Ruth Schachter Morgenthau
Political Parties in French-Speaking West Africa
Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1964. 439 p.
Part Nine Towards One Party States
Are there any general statements that can be made about the growth of parties in French-speaking West Africa ? 1 General statements can be made only tentatively, chiefly because the colonial era was- brief and provided an unstable geographic, social, constitutional, and political framework. Even such basic parts of a political system as frontiers were Jess than a century old, created according to European criteria, and ignoring African cultural divisions. Frontiers continued to change. Upper Volta was reconstituted separately less than fifteen years before becoming independent ; there were recent border shifts between Soudan and Mauretania; the Mali Federation existed for less than two years; and the entire AOF Federation broke into its territorial parts just before independence. The comparatively short history of the African parties also makes it hard to generalize. The oldest existing party was less than twenty years old at independence and had not yet faced the problems of succession to the “founding fathers”. Significant rights to organize parties and vote came to French-speaking West Africa only after the Second World War, while power to ldgislate and execute decisions carne after 1956. Until then, parties could legally exercise only the function of representation, and were effectively excluded from real responsibility. Once begun, formal institutional ohange took place very quickly and with sharp discontinuities. The franchise grew from practically zero to become universal; the power of elected representatives grew from purely consultative to legislative and eventually executive, while the place where power was exercised shifted from Paris to Africa.
In spite of these reasons for caution it is worth looking for a pattern. Parties were among the oldest existing national political institutions in the West African states, wholly Africanized long before governments and civil services; some still are not. Parties grew according to African specifications, for they had to and did become representative of the major forces in the total society. Formal governmental institutions, in contrast, were set up according to French specifications at least in part as a condition for French withdrawal. In the first years after independence Africans made many changes in laws, the formal institutions of government, and in their constitutions. They usually moved towards presidential rule, instituted emergency legal procedures allowing for summary justice, revised local administration so as to achieve full control from the centre, and eliminated municipal self-government. At the same time, though the relationship of parties to the formal institutions altered, the parties themselves continued to try to be representative of the major groups in the society. These did not alter so quickly.
Thus in a period of great change there was some continuity in party history, which this chapter seeks to explore. Most of the generalizations apply to the period prior to independence. In relation to the major parties, one basic distinction is drawn, between “mass” and “patron” types. There is also a brief discussion of minor parties. Attention is drawn to the emergence of single-party systems in each of the states around the time of independence. In conclusion, and in a most tentative manner, the parties are considered in the postindependence framework of the new sovereign states. To illuminate these distinctions it is necessary first to examine the society in which the parties took root.
The eight sovereign states which were formerly AOF were at an earlier stage of economic and social history than the retiring colonial powers. The specific figures are less reliable than the points they are designed to illustrate. As a result of the reforms extended after the Second World War, the vote became universal in a society whereon a very rough average—15 per cent could read or write, perhaps 3 per cent. were regular wage earners, and another 3 per cent. employed away froin their villages. Considerably more than half the people's efforts still went into subsistence activity outside the exchange economy 2. In Europe, by contrast, the vote became general only after almost everyone was deeply involved in the market economy. Indeed, not even the middle classes could vote until after the emergence of the “commercial civilization from the feudal, the society based on contract from the society based on status” 3. Not so in West Africa. Although there is an educated elite—mainly clerks, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and low-level technicians—only in Senegal and Ivory Coast is there a growing minority of literate Africans, self-employed in trade, transport, and farming for export.
Several hundred different ethnic groups make up the approximately twenty-five million inhabitants of the new French-speaking West African nations. The educated minority is almost alone in seeing a clear interest in maintaining the present territorial frontiers, or in enlarging them, and in preventing tribal separatism from fragmenting the new nations. With a few exceptions, the existence of this elite, their size and even their distribution according to ethnic and geographic origins, were due to the forces of economic and social change accompanying the arrival of the Europeans in West Africa. Much more economic activity took place in the coastal and forest belt of West Africa, and the proportion of people educated from that region is far greater than from the savannah and sahel belts. This caused trouble both for parties and for nations. Northern Dahomeans, and Ivory Coasters, for example, resented having too many party organizers, too many civil servants, and too many government leaders come from the southern regions of their countries. Some seeds of the 1958 riots against Dahomeans in the Ivory Coast were planted before the war, when the French West African educational system trained an unusually high proportion of them.
It was, however, the political facts of colonial rule, and then the democratic reforms extending over some two decades, which sped up the process whereby the modern layer of African society acquired the lead politically, even though it was still so small a minority. The European powers enlarged the scale of West African political units from many tribal to the present territorial ones. Together with their new technology, they introduced or reinforced secular values such as equality and merit, weakened traditional religious sanction, and overthrew kinship as the main determinant of rank. Although the British believed in indirect rule and the French in direct rule, in varying degrees both undermined the secular authority of the pre-European authorities.
There were few areas in which the presence of the Europeans did not add yet another dimension to the already thorny issue of succession. Pre-war members of the commandement indigène—the official “chiefs”—did not necessarily also have a traditional claim to high rank. These categories seem to have conflicted least and overlapped most in the savannah region of the western Sudan, where such historic pre-European empires as Mali and Ghana existed, and where in the nineteenth century the Europeans could not install their administrations until they had defeated the warrior-kings: Samory and the sons of al-Hajj Umar Tall. But the official “chiefs” were not regular mobile civil servants, since they were not recruited by standards of merit. Few were literate, and they were for the most part stationed among their kinsmen. In time, these official “chiefs” constituted a new stratum of the population in the countryside, and they had a sense of corporate identity transcending the limits of their different ethnic groups. Before 1945 the work of the “chiefs” conformed to custom only insofar as French officials permitted. After 1945 the secular authority of the “chiefs”, “disarmed by the abolition of the indigénat, forced labour”, and citizenship laws, shrank with each new reform 4. At various times in various territories the “chiefs” formed unions, syndicats, to defend their interests, and in 1956 they formed an AOF Union Fédérale des Syndicats des Chefs Coutumiers under Almamy Koreissy of Soudan 5. They were well aware that the post-war reforms affected the “prestige of the chiefs, precedence, deportment, decoration, housing, salaries” 6.
Awareness of corporate identity among “chiefs” developed farthest in Mali, Niger, the plateau and savannah regions of Guinea, and with qualifications in Senegal. It became the basis for the more successful “patron” parties, including those behind the governments which took Niger and Mauretania to independence. In Mali and Guinea also, the patron parties which won in the first post-war elections until defeated, in 1956, by the Union Soudanaise and the Parti Démocratique de Guinée mass parties respectively, were based on these “chiefs”. There was, indeed, a contradiction in French policy after the war, which on the one hand produced reforms reducing the powers of the chefs de canton and eliminating their claim to represent Africans, and on the other hand encouraged the formation of political parties based on the “chiefs”. The reason was expediency. When elections were first called the “chiefs” could easily be summoned by officials who counted upon them to organize. Later French officials hoped to use their control over the chefs de canton to slow down the growth of nationalist sentiment.
In most territories the struggle against the colonial power only partly masked another struggle, most acute in the countryside, between traditionalists and modernizers. In Mali and Guinea the mass party leaders, as soon as they were in a position to do so, consolidated their electoral victory by doing away altogether with the official “chiefs” and replacing them with regular civil servants. In a state like Niger, however, the challenge to the “chiefs” though offered by Sawaba was not very successful.
Already before the war, educated Africans rather than traditional or official “chiefs” were increasingly sought out by their kinsmen to help them settle controversies with the Europeans and their laws. After the war, by the order in which they came as well as by their content, the reforms in West Africa facilitated the assumption of the political initiative by the educated elite. Most people took for granted that Africans elected to post-war representative posts would know how to read and write in French—if only to talk to the Europeans who had promulgated the reforms. Moreover, in most territories the franchise was initially weighted in favour of thbse who were able to identify themselves in the records kept by the colonial power-which meant the literate and those earning money, mainly the people in the regular civil service, and only to a lesser degree those recognized as candidates for official “chief”. The reforms gave the educated Africans legal channels for organizing the expulsion of the colonial power. They had reason to want to. Most of them lived in towns, saw Europeans often and were directly affected by the discrimination—racial, cultural, social, and professional—which characterized the pre-war colonial system.
The post-war reforms further strengthened the position of the educated elite by synchronizing political developments in areas of unequal political pressure, and by forcing even those traditional leaders who could still count upon the following of their ethnic groups, as in Mauretania or parts of Niger, to select educated “front men” for the new elective offices. Moreover, because the reforms extended over approximately two decades before full independence came, aspiring leaders had time to build records as nationalists, to champion opposition causes in the countryside, to build parties, and anchor their authority to some degree. Nationalism gave the educated elite a powerful theme: that of making all Africans once again masters in their own land. With a few exceptions this educated elite, rather than the traditional aristocrats or official “chiefs”, received the credit for expelling the European colonizers.
Notes. — (a) The expression “educated elite” designates the group of Africans who completed some degree of training in the colonial school system. (b) The expulsion of the European colonizers materialized only in the legal/constitutional realm. Otherwise the rulers of the politically sovereign former colonies . Otherwise, the new states substituted colonialism with neocolonialism. — T.S. Bah.
Major or minor parties, mass or patron ones, these educated men staffed them. They provided the candidates for the new government offices after the war; they took the seats in legislative assemblies, in cabinets, and public corporations; they filled the senior civil service posts. A majority were the first generation in their families to read or write a language other than Arabic. They had been trained in schools designed to produce only subordinates for Europeans in that phase of colonial history when all senior posts were reserved for Europeans. Many were only primary school graduates, a minority—significantly larger in Senegal which had better schools and was richer—went to secondary school, and onJy a tiny number graduated from universities.
Since most university places only opened up to West Africans after the war, there were few graduates available to take the first offices. The vast majority of these bad to content themselves with secondlevel posts, usually in the civil service. Some, indeed, were in the peculiar position of working under African ministers who were contemporaries, but who had failed the secondary school or college entrance examinations, which had left them free to take part in the crucial first years of post-war political activity, and so they were “founding fathers”. The mass franchise, in effect, added yet another reason why, for the modern elite, the standards of success in the schools of the Europeans were often the reverse of the standards of success in African elections. Under the pre-war conditions of total European control the most educated generally acquired the highest of the subordinate offices open to Africans. But after the war, when the villagers acquired the vote and so became arbiters in the competition for power among members of the elite, often those with primary school education spoke the language of the people and had the reactions to which the villagers responded.
While the state schools helped weaken ethnic and historic antagonisms, they also created new cleavages among the educated elite, which in some territories acquired political significance. For example, in post-war Guinea, most of those who had been pre-war students in the dominant French West African secondary school, the Ecole Normale William-Ponty, wanted to keep the only paying jobs open to them. These were invariably in the civil service and so they had little alternative, prior to 1956, but to go into “administrative” parties. Most of them joined one of the officially preferred regional patron parties. The mass party in Guinea, the Parti Démocratique de Guinée, was led by products of the lower state schools, who accused Ponty graduates of “betraying the masses”, and called them “valets of the administration”. In the Gold Coast, also, political and educational cleavages were to some degree superimposed when the “Standard VII boys” joined a radical breakaway from the more highly educated leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and built the Convention People's Party. In Ivory Coast, by contrast, Ponty graduates took the lead both in the regional “patron” parties, and in the mass party—the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire. There Ponty graduates found alternatives to administrative employment in cocoa and coffee farming. Consequently in the Ivory Coast political cleavages did not relate closely to differences in the diplomas achieved by members of the elite.
Among the elite there were other points of cleavage than those derived from differences in the level of education. Differences of generation also made for divisions, such as those which divided the Senegalese leaders of the Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais (BDS) from those leading the Senegalese federation of the Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO); or dividing the younger organizers of the Union Soudanaise from the older leaders of the Parti Progressiste Soudanais. There were differences also in ideology: Marxist-inspired for the Parti Démocratique de Guinée and the Union Soudanaise; a blend of Catholic and evolutionary socialist political doctrine for many leaders of the Union Progressiste Sénégalaise. These differences were sharpest in the minor parties organized by university trained graduates : dissident Marxist for some leaders of the Parti du Regroupement Africain (PRA) Senegal; close to orthodox Communism for the leaders of the Senegalese Parti Africain de l'Indépendance (PAI); an African version of Emmanuel Mounier's French Catholic social doctrine of personnalisme for those participating in the Mouvement Africain de Libération Nationale (MLN). There were also differences in status, distinguishing in Senegal, for example, the pre-war privileged “citizens” (SFIO) from the “subjects” (Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais); the former had earlier access to education, more wealth often from the peanut trade, higher jobs in the civil service.
These differences within the modern elite were balanced, however, by a certain common outlook. They conceived of themselves as Africans rather than Malinke, for example. Their common experiences in schools, jobs, and in the money economy, in pre-war town associations, and with colonial administration gave them a homogeneity. But no such common outlook linked all the elite to the mass of the population. There was, instead, a gradual separation, most marked among people several generations or several decades removed from the village-the “citizens” of Senegal or many of the French-trained university graduates.
Before independence, successive electoral results made clear that major parties could be classified broadly into “mass” and “patron” (or “cadre” or “personality”)-types. The distinction bas wide implications for local branch organization, size of membership, structure, finance, and patterns of authority; it illuminates also variations in functions, social composition, and methods.
The main distinction between mass and patron parties lies not in the social origins of aspiring national leaders, and not in the scale of party organizations. It lies rather in the reply to the questions: How are the national leaders related to the rest of the population? On what groups and with what ideas and structures did they build parties? The distinction is perhaps best seen first at the local branch level.
Mass parties generally sought the adherence of every single individual. They wanted to enroll each man, woman, and even child, and so they had to establish local branches with headquarters, regular meetings, and elections for branch leaders. Examples are the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) or the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG) of Guinea. The patron parties usually terminated their structure simply with the adherence of influential notables or patrons; these were mostly the officially recognized “chiefs” or their direct representatives. Examples are the Union Nigérienne des Indépendants et Sympathisants (UNIS) of Niger, or Parti Progressiste Soudanais (PSP). Most patron parties did little to reach every individual in the community, and relied upon the “patrons” for their local influence. Patron party agents rarely called mass meetings; they called upon the “chiefs”. A defection from the local branch of a mass party rarely led to the distintegration of the branch. But the defection of a local notable from the patron party seriously weakened it in the locality.
Mass parties counted their members in hundreds of thousands. As early as 1950 the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire claimed 850,000 and in 1955 the Parti Démocratique de Guinée claimed 300,000 paid up members. First organized around an anti-colonial platform, mass parties called themselves “the expression… of the will of the African masses” 8.
Several structural concepts elaborated by Duverger and applied to Moroccan parties by Rezette 9 can be usefully employed in connexion with the tropical African parties. At least for a time, most mass parties were strongly articulated, relatively disciplined, and called forth considerable direct participation from members. The degree of course varied, descending in the following order: US, PDG, PDCI, UPS. Expulsions, demotions, fines, and other penalties were not uncommon.
The mass party community became far more differentiated than the simple two categories of leaders and voters, or patrons and clients, which characterized patron parties. The mass parties had established hierarchies, and though the lines separating the various categories of adherents were fluid, it was possible to distinguish party élus or elected representatives, and members of the party bureaucracy at the territorial, regional, and local levels. They belonged to the wider category of militants willing to devote time and resources to party work. They were part of a still larger group of members who bought cards, themselves part of the wider group of party sympathizers who voted the party ticket 10.
The leaders of mass parties emphasized organization partly because they opposed the established authorities and could not use established institutions. They usually created parallel women's and youth organizations, organismes annexes. They published newspapers, established central and regional headquarters, hired permanent staff, distributed membership cards, charged dues, and especially before independence, synchronized activities and shared personnel with African trade unions. The more effective their organization, the more mass party leaders were in a position to implement their decisions. Union Soudanaise and Parti Democratique de Guinee leaders, for example, regarded their mass parties as “weapons” 11 designed to achieve independence and economic development with the greatest speed possible.
In contrast, most patron parties—Parti Progressiste Soudanais and Union Nigérienne des Indépendants et Sympathisants—were weakly articulated, comparatively undisciplined, with little if any direct membership participation. This difference in structure between mass and patron parties is one of several reasons why though mass parties took the place of patron parties with a regularity suggesting a definite pattern before independence, no mass party was ever replaced in free election. Mass parties took power in Senegal, Guinea, Mali, and Ivory Coast, while in Niger, Upper Volta, and Dahomey mass parties were growing though patron parties had majorities.
In view of the small money income of most Africans it was remarkable that in some years mass parties sold hundreds of thousands of cards costing roughly 100 francs cfa each. These periods of intense party loyalty alternated with others when people were less inclined to spend money. Mass party resources came also from profits at party festivals, tam-tams, dances, receptions, which were the West African counterparts of the $100 a plate dinners of the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States. Profits were usually shared between the local and territorial treasuries. The PDCI could count on the assets of the Syndical Agricole Africain, while the PDG of Guinea, the US of Soudan and the UDN of Niger could count on the resources of the territorial CGT unions. Special contributions came to the PDCI from African coffee and cocoa farmers, and to the other mass parties from many African traders. Contributions from other sources such as Lebanese traders, European businessmen, or the colonial authorities usually did not come until after it became clear that the mass parties were going to form the governments. The largest contribution to the resources of the mass parties came not in money but in kind. The mass parties could count upon local branches to produce insignia, decorations, and cloth for demonstrations, to build platforms and even party headquarters. Party-sponsored travellers received free hospitality, free rides, the loan of a car, and gifts of gasoline. Even where hundreds of party delegates to conferences came together the community provided food and housing.
The leaders of some patron parties, such as the Socialists of Ivory Coast and the PSP of Soudan, at times tried to sell membership cards after they saw the successful use of this money-raising technique by their mass party rivals. But patron parties found few individual buyers for their cards, because people who voted the party ticket did so not out of a sense of loyalty to the party, but to the local notable who happened to represent it. Patron parties were generally financed by the patrons from their own resources, or from outside gifts. French officials frequently provided subsidies in the form of transport, housing, printing facilities, and official channels of communication like telephone, telegraph, and radio. The PSP of Soudan received contributions from European business interests which wanted economic or political favours.
Not all but some of the mass parties had both institutionalized and collective leadership, as did the Union Progressiste Sénégalaise, the Union Soudanaise and the Parti Démocratique de Guinée. Elections were fairly regular; élus and officers gave some account of their stewardship to the members; discipline received serious attention; a predetermined procedure was followed for the making of important decisions. Patron parties, and a mass party such as the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire after 1952 had essentially personal leadership; leaders made decisions and reconciled conflicts in ways unfettered by pre-arranged rules, either as individuals or as a group. The parties with institutionalized leadership could deal more smoothly with the problems posed by renewal and succession.
To an understanding of the authority pattern within the parties, a modified notion of charisma is sometimes useful 12, provided it is not understood simply as “the polar opposite of formal and traditional bonds” 13, or taken to mean the total “absence of any defined hierarchy” 14. Thus some, but not all, mass party top-level leaders—Sékou Touré of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée and Mamadou Konaté (d. 1956) of the Union Soudanaise—enjoyed a type of charisma which was limited both by the constitutional procedure they themselves insisted upon within their mass parties, and by the power exercised to a greater or lesser extent by other groups and individuals within the party. Other leaders, particularly of patron parties—such as Fily Dabo Sissoko of the Parti Progressiste Soudanais and Sourou Migan Apithy of the Parti Républicain du Dahomey (PRD)—used their charisma comparatively unchecked by procedure, though limited by the power and influence of the “patrons”. This was also true for some mass party leaders, such as Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire. Still other leaders, like Lamine Kaba of the Kankan region of Guinea, enjoyed charisma only within a locality considerably smaller than a territory. Their gift, usually recognized by only one ethnic group, came to be regarded as a threat to national party discipline. The notion of charisma, insofar as it points out that in some instances extraordinary qualities are ascribed to an individual, is a useful starting point for further investigation. But it is only a starting point, perhaps sharper than the idea Carlyle expressed with “Find in a country the Ablest Man … raise him to the supreme place … what he tells us to do must be precisely the wisest, fittest …” 15
In illuminating the function of the parties, the mass patron party distinction also has meaning. Patron parties fulfilled but the miniml! m tasks assigned by the formal institutions. Patron parties integrated only patrons. These parties were interested in the individual only insofar as he happened to be included in the franchise, provided candidates for election and the minimum machinery for bringing the voter to the polls. Before independence patron parties made few attempts to perform even the function of political educator and explain the post-war reforms to the population.
By contrast, the functions of mass parties such as the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire, the Parti Démocratique de Guinée, the Union Soudanaise, or the Union Progressiste Sénégalaise were far more complex and varied. On occasion, prior to acquiring government responsibilities, mass parties disregarded, indeed replaced the existing legal institutions. The UPS of Senegal, which never directly challenged the French administration did little of this. In contrast, the PDCI of Ivory Coast and the PDG of Guinea by-passed the police and army with its own personnel for keeping order; together with the US they by-passed the colonial courts with party machinery for settling all types of disputes. These three parties found their best sales figures for party cards prior to independence coincided with rural hold-ups in the payment of taxes. People decided they would rather contribute to their own party than to the colonial administration. To the extent these mass parties for a time substituted, or proposed to, their structure for that of the state, they performed a revolutionary function. (In West Africa, unlike Cameroon or Algeria, none waged guerrilla war.) For some time mass parties, far more than the legal institutions conceived in Paris, were considered to be legitimate by the population. By agreeing to work at least partly within the post-war representative institutions, therefore, these parties legitimized them, rather than vice-versa. Coincidentally, these parties acted as national “melting pots”, educating people to be African. To the extent that they provided a new social framework for people no longer firmly rooted in a stable ethnic tradition, they can be termed “parties of social integration” 16. They and their affiliates were interested in everything from the cradle to the grave—in birth, initiation, religion, marriage, divorce, dancing, song, plays, feuds, debts, land, migration, death, public order—not only in electoral success.
How the mass parties performed this integrating function was evident from an analysis of the modern and traditional status and the ethnic origins of national and local leaders. This analysis is particularly important, since the process by which independence was achieved in West Africa gave occasion for shifts in the distribution of power not only between Europeans and Africans, but also within African society—between modern and traditional elite, within each of these groups, and in the links connecting them with the mass of the population.
This process is perhaps best approached with the relatively simple question—what group or sub-group predominated in the major parties? Trade unionists predominated within the Parti Démocratique de Guinée and were of great significance in the Union Soudanaise and Sawaba of Niger. African planters formed the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire. The educated former “subjects” constructed the Bloc Democratique Senegalaise to challenge, in effect, the “citizen”-led socialists. These groups were in the modern categories of the population, a feature all mass parties had in common and shared with but those few “patron” parties based on a pre-war town elite.
Who predominated in those patron parties resting on important village personalities? The distinction between mass and patron parties, already made in relation to local party structure, was less neat in fact than in definition. When first organizing, aspiring mass party leaders did not disdain to accept the backing of a local important personage—an official chief, a traditional aristocrat, a Muslim marabout or an animist sage. But partly because most mass parties were born after the war either as or out of anti-colonial “congresses” 17, local important persons in West Africa connected with the colonial establishment usually held aloof until the mass party was itself becoming the establishment. Then many “shifted their rifles from one shoulder to the other” 18. Most important local persons without modern education who became identified with the mass parties during the height of the independence struggle—la lutte anti-impérialiste—had special reasons for lining up against the colonial administration, usually connected with events surrounding the conquest, with a local quarrel over chieftaincy, prestige, or property. Many rivals to the official “chiefs”, at village or regional level, joined the mass parties at an early stage. However, when such a personality became included locally within the mass party, the methods of the mass party worked to control his local influence, to make of him but one among many. There were, of course, variations in degree, related to mass party structure and to the type of tribal political organization. Where there was an educated urban middle class, also identified both for cultural and economic reasons with the colonial power, they too hesitated before becoming associated with the radical, anticolonial mass partiÏes, usually initiated by younger, less educated men, less acceptable to the Europeans. A clear example of this was in Senegal, where pre-war “subjects” shortly after they acquired the vote in 1945, broke from the “citizen”-dominated SFIO to organize their Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais. Similarly in Gold Coast the younger, more radical men broke from the United Gold Coast. Convention to organize the Convention People's Party.
Thus in some areas, in spite of their many differences, a pre-war town elite holding the highest positions permitted Africans in the colonial system, and the official “chiefs” already conscious that the presence of the Europeans stabilized their position, made common cause in patron parties against mass party leaders. This process, in which “haves“ lined up against their “have not” challengers was evident from the epithets exchanged at election time. Urban patron party leaders called mass party leaders “vagrants” (Guinea), in the countryside of Mali patrons underlined that their rivals were “slaves” or “strangers”. Mass party leaders, for their part, hurled labels like “union of featherbedders” and “stooges” at the patron party leaders.
In varying degrees, the nationalist struggle helped stir up “loyalty” issues, national and local, with as a frequent result yet another cause for disintegration in an already fragile society. For where they could, those lower on the traditional or modern social scale used the issue of nationalism to strengthen their own position through the mass parties. And those with privileges to lose, as in Niger, showed signs of preferring rule by the Europeans to rule by the talakawa (commoners in Hausa). Especially in the countryside, showing loyalty to the mass party, when it was under pressure from the colonial power, was one way to compensate for a weak claim to belonging to the local ethnic group—for immigrant Dioula “strangers” in Ivory Coast, to show they were as loyal, for example, as the originaires who first came to the area.
Given the low percentage of educated elite in relation to the rest of the population, and the fact that both in mass and in patron parties a network of kinship connects leaders and followers, it follows that leaders of both mass and patron parties which are territorial in scale have gone through the first and simplest stage of “ethnic arithmetic”: they kept a rough correspondence between the ethnic origins of leaders and followers. This correspondence is at least as important in Africa as in Boston or New York City politics. Defeating a patron party which has not been through this first stage, was relatively easy for mass party leaders—as when, for example, the Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais used “favourite sons” in the Casamance region of Senegal, to defeat the SFIO which was locally and territorially dominated by Wolof and Lébou from Dakar or Saint-Louis. Leaders who tried to build national parties failed when they did not have among their ranks representatives of the most important ethnic groups. The Socialist party of Guinea was in this category. It grew from the Fulani club at the Ecole Normale William-Ponty and never really succeeded in broadening the ethnic base, even though it underwent several important changes, from ethnic to a nationalist ideology. Too many of one ethnic group, too few of another, caused difficulties for any party. The Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire had relatively little trouble with ethnic separatism from the Baule, while the Convention People's Party had considerable difficulty with the Ashanti. These two ethnic groups, traditionally related, occupy similar historic and geographic positions in their respective states, produce most of the coffee and/or cocoa and so have the most wealth. The PDCI from the beginning had Baule associated with it through the person of their Baule leader, Felix Houphouët-Boigny, while in Ghana the CPP started and, except in the revolutionary years of 1949-50, remained without similar support among the Ashanti.
While patron parties leaders, once through this first simple phase of “ethnic arithmetic”, generally stopped their calculations there, the leaders of mass parties had but begun. They tried to use their party organizations in order to awaken a wider, national sense of community. They appealed to particular categories existing within, or cutting across ethnic groups—a technique suitable to recruiting in a mobile, changing society. Youth and women were of course two such categories which mass parties emphasized heavily. It was already pointed out that in many villages mass party organizers went to rivals of official “chiefs”; from these they discovered local grievances. They often appealed to rural underprivileged groups. For example, the Parti Démocratique de Guinée first gained a following in the Fouta-Djallon plateau not among the Fulani majority, but rather among the “captives” living in the ancillary villages (roundé). They appealed to rural scribes, whose modern skills set them apart. There were those who had travelled, often “strangers” who were among the most recent immigrants to a flourishing agricultural area. In some areas they went to veterans- in Senegal, for example. There were religious dissidents—Harrists in the Ivory Coast, Hamallists in Mali. There were in some areas Muslim proselytizers opposed by the “chief” either because he was animist, or because though Muslim he nevertheless felt his secular position under attack. There were camel drivers, chauffeurs, transporters, and peddlers—such as the dioula traders of Western Upper Volta, Mali, Guinea, and Ivory Coast, or some “Hausa” traders of Ghana and Nigeria. And, of course, there were those who earned money income for growing coffee, cocoa, peanuts, or bananas, became restless with tradition; then young men no longer listened to the old, women made money trading in the market-place, and people responded to the appeals against established authorities made by the mass party organizers.
Of course, people in these non-ethnic social categories were still in a minority; most had some roots in a tribal community and they too wanted party leaders of roughly similar origins to their own. Even while they rejected the principle that ethnic considerations should enter into the selection of party office holders, mass party leaders were still well aware they needed associates who were kinsmen of those they sought as followers. Indeed, conflicts among ethnic groups were often sharper in mass than in patron parties, since mass parties made a continuous attempt to propagate modern values and diminish the weight of ethnic exclusiveness. For example, since their 1956 victories, both Union Soudanaise and Parti Démocratique de Guinée leaders had the habit of deliberately scrambling the ethnic origins of party propagandists and their audiences. Men from the Guinea coast campaigned in the forest and Fouta Djallon; men from Upper Guinea in the forest. All these tactics had the purpose of encouraging people to relate themselves directly to the party.
Conflicts between modern and traditional leaders were also sharper in mass than patron parties since most mass parties were egalitarian by policy. The traditional upper-class standing of Sékou Touré or Modibo Keita, for example, was important for the high popular esteem given to them.
The Parti Démocratique de Guinée began to make headway among the Fulani after Diallo Sayfoulaye, the son of an important Fulani chief, “like La Fayette… left his privileges to join the democratic cause” 19.
Felix Houphouët-Boigny, in the militant years of the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'lvoire prior to 1952, used his prestige as official chief, and not only as a doctor and wealthy planter, in order to entrench the PDCI in the countryside. On the whole, they used their nobility to preach equality.
The majority of the national and regional leadership in patron parties is of traditional upper class status, while the majority of the mass party national and regional leadership is of commoner origin. But mass parties have a surprisingly large number of people with high traditional status as the top national party leaders. And patron parties have an exceptionally large number of prime ministers, or officials holding the :first post in the modern institutions, with low traditional status. (Is this a method of chiefly control, reminiscent of their habit, at the turn of the century, to send not their own but sons of slaves to the schools of the Europeans?) Of low traditional status is Joseph Conombo, who was until 1956 deputy to the French National Assembly from Upper Volta, elected through a patron party based on the Mossi chiefs. So was Yacine Diallo (d. 1954), Guinea deputy to the French National Assembly representing the then dominant patron party alliance, and more specifically the Fulani chiefs. So is Hubert Maga, first President of Dahomey, who represented a regional patron party strong in the north. It is as if “princes” fear least the competition of “captives”; while villagers, first hearing equality preached, learn fastest from “princes”.
Thus within mass parties, not only ethnic origins but also ethnic status continued to count, often causing more conflict precisely because it is usual mass party ideology to ignore or challenge these differences. Yet men with high modern but low traditional qualifications—Ponty graduates of griot descent, for example, lawyers descended of “captives”—were rarely put forward by local mass party branches as candidates for elective office. In varying degrees, mass party national leaders maintained a continuous pressure in favour of such nominations, as of West Indians and other “strangers”, to prove they believed in equality. So as to be able to maintain this pressure, mass party leaders often preferred multi-member to single-member constituencies in legislative assembly elections. Where ten seats were to be filled, local branch members were more inclined to accept that national headquarters designate some candidates, than where only one seat was involved.
Though they tried much harder than patron party leaders, mass party leaders did not always succeed in avoiding institutionalizing ethnic differences. In the long run, friction among ethnic groups in Ivory Coast may have been intensified by the Parti Démocratique de la Cote d'Ivoire's decision to organize local branches on an ethnic, rather than a neighbourhood principle. This distinguished the PDCI local structure from that of most other mass parties. The Union Soudanaise, the Parti Démocratique de Guinée, and the Union Progressisle Senegalaise, for example, made strenuous efforts to mix ethnic groups at the local level—and did so at least to the extent that neighbourhoods did. The PDCI decision was a recognition of the way people actually communicated in Ivory Coast, a concession to reality, unwillingly made by many educated leaders because they knew they might need to assemble their followers rapidly. This practice was challenged by a PDCI Congress resolution in 1959, as yet unimplemented 20.
The various methods used by mass and patron parties further illustrate the differences between them. Patron parties adopted methods respectful of established authority. Prior to 1957 these generally avoided the techniques of protest, offered few if any personal services to supporters, were little concerned with party symbols. The mass parties, prior to achieving government majorities, employed techniques related to their revolutionary, legitimizing, educational, and social integration functions. Demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, occasional violence were revolutionary techniques. The parties paid considerable attention to creating new national symbols: insignia, colours, slogans, party cloth for women to wear. Mass party choices of symbols and slogans were based on sound insight into popular responses, and repetition is at the heart of African oratory, as of drumming and dance. “Vote the elephant; he is wise and never forgets.” The Parti Démocratique de Guinée and the Parti Démocratique de la Cote d'Ivoire painted the elephant on walls and roofs and streets and cars. In the savannah, however, the Union Soudanaise never made much of the fact that the elephant was its symbol also; for US opponents said, with effect “the elephant eats your crops and leaves you destitute”. Elaborating on the meaning of the Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais party colours, Léopold Senghor of Senegal wrote
“Green is for the Muslim majority, the colour of the Prophet's flag; green is for the Christian minority, the colour of hope; green is for the animists, the symbol of youth and the irrepressible force of Black Africa” 21.
And using the elimination of forced labour to their ends, aspiring mass party Union Démocratique Nigérienne leaders in Niger whose ballot carried the picture of a camel, warned people not to vote for UNIS, the patron party which had a yellow ballot bearing the picture of a stick and a basket. “Vote for the camel, and you will be as free as he,” they said, well acquainted with that ornery beast. And they added, “The yellow ballot is a stick and a basket; if you vote for it forced labour will come back.”
All the important French-speaking West African party leaders except those of Mauretania favoured the lay state. Yet religious ceremonies were associated with party activities. In predominantly Muslim areas, particularly Mali, Niger, and Guinea, most leaders generally observed the fast of Ramadan, rarely smoked, and never drank in public, went to Friday prayer meetings, began to wear the boubou—a flowing caftan or robe—and hats modelled on the fez or turban. At Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire meetings libation was often poured. Prior to many Parti Démocratique de Guinée meetings the Fatiha, or opening sura of the Koran was intoned.
In the Name of God,
the Merciful, the Compassionate
Praise belongs to God,
the Lord of all Being,
the All-merciful, the All-compassionate,
the Master of the Day of Doom.
Thee only we serve;
to Thee alone we pray for succour.
Guide us in the straight path,
the path of those whom Thou hath blessed,
not of those against whom Thou art wrathful,
nor of those who are astray 22.
Personal oratory was one of the most effective educational techniques. Campaigning against the Guinea regional patron parties Sékou Touré explained, “I am Diallo the shepherd from the Fouta, I am Mamba the planter from Nzerekore, Keita the rice grower from Siguiri, Soumah the fisherman from the coast, I am African, I am every man.”
Both because they believed it, and because the “important people” in the countryside opposed them, most.mass party organizers preached equality. “Vincent Auriol and Lamine both die if they go hungry” or “three men want to go to Bamako. The governor goes by plane, Mamba by bicycle, Yacine on foot. Who arrives first ?” “The governor,” shouts the crowd. “Next?” “Mamba.” “Then?” “Yacine.” In such dialogue leaders communicated the idea that the environment accounts for most human differences.
The identification of the mass party with the community before independence was emphasized not only by party sponsorship of baptisms, weddings, or funerals, but also by the existence of an informal party social security system which resulted in support for indigent partisaes, legal advice for imprisoned militants, payment of medical bills for the sick, food and housing for families of party widows or grass widows. On occasion the mass parties could count on free labour even for the construction of bridges, roads, mosques, and schools—on popular good will that Parti Démocratique de Guinée and Union Soudanaise leaders termed human investment—investissement humain—and included in their inventory of economic resources.
The division into mass and patron types is applicable to the more important parties-those with a substantial membership and scale. There were, however, many other parties. If parties are defined as all groups calling themselves parties or generally so called, and seeking political power, then from the time they became legal to independence some hundred parties were born in French-speaking West Africa.
Why so many parties ? First, to allow for experimentation, discovery and turnover. Most voluntary organizations took on party labels and became the instruments for competition among educated Africans who bad previously been peers. With the partial exception of Senegal and perhaps Ivory Coast the early elections of 1945 and 1946 were more in the nature of primaries, eliminating and selecting candidates before structured parties emerged. There was no other way to do this, and the men who did well in those elections had a head start. It was comparatively easy and cheap to form a new party, when the electorate was small and competition was among individuals and their backers rather than among organized parties. Some such “one man shows” continued to crop up even after the first elections—like the Union Démocratique et Sociale Africaine (UDSA) of Guinea or the Front de Liberation Noire (Kotoko) of Ivory Coast. But most “one man shows” disappeared by merging into larger groups as it became clear to the competing candidates that to win in elections they needed a party organization, finance, procedure, and some agreement on principles even before the elections.
Another reason for the large number of parties was that in the countryside some ethnic parties emerged, especially when the rural franchise suddenly widened in the 1951 elections—groups like the Union Dogon, the Union Lobi, or the Socialists among the Bete. Where ethnic parties were based on urban areas they usually rested on the tribes originally owning the land—like the Rassemblement Démocratique Sénégalais among the Lebou of Dakar. These ethnic parties at best existed long enough to elect one or two men to the territorial assembly, and then petered out or joined with parties territorial in scale. There were a few other types of minor parties: rump groups left out after mergers or reorganizations like the Parti Socialiste Sénégalais; splinter groups built by men negotiating to join a larger party like the Socialistes Unitaires of Senegal; groups representing a disaffected and defeated minority within a larger party, like the Parti de Solidarité Sénégalaise of some “clan” leaders and rural personalities. These minor parties had mostly curiosity value; they rarely succeeded in electing even a municipal council representative.
There was, especially in the first years of elections, a fairly large number of regional parties—like the Fulani-based Démocratie Socialiste de Guinée, or in Casamance the Mouvement Autonome de la Casamance. Frequently regional groups divided further between those based in countryside or town, like the Union de la Basse-Guinée and the Foyer de la Basse-Guinée respectively. Regional parties usually managed to assemble representatives of more than one ethnic group, and can be seen as steps towards parties territorial in scale. There was, in fact, a clear trend both in the direction of reducing the number of parties and enlarging their scale to territorial frontiers. By the time the Loi-Cadre was in force parties everywhere except Upper Volta and Dahomey, and, with some qualification, Niger, had enlarged to the territorial frontiers. Why?
The first reason was the political system. As the franchise enlarged, parties of very limited appeal lost. The administration was territorially organized and deputies to the French National Assembly had the most influence. Territorial and municipal council representatives had less power or prestige. The post-war colonial reforms by their sequence and nature favoured reducing the number of parties and enlarging their scale. Second, parties territorial in scale emerged easily where for cultural and historic reasons the population was relatively homogeneous, as in Mauretania, Mali, and with qualification, Niger. Upper Volta and Dahomey, in contrast, had relatively heterogenous populations. Third, economic change introduced by the Europeans and accompanied by social change produced new social strata which cut across ethnic categories and responded to appeals to build territorial parties: workers in Guinea, farmers, migrants, and civil servants in Ivory Coast, traders and civil servants in Senegal. Fourth, in some areas social change took place after colonial rule began, even without marked economic change—as in Mali and Niger, where groups with an interest in breaking out of regional and provincial limits and forming territorial parties won elections.
There is one other reason for the trend in the direction of regional or territorial parties: the political intentions, dedication, skill, and methods of the political elite in each territory. The way in which rival political leaders went about building parties, and dealing with such obstacles to unity as ethnic, religious, geographic, cuJtural, professional, and other divisions affected party scale. In Dahomey, for example, the educated rival party leaders themselves remained divided and this contributed to the divisions among their followers. In Mali, the skill in harmonizing differences, the internal discipline and unity of party leaders, particularly of the Union Soudanaise, contributed to the growth and maintenance of parties on a territorial scale.
Therefore, few parties born actually survived. Instead they reorganized, split, merged, died, and otherwise underwent changes which resulted in reducing their numbers and extending the scale to territorial frontiers. The more important parties survived and engaged in the sharp struggle for power which accompanied the installation of the first governments under the Loi-Cadre. The struggle was resolved, near the time of independence, when in each of the new states a single party system came into existence or was in the process of doing so. The single parties tried hard to dominate for some time regardless whether opposition parties were allowed to exist alongside. In the states of Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Mali mass parties, while in the states of Upper Volta, Niger, Dahomey, and Mauretania patron parties dominated.
Until independence, consecutive electoral results pointed up that the only definite changes in parties which took place were from mass to patron party majority, but never the reverse. The only exception was Ivory Coast, where the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire rode to power in 1946, then lost in a series of elections and by-elections between 1949 and 1952, but only because the French administration bad tampered with the ballot. Officially in those years the allied patron parties oflvory Coast won, but as soon as people could once more register their vote freely the PDCI resumed its monopoly of offices. There was no evidence, however, that the turnover from patron to mass party would continue after independence. Though conditions altered it is nevertheless worth asking what were the distinctions evident at that time.
At independence, the distinction had validity in relation to three issues: degree of popular consent, degree to which party leaders held reform in the direction of social equality to be important; degree of opportunity to express dissenting views inside or outside the dominant party. The degree was least in the patron party states of Dahomey, Upper Volta, Niger, and Mauretania. In these states the main opposition groups were outlawed, the organization of the dominant party was but rudimentary and so it had no capacity to push for reforms nor to channel the expression of dissenting views; from the beginning the governments bad to use force against rising discontent and criticism.
In the single party states based on the mass parties there was at . independence evidence of widespread consent. During at least a brief period the national and the party communities were indistinguishable; the mass party reflected the “general will”. This was usually just prior to taking over responsibility for governing, but after using to advantage being in opposition. Discontent was the common denominator. Typical of the instructions national mass party leaders gave to local leaders were, “Go and talk to the peasants in the field”. “Tell Abdoulaye his daughter cannot be forced to marry the old chief” “Tell the peasants not to sell their crops at that ruinous price.” “Defend Pango's palm trees against destruction by the administrator.” “Speak up for Binta's right to cultivate the land the chief claims.” While not all the questions were settled, villagers found a national platform in the mass party which they had never known. Mass party organizers sought out grievances, expressed them in the market-place, coordinated them. They blamed European rule for forced labour, taxes, abuses of official “chiefs”, racial discrimination, poverty. Out of these grievances they welded their massive demonstrations against colonial rule. Most patron party leaders were too linked with the established authorities to play this muckraking role.
Muckraking paid. Mass party membership was open to all, and practically all sought to acquire it. This characteristic at the level of recruitment distinguished West African states based on the mass party, from states based on single parties confining their membership—as most fascist or Communist parties do—to a selected group. The widespread influence and number of followers of the mass parties at their peak, their national character long before the institutions of government were controlled by Africans, their success in acquiring the credit for the national revolution—all these bore out the mass party claim to represent the entire population. This helps explain why many West African mass party leaders saw little contradiction between claiming to be democratic, and insisting on the existence of but a single, mass based party. It was the African version of that “sole and central power which governs the whole community, by its direct influence” 23, which de Tocqueville observed in the nineteenth-century American idea of the state.
Consent in West African mass party states was made possible, further, by party organization and procedure. Direct democracy is impossible except on the scale of the village—whether in New England, U.S.A., or the region of Banfora, Upper Volta. Mass parties, in varying degrees, have developed the organization which publicized and encouraged the mass discussion of important issues on a larger scale. Local branches involved the many rather than honoured the few, and mass party leaders tried to use traditional organizations in order to reach individuals. They were often more effective than the civil service. Leaders were chosen by voting. In the thoroughly organized mass parties, institutionalized leadership was also collective. Set procedures were followed for the making of decisions and leaders were expected to report back.
Mass party states, moreover, encouraged social equality. The modern elite, themselves in favour of such values as merit rather than birth as the determinant of rank, were in a stronger position in the mass party states. Furthermore, most mass party leaders rose from low positions in the modern or the traditional social scale, and favoured social equality. Of course, to bridge the gap between the educated and the mass of the population, all parties had to use both ethnic and status arithmetic. Unlike patron party leaders, however, mass party leaders tried to use this in order to blur ethnic differences and weaken inherited status differences.
Within mass parties there were, in varying degrees, conditions in which opposition was possible. Among the elite in Africa, there was enough consensus about the rules of the political game to make it possible for them to disagree without coming, too often, to blows. In pre-war Senegal, as in nineteenth century Britain or present Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, the vote, and controversies among the several parties remained confined to a few who speak the same language and fight for similar interests. This consensus disappeared when the franchise expanded rapidly. At the present stage of African social history, the mass party organization made it possible for people to disagree within it, without necessarily triggering incidents endangering the rule of the elite and the stability of the state.
Opportunities for expressing opposition varied. Discussion was widespread and frank within the best-organized mass parties, the Union Soudanaise, for example, where leaders have on occasions been outvoted on important issues. Not only individual disagreement was possible under the party umbrella, but also organized disagreement by tendances—such as trade union, youth, students, and cultural organizations, and even the civil service. In the less organized mass party states, such as Ivory Coast and Senegal, these modern associations quickly became foci of opposition outside of the mass party, though not necessarily calling themselves parties.
The opportunity to express opposition through rival political organizations also varied. Specified parties or types of parties were outlawed in most states. Organized opposition was excluded in effect, where it was a matter of doctrine to insist on the single party, the parti unique, and on its identity with both the popular will and with the state. It was less excluded where leaders justify the single party for empirical reasons as a parti unifié, making common cause in the national emergency.
While single-party systems in mass and patron party states differed at the time of independence, the leaders of both types of states faced some similar problems. Confining disagreements to the issues at hand is difficult in a society where only the members of the elite born of different ethnic groups are able to speak directly to each other in French. Even where the organization of a mass party was a “spider's web” villagers often had different values than national leaders. President Sékou Touré spoke of this to the Fifth Congress of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée in September 1959:
… democracy, within our Party, is not a democracy of clan or family, but a basic democracy to which the entire population contributes directly and freely … the old forms of social democracy anchored in the villages often influence the party militants, who believe themselves authorized to violate the new individual forms prescribed within the PDG. Therefore at each new election for officers, dissensions arise within the Movement. This occurs because we have not yet accomplished our work 24.
As long as kinship is an important link between the educated and their rural constituents, division among the elite on such constitutional matters as federalism, independence, or the position of “chiefs” -is often taken by their kinsmen as a signal for settling entirely unrelated traditional issues over land, women, or water. This was one of the dynamics behind the Ivory Coast incidents of 1949-52. In the relatively integrated societies of North America or Western Europe, plurality is quite rightly counted among the democratic virtues. In Africa today, it is rather a vice.
That is why many Africans justified the existence of single-party states on the grounds that a national emergency exists. The struggle for independence is “not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest…” 25 These words of Tom Paine reflect the African sense of history 26. Africans argue the plural “party system under imperialist domination is synonomous with a sterile division that profits only those who want to see to it that their privileges continue”. 27 This is the logic of a community at war, considering an administratif to be like a “quisling”. Most Africans carried their sense of urgency into the post-independence era, and consider unity necessary in order rapidly to “install the apparatus of the State, at the service of economic development, of social and cultural development”. 28
Though the difference between single party states of the mass and patron types was considerable at the time of independence, it was not certain whether afterwards the distinction remained valid. At best it turned on a difference in degree, and some parties fell between the two categories. Were the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire or the Union Progressiste Sénégalaise losing their mass party characteristics and becoming patron party types? The efficiency of both organizations declined, so did interest in social equality; there were many signs of rising discontent among youth, students, workers, and civil servants; the parties had difficulties with ethnic separatist pressures. Both parties obtained mass support at the local level in the 1940s, when there was the most significant turnover of leadership at the local level. Both parties, for different reasons, blurred the controversies between modern and traditional leaders. Both were old mass parties, and the dominant national leaders had been in power for almost a generation. Their public offices were taking precedence over party work. To a growing segment of the population, not directly involved in the struggle which brought the two parties to power, the leaders represented the establishment. The difference between mass and patron party states was more evident after independence, with the US of Mali and the PDG of Guinea. These parties had electoral majorities and took over leadership both at the national and at the local levels only since the late 1950s; shortly after independence most people still felt they were involved in a social as well as a political revolution. In both Mali and Guinea, party hierarchy seemed to take precedence over the·government hierarchy.
After independence there was an entirely new framework within which the parties operated. New problems confronting both mass and patron party governments made it appear at least for a time that the distinction was eroding between mass and patron party types. Within a few years it was possible for the popularity of a once widely acclaimed mass based government to disappear, for it to become regarded rather as representative of the status quo; thus some mass parties acquired patron party attributes. At the same time some patron parties after independence encouraged a turnover of leadership at the local level, a move away from domination by the patrons and towards wider mass participation as well as more formal structure and procedure, hence to acquire mass party attributes.
All the states, including mass party ones, found it hard to continue to reflect the “general will”. The unifying nationalist struggle was over, and many controversies came to the fore. There was a great difference between what people expected of independence and what occurred. In every state there were financial difficulties due to an immediate shortage of foreign exchange, a reduction or elimination of French subsidies, a fall in the world market price of exports. There was a crisis in the. civil service—expatriates left; the dominant political party in varying degrees suspected the loyalty and standards of African higher civil servants trained or promoted by the Europeans; Africanization of the civil service was usually accompanied by a repolitization in favour of the governing party; in addition as standards of poiiticalloyalty took precedence over standards of performance problems of corruption cropped up; there were charges of nepotism as some men promoted their kinsmen rather than men chosen on the basis of merit. The crisis in the civil service usually made worse the financial and economic crisis following independence since the capacity to implement changes depended on the efficiency of government servants.
To help solve the post-independence economic problems the new states usually raised tariffs and export duties; tried to control trading across African borders; and the activities of the traders. The result was that many African traders previously among the best supporters became critics of the nationalist governments. The governments also tried to reduce or hold level the salaries of workers, and became involved in struggles with the unions. As support from among the modern sectors of the population declined, many governments were thrown back upon the rural elements for support. This shifted the balance against the modernizing townsmen. In the countryside, too, there were critics of the new governments. Some subsistence farmers had hoped taxes would no longer be collected; fishermen like the somono living near Ségou of Mali hoped to be able to fish near the Sansanding dam; some Muslim scholars hoped Islam would become the state religion—most such groups were disappointed after independence. Signs of ethnic separatism multiplied, particularly on international frontiers; and rural friction intensified, for example between “strangers” or Dioula and the original owners of the land. Villagers looked with suspicion upon townsmen who came as representatives of the central authorities. In varying degrees townsmen caught in financial difficulties due to the readjustments of the modern economy after independence, became more dependent upon their rural kinsmen and the subsistence economy for supplies.
Thus after independence there were new conditions, making it necessary to pose new questions. There were, first, questions about the relationship of the dominant party to the institutions of state: to army, police, civil service, courts, to the national assembly and ministries. Immediately after independence the fear of anarchy made the new African governments as quick to institute special courts and security laws as was the United States to adopt Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. All manipulated electoral procedures to obtain overwhelming majorities—though not all went so far as Dahomey where there was but a single list for the elections to the National Assembly and the whole nation became a single constituency. All the governments imprisoned some opponents and held secret or public political trials. All the governments became more dependent on the army and police, as in many states there were plots or fears of plots. Some opposition groups began planning their campaigns underground.
There were, second, questions about proceedings inside the single dominant party: frequency of meetings, the existence of conditions of internal democracy, opportunities for resolving peacefully problems of succession arid renewal. In most states the inner core of party leaders accumulated offices both inside the party and inside the government; in some states government affairs drew their attention from the party. There were, third, questions about the existence of opposition groups, their opportunities to function and eventually to challenge successfully the group in power.
Whether outlawed or not, opposition groups could be identified. “One-man shows”, rump groups, expatriate groups and minor ethnic parties had little potential on the national scene. Some significant opposition came from the defeated mass parties—Sawaba in Niger, for example. There were also the opposition groups of “young Turks”, mainly town dwellers differently educated or younger than the men leading the dominant parties: An Nahda al Watenia al Mauritania (Party of the National Renaissance of Mauretania), Parti du Regroupement Africain-Sénégal, and the Parti Africain de l'Indépendance of Senegal. With the possible exception of the PAI, these parties had no conscious elitist theory governing recruitment, but in practice their audience was still confined to the modern elite, to youth and student and trade union groups. Particularly when the party in power was of a mass type, most of the “young Turks” alternated between opposing it, and joining it in order to constitute a “party within a party”. On occasion they became allied with dissident groups from among the “founding fathers”. Most of the “young Turks” began their political careers concerned with post-independence problems. Thus they were not, like most leaders of the dominant single party, of the generation to whom the indigenat, force labour, racial discrimination, and displacing the European administrators were major concerns. The “young Turks” were nationalists and modernizers. They had little appetite for ethnic, separatist opposition, and constituted the actual or potential national opposition.
There were, finally, questions of programme and ideology. African party leaders knew they needed fresh ideas to fill the gap left by the achievement of independence, to set the post-independence goals and guides to action. They needed new policies to preserve the sense of community which had been successfully harnessed to the struggle for independence.
This struggle had inspired the first generation of African party leaders. They hoped to enlarge the area of dignity, freedom, and welfare of their people. Some showed their intention to promote social as well as political reforms just after independence: marriage laws raising the legal age women may marry and insisting on their right to consent; land reforms; laws modernizing rural justice, reducing or eliminating the power of “chiefs”, and opening the way to equal status for “captives” and other lower strata of society; educational reforms. Most of these reforms caused bitter controversies between modernizers and traditionalists, between townsmen and villagers. Only economic development can help resolve these controversies.
On development depends the capacity to implement the social reforms already on the statute books and agreement on yet other reforms. Without development, there can only be a new status quo around which society hardens into castes. Mobility is possible only with economic growth. On development depends the realization of the hopes of the first generation of French-speaking West African party leaders, and the capacity of their sons to do better. This thought may have impelled Sékou Touré to say “Our party is identified with our people. Our regime has the virtue of being the expression of a people within a party… But we do not know the realities of tomorrow.” 29
1. Some of the material io this chapter was published in my article, “Single-Party Systems in West Africa”, The American Political Science Review, June 1961.
2. See Elliot Berg's, “The Economic Basis of Political Choice in French West Africa”, American Political Science Review, June 1960, especially Table I on p. 393.
3. Clark, Colin. The Conditions of Economic Progress, Macmillan, London, 1951 ed., p. 567.
4. Citations from circular 9145, 25 September 1947, sent by French Overseas Minister Marius Moutet to the French West African governor-general, and to all the territorial governors. Typescript.
5. Paris-Dakar, 8 December 1956.
6. From the electoral manifesto of 5 September 1945, issued by Parti Progressiste Soudanais leader, Fily-Dabo Sissoko.
7. “Patron” parties and “parties of personalities” were terms employed by Thomas Hodgkin, Nationalism in Colonial Africa, op. cit., and African Political Parties, Penguin Books, 1961; “cadre” party was used by Maurice Duverger in his Political Parties, Methuen and Co., London, 1954.
8. PDG electoral manifesto for the 2 January 1956 elections.
9. Rezette, R. Les Partis politiques marocains, Colin, Paris, 1955.
10. Duverger, op. cit., chapter II.
11. Apter, David E. and Rosberg, Carl G. “Nationalism and Models of Political Change in Africa”, The Political Economy of Contemporary Africa, Symposia Studies Series #1, The National Institute of Social and Behavioral Science, George Washington University, 19.59, p. 8.
12. Apter, op. cit.
13. Weber, Max. “The Sociology of Charismatic Authority”, From Max Weber, H. H. Gerth & C. Wright Mills, editors, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd., London, 1952, p. 250.
14. Worsley, Peter. The Trumpet Shall Sound, MacGibbon & Kee, London, 1957, p. 271.
15. Carlyle, Thomas. “The Hero as King”, On Heroes and Hero Worship, Ward & Lock Co., London, 1900, p. 262.
16. Neumann, Sigmund. Modern Political Parties, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1956, p. 404.
17. Hodgkin. Nationalism in Colonial Africa, op. cit., p. 144.
18. Keita, Madeira. “Le Parti unique en Afrique”, Présence Africaine,, FebruaryMarch, 1960, pp. 19-20.
19. La Liberté, 22 December 1955.
20. Abidjan-Matin, 18 June 1959. See A. R. Zolberg, o p. cit. , p. 140.
21. Condition Humaine, 30 November 1948.
22. Arthur J. Arberry's translation, The Koran Interpreted, vol. I, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1955, p. 29.
23. de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America, Oxford, London, 1952, pp. 550-1.
24. Touré, Le Cinquième congres national…, tome IV, op. cit., pp. 43-4.
25. Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense”, in The Political Writings, vol. I, Investigator Office, Boston, 1856, p. 33.
26. For a most interesting discussion of the new history of West Africa see Immanuel Wallerstein, “The New History: The Search for National Identity in West Africa”, Présence Africaine, French and English editions, Paris, October 1960.
27. Adandé, Alexander. “In the Phase of National Reconstruction the Fusion of Parties Becomes a Categorical Imperative,” address at the Congress for Cultural Freedom Conference, Ibadan, March 1959, mimeographed, F/413, p. 3.
28. Keita, Madeira. op. cit., p. 9.
29. Afrique Nouvelle, 20-21 November 1963, reporting a speech at a meeting between the bureau politique and the National Assembly.