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Unis and Bna: the rôle of ‘Traditionalist’ parties in Niger, 1948–601

  • Finn Fuglestad (a1)
Extract

The institutional framework imposed upon Niger in 1946, tended to function according to traditional political concepts, norms, notions and values. Hence the distinction established in this paper between ‘traditionalist’ (UNIS/BNA) and ‘modern’ political parties, refers to the degree of reliance upon this traditional culture and also to the degree to which party-leaders were able to manipulate the norms, notions, etc., of the traditional political systems, in order to gain influence within the new institutional framework. The French Administration, functioning largely as an indigenous chieftaincy, was to a certain extent forced to interfere in politics, since an electoral victory for a ‘modern’ political party (i.e. the évolués) would have to be interpreted—according to the logic of traditional political theory—as a loss of the ‘force’, ‘power’ or ‘luck’, without which the French could no longer be regarded as the legitimate rulers of Niger.

If the French finally decided to collaborate with the évolués (and in the process disentangled themselves from the ‘chieftaincy-model’), it was because the évolués constituted the only group capable of grasping the intricate problems of economic development and of running a modern state.

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2 ‘Territoire du Niger. Rapport Politique, année 1951’, p. 62 (AP–Dosso). Abbreviations used in this paper: AP: Archives of the ‘Prefecture’ of…; ASP: Archives of the ‘Sous-Préfecture’ of…; du Niger, T.: Territory of Niger.

3 Unless otherwise stated, the information in this article originates from interviews with Nigeriens and Frenchmen who played a prominent rôle in the years between 1946 and 1958.

4 Schachter, Ruth, ‘Single-Party Systems in West Africa’, American Political Science Review, LV, 2 (1961), 294307;Schachter-Morgenthau, Ruth, Political Parties in French-speaking West Africa (2nd ed., Oxford, 1967);Hodgkin, Thomas, Nationalism in Colonial Africa (2nd ed., London, 1962);Hodgkin, Thomas, African Political Parties (London, 1961).

5 Schachter, , ‘Single-Party Systems…’.

6 Zolberg, Aristide, Creating Political Order. The Party States of West Africa (Chicago, 1966), 33–4.

7 Ibid. 9–10.

8 First, Ruth, The Barrel of a Gun (Harmondsworth, 1972), 56.

9 This paragraph is based on the following works (in addition to works already mentioned above): Ansprénger, Franz, Politik im Schwarzen Afrika: Die modernen politischen Bewegungen im Afrika französischer Prägung (Cologne and Opladen, 1961);Crowder, Michael, West Africa under Colonial Rule (Evanston, 1968);Hamon, Léo, Les partis politiques africains (Paris, 1965); and especially Wallerstein, Immanuel, ‘Élites in French-speaking West Africa: the social basis of ideas’, Journal of Modern African Studies, III, I (1965), 134, and ‘Class, Tribe and Party in West African Polities’, in Rokkan, Stein and Lipset, S. (ed.), Party Systems and Voter Alignment (New York, 1967).

10 Zolberg, , Creating …, 33.

11 Zolberg, Aristide, ‘The Structure of Political Conflict in the New States of Tropical Africa’, American Political Science Review, LXII, I (1968), 7087.

12 Ibid. 71.

13 Ibid. 72.

14 Miège, Jean-Louis, Expansion européenne et décolonisation de 1870 à nos jours (Paris, 1973), 358.

15 du Niger, T., ‘Révue des événements du deuxième trimestre 1954’, pp. 1516 (AP–Zinder).

16 The French adjective ‘nigerien’ has been used throughout the paper.

17 National Assembly, Conseil de la République (or Senate) in Paris, Assembly of the French Union in Versailles.

18 Grand Conseil in Dakar.

19 Conseil Général in Niamey (later Territorial Assembly).

20 Speech by Hamani Diori in the French National Assembly, 18 Aug. 1948: Journal Officiel de la République Française. Débats Parlémentaires. Assemblée Nationale, no. 108, 19 08 1948, P. 5922.

21 Fage, John D., On the Nature of African History (An Inaugural lecture delivered in the University of Birmingham on 10 03 1965);Froelich, J.-C., Animismes: Les religions païennes de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (Paris, 1964);Leroux, A., ‘Animisme et Islam dans la Subdivision de Maradi (Niger)’, Bulletin de l'IFAN, x (1948), 595693;Monfouga-Nicolas, Jacqueline, Ambivalence et culte de possession Contribution à l'étude du Bori hausa (Paris, 1972);Nicolas, Guy, ‘Fondements magico-religieux du pouvoir politique au sein de la Principauté Hausa du Gobir’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, XXXIX, 2 (1969), 199231;Guy, Nicolas H. Doumesche and M. dan Mouché, Étude socio-économique de deux villages Hausa (Paris/Niamey, 1968);Piault, Marc-Henri, Histoire Mawri (Paris, 1970);Raulin, Henri, ‘Travail et régimes fonciers au Niger’, Cahiers de l'ISEA, IX (10 1965), 119–39;Raulin, Henri, ‘Un aspect historique des rapports de l'animisme et de l'Islam au Niger’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, XXXII, 2 (1962), 249–74;Raynaut, Claude, Structures normatives et relations électives (Paris/The Hague, 1972);Rouch, Jean, La religion et la magie Songhay (Paris, 1960);Rouch, Jean, Les Songhay (Paris, 1954);Sére de Rivières, Edmond, Histoire du Niger (Paris, 1965);Urvoy, Yves, Histoire des Populations du Soudan Central (Colonie du Niger) (Paris, 1936).

22 Among the works cited above, see especially Leroux; Nicolas; Piault; Raulin, ‘Un aspect…’, Rouch, La religion….

23 Alexandre, Pierre, ‘Le Problème des Chefferies en Afrique Noire Française’, Notes et Études Documentaires (La Documentation Française), no. 2508, 10 02 1959, p. 8 (an English version has been published in Crowder, Michael and Ikime, O. [ed.] West African Chiefs [New York/Ile-Ifé, 1970], 2478).

24 Froelich, , Animismes, 31.

26 Raulin, , ‘Travail…’, 133.

20 Hill, Polly, Rural Hausa. A Village and a Setting (Cambridge, 1972), 185.

27 de Rivières, S., Histoire du Niger, 70.

28 Rouch, Jean, Contribution à l'histoire des Songhay (Dakar, 1953), 238.

28 Nicolas, , ‘Fondements…’.

30 These beliefs gave rise to a new cult, Holey, Baboulé or Hauka. See Scheurer, , ‘Rapport de Tournée dans le Canton de Kourdeye’, Filingué, 31 03 1944 (ASP–Filingué), and Toby, Jean, ‘Lettre du chef de la subdivision de Dogondoutchi au Commandant, Dosso’, 30 11 1926 (ASP–Filingué).

31 Fage, John D., States and Subjects in Sub-Saharan African History, Raymond Dart Lecture, Johannesburg, 1973 (publ. 1974).

32 Bloch, Marc, La Société Féodale. La Formation des liens de dépendance (Paris, 1949), 228–30.

33 Rouch, Jean, Migrations au Ghana 1953–55 (Paris, 1956), 28–9.

34 ‘Lettre, Lieutenant-Gouverneur du Haut–Sénégal–Niger à M. Le Gouverneur-Général a Gouré’, Kayes, 26 Mar. 1906 (Archives Nationales, Section Outre-Mer, Aix-en-Provence, microfilm no. 14 MI 856); and Rash, Yehoshua, ‘Un établissement colonial sans histoires: Les premières années françaises au Niger, 1897–1906’ (unpublished thesis, Paris, 1972), 182–3.

35 For two conflicting views on the Tuareg uprisings, see Salifou, André, Kaoussan ou la Révolte Sénoussiste (Niamey, 1973) and Fuglestad, Finn, ‘Révolte dans le Désert’, unpublished thesis, Aix-en-Provence, 1971 (Extracts published under the titles ‘Les révoltes des Touareg du Niger [1916–17]’, Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines, XIII, I [1973], 82120.)

36 See the last chapters of Dunbar, Roberta Ann, ‘Damagaram (Zinder, Niger) 1812–1906: The History of a Central Sudanic Kingdom’, unpublished thesis, Univ. of California at Los Angeles, 1970.

37 Rouch, , Migrations …, 28–9.

38 Arrêté, , 16 01 1941, Journal Officiel, Niger, 1 02 1941, 34.

39 Toby, Jean, ‘Télégramme Officiel à Cercles’, Niamey, 11 12 1942 (ASP–Magaria). The French also tried to stop the seasonal migrations to the British territories. See Latour, , ‘Rapport de Tournée’, Dosso, 26 10 1942 (Archives of the Presidency of the Republic, Niamey–A–PRN).

40 See inter alia, ‘Procès-Verbal du Conseil des Notables, Cercle de Zinder’, 2 06 1941 (AP–Zinder).

41 Leroux, H., ‘Rapport de la Tournée de Récensement effectuée du 27. I. au 2. 3. 1946 dans la subdivision de Magaria’, 1946 (ASP–Magaria).

42 Rouch, , Migrations…, 29.

43 The ‘Commandant’ of Niamey was told by the chief of Karma ‘que je n'étais plus le chef, que … la terre ne m'appartenait plus, qu'elle était à Fily Dabo Sissoko’, who represented Sudan and Niger in the two Constitutional National Assemblies from 1945 to 1946. Colombani, Ignace, ‘Rapport Politique, Ier Semestre 1946, Cercle de Niamey’, Niamey, 31 07 1946, II (ASP–Say).

44 Politics tend to be considered as a zero-sum game in most rural communities. See Redfield, Robert, The Little Community. Peasant Society and Culture (Univ. of Chicago Press, n.d.).

45 This was at least the opinion of Colombani, Ignace, ‘Révue Trimestrielle, année 1947, 2e Trimestre, Cercle de Niamey’, Niamey, 7 07 1947 (ASP–Say). One year earlier the same Colombani wrote that ‘la masse, elle, cherche de nouveaux maîtres’ (‘Rapp. Pol. Ier Sem. 1946, C. de Niamey’, op. cit. 8).

48 Statement based on oral sources, corroborated by, inter alia, ‘Circulaire du Comité Central du PPN’, Niamey, 25 Apr. 1947 (ASP–Madaoua) and ‘Comité Central du PPN. Circulaire aux Secrétaires Généraux des comités locaux’, Niamey, 9 June 1949 (ASP–Birni N'Konni).

47 Ake, Claude, ‘Explaining Political Instability in New States’, J. Mod. Afr. Stud., XI, 3 (1973). 347–59.

48 Lombard, Jacques, Autorités traditionnelles et pouvoir européen en Afrique noire. Le déclin d'une aristocratie sous le règne colonial (Paris, 1967), 210.

49 Roehrig, Victor, ‘Evolution de l'enseignement au Niger (de ses débuts jusqu'en 1951)’, Niamey (Inspection Académique) 15 10 1951, 24 (Private Archives).

50 Schachter-M., R., Political parties…, 29.

51 du Niger, T., ‘Rapport Politique, année 1951’, Niamey, 18 08 1952, 50 (AP–Dosso), and Galinier, R., ‘Rapport annuel, Cercle de Zinder, 1953’, Zinder, 1 02 1954, 39 (AP–Zinder).

52 du Niger, T., ‘Rapp. Pol. 1951’, op. cit. 62.

53 Bonardi, Pierre, La République du Niger. Naissance d'un État (Paris, 1960), 43.

54 I.e. chief of the province of Dosso (Zermakoy = chief of the Zerma).

55 Périé, Jean and Sellier, Michel, ‘Histoire des Populations du Cercle de Dosso (Niger)’, Bulletin de l'IFAN, IV (10 1950), 1015–74 (P. 1074).

56 In a conversation with the author.

57 Speech by Diori, Hamani, French National Assembly, 30 07 1949, J. Officiel de la Rép. Française. D ébats Parlémentaires. Assemblée Nationale (henceforth Nat. Assembly), no. 89, 31 July 1949, 5557.

58 Schachter-M., R., Political Parties…, 8890.

59 Ibid. and oral sources.

60 On the population of Niger, see de Rivières, Edmond Sére, Le Niger (Paris, 1951), 2131, and Donaint, Pierre and Lancrenon, François, Le Niger (Paris, 1972), 4561.

61 Bureau des Affaires Politiques et Administratives, ‘Elections Générales du 10.11. 1946’, Niamey, 11 1946 (Archives of the PPN/RDA).

62 Delavignette, R., Freedom and Authority in French West Africa (London, 1950), 24.

63 Gorer, Geoffrey, cited in Hargreaves, J. D., West Africa; the Former French States (Englewood Cliffs, 1967), 141.

64 An administrator serving in Niger expressed this point in the following way: ‘Le danger anti-français vient d'une poignée de semi-intellectuels aigris, cherchant des places, que nous avons suffisamment mal formés pour en faire des ennemis’ (Serre, Jacques, ‘Monographie géographique du canton de Bambeye’, unpublished thesis, Aix-en-Provence, 1950, p. 150). The Commandant of Niamey presented the évolués as ‘rheto-riciens sans rhétorique, architectes sans plans, sociologues primaires, artisans sans art’ (Colombani, Ignace, ‘R. Trim, 2ème Trim. 1947’, op. cit. 5).

65 Schachter-M., R., Political Parties…, 26–7, 90100.

66 Fauvet, Jacques, La Quatrième République (Paris, 1959), 109–19.

67 ‘Dossiers signalétiques des chefs de canton de Torodi’ (ASP–Say).

68 David, P., Maradi: L'Ancien Etat et l'Ancienne Ville des origines aux Inondations de 1945 (Paris/Niamey, 1964), 28.

69 ‘Journal de poste de Dogondoutchi, 1/1–1935–31/12–1947’, entry for 30/7–1941 (ASP–Dogondoutchi).

70 ‘Procès-Verbal d'Interrogation du chef de canton de Magaria’, Zinder, 7 01 1941 (ASP–Magaria).

71 Bailly, , ‘Récensement, Canton de Myrriah’, 1947 (Archives of the Commissariat Général au Développement, Niamey).

72 ‘Décision no. 0640 APA/F’, 13 Aug. 1945 (reproduced in the Journal Officiel, Niger [monthly] for Sept. 1945).

73 Based on Rash, Urvoy and Raulin, Henri, Techniques et bases socio-économiques des sociétés rurales nigériennes (Paris/Niamey, n.d.).

74 It would take too long to substantiate this point here. I propose to do so in my forthcoming thesis.

75 See, Raulin, , Techniques, and Sellier, Michel, ‘Lettre du chef de la Subdivision Centrale de Niamey au Commandant de Cercle de Niamey. Objet: Droit foncier indigène’, Niamey, 27 02 1948 (ASP–Say).

76 Assemblée Territoriale du Niger, 2ème Session extraordinaire 1955. Discours d'ouverture prononcé par le Gouverneur Ramadier le 30. Août 1955 (Porto Novo, Imprimérie du Gouvernement), 67.

77 Fuglestad, Finn, ‘La Grande Famine de 1931 dans l'Ouest Nigérien’, Révue Française d'Histoire d'Outre-Mer (forthcoming).

78 Rouch, , Migrations….

79 In 1947 the poll tax ranged from 65 to 110 francs in the east, and from 60 to 90 francs in the west. Two years later the figures were 95 to 140 francs in the west and 125 to 220 francs in the east (Journal Officiel, Niger, 1 Mar. 1947 and 1 Jan. 1949.) From 1944 to 1950 ground-nut production, the principal source of revenue of Niger, oscillated between 9,000 and 44,000 tons in the east, between 350 and 1,200 tons in the west. du Niger, T., Rapport sur l'activité des services, année 1955 (Porto Novo, Imprimérie du Gouvernement), 22.

80 See, interalia, ‘Procès-Verbal de la Réunion du Conseil des Notables du Cercle de Zinder’, Zinder, 25 07 1952 (AP–Zinder).

81 Diori, , Nat. Assembly, 31 07 1949, op. cit. 5557.

82 ‘Circulaire no. 175/APA du Gouverneur p. i. à tous Cercles et Subdivisions’, Niamey, 9 03 1950 (ASP–Magaria).

83 Toby, Jean, ‘Circulaire du Gouverneur’, Niamey, 22 05 1950 (ASP–Gaya) and Brouin, G., ‘Rapport Annuel d'Ensemble, 1950, Cercle de Zinder’, vol. I. Zinder, 5 05 1951, 38–9 (AP–Zinder).

84 Although this paragraph is mainly based on oral sources, many of the events mentioned are related by Diori, H. (Nat. Assembly, 31 07 1949, op. cit. 5559–60).

85 On Djibo Bakary, see Chaffard, Georges, Les Carnets secrets de la Décolonisation (Paris), 11, 270–5, and du Niger, T., ‘Révue … éven. 2e Trim. 1954’, op. cit. 8.

86 du Niger, T., Bureau des APA, ‘Election legislatives, 27 June 1948’ (Archives of the PPN/RDA).

87 Diori, , Nat. Assembly, 31 07 1949, op. cit. 5555passim.

88 Brouin, G., ‘Révue Trimestrielle, 2e Trim. 1951, Cercle de Zinder’, Zinder, 3 07 1951 (AP–Zinder).

89 Diori, , Nat. Assembly, 31 07 1949, op. cit. 5561.

90 Ibid. 5557–9.

91 Ibid. 5561.

92 Condat, Georges, Nat. Assembly, 31 07 1949, op. cit. 5565.

93 Nat. Assembly, 31 07 1949, 5561.

94 On Zodi Ikhia, see Pujol, G., ‘Fiche de renseignement’, Madaoua, 4 10 1952 (ASP–Madaoua).

95 Nat. Assembly, no. 108, 22 08 1951, 6326–67.

97 du Niger, T., ‘Rapport Politique, année 1952’, Niamey, 25 06 1953, 20 (AP–Niamey).

98 ‘Synthèse Mensuelle, Direction des Services de Police du Niger’ (henceforth SM), 11 1955, 10. (This periodical is to be found in most archives in Niger.)

99 Milcent, Ernest, L'A.O.F. entre en scène (Paris, 1958), 51–4.

100 du Niger, T., ‘R. Pol., année 1952’, op. cit. 1213.

101 du Niger, T., ‘Révue des événements du 4ème Trimestre 1953’ (AP–Zinder).

102 Schachter-M., R., Political Parties …, 95.

103 Milcent, , L'A.O.F., 75, and du Niger, T., ‘Révue des événements du Premier Trimestre 1953’, Niamey, 4 03 1953, 34 (AP–Zinder). See also du Niger, T., ‘Rapport Politique, année 1953’, Niamey, 18 05 1954 (AP–Zinder).

104 SM, 31 05 1957, 5.

105 On Ramadier's policy in general, see Chaffard, , Les Carnets, 271–3 and especially his speeches (op. cit. and Discours prononcé à la séance d'ouverture de la session ordinaire de l'Assemblée Territoriale du Niger, Niamey, le 29 Mars 1955, Niamey: Imprimerie Fontanon).

106 Niger-Information (government newspaper), 20 06 1956, 23.

107 du Niger, T., ‘Révue des événements du quatrième trimestre 1951’, 13 (AP–Zinder).

108 SM, 25 09 1956, 2.

109 SM, 25 10 1956, 2.

110 SM, 31 10 1956 (‘Note d'Information’).

111 SM, 12 1956, 5. (The interterritorial MSA held its constitutional congress 11–13 Jan. 1957 [Milcent, 104].)

112 Milcent, , L'A.O.F., 102, 105.

113 The local committees of the party in Zinder in 1954 and in Tessaoua in 1956, had taken together only one member who can be defined as an évolué: ‘Procès-Verbal de l'Assemblée Constituante de l'UDN, Comité Régional de Zinder’ (AP–Zinder) and UDN, Section locale de Tessaoua, ‘Procès-Verbal de l'Assemblée Générale’ (ASP–Tessaoua).

114 Fuglestad, Finn, ‘Djibo Bakary, the French, and the referendum of 1958 in Niger’, J. Afr. Hist. XIV, 2 (1973), 313–30.

1 The author wishes to thank the Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities for generous financial assistance during the period when this paper was written. Thanks are also due to Professor John D. Fage and Mr Arnold Hughes, both of the Centre of West African Studies, Birmingham, who made valuable critical comments on an earlier version of this paper. Mr Arnold Hughes in particular tried his best to instil into the author some of the basic notions of political science. Professor Fage and Mr Hughes, together with Mrs Patricia Brookfield, M.A., were also helpful with the English text.

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