Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-54vk6 Total loading time: 0.287 Render date: 2022-08-09T19:37:49.586Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

The Lebanese in West Africa*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2009

R. Bayly Winder
Cairo, (Princeton University)


Emigration from the land that now constitutes the Lebanese republic has long historical roots going back to the time of the Phoenicians, and probably only the Irish rival the Lebanese in exporting themselves. One commonly associates these emigrants with trade, although emigrant scholars, writers, and publishers, such as Yūsuf Samān al-Samān (Assemani) in eighteenth-century Rome, Jurjī Zaydān in nineteenth-century Cairo, or Khalil Gibran (Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān) in twentieth-century New York, are by no means exceptions.

Research Article
Copyright © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 1962

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


2 For a recent account, see Elie Safa, L'Emigration Libanaise (Beirut, 1960), which contains an excellent bibliography on Lebanese emigration in gereral.

3 Berger, Morroe, “Americans from the Arab World”, The World of Islam, ed. Kritzeck, James and Winder, R. Gayly (London, 1959), p. 372.Google Scholar

4 Hitti, Philip K., Lebanon in History (London, 1957), p. 475.Google Scholar

5 According to Berger, op. cit., p. 351, the number of United States' citizens from Arabic-speaking countries and their American-born children was in 1958 about 450,000; the equivalent number in Brazil has been estimated somewhat higher than those in the United States by Hitti, loc. cit.

6 On preservation of the emigrants' Lebanism consult 'Abdallāh Ḥushaymah, Fī Bilād al-Zanūj (Beirut, 1931), p. 159.Google Scholar

7 Safa, op. cit., pp. 24, 25.

8 A French scholar has called them a “troisiéme force… entre les Français métropolitains et les Africains”; Georges Gayet, “Les Libanais et les Syriens dans l'Ouest Africain”, Institut International des Civilisations Différentes, Pluralisme ethnique et culturel dans les sociétés intertropicales, compte rendu de la xxxe Session tenue á Lisbonne, les 15, 16, 17, et 18 Avril 1957 (Brussels, 1957), p. 170.Google Scholar

9 On these points, consult Murūwah, Kāmil, Nahnu fī Ifrlgīyah (Beirut, 1938), pp. 191192.Google Scholar

10 Hanna, Marwan, “The Lebanese in West Africa, 2”, West Africa, no. 2141 (04 26, 1958), p. 393.Google Scholar

11 “La question des Syriens en Guinée française”, vol. 1, no. 3 (January 21, 1905), pp. 22–23. For an account of the first Lebanese in Guinea (Ya'qūb al-Bayṭār from Bayt Shabāb, al-Matn district), consult ilushaymah, op. cit., p. 187.

12 Both Lebanese and others habitually refer to the immigrant groups from Lebanon as “Syrians”; of course actual Syrians are often also included. This usage seems, however, less wide-spread in West Africa than, for instance, in the United States.

13 Ten Lebanese were deported from Guinea in 1905, but in theory at least on technical grounds. A special tax had been levied on Lebanese peddlers in “Upper Senegal” and “Middle Niger” as early as 1900. For an account by two Lebanese authors of these and other points on harassment of the Lebanese in Guinea, see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 188–190, and Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 202–203, 210, 266–269.

14 Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 58, 251–254.

15 In fact Gayet, op. cit., p. 162, states that the earliest immigration of Lebanese into French Guinea was in 1896.

16 Cf. reference to Mizyārah in Hitti, loc. cit.

17 Hanna, loc. cit., Hushaymah, op. cit., p. 332.

18 A point also made by Murūwah, op. cit., p. 215.

19 Jean-Gabriel Desbordes, L'Immigration Libano-Syrienne en Afrique Occidentale française (Poitiers, 1938), pp. 4041.Google Scholar

20 Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 79, 161, 187, 248, 282, 303. The date 1896 has also been given for Liberia; al-Hudā, vol. 64, no. 13 (March 10, 1960). Hushaymah, op. cit., pp. 79–80, says that the first store was opened in St. Louis and Dakar by a certain Najib abu-'Akar.

21 Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 56. p. 415.

22 Mr. Raccah told me that his brother was established in Manchester and that is was at the latter's suggestion that he went to Lagos, whence he proceeded north to Kano; cf. Hanna, loc. cit.

23 Throughout this article there is some fluctuation between colonial political nomenclature and that of the new independence.

24 Haut Commisa?at-général á Dakar. Etudes et coordination statistiques et mécanographiques. “Premiers resultats definitifs du recensement général de la population non originaire de l'Afrique occidentale française du 12 décembre 1956” (Dakar, 1959), Tableau C—“Répartition selon le lieu de naissance de la population non originaire domiciliée.”

25 Al-Hudā, February 29, 1960, from the paper's Beirut correspondent.

26 Cited by Safa, op. cit., p. 120.

27 Cited by Gayet, op. cit., p. 165.

28 Cited by Hanna, loc. cit.

29 Cited by Safa, op. cit., p. 120.

30 Ghana. Ministry of Trade and Industries. Handbook of Commerce and Industry, 2nd Issue (Accra, 1958), p. 57.Google Scholar

31 Gayet, op. cit., p. 167.

32 See n. 31.

33 In the absence of detailed immigration figures, the rate of immigration cannot be given with any accuracy; however, those of Lebanese origin were estimated in 1931 by Hushaymah, op. cit., p. 332, to be as follows: Senegal, 3,000; French Sudan, 700; French Guinea, 1800; Sierra Leone, 1800; Liberia, 60; Gold Coast, 600; Nigeria, 450. Since these are not likely to be under-estimates, the conclusion is clear that both immigration and birth rates were high in the interwar years. No doubt the imposition of the quota system in the United States in 1924 was a factor in channeling Lebanese emigrants to West Africa. Other fixed points are the almost complete stoppage of immigrants during both World Wars. Gayet estimates that 200 to 300 arrived in French West Africa annually during the years 1925–1939 and that the figure for 1945–1951 was 600 to 1000; op. cit., pp. 162, 163. See also his over-all estimates based on earlier census reports, op. cit., pp. 163–166. According to Murūwah, p. 189, the years 1936–1937 were years of particularly heavy immigration to West Africa because the news of the good crop seasons and resultant profits which those years brought the older immigrants reached Lebanon. See also Safa, op. cit., pp. 191, 196–197, and p. 203, where he observes that the decline in Lebanese emigration to West Africa since World War II is partially explained by campaigns against those already there.

34 Desbordes, op. cit., p. 174 Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 79.

35 Through the kindness of Mr. Fāris Naṣr Allāh of Dakar.

36 Also see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 79 and Murūwah, op. cit., p. 199 and passim.

37 These estimates given by various respondents without any advance notice certainly omit some localities, but they illustrate the main point.

38 Buchanan, K. M. and Pugh, J. C., Land and People in Nigeria, The Human Geography of Nigeria and its Environmental Background (London, 1955), p. 99.Google Scholar

39 On the latter, consult Safa, op. cit., pp. 131–134.

40 Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 37–80 gives the details of the regulation of immigration in former French West Africa up to the year 1936. See also Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 64–65.

41 In the early years of immigration by the Lebanese, they appear to have constituted something of a bona fide health problem—particularly in spreading yellow fever. This resulted primarily from their own very low standards of living in combination with their itinerant ways. In 1927 Lebanese accounted for 41 cases out of a total of 184 in one French area; however, in more recent times, since the Lebanese standard of living has risen greatly, this problem has disappeared; consult Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 150–154; Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 59; and Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 296–297.

42 Total explusions from former French West Africa were as follows between 1910 and 1936: 1910–1, 1911–6, 1916–2, 1918–35, 1919–5, 1928–8, 1929–10, 1930–2, 1931–1, 1932–4, 1933–2, 1934–6, 1935–16, 1936–22; Desbordes, op. cit., p. 102.

48 During the depression in 1931, the Lebanese of Dakar, themselves feeling the pressure of unskilled and impecunious new arrivals, reiterated a desire they had first expressed in 1926 to have immigration limited; Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 115–116, 184. See also Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 64 and Murūwah, op. cit., p. 270.

44 A Statement of the Immigration Policy of the Government of the Federation of Nigeria (Lagos, 1956). Of the eight types of businesses which are “normally” barred to immigrants, six were included with the specific idea of excluding Lebanese, a high official (British) in the immigration department informed me. Item 5 of the “Statement” is a particularly curious one: “The above restrictions will be applied without respect to race or creed, but persons who, by reason of their origin and way of life, are likely to become permanently settled in Nigeria will require to satisfy the Immigration Authority that some exceptional benefit would ensue from their presence.”Google Scholar

45 Federal Supreme Court.79/1958 (19 May, 1958). The judgment was written by Acting Federal Justice, Mr. W. H. Hurley, and concurred in by Federal Chief Justice, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, and by Acting Federal Justice, Mr. Samuel Okai QuashieIdun. I am indebted to Sir Adetokunbo for a copy of it.

46 Personal letter from Federal Chief Justice, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, March 1, 1961.

47 Hanna, loc. cit.

48 In many places, especially the “one-crop” areas, the purchase of important foreignexchange-producing crops has been almost completely regulated by law in recent years.

49 Op. cit., p. 353, where Louise Seymour Houghton, “Syrians in the United State, II”, The Survey, xxvi (08 5, 1911), pp. 650, 658, is cited as authority.Google Scholar

50 The old image is persistant; see Meyer, A. J., Middle Eastern Capitalism (Cambridge, Mass., 1959), p. 40, where he states: “The Levantines who go to the coasts of Africa customarily peddle gewgaws and rose water to native citizens.…”CrossRefGoogle Scholar

51 A small secondary trade has also developed in supplying, from Lebanon, food specialties for consumption by the Lebanese community; Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 253–254.

52 Sidney de la Rue, The Land of the Pepper Bird: Liberia (New York, 1930), p. 296.Google Scholar

53 Gayet, op. ci:., p. 166.

54 Al-Hudā, vol. 64, no. 13 (March 10, 1960), P. 1; presumably iron and rubber are excluded.

55 Desbordes, op. cit., p. 177.

56 A political factor also helped the Lebanese during the two World Wars: Not subject to military service, the Lebanese were free to continue and expand their trade while their competitors were called to the fighting fronts. For this reason, European feeling against Lebanese ran high after each War. In 1928 French feeling against the Lebanese in Dakar was ignited by an accidental killing and near demonstrations took place. Consult Gayet, op. cit., p. 163; Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 59; Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 300–301.

57 For a fuller discussion of these points, see Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 162–165; Safa, op. cit., p. 131; Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 246–248.

58 Gayet predicted that with the reduction in the number of Europeans, following the adoption of the “Union française”, the percentage of Lebanese in economic and commercial activities would be comparatively higher, op. cit., pp. 167–168.

59 West Africa, no. 2140 (April 19, 1958), editorial, and recent travelers' reports.

60 Ministry of Trade and Industries, second issue (Accra, October, 1958), pp. 127–140.

61 The Lebanese are the dominant group of expatriate businessmen who have been attracted to West Africa, but not the only ones: there are considerable numbers of Moroccans in Senegal and Sudan, especially at Dakar, as well as a handful of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews of varied provenance. In Ghana there are representatives of a new class, Italian contractors, and the Greek commercial house, A. G. Leventis and Co., Ltd., heads a small Greek community. In British ar former British territories there are also “Indians” of whom the most important example is K. Chellaram and Sons, Ltd. Indian merchants number some 500 in Nigeria; Greeks, about 300. There is also a Yemeni-Adenese community in some areas: in Jos, Nigeria they are the poorest class of merchants, operating from mud huts and selling mostly to the surrounding pagans; in Kano they are largely employed by the Lebanese.

62 Buchanan and Pugh, op. cit., p. 202; see also ibid., p. 140.

63 E.g., 30% of the buildings of Dakar and 95% of the stores in the Senegal hinterland. For details consult Safa, op. cit., p. 123.

64 The first Lebanese land acquisition in French West Africa was in Guinea in 1900; Desbordes, op. cit., p. 173. Desbordes, op. cit., p. 177, estimated that Lebanese real estate in French West Africa was worth 62 million francs. Murūwah, op. cit., p. 264, estimated that in 1938 it was worth 200 million francs.

65 Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 173, 175; Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 209–210; Muriiwah, op. cit., pp. 211–212, 263.

66 Murūwab, op. cit., pp. 249, 251, 292.

67 Buchanan & Pugh, op. cit., p. 135.

68 “World Crime, II”, Life, vol. 48, no. 2 (January 18, 1960), p. 106.

69 The first Lebanese physician came to fornier French West Africa in 1904, the first dentist in 1926; Desbordes, op. cit., p. 106. See also Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 82, n. 1.

70 Desbordes, loc. cit. From the outbreak of the “Syrian revolution” in 1925 at least until 1930 Arabic papers published in Syria and Lebanon were not admitted to French West Africa; Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 95–96. According to Muriūwah, op. cit., they were still being censored in 1938. The same author also observed, op. cit., p. 285, that newspaper circulation was small, and that the main interest of the readers was in local, “home-town” news from Lebanon.

71 No. 362 (April 11, 1959).

72 Echos d'Afrique Noire is an extreme, right-wing, opportunistic, anti-American, antiCommunist, anti-Lebanese-immigrant sheet. Its level is indicated by the sentence, “Je vous [the Lebanese] sais raisonnables et vous comprendrez que mon [the editor's] appel ne vise pas á ameuter tout un peuple contre vous," in the issue referred to. The journal France-Afrique Noire, founded in the late 30's, had as its sole purpose progaganda against the Lebanese, according to Murūwah, op. cit., p. 270.

73 Al-Hudā, vol. 64, no. 10 (March 10, 1960), p. 1.

74 Safa, op. cit., p. 18.

75 On relations between Lebanese merchants and West African Chambers of Commerce up to 1938, see Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 259–260.

76 For strong support of the criticism of bookkeeping, or rather lack of it, by a Lebanese author, see Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 256–257.

77 In pre-independent Ghana there was a thorough airing of one aspect of these charges before the Martindale Commission Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conduct and Management of the Supplies and Customs Departments (Accra, 1947) and the subsequent Sachs Commission (Report of a Commission of Enquiry into the Representations made by W. E. Conway, Esq., A. D. W. Allen, Esq., A. G. Leventis and Co., Ltd., repudiating Allegations in the Report of Enquiry into the Conduct and Management of the Supplies and Customs Departments (Accra, 1948)). “The denigration of the Levantine communities was a principal feature of the Martindale Report,” which found that the authorities had, as a result of corruption, granted special favors to several firms in matters such as import licenses and foreign exchange. The Sachs Commission was appointed as a result of protests from those allegedly guilty of impropriety, and it found that ‘the proceedings of the Martindale Commission had been improper; and that this report contained… 'misstatements… so fundamental as to strike at the roots of… the… reliability of the report…’ The Sachs Commission substantially reversed the findings of the Martindale Commission”; all cited by or quoted from Bauer, P. T., West African Trade: A Study of Competition, Oligopoly, and Monopoly in a Changing Society (Cambridge [England], 1954), pp. 82, 83, 248. For more on these charges, consult Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 154–158.Google Scholar

78 See above, p. 310.

79 As claimed in Echos d'Afrique Noire, loc. cit.

80 Bauer, op. cit., p. 149; Murūwah, op. cit., p. 260.

81 Bauer, op. cit., p. 9.

82 Federation of Nigeria, Debates of the House of Representatives, Second Session, Official Report, II, 15th-29th March, 1956 (Lagos, [1956]), p. 580, cols. 1109–1110.Google Scholar

83 Ibid., p. 581, col. 1111. A rather different approach is taken in a recent article in the Ghanaian monthly, Pan-African Age. This article, not for or against Lebanese in Ghana, points up “the lesson that Africans can learn from these aliens' seemingly easy success in whatever they set their hands to.” The lesson is on the one hand to emulate Lebanese thrift, meticulousness, industriousness, and tenacity of purpose. On the other it commends to Ghanaians mutual help and financial backing that, mirabile dicta, the “Syrian and Lebanese gives his brother in full measure and most readily”; reprinted in Lebanese American Journal (March 21, 1960). For an opposing view, see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 57 and passim.

84 Bauer, loc. cit. See also Barbara Ward, “Cash or Credit Crops?”, Economic Development and Cultural Change, VIII, no. 2 (01, 1960), pp. 148163. Miss Ward accepts Bauer's ideas, but adds and stresses another reason for a multiplicity of middlemen—chiefly because each has limited capital (it thus takes many to finance crop selling and retail buying, and each can only know a limited number of persons well enough to do credit business which is, fundamentally, secured only by personal trust). I am grateful to my colleague, Dr. Fred Shorter for pointing out and summarizing this article, which has been unavailable to me personally. Dr. Shorter has also made other valuable suggestions to me on this study.Google Scholar

85 See above, p. 306–307.

86 Report by Dr. Cox-George, N. A., cited by Hanna, "The Lebanese in West Africa, 4", West Africa, no. 2144 (05 17, 1958), p. 463.Google Scholar

87 Op. cit., pp. 160–161. Also note p. 161, n. 1, which refers to “the difficulties experienced by some of the large importers, particularly the United Africa Company, in diverting their trade from Levantine to African traders except on unfavorable terms. For political reasons the policy is nevertheless followed to a considerable extent”.

88 See Desbordes, op. cit., p. 146; for confirmation by a Lebanese, see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 189–190.

89 Desbordes also supported this theory for an earlier period; op. cit., pp. 167, 176; see also Safa, op. cit., pp. 26, 122.

90 De la Rue, op. cit., pp. 296–297. Certainly the most entertaining, and probably one of the most important, books for understanding the pre-World War II social and economic position of the Lebanese in a small West African town is John Bingley (pseudonym for Derek Bailey), Mr. Khoury (London, 1952). This superlative spoof of all elements in West Africa is marred, in a minor way only, by the author's unfortunate assumption that Khūrī is, or could be, a Muslim name. Mr. Graham Green's The Heart of the Matter is also to be considered. In addition see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 81.

91 Murūwah, op. cit., p. 278,

92 Editorial, “The Lebanese in West Africa”, West Africa, no. 2140 (April 19, 1958).

93 Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 215, 308; Safa, op. cit., p. 132.

94 The first Lebanese association in French West Africa (Comité Libano-Syrien, alJameiyah a1-Lubnānīyah al-Sūrīyah) was founded in Dakar in 1926 for the purpose of protecting Lebanese interests; see Desbordes, op. cit., 115–119; Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 84–86, 305. Creative recreation is not a conspicuous feature of the community. There is a great deal of “time killing” and nightclubbing; Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 279, 284.

95 A problem which is the number-one enemy of the Lebanese community everywhere according to Murūwah, op. cit., p. 213.

96 Op. cit., p. 169.

97 “… The immigrants are great admirers of education, and there is rarely an immigrant of good means who does not send his children to be educated in Lebanon or in the U.K.… Another regrettable point is that many of the immigrants' children do not succeed in school and fail to get any professional qualifications. The reasons are many. First, the children… are under the control of their loving, but illiterate, grandfathers and grandmothers in Lebanon. Secondly, they have lots of spending money… Thirdly, they are always thinking of Africa… and the easy way in which they could make money.… [Fourthly,] their parents being illiterate, are badly in need of a trustworthy son instead of a costly local clerk…”; Marwan Hanna, “The Lebanese in West Africa, 3”, West Africa, no. 2142 (May 3, 1958), p. 417. See also Murūwah, op. cit., p. 291.

98 Safa, op. cit., p. 136.

99 Gayet, op. cit., p. 169. For a condemnation of mixed connections and the café-aubait children that resulted, see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 221–222 and Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 289–290, who estimated (1938) that there were at least 1000 children from these irregular connections and that they constituted one of the most important family problems of the jāliyah.

100 Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 199, 213.

101 Vol. 2, No. 371 (May 14, 1959), p. 2.

102 Vol. 2, No. 373 (May 16, 1959), pp. 2, 8.

103 On adaptability in general, see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., p. 189.

104 Note the “soaring rhetoric” and “oratory” (allied it is true with mendacity) of Mr. Khoury in the local “Lagonda” language on the occasion of VE day; John Bingley, op. cit., p. 239.

105 Lebanese in former French West Africa contributed 14,000 francs to the Red Cross in 1914 and a total of 218,000 francs during World War I; in 1926 they contributed 900,000 francs to the “defense of the franc” campaign; Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 119–120, 124. See also Ḥushaymah, op. cit., 85–86. Note also the Lebanese presentation of a clock tower to the city of Lagos on the occasion of the silver jubilee of King George the Fifth in 1935; Murūwah, op. cit., p. 299.

106 Evening News, vol. 2, No. 373 (05 16, 1959), p. 7. On Lebanese association football teams and other sports activities, see Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 221, 225, 228.Google Scholar

107 Ibid.

108 See above, p. 301.

109 See Murūwah, op. cit., pp. 276–277; he states inter alia that the backwardness of some groups of the Lebanese justified, or at least explained, the jaundiced European opinion. In the final analysis, Lebanese were considered whites for they were buried in the European cemeteries, ibid., p. 297.

110 E.g., Buchanan and Pugh, op. cit., p. 99.

111 Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 57, 163, 190, 207–208, 220, 334; Murūwah, op. cit., p. 282 and passim.

112 From the end of World War I until the treaty of Lausanne in 1923 there was a problem of nationality, since the immigrants had been Ottoman subjects. According to the treaty (arts. 34 & 36), the immigrants had two years during which they could opt for the nationality of their country of origin, i.e. Lebanon or Syria; otherwise, they would acquire Turkish citizenship. The vast majority did take the option. According to Franco-Turkish agreements of 1937 those few Lebanese who had not taken the option were given another year to do so; Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 91–94. During the period between the Wars the immigrants complained that they received no effective diplomatic protection, but that French protection was of some practical advantage is seen in France's protest against Liberian discrimination against the Lebanese before the League of Nations in 1928. As a result the practice was stopped; Desbordes, op. cit., pp. 86–87. The Lebanese immigrants, however, felt that the protection was totally inadequate; see Ḥushaymah, op. cit., pp. 58–59, and, for an account of the events, pp. 284–286. Even earlier, in 1909, the Ottoman government intervened on behalf of the Lebanese in Guinea through the mediation of Sulayman a1-Bustānī, deputy from Beirut in the Ottoman parliament; Murūwah, op. cit., p. 210.

113 This analysis is of course inapplicable to Liberia.

114 Nkrumah, Kwame, Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (New York, 1957), p. 75.Google Scholar

115 Apter, David E., The Gold Coast in Transition (Princeton, 1955), p. 169.Google Scholar

116 Nkrumah, op. cit., p. 77. Apter, loc. cit., blames the disgruntlement not on the failure of shopkeepers to reduce their prices as agreed, but on the “terms agreed to by the Accra Chamber of Commerce in the proposed reduction of prices.” He further observes that “emotional feeling against Syrian and Lebanese shopkeepers ran high.” In a footnote he makes the further point that “they bore the brunt of much of the rioting, many of their stores and shops being wrecked.” For the connection between the rioting and official dislike of the Lebanese, see Bauer, op. cit., p. 83.

117 Nkrumah, op. cit., p. 120. A senior British official in northern Nigeria remarked to me that the Lebanese special constables recruited in that country under similar circumstances were “very keen”! 118 Such practices are not new, but they have become risky in the new political situation:”… dans les débuts de leur installation en brousse, les Libanais devaient se mettre en rapports étroits, avec quelque obédience et quelques cadeaux, avec les autorités traditionelles africaines.…”—“Plus delicate est la situation des Libanais vis-á-vis des mouvements politiques ou syndicaux de l'Afrique Noire. Leurs complaisances traditionnelles, et généreuses, vis-á-vis des chefs coutumiers, qui ont souvent aidé leurs installations et leurs transactions, restent polyvalentes. A côté des impôts, des taxes et des patentes officielles, les Libanais sont habitués á verser des cotisations, des subventions á divers organismes; i1s considérent ces participations, ces dons, ou ces assurances sur l'avenir, comme une partie de leurs frais généraux.—Certes, its ont aidé les diverses formations politiques, notamment dans l'organisation et dans les frais des Comités et des Congrás et lors des élections communales, territoriales et générales mais ils semblent se cantonner dans une attitude généreuse pour tous, suivant l'habitude classique des 'pérégrins'.” Gayet, op. cit., pp. 170–171.

118 NPC: Northern Peoples Congress, the dominant party in Northern Nigeria, headed by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.

119 On May 7, the Northern Star also reported Mr. Ḥabīs' press conference, but at the same time ran an editorial attacking certain of his language and his threat to take the question to the UN.

120 President Tubman's appointment of a Lebanese Liberian as Ambassador to Lebanon gives substance to this particular belief.

121 The barbarism “Nasser” is used reluctantly instead of the full last name, cAbd al-Nāsir. According to an M.E.N. dispatch from Beirut, which appeared in the Cairo daily, al-lumhūrīyah (January 26, 1961), the Lebanese Foreign Ministry was studying a proposal to deprive Lebanese in Africa of their citizenship for having “dealings with Israel”.

122 Murūwah, op. cit., p. 285.

123 Cairo Radio operates a “Calling West Africa” service, which broadcasts in English, French, and West African languages.

124 Bauer, op. cit., p. 164.

125 A sober discussion of the way the wind is blowing occurs in an editorial in West Africa, no. 2140 (April 19, 1958). See also the comment that, “even though in the past 30 years disturbances and open attacks on the Lebanese have taken place, yet the tension was never so high as at present and the problem was never so acute”; Hanna, “The Lebanese in West Africa, 4”, West Africa, No. 2144 (May 17, 1958), p. 463.—An African rebutted an argument by the author to the effect that the Lebanese had done a lot for West Africa by saying, “The British may have done a lot too, but we don't want them.”

126 See the reference to deportation of Lebanese from Ghana and Sierra Leone in the editorial in West Africa, No. 2140 (April 19, 1958).

127 Cf. the proposals of Pierre Jumayyil, leader of the Lebanese Phalanges (al-Katā'ib) for the establishment of a “Lebanese Agency” on the model of the Jewish Agency; cited by Safa, op. cit., pp. 259–262.—Note also that a common form of greeting is “May God return you to the homeland” (“Acādak Allāh ilā al-watan”) and a way of saying “thank you” is “If God wills, we will meet in the homeland” (Natjami fī al-waṭan in shā' Allāh)= “Next year in Jerusalem”; see Murūwah, op. cit., p. 307. The final line in Mr. Murūwah's book (p. 318), in large type, translates: “O, emigrant, return, return, return!”

128 Some steps in this direction have been taken. Starting in 1945 several “congresses of emigrants” have been held in Lebanon under governmental auspices, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also includes “overseas Lebanese” in its title. The Phalanges, hard-core Maronite organization in Lebanon, has been particularly active in urging closer ties with all Lebanese emigrants and in 1948 sent a mission abroad which visited West Africa, among other places. The director of “overseas Lebanese” also visited West Africa in 1957–1958. On these points see Safa, op. cit., pp. 224–225, 246–249.

129 The fact that Lebanon has both an American and a French university would make it possible to offer scholarships and fellowships to candidates from either former British or former French colonies without serious language problems. In mid-1961 the Lebanese government and a group of prominent Lebanese businessmen were interested in a public administration school for West Africans.

130 Hanna, “The Lebanese in West Africa' 5”, West Africa, No. 2145 (05 24, 1958), p. 487. By the spring of 1961 both Mr. Emile Bustānī, president of Lebanon's largest engineering and construction firm and Mr. Anīs Bībī, president of the Lebanese Union National Bank were starting operations in Liberia.Google Scholar

131 There are several works not in the bibliography of Safa, op. cit., which may be of interest to those who wish more information on the West African jāliyah but which I was not able to consult. These include: Lackeroy, Col., Les Libano-syriens en A.O.F. (Paris, 1922); Menassa, Gabriel, Plan de Reconstruction de l'Economie Libanaise (Beirut, 1948); Guid' A.O.F., “Cercle par Cercle” (Dakar, 1956–1957); two unspecified articles cited by Murūwah, op. cit., in African World (1925); a series of articles cited by Murūwah, op. cit., p. 292, in a journal designated simply Etudes (1938); Edmond Khalil Sa'ādah, Lubnān fī al-'Alam: Dalīl al-Mughtaribin al-Lubnānīyīn wa-al-Sūrīyīn fī Ifriqiyah al-Gharbīyah al-Istiwā'īyah [also t.p. in Fr., Eng., Port., and Sp.] (Beirut, 1952); Danquah, J. B., A Study of Sekondi-Takoradi (?).

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Lebanese in West Africa*
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

The Lebanese in West Africa*
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

The Lebanese in West Africa*
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *