anf document

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 et continuit‚ de l'action administrative"
in ANFOM Affaires Politics, Carton 634, Dossier 5

© 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Most of the census figures for the Soudan are way out of date.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 There is not enough time spent on inspections, the census figures are incomplete and out of date, and earlier data is inaccessible due to insufficient organization of the archives.


L'Inspecteur de 1ère classe des colonies Bourgeois-Gavardin en mission en AOF to Monsieur le Sécretaire d'°tat aux Colonies, Direction politique à Vichy, "Contact de l'administration avec la population i digène - continuité de l'action administrative - organisation territoriale - problème du personnel," n°15E (Dakar, August 28, 1941)

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.


L'Inspecteur de 1ère classe des colonies Bourgeois-Gavardin en mission en AOF to Monsieur le Sécretaire d'°tat aux Colonies, Direction politique à Vichy, "Quelques questions économiques au Soudan" (Koulouba, March 1941)

This folder includes the following three memos.

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"

Product 1939 1940
Weight (tons) Value (francs) Weight (tons) Value (francs)
Cow skins 346,116.00 1,690,676.00 418,858.00 1,322,007.00
Sheep skins 2,341.00 7,023.00 1,051.00 3,153.00
Goat skins 198,418.00 1,389,948.00 164,483.00 1,088,522.00
Wool 379,778.00 1,312,291.00 185,999.00 1,132,297.50
Wax 69,732.00 559,061.00 25,609.00 230,481.00
Peanuts - - 28,521.00 53,112.60
Shelled peanuts 38,950,049.00 30,738,785.00 28,761,322.00 28,761,322.00
Gum (hard) 1,036,740.00 2,847,426.00 1,017,923.00 3,053,709.00
Gum (brittle) 1,768,618.00 1,987,750.00 410,331.00 497,138.40
Karité nuts 1,072,158.00 132,300.00 2,982,084.00 2,149,910.20
Karité butter 105,834.00 358,895.00 1,409,414.00 1,809,049.00
Cleaned cotton 106,554.00 199,189.00 - -
Kapok 5% 555,298.00 964,061.00 501575.00 1318822.50
Other kapok - - - -
Sisal (tax exempt) 1,029,085.00 2,435,789.00 140,795.00 255,773.00
Subtotal 45,620,721.00 44,623,194.00 36,047,965.00 41,675,297.20
Gold (grams) 610,448.00 18,268,160.00 436,321.70 14,548,788.20
Grand total - 62,891,354.00 - 56,224,085.40