Effects Of French Policy Of Assimilation On West Africa


stanley-portrait2The major policy of French colonial administration in West Africa
until 1946 took on the wheels of “Assimilation”.
The underlying policy was to enable France implant French culture and
civilisation on the people with the intention of suffocating the
culture and fundamentalities of Afrikans. The policy of Assimilation
can be strategically divided into three folds_ranging; political,
economic and socio-cultural.

Political Assimilation

The political administration of assimilation which was controlled from
a centralised federation as the Federation of French West Africa had
it headquarters at Dakar, Senegal. The laws for the
administration,that is, obnoxious were deliberately made in France
under the very watchful eyes of the legislative body in France.

There were the colonial minister, the governor-general,
lieutenant-governors, the commandant du cercle, chef du subdivision
and the puppets_Africanchiefs heading cantons.

With this struture well entrenched and codified in place, the French
government was ever more pig-headed to dance to the tune of
“loot-all-natural-resources” given to Afrikans by nature and make them
wallow in the abyss of poverty and agonies. The political assimilation
however, enfeebled the political authority, military, rulership and
divine authourity of the chiefs who were made to become the elements
of puppetism and stoogism which occured in British West Africa.

Economic Assimilation

French policy of Assimilation took a different trend in the economic
sphere. In the Economic sphere, the colony was made to produce raw
materials particularly to feed French industries. Based on this,
French interest was the premium. The natural resources were exploited
to enable France compete favourable in the league of industrial
competition taking place in Europe.

French Colonial Pact, made it possible for France to dictate the
economic and financial decisions of the colonies to favour or serve
the interest of France and her citizens at the expense of the
colonies. The colonial pact also forbade French colonies to engage in
any foreign trade with the exception of France. What this then meant
was that, France became the ‘god’ of trade for their colonies which
even till date works like a generational ‘curse’. It is however clear
from the principle that, France did not only lord herself over the
colonies but to the entrenchment of a “one-evil-route-trade” all in
the name of serving the parochial selfish whims and caprices of
France. France like any other European colonisers feared for losing
their foul gain as a result of the lack of or inadequate resources
they had.

Cultural and Social Assimilation

Another policy of Assimilation which is equally as dreadful is that of
the socio-cultural assimilation. The cultural assimilation was solely
meant to implant French culture on the local people thus distorting
the cultural heritage of the local people. French civilation meant
that, everything Afrika was barbaric and ungodly, and that it beholds
on the local people to accept and uphold their claim of their culture
being divinely-ordained.

The social assimilation took on the harshest of all trend, thus
dehumanising the Africa into the notorious system of indigenat and
prestation. The worrying thing was that, the subjects under the social
ordinaces or obnoxious laws were subjected to forced labour without
any monetary payment. The subjects did all the difficult works
especially those conscripted into the army to work as auxiliaries.
They were popularly known as deuxieme contigent, who did all the
drugeful work. In fact, they were regarded as “Slaves” in their own

The General Effects

The many uncurable problems confronting French West African countries
today can all be stemed from this system. The situation where France
has over-lord herself over the French West African countries all are
as a result of the French policy of Assimilation.

Even in 1958, when Sekou Toure and his Guinea voted against the French
community, all the colonial ‘benefits’ Guinea had although it was
generated from her own resources were destroyed with impunity. Charles
de Gaule must have being very diabolic_wise to enable France envisage
her vision which they (France) are enjoying today.

Leaders who decide not to walk the talk of France are quickly engulfed
in the web of pustch or coup d’e tat machinated by France.

Today, about fourteen (14) West African countries after serveral
years, say 50 years of independence from France still pay colonial
‘benefits’ to France. These countries are made to pay annual financial
contributions over billions of Dollars to France simply because they
are deemed by France to have benefited from them as a result of France
colonising them.

In terms of trade, major trading partner of all French West African
countries is France and no one else. The failure to trade first with
France means the worst is yet to happen.

Nana Arhin Tsiwah



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