Obrien was in escort.A report was made to the Governor that King TɛngɛDzokoto II had arrived at the Castle. The Governor ordered that Tɛngɛ should be locked in the cell. No sooner had the officer-in-escort locked the door of the cell before he came to find Tɛngɛ seated outside of the cell with is snuff-box in his hand, in his typically composed manner, one leg over the other, stroking his beard. Tɛngɛ Dzokoto II was thrice locked up in the cell but thrice came out.

TɛngɛDzokoto II and the Anlɔ leaders were graciously received into the Official Residence at Government House, Osu. After some days of relaxation and round-table diplomatic activity, a conference was convened.

Tɛngɛ led the Anlɔ delegation during the peace talks. The British regretted and apologised for all the blunders of the past, on both sides, and referred to the past as a trial of strength between two brave fighting cocks. They heaped encomiums upon Tɛngɛ and assured him that he was the greatest warrior they had met among the Anlɔs. Tɛngɛ at that meeting was declared paramount ruler from Volta estuary down to Ave Afiadenyigba. The British offered to build for TɛngɛDzokoto II a royal palace from the ruins of buildings they had destroyed at Anyako.

He was recognised as the Supreme Ruler in Anlɔ with authority to adjudicate in all matters civil and criminal within the State. TɛngɛDzokoto thanked the British Government and replied – “your hospitality to me and to my team has been wonderful. I am deeply grateful for your fund of goodwill and for your recognition of me as paramount ruler of the Anlɔs”. The Awomefia (Paramount Chief of Anlɔ) delegation discussed and agreed to the peace terms.

After 21 days at the Castle, the British Governor ordered that an escort of 50 soldiers and carriers be laid on to escort Tɛngɛ and the Anlɔ deputation back home. Tɛngɛ was carried in hammock all the way by the beach through Anloga to Anyako. The Tɛngɛ party was seen off with 21 Kegs of gunpowder, 21 cases of stork gin and 21 rifles. The journey took 7 days. On reaching Anlɔga, a great durbar of Royals and people were held at the insistence of the British Government to welcome Tɛngɛ back home. The British handed Tɛngɛ over to the Anlo’s and, in the report of proceedings at Accra, mentioned Tɛngɛ is now the supreme traditional ruler.The peace terms were then read over to the Anlɔs.

After the durbar, amid the firing of musketry, Tɛngɛ was given a hero’s welcome and escorted from Anlɔga to Keta down to the full length of his journey back home to Anyako across the Keta Lagoon. At the Keta lagoon crossing too, Tɛngɛ gave a display of supernatural powers. The convoy successfully reached Anyako and slept. Next morning after serving the convoy with a meal and rum, Tɛngɛ bade them farewell. On his return to Anyako, Tɛngɛ erected a three-storey block with a court attached. The building was his residence, his Courthouse and his guesthouse. It was the first of its kind in Anlɔ history

Source: VLK Djokoto


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