Rapport fait par M.
Bourgois-Gavardon, Inspecteur de 1ère classe des colonies,
pour M. le Gouverneur Rapenne, Gouverneur du Soudan, à
Koulouba le 10 Avril 1941, haut fonctionnaire, "Contacts de
l'Administration avec la population indigène - documentation
continuit‚ de l'action administrative"
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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Most of the census figures for the Soudan are way out of date. In Ségou, the figures are less than five years old, but in Macina, the newest was made in 1936 and the oldest goes back to 1931. Goundam appears to be the worst, with no figures more recent than 1925. In the Cercle de Tombouctou, of the ten nomad tribes, one is being counted at the moment, four were done in 1936, four were done in 1931 and one was done in 1930. In Gao, the administrator obtained no precise information, but the census figures seem to be pretty old. He questions the value of census figures collected in a fairly haphazard way. The forms were not always completely filled out. They were collected in different ways in different cercles. He supposes that the only real interest is in the number of taxable bodies.
The author gives an example of an intelligent use of census figures. M. Castenave, the administrator at Goundam, observed an unusually high proportion of bachelors. When he investigated, he discovered that the dot (bride price) was too high and arranged with local chiefs that it be lowered.
The author concluded that the French administration has gradually lost contact with Africans. There is not enough time spent on inspections, the census figures are incomplete and out of date, and earlier data is inaccessible due to insufficient organization of the archives.
The automobile has changed the way inspection tours take place. Generally, they last for only one day and require chiefs to meet at places along the road; ie. far away from where they live. As a result, there is less contact with the villages. no more long stays in the countryside, no more visits to plantations, and no more long conversations into the evenings. There is less contact with the masses and more use of official intermediairies.
Add to this the reduction in personnel and the effects of the war. Even if certain administrators have made a large number of inspection tours, they are likely to have been made in a hurry and thus produced little significant contact or understanding. There is also contact between French officials and Africans through the tribunal ("native" justice system), but this gives an imperfect picture of the African population. One can not rely on contacts made as a result of Africans who come looking for the commandant. Too often, they are evolué - nobles or merchants who are not typical of the bulk of the population.
The author also mentions the success of "propagande anglo-Gaulliste" in the region.
This folder includes the following three memos.
The Sociétés de Prévoyance created 30 workshops for the fabrication of sisal bags. In Novvember 1940, they produced 295 bags. In December, they produced 2,595. In January 1940, they produced 7,806 bags and in February, they produced 22,350 bags. There is a conflict between the need for sisal in France (pour les besoins de la moisson) and the need for sisal to produce these bags. Administrateur Gauthier added a comment that the administration is trying to find other fibers to replace sisal. They are also using the worst quality sisal.
On November 30, 1940, the Haut-Commissaire, Gouverneur-Général de l'AOF issued orders to establish regular trans-Saharan transport to connect the French colonies in north and west Africa, and to eestablish a supply base at Gao. Much truck capacity was wasted by the practice of ferrying soldiers south in trucks which returned empty from Côte d'Ivoire.
The Compagnie Trans-Saharienne has only about 30 tons of peanut oil (used as fuel) and a small quantity of karité butter on hand. Their annual fuel needs (peanut oil) are estimated at 500 tons for the trans-Saharan route. The decision was made to convert a cotton press at Tamani (near Ségou), to the production of cotton oil. The oil press operated by Briquetterie de Bamako furnishes enough oil to supply the needs of the Soudan for oil and soap. Recently, it broke down and could not be replaced, even though the company tried to but a press from SITEC in Cote d'Ivoire.
There was an extremely poor trade in peanuts this year. The colony exported 16,595 tons of peanuts in shells, and 1,961 tons of shelled peanuts. At the same time in previous years, some 50,000 tons had already been brought to market and roughly 18,000 of that was already shipped to Dakar. The reasons for the poor trade include the fact that tax bills were calculated late, so Africans felt little pressure to obtain cash quickly. There are also transport problems. (Governor Rapenne added a note that said there was a shortage of transportation which led to a reduction in the number of places where Africans could sell their peanuts.) In addition, merchants still have stocks on hand from the previous year, so they are in no hurry to buy more peanuts.
Attached to these three notes is a letter and charts from Le Secrétaire Général du Soudan Fran‡ais Chargé de l'Expédition des Affaires Courantes et Urgentes to Monsieur l'Inspecteur des Colonies Bourgeois-Gavardin, Inspection des Colonies, showing statistics for exports in 1939 and 1940 by type.
The table is entitled "Tableau Comparatif en Poids et en Valeur des Principaux Produits du Soudan Français exportes au cours des annees 1939-1940 d'apres les declarations de la taxe sur le chiffre d'affaires"
|Weight (tons)||Value (francs)||Weight (tons)||Value (francs)|
|Sisal (tax exempt)||1,029,085.00||2,435,789.00||140,795.00||255,773.00|