anm document

"Rapports Politiques du Cercle de Mopti"
in ANM 1 E 55 fonds anciens

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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NOTE: This dossier contains monthly political reports for the Cercle de Nopti for 1894, 1895, 1903-1907, and 1910-1920. After 1903, each monthly report contains a section devoted to the following topics: questions en cours (old business), taxes, esprit des populations indigènes (attitude of Africans towards the French), questions Muslims (relations with Muslim leaders), schools and justice indigène (criminal and other judicial matters involving Africans). By 1904, all of the report consistently refer to the cooperation and loyalty of the people living around Mopti.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (September 1905)

The Cercle received 5,407 francs in taxes, of which 4,007 were in cash.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (May, 1903)

The Bobos in Fakala (Bandiagara region east of Mopti) resisted tax collection by the gardes de cercle.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (October 1907)

The Peul of Koentza selected Pati Ba to be their new chief, subject to French approval. Tax collection started in May. There were no Christian schools in Mopti as of this date.


Rapport de la Politique Générale suivie par le Cercle pendant l'Année 1910"

This is a typewritten, 4-page report. It mentions that the local European civilians were combative and resentful of the French administration.


Administrateur du Cercle de Mopti to Lt. Governor Haut-Sénégal-Niger,
letter n°399 (June 28, 1911)

"Mopti, d'abord choisi comme point de transit, est devenue un centre commercial, grÉce a sa situation géographique au confluent du Bani et du Niger. Il n'avait autrefois aucune importance politique ni commercial parce que l'éspace manquait aux habitants." (Mopti was chosen by the French for their adminsitrative center based on its location at the junction of the Bani and Niger Rivers. However, because of the absence of high ground on which to build, it never had any commercial or political importance before the French arrived.)

The dike to Komoguel was finished and work progressed slowly on the connection between Komoguel and Tačkiri. The biggest problem was the labor shortage, especially for the Service de Navigation . The Administrateur du Cercle de Mopti requested that the administrator in Djenné send African laborers to work on the flotille administrative . (On occasion, there were as many as 900 workers for the administration.)

People in the northern part of the Cercle de Djenné (on the left bank of the Niger River) should be included in the Cercle of Mopti. A river does not make a realistic boundary between cercles because people in the same river valley share a common economy, culture, etc.


President de la Chambre de Commerce à Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal et Niger (Bamako, May 20, 1911)

This letter refers to the telegram n°453 sent from Mopti on May 19, 1911 concerning grain shipments to feed the dike workers at Mopti. It specifically mentions "rationnaires Mopti - c'est-a-dire prisonniers et travailleurs digues." (In other words, the French administration in Mopti had the responsibility of feeding prisoners and Africans who worked on building the dikes,)


Administrateur du Cercle de Mopti à Lt. Governeur Haut- Sénégal-Niger, report n°384 (Mopti, June 21, 1911)

This is a long (5 single-spaced pages) analysis of the role of chefs du canton in the structure of the French administration. The author argued that an administration based on the village would not work because there were too many villages for French personnel to supervise and the village chiefs, reduced to serving as political leaders under the French, would be unable to withstand the opposition of local marabouts. He recommended the creation of seven chefs de canton based on the organization of cantons already in use for taxation.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (February 1911)

Dike construction in Mopti took place from February to the hivernage (rainy season) each year since 1905. The Peuls refused to perform any dike work and sent Rimaïbes instead to take their place.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (July 1911)

In response to an order to provide 50 tirailleurs , a "mobile commission" performed an experiment by selecting 150 young bachelors aged 18-30, since "il ne peut ątre question de trouver des volontaires." (There was no chance of finding African volunteers for military service.)


Rapport Politique Mensuel (September 1911)

The administrator reported that there was African resistance to labor recruitment. For example, Peuls announced to their workers that the worst servants would be given up to the French army, so their workers all began to perform as well as possible. As a result, African "esprit" declined when faced with conscription, but rebounded immediately among those who were spared.

M. Assomption was engaged in recruiting 36 new students for the school in Mopti.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (October 1911)

The French school in Mopti was closed by an epidemic of measles.


Administrateur du Cercle de Mopti à Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal et Niger , "Rapport Annuel 1915," n°22 (Mopti, January 7, 1916)

Military recruitment in the Cercle of Mopti started in October 1915.


Rapport Politique Trimestrielle (October-December 1911)

M. Matheiu and his wife were teachers at the French school in Mopti, and they decided to divorce. The divorce must have been messy, because M. Matheiu was eventually reassigned to Djenne, but his wife refused orders to leave by steamship on November 24 or December 9, 1911. The author thought that she probably stayed with M. Moutet over on Ilot Charleville (an island adjacent to Mopti), and added that she refused to answer any letters from Administrateur du Cercle de Mopti.


Médicin de l'assistance (Docteur Dousset), "Rapport sur les mesures à prendre
pour le traitement des maladies vénériennes
et plus particulièrement de la syphilis (28 October 1916)

In the past 10 years, Mopti's population grew from a few houses to a town of 2,000 residents, plus another 1,000 who lived in the streets or on pirogues anchored in the river, and many transients. One result was a promiscuous lifestyle that produced 193 cases of sexually transmitted diseases, including 99 cases of syphilis, in ten years. Based on the doctor's experience with unreported disease, he figured the true number of syphilis cases was probably nearer to 200, which was an extraordinary number in a town with a population of 2,000.


Rapport du tournée, n°88 (1916)

Commandant du Cercle de Mopti Tornezy visited the southern part of his jurisdiction where the only main village was Kouna. This was the first inspection tour in two years. The area was inhabited solely by Bambara, "dont l'esprit est beaucoup moins indépendent que les Bozos, Somonos et Peulhs" (who were less resistant to French authority).

The memory of the 1913 famine was still fresh in everyone's minds. Tornezy encouraged them to plant more than one crop so that they would not be so vulnerable to another bad harvest, especially "les produits qu'ils considèrent actuellement comme secondaires telles que l'arachide, le coton, l'indigo, le ricin, etc." However, the local Bambara demonstrated "une force d'inertie et une imprévoyance extraordinaire qui leur font craindre d'entreprendre une culture qui n'a pas été fait leurs ancestres." In other words, the French administrator recommended that the local farmers diversify their production, but African farmers did not want to try anything new.

Tornezy also mentioned that the campements in different villages were in poor condition. In one village, the campement was completely overgrown despite several days warning that he was coming. By way of disciplinary measures, instead of fines or prison terms, he took away the 10 muskets that had been allotted for local use.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (January 1916)

The Cercle de Mopti had already recruited 207 men even though their quota was only 200. However, many villages were depopulated because their young men fled to avoid military recruitment. As a result, it became extremely difficult to find porters within the Cercle. Before recruitment started, this was never a problem. There were always young men from Niafunké, Goundam or "de Messis de Cades" who were prepared to earn some money as porters, then invest it in salt to sell in the villages.

Mopti was also a transit point for recruits. About 1,100 recruits passed through Mopti and had to be housed and fed for as long as 15 days before the ship came to transport them down river. They stayed at a special military camp. Three men died at the dispensary during the past three months, and a fourth died in the camp due to negligence by Sergeant Dreaux, who was drunk at the time.

This rapport includes three passes ( laissez-passers ) for Africans who were dispatched to Bandiagara to search for deserters and to collect taxes from people who had moved to Bandiagara without proper authorization.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (February 1916)

Deserters from military service in Mopti headed towards Bandiagara because it was larger, the French had fewer people to control it, and the head tax was only 2.50 francs instead of 3 francs.

There was a rebellion on February 17, 1916 by Mossi recruits who were part of a unit of 473 men led by Sgt. Dreaux, an African corporal, and four tirailleurs .

The people living around Sandogné complained that Tuareg herds encroached upon their pastures which were barely enough to support their own herds.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (March 1916)

This document refers to the problem of obtaining sufficient rations for all the military recruits in Mopti. European merchants Bailly and Chichignond responded to administration requests by raising grain prices. (See the Rapport Commreciale du Cercle de Mopti (1st quarter, 1916).


Rapport Politique Mensuel (April 1916)

African military deserters from Mopti generally went to the area of Goundaka in Bandiagara to avoid the French authorities. Also, the Tuaregs who encroached on Peulh pastures in the Mopti region used passes issued by the Commandant du Cercle de Goundam .


Rapport Politique Mensuel (September, 1916)

Commandant du Cercle de Mopti Dufour left on August 7, 1916. The administrative quarter of Mopti was finally cleared of Africans, all of whom were moved to Komoguel. In order to get one blacksmith and his family to move, the Commandant du Cercle de Mopti requistioned African workers to move him and his household to Komoguel.

Although the African "esprit" was good, it could only be maintained by frequent visits and regular supervision, especially in Komoguel, where gambling and prostitution were rampant among the "Dioulas et piroquiers qui viennant de Segou, Djenne, Niafunké, Tombouctu." Marabouts were watched closely as well, but were not involved in anti-French propaganda.

The école de Mopti had 102 pupils. The école des Filles had been closed since the previous year.


Lt. Governeur Haut-Sénégal-Niger à Commandant du Cercle de Mopti, n°B (Bamako, October 1916)

This letter is a mild reprimand to the Commandant du Cercle de Mopti for his use of forced labor to move a blacksmith from the Quartier Administrative to Komoguel. It cites an order from the Governor General (AOF) that limited the use of forced labor to "l'entretien des voies de communication (routes, ponts, puits, etc) et des pistes télégraphiques" (maintenance of communication and transportation routes).


Rapport Politique Annuel (1916)

There was a good harvest in 1916. Three hundred African men were sucessfully recruited (instead of the 200 required), even though Peulhs were too puny to pass the physical examination. There was a great deal of friction between Peulhs and Tuaregs over the use of pastures for grazing.


Cercle de Mossi, Rapport Politique Mensuel (December 1916)

This must be in the Mopti folder by mistake. However, it reported that after the 1916 revolt in Mossi, the French disarmed the population and obtained 494 bows, 15,250 arrows and 21 muskets. The next round of military recruitment produced emotion but no resistance, since it was limited to cantons that had not yet provided soldiers. However, Mossi had already lost a lot of men in earlier years of recruitment, so the French recognized the need to avoid abusing their system of recruitment.


Rapport de Tournée n°216 (May 3, 1917)

The Vaccinateur du Service Zootechnique , Mama Diarra, accompanied the French administrator on his tour in order to vaccinate cattle.


Rapport Politique (3rd quarter, 1917)

Due to the growth of trade and the persence of the Service de Justice , Mopti needed three Adjoints des Affaires Indigènes . There had been three in Mopti until August 1916, but now there was only one.


Rapport Politique Mensuel (4th quarter, 1917)

The behavior of the African inhabitants in Komoguel remained a problem. The area was rife with smuggling, alcohol consumption and prostitution.


Rapport Politique (4th quarter, 1918)

Mopti required so many requistioned laborers that the cantons nearest Mopti were hard pressed to supply enough porters. In the 4th quarter, they were asked to provide 332 laptots, 18 piroques, 624 porters, 311 donkeys and 311 donkey drivers plus 40 laborers.

Africans rejoiced at the news of the armistice because they understood it to mean the end of military recruitment.

A new census was needed because recruitment, desertion and deaths due to flu had altered the population and its distribution.


Projet du Programme d'Action Politique, Administrative et Economique. Rapport Martin. (Mopti, January 16, 1918)

The tax rolls had last been updated in 1912 and since then, Mopti's wealth had grown, Peuls and Bozos had gone to other cercles, some villages were abandoned and others had doubled in size.

The French needed to reinfoce the authority of the chefs de village , which was extremely low following the military recruitment campaign. They should also enlarge the town of Mopti by connecting Komoguel to Taïkiri, and by extending the town north and northeast along the river. If done properly, this would reduce the amount of land speculation that went on.

They should also improve the port facilities and build a retaining wall along the river. Finally, they should use a system of price supports to encourage African production of certain cash crops in order to avoid the situation where a fall in European prices discouraged an innovative African farmer from trying a second time.


Adjoint des Affaires Indigènes Collomb à Commandant du Cercle de Mopti (March 11, 1919)

This was a report on conflict between Diawambés and their former Rimaïbé slaves that erupted after the war was over. It was resolved by separating the two groups and assigning them to separate villages.


Rapport Politique (3rd quarter, 1918)

Tirailleurs who returned from war in France were arrogant with their neighbors and that caused problems. For example, one dispute took place on September 6, 1919 between a tirailleru and workers for the Service de la Navigation who served on the steamboat Mage. After the river boat workers roughed him up, the veteran hit one from behind and nearly killed him. He was sentenced to only two months in prison because of the circumstances, and the report noted that "les laptots de la Naviagation embarqués sur les vapeurs et chalands sont détestés des indigènes avec lesquels ils se montrent d'une arrogance et d'une brutalité excessive."


Rapport de Tournées (3rd quarter, 1919)

The Commandant du Cercle de Mopti asked permission to recruit five Bozos on a regular basis for 1 franc/day in order to provide ferry service during the high water season. The existing system required a long delay while sending to the chief of the Bozos for men, who were then paid only 0.35 francws for a half-day, which seemed like too little compensation for their time to the Commandant du Cercle de Mopti .

In the same report, a section entitled "Rapport sur le fonctionnement de la justice" gave crime statistics for Mopti and Djenne.

Offense Mopti Djenne
theft 10 2
minor assaults ( coups et blessures ) 6 1
serious assaults violences et voies de faits 0 1
bigamy 3 0
total 19 4

A Syrian named Cheddad Haddad arrived in Mopti September 1919.

During this period, agricultural prices were:

Mopti, Djenne and Sofara were still important trade centers for products traded between Mossi, Mopti and Bandiagara cercles, with the cercles of Timbuktu and Niafunké.

The new Commandant du Cercle de Mopti , de Surmont, replaced Sicamois. Interpreter Oumar Sy was assigned to handle public works. The teacher Girault, Directeur de l'Ecole Regionale de Djenné , became ill and was sent to the hospital, then evacuated to Kayes.