The Emerging States of French Equatorial Africa

The Emerging States of French Equatorial Africa

The Emerging States of French Equatorial Africa

The Emerging States of French Equatorial Africa

Excerpt

For nearly half a century the territories of Moyen-Congo (Middle Congo), Gabon, Oubangui-Chari, and Tchad constituted the administrative federation of French Equatorial Africa. Because of the cumbersomeness of the official title, the federation was commonly referred to by its initials, AEF (Afrique Equatoriale Franéaise), and for convenience we shall use this abbreviation in the following pages.

Among the changes initiated by the loi-cadre--the "basic law"--of 1956 was that of referring to AEF somewhat vaguely as a Group of Territories, a term that took into account the unpopularity of the federation concept, but that designation survived for only a few months. By early 1959, the sweeping reforms in the structure of Overseas France which were wrought by General de Gaulle led to the disappearance of the Group as well as of AEF as governmental entities. Meanwhile, Moyen-Congo had become the Republic of the Congo, and Oubangui-Chari became the Republic of Central Africa; Gabon and Tchad were similarly transformed into republics but retained their old names.

Because the aim of this book is to provide a broad background, it is devoted in large part to the period in which French Equatorial Africa and its four territories existed as such; hence we have used the old names except in sections that concern the most recent political metamorphoses. As the book goes to press, no single name denoting the geographical group of the former AEF has yet been devised. Since the four new republics that have risen phoenixlike from the ashes of the old federation have entered into agreements that reestablish a few of their economic and financial ties, and since all are members of the new Community--the inheritor of the Fourth French Republic and its Overseas Territories--the title of this study attempts to reflect the old as well as the new order.

Our book French West Africa (published in 1958) deals, in a number of fields, with developments common to both federations; this volume does not repeat such data. The general pattern followed is that of French West Africa, but because of political developments in AEF since 1957, a fuller treatment has been given to the individual territories, which have now become autonomous republics. At the same time, the story of the former federation has been told in considerable detail because of our conviction that the evolution of the area can be fully understood only in the light of its past.

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