Olympio, Sylvanus Epiphanio
President of Togo
The first president of TOGO, Sylvanus Olympio was also the first leader of an independent African country to be overthrown by a military coup. Olympio was born into a wealthy family and studied in Europe before embarking on a career with a multinational company operating in Togo. He rose high in the company but was exiled from Togo for political activity prior to World War II. He returned after the war, when France allowed elections in its African colonies.
Togo achieved independence in 1960, and Olympio was elected president the following year. However, his authoritarian style of rule, strict budget-cutting measures, and continued ties with France made him unpopular. Furthermore, the northern Togolese held few posts in his government and resented the exclusion. His refusal to expand the army and increase its pay finally led to the coup that toppled and killed him in 1963.