"Rapport du Lt. Pachon, Commandant du Cercle de Djenné,
l'accaparement des cauris"
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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This report concerns one of the problems associated with French efforts to have francs accepted for local transactions. The alternative form of currency was cowry shells--small sea shells imported from the Indian Ocean. (NOTE accaparement = monopoly)
(p1) The Cercle's warehouse held 11 million cowries on July 1, 1899. In August, Africans bought large amounts of cowries at 960/franc, the official rate set by the French. In September, M. Raba, commerçant à Djenné, bought 2 million at that rate. Subsequently, the Service Locale ran short of cowries and suspended sales. At that point, Raba began to sell cowries to Africans at 940/franc.
(p2) Lt. Pachon wanted to know if this was legal. The legal prinicple involved whether cowries were considered a trade commodity (subject to the laws of supply-and-demand) or a currency (subject to administration control).