French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa

By Ruth Ginio | Go to book overview

4.
Spreading the National Revolution in FWA
Propaganda, Education, and Social Organizations

The first part of this book addressed the important place held by the French empire, including FWA, in Vichy propaganda aimed at the French public. Propaganda in the colonies was no less important, and sometimes even more so. The defeat of the French colonial power by another European power and the emergence of two “Frances,” each fighting for the loyalty of colonial subjects, created an unprecedented and extremely hazardous situation for the French colonial administrations. The presence of Gaullists just across the border of French West African colonies, in Gambia and the Gold Coast, made the situation even more delicate.

Indeed, the Vichy regime wasted no time in dealing with the issue of propaganda in the colonies. The Ministry of the Colonies issued a circular on 31 August 1940 calling for the modification of propaganda and information services due to the new circumstances. It explained that whereas previously these services had provided information to France from the colonies, it was time for the information (read: propaganda) to emanate from France to its colonies.1 The aim of Vichy propaganda in FWA was twofold. First, it was meant to ensure the African population’s obeisance in spite of the upheavals in France. This was to be achieved by blocking alternative channels of information, mainly through censorship; suspending all newspapers in FWA, except for a few that were made administrative mouthpieces; and providing an official interpretation of news events. Second, and no less important, the regime wished to transmit to Africans the crux of Pétain’s National Revolution ideology, stressing this because the values it promoted, administrators believed, would help enhance Africans’ loyalty to France and eradicate the negative influence, as the regime saw it, of republican values.

-33-

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French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - French West Africa and Its Place in the Vichy Colonial Idea 1
  • 1 - Setting the Stage for Vichy 3
  • 2 - "A Source of Pride and Greatness" 11
  • Part II 23
  • 3 - Vichy Settles In- Administrative Changes and Continuity 25
  • 4 - Spreading the National Revolution in FWA 33
  • 5 - "Thinking Big" 59
  • Part III 87
  • 6 - Vichy and the "Products" of Assimilation 93
  • 7 - The Vichy Regime and the "Traditional" Elements of African Society 117
  • 8 - Vichy Colonialism and African Society 153
  • Part IV 159
  • 9 - Vichy Colonialism 161
  • 10 - Vichy''s Postwar Impact 173
  • Conclusions 183
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 231
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