West Africa's first coup: neo-colonial and pan-African projects in Togo's "shadow archives"

Kate Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
472 Downloads (Pure)


This article is an historical analysis of West Africa’s first coup. Starting from contemporary accounts of the 1963 assassination of president Sylvanus Olympio of the Republic of Togo, and the overthrow of his government, the article identifies three competing explanations of events. It follows these three explanations through Togo’s “shadow archives,” asking how and why each of them was taken up or disregarded by particular people at particular moments in time. The article develops a new interpretation of West Africa’s first coup, and outlines its implications for the study of national sovereignty, neo-colonialism, and pan-African solidarity in postcolonial Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-398
JournalAfrican Studies Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

The author acknowledges the financial support of the College of Arts and Law R&KT Fund at the University of Birmingham.


  • France
  • Ghana
  • Togo
  • United States
  • archives
  • assassination
  • coup
  • diplomatic relations
  • neo-colonialism
  • pan-Africanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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