The Métis of Senegal: Urban Life and Politics in French West Africa

By Hilary Jones | Go to book overview

Conclusion

The métis strongly claimed the same rights for Senegal as for the French
people from the metropolis in the intellectual, moral, and political fields. In
the General Council of Senegal, the métis families—Descemet, Guillabert,
Carpot, Devès, and others—expressed themselves according to the
framework of that time, i.e., a French one in favor of assimilation.
This claim was not appreciated by the colonial administration.

—Christian Valantin, vice president, Senegal National Assembly

Justin Devès died on 22 June 1916. Two months later, a delegation representing all of the town’s neighborhoods (Nord, Sud, Guet Ndar, Ndar-Toute, and Sor) presented a proposal to Saint Louis’s municipal council that called for establishing a monument to honor him. They called it “an act of recognition that we devote to the memory of our deceased mayor.” Devès’s deputy mayor, Pierre Chimère, concluded that no matter what one thought of Devès, “he was a mayor who did a lot of good for the indigènes.” The municipal assembly agreed that the front of the monument should read, “The indigène acknowledges.” The council voted unanimously to erect a statue and create a public square for Devès. The only other public squares in the town included one at the governor’s palace in honor of Faidherbe and another facing the train station that honored the doctors who died caring for the ill during the yellow fever epidemic of 1878. The council meeting adjourned with the new mayor agreeing to present the idea to the administration and to begin collecting donations.1

Today, no public square or monument dedicated to Justin Devès exists in Saint Louis. A street sign in Guet Ndar bears his name as a reminder of

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