anfom document

Lieutenant Governeur Fousset,
"Rapport Politique Annuel, Année 1931"
(Koulouba, April 22, 1932)
in ANFOM Affaires Politiques, Carton 160

Notes © 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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This is the first annual report that mentions the Depression. Commerce has been hurt (ressenti) but Africans showed great loyalty to the French during this period of economic crisis. Trade did not really get underway until March of 1931 because merchants were unable to offer prices for local produce that were acceptable. To help, the administration reduced railroad tariffs. In additional, prices rose somewhat in Europe. Nevertheless, many farmers preferred to keep their produce for a later date.

The reduction in African buying power has had consequences for imports as well. As a result, a large number of rural comptoirs were closed and profits were greatly reduced. The cola trade from Côte d'Ivoire remains strong, but the sale of animals in the southern colonies and Senegal has dropped off due to low prices.

Due to the crisis, the local governments became more lenient with their tax collection, but the author feared that Africans interpreted this as an automatic response of the government in times of economic crisis, requiring no sacrifice on their part. In other words, when times are hard, it is the government who adapts, not the individual. Personal income tax collections proceeded without exception in all cercles except Bamako and Nioro.

Ther were acts of insubordination in 1930 in the cercles of Mopti, Ségou and Issa-Ber. They included a disturbance at the village of Mandjakuy (Cercle de San) between Christians and Moslems. At Birgo (Cercle de Kita), the trouble revolves around an old dispute between the Sidibé and Sangaré families. They hoped to force the French to enforce an agreement made in 1929. In Ségou and Mopti, abuses by certain chefs de canton have caused problems. The most serious disturbance was the fighting between the families Oulad-Nacer and Oulad-M'Bark at Nioro.

There is a tendency for Commandants de Cercle to limit their inspection tours to those places accessible by automobile.

There was a mission d'inspection in the north by Lt. l'Aviator Lebideau, leading a detachment from Araouan, who looked for possible landing strips in the area around Taoudénni. As a result of this mission, there were not enough camels to supply another mission to look for water sources in the Hodh around El Kseib.

French military activity was limited to the protection of the salt caravans, defense of the Saharan posts and the mission of "Colonel Vuillemin par le groupe nomade du Trimétrin." Vuillemin's mission was to secure the trans-Saharan route by air and road, as well as to locate water for a new post at El Eouit so that the old post at Tessalit could be decommissioned.

There are references throughout this document to the three nomad groups responsible for northern defense. They are the Groupe Nomade Araouan, Groupe Nomade Hodh and Groupe Nomade Trimétrin, abbreviated in these reports as GNA, GNT and GNH.

There is a reference to problems caused by nomads during their transhumence cycles among the sedentary people. In particular, they treated the Laisser-passer (travel permit) issued by the French as a permit to do anything they liked, including to ignore local customs of the sedentary peoples. Instead, they behaved like conquerors.

The author lamented the need to adhere to local customs, which resulted in the appointment of inept chiefs. This can be corrected to a certain extent by giving them trained advisors. Commandants du cercle are encouraged to identify potential successors and encourage them to obtain an education.

This report is missing pages 28-29.

42,449 men were examined by recruiters. 2,613 were taken into the army of whom 560 were volunteers. 4,538 were sent to forced labor, 16,069 were rejected, 357 received pardons and 11,560 were exempted. 187 eligible men who were unaccounted for last year were recruited into the army this year. The large number of volunteers is due to efforts to avoid forced labor (2ème class). This is clear from the figures for Ségou where the irrigation project is underway - 254 of 288 recruits volunteered; 228 volunteered for 6 years. 265 men were sent to work for the Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger and 1000 for STIN.

This report is also missing pages 31-37.

The Chef de la subdivision de Kayes received an automobile to aid in the census.

The people of Bafoulabé still do not listen to their French-appointed chiefs.

In Bamako, there was a noticeable decline in the number of young men leaving for Senegal (as navétanes) due to the fall in peanut prices.

One of the reasons for the consistent failure of the Bougouni's people to respect the chiefs is the fact that the cercle is largely populated with people liberated from Samory, and hence has no pre-existing tribal organization to exploit.

There was a massive distribution of plows in the Cercle de Sikasso during 1931.

In San, there was more trouble between Christians and Moslems at Mandjakuy.

In the section on the Cercle de Bandiagara, the report mentions the problem of the people in the village of Tabi, in the subdivision de Douentza. Following "les événements de 1922," the people in Tabi, Téga and Toupéré were sentenced to résidence obligtoire (exiled) in Hombouri. Following the famine of 1927, they were authorized by the chef de Hombouri to farm their old land, but not by the chef de Douentza.

A large group of Foulankriabés came from Gourma-Rharous to Boré, near Douentza, following the lead of Abidine Bikel.

Aménokal Chebboun of the Tinguereguifs was an agitator and his attitude was not changed, even after his son was sent to the Exposition Coloniale.

Salt caravans continue to operate, but they no longer earn enough to justify the risks.

The rice harvest was a little short, but millet was in good supply.