An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

15. Ex-French West Africa

Saint-Louis, the former capital of Senegal, was founded in 1659, although continuous French control of the Senegal coast dates only from the late 18th century; and Dakar, the former metropolis of French West Africa, is a focus of Africa's French civilization as well as an excellent port. North lies desert Mauritania (2), eastward the 2,000 mile sprawl of ex-French West Africa, now divided into eight sovereign republics (14). Both the area and its peoples are very varied. Between the desert and the rain-forest of the Ivory Coast lie the open 'bush' and grasslands of the upper Niger and western Sudan, stretching to Lake Chad and beyond. For many centuries, sizeable kingdoms rose and fell on and around the Niger as the Songhai, Malinke, Soninke, Tuareg and Fulani contended for power (C, E). Timbuktu was a famous centre of trans-Sahara trade and Islamic culture. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Fon kingdom in Dahomey became known for its massive human sacrifices and for the troops of women in its large standing army. Some tribal antipathies still threaten the unity of the new states; most of their governments have taken strong measures against local opposition.

Senegal (phosphates, groundnuts, titanium, some manufacturing) and Ivory Coast (coffee, cocoa, timber, palm oil, manganese, diamonds) are the more prosperous of the republics. Guinea's less advanced economy has been boosted since 1952 by the mining of iron ore near Conakry, where bauxite was already being exploited. But most of the republics rely on French aid, while Guinea, after its sharp break with France in 1958 under the leadership of President Sékou Touré, obtained loans from Ghana, Russia and China (13, 19).

Mali, like Ghana, is an old name revived (E). The Mali Federation planned in 1958 was to embrace Senegal, Volta and Dahomey as well as the present Mali republic, then still known as French Sudan ( Soudan). But Volta and Dahomey backed out; later they and Niger joined the loose Conseil de l'Entente group, whose real leader is President Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast (14). Senegal and Soudan quarrelled in 1960 and their Mali Federation broke in two. Soudan renamed itself Mali, and drew close to Guinea, developing an anti-western policy that won communist praise. But France did not apply to it the total withdrawal of official personnel and support that it had applied to Guinea in 1958, and Mali remained in the franc monetary zone, like most of its neighbours. And even Guinea, despite its communist connections, took care not to frighten off the French mining companies whose operations provide its main export earnings.

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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