Ruth Schachter Morgenthau
Political Parties in French-Speaking West Africa
Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1964. 439 p.
From AOF Federation to Sovereign Nations
For more than half a century the French-speaking West African states had close ties resulting from their common frontiers, administration and constitution. The ties of the colonial era both solidified those from pre-colonial times of trade, commerce, religion, language, migrations, and encouraged connexions among the educated elite through their work and their political parties. Lacking a common geographic and administrative framework the English-speaking West African leaders never forged so close a set of links through their parties during the colonial era.
When through French initiative the AOF federation dissolved in 1959, so did the formal ties among parties and other voluntary organizations. Each of the eight governments adopted different laws and practices upon separate independence. After the experiment of the Mali federation failed in 1960, nothing remained of the former modern interterritorial structures. Yet the geography remains the same. The rural connexions among traders, divines, and fellow tribesmen remain in spite of hardened borders.
Pressures for closer unity appeared after independence. It is not impossible that links should be formed again among West African states along the traces which remain of the past political connexions.
Hence there is more than historical interest in recalling in this chapter the connexions among AOF parties under the Fourth Republic, and the various African responses to the dissolution of the federation. This allows an assessment of the prospect of closer connexions among the independent West African states.
Over a dozen years the interterritorial alignment of Frenchspeaking West African parties shifted several times. The first and most important grouping was that of the RDA, begun in October 1946. The second was a move against the RDA, taken in 1948 with the formation of the Indépendants d'Outre-Mer (IOM) parliamentary group; in 1953 it tried to launch an extra-parliamentary movement. In 1957, as the Loi-Cadre was implemented, a third series of moves took place, in January, when IOM became Convention Africaine (CAF) and the Socialists in Africa tried to form the Mouvement Socialiste Africain (MSA); and in September, when the interterritorial RDA held its third congress. The following year the parties of AOF were more closely related than they were ever before, though not for long. Apart from the RDA, all other significant territorial party leaders except those of Mauretania assembled in a Parti du Regroupement Africain (PRA) 1.
The RDA was the most important. It was the first interterritorial movement in AOF, created before parties in territories other than Senegal or Ivory Coast had taken root. The 1946 Bamako Congress, therefore, was able to give direction to, and affect the structure, composition, and policies of associated territorial parties still in their formative stage. The RDA was the only interterritorial movement in French West Africa which drew a popular response at the local level. The RDA was the most stable of all the interterritorial movements; disciplined and highly organized. Finally, because of the circumstances surrounding the 1946 Bamako Congress, participation in and fidelity to the decisions made at the Congress remained a major theme in all subsequent discussions of interterritorial relations among African party leaders. It matters, when a party is started and who started it—for who joins and who refuses to join.
The other interterritorial movements were founded later largely out of reaction against the RDA, were loosely organized, and grew out of attempts to “integrate at the summit” 2 already existing parties. The other movements were unstable alliances, among party leaders who had little else in common than that they were not in favour of the RDA.
The Bamako RDA Congress was called by all the tropical African second college representatives to the French Constituent Assemblies. This placed the Bamako Congress under the aegis of unity among African political leaders; it was later used to substantiate the RDA claim “to embody the national will” 3. The immediate reason for the call was fear of the French reaction, and, in particular, of the Etats Généraux de la Colonisation. The Congress emphasized the differences between the April and October Constitutions. “We all agree that the (October) Constitution does not satisfy us,” said the reporter of the political commission, Jacob Williams 4. The initiators of the Congress wanted to prove that they relegated forced labour, the indigénat, and their subordinate position as French “subjects” firmly to the past; that they intended henceforth to express, and to defend their own interests. The 800-odd delegates 5 declared their goal: “the liberation of Africa from the odious tutelage-imperialism” 6. To attain that goal, they proposed to use “front” tactics in each territory, in order to prepare for the emergence of a single, united RDA 7. The Congress laid the basis for the structure of the RDA and adopted statutes clarifying the principles of party organization. Two provisions of the statutes helped maintain unity and discipline. Article 2 established that only one RDA section could legally be recognized in each territory 8; the IOM had a statutory provision permitting more than one affiliate from each territory 9, its effectiveness and discipline were weakened as a result 10. The interterritorial RDA was governed along federalist lines; Article 10 provided that each territorial section was “fully autonomous, within the framework taken by the (interterritorial) Rassemblement ” 11. At territorial meetings, Article 10 was invoked to justify the need to conform to decisions taken by the interterritorial Congresses and Co-ordinating Committee meetings. At interterritorial meetings, Article 10 was used to permit divergences in the views and decisions of territorial RDA leaders; and thus to permit the movement to adjust to different local conditions. Although there was in practice a considerable divergence in the actual distribution of power within the RDA territorial sections, temporary French Communist influence encouraged the adoption of similar structural principles, and the use of identical organizational terminology in the various territories 12.
The statutes were important, but not always heeded. One example was the procedure followed by the RDA parlementaires in Paris when they decided to disaffiliate from the French Communist group in Parliament. The RDA statutes, as revised at the second interterritorial Congress held in Abidjan in December 1948-January 1949, sharply reduced the power of the parlementaires inside the movement, and placed them firmly under the control of the Co-ordinating Committee 13. Yet in 1950 the parlementaires took the decision to disaffiliate without calling a Co-ordinating Committee meeting; indeed, uncertain if they would be supported at such a meeting, they did not call one until 1955, in Conakry, when the 1950 decision was finally regularized.
Although the most important French West African leaders were temporarily united when the call to Bamako was issued, and the Bamako Congress stressed the need for African unity, the 1946 Congress could not establish unity among African leaders. One reason was the position adopted by the administration. Moutet-well aware of the outcome of the territorial struggles for power between the GEC supporters of the formula of rassemblement, and the Socialist sympathizers who conceived of unity within a bloc—indicated in no uncertain terms his disapproval of the Congress; the leaders of the non-Communist French parties followed suit. Moutet's attitude in 1946 was but one of a series of French official attitudes of opposition to the RDA which culminated in the répression. What were the results, for interterritorial relations among French West African party leaders, of the fact that the administration took exception to the RDA?
First, there was the effect on those who maintained their intention to create the new movement. The official position strengthened ties among those who gave their allegiance to the RDA. Among the inner core of party leaders, the RDA became almost a religion; loyalty to the party became the standard from which they judged their own, and their associates' private as well as public actions. Official pressure confirmed their conviction that they were the true spokesmen of Africa; in the vanguard of those fighting against oppression; and that their cause was just.
The second effect of official opposition was that the members of the urban elite in the various territories had to make a choice—prior to 1951—not only between supporting or opposing the RDA, but also between its corresponding consequences, administrative hostility or co-operation. It is possible to argue that in most territories the political leaders who made the decision either not to attend the Bamako Congress, or to leave the RDA shortly after its formation, did so principally because they were not prepared to face the hostility of the administration.
Probably only the political leaders of Senegal, and small groups of politically active Catholics in Dahomey and eastern Upper Volta, refused to join the RDA movement out of other considerations. In Senegal, Lamine Guèye enjoyed unique connexions with the French Socialist party. He shared with the French Socialists a belief in the necessity for Social.ist discipline and a rejection of Communism. His absence from Bamako can be interpreted as proof of his Socialist loyalties rather than refusal to face official hostility. The rejection by practising African Catholics of the RDA was as due to their religious allegiance; for most members of the Catholic clergy forbade their communicants any associations with the RDA prior to 1950.
For several years, the territorial party leaders outside of the RDA movement remained without any formal interterritorial ties. The constitutional framework did not favour the creation of such ties. The members of the federal grand council were indirectly elected, usually by unstable majorities within the territorial assemblies. The Grand council bad little power or influence. Prior to 1956, African party leaders sought most diligently for allies in Paris, not in neighbouring African territories.
Thus it was in the French Parliament that the first tentative step was taken among some of these territorial leaders, for the creation of a parliamentary group in 1948, which eventually became the second AOF interterritorial formation—the IOM. The initiative came from the French MRP, and corresponded to the interests of the leaders of the newly formed BDS. For five years the IOM was purely a parliamentary alliance of some, not all the territorial leaders who rejected the RDA. In 1953 some of the ethnic leaders of Guinea, representatives of the Union Voltaique in Upper Volta, a handful of politically active Africans in Dahomey, and later one of the two deputies elected through the chiefs and the administration in Niger, joined the BDS leaders in their attempt to transform the IOM into an extra-parliamentary movement.
The RDA leaders did not take a very cordial view of the existence of the IOM. After, as before disaffiliation from the French Communists, the RDA continued to hold the view that theirs was the only political organization which was the genuine expression of the African general will for emancipation. In retrospect, the role which the Senegalese BDS leaders played within the IOM proved to have more important, and more lasting effects on interterritorial relations among significant party leaders in AOF than the IOM organization itself. Only the participation of the BDS leaders in the IOM gave it weight or distinction; for the BDS was the only broadly backed, soundly constructed party associated with the IOM. At the same time, prior to 1956, the Ivory Coast section of the RDA was the only solidly implanted party associated with the interterritorial RDA. Therefore, the IOM-RDA rivalry took on more general overtones of rivalry for French West African leadership between the African representatives of Senegal and Ivory Coast.
Inside Senegal, the position enjoyed by the pre-war “citizens” had a profound impact on post-war politics. The privileged position which most Senegalese living outside of Senegal enjoyed before the war, led many educated “subjects” in the other territories to construct a stereotyped idea of the Senegalese; as men who assumed they were superior to other Africans; who believed theirs was a natural right to lead. Mamadou Dia, in his report to the 1949 BDS Congress, gave two reasons for the BDS refusal to join the RDA. One was the role of the Communists in the RDA. The second reason proved revealing: “The RDA was born, but it did not have much attraction for the Senegalese masses… It was born far away from the beaches of Senegal. Unhappily, the Senegalese, in his present state of mind, is only with difficulty permeable to local ideas which he did not initiate.” 14
Within Senegal, the electoral victories of the BDS served in time to reduce the resentment the “subjects” felt towards the “citizens”. In the other territories, however, IOM-RDA rivalry did little to eradicate the unflattering pre-war stereotype of the Senegalese. The Ivory Coast leaders were at the head of the territory which by 1952 displaced Senegal from the place of economic pre-eminence in French West Africa. The Ivory Coast section of the RDA was the “mother of the (interterritorial) RDA” 15. Not surprisingly, therefore, stereotyped recollections of the pre-war role of the Senegalese continued in some measure to affect the judgement made by some Ivory Coast RDA leaders of the post-war interterritorial position adopted by the BDS.
The IOM did not assemble all the African party leaders who were opposed to the RDA. The political leaders of Mauretania did not join the IOM, as they joined no subsequent interterritorial movement. The leaders of UNIS in Niger, of the PSP in the Soudan, of the ethnic groups supporting Yacine Diallo in Guinea, joined the SFIO leaders of Senegal in maintaining some type of association with the French Socialists. Prior to 1957, their links with each other were informal, and tenuous. Still other territorial party leaders— Kango Ouedraogo of the MDV in Upper Volta, Barry Diawadou of Guinea, Sourou Migan Apithy of Dahomey—were satisfied to remain without any steady interterritorial political associates until 1958. During the first post-war decade, the comparatively disciplined RDA and the loosely organized IOM were the only interterritorial political formations existing in French West Africa.
In July 1955, the RDA Co-ordinating Committee—meeting in Conakry for the first time since the beginning of the répression made decisions which removed the last remaining suspicions in French official circles, of the attitude which the RDA leaders had towards the Communists. The Co-ordinating Committee expelled from the movement the UDN and UDS leaders who had refused to accept the 1950 decision to break links with the French Communists. The Committee also approved Sékou Touré's plan to break West African trade union links with the French CGT 16. In January 1956 the RDA won widely in the parliamentary elections. This and the choice of Houphouët as a minister in successive French governments of the third Legislature suggested that the French administration had abandoned its previous opposition to the interterritorial RDA. The same electoral results demonstrated that the IOM was unsuccessful as an interterritorial movement; that the BDS leaders were practically the only IOM associates who had a mass following.
After the 1956 events altered the basis of African interterritorial relations, first stimulating and then discouraging close connexions. While nationalist pressure rose in Africa, French officials could no longer avoid further constitutional concessions. The adoption in Paris of first the Loi-Cadre and later the constitution of the Fifth Republic effectively broke up the West African federation. During the discussions on the Loi-Cadre in the French Parliament, it became clear that political power over African affairs was shifting from France to Africa, that henceforth relations among Africans would make more of a difference, and that the phase of direct French interference in African party politics was ending.
French policy was clear, but Africans had yet to define their position on the crucial issues of independence and federation. While busy setting up the very first elected African governments, they also had to reconsider their interterritorial party links. The original decision for or against joining the RDA had been made when the French administration interfered more directly in African party politics, and had indicated disapproval of the RDA. After the disapproval had disappeared, non-RDAleaders particularly felt the need to take stock. Early in 1956 IOM leaders tried to obtain RDA agreement on the creation of a new interterritorial movement. The attempt failed, mainly because the RDA leaders saw no reason to abandon their own tested organization and name, just after the electoral victory, just before they expected to consolidate their gains in municipal and territorial assembly elections, and while they alone were in regular consultation with the French government over the Loi-Cadre reforms.
In January 1957 Senegal's leaders of the BPS were fresh from the efforts of rejuvenating their party by the absorption of radical UDS leaders who had been expelled from the RDA in 1955. They took the initiative to revamp the IOM by building new interterritorial links with parties other than the RDA. Their hope, in creating the Convention Africaine around a radical programme, was to attract wider and deeper support-more territorial party leaders, and grass roots, rather than a summit response. The Convention meeting raised clearly, the issues—African independence, a strong French West African federation, the French war in Algeria—which had become the primary concern of Africans, regardless of their political affiliation. But the Convention was unable to attract as affiliates other parties than those which had been associated with the IOM. Indeed, in Upper Volta and in Dahomey, the Convention lost some former IOM associates to the RDA: respectively, the PSEMA and the UDD.
The limited audience of the Convention was partly because the French and Senegalese Socialists also tried, and also in January 1957, to reverse the decline in the fortune of the political groups with Socialist connexions. Most of the territorial parties joining the MSA at Conakry had been founded with French official support by the established members of the African elite: for example, the party of chiefs and higher civil servants of Niger, the Bloc Nigérien d'Action (BNA, formerly the Union Nigérienne des Indépendants et Sympathisants, UNIS).
One group joined the MSA which was in quite a different category: the young radicals associated with the CGT union leader, Bakary Djibo of Niger. Like the UDS of Senegal, his party, the Union Démocratique Nigérienne (UDN) bad been read out of the interterritorial RDA at the 1955 Conakry meeting for refusal to conform to the interterritorial decision to disaffiliate from the Communists in 1950. Later Djibo opposed Sékou Touré's move to disaffiliate the African unions from the French CGT. In Niger, the UDN could count on about a quarter of the votes, while the BNA of the chiefs could count on slightly less than half. Djibo used the opportunity offered by the birth of the MSA to become allied with the chiefs. The alliance stood behind the first government of Niger and Djibo became the first vice-president.
Aside from strengthening Djibo in Niger, the creation of MSA and Convention did little to affect the outcome of the March 1957 elections 17. In Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Soudan, the RDA gained overwhelming majorities; in Upper Volta, a bare majority; and in Niger and Dahomey, respectable minorities. As a result, the federal grand council was controlled, for the first time, by a comparatively disciplined and stable plurality of RDA leaders, who, in alliance with the representatives of Mauretania, gained control of the bureau of the Grand Council; Houphouët became president. Meanwhile, all who were not of the RDA felt increasingly isolated politically. They again revised their territorial tactics so as to attain a larger share in determining the outcome of the discussions about the future constitutional relationship between Africa and metropolitan France and among the African territories.
These two issues gave rise to great debate inside the RDA as well. The balance of power within it shifted. The phase of Ivory Coast predominance came to an end at the September 1957 interterritorial Congress held in Bamako. The recent electoral successes of the Guinea and Soudan RDA sections gave weight to their arguments against Minister Houphouët-Boigny. He spoke for only a minority when he took a “territorialist” position, and excluded independence. Sékou Touré spoke for the overwhelming majority when he took a “federalist” position, and spoke of future AOF independence. At the 1957 Congress, there were more strains evident in the relations among the various RDA territorial leaders, than at any time since the 1950 break from the Communists. At the Congress, these profound differences on policy were temporarily patched up; Houphouët was once again elected the interterritorial president; and compromise resolutions were adopted. The RDA Congress favoured the “democratization” of the federal organs of French West Africa, not specifically a federal executive; and stated both that “the right to independence was an inalienable right”, and that “interdependence was the golden rule … of the Twentieth Century” 18.
Most RDA, Convention and MSA leaders could agree on these points, and it seemed the new conditions in African relations to France which followed the Loi-Cadre might bury the old issues that had given rise to African divisions. When Houphouët became president of the federal grand council in Dakar, there was speculation he might soften his opposition to a strong AOF. This was again suggested at the fusion meeting of African parties in Paris during February 1958 when all agreed (except the PAI of Senegal and the Mauretanians) on both independence and a federal executive of sorts. But the unity did not last. When the second conference of African parties took place in March in Dakar the RDA said they wanted to keep their name and their hierarchy; in other words, all the other parties were to join them. These were impossible conditions for the others. They created a new movement, the interterritorial Parti du Regroupement Africain (PRA)—“according to the principles and modalities of organic unity defined at the full Conference de Regroupement des Partis Africains”, which met in Paris on 17 February 19581—while the MSA and Convention dissolved.
It looked, briefly, as if AOF were moving in the direction of a twoparty system at the interterritoriallevel, of RDA and PRA. In July 1958 the PRA gained a new vitality at their founding congress in Cotonou, which the “young Turks” dominated: Bakary Djibo of Niger, Abdoulaye Ly and Abdoulaye Guèye of Senegal. They forced a resolution through in favour of immediate independence, in spite of Senghor's disagreement. Thus both within the RDA and within the PRA the top leaders were defeated by their own rank and file, and a strong current of opinion in favour of independence was developing among Africans 19.
Once again French constitutional changes interrupted the course of African politics. As results, both the PRA and the RDA broke apart and there were substantial internal political changes within some of the territories. In May came the coup in Algiers, in June de Gaulle was invested, and during late summer and fall France and its dependencies were preoccupied by the crises out of which was born the Fifth Republic. Africans had little opportunity to express their views, except to vote “yes” for the 1958 constitution, which expressly ruled out independence and broke up the African federations.
Senghor broke with the decision of the Cotonou PRA congress and called for a “Yes” vote, and since then was faced by opposition of youth, students, trade unionists, and “young Turks”. Bakary Djibo, coalition president of the council of government in Niger, kept to the Cotonou decision and called for a “No”. Partly due to French pressure, his government coalition lost its support, the majority in Niger voted “Yes”, and Djibo's government was dissolved. Later there were new elections, and a government was formed without Djibo, who had regrouped his followers in the newly—named Sawaba party (homeland in Hausa) 20. It was officially dissolved and he went into exile.
As for the RDA, it too broke in 1958 after twelve years of remarkable growth and unity on the issues of federation and independence. In spite of divisions inside the movement, President Houphouët did not call a meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee to discuss a common RDA policy on the referendum. Steps to call such a meeting had been begun by Political Director Ouezzin Coulibaly, who was then also Ivory Coast deputy and president of the council of government of Upper Volta. But Ouezzin Coulibaly died, unexpectedly, in Paris on 7 September, and his work of holding the movement together through crises was not taken up by anyone else. Most RDA leaders were by then too busy with offices in their parties, municipalities, territorial assemblies, and in the new territorial governments; they needed to organize the vote in their states and had little time left for inter-state matters.
Houphouët called for a Yes, and RDA leaders in Niger, Upper Volta, and Dahomey agreed with him. Guinea, after some hesitation, decided No. Soudan's US leaders agreed with the Guinea position, but for tactical considerations took a different course. There were still French bases in Soudan, and Senegal controlled the land lines of communication to the outside world. Thus in 1958 Guinea was alone to break out of the Community, and with this the interterritorial RDA broke apart. So did AOF. Parties ceased to be the channels connecting the various states; after 1958 relations among the “ex-AOF” states moved into the realm of international relations.
Within each state the assumption of power by African governments crystallized the status quo. The parties which won majorities in the 1957 elections formed the governments and from then on could and did use force to keep their positions. After 1957 significant changes took place in those states—like Dahomey and Niger—where the party balance was precarious and no single party had come out ahead in the 1957 elections. Even those states, however, shared in the general pattern of moving fairly rapidly in the direction of single party systems.
Even as the old ties among the territories changed, within the new states, governments adopted new laws. Hence laws and institutions which had been uniform diverged and each state moved in its own direction. There was but one abortive last-minute attempt to halt this process of “Balkanization”, with the creation of the Mali federation and its party equivalent, the Parti de la Féd&eacu;te;ration Africaine (PFA).
In January 1959, meeting in Bamako, leaders of Dahomey, Senegal, Soudan, and Upper Volta agreed to form a Mali Federation. It was their hope to prevent the total dissolution of “ex-AOF”, to form by African initiative a nucleus for West African federation which could cope with the economic problems of independence. After AOF formally dissolved in April 1959, the leaders of the states meeting in Bamako knew they would have great difficulty going it alone. Senegal, which had long been outside of the RDA, was trying to join forces with Soudan's government, entirely formed by the Union Soudanaise-RDA; they tried to draw in Dahomey and Upper Volta, both with relatively weak coalition governments. Pressure from both France and Ivory Coast led Dahomey to withdraw in February, and Upper Volta in March. Neither had any solid economic advantages in trading with or through Soudan and Senegal. Upper Volta particularly had need of Ivory Coast ports for imports and exports and of Ivory Coast farms to give jobs to migrant labourers. Ivory Coast had only to threaten to interrupt the Abidjan-Ouagadougou railroad, for Upper Volta to recognize the extent of its dependence.
By 24 March, when the PFA was formally organized in Dakar, only the US-RDA and the UPS were seriously involved. The extent to which the interterritorial RDA had been shattered was evident from the public question: “Must we break brutally also?” the USRDA leaders asked in their newspaper, L'Essor.
Measuring fully the consequences of our words we accuse M. HouphouetBoigny of poisoning Franco-African relations, of deliberately falsifying them.
Clearly and before African and French opinion we take a forceful stand against the discourteous and venomous proposals of a man who is no longer among our friends, and whom we accuse of sabotaging both the African Community and the Franco-African Community.
… The manoeuvre of presenting Guinea as anti-French is taken up again by M. Houphouët and now addressed against the Federalists … We affirm that the declarations of M. Houphouët-Boigny which in the recent past provoked Guinea to stiffen its position, run the risk if they are repeated and taken seriously of provoking a brutal reaction among the Federalists 21.
It had been a governmental decision to federate Soudan and Senegal; links among parties, trade union, and youth organizations simply fell into place afterwards. Such links had become affairs of state. France and the other states of “ex-AOF” opposed the Mali federation; even Guinea did so, on the ground that African unity could successfully be negotiated only among independent African states. The federation lived long enough to successfully pressure the de Gaulle government into granting total independence within the Community, but in the process developed too many strains to survive. In bitterness the former partners separated shortly after they became independent in 1960, as did all other states of former French West Africa.
Only vigorous and unified actions by the leaders of all the states of “ex-AOF” could have prevented the total dissolution of the federation. But there had not been unity. Guinea, Senegal, and Soudan had been staffed by convinced “federalists” who failed to achieve their goal in the autonomy stage. The leaders of Dahomey, Niger, and Upper Volta were undecided so the decision was taken for them in France; Mauretania and Ivory Coast were staffed by pronounced “territorialists”. It is worth examining these positions somewhat more closely.
It is not difficult to discover why the leaders of Mauretania opposed strong West African federal organs of government. The majority of the population, less than three quarters of a million, are Moors who historically, geographically, and culturally are closer to their northern than to their southern neighbours 22. They see a rich future as mineral and oil exporters and were encouraged when the International Bank loaned them $66 million in 1960. They had little contact with French education. The rudimentary political parties which developed among these proud, largely nomad, Muslim, Arabic-speaking peoples—mostly responsive to the authority of their traditional leaders—had few relations with the major party formations of AOF. The state schools, the civil service, the activities of the Frt:nch Communist Party prior to 1950, the RDA, and the trade unions were the major forces tending towards binding “ex-AOF” together. Mauretania was barely touched by any of these. Only the Negro minority living on the frontiers of Senegal and Soudan had any desires of the leaders in these two states for a strong federation 23; they feared domination by majority of Moors 24.
In the long run, it is likely the frontiers of southern Mauretania will be rectified. Nor can the western and northern frontiers of Mauretania be considered stable. Some spokesmen of the majority of the Mauretanian people have thought in terms of a “Greater Mauretania”, inclusive of what is now Rio de Oro 25. Some have indicated interest in events in Cairo and Rabat 26. Morocco claimed all of Mauretania, and put up an unsuccessful fight against the admission of Mauretania in the UN. France was ready to guarantee the integrity of Mauretania out of hope of sharing the mineral and oil wealth; a desire for a friendly neighbour in the Sahara during the Algerian War; a search for a place to evacuate Saharan resources if relations with the rest of North Africa should become worse. Most of these reasons ceased to be valid when Algeria became independent in 1962, and it became uncertain whether in the long run Mauretania would survive as a separate nation. The leaders counted on French readiness to support Mauretania as an independent buffer state.
The truth is that all of us here feel, in the bottom of our hearts, we don't want to have anything to do with Morocco; we don't want to have anything to do with AOF; we don't want to have anything to do with the Sahara (OCRS). We want to be free on our own, and to speak directly with France 27.
The pull from the North is stronger, and neither in the interlude before independence nor after were Mauretanians inclined to accept federal institutions dominated by their southern Negro neighbours. The indecision on federation of the Dahomean leaders had several explanations: geography, ethnic and group divisions, rudimentary regional parties, the absence of any strong links with the major interterritorial parties, and economics. Dahomey is a long, narrow corridor, situated between the Autonomous Republic of Togo on the west, and Western Nigeria on the east; to the north lie Upper Volta and Niger. There are cultural affinities with the eastern and western neighbours, and a north- south division exists among the people; this was reflected by the predominantly regional parties which emerged. The members of the many varied social groups in Dahomey—both modern and traditional—were more conscious of their separate than of their common territorial identity.
In the southern rural areas, the more important of the rival leaders was Sourou Migan Apithy, whose local base was Porto Novo. He bad attended the 1946 Congress of the RDA, but shortly afterwards broke with it and kept out of interterritorial alliances for more than a decade. He was regularly re-elected deputy to Paris, mostly with southern votes. In 1956 he and his colleagues of the Parti Républicain du Dahomey (PRD) took a definite stand against federation. The reason was chiefly economic. As part of opération hirondelle officials improved communications from the landlocked territory of Niger in an attempt to use Dahomey rather than Nigerian ports. As a result there were increased revenues for Dahomey and the territorial assembly, with a PRD majority, was reluctant to pay the money to the federation. By 1958, however, world prices of primary raw materials bad fallen and Dahomey ceased to have surplus revenue. Then the PRO leaders changed their stand. They became members of the newly organized PRA which favoured federation.
On the whole, however, most southerners, including PRD supporters, had few cultural affinities with the peoples of French West Africa. Rather, as Ewe and Yoruba, they were respectively drawn towards Togo and Nigeria. In northern Dahomey, the supporters of still another regional party, the Rassemblement Démocratique Dahoméen (RDD) were culturally attracted as Djerma-Songhai or Mossi, to Niger and Upper Volta respectively.
Although the PRD leaders had an electoral majority in 1957, they did not have the suppott of most of the educated elite, of the trade unionists and youth leaders in the major towns of the south and centre of the territory. This elite divided their loyalty between the RDA and the former Convention. Though politically active and relatively highly educated, they did not—unlike most highly educated Africans in the other French West African territories—take the initiative in pressing for a strong federation. At least one explanation is that many members of this elite are part of an international urban coastal community, stretching from Takoradi in the west to Calabar in the east 28. They have been more responsive to political events in Togo and British West Africa, than most other French-speaking West Africans. Their geographical position and ties of kinship made them uncertain about the desirability of a strong AOF federation.
Party names and support changed rapidly even after the Loi-Cadre started crystallizing political relationships inside most other states. Since the mid-1950s, the Union Démocratique Dahoméenne (UDD, a branch of the ROA), led by Justin Abomadegbe of Abomey, had growing support in the southern areas. In the 1957 elections it won a respectable minority position of 7 seats, and by April 1959 the withdrawal of Apithy's government from the Mali federation added to UDD support and it won a plurality of the votes. But in the assembly, there was another PRD majority in the 1959 elections, and the UDD vigorously protested. The issue of federation was but one of the many involved in the frequent changes of party names. The predominantly regional parties combined and recombined; there were frequent political incidents. Attempts to bring the UDD and PRD together failed, though fusion of all the other parties at the summit was slowly taking place as Dahomey moved towards a single-party system under the leadership of Hubert Maga of the north: the Parti Dahoméen de l'Unité (PDU). Just after Dahomey became independent there were new elections, again gerrymandered, and the PDU won all the seats though the UDD had a third of the votes. The government banned the UDDin 1961, and jailed Ahomadegbe for about a year. In this way, Dahomey obtained a weak single party in the PDU.
Indecision about the issue of federation in Niger was also related to the weaknesses of the parties. Niger was a huge, sparsely settled inland territory, of about the same size as Soudan, but with far fewer people, about two and a half million 29. In the capital, Niamey, lived less than 20,000 people. The very low density of population meant that people rarely came together long enough to make it easy to organize parties. The population was, however, homogeneous, and so the scale of parties tended towards the whole territory. Hamani Diori won the first elections; he came from western Niger. He became president and Bakary Djibo the secretary-general of the Parti Progressiste Nigérien (PPN- RDA). Djibo's political support came from the eastern part of Niger, around Zinder. The PPN represented the modernizing groups, chauffeurs, camel drivers, wage earners, and people opposed to the official chiefs. To oppose the PPN, the chiefs with official support formed their own party, UNIS, which won in the 1952 and 1953 elections. Meanwhile, Djibo and Hamani Diori had broken when Djibo disagreed with the 1950 RDA disaffiliation from the French Communists. Djibo formed his own party, the UDN, and concentrated most of his efforts on CGT trade union work. In the late 'fifties he was the CGT representative in the Economic Council, a post which entitled him to a salary and a car, both rare assets in so poor a state as Niger.
In 1957 Djibo joined forces with the BNA, the party of the chiefs, so as to become head of the elected government of Niger. He urged that “no French West African territory can exist solely on its own resources” 30; pressed for a strong federal government as well as independence, and for a No vote. This policy was too radical for his chiefly allies, who responded to French urgings and broke the alliance. They switched to the PPN of Hamani Diori, and he became prime minister. After independence his party outlawed Bakary Djibo's party Sawaba and the PPN became the dominant single party of Niger.
Diori's PPN and Djibo's UDN had represented similar modernizing forces, respectively in western and eastern Niger. They had quarrelled in 1950 about issues which ceased to have any relevance in 1956. It might have been expected that the two parties unite; they did not because of past personal bitterness. They were perhaps more deeply divided than the people. The leaders of Niger were far too preoccupied struggling for power with each other to unify around either the issues of independence or federation. Niger too faced independence isolated and alone, without a seaport, railroad, or adequate roads, with a largely subsistence economy and dependent upon outside subsidies and personnel. Politically and economically the pull from the Federation of Nigeria was strong.
In Upper Volta party leaders were divided by regions and disagreed on fundamental issues. Of all the states of “ex-AOF” it had the shortest history, since it was reconstituted only in 1947 after fifteen years as part of its neighbours, mainly Ivory Coast. There was little of a modern economy, and the railroad from Abidjan to Ouagadougou brought workers and little else to the coastal states. The main division was between east and west, and within each there was a further division between traditionalists and their opponents. The peoples of east and west were very different. In the east, around the capital Ouagadougou, lived approximately two million Mossi, largely animist except for an educated minority of Catholics, and mostly obedient to traditional rulers organized alongfeudallines. In the west lived slightly less than two million Bobos and other fragmented, almost stateless peoples, largely Muslim in and around the town of Bobo-Dioulasso and animist in the rural areas. Not even the seasonal migration to Ghanaian and Ivory Coast farms by several hundred thousand labourers annually has effaced the political authority of the Mossi chiefs. The non-Mossi, however, had a long history of resistance to all forms of authority. The cultural, geographic, and economic ties between the people of the two regions were slender. Attempts to maintain on a territorial scale a unified party based on the chiefs have failed; the ethnic minority in the west even demanded separation from the Mossi east 31: they looked rather to Ivory Coast or Mali.
The first party was the RDA, then a branch of the Ivory Coast RDA-PDCI and centred largely around Bobo-Dioulasso. From there came both the political director of the interterritorial RDA, Ouezzin Coulibaly and his wife. The RDA had little Mossi backing. To oppose it came the Mossi-sponsored Union Voltaique, which had two goals, both reached, the establishment of a separate state, and extensions of the railroad to Ouagadougou. The UV won in the first round of elections, but after the second round divided in two: in the west the Mouvement Populaire de l'Evolution Africaine (MPEA) led by Nazi Boni and supported by official chiefs, and in the east, the Parti Social d'Education des Masses Africaines (PSEMA), backed by the Morho Naba and the other official Mossi chiefs subordinated to him. There was yet a fourth party, essentially regional in the east, the Mouvement Démocratique Voltaique (MDV), centred around Ouahigouya. Michel Dorange, a former army officer and European trader, started the party in the late 'forties, first using veterans and local agents of his firm as party representatives. As the MDV grew, it combined radical opposition to the official chiefs with Mossi separatist sentiment for a traditional rival of the Morho Naba, the Yatenga Naba. They opposed French officials locally, but allied with Conservatives in Paris. The main African representative of the party was Kango Gerard Ouedraogo, a relation of the Yatenga Naba.
After the Loi-Cadre was adopted in 1956, Ouezzin Coulibaly negotiated with some difficulty an alliance between the RDA of the west and PSEMA of the east. This group, which eventually formed the Parti Démocratique Unifié (PDU-RDA), won a slender majority in the 1957 elections, and Ouezzin Coulibaly headed the first African government. It was a summit alliance, dependent upon the person of Coulibaly, who was at least as much preoccupied with general interterritorial affairs as with those of Upper Volta. He was a federalist, who believed “France is but a scarecrow” in an atomic age 32. Yet his first loyalty went to the RDA, and within it to President Houphouët, an outspoken territorialist. This relationship limited Coulibaly's willingness to defend a federalist position. He knew the extent to which Upper Volta was economically dependent on the states of the coast, especially Ivory Coast. Until Ouezzin Coulibaly's death there was no clear expression of Upper Voltan opinion either on federation or on independence.
His successor, Maurice Yaméogo from the Mossi area, had difficulty assuming power and did not chart a clear course on the issue of the Mali federation. Yaméogo first swore allegiance to Mali, disavowed it after Ivory Coast and French pressure. There was some protest within Upper Volta, largely from the younger Catholic nationalists living in Ouagadougou and formerly supporters of PSEMA. Yameogo suppressed this opposition; and to control ethnic and regional separatism he forbade all kinds of ethnic associationseven sports or youth groups. Upper Volta also moved towards a single party system under the newly formed Union Démocratique Voltaique (UDV). The UDV remained weak. Upper Volta had few assets: its labour, to send to the highest bidder either Ivory Coast or Ghana, a central geographical position, to bargain where there were plans for a new West African federation. These assets were not enough to bring funds for development, without which the economy could not grow and the modern elite remained static. Social changes seemed dependent upon events outside Upper Voltan borders. The pull of Ghana's Volta River development scheme was likely to grow.
Thus in Dahomey, Niger, and Upper Volta party leaders divided along regional lines and usually divided further between town and countryside; they spent the crucial time between 1956 and 1958 jockeying for power. The decisions on independence and federation were taken for them. Had these leaders had more time, might they have built mass parties comparable in strength to the dominant parties of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, or Mali? Perhaps. There were groups which could have become mass parties: the UDD of Dahomey, Sawaba of Niger, and the RDA of western Upper Volta. But these parties were still at the regional level when the Loi-Cadre reforms crystallized the status quo. Afterwards there seemed few, if any, opportunities to shift to new mass parties.
There did seem to be a connexion between the undecided positions on federation by party leaders in Dahomey, Upper Volta, and Niger, and the weak regional character of the various parties. The leaders of Ivory Coast were in a quite different position. They spoke for their people, for the oldest mass party of AOF which had contributed heavily to the interterritorial RDA, for the richest territory of AOF. When the PDCI, therefore, formally registered in April 1958 in territorial assembly opposition to a strong federal government, this was strong support for the French position in favour of Balkanization 33.
Ivory Coast opposition to federation was old, and had economic as well as political reasons. As early as 1947 the first session of the Ivory Coast Conseil général refused to vote the budget, claiming among other reasons that “the federal government has become a fifth wheel; its suppression will prevent the squandering of our assets” 34. The refusal occurred during a period of bitter opposition between the RDA and the administration. Reluctance to pay money into the federal budget became stronger, as the territorial income rose with prices and production of coffee and cocoa. After 1952, the Ivory Coast contributed more than any other territory to the federal budget, and the sense of grievance of Ivory Coast leaders, against what they believed to be pouring money into a bottomless pit, became correspondingly stronger. They wanted to see the results of their new wealth.
The politics of the federation increased the PDCI reluctance. Until 1952 the PDCI had participated in the bureau of the federal grand council; but between 1952 and 1957, the RDA was excluded from all these elected federal posts. Most were held by Senegalese; which served to intensify resentment of the Ivory Coast leaders. For several decades prior to 1952 the Senegalese had paid the largest proportion of the costs of the federation; but they benefited from the prestige and profits and saw the evidence of daily activities, since the capital of Dakar was on their soil. Federal institutions and Senegalese domination became closely associated in the minds of most PDCI leaders.
Curiously, prior to 1958, while the Ivory Coast RDA leaders in their capacity as councillors in the territorial assembly indicated their reluctance to subsidize through the budget of the federation the poorer West African territories, as party leaders they made great efforts to help their party comrades in the other territories. The militants in the Ivory Coast RDA, and particularly the planters, gave freely of their resources to the interterritorial RDA and during several electoral campaigns helped RDA leaders of Guinea, Soudan, Niger, and Upper Volta. This was partly explained by acceptance of the personal authority of Houphouët. His generosity towards the Ivory Coast and interterritorial RDA was legendary; his requests to the planters for money met with immediate response. The loyalty of the Ivory Coast leaders to the interterritorial RDA was stronger than to the formal institutions of AOF. But the repeated attacks made within the interterritorial RDA since 1956 on the authority of president Houphouët eroded the commitment to the interterritorial movement within the PDCI. Guinean and Soudanese RDA leaders attacked Houphouët's policy steadily since 1957, and the PDCI leaders were quite ready to condemn them by the time of the referendum. He threw a challenge at the “sorcerer's apprentice of false independence” 35 first Ghana, then Guinea.
Reluctance to pay subsidies to poorer states explained opposition to federation, while the desire for French subsidies explained the opposition to independence, and these two positions went hand in hand for Ivory Coast. Houphouët agreed with those who said “every bridge they build remains”, and who asked “why pay for an army” 36; he believed Africans still have much to learn from France 37. The Ivory Coast leaders achieved their goal of dissolving the federation, though they were caught somewhat by surprise at independence. Their state was better prepared than most, but it is doubtful they expected some of the effects.
Independence itself brought a host of new problems to the West African states; the problems became more serious because the eight governments of “ex-AOF” had but a brief separate existence and limited capacities. Simultaneous division of AOF and independence upset the balance of forces within and among the states, educated men and countrymen, civil service and parties, parties and unions, towns and countryside, ethnic, religious, and professional groups.
The crisis in the civil service was made worse by the dissolution of the federation. Independence alone required considerable adjustments, to Africanization and the reduction of expatriate personnel, to the new standards of loyalty set by the African governments. In most states the African civil servants who had met high French technical standards were considered politically unreliable, a process which went further because some of the Africans holding the highest ranks held posts outside the states where they were born. Some members of the territorial services and many members of the federal services (which dissolved) or the French states services, found themselves foreigners and elected to go home. The new citizenship and civil service laws affected Senegalese and Dahomeans particularly, since roughly the disproportion in the nationalities serving in the civil services followed the disproportion in the nationalities educated in the schools. The troubles of many civil servants went further. Some had married while abroad, contracting, for example, “Dakar-Niger” railroad marriages between Senegalese and Soudanese. In the midst of the general confusion about loyalty which accompanied the transfer of power, there were many strains put upon foreign marriages. Newly returned to their native lands, many civil servants found they had no established record with the dominant party and lost rank.
The break-up of the federation in most states worsened relations between the African governments and the trade unions, already strained, since the Loi Lamine Guèye and the Code du Travail, so urgently desired by African party and union leaders before the Loi-Cadre, afterwards made the wage bills of the first African governments far too heavy. The government was the single largest employer, and tried to cut or keep level wage bills, while union leaders kept up pressures for higher wages. There were some strikes against African governments, and increased friction between civil servants. Most new African governments suspected the patriotism of their unions, since most were slow to dissolve federal connexions, had favoured a No vote in the 1958 referendum, opposed Balkanization, and after the referendum, tried to keep within UGTAN. Pointing to the fact that Sékou Touré remained the head of UGTAN even after Guinea became independent, the other governments, still in the Community, forced their national unions to leave UGTAN, and used the issue of “foreign” affiliations of the unions as one of several reasons to subordinate the unions to the governing party and the official foreign policy.
The break-up of the federation brought crisis into the lives of the most active supporters of the interterritorial RDA. It had been built by educated men having a common outlook based on the state schools, the colonial civil service, the trade unions, free trade among the states, the GEC's, the répression. Independence in division meant many of these militants had difficulty keeping a sense of continuity and achievement. Perhaps therefore in Guinea the PDG, in Ivory Coast the PDCI, in Mali the US still claimed the label of RDA.
In a more general sense town life was affected by AOF's dissolution. Most cities saw a decline in economic activity, and jobs became scarce just as the excitement and hope raised by independence attracted many people from the interior. Dakar, which had been the largest port and the seat of the federation, faced the sharpest recession. Economic and foreign exchange crises accompanied independence, which came during years when the world market price of West African exports was considerably lower than at the time of the Korean war. Separate independence for each state brought home the economic limits of the political independence. The poorer states became doubly conscious of their position as they lost federal subsidies. The richer states came to see the disadvantages of restricting their ports and industries largely to their own internal market. When AOF dissolved, the Ivory Coast leaders began to ask what had they lost, for example; previously, they had only studied how much they had given away because of federation.
Eight separate states meant new borders not even the colonial powers had watched. The result was more people had cause to resent the new African authorities. Independence brought some of this; the inauguration of the first African governments since the time of colonial conquest meant Africans again could and did use force against Africans. Countrymen who had looked upon African party leaders as spokesmen of opposition had to adjust to them as spokesmen of authority. One of the first acts of the African governments was to watch frontiers which previously had been open for centuries; they even instructed villagers on the old interterritorial frontiers to form border militia. To many of these villagers their ties across the border meant more than their ties with the people issuing instructions from their respective capital cities. For kinsmen belonging to border tribes, for migrants, traders, and pilgrims, travel became a problem.
When Guinea became independent the flow of migrants from the other French-speaking West African states almost stopped. When the Mali federation separated, the Republic of Mali tried to stop the flow of Soudanese navetanes (sharecroppers) to the peanut farms of Senegal. They stopped the railroad too, and railwaymen lost their jobs. Upper Volta recognized that it was in a position to bargain about its workers with Ivory Coast and Ghana, and proceeded to do so. These limits on migrants meant country people had less money to spend.
Traders whose families had carried goods over open borders for centuries—along the roads from Ivory Coast through Guinea to Mali and Upper Volta and back to Ivory Coast—found the trade declared illegal or subject to conflicting regulations on different sides of the border. As old trading patterns were interrupted, the traders indicated their displeasure to the new governments. They, like the civil servants, had constituted an interterritorial AOF community of modernizers. They had scattered relations as agents in different towns of the federation; their families and businesses were adversely affected by federal dissolution. The movement of peoples down the western branch of the Niger river, which had gone on for centuries before the French came, became subject to national regulation.
Under French rule, pilgrims had come from the entire area, freely. Animist communities were involved, like the adepts of the San religion 38 which fought the extension of Islam in the border region of Upper Volta and Soudan. Tidjani had been accustomed to make pilgrimages to Senegal, as did Mourides. The Cherif of Kankan in Guinea had adepts and disciples all over West Africa. People united within AOF and the brotherhood of Islam found it hard to accept that Muslims on the other side of the newly strengthened frontiers might not still be brothers. Hence the “sharp cultural cleavage between the peoples of the Muslim… and the non-Muslim areas” 39 came closer to the surface. The strain was felt both in the predominantly Muslim states of Guinea, Mali, Mauretania, Senegal, and Niger, and in the predominantly non-Muslim states of Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, and Dahomey.
A state like Ivory Coast was in majority animist but had a substantial Muslim minority. On the frontier where the two cultural groups came together, the interterritorial RDA had managed to localize the conflicts of contact. The RDA break-up nationalized the local conflicts. For example, in Boundoukou, controversies between the Muslim Dioula supporting the Almamy and loyal to the RDA since 1946, and the Abrong responsive to the authority of the RDA only since the 'fifties, were localized after both groups came together within the RDA. The Dioula came to the RDA when the descendants of Samory's supporters revived the tradition of opposition to France. Culturally and politically they were Mande, like Sékou Touré. After Guinea took separate independence, Dioula loyalty to the RDA, though older than that of the Abrong, became suspect in Ivory Coast; the local cleavage gained national significance, and contributed to a general suspicion of “strangers”.
Interterritorial party ties had made it possible for Songhai living between Mali and Niger, for Malinke between Guinea, Mali, and Ivory Coast, for Bobo between Upper Volta and Ivory Coast, to belong to the same RDA, to be proud of their ethnic and general African community. The interterritorial RDA had embraced the descendants of supporters of the Gao empire, of al-Hajj Umar Tall, and of Samory. Samory at his height had an empire stretching from upper Guinea into Mali and from the forest region of Guinea into northern Ivory Coast 40. The empire of al-Hajj Umar Tall embraced most of Mali, parts of Guinea and Senegal; the Tidjaniya Omarien school of Islam stemmed from his rule. Both rulers had resisted European penetration, and from this stemmed the RDA claim for the loyalty of descendants of their supporters. To prevent a revival of the elements of rivalry between Samory and the sons of al-Hajj Umar Tall, the RDA even managed to “make a pact of peace” against the French, reminiscent of the alliance between Lamba Tall and Mountaga Tall 41 with Samory. When AOF dissolved, so did the “pact”.
Thus the break-up of the federation created conflicts of interest for the members of most professional groups. It created conflicts between ethnic and new national loyalties; it heightened differences between townsmen and countrymen. The strength of the major political parties had been to reconcile many of these conflicts. The break-up of the federation called into question the limited amount of integration of the post-European political units which the political parties had been able to effect, for the break-up changed the scale of the units. Most of these problems would have accompanied independence even if AOF borders had remained; changing them made the problems worse.
Facing these problems was something the eight governments had in common. At first there was more rather than less friction among them. In time, however, an understanding of common domestic problems caused the new governments to take a new look at their relations with each other.
In the colonial era formal relations between AOF and other states, African or not, were set by France. There were, of course, a few exceptions at the level of parties, trade unions, and individuals. Some Mauretanian leaders talked things over with Moroccans and other North African nationalists. Top RDA leaders like Ouezzin Coulibaly and Sékou Touré had talks with CPP leaders of Ghana. Tropical African leaders in Paris even while voting with the French government kept connexions with Algerian nationalist leaders engaged in the war against France. Africans used the opportunity of the pilgrimage to Mecca to discuss politics with Middle Eastern leaders, and many took part in ceremonial Muslim maledictions of the French army in Algeria. Yet at the formal level France set a uniform pattern.
The new African governments broke the previously uniform pattern of relations with each other and with their neighbours. Partly this was because independence came separately, at different times, to governments having different political and social bases, economic interests and connexions with France. The initial discrepancies, though perhaps not very great, gave rise to some disputes. There were troubles on the borders. In its first year of solitary existence, for example, Guinea feared a French plot based on Senegalese soil, and watched the Ivory Coast border with special attention.
To break its isolation, Guinea welcomed the offer of aid from Ghana, and the Ghana-Guinea union, begun in November 1958, marked the first African initiative to break down the barriers between former British and French colonies. Guinea went off the French franc standard, and the Republic of Mali set controls on its own franc. In 1961 the Republic of Mali joined the Ghana-Guinea- Mali union. The joint institutions of the union remained at the discussion stage, and the currencies had different values. The allies considered ending their separate sovereignties, and inserted enabling clauses into their various constitutions. But they stayed separate while wooing others to join them. They were especially interested in Upper Volta, which would have given them common borders and Ghana much needed labour.
Abroad the Ghana-Guinea-Mali union received the title “radical” for several reasons. In relation to the rest of AOF, Guinea claimed the credit for breaking with France first, while the Republic of Mali claimed it had pushed the remaining states quickly towards independence. In relation to France, Mali and Guinea had less cordial relations than the other former territories, and labelled the continuation of close connexions with France on the part of Ivory Coast or Senegal “un-African” and “neo-colonialist”. They attacked the continued maintenance of French bases in tropical Africa, and the support which the other former French territories gave to France in the Algerian war. This dispute over Algeria was one of the main reasons why they took part in the larger grouping of African states, the Casablanca powers, which included the Algerian Provisional Government.
Meanwhile the remaining states of ex-AOF moved closer together. Ivory Coast took the initiative, in forming the Conseil de l'Entente with Dahomey, Niger, Upper Volta. When the Entente began, it was Ivory Coast's response to Senegal's membership in the Mali Federation. The Entente was loose and existed as a group of independent states co-operating functionally—on air services, shipping, and related matters. Ivory Coast alone was comparatively rich and kept the co-operation of the others by offers of limited aid. The Entente had no common frontiers. Niger and Dahomey were too far away, and their economic interests seemed to lie more with Nigeria than with Ivory Coast. The Entente states were part of a larger grouping labelled abroad as “moderates”. Friendly connexions with France were kept through the Union Africaine et Malgache (UAM) born in September 1961 of former French tropical African territories, including Cameroon and Togo. It dealt with questions like currency, transport, and other common technical services 41. The UAM was part of another, larger grouping known as the Monrovia powers, which included among others Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
In the long run, these “radical” and “moderate” groupings—Mali federation, Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union, Conseil de l'Entente—seemed transitional. The divisions had originated in the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power from European to African. Yet both in France and in Africa these circumstances changed very quickly, pointing the way to the emergence of other kinds of African groupings and in 1963 of the continental Organization of African Unity.
French internal and external politics changed radically since 1958. When Algeria became independent in 1962 there ended the chief reason why France had followed a policy of subsidies and Balkanization in tropical Africa. Southern Saharan bases ceased to count as much. Economically, France's tropical African colonies had been profitable only to special interest groups, not to the French government. As the French economy became more deeply involved in the European Common Market, most French businessmen looked to European rather than to African markets. In France the sense of commitment diminished to subsidize above the world market price Senegalese peanuts, for example, or to help pay the administration bills of various tiny “pocket-handkerchief” states which France had encouraged into separate independence. Instead, France used her influence with the European Economic Community to include her former dependent territories as associated states, and gave up her exclusive economic relationship 42. By 1967, all “ex-AOF” export prices were to be at the level of the world market, allowed to enter duty-free into the Common Market; Common Market manufactured goods were to have preferential rights in the associated African states.
In the light of these basic changes in Europe, most of the old differences among the states of “ex-AOF” had less meaning. It mattered less that Guinea took her independence first, that the Republic of Mali was more aggressive in leaving the French Community, or that Ivory Coast had at first resisted independence. Currency arrangements inherited from the colonial era lost significance as western Europe negotiated new ones. The old economic divisions between French and English colonies were Jess important—differences in currencies, spare parts, railroad gauges, and administrative practices. For the future of African economic relations it mattered more that some new West African states were becoming associated with the Common Market, while others such as Guinea, and Ghana were not. Western Europe continued to be the chief seller of manufactured goods as well as the chief buyer in the West African states. A united West African policy towards the Common Market seemed likely to encourage economic unity among the West African states; a divided policy seemed likely to encourage economic divisions.
New problems in Africa, and a new pattern of relationships with Europe and the rest of the world, caused the African governments to reassess their foreign relations. Though the groups of “moderates” and “radicals” might be transitional, the need for larger units and closer relations seemed permanent. In the 'sixties, leaders of the states of “ex-AOF” revived memories of the interterritorial RDA and other party connexions, and exchanged cordial visits to discuss closer unity. They deplored the divergences in their laws and institutions which followed separate independence. They began to work out a new pattern of links with each other and their neighbours.
Many issues remained to be settled. It seemed unlikely the broken units of AOF would reconstitute themselves. The colonial basis of division between English- and French-speaking West Africa had disappeared. The process of the stronger states attracting weaker ones had already begun. Prospects were good of a merger between Senegal and Gambia. Mauretania's separate existence seemed in doubt. Ghana attracted Togo and Upper Volta, Nigeria attracted Niger and Dahomey. Closer connexions among states of roughly equal size and importance were under consideration. Outside pressures, both from Europe and from the cold war participants, affected the prospects of African unity.
So did the common needs and limited resources for economic development. Most rivers watered several states, and water power of the Niger, Senegal, Volta, or Mano rivers was possible only with interstate co-operation. The scarcity of labour made co-operation on migration vital. Disease, locusts, and other pests could only be controlled through co-operation. The skeleton of a West African transport system, making possible the formation of a West African market, could be built only by united action of the various states. These, then, were issues of the 1960s. The form which West African co-operation would take remained to be seen. The important point was negotiations had begun. Most young Africans, who would in time take the succession from their elders, favoured closer African unity. They revived the theme used to good effect in building parties, the theme around which had been built interterritorial ties, the theme connecting them to the pan-Africanist tradition which they shared with their English-speaking neighbours. This was the theme of
union, a word like friendship, goodness, an abstract thing having no face, raising no concrete image in the mind. It goes into all sauces; it accomodates itself with all irreconcilables 43.
1. These interterritorial political movements were not exclusively West African, but only the West African conoexions are discussed here.
2. From the typescript of Mamadou Dia's report to the 1953 IOM Congress at Bobo-Dioulasso, mimeographed, p. 1.
3. Hodgkin. Nationalism in Colonial Africa, op. cit., p. 144.
4. Both citations from the typescript of the report.
5. Esprit, December 1951.
6. Typescript of Houphouët's second speech at the Congress. The full citation is … “odious tutelage- imperialism and capitalism”.
7. RDA 1948 pamphlet, op. cit., p. 25.
8. RDA 1948 pamphlet, op. cit., p. 27.
9. Article IV of the IOM statutes, as adopted at the 1953 Congress.
10. In Upper Volta, for example, the IOM had two associated parties, the MPEA and PSEMA, which were rivals locally.
11. RDA 1948 pamphlet, op. cit., p. 28.
12. See figure 8, p. 304.
13. From records of the meeting.
14. Typescript of the report.
15. Abidjan-Matin, 22 October 1957, citing a speech by PDCI President Auguste Denise.
16. From records of the meeting.
17. See figure 9. p. 310.
18. Interafrique Presse, 4 October 1957.
19. Paris-Dakar, 28 March 1958.
20. Sawaba was also the rallying cry of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), the anti-traditionalist party in northern Nigeria.
21. Afrique Nouvelle, 20 February 1959, citing l'Essor, 10 February 1959.
22. Barbour, Neville, ed., A Survey of North West Africa, Oxford University Press, London, 1959, pp. 263- 76.
23. The Negro inhabitants of the Senegal river area were organized in the Union Générale des Originaires de la Vallée du Fleuve and active politically both in Senegal and in Mauretania.
24. Afrique Nouvelle, 9 May 1958.
25. Le Monde, weekly, 13-19 and 20-26 March 1958.
26. In 1958 two ministers in the council of government left their posts for Cairo. Dèye Ould Sidi Baba, minister of commerce, industry, and mines, and Mohamed El Moktar Ould Baba, minister of education and youth. They were excluded from the Mauretanian government. Paris-Dakar, 27 March 1958.
27. From an interview recorded at the 1958 congress of Mauretanian parties by Simon Kiba and Alain des Mazery, Afrique Nouvelle, 9 May 1958. The OCRS is the Organisation Commune des Régions Sahariennes, an agency set up by the French Government in January 1957 to co-ordinate development in the Sahara.
28. See Tardits, Claude, Porto-Novo, Mouton & Co., Paris, La Haye, 1958.
29. Outre-mer 1958, op. cit., p. 78.
30. Paris-Dakar, 14 March 1958.
31. “A Propos des problèmes de la Haute Volta”, Esprit, Paris, September 1953, signed D.O.
32. Interafrique Presse, 4 October 1957, p. 25, citing a speech by Ouezzin Coulibaly at the Bamako Congress, 1957.
33. West Africa, 19 April 1958.
34. Annexe no. 1, p. v. du 24 mars 1947, Exposé du budget, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, p. 1.
35. Interafrique Presse, 29 January 1960, p. 11, citing a speech by Houphouët at Duékoué on 22 January.
36. From remarks by Gabriel d'Arboussier at the Hansard Society Conference on West Africa, September 1957, Oxford, England.
37. These were major themes of his speeches during 1956.
38. Cardaire, op. cit., pp. 35 f.
39. Coleman, James. “The Problems of Political Integration in Emergent Africa”, The Western Political Quarterly, March 1955, p. 54, n. 23.
40. Information based on interviews. The nineteenth century alignment is mentioned by Paul Marty, Etudes… Soudan, vol. iv, p. 53 in Etudes sur l'Islam, op. cit., vol. ix.
41. Nations Nouvelle, no. 2, UAM organ, n.d. (c. 1962).
42. New York Times, 6 October 1962.
43. La Liberté, 23 November 1954.