The Adja Kingdom of Tado, in an area constantly populated since prehistory and known for metalworking and other crafts, was situated near the east bank of the Mono River, at about the same latitude as Abomey. It was probably built by immigrants from the Oyo Kingdom or from Ketu, to the east (Nigeria). Most Adja people today still live in and around Tado. Fon and Ewe peoples are the descendants of emigrants from Tado who intermarried with other groups they encountered en route to their present-day locations.
Ewe populations today are the result of various migrations moving west and toward the coast, eventually dominated by emigrants of the Adja Kingdom of Tado, who first settled in the new vassal kingdom of Notse. Early in the seventeenth century they left Notse in several groups and settled farther south and west. Their descendants eventually became the Anlo, Abutia, Be, and Kpelle, as well as the Oatchi, further south and east, in the Vogan area.
Anlo Ewe, who settled in the Volta region, in what is now the southeastern corner of the Republic of Ghana, were located in one of the strategic areas of the Atlantic slave trade. In 1683 Keta was already an important slave market. By 1727 Dutch and English slave traders were posted in Aflao, and in 1784 the Danes built a fort in Keta; Anlo territory thus became a center for the Atlantic trade. Anlo Ewe participated in the capture and sale of slaves to Europeans, and many were themselves sold into slavery and taken to the New World.
In close contact with their militarily superior and more politically centralized Asante neighbors, Anlo nevertheless were a separate polity and have maintained an Ewe identity until the present. Dominated by Akwamu during the first third of the eighteenth century, they joined with them and the army of Ouidah to war against Aliada. Numerous other local wars with—and against—Akan armies involved Anlo Ewe during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.
Trading with Europeans was an aspect of Anlo Ewe life almost from the beginning of their settlement in the area. Bremen missionaries and other Christian emissaries set anchor in Eweland both in the Volta region and inland on the (now) Togolese side during the nineteenth century. Various Ewe populations were under close colonial supervision during the British regime on the Gold Coast and during German control of Togoland. After World War I, approximately a third of Togoland, including much of Eweland, became a part of the Gold Coast; the remainder of the country taken from the Germans became a French protectorate called Togo. Thus Eweland was split in two, and remains so today. Ewe, who were mostly "southerners," were among the first in the two countries to receive an education in British and French colonial schools.
Fon are among those who left Tado to found the Kingdom of Aliada; some of them subsequently left Aliada, around 1610, and migrated toward Abomey, where they succeeded in dominating the native Dahomey population some 70 years later. Fon created the royal city of Abomey (where the famous "Amazons" had their headquarters), and other Fon founded the city of Ouidah. The two cities were linked, both high places of slave commerce during the Atlantic Trade. The Brazilian Francisco de Souza, a key figure on the Slave Coast of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, established slave trading posts and built forts both in Aneho among the Mina (now in Togo) and in Ouidah among the Fon (now in Benin).
The Fon Kingdom of Dahomey, which lasted from 1625 until its defeat by the French in 1893, is legendary, thanks to numerous visitors and their accounts, from those of Bosman (seventeenth century), Norris (eighteenth century), and Burton (nineteenth century), to those of twentieth-century ethnographers, including Le Hérissé (1911) and Herskovits (1938). Focal to the Atlantic trade on the Slave Coast, the kingdom was expansionist but highly centralized only in and around its main cities—Abomey, Aliada, and (much later) Ouidah—high places of art, courtly ceremony, and commerce with Europeans. The kingdom was said to include a territory much larger than it could effectively control, from the Volta River in the west to Badagary in the east, and northward to the 8th parallel. Its coastline, however, extended only 16 kilometers on either side of Ouidah. Although it was thus about 39,000 square kilometers in area, the king had authority only within some 10,400 square kilometers of that territory. Numerous wars and intrigues, including captures and contests of nerves with European envoys, mark the history of the Kingdom of Dahomey. Its more cruel kings were renowned for human sacrifice (always a royal prerogative), the stunning extent of which is described in perhaps exaggerated terms by some writers (e.g., Herskovits 1938, 2:52-56).
Although many Ewe and Fon are Christian (perhaps the highest percentage among the Ghana Ewe), the majority continue to practice Vodu or Tro worship, which has remained the religion of the Adja-Tado peoples for centuries.