anm document

Rapports Commerciales du Cercle de Djenné
(1893-1904)
in ANM 1 Q 50 fonds anciens

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Gautheron, Rapport Commerciale (Djenné, March 1, 1893)

This 3-page report says that local commerce was picking up again following the conquest of the region by French forces under Colonel Archinard. In the market, merchants sold milk, eggs, sheep, millet, pistachio nuts, fish, rice, salt, pepper, somibara (a spice), n'gani (a fruit eaten with kola), cotton, cotton cloth, glass beads, and bracelets made from Hombouri marble.

The main suppliers of cloth were English firms: William Graham and Company, M. Dodson and S&V Nathan? (illegible), all of Manchester. There was also some Spanish cloth, but no French cloth. Moorish eykas (articles of clothing) arrived in Djenné via Timbuktu, as did all European goods. Timbuktu also shipped salt from Taoudenni, sugar, tobacco (from Taout, no doubt), glass beads, burnooses, "cordons guerriers, ceintures de divers couleurs," Moorish slippers and Arab boots, fezs and needles. In return, Djenné shipped gold, millet, rice, baobab flour, honey, karité, kolas, cotton cloth (bandes de cotton) and some sort of processed food made from onions (conserves d'oignon).

Before Amadou captured Macina, Mediné supplied Djenné with imported cloth (guinée cloth, toile des Vosges), glass beads, etc. Gautheron hoped that this trade could be restored now that the war had come to an end with a French victory (the Pax Fran‡ais).

A note by Colonel Archinard at the end of Gautheron's report says that Timbuktu merchants reported they obtained European goods in Morocco and Ghadames by trading gold, ivory, ostrich plumes, skins, gomme and slaves.


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (1st quarter, 1903)

The main trade items in Djenné are salt from Timbuktu and kola from Bobo Dioulasso. No Europeans brought merchandise to Djenné, but one African trader reached Tongué (Tongay) from Bamako with 2,000 francs worth of goods. Djenné's exports included 5-6 kilograms of egret plumes.

NOTE: This report mentions the 1902 Rapports Commerciales du Cercle de Djenné, which are not in the Archives Nationales du Mali . Where are they?


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (2nd quarter, 1903)

Trade was roughly the same as it was in first quarter of the year (1st quarter). Two Europeans arrived with about 15,000 francs of goods. There was a shortage of cowries elsewhere in the colony, but Djenné must have had enough because the exchange rate was 1,200/franc, compared to 800/franc in Nyamina.


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (3rd quarter, 1903)

Commerce dropped off a bit during the third quarter of the year, although the French only had statistics for Djenné. The San market seemed to have grown recently, and people from San sent their own canoes directly to Timbuktu rather than via Djenné.


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (4th quarter, 1903)

Djenné's trade revived in the fourth quarter as exports increased. Meanwhile, imports remained constant at 20,000 francs, of which 15,500 francs were in salt barres. Exports to Timbuktu were increased due to the resumption of Timbuktu-Touat caravans, according to rumors.


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (1st quarter, 1904)

OVerall, the amount of general commerce was up between Djenné, Timbuktu and Bobo Dioulasso, but European trade activity was nearly zero. There was only a single European merchant in Djenné and he received no trade goods. Djenné merchants did not go as far as Bamako, Kita or Kayes. As a result, all trade in Djenné was in local goods.


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (2nd quarter, 1904)

Of a total of 34,763 francs worth of imports to Djenné, European goods (cloth) made up only 340 francs. M. Simon was the only European merchant in operation there.

830 salt barres sold in Djenné for at least 30 francs each. Djenné remained an important market and distribution center for salt throughout the southern region.


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (3rd quarter, 1904)

Salt was still the most important trade item, but African merchants began to take rice to Koulikoro, Nyamina and Segou. European merchants imported higher quality cloth and sold it easily. Dioulas took that cloth and traded it as far as Sofara, Bandiagara and Kenekou (Mopti)


Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Djenné (4th quarter, 1904)

Two new European traders arrived in Djenné, Mssrs. Danel and Pyot. Their main interest was egret plumes. The Commandant du Cercle de Djenné predicted that rice trad from Djenné would increase if the railroad reduced its tariffs enough to move commerce away from the overland route through the Sahel.

The telegraph reached Djenné in late 1904. Africans already used it, and the author hoped that Europeans would be attracted to Djenné because of the improved communications. Currently, smaller European merchants prefered to set up their comptoirs in San or Mopti.

The author assumed an exchange rate of 1000/franc and calculated prices for these goods in cowries. All prices are the cost in francs per ton of goods in the Djenné and Timbuktu markets.

Item Djenné Timbuktu
red millet (mil rouge) 70 200
white millet (mil blanc) 80 200
shelled rice (decort.) 160 600
rice 60 300
peanuts 100 200
salt (barre in Bobo Dioulasso) 35 55.60