Term Paper: Assimilation and Direct Rule in Africa

Pages: 2 (667 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - African  ·  Buy This Paper

Assimilation and Direct Rule in Africa

The French approach of having a Direct Rule grasp over Africa was very different to that of the British indirect manner of colonization. This Direct Rule was represented by a centralized federalist administration, administered by a governor general from French West Africa that was centered in Senegal. Only in St. Louis were a few individual Africans permitted to participate in this government. Outside of St. Louis, Africans were subjects rather than citizens. The French insisted on maintaining exclusive rule over its colonies, and this situation exists, to a certain extent still today, as evidenced with the decision of the African island of Mayotte to remain under French jurisdiction.

On the other hand, however, the French colonial administration was flexible in its control, changing its policies and system to reflect changing times and circumstances with Africa and France. Its manner was evidenced by a fourfold approach called Assimilation, Association, Differentiation and Paternalism which Thomas Hodgkin (in Rodney, 1990) labeled "carthesianism." It was in this manner that the French achieved "a measure of uniformity in the pattern of institutions introduced into 'Afrique noire'"(p.39). Although, certainly still containing some of the more brutal and callous elements of colonization (such as forced labor), the French were far better in their treatment of their subjects than were other European colonizers such as, notoriously, the Germans or the Portuguese. Nonetheless, many of the aspects of this Direct Rule were still, indubiously, heartless.

Senegal was the first colony where French Direct Rule occurred and from there its model spread to other new French West African colonies (Gunther, 1955). French colonial exploitation was merciless. An example is the poor state of Guinea where it was recorded that "France obtained one billion (old) francs or about 5.6 million dollars in foreign exchange, based on the sale of bauxite, coffee and bananas" (Rodney, 1990). Forced labor and imprisonment (oftentimes unjustified and both in order to expand French aims) were common. Inconsiderate of the indigenous locals and of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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