1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Senegal (colony)
SENEGAL, a country of West Africa belonging to France. As a geographical expression it is the land watered by the Senegal river; politically it has a much wider significance. The French possessions in this region are divided into (1) the colony of Senegal, and dependent native states; (2) the colony of Upper Senegal and Niger, with a dependent Military Territory; (3) the Territory of Mauretania. The first colony includes the most westerly coast region of Africa; a large part of the second colony is the country enclosed in the great bend of the Niger; while the Military Territory is east of that river. The Territory of Mauretania is part of the western Sahara, stretching indefinitely north from the Senegal river. It includes the oasis of Adrar Temur (see Adrar) and the coast regions between Cape Blanco and the Senegal river. In the present article the two colonies are dealt with in separate sections (I. and II. below), the story of French conquest and colonization throughout this vast region forming section III.
Senegal is bounded N. by the Territory of Mauretania, W. by the Atlantic, S. by Portuguese Guinea and French Guinea, and E. by the Faleme, which separates it from Upper Senegal and Niger. Wedged into Senegal and surrounded by it save seawards is the British colony of the Gambia. Senegal colony proper consists of the towns of Dakar, St Louis, Goree and Rufisque, a narrow strip of territory on either side of the Dakar-St Louis railway, and a few detached spots, and has an area of 438 sq. m. with a population (census of 1904) of 107,826. The rest of the country consists of native states under French protection, and includes, since 1909, the northern bank of the river Senegal below Bakel. In this larger sense, which is that employed in this article, Senegal covers about 74,000 sq. m., with an estimated population of 1,800,000. Among the protected states is Bondu (q.v.) lying immediately west of the lower Faleme.
Inhabitants.—The inhabitants of Senegal are, mainly, “Moors” and allied Berber races, and Negroids. The Moors, or rather Berbers (Trarzas, Braknas and Duaish), inhabit the right bank of the Senegal. Fula (Peuls) are found in various parts of the country. Negroids, however, form the bulk of the population. There are few, if any, tribes of unmixed Negro blood, though in most of them the Negro element largely predominates. The best known of these tribes are the Wolofs and Mandingos, the last-named a widespread group of allied peoples bearing many names such as Sarakolés and Bambaras. Mandingos inhabit the basins of the upper Niger and the upper Senegal, and the western slope of the mountains of Futa Jallon. Under the name of Wakore or Wangara they are also found in all the immense tract enclosed in the bend of the Niger. The Berbers, Fula and Mandingos are Moslems. The Wolofs and the Serers inhabit the seaboard from St Louis to the Gambia, and the left bank of the Senegal from its mouth to Dagana. The Balanta inhabit the left bank of the Casamance; they are allied to the Mandingos. The principal languages spoken are Wolof, Fula, Serer, Mandingo and Arabic. The river Senegal marks the line of separation between Wolof and Arabic. Fula is the language of the Fula and Tukulors (Fula half-breeds); Mandingo comprises several dialects and is widely spoken. Polygamy is generally practised. Slave raiding has been stopped and domestic slavery is not recognized by the French. (See Berbers, Fula, Wolof, Mandingo, &c.)
II. Upper Senegal and Niger
This colony is bounded N. by the Saharan territories dependent on Algeria, W. by Senegal and the Territory of Mauretania, S. by the French colonies of Guinea and the Ivory Coast, the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast (British), Togoland (German) and Dahomey (French). The Military Territory dependent on the colony extends E. of the Niger to the Lake Chad territory of French Congo, being bounded S. by Nigeria (British). The colony and its dependent territory thus form the link connecting all the possessions of France in north, west and central Africa. Their area is estimated at 210,000 sq. m., with a population of some 3,000,000. Those tribes living north and east of the Niger are mainly of Berber (Tuareg) stock; the inhabitants of the Niger bend are chiefly Negroids, such as the Mandingo, with Fula in certain districts.
The colony, as a whole, consists of a great plateau of granite and sandstone, rarely more than 1600 ft. high, and in its N.W. part, the Kaarta, all but desert. Hydrographically the western portion belongs to the basin of the Senegal, the central to that of the Niger. At Mopti, 200 m. S.W. of Timbuktu, the Niger receives the Mahel Balevel, which rises in about 9½° N. and with its tributaries drains a very large area. In its lower courses its divergent channels, uniting with offshoots from the Niger, form in the flood season an immense lake. This region—apparently the Wangara country of Idrisi—is sometimes called Bambara, the name of the chief race inhabiting it. The lakes or widening of the Niger itself occupy vast areas; Lake Debo, the Lake of Horo, the Lake of Dauna, Lake Faguibini are all to the south or west of Timbuktu, and are permanent. The greater part of the colony lies within the bend of the Niger, but westward it includes both banks of the Senegal as far as the Faleme confluence. It also extends north of the Niger so as to include the fertile land on the borders of the Sahara. On the S.W. and S. the country is somewhat mountainous and the general trend of the land and the course of the rivers is south to north. East of the Niger the conditions are mostly Saharan, but there is a belt of fairly fertile country, bordering northern Nigeria and extending to Lake Chad. This region includes the state of Zinder (q.v.) and the oases of Air or Asben and Bilma (q.v.). The country west of the Niger contains patches of forest, but it consists mainly of open land well adapted to agriculture and stock-raising. The fauna includes the lion, elephant, hippopotamus, wild boar, panther and various kinds of antelope. The climate is tropical, but, apart from the districts inundated by the Niger floods, dry and not unhealthy.
The Protected States.—Of the native states included in the colony Bambuk lies between the Senegal and the Faleme and Bafing. It is traversed from N .W. to S.E. by the steep and wall-like range of the Tamba-Ura Mountains. The soil in a large part of the country is of remarkable fertility; rice, maize, millet, melons, manioc, grapes, bananas and other fruits grow abundantly; the forests are rich in a variety of valuable trees; and extensive stretches are covered with abundant pasturage of the long guinea-grass. The inhabitants, a branch of the Mandingo race, own large herds of cattle and sheep. The reports which reached Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries of a country in Upper Senegal rich in gold referred to this district, where both alluvial and quartz deposits have been found, though the stories of “hills of gold” remain unverified. In all the protected states the native rulers retain a considerable degree of authority and native law is administered.
III. History and Administration
The story of the French conquests throughout West Africa is inseparably connected with the history of Senegal. Trading stations were established elsewhere on the coast, but the line of penetration into the interior of the continent was, until the last few years of the 19th century, invariably by way of the river Senegal. Hence there is a peculiar interest in the record of the early settlements on this coast. The Portuguese had some establishments on the banks of the Senegal in the 15th century; they penetrated to Bambuk in search of gold, and were for some time masters of that country, but the inhabitants rose and drove them out. Remains of their buildings are still to be seen. The first French settlement was probably made in 1626 (see Senegal, river). Between 1664, when the French settlements were assigned to Colbert's West India Company, and 1758, when the colony was seized by the British, Senegal had passed under the administration of seven different companies, none of which attained any great success, though from 1697 to 1724 affairs were conducted by a really able governor, André Brue, who did not, however, spend the whole of his time in Africa; from 1703 to 1714 he directed the affairs of Senegal from Paris. Brue made many exploring expeditions and was on one occasion (1701) captured by the natives, who extorted a heavy ransom. Under his direction the auriferous regions of Bambuk, long since abandoned by the Portuguese, were revisited (1716) and the first map of Senegal drawn (1724). In the meantime (1677) the French had captured from the Dutch Rufisque, Portugal, Joal and Goree and they were confirmed in possession of these places by the treaty of Nijmwegen (1678). In 1717 the French acquired Portendic, a road stead half way between capes Verde and Blanco, and in 1724 Arguin, an island off the coast of the Sahara, which still belongs to the colony. Goree and the district of Cape Verde were captured by the British under Commodore Keppel in 1758, but were surrendered to the French in 1763, and by the treaty of peace in 1783 the whole of the Senegal was also restored. The British again captured the colony in the wars of the First Empire (Goree 1800, St Louis 1809) and, though the treaty of Paris authorized a complete restitution, the French authorities did not enter into possession till 1817. At that time the authority of France did not extend beyond the island of Goree and the town of St Louis, whilst up to 1854 little was effected by the thirty-seven governors who followed each other in rapid succession. Of these governors Captain (afterwards Admiral) Bouët-Willaumez had previously explored the Senegal river as far as Médine and was anxious to increase French influence, but his stay in Senegal (1842–1844) was too brief to permit him to accomplish much.
The appointment of General Faidherbe as governor in 1854 proved the turning-point in the history of Senegal. In the meantime the Niger had been explored, Timbuktu visited by Europeans and the riches of the region were attracting attention. General Faidherbe sought to bring these newly opened-up lands under French sway, and dreamed of a French empire stretching across Africa from west to east. As far as concerned West Africa he did much to make that dream a reality. On taking up the governorship he set about subduing the Moorish (Berber) tribes of the Trarzas, Braknas and Duaish, whose “kings,” especially the king of the Trarzas, had subjected the French settlers and traders to grievous and arbitrary exactions; and he bound them by treaty to confine their authority to the north bank of the Senegal. In 1855 he annexed the country of Walo and, ascending the river beyond Kayes, erected the fort of Médine for the purpose of stemming the advancing tide of Moslem invasion, which under Omar al-Haji (Alegui) threatened the safety of the colony. In 1857 Médine was brilliantly defended by the mulatto Paul Holle against Omar, who with his army of 20,000 men had to retire before the advance of General Faidherbe and turn his attention to the conquest of the native states within the bend of the Niger. The conquest of the Senegambian region by the French followed. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 checked the French schemes of penetration for some five or six years, but the delay proved to be no disadvantage for Great Britain, France's only serious rival in West Africa at the time, remained inert.
The first French expedition into the heart of the Niger country was undertaken in 1865, when General Faidherbe sent Lieut. E. Mage and Dr Quintin to explore the country east of the Senegal. The two travellers pushed as far as Segu on the Niger, then the capital of the almany Ahmadu, a son of Omar al-Haji. Conquest of the upper Niger regions.At Segu they were forcibly detained from February 1864 to March 1866. During this period they gathered much valuable information concerning the geography, ethnology and history of the middle Niger region. In 1878 the explorer Paul Soleillet (1842–1886) also penetrated to Segu. In 1879 Colonel Briére de l'Isle (governer of Senegal, 1876–1881) appointed Captain Joseph S. Gallieni to investigate the route for a railway and to reopen communications with the almany Ahmadu; and at this time the post of Bafulabé was constructed. The armed conquest began in 1880, and for more than fifteen years was carried on by Borgnis-Desbordes, J. S. Gallieni, H. N. Frey, Louis Archinard, Col. Combes, Tite Pierre Eugène Bonnier and other officers. In 1881 the Niger was reached; the fort of Kita was erected to the south-east of Médine to watch the region between the Senegal and the Joliba (upper Niger); the fort of Bamako on the Niger was built in 1883; a road was made, 400 m. of telegraph line laid down and the work of railway construction begun. In 1887 Ahmadu, who had formerly been anxious to obtain British protection, signed a treaty placing the whole of his country under French protection. Besides Ahmadu the principal opponent of the French was a Malinké (Mandingo) chieftain named Samory, a man of humble origin, born about 1846, who first became prominent as a reformer of Islam, and
Determined to profit by the convention, the French government dispatched Colonel P. L. Monteil to West Africa to visit the countries on the Anglo-French frontier. That officer, starting from St Louis in 1891, traversed the Niger bend from W. to E., visited Sokoto and Zinder and arrived at Kuka on Lake Chad, whence he made his way across the Sahara to the Mediterranean. In the following years French expeditions from Senegal penetrated south-east into the hinterland of the British colonies and protectorates on the Guinea coast and descended the Niger (February 1897) as far as Bussa, the limit of navigation from the ocean. These actions brought them into contact with the British outposts in the Gold Coast, Lagos and Nigeria. A period of tension between the two countries was put an end to by a convention signed on the 14th of June 1898 whereby the territories in dispute were divided between the parties, Great Britain retaining Bussa, while France obtained Mossi and other territories in the Niger bend to which Great Britain had laid claim. In the same year it was determined to send an expedition to Lake Chad, which should co-operate with other expeditions from Algeria and the Congo. The Senegal expedition was entrusted to Captains Voulet and Chanoine, officers who had served many years in West Africa. Reports of the misconduct and cruelty of these officers reaching St Louis, Lieut.-Colonel Klobb of the Marines was sent to supersede them. Colonel Klobb overtook the expedition at a spot east of the Niger on the 14th of July 1899. Voulet, fearing arrest and punishment, ordered his men to fire on Klobb and his escort, and the colonel was killed. Thereupon Voulet, joined by Chanoine, declared his intention to set up an independent state, and with the majority of his troops marched away, leaving the junior officers, who remained loyal to France, with a small remnant. Within a fortnight both Voulet and Chanoine had been killed by their own men, who returned to the French camp. Lieut. Pallier assumed command and led the force to Zinder, reached on the 29th of July. Here, in the November following, they were joined by F. Foureau and Commandant Lamy, who had crossed the Sahara from Algeria. The combined force marched to Lake Chad, and, having been joined by the Congo expedition, met and defeated the forces of Rabah (q.v.). Thus was accomplished in fact the linking up of the French possessions in Africa, an object of French ambition since 1880, and theoretically effected by the Anglo-French convention of 1890.
In 1904, in virtue of another convention between Great Britain and France, the Senegal colony obtained a port (Yarbatenda) on the Gambia accessible to sea-going vessels, while the trans-Niger frontier was again modified in favour of France, that country thereby obtaining a fertile tract the whole way from the Niger to Lake Chad. During 1905-1906 the oases of Air and Bilma, in the central Sahara, were brought under French control, notwithstanding a claim by Turkey to Bilma as forming part of the Tripolitan hinterland.
At first the whole of the conquered or protected territories were either administered from Senegal, or placed under military rule. Subsequently the upper Senegal country and the states included in the bend of the Niger were formed into a separate administration and were given the title of “French Sudan.” Administrative divisions.As the result of further reorganization (October 18, 1899) the colonies of French Guinea, Ivory Coast and Dahomey were given their geographical hinterlands, and in October 1902 the central portion was created a protectorate under the style of the Territories of Senegambia and of the Niger. A further change was made in 1904 (decree of the 18th of October) when this central portion was changed into “The Colony of Upper Senegal and Niger.” The new colony was placed under a lieutenant-governor.
Soon after the reorganization of the country in 1902, the effective area of French control was increased by M. Coppolani, secretary-general of French West Africa, who in February 1903 induced the emirs of certain Trarza and Brakna Moors inhabiting a fertile region on the northern bank of the lower Senegal to place their country under the direct supervision of French officials. In the following year these regions were formally constituted the Territory of Mauretania, being placed under the direct control of the governor-general of French West Africa represented on the spot by a civil commissioner. In 1905 M. Coppolani, the commissioner, was murdered by a band of fanatics at an oasis in the Tagant plateau. During 1908–1909 a force under Colonel Gouraud, after considerable fighting—the natives receiving help from Morocco—made effective French influence in Adrar Temur.
The general oversight of both colonies is in the hands of the governor-general of French West Africa. Senegal proper has been the subject of special legislation, its government being modelled on that of a department in France. GovernmentThe lieutenant-governor, who controls the military as well as the civil administration, is assisted by a secretary-general and by a privy council (conseil privé) consisting of high officials and a minority of unofficial nominated members, but he is not bound to follow its advice. This council corresponds to the prefectural council of a department. There is also a council general (conseil général) with powers analogous to those of the similar councils in France. The Senegal council, however, does not share the right, possessed by the councils of other French colonies, of voting the budget, which is fixed by the governor general of French West Africa. The inhabitants of “communes with full powers” (i.e. St Louis, Dakar, Goree and Rufisque) alone have the right of electing the council-general. The same constituencies—in which no distinction of colour or race is made—elect (law of April 1879) to the French chambers one deputy, who is also a member of the superior council of the colonies, a consultative body sitting in Paris. The communes named have the same municipal rights as in France. There have been, in addition, since 1891, “mixed” and native communes with restricted powers of local government. The judicial system applied to Europeans resembles that of France, and the judicature is independent of the executive. Native laws and customs not repugnant to justice are respected. Education is given in village, commercial and technical schools, all maintained by the state. Arabic is taught in all Mahommedan districts. The colony of Upper Senegal and Niger has a more rudimentary constitution. Its administrative council contains three “notables,” unofficial members nominated by the lieutenant-governor.
(F. R. C.)
- See A. Knox, “The Isohyets ’twixt Sahara and Western Sudan,” in Geog. Journ. (June 1909).
- For a monograph on Bamako see Quest. dipl. et col. (1907), pp. 561-576.
- Lieut. E. Mage (1837–1869) of the French navy, an officer of brilliant promise, first visited Senegal in 1856 when, under Faidherbe's direction, he went on a mission to the Duaish Moors. The “Gorgone,” which he commanded, was wrecked off Brest in December 1869 and Mage was drowned.
- It was in this year (1887) that the governor of Senegal took possession of a small uninhabited group of islands, named the Alcatras, lying off the coast of French Guinea. This act had a tragic sequel. By agreement with the governor, a chieftain of the neighbouring mainland sent four of his warriors to the islands to guard the tricolour. These soldiers were, however, like the islands themselves, completely forgotten by the authorities, and, the Alcatras producing nothing but sand, the four men starved to death, after exhausting the supplies with which they had been originally provided.