Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

‘THESE LAWS SHOULD BE MADE BY US’: CUSTOMARY MARRIAGE LAW, CODIFICATION AND POLITICAL AUTHORITY IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY COLONIAL GABON*

  • RACHEL JEAN-BAPTISTE (a1)
Abstract

This article analyzes the multiple and failed efforts to codify customary marriage law over the course of the twentieth century in colonial Gabon. It argues that these efforts illuminate the discursive arenas in which the colonial state, the church and African political leaders struggled to demarcate power and control over wealth-in-women. In a time of sociopolitical crisis and change state, chiefs and other elite African men all become involved in attempts to conceptualize, codify and administer customary marriage law. The contested process of codification reveals disjunctures in the articulation of male political authority in colonial Gabon.

Copyright
References
Hide All

1 Archives Nationales du Gabon (hereafter ANG), 1049, Bordereaux des pièces ci-jointes adressés à monsieur le procureur de la république, Administration général 102, 14 Dec. 1946; Débats de l'Assemblée Territoriale du Gabon, Session ordinaire, 25 Apr. – 7 May 1952, 14 May 1952.

2 The Assembly also included appointed delegates of Catholic and Protestant missions. In theory, after 1945 Africans were French citizens in Overseas France and had the right to vote for African delegates to the Territorial Assemblies. However, the French manipulated the voting ballots and limited African suffrage. For the first elections in 1946, only Gabonese men who were ‘notables’ (such as civil servants, former soldiers, assessors in native courts) could vote. This was about 6 per cent of the adult population. Only beginning in 1952 could a restricted group of African women vote. White French citizens living in Overseas France voted in separate elections for French delegates. Florence Bernault, Démocraties ambiguës: Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon: 1940–1965 (Paris, 1996), 94–6.

3 As of 1938, the Estuary region, in which Libreville was located, was divided into fifteen cantons, each with an appointed chief. Centre d'Archives d'Outre Mer (hereafter CAOM), AEF/GGAEF/41D43, Région du Gabon, Département de l'Estuaire, Rapport du deuxième trimestre de l'année 1936; ANG, Sous série 1E, Situation générale, Faits importants, Commune de Libreville, 1938.

4 For a more detailed study of transformations in conjugal–sexual practices and discourses in colonial Gabon, see Rachel Jean-Baptiste, ‘“Une ville libre”? Marriage, divorce, and sexuality in colonial Gabon, 1849–1960’ (Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University, 2005).

5 ANG, 1049, Débats de l'Assemblée Territoriale du Gabon, 14 May 1952.

6 Benjamin Lawrance, Emily Osborn and Richard Roberts argued that ‘the attention paid to chiefs, however, has obscured the roles of other Africans in the shaping of colonial orders’. See Lawrance, Osborn and Roberts (eds.), Intermediaries, Interpreters, and Clerks: African Employees in the Making of Colonial Africa (Madison, 2006), 16.

7 Jan Vansina, Living with Africa (Madison, 1994), 40–60. As argued by Nancy Rose Hunt, ‘the unspoken Africanist epistemology of colonial historical methodologies [can be] condensed with the phrase, “to Africa for voices, to Europe for texts”’. Nancy Rose Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Durham, 1999), 23.

8 Terence Ranger, ‘The invention of tradition in colonial Africa’, in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983), 211–62; Martin Chanock, ‘Making customary law: men, women, and courts in colonial Northern Rhodesia’, in Margaret Jean Hay and Marcia Wright (eds.), African Women and the Law: Historical Perspectives (Boston, 1982), 66–7; Martin Chanock, Law, Custom and Social Order: The Colonial Experience in Malawi and Zambia (Cambridge, 1985); Elizabeth Schmidt, Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870–1939 (Portsmouth NH, 1992); Diana Jeater, Marriage, Perversion, and Power: The Construction of Moral Discourse in Southern Rhodesia 1894–1930 (Oxford, 1993).

9 Sara Berry argued that efforts to codify customary law added further elements of contestation to already heated debates within African societies over what constituted customary law. Berry, Sara, ‘Hegemony on a shoestring: indirect rule and access to resources in Africa’, Africa, 62 (1992), 327–55.

10 Kristin Mann and Richard Roberts, ‘Law in colonial Africa’, in Mann and Roberts (eds.), Law in Colonial Africa (Portsmouth NH, 1991), 3.

11 Marcia Wright, ‘Justice, women, and the social order in Abercorn, Northeastern Rhodesia, 1897–1903’, in Hay and Wright (eds.), African Women and the Law; Richard Roberts, ‘Text and testimony in the tribunal de première instance in Dakar during the early twentieth century’, Journal of African History (hereafter JAH), 31 (1990), 447–63; Judith Byfield, ‘Women, marriage, divorce, and the emerging colonial state in Abeokuta (Nigeria) 1892–1904’, in Dorothy Hodgson and Sheryl McCurdy (eds.), ‘Wicked’ Women and the Reconfiguration of Gender in Africa (Portsmouth NH, 2000), 27–46; Sean Hawkins, ‘“The woman in question”: marriage and identity in the colonial courts of modern Ghana, 1907–1954’, in Jean Allman, Susan Geiger and Nakanyike Muisi (eds.), Women in African Colonial Histories (Bloomington, 2002), 116–43.

12 Shadle, Brett, ‘“Changing traditions to meet current altering conditions”: customary law, African courts and the rejection of codification in Kenya, 1930–60’, JAH, 40 (1999), 411–31; Shadle, Brett, ‘Bridewealth and female consent: marriage disputes in African courts in Guisiland, Kenya’, JAH, 44 (2003), 241–62; Jean Allman and Victoria Tashjian, ‘I Will Not Eat Stone’: A Women's History of Colonial Asante (Portsmouth NH, 2000); Richard Roberts, Litigants and Households: African Disputes and Colonial Courts in the French Soudan, 1895–1912 (Portsmouth NH, 2005).

13 White, Luise, ‘Separating the men from boys: constructions of gender, sexuality, and terrorism in central Kenya, 1939–1959’, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 23 (1990), 125; Belinda Bozzoli with the assistance of Mmantho Nkotsoe, Women of Phokeng: Consciousness, Life Strategy, and Migrancy in South Africa, 1900–1983 (Portsmouth NH, 1991); Meredith McKittrick, To Dwell Secure: Generation, Christianity and Colonialism in Ovamboland (Portsmouth NH, 2002); Lisa Lindsay and Stephan F. Miescher (eds.), Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa (Portsmouth NH, 2003); Lisa Lindsay, Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria (Portsmouth NH, 2003); Lahoucine Ouzgane and Robert Morrell (eds.), African Masculinities: Men in Africa from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present (New York, 2005); Stephan Miescher, Making Men in Ghana (Bloomington, 2005).

14 Brett Shadle, Girl Cases: Marriage and Colonialism in Gusiiland, Kenya, 1890–1970 (Portsmouth NH, 2006), xxviii–xxix. For more on differentiating groups of men, see Shadle, ‘Changing traditions’.

15 Silvère Ngoundos Idourah, Colonisation et confiscation de la justice en Afrique: l'administration de la justice au Gabon, Moyen-Congo, Oubangui-Chari et Tchad de la création des colonies à l'aube des indépendances (Paris, 2001), 219.

16 For more information on varied articulations of French colonial court systems, see Roberts, Litigants and Households; Idourah, Colonisation et confiscation.

17 For more on the impact of the period of concessionary rule, see Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, Le Congo au temps des grandes compagnies concessionnaires, 1898–1930 (Paris, 1972); Colette Dubois, ‘Le prix d'une guerre: deux colonies pendant la première guerre mondiale (Gabon Oubangui-Chari); 1911–1923’ (Ph.D. thesis, Université de Provence, 1983).

18 Idourah, Colonisation et confiscation, 241.

19 Ibid. 242.

20 ANG, Sous série 2D(I)10, Circonscription de l'Estuaire, Subdivision de Libreville, Rapport trimestriel, Quatrième trimestre 1934; Journal Officiel de l'Afrique Equatoriale Française, 13 May 1937.

21 Roberts, Litigants and Households, 82.

22 ANG, Sous série 2DA(1)10, Circonscription de l'Estuaire, Subdivision de Libreville, Rapport trimestriel, Deuxième trimestre 1934, 19 July 1934.

23 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D44, Lettre de la population indigène mariée (Libreville) à M le gouverneur général de l'AEF, 8 Aug. 1936.

24 For the most comprehensive analysis of the French colonial legal system in Francophone Africa, but AOF in particular, see Roberts, Litigants and Households.

25 Population statistics for much of the twentieth century are imprecise estimates, but scholars concur that there was steady population decline in Gabon and other regions of AEF over the course of the twentieth century. A colonial report cited the population of the entire colony as 403,000 in 1924, yet by 1929 this was reduced to 334,000 inhabitants. ANG, 51-MI-41-1, Rapport annuel of 1918; M. le Professeur J.-L. Faure and M. Justin Godart, La vie aux colonies: préparation de la femme à la vie coloniale (Paris, 1938), 277; Georges Balandier, Rapports préliminaires de la mission d'information scientifique en pays fang (Brazzaville, 1949); Georges Balandier and Jean-Claude Pauvert, ‘Les villages gabonais’, Institut d'Etudes Centrafricaines, 5 (1952); Richard Adloff and Virginia Thompson, The Emerging States of French Equatorial Africa (Stanford, 1960), 346; Christopher Gray, Colonial Rule and Crisis in Equatorial Africa: Southern Gabon, ca. 1850–1940 (Rochester, 2002), 153.

26 Bernault, Démocraties ambiguës, 53–4.

27 Congrégation des Spiritains du Saint-Esprit (hereafter CSSP), 4J1.5a, Box 175, Dossier A, Extrait du rapport quinquennal sur le Vicariat Apostolique du Gabon (Deux-Guinées), 30 May 1909. Belgian officials and missionaries in the Congo and Kenya also attributed demographic decline to the conjugal–sexual practices of African societies, particularly polygyny and the reproductive health practices of African women. Rose Hunt, Nancy, ‘Noise over camouflaged polygamy, colonial morality taxation, and a woman-naming crisis in Belgian Africa’, JAH, 32 (1991), 471–94 ; Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon; Thomas, Lynn, ‘Imperial concerns and “women's affairs”: state efforts to regulate clitoridectomy and eradicate abortion in Meru, Kenya, c. 1910–1950’, JAH, 39 (1998), 121–45; Thomas, Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya (Berkeley, 2003); Tabitha Kanogo, African Womanhood in Colonial Kenya (Oxford, 2005).

28 Maurice Delafosse, Monseigneur Alexandre Le Roy and Dr Léon Poutrin, Enquête coloniale dans l'Afrique Française Occidentale et Équatoriale sur l'organisation de la famille indigène, les fiançailles, le mariage avec une esquisse générale des langues de l'Afrique (Paris, 1930), 523.

29 Delafosse et al., Enquête coloniale, 528–9; Balandier, Rapports préliminaires, 16–17.

30 Jean-Baptiste, ‘“Une ville libre”’, 193.

31 Père Lejeune, Au Congo: la situation faite à la femme et la famille (Paris, 1900), 499.

32 CSSP, 2D60.2a4, Rapport, Mariage indigène, Apr. 1923; CSSP, 5b1.10b3, Document 1, Rapport de M. Rolland, Professeur à la faculté de droit de Paris, sur les conflits de coutumes, présenté plénière du 30 juin 1927; Delafosse et al., Enquête coloniale, 528.

33 For a discussion of the historiography of precolonial Gabon, see Jean-Baptiste, ‘“Une ville libre”’, 9–13.

34 Chanock, Law, Custom, and Social Order, 192–216.

35 Lejeune, Au Congo, 495; CSSP, Box 4J1.5a. Louis Matrou à propagande de la foi, Extract from Vicariat Apostolique du Gabon, 22 Dec. 1915.

36 Balandier, who wrote his study in the 1950s, quoted from some of the 1918 commission reports. However, I was not able to locate these documents at either ANG or CAOM. Later colonial documents do confirm that such a commission did exist. For example, a colonial official based in Gabon in 1922 referred to ‘a project to regulate native marriage [that] had been submitted for consideration to district heads’ in 1918. CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, 109, Lettre du M. le gouverneur-général de l'AEF à M. les lieutenants-gouverneurs du Gabon à Libreville, Moyen-Congo, Oubangui, Tchad, 19 July 1922; Georges Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa (London, 1970), 187–8.

37 ANG, 51-MI-42-1, Rapport annuel of 1921; Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa, 28.

38 Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa, 187–8.

39 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Décision nommant une commission chargée d'examiner un projet de réglementation du mariage indigène, 19 Aug. 1921.

40 CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 18, Notes sur le projet de réglementation de mariage indigène, 11 Sept. 1921.

41 CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 17, Mariage indigène au Gabon, Simples notes et desiderata, Travaux de Mgr. Matrou, V. A. du Gabon, n.d., c. 1920s.

42 CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 18, Notes; CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 17, Mariage indigène.

43 CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 15, Projet de réglementation du mariage indigène, 1 Jan. 1922.

44 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Projet de réglementation du mariage indigène, 20 Jan. 1925.

45 In the 1922 document, bridewealth was to be limited to 300–400 francs for Fang near coastal regions and to 150 francs for those in the interior. For patrilineal groups other than the Fang, bridewealth limits were much smaller, between 100 and 150 francs. For matrilineal groups throughout the colony, bridewealth varied between 30 and 100 francs. CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 15, Projet.

46 The 1925 document distinguished between coastal and interior regions – 400 francs for coastal regions and 250 francs worth of goods or cash for the interior. CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 14, Mariage indigène au Gabon: simples notes et desiderata, n.d.

47 Wives who abandoned their husbands' homes and wives who committed adultery could be subject to imprisonment. Divorce would be allowed only in the case of a husband's impotence, habitual misconduct by the wife and the sentencing of the husband to more than five years in prison. CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 15, Projet.

48 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Letter 109. Lettre du M. gouverneur-général de l'AEF à M. le lieutenant gouverneur du Gabon à Libreville, 19 July 1922.

49 CSSP, 5b1.10b2, 17; CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Note sur le projet d'arrêté réglementant les mariages indigènes au Gabon, 14 Feb. 1925.

50 The period of 1925–30 was one of prosperity for the state and Africans engaged in timber exploitation and providing secondary services to the industry. Yet in 1931, overspeculation and a decrease in the demand for timber due to the global Depression led to a catastrophic drop in the value of timber. A number of Gabon's timber industries went bankrupt and African laborers lost income. By 1937 okoumé exports recovered to pre-Depression levels, only to decrease by nearly 50 per cent in 1938 in the shadow of the Second World War. ANG, 51-MI-57, Rapport annuel of 1932; CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D37, Situation de la colonie à la fin de 1931; Guy Lasserre, Libreville: la ville et sa région (Paris, 1958), 125; Giles Sautter, De l'Atlantique au fleuve Congo: une géographie du sous-peuplement, République du Congo, République Gabonaise (Paris, 1966), 768.

51 In 1908, Gabon exported 50,000 tons of okoumé per year, and by 1913 exports tripled to 150,668 tons. After a decline during the First World War, exports again increased to reach a high of 305,000 tons in 1927. Affected by the global Depression, okoumé exports decreased by 41 per cent from 381,774 tons to 224,379 tons between 1930 and 1931. Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa, 166; Lasserre, Libreville, 125; Sautter, De l'Atlantique au fleuve Congo, 768 and 853; Félix Pambo-Loueya, ‘La colonie du Gabon de 1914 à 1939: étude économique et sociale’ (Ph.D. thesis, Université de Paris VII, 1980), 60; Gray, Christopher and Ngolet, François, ‘Lambaréné, okoumé, and the transformation of labor along the Middle Ogooué (Gabon), 1870–1945’, JAH, 40 (1999), 87107; Gray, Colonial Rule and Crisis, 150.

52 From 1929 to 1938, the African population of the city of Libreville nearly doubled from 3,455 to 6,773 people. ANG, Carton 578, Situation générale, Faits importants, Commune de Libreville, 1938.

53 Jean-Baptiste, ‘“Une ville libre”’, 131–2.

54 ANG, 51-MI-75, Rapport politique du premier semestre 1939, Département de l'Ogooué-Maritime.

55 Most of the literature on women in cities in Africa has focused on southern and eastern Africa where colonial states attempted to limit the presence of women in urban areas. Kenneth Little, African Women in Towns: An Aspect of Africa's Social Revolution (London, 1957); Luise White, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (Chicago, 1990); Bozzoli with Nkotsoe, Women of Phokeng; Teresa Barnes, We Women Worked So Hard: Gender, Urbanization, and Social Reproduction in Colonial Harare, Zimbabwe (Portsmouth NH, 1999); Emmanuel Akyeampong, ‘“Wop e tam won pe ba” (you like cloth but you don't want children): urbanization, individualism, and gender relations in colonial Ghana c.1900–1939’, in David M. Anderson and Richard Rathbone (eds.), Africa's Urban Past (Oxford, 2000), 222–34.

56 Lasserre, Libreville, 275–6.

57 Jean-Baptiste, ‘“Une ville libre”’, 231–2.

58 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D44, Note pour M. le Chef de la subdivision, Président de la subdivision, Président du tribunal indigène de premier degré de Libreville, 26 Nov. 1936.

59 ANG, 51-MI-75, Rapport politique du premier semestre 1939, Département de l'Ogooué-Maritime.

60 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4D138, Lettre du lieutenant gouverneur de Gabon à M. le chef de la circonscription de l'Estuaire, Libreville, Rapport du deuxième trimestre 1932.

61 In a 1932 annual report, the Governor of Gabon argued, ‘For Gabon, it is necessary to distinguish between the population of the interior that is strongly tied to their old customs … and the populations of Lambaréné, Libreville and Port Gentil, evolved too quickly in a bad sense of the word, who have been freed from all ties to custom except for witchcraft. Among these people living as they please, to marry and remarry, the family is gradually losing its true shape’. CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4D138, Rapport annuel of 1932.

63 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4D138, Lettre du lieutenant gouverneur de Gabon à M. le gouverneur de l'AEF, Rapport du quatrième trimestre 1932, 2 Nov. 1932.

64 ANG, 51-MI-55, Rapport annuel of 1928.

65 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D38, Rapport annuel of 1932.

67 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4D138, Lettre du lieutenant gouverneur de Gabon à M. le gouverneur de l'AEF, 2 Nov. 1932.

68 CAOM, ANG/GGAEF/41D43, Région du Gabon, Département de l'Estuaire, Rapport du deuxième trimestre de l'année 1936; ANG, Sous série 1E, Situation générale, Faits importants, Commune de Libreville, 1938.

69 ANG, 51-MI-62-1, Département de l'Estuaire, Rapport du deuxième trimestre.

70 Mba often clashed with French administrators who sought to limit Africans' political power. In the 1930s, Mba served a number of years in prison in Oubangui after a conviction for allegedly trafficking human flesh. Historian Gaston Rapotchombo argues that the French brought these false charges against Mba because he was proving to be too popular and he could incite anti-colonial sentiments. While in exile, Mba published his ‘Essay on customary Fang law’ in the Bulletin de la Société des Recherches Congolaises. Mba argued for marriage among the Fang as a matter to be negotiated among heads of clans, with little intervention from the colonial state. Léon Mba's original writings are in the possession of family members who restrict public access. Some of his essays were published in Léon Mba, Ecrits ethnographiques (Libreville, 2002). See also Léon Mba, ‘Essai de droit coutumier pahouin’, Bulletin de la Société des Recherches Congolaises, 25 (June 1938); Gaston Rapotchombo, L'affaire Léon Mba: matériaux pour l'histoire coloniale du Gabon (Libreville, 2002).

71 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D38, Rapport annuel of 1932.

72 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, ‘Coutumes galoases, pahouines, akélaises’, c. 1932.

73 ANG, 51-MI-63-1, Région du Gabon, Département de l'Estuaire. Rapport du deuxième trimestre de l'année 1936, 28 Aug. 1936; ANG, 51-MI-65-1, Inspection des affaires administratives, Rapport d'ensemble sur la vérification du département de l'Estuaire et de la commune mixte de Libreville, 1940.

74 ANG, Sous Série 1E, Politique indigène, Procès-verbal des réunions du Conseil des Notables à Lambaréné, 21 Mar. 1933.

75 ANG, Sous série 1E, 578, Situation générale, Faits importants, Commune de Libreville, 1938.

76 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D44, Note pour le président du Tribunal Indigène de premier degré de Libreville, 26 Nov. 1936.

78 ANG, 2DA(I)5, Rapport politique semestriel, Deuxième semestre 1938, Département de l'Estuaire; ANG, Sous Série 1E, 132, N'So N'ze chef de canton de l'Abanga Samkita à N'Toum à M. le chef de la subdivision de N'Djolé à Monsieur l'administrateur des colonies, Chef du département de l'Ogooué-Maritime à Port-Gentil, 23 June 1939; ANG, Sous série 2(D) I, Libreville, Région de l'Estuaire, Correspondance à l'arrivée du chef de subdivision de l'Estuaire, 1943–57, Lettre d'Abogue Ntoutoum, Village Mekon'Annem, 43 kilomètres de la route Kango à M. l'administrateur, Chef du district de Libreville, SC de M. l'Administrateur, Chef de la gendarmerie à Libreville, 14 Feb. 1953.

79 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D44, Lettre de la population indigène mariée.

80 Custom, the letter writers argued, dictated that if the new suitor failed to reimburse the entire bridewealth within eight days, the wife was to return to her husband, who retained whatever amount the suitor had paid as damages and interest. CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D44, Lettre de la population indigène mariée.

81 ANG, 51-MI-64-1, Notes de l'inspecteur des affaires administratives, Enquête sur le commandement dans la subdivision de Kango, 22 Oct. 1936.

82 Léon Mba criticized village chiefs as ‘illiterate and not knowing how to speak or understand French, current village chiefs scourge to Fang society, due to their total ignorance of customs as much as their desire, one would say instinct, to steal from and mistreat their people’. Mba, Ecrits ethnographiques, 50.

83 Rejecting the idea that African populations should assimilate into French culture, Eboué argued that ‘Africans had their values, their social structure, their leaders – all of which served to maintain order and give meaning to life’. Brian Weinstein, Eboué (New York, 1972), 10–15 and 55–6.

84 Félix Eboué, Politique indigène de l'Afrique Equatoriale Française (Brazzaville, 1941).

85 ANG, 115, Lettre de M. le gouverneur-général Laurentie à M. le chef du territoire du Gabon, 116/APAG, 15 Mar. 1942; CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Arrêté modifiant l'arrêté du 12 avril 1934 réglementant l'état civil indigène, Gouvernement général de l'AEF, Direction des affaires politiques, administratives et de la sÛreté, 27 Nov. 1940; AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Documentation sur le mariage en AEF, 10 July 1950; AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Lettre du gouverneur-général de l'AEF aux M. les gouverneurs chefs de territoire: Libreville, Bangui, Fort-Lamy, Brazzaville, 7 Mar. 1947; AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Note sur le problème social de la polygamie en AEF, 7 Mar. 1947; AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Le ministre de la France d'Outre-Mer, Direction des affaires politiques, à M. le gouverneur général de l'AEF, Brazzaville, 21 Mar. 1946; AEF/GGAEF/5D256, Lettre du gouverneur général de l'AEF, Messieurs les gouverneurs chefs de territoire, 7 Sept. 1950; AEF/GGAEF/5D256, Lettre du ministre de la France d'Outre-Mer Nicolay à M. le gouverneur-général de l'AEF, 17 Apr. 1951; AEF/GGAEF/5D256, Etudes sur la dot, Fait pour le conseil coutumier: Propositions de M. Kwamm Maurice, Assesseur prés le tribunal coutumier de Poto-Poto, 3 Aug. 1951.

86 ANG, 4015; Balandier, Rapports préliminaires.

87 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4ID47, Rapport politique du premier semestre de l'Ogouée-Maritime, 1939; ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Rapport politique du premier semestre de l'Estuaire, Etat d'esprit des populations, Subdivision de Kango, 1943; Sous série 1E, Territoire du Gabon, Région de l'Estuaire, Rapport politique du 1947.

88 CAOM: AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Note pour M. le gouverneur général au sujet de la note de M. le médecin général concernant la politique sociale de l'indigène, 26 July 1942; AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Lettre 20, Circulaire du gouverneur-général de l'AEF aux M. les gouverneurs chefs de territoire, 5 Feb. 1946.

89 CSSP, 2D60.2a4, Document 10, Congrès pahouin de Mitzic, Voeux, 1947; ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Rapport politique du Gabon 1947.

90 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4ID47, Rapport politique du premier semestre de l'Ogouée-Maritime, 1939; ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Rapport politique du Gabon 1947.

91 ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Bulletin de renseignements politiques, Tribunaux coutumier, 25 Sept. 1946.

92 ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Bulletin de renseignements politiques, Consultation par race, 25 Sept. 1946.

93 Elikia M'Bokolo, ‘French colonial policy in Equatorial Africa in the 1940s and 1950s’, in Prosser Gifford and W. Roger Louis (eds.), The Transfer of Power in Africa (Hartford, 1982), 199.

94 ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Rapport politique du Gabon 1947.

95 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/4ID47, Rapport politique du premier semestre de l'Ogouée-Maritime, 1939; CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/41D46, Rapport politique du deuxième semestre de l'Estuaire, Situation politique, Commune de Libreville, 1939; ANG, 51-MI-65-1, Rapports du deuxième semestre de l'Estuaire, 1942; ANG, Sous série 1E, 44, Territoire du Gabon, Région de l'Estuaire, Rapport politique pour l'année 1949.

96 ANG, 1049, Bordereaux des pièces ci-jointes adressés à monsieur le procureur de la république, Administration général 102, 14 Dec. 1946; CAOM, GGAEF/AEF/5D56, Conseil représentatif du Gabon, Rapport de la cinquième commission sur des questions concernant la politique sociale de la famille, Pastor Lavignotte, May 1947.

97 ANG, 51-MI-65-2, Rapport politique du Gabon 1947.

98 CSSP, 2D60.2a4, Congrès pahouin de Mitzic, 1.

99 Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa, 201.

100 CSSP, 2D60.2a4, Congrès pahouin de Mitzic, 3.

101 CAOM, AEF/GGAEF/5D56, Six voeux du conseil représentatif du Gabon sur la question de la taxe sur les polygames, Regnault, Président de l'Assemblé, May 1947.

102 Balandier, The Sociology of Black Africa, 199.

103 CSSP, 2D60.2a4, Congrès pahouin de Mitzic, 4.

104 The debates took place in newspapers, with some young elite African men asking that the practice of remitting bridewealth be completely abolished. Others countered that bridewealth was essential to African marriages, but that African societies should place limits on bridewealth amounts. J. C. Bobyeme, ‘La jeunesse fang du Gabon et le mariage’, Journal de l'AEF, 7 Dec. 1947; François Meye, ‘La femme africaine’, Journal de l'AEF, 29 Jan. 1948; CSSP, 271, dossier B III, Gilbert Ombembe, ‘Mariage chez les mpnogouéa’, n.d., no newspaper identified.

105 ANG, Procès-verbaux des séances du conseil représentatif du Gabon, 16 Mar. 1950.

106 Ibid.

107 AEF, GGAEF/5D256, Letter 366, Lettre du gouverneur-général de l'AEF à M. les gouverneurs chefs de territoire, 7 Sept. 1950.

108 As African delegates reviewed the amounts of bridewealth proposed by the sub-commission, Senator Gondjout verbalized the thought of many delegates: ‘As long as there is not a code regulating marriage, the family, and inheritance, as long as what is marriage is not well defined, the woman can leave her husband as it suits her’. ANG, Débats de l'Assemblée Territorial du Gabon, Session ordinaire, 25 April – 17 May 1952, 2 May 1952.

109 Ibid. 8 May 1952.

110 Ibid. 14 May 1952.

111 Ibid.

112 Ibid.

* I would like to thank Iris Berger, Matthew Booker, Shelley Lee, Carol Pal, Richard Roberts, Emily Osborn, Lise Sedrez and anonymous readers for their suggestions about this article.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of African History
  • ISSN: 0021-8537
  • EISSN: 1469-5138
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-african-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed