African History to 1875 (Fall 1997)
Chapter 3: Trade Diasporas from Overseas p92 Main difference between European and African traders was the former's dependence on a vast overseas infrastructure that included shipbuilders, insurance brokers, national flags for international legal protection, and more. European Juula combined economic with political and military, unlike the African Juula who separated religious and economic from military and political. p93 War and commerce went together for Europeans. Ethnic distinctions were more important for Europeans than for African Juulas. European loyalties were strongest to the Crown, the Company and to fellow European nationals, in that order. p94 The Europeans who served in West Africa were most likely to be criminals or otherwise in disgrace. Impact of African disease on Europeans between 1680 and 1780: of ten who went to Africa, 6 died in the first year, two more died in the next three years, one rturned home and one disappeared, either through reenlistment or desertion. [See K,G, Davies The Living and the Dead", p16; also P. Curtin, Image of Africa, pp58-87, 177-97, 343-62, and "Epidemiology and the Slave Trade," Political Science Quarterly, 83:190-216 (1968)] Despite the weakness of Europeans, they succeeded in operating trade enclaves because a few survived to acclimatize, mulattos were resistant to disease, and African learned enough about European ways to serve as intermediaries and brokers. p97 The Afro-Portuguese settled in trade settlements along the coast from Cape Verde to the Gambia River and overland to Casamance p98 The Afro-Portuguese introduced sail-rigged boats of ten tons capacity called canoe by the Europeans p99 The Afro-Portuguese operated an overland trade route from Cape Verde to the Senegal River, through the Damel of Cayor's territory. The Afro-Portuguese prospered during the 17th and early 18th century, after Portugal could no longer dominate the coast, but before other Europeans could compete effectively. p100 In the 18th century, the English began to restrict trade along the Upper Gambia, so the French formed an alliance with the Afro-Portuguese. p100 THE GREAT TRADING COMPANIES The Dutch were the first to attack the Hispanic empires, by attacking Portuguese posts from Europe to Japan. p101 After the Dutch took Brazil and Elmina, African trading posts became prizes of war. p101 In the 1640s, the Dutch actively disseminated sugar technology throuyghout the Caribbean in order to increase their business in the carrying trade. Planting increased the demand for slaves. p103 European warfare was generally the work of a strong fleet that swept the West African Coast and took all the trading posts. No nation could find enough men to garrison the forts against sea attack. The Treaty of Utrecht inaugurated a period of economic stability in West Africa dominated by the great trading companies. Dutch East India Company became a model of commercial organization. In 1673, the French Compagnie du Sngal was formed. p104 The French Compagnie du Sngal supplied slaves to New World plantations, but failed quickly. From 1720 to 1758, a second French Compagnie du Sngal operated as a division of the Company des Indes. The British Royal African Company was founded in 1672. It was replaced in 1751 by the Company of Merchants Trading to Africa. It existed to maintain trading conclaves that were open to its members. Its business was fortification. p105 The great charter companies maintained their monopolies only until the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. The coasts were too long and there was too many competitors to operate an effective monopoly along the West African coast. Fortifications were so expensive that the charter companies could not maintain them and compete with private shippers at the same time. The charter companies' advantage was in their ability to penetrate into the interior. Gore, St. Louis and James Island became terminii for new European trade diasporas. p106 map of principal trade factories on the Gambia River p107 new trade diasporas were operated by Afro-europeans. p108 map of European trade networks in the 1730s p109 AN ERA OF TRANSITION. 1750-1816 p110 Senegambia experienced disaster in the 1750s from drought, disease, famie and locusts. The great trading companies went bankrupt. The rainy season was below normal in 1746-8. 1749 was normal, but could't make up for the last three years. 1750-2 was disastrous again. In 1753, distant rains led to flooding in St. Louis, but didn't help the food situation. By 1754, Serer and Wolof escaped starvation by migrating to the Senegal River floodplain where they were enslaved by the Futanke and sold to the French. The crisis was over after 1758. p112 Transition continued to the end of the Napoleonic Wars, but during this period, European interest declined. High European mortality rates and the lack of monopoly slave trade were the causes. p112 THE AFRO-FRENCH COMMUNITY OF THE 18TH CENTURY p113 St. Louis always had a larger population than James Island thanks to the hydrology of the river which made it possible for ships' crews on the Gambia to handle all shipping tasks. Navigation on the Senegal was more labor intensive since currents and wind made it difficult to move upriver. Kedging was the solution. p114 Senegal River boats were as large as 14 tons and had a crew of about 25 laptots under 3 or 4 European or Afro-European officers. Laptots were slaves owned by St. Louis well-to-do who paid have their wages to their owners. p115 Curtin describes the captured and purchased slaves used by the French for garrison defense. He says that they were very loyal and cites an example of one man who escaped captors and returned to his French post. [See Levens, Report of 10 July 1725, ANF, C6 9. There is another copy in BN, FF, NA 9339, f.144] p120 The trading towns were never as large as interior African towns which held as many as 3000-5000 people in the 16th century. European trading towns were always demographically dependent on the surrounding communities. European women were rare and African females emigrated to the towns in large numbers. Europeans tended to form liasons with African women called "mariages la mode du pays." Women who formed such liasons received gifts from their men, who often died or returned home after a few years. The women became wealthy with slaves (laptots) or real estate. p121 Mtis were the best group for cross-cultural communitcation. They served as mayors, married within their own group, received education in France and became closely identified with European society. p121 OVERSEAS TRADERS AND THE POLITICS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD Europeans were frustrated by their political weakness relative to the neighboring African states. Moreover, they possessed arms sent from Europe to fortify their posts against other Europeans. p121 Available technology (stone forts and artillery) favored the European, but only for quick, forceful blows. p122 Disease and overland travel conditions limited their ability to garrison an area. p123 General commercial war erupted in the mouth of the Gambia River in 1764 when the French returned to their trading post at Albreda in the kingdom of Ľomi on the right bank. The British were paying tolls to the Ľomi for the right to send ships upstream, but refused to allow French ships to pass their fort at James Island. The British stopped paying tolls when the French and Ľomi concluded a trade alliance. Saalum entered on the British side because of trade lost to the French at Albreda. p124 The war dragged on until 1768 as an Anglo-Ľomi war, despite peace between France and England in 1763. This war illustrates the development of relations between European traders and African people. At the beginning, the Europeans were relatively weak and remained content to work through local Afro-Portuguese middlemen. Over time, the descendants of those middlemen became parasitic, content to milk the English trader through tolls and service fees. p127 LEGITIMATE TRADE AND THE FRENCH REOCCUPATION OF ST. LOUIS p128 The Napoleonic Wars totally altered the terms of African trade. The abolition of slavery was part of it, but new people arrived, determined to do more than supervise African trade. Legitimate trade seemed moral and nationalistic. The main change was a new interest in interventionism by the Europeans. Steamboats were introduced on the Senegal River in 1819/11 and the first steam convoy reached Gajaaga in 1820. They brought improved artillery within reach of all riverside villages, at least during the high water season. p129 Quinine was isolated from cinchona bark in 1820. Some of the French were using it regularly by 1843, according to Raffenel. Europeans gave up on the use of European troops in West Africa after the Napoleonic Wars. Together, these measures reduced European mortality. As new people began to enter commerce, the French in Senegal systematized the various participants. COMMERANTS was the broadest category. NEGOIANTS held the highest position, were mostly French, and controlled the import-export trade from France. Below them were the MARCHANDS DTAILLANTS who imported goods for retail sales, but did not export goods. Below them were the LICENCIS, licensed retail shopkeepers in Gore and St. Louis, or traders, cabaret operators and so on. p130 Trade in the countryside was conducted by TRAITANTS. They were by far the largest group. Each group was ranked according to the source of their capital. Those who traded with their own capital were the highest, while those who traded with borrowed goods or as agents of other merchants were lower down on the scale. Another small group was the MARIGOTIERS who sailed small craft up the tributaries of the Senegal River in search of goods. The most difficult and prestigious trade was the "Galam voyage" that required large amounts of capital and up to six months for repayment. Only the largest firms could do this. In French colonies, the government maintained its relationship with commerce through the semi-official CHAMBRE DE COMMERCE. Although they were thought to represent the interests of all merchants, they were dominated by the NEGOIANTS. p131 In St. Louis, the French governor outmaneuvered the NEGOCIANTS and created an official COMIT DE COMMERCE with elected representatives from all levels of commerce. The government chartered a succession of monopoly companies for the upriver Gajaaga trade (Senegal River) beginning in 1820. Despite interruptions, this system persisted until 1848. At first, companies were chartered for a single year and profits disbursed at the end of the season, but after 1824, they began to endure for several years. In any case, the same people managed each successive company. p132 The company and government maintained close ties. The governor appointed the company director from a list of three supplied by the board of directors. The government recieved free mail service and use of company warehouses in exchange for guaranteeing a monopoly profit to investers. p135 A crisis occurred by 1842 because too many small TRAITANTS fell behind in their debts to the St. Louis gum trade NEGOCIANTS. The solution was dictated from Paris, but St. Louis merchants were obliged to support their debtors or go under themselves. p136 The final plan allowed the government to register traitaints and command 5% of their capital for its own investments. At the end of the year, the profits from the government's investments were distributed to the registered traitants, but creditors received first priority. The plan worked and the debts were liquidated by 1845. p136 THE ENGLISH RETURN TO THE GAMBIA: REVIVED COMPETITION BETWEEN THE RIVERS p137 The town of Bathurst was founded in 1816 by Anglo-African merchants who were displaced from Gore by the French when they returned following the Napoleonic Wars.