anm document

"Ètude sur l'organisation du Soudan" (1895),
in ANM 1 D 3, fond anciens.

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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This is a report describing the colony of French Soudan just after the French created a civilian government to administer their newly-conquered territory. The report is divided into sections devoted to different regions, such as "Pays entre la Baoulé et les Badingko" (north of Kita). The report is very detailed, but it was in terrible condition when I used it in March 1992. Since I had already found much of the information elsewhere, I took only limited notes.


The second part, "Notice d'ensemble sur la Soudan," describes several towns in the French Soudan.

(p1) The description of the Senegal River mentions Bafoulabé as an "importante localité indigène" with a French administrative post and a Chef du Cercle. It was also the end of the railroad line, and the location of a ferry that crossed the Bafing River and connected to the Decauville (narrow gauge railroad) which ran as far as Dioubeba. The railroad bridge at Mahina was open (other sources indicate that the bridge opened in June 1896). Bafoulabe is an important commercial center with one or two European "maisons de commerce." Most of the local people are Khassonke.

(p2) The town of Médine is the most important commercial center in Soudan. The French post was created by Louis Faidherbe in September 1855 at a time when Kayes was still a tiny village. Mdeiné was a market for gum arabic and salt. By the time this report was written, Kayes was growing rapidly, but Maures et Diolas still preferred to trade with Djolof (Africans from the Senegalese coast) and Europeans at Médine.

(p3) Kayes is the fastest growing town in the Soudan. Originally, it was a slave village under the control of King Sambala of Médine. The report includes a long quotation from Gallieni's 1886 report which describes the miserable conditions in Kayes.

(p4) Since 1886, many new buildings were built in Kayes.


The third part, "le Niger," describes the history of the French conquest of the Middle Niger Valley.

(pp1-3) There are references to the Nile River and the Danube in a section called "Histoire de la découverte du Niger."

(p2) In 1887, Lt. Caron reached Kabara near Timbuktu by boat.

(p3) In 1879, the Franco-Anglais mission located the source of the Niger River at Mont Dembi-Coulou.

(pp14-15) Bamako is "un gros village. "Before the French occupation, Bamako was a large market where traders from the south brought cola and slaves to exchange for desert salt brought by Maure traders. It was an independent city (not part of the empires of either Samory Touré or Ahmadu Tall) allied with the "villages du Beledougou, de Fadougou et de Messekele."

The French fort increased the importance of Bamako. In 1896, the Treasury was transferred from Kayes to Kati (just north of Bamako).