Rapports Économiques du Cercle de Koulikoro
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
|Go to Table of Contents||Read Disclaimer|
The Niger River rose high enough to permit barges and some tugs to cross the Sotuba rapids. The Société de Bamako already owned a "magnifique remorquer semi- diesel" and Société des Messageries Africaines was about to acquire a river steamer from Claparéde de Argenteuil with all of the latest technical improvements.
The report included the following prices:
|Average horse||250-600 francs|
|Superior horse||600-1,000 francs|
The rainfall, which was heavy, peaked in September. The harvest was excellent. The Société de Bamako, Société des Messageries Africaines, Société Niger-Français and Chez Haddad all had warehouses flooded, but goods were moved out before they could be damaged. On the other hand, the buildings, generally banco, suffered extensive damage. In addition, a new African village was built on the bluff out of reach of the flood waters.
The main health problem was malaria. The administration distributed quinine, but did not have a supply of oil with which to coat puddles.
A road was constructed from the bluffs down to the train station at Koulikoro, giving year-round access to Bamako and Banamba. Otherwise, the route from Bamako to Koulikoro tended to flood. The road from Koulikoro to Banamba was not yet a real road, just a track.
Denmoyer, the Resident de Koulikoro, wrote that his men were still working on the road from Koulikoro to Banamba. They repaired the bridge over the Délani at Doumba, washed out in the previous hivernage.
The world market for karité appeared to be saturated and European merchants were not buying any more. Karité exports were brought to the river at Nyamina and Koulikoro, and to the railroad at Koulikoro.
The following commercial firms operated in Koulikoro: Esper Karam, S.H.O., Badaoui, Société des Entreprises Africaines, Peyrissac, Magid Harbrouck, Vidal, Papa N'Diaye, Macina-Niger, Maurel et Prom, Société Commerciale, and Watchi.
Commerce was so good that the roads couldn't handle all of the truck traffic in town. On the other hand, Nyamina had a problem with river erosion that reduced its area every year. Nevertheless, there were a dozen Syrian merchants who operated there and merchants from Koulikoro visited regularly.
Gouni, across the river from Koulikoro, became an important market for goods from the area between the Niger River and the Ségou-Bamako road ("C'est un lieu de transit").
There were only two river transport companies in operation - Société des Messageries Africaines and Société de Bamako. The Société des Messageries Africaines bought 2 new tugs and five 60-ton barges. The Société de Bamako bought a new 80- hp tug, twelve 20-ton barges and five 85-ton barges.
1929 was the first year that the Tienfala-Koulikoro road was not cut by river flooding. However, it received such heavy use that maintainance couldn't keep up with deterioration.
Automobiles, telephones and the telegraph modernized commerce by making it possible to respond rapidly to price and demand changes. Roads needed improvements and trucks were essential to that kind of work. (NOTE: railroads were not mentioned as part of the modernization of commerce. As far as this administrator was concerned, commerce had entered a new, post-railroad phase.)
The government also began a program to distribute plows (charrues) in 1929. Six were passed out in the third quarter of the year.
Peanut shipments were backed up in Koulikoro for lack of enough railcars to carry them to the coast.
The commercial outlook was "peu brilliant en général" (not very good). European merchants bought little, so Africans had no cash with which to buy things from European merchants. Outlying comptoirs were liquidated and the Europeans refused to buy produce anywhere but in the major centers in order to reduce the cost of transport. The Bamako road was finally finished.
The report included the following prices:
|Maïs (maize)||520 francs/ton|
The cotton gin belonging to Macina-Niger did no business at all in 1930. It processed 132 tons of cotton in 1929.
The two river navigation companies (Société des Messageries Africaines and Société de Bamako) complained of a lack of freight. Manioc was distributed in the Cercle de Koulikoro to prevent famine. [See Rapports Économiques (July and September 1930).]
There was little European trade because Africans, discouraged by low prices in 1930, produced little for export. Without cash crop earnings, they had no cash with which to purchase European goods. The river navigation companies even reduced their rates in order to attract customers.
The report included the following prices for the period from July to September 1931:
|Peanuts in shells||100-300 francs/ton|
|Shelled peanuts||550 francs/ton|
|Karité nuts||50 francs/ton|
Peanut prices rose to 400-800 francs/ton during 1932.
The report gives the following prices for the first quarter of 1932:
There are no economic reports for 1934.
This report refers to the concession Racine Mademba, which specialized in fruit trees and truck gardening. It possessed four solid buildings (en dure), seven cows, two horses, ten wells, two plows, two hoes, one watering can (versoir), four pumps, plus wheelbarrows and barrels. (NOTE: Racine Mademba was the son of Mademba Sy, who was chosen by the French to rule Macina after the conquest.)
The Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger moved a total of 26,000 tons of goods through Koulikoro in 1935. The Société de Bamako and Société des Messageries Africaines carried 22,000 tons of river freight, and the Service de la Navigation carried 50 tons for the administration. An additional 2,352 tons of freight came from CFAO, the Maison Vidal (518 tons) and the Cie. Cotonnière operations in Cercle de Koulikoro (80 tons). Altogether, 23,000 tons of freight were handled by the port of Koulikoro. Somonos carried more freight in pirogues up to six tons, but the total was unknown to the French. Innumerable private trucks operated between Koulikoro and Bamako, and even on to Banamba, but the tonnage they carried was also unknown. Pack animals operated from Koulikoro to Banamba and Nara. The price of transport from Koulikoro to Banamba was 70-90 francs/ton, depending on the season.
In general, commerce increased continuously from 1932 to 1935. The biggest problem they faced was locusts.
There are no economic reports for 1936 to 1940.
There were isolated cases of African insubordination. At Diédié, two chefs de quartiers refused to turn over their tax receipts to the chef de canton and insisted on bringing it directly to Koulikoro. Another chef de village refused to provide forced laborers.
Peanut prices rose from 350 to 600 francs/ton in Bamako, reached 650 francs/ton in Nyamina and 500 francs/ton in Banamba. The administration delayed tax collection in order to allow Africans to withhold their crops from the market until prices rose.
At Fignan opposite Dinan (on the Niger River right bank southwest of Keninkou), there was a Decauville (narrow gauge railroad) that belonged to the STIN, as well as a supply of rails and parts. The chef de subdivision asked that this material be placed at his disposal in order to improve access to the Niger River at Gouni, on the Niger River bank opposite of Koulikoro.
At Keninkou, the chef de subdivision made a speech to African notables. He told them that the France was commanded "par un Grand Chef `le Marechal.' Il nous aime, veut notre bien, nous devons donc lui obéir. Son meilleur auxiliaire est `la Légion.'" ("France was commanded by a great chief, `the marshall.' He loves us, wants the best for us, and we should obey him. His best helper is `the Legion.'") The chef de subdivision then gave a photo of Petain to the chef de canton and told him to post it in his hut.
On an inspection trip downriver to Tougouni, then north to Kerouané and back to Koulikoro, all travel was by pirogue, horse, bicycle and "gazogene." The chef de subdivision delivered a letter to the wife of Bala Traoré who was a POW in Europe.
This inspection tour went to Fignan by pirogue, then to Sirakola and back to Koulikoro by bicycle.
The chef de subdivision de Koulikoro used a bicycle for his inspection tour. The administration's gazogene truck (used by the Ingénie militaire) was in the shop, and in the case of an emergency, they had to borrow a vehicle from the Syro-Lebanese merchants.