The colonial regime created a fundamental change in the social structures in which the peoples of the Ivory Coast live. Formerly, the essential framework of their lives was a tribal system, the effective scope of which might be only a village coincident with a lineage, as among some of the southwest forest peoples, or a hierarchical kingdom extending over a larger area, as among the Agni of Sanwi or the Dioula of Kong. These systems were not stable. There was much movement of peoples, infiltration, and conquest, which was constantly changing not only the status of individuals but the very structure of tribes. The northern area of. the Ivory Coast was undergoing a period of particular turmoil because of the campaigns of Samory Touré, at the time of French conquest. One major urban area, Kong, the center of a social system, was in fact totally destroyed as a consequence of these campaigns.
Nevertheless, it can be said that until the time of French colonial rule, the Africans of the Ivory Coast lived in societies which they took for granted and in which existing social structures were justified by their traditional character. The rewards and sanctions most important to most individuals were effected within these tribal societies. The rank the individual had was more or less hereditary, although some provisions for mobility existed. Of course, these societies differed in the degree to which ranks existed. Some, governed by old men, were essentially egalitarian except for the deference and authority given to elders. Others were highly, often rigidly, stratified with nobility, commoners, slaves and occupational castes.
French rule, however, created a new social structure, territorial in nature, which was superimposed upon the various tribal structures. The colonial system had its own rewards and sanctions, its own ranks, its own paths to mobility, its own style of life. Furthermore, the territorial structure, although weak at first in the degree to which the majority assumed its values and paid allegiance to its norms, was stronger in both the rewards and the sanctions it could offer, insofar as its ruler wished to offer them.
Situations of this kind, where two tiers of social structures exist in semicompetition with each other but one stronger than the other in sheer power, offer a classic problem of both uncertainty and conflict on the one hand and opportunity and maneuverability on the other to the individuals who find themselves within them. Such has been the