Two years after independence, the Ivory Coast is a leader in the array of new African republics that find comfort and material advantage in retaining close ties with their former rulers. In the general drive for independence that swept West Africa after World War II, Ivory Coast leaders gave prosperity first place as a national goal and refrained from any measures that would impede its early attainment. When political sovereignty was gained, they frankly expressed continuing dependence on French aid and guidance and shaped their policies accordingly. Under the undisputed leadership of Félix Houphouët- Boigny, former deputy and cabinet minister in the French Government and one of the most respected political figures in sub-Saharan Africa, the Ivory Coast has been able to follow its chosen course with considerable immediate advantage to itself, in an atmosphere of domestic stability. The authors believe that the following study will reveal interesting contrasts between the Ivory Coast and some of its neighbors and will exemplify and help better to understand what can be described as the conservative pole in the changing community of independent Africa.
Although the French have written fairly extensively about the Ivory Coast, most of their work is of limited scope, and many aspects of the country's life have never been adequately investigated. Statistics are fragmentary and sometimes unreliable and no accurate countrywide census has ever been taken. American scholars and observers are only just beginning to write about the country. Many of the better sources deal with French West Africa as a whole, and too frequently, for the purposes of the authors' study, they are very general and lack specific local information. The authors know of no really comprehensive examination of the Ivory Coast as an entity that has ever been published. Extensive use has been made of newspapers, other periodicals, and the rather limited number of official and semiofficial Ivory Coast studies and reports that are now being published in Abidjan, Dakar and Paris. Although main reliance has been on secondary sources, a number of consultants have thrown light on particular phases of the study and have given the authors the benefit of impressions and information gleaned recently at first hand.