THE BLACK FACT: The French Policy of Assimilation & its Effects on French West Africa

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Articles, The Black Fact
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by Theophilus Nana Twisah

The major policy of French colonial administration in West Africa until 1946 took on the wheels of “Assimilation”.
The underlying policy was to enable France implant French culture and civilisation on the people with the intention of suffocating the culture and fundamentalities of Afrikans. The policy of Assimilation can be strategically divided into three folds_ranging; political, economic and socio-cultural.

Political Assimilation

The political administration of assimilation which was controlled from a centralised federation as the Federation of French West Africa had it headquarters at Dakar, Senegal. The laws for the administration, that is, obnoxious were deliberately made in France under the very watchful eyes of the legislative body in France.

There were the colonial minister, the governor-general, lieutenant governors, the commandant du cercle, chef du subdivision and the puppets_African chiefs heading cantons.

With this structure well entrenched and codified in place, the French government was ever more pig-headed to dance to the tune of “loot-all-natural-re­sources” given to Afrikans by nature and make them wallow in the abyss of poverty and agonies. The political assimilation however, enfeebled the political authority, military, rulership and divine authority of the chiefs who were made to become the elements of puppetism and stoogism which occurred in French West Africa.

Economic Assimilation

French policy of Assimilation took a different trend in the economic sphere. In the Economic sphere, the colony was made to produce raw materials particularly to feed French industries. Based on this, French interest was the premium. The natural resources were exploited to enable France compete favourable in the league of industrial competition taking place in Europe.

French Colonial Pact, made it possible for France to dictate the economic and financial decisions of the colonies to favour or serve the interest of France and her citizens at the expense of the colonies. The colonial pact also forbade French colonies to engage in any foreign trade with the exception of France. What this then meant was that, France became the ‘god’ of trade for their colonies which even till date works like a generational ‘curse’. It is however clear from the principle that, France did not only lord herself over the colonies but to the entrenchment of a “one-evil-route-trad­e” all in the name of serving the parochial selfish whims and caprice of France. France like any other European colonisers feared for losing their foul gain as a result of the lack of or inadequate resources they had.

Cultural and Social Assimilation

Another policy of Assimilation which is equally as dreadful is that of the socio-cultural assimilation. The cultural assimilation was solely meant to implant French culture on the local people thus distorting the cultural heritage of the local people. French civilisation meant that, everything Afrika was barbaric and ungodly, and that it beholds on the local people to accept and uphold their claim of their culture being divinely-ordained.

The social assimilation took on the harshest of all trend, thus dehumanising the Africa into the notorious system of indigenat and prestation. The worrying thing was that, the subjects under the social ordinances or obnoxious laws were subjected to forced labour without any monetary payment. The subjects did all the difficult works especially those conscripted into the army to work as auxiliaries. They were popularly known as deuxieme contigent, who did all the drugeful work. In fact, they were regarded as “Slaves” in their own homelands.

The General Effects

The many incurable problems confronting French West African countries today can all be stemmed from this system. The situation where France has over-lord herself over the French West African countries all are as a result of the French policy of Assimilation.

Even in 1958, when Sekou Toure and his Guinea voted against the French community, all the colonial ‘benefits’ Guinea had although it was generated from her own resources were destroyed with impunity. Charles de Gaule must have being very diabolic_wise to enable France envisage her vision which they (France) are enjoying today.

Leaders who decide not to walk the talk of France are quickly engulfed in the web of pustch or coup de tat machinated by France.

Today, about fourteen (14) West African countries after serveral years, say 50 years of independence from France still pay colonial ‘benefits’ to France. These countries are made to pay annual financial contributions over billions of Dollars to France simply because they are deemed by France to have benefited from them as a result of France colonising them.

In terms of trade, major trading partner of all French West African countries is France and no one else. The failure to trade first with France means the worst is yet to happen.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

  1. LegendaryCJN says:

    The Assimilation system of colonialism is to the French what Divide and Rule is to the English. And the effects are the same both to Francophone and Anglophone countries. The same is a applicable to Lusophone countries: those countries colonized by the Portuguese.
    It’s a bad thing they did really.
    But, hopefully in years to come, Africans would be fred completely from the shackles of colonialism.
    Nice research work you did, I must say.

  2. This piece is well researched… I like the analysis, but must do some check myself to ascertain total viability.

  3. “Lugardism and Gaullism” are the two woes of Afrika today. The principles underlying these two ideologies are solely meant two stifle and cripple Afrika.

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