Rapports Commerciales du Cercle de Djenné
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
|Go to Table of Contents||Read Disclaimer|
Simon and Danel brought in salt (sel de Fandiolo) that disrupted Djenné's trade with Timbuktu, because Timbuktu salt went unsold. As a result, trade in grains increased towards Nyamina, Segou and Koulikoro.
Due to the surplus of salt in the Djenné market, there was no trade with Timbuktu during the second quarter.
Djenné traded mostly with Bobo Dioulasso and Timbuktu, but had little trade towards San, Koulikoro, etc. There were 1,538 barres of Timbuktu salt imported and sold at 25 francs/barre, and kola sold for 50 francs/1000. However, more rice was shipped to Koulikoro (5,100f) than to Timbuktu (3,340f).
Dioulas traded north from Djenné to Timbuktu, then returned with salt to Baramanbougou (SW of Djenné, on the Bani River) where their salt was divided and shipped onwards to Bobo Dioulasso and Safani.
European merchants began to buy large quantities of rice in Macina at the markets in Mopti, Diafarabé, Tenenkou and Mira. This disrupted the cattle trade between Macina and San.
This is the first of the new Rapports Commerciale that used a form which was divided into sections: Mouvement du Commerce, Commerce Européen, Commerce Indigène, Industrie, Statistique et Circulation Monetaire.
In Djenné, Marcel Simon, Jules Danel and Xavier Pyot are the remaining Euuropean merchants. Danel bought rice for the Maison Maurer (a French trading company). Simon's cloth was inferior, so he did not earn enough in Djenné to buy rice there, but he did better in Diafarabé.
The price of salt was down to 18 francs/barre, so the Dioulas increasingly stayed away from Timbuktu in favor of the grain trade to Koulikoro, and the trade in animals to Ivory Coast.
Djenné was still an important center for the construction of pirogues.
Thanks to all of the rice purchases by Europeans, the amount of francs in circulation increased and were used to pay taxes to the French.
This report has the first use of the word "crisis" to describe the condition of the Djenné economy since the price of Timbuktu salt began to drop in 1905. Local salt was unable to compete with imported European salt. Only 917 barres arrived from Timbuktu during the second quarter.
European trade dropped slightly because Africans kept the francs they earned from the sale of grain and rice in order to pay their taxes, rather than spend it on European cloth.
Nearly 100 local masons left during the dry season to work for the French in Niafunké, Bandiagara, Mopti, San, Ouahigouya, Sanfara and even as far away as Fada N'Gourma, although the later earned nothing from their work. The main result was to double the price of labor in the Djenné area. The daily wage for a laborer rose from 400 to 800 cowries per day, equivalent to 0.32 to 0.64 francs/day (cowries = 1250/franc).
The French no longer accepted cowries for taxes, but they remained popular for small purchases between Africans.
European merchants bought 10 tons of wool, plus animal skins in addition to grain. A number of Africans began to sell directly in Koulikoro instead of to the European traders in Djenné.
Local blanket makers complained that they couldn't find enough wool to make their Kasas.
Regarding cowries, this report repeats a phrase that appears in all of the quarterly reports around this time: "Les indigènes continuent à apprecier la superiorité de notre monnaie sur les cauris, surtout quand il s'agit des paièments un peu importantes." (Rough translation: "The natives appreciate the superiority of French francs over cowries, especially for large payments.") Then the reports all go on to say that cowries remain the currency of choice for small purchases. This report also mentions the problem with 2-franc coins; no one seems to know how much they are worth.
After a slight recovery in third quarter of 1906, trade declined again in the 4th quarter. European merchants imported nothing because their shipments were already completed in the 3rd quarter. Their main activity was to buy wool and skins.
Several other markets appeared to be doing better than Djenné: Tongué, Baramanbougou and Matomo. The latter was new and growing rapidly.
During the first quarter of 1907, European merchants began traveling throughout the Cercle of Djenné to buy grain, wool, and skins directly from the producers.
There were large amounts of salt left over from the 1st quarter, and low river levels, so trade was greatly reduced. European merchants were mostly inactive since all of their trade was conducted by large ships that needed high river levels. They purchased some rice at 80 francs/ton.
A few African traders took rice, wool and skins to Koulikoro where they got a good (unspecified) price. However, most Africans preferred to sell their goods to European merchants in Djenné.
The local wool blanket and leather industry was in a crisis because of the purchase of their raw materials by European merchants. Cowrie imports were blocked, so cowries increased their value to 700/francs.
The Senegal River failed to rise, so European merchants were unable to obtain new merchandise for sale. As a result, they did not have enough cowries on hand to make rice purchases, and Africans didn't want francs, since it wasn't tax time. Cowries trade at 880/francs.
The following European merchants operated within the Cercle of Djenné: Simon (in Diafarabé), Société Commerciale (in Tenenkou, Mouniah and Diafarabé), Pyot (in Djenné, Kanakourou), Danel (in Djenné), Peyrissac (in Diafarabé), and Devers (in Mouniah, Sabaré, Peniga?)
During the fourth quarter, it became nearly impossible to find Kasas (wool blankets) in the market. There were some inferior quality blankets, but prices had nearly doubled from 2 francs in 1906 to 3.75 francs.
The exchange rate for cowries fell to 1600/franc at tax time, but rose to 800/franc during the rest of the year.
Trade dropped off sharply in the second quarter. The price of salt from Timbuktu was way down. The administrator knew that Dioulas took large quantities of rice to Koulikoro, but it was impossible to regulate that trade from Djenné. Instead, regulation of the trade took place in Segou and Koulikoro.
Cola prices dropped to 60 francs per 1,000 and salt prices to 18 francs per barre. Cattle exports were way down compared to the third quarter of 1908 (1,615 cows compared to 3000). Extra high river levels made it impractical to move the herds and also damaged the rice crop. The exchange rate for cowries was 1450/franc.
This report mentions the patente de Dioula which was a permit issued by the French to traders. The permit cost 15 francs for each market where a merchant traded, and provided the source of most of the statistics in these reports.
African commerce declined and African industry declined even further.
The total value of trade dropped slightly from the fourth quarter of 1909 (by 1/13th). The main trade item was Macina wool (valued at 120,000 francs out of a total trade worth 150,000 francs). M. Pyot, the only European merchant in Djenné, sent his assistant M. Ducret to Timbuktu with 8,000 francs of goods. The Société Commerciale comptoir was operated by a European, while the comptoirs of Simon, Danel and Deves & Chaumet were run by Africans.
There were not enough French personnel to accurately measure the amount of African commerce, but it appeared to be slowly recovering. Due to the crash of the Bamako rice market, sales were down and little money circulated in Djenné. As a result, barely 100,000 francs entered the Cercle, which was not enough to cover an anticipated tax burden of 200,000 francs.
One year earlier, transit trade through Djenné made up three quarters of the total value of trade conducted there. This year, it's less than one fifteenth of the total value. (Note: the administrator chose to ignore statistics provided by African market precepteurs because they lied and exagerated.) This was caused by the terrible rice crop in 1909, and widespread underreporting of trade goods due to the lack of sufficient European personnel and gardes-de-cercle.
Many merchants from Mopti bought wool, rice and skins, but made no reports to the Commandant du Cercle de Djenné. The Commandant requested help from the Commandant du Cercle de Mopti (letter nø228) in controlling the trade between Djenné and Mopti. African trade was completely undocumented.
Only 500 francs were exported out of the Cercle de Djenné by European merchants because no one wanted to accept francs. Africans all preferred to use cowries.
Cola imports were down and salt barre imports were strong. Total receipts in the market were up 40% since the second quarter of 1910. However, the kola statistics were likely to be flawed because there were not enough administrators to collect them.
In third quarter, there were a total of 2,066 cattle shipped to Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea, compared to 1,615 in the third quarter of 1909. 564 of those went to St. Louis (Senegal), a large increase over the previous year when a couple of local herdsmen went there for the first time.
Three large herds came down from Macina and the north at the beginning of August, but were taxed at Segou instead of Djenné because it was on their route. Diafarabé was a major commercial transit point, but the French had no one stationed there to control the trade, and only managed one day of "perception mobile" that collected 74.50 francs in fees "de patentes de Dioulas."
At the end of the third quarter, a large group of Dioulas came to the Commandant du Cercle de Djenné and asked to be removed from the Dioula tax lists ("se faire rayer du r“le des patentes"). They didn't understand the system - that there was no permanent list, but instead separate fees to be paid each time one traded in a market.
Pyot was still in Djenné to buy peanuts, but merchants from Mopti did the same. In one instance, gardes-de-cercle from San forced Dioula traders to come to the market at San. [see Rapport Speciale pour l'Administration Speciale, 1910.4] Because the markets at Djenné, San and Sofara had no fixed rate of perception, Dioulas resented what seemed to them to be arbitrary fees.
There were three European merchants operating in Djenné; Danel, Pyot and Bettalucce.
Once the French phased out "patentes de colportage" (possibly the same as patentes de Dioulas), trade by Africans increased because it became easier for African merchants to move about the countryside.
European commerce in Djenné was stagnant and was insufficient to support either new European merchants or expansion by the existing ones.
Dioulas from the Gold Coast brought their kola to Baramanbougou rather than to the market at Djenné.
There was only one actual European merchant in Djenné, but three Mopti firms - Danel, Simon and Sie. Commerciale - employed Africans to run branch operations (succursales).
There was a good rice harvest at the end of 1912. The Commandant du Cercle de Djenné thought that taxes were too low - the "taux de capitation" was only 2.50 francs.
The Société Commerciale Ouest-Africaine established itself in Djenné with an African representative (CAFKA). Two sons of Mademba, the French chief at Sansanding, began to trade in grain from Djenné.
Since there were no more patentes de Dioula, there were no statistics in this report.
The Société Commerciale Ouest-Africaine branch that opened in Djenné during the previous quarter was the C.O.F.C.A.
European merchants seemed most interested in buying wool by 1913. Sheepherders only sold their wool for rice or grain, so grain merchants did well, especially since the 1913 harvest was terrible. Exports of grain to Macina increased grain prices in Djenné as well.
Veterinary Inspector Pierre and a businessman named M. Irr came to Djenné in order to find out how many animals they could expect to purchase for a meat processing plant that they hoped to build near Sotuba. The Commandant du Cercle de Djenné did a study that showed the best cows sold for 150 francs in Gold Coast.
Wool sales started early because the river dropped early. Prices for wool in Mopti reached 750-1,000 francs/ton. This report was signed by J. Max Husser on December 31, 1913.
Wool sold for 750 francs/ton, but grain sales were zero following a bad harvest.
Here is a quotation concerning the decline of Djenné in favor of Mopti: "De Djenné, il est impossible de juger le direction commerciale du Cercle, puisque notre chef-lieu économique est Mopti ou se concentrait tous les produits achetés sur le rive gauche du Niger."
Grain sales increased as Africans became accustomed to famine prices of 600 francs/ton for mil. One European merchant in Mopti made a fortune selling warehoused millet at the new price.
Commerce in the Cercle de Djenné was almost zero.
This is the first typewritten report in the file.
Imports remained near zero, but following the harvest, exports returned to near-normal levels. Wool sold for 700-800 francs/ton, based on the 5-franc purchase price of a "tonte" (the amount of wool sheared from 25 sheep, where each sheep gave 300- 400g of wool). There was no trade in peanuts.
European commerce suffered from the previous year's famine (Africans had no money) and the war (trade goods didn't arrive). There were three types of salt available in Djenné market. Sack salt (from the coast) sold for 10 francs/25 kilogram sack. Desert salt sold for 27-28 francs/barre. Rumanian salt sold for 18-20 francs/case. Overall, the salt trade was weak.
This is the first report to mention the problem of circulating old 5-franc coins among Africans after the French Treasury refused to accept them any longer. There was also a good deal of speculation in cowries.
The only European merchant in Djenné was Vendenheim.
Here is another quotation concerning the decline of Djenné in favor of Mopti: "On ne peut apprécier à Djenné le mouvement commercial qui est entièrement raporté à Mopti, o— se concentrait presque tous les achats."
German goods disappeared entirely from the market. Other European goods were in short supply.
M. Simon closed up his operation in Djenné. Other European merchants remained in business, but did no better than they did in the fourth quarter of 1914.
Trade is off by two thirds due in part to military recruitment which made movement difficult for African traders. Wool sold for 700-900 francs per ton. The rice harvest was average. The peanut harvest was excellent, but Europeans refused to buy them because of uncertainty about market conditions in Europe.
Sea salt from Spain competed successfully against Timbuktu salt. Salt from Senegal was sold in 10-franc sacks. Rice sold for 200 francs per ton, and millet sold for 100 francs per ton.
European commerce rebounded. The Djenné market did especially well due to the influx of Peulh refugees from areas under revolt along the Bani River right bank. Salt sales from Timbuktu were zero and trade with the southern colonies was cut off. As a result, African commerce suffered.
European merchants were hurt by shipping problems caused by World War I. The revolt in Bobo Dioulasso hurt trade in Djenné, especially at Baramanbougou. Millet was sent to Mauritania and cows went to Gold Coast.
Dioulas who brought kolas from C“te d'Ivoire sold them mostly in Tongué and Baramandougou.
trade is slow, as it usually was at this time of the year. There were four European merchants in Djenné. As the price of European cloth rose, Africans switched to local cloth.
Rice was shipped to Mopti and Koulikoro, but most African commerce was between Djenné and Timbuktu, trading salt for grain; and between Djenné and Koulikoro, trading grain for European cloth.
Djenné produced about 500 tons of wool which went directly to Mopti for sale at 1,250-1,500 francss per ton. Rice sold for 250 francs/ton.
Despite an increase in the amount of land that was devoted to food crops for France during wartime, poor weather and low river levels kept the harvest at normal levels.