French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa

By Ruth Ginio | Go to book overview

PART III
Vichy Encounters with African Society

The Vichy regime invested real efforts in importing the National Revolution to its French colonies in Africa. Through propaganda and education it tried not only to maintain the loyalty of the colonial subjects but also to win their hearts. The ideology of the new regime in France was presented to Africans as one that better suited their needs, aspirations, and traditions than the one that preceded it. Nevertheless, the colonial administration was well aware that the new circumstances threatened the colonial order. It understood that counterpropaganda networks in the neighboring British colonies were also doing their utmost, sometimes successfully, to win the hearts of the Vichy-ruled colonial subjects. This dual concern, of holding on to the loyalty of Africans while preventing them from acting against the colonial order, dictated a policy that cautiously moved between the “carrot” and the “stick.”

Part III addresses encounters between the Vichy colonial regime and African society. But first a distinction must be made among the different groups or sectors within this vast and diversified society. Such categorization is never easy. The following chapters, therefore, focus on several groups within African society that may be divided into two sectors. For the sake of convenience these sectors will be termed the “modern” and the “traditional.” The “modern” sector includes African groups or communities that were created by the policy of assimilation, while the “traditional” sector contains those groups that the colonial regime saw as related to the African precolonial reality.

I make this distinction in spite of its potentially problematic implications and inaccuracy because this was how the colonial regime perceived African society. The advantage of using such artificial colonial divisions is that it helps us understand the inner logic of colonial policy toward the groups in each sector. The distinction between “modern” or assim-

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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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