To give an idea of the diversity of our material, in this section we present a small sample of texts.
Extracts from the book
“On ne fait pas en quelques mois des hommes beaux, forts et instruits. Par le développement plus résolu et plus généreusement doté de l’assistance médicale et de l’enseignement, on aurait largement amélioré à l’avance, comme on doit l’améliorer pour l’avenir, la qualité physique et intellectuelle des diverses races disséminées dans notre vaste domaine d’outre-mer.” (Sarraut 1923: 58)
“La richesse n’est pas une quantité fixe et immuable; elle est extensible; elle se développe; elle n’a d’autres limites que la puissance productive du sol et la puissance de débit des moyens de transport vers les points de consommation ou de transformation.” (Sarraut 1923: 59)
“L’instruction, en effet, a d’abord pour résultat d’améliorer largement la valeur de la production coloniale en multipliant, dans la foule des travailleurs indigènes, la qualité des intelligences et le nombre des capacités; elle doit, en outre, parmi la masse laborieuse, dégager et dresser les élites de collaborateurs qui, comme agents techniques, contremaîtres, surveillants, employés ou commis de direction, suppléeront à l’insuffisance numérique des européens et satisferont à la demande croissante des entreprises agricoles, industrielles ou commerciales de colonisation.” (Sarraut 1923: 95)
Extracts from the book
“Let it be admitted at the outset that European brains,
capital, and energy have not been, and never will be, expended in
developing the resources of Africa from motives of pure philanthropy;
that Europe is in Africa for the mutual benefit of her own industrial
classes, and of the native races in their progress to a higher plane;
that the benefit can be made reciprocal, and that it is the aim and
desire of civilised administration to fulfil this dual mandate.
By railways and roads, by reclamation of swamps and irrigation of deserts, and by a system of fair trade and competition, we have added to the prosperity and wealth of these lands, and checked famine and disease. We have put an end to the awful misery of the slave-trade and inter-tribal war, to human sacrifice and the ordeals of the witch-doctor. Where these things survive they are severely suppressed. We are endeavouring to teach the native races to conduct their own affairs with justice and humanity, and to educate them alike in letters and in industry.” (Lugard 1926: 617)
“As Roman imperialism laid the foundations of modern civilisation, and led
the wild barbarians of these islands along the path of progress, so in Africa
to-day we are repaying the debt, and bringing to the dark places of the earth,
the abode of barbarism and cruelty, the torch of culture and progress, while
ministering to the material needs of our own civilisation. In this task the
nations of Europe have pledged themselves to co-operation by a solemn covenant.
Towards the common goal each will advance by the methods most consonant with
its national genius. British methods have not perhaps in all cases produced
ideal results, but I am profoundly convinced that there can be no question
but that British rule has promoted the happiness and welfare of the primitive
races. Let those who question it examine the results impartially. If there
is unrest, and a desire for independence, as in India and Egypt it is because
we have taught the value of liberty and freedom, which for centuries these
peoples had not known. Their very discontent is a measure of their progress.
We hold these countries because it is the genius of our race to colonise, to trade, and to govern. The task in which England is engaged in the tropics – alike in Africa and in the East – has become part of her tradition, and she has ever given of her best in the cause of liberty and civilisation. There will always be those who cry aloud that the task is being badly done, that it does not need doing, that we can get more profit by leaving others to do it, that it brings evil to subject races and breeds profiteers at home. These were not the principles which prompted our forefathers, and secured for us the place we hold in the world to-day in trust for those who shall come after us.” (Lugard 1926: 618 f.)
“The colonial empires require a different development programme, in which industrialization will occupy a very much smaller place. The most important task there is a certain differentiation of agricultural production, instead of relying upon one crop, as so many of them have done up to the present time. If we remember that the main progress in an industrial nation has been due not so much to the increase in the quantity of industrial products, as to the increase in the variety of those industrial products, the same thing should obtain to a very large extent in the agricultural colonial empires; progress in the technique of production in order to produce more tons of cane sugar per acre may be of value to the world but brings very little profit to the indigenous population. A better solution seems to consist in applying to agricultural research the same process which has characterized industrial research in Western Europe, namely that the production of new agricultural products should be studied rather than improved methods of production and increased quantities of the same agrarian products.“ (Rosenstein-Rodan 1944: 163)
Robert Delavignette (1897-1976) was a colonial administrator
in AOF (French West Africa) during the 1920s, director of the Ecole nationale
de la France d’outre-mer (former Ecole coloniale), the French training
institution for colonial servants in Paris, and high commissioner in the
Cameroons (1946-47). He played an important role in French colonialism as
a writer, thinker, and educator.
In his novel “Les paysans noirs” the installation of a peanut oil factory – most of the time simply called “la machine” – in a rural region of colonial Upper Volta becomes a catalysator for social change. The main perspective is that of a district commissioner. His supervision and intermediation between conflicting social groups and interests result in a successful modernisation process that integrates the peasantry into the new economic pattern.
Le mois du soleil dur
Et la Machine, à Kiribina, s’élevait chaque jour. « Nous apportons
quatre millions de matériel, disait le patron de l’huilerie, les perdrons-nous
par la faute des nègres ? Champs du seigneur ou champs de soukalas, nous
voulons de l’arachide. Six mille tonnes. »
« Les champs du seigneur, répondait le commandant, se feront aux dépens des champs ordinaires. Vous aurez peut-être de l’arachide une année, mais le pays n’aura pas de mil. Et l’année suivante, comment les gens mal nourris travailleront-ils ? Vous aurez eu une traite sans lendemain. Vous aurez devant vous des porteurs abrutis et ensauvagés et non des paysans intéressés et vous périrez à votre tour dans un pays de mauvais gré et de disette. »
Mais il voyait bien que le commandement de Nèrigaba et l’affaire de l’arachide, ce n’était pas neuf cantons et cent dix villages et un certain nombre de champs seigneuriaux. Il n’y avait pas d’indigènes cette année-là. Il y avait un pays. Et ce pays c’était trois mille quatre cents soukalas. Là étaient sans doute les vrais champs et les hommes. (Delavignette 1931: 26f)
Le mois de la machine et de l’épi
Mais la Machine tournait.
Le commandant la considérait avec inquiétude. Elle était prête à broyer les soukalas.
Y aurati-il au moins de l’arachide ? Pas de l’arachide un peu-un peu. Mais de l’arachide-trop ? Ha ! Les gens ont fait manière pour en gagner. C’était tout ce que le pays répondait.
L’arachide-trop, c’était la vie de la Machine, mais peut-être la mort des soukalas. (Delavignette 1931: 135f)
Le mois des mères
Le commandant ordonna de garder la semence, la plus belle arachide,
celle qui reste en terre, dans les champs déjà
récoltés en gros. Tant de tines par village. Et les
greniers de semence s’élevèrent devant la soukala
du chef de village ou du chef de quartier ou au campement et
affirmèrent la volonté du Blanc pour l’année
La traite était bonne. Le plus petit canton, celui de Nérigaba, vendit plus de tines qu’il n’y a de cauris dans la corbeille de mariage des riches épousées. Plus de quarante-deux mille ! Dans tout le commandement, il avait été vendu sept cent mille tines. Les Blancs dirent quatre mille deux cents tonnes. Ce n’était pas les six mille tonnes promises autrefois par les bureaux à la Machine, mais c’était le surplus de vie d’un pays bien vivant.
L’argent de la Machine de Kiribina coulait dans le pays et tombait sur toutes les soukalas comme une pluie bienfaisante. Certes, les chefs et les riches avaient la grosse part. Mais les anciens tirailleurs avaient leur compte. Et les pauvres avaient le peu qu’il faut aux pauvres. (Delavignette 1931: 156f)
Le mois de la fin
Dans tous les cantons les soukalas des jeunes ménages se
multipliaient. Le maïs séchait sur le toit des huttes, les
pois sur l’aire qui entoure le seuil et le gros mil en grappes
pendues à l’arbre. Les jeunes femmes cuisaient avec amour
la bonne nourriture pour deux. Elles s’enhardissaient à
manger en même temps que l’homme, leur mari. Elles
étaient fières d’avoir la clé de la chambre.
Elles la portaient ostensiblement quand elles partaient pour la
Les nouvelles soukalas ne ressemblaient plus aux vieilles. Elles n’étaient plus une tribu mais un ménage qui suivait la coutume à sa manière. Et nul ne connaissait le secret de cette manière-là. Ni les vieux ni le commandant. (Delavignette 1931: 214f)
Joyce Cary (1888-1957) was a novelist of Anglo-Irish descent. He joined
the Nigerian political service in 1913, held several posts and was district
officer of Borgu until he returned to Oxford in 1920 and succeeded as a
writer. His widely-read novel “Mister Johnson” (1939) became object
of postcolonial critique and theory for the colonialist ideology it represents.
“The African Witch” (1936) deals with the power struggle around the succession of the Emir of Rimi, which is staged more and more as antagonism between modern and anti-modern forces of colonial society.
The extracts show the main character Louis Aladai, member of the local elite and Oxford graduate, in dialogue with Judy Coote, fiancée of a colonial official (I) and Aladai’s uncle Makurdi making plans for his nephew to become Emir of Rimi (II).
The young man walked up and down with quick nervous steps. Then, unexpectedly, he smiled at his friend, and said, ‘If I had put on a turban, and three or four Hausa gowns, they’d have been delighted to see me.’
‘Oh! I don’t know about that.’
‘Yes, yes – that is what is so strange.’ He stopped and stared at her, as if she, being English, was part of the strangeness. ‘Why do they not like me to wear their clothes – isn’t it a compliment? But, of course, it looks as if I wanted to put myself on a level with them.’
Judy interrupted quickly, ‘But you know it’s not that – ‘
‘What is it, then?’
‘I think it’s because we are such nationalists ourselves – we like to see people keeping old customs and their own dress. You know, Louis, that we are a very sentimental people, especially about old customs and picturesque dresses and views.’
‘I can’t understand it,’ he burst out. ‘Such a great people – a great civilization! And they see that I love it. Think of how I felt when I began to read English books and to hear what civilization could mean – it was like growing up thousands of years in a few months.’
‘But, Louis, Rimi has a civilization of its own.’
He made a quick gesture, only short of impatience by a little politeness. ‘Rimi civilization! You know that it is a joke. Can you compare it with yours? – and that means all Europe. Think of the richness of the European peoples – the poetry, the music, the – the’ – he waved his hand in the air – ‘the greatness of every kind.’ He turned on her again. ‘Rimi civilization! Do you know what it is’ – ju-ju.’ (Cary 2000: 20f)
It was quite true that Makurdi was talking politics. For the last few months he had talked nothing else. Makurdi’s dream for twenty years had been to see his nephew Emir of Rimi. He knew better than anyone in the country what could be done with Rimi and Rimi trade by an intelligent emir guided by a businessman of his experience.
Rimi was one of the best-placed ports of the Niger. The whole river trade passed its wharves, and, though that trade was declining, it was still great. The internal trade had also been bad, but Makurdi was sure that more could be made out of it. Rimi had thirty thousand people, and it was the capital of a province holding a million. Nothing but the incompetence of the old Emir, the ignorant greed of his market officials, and the conservatism of his village heads prevented every adult in that million from putting at least five shillings a year into the Treasury. Ten thousand pounds could be obtained from the dried fish trade alone – by centralizing the market, releasing the principal dealers from dues, and licensing retailers.
The beer sellers would willingly pay double to limit their numbers and get rid of competition. A licence system on the English model would accomplish this, and could also be represented as a temperance measure. The resident would like it very much. (Cary 2000: 24f)
The Development of Sukumaland
A report produced by the East African Group of a Conference on Mass Education
held at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park on 11th, 12th and 13th March,
1) The Sukumaland Development Scheme, which aims at combating the chief obstacle to progress by means of the resettlement of population and stock to chosen areas under the direction and control of a Development Team, is accepted as the most over-riding and urgent consideration. We realise that the proposed measures do not in themselves constitute Mass Education and that the need remains to consider the means by which this scheme may be stimulated and be sustained and consolidated by the active co-operation of the people. After consideration of the Rounce and other reports, we feel that there are certain ommissions. These are:
a) There are certain non-official agencies having a close and intimate knowledge of the people, especially the missions and African groups, whose co-operation should undoubtably be enlisted in the formulation of any scheme of this nature.
b) The teachers and pupils of all schools from std. II upwards should be encouraged to participate together with literate ex-Askaris, particularly those that have received post war training.
c) Exclusively African Markets might also be encouraged as a means of improving nutrition, stimulating crafts and the production of a greater variety of crops, especially if organised by village enthusiasts.
These should cater for local products and not for export products which are already provided for in Government appointed markets.
d) Greater advantage should be taken of the long coast line of Lake Victoria to develop the fishing industry to improve the protein-deficient diet.
e) The recommendations of Dr. MacDonald’s medical survey should be integrated into the general scheme.
f) An anthropologist should be included in the Development Team, to work as a member of the team and not as an isolated academician.
2) There still remains the problem of how best to obtain the active co-operation of the Wasukuma, as opposed to their passive aquiescence in this plan and to ensure its sustained development on a long term basis and to prevent its collapse on the withdrawal of the directive force. We are led to believe that there are no great difficulties in persuading the people to leave their old areas and to be resettled in new areas and in our opinion the real problem of this development scheme is to ensure that they maintain and improve the fertility of the soil and do not revert to their old destructive practices. This problem can only be solved if the people are intelligently aware that it is their problem and only they can solve it. We suggest that as a first step a small scheme should be tried out with a view to discovering the spark need to kindle the enthusiasm of the Wasukuma.
3) The Organisation of the Experimental Scheme.
The scheme should be based on an area of about five associated villages in order to provide adequate scope for trial and error, and it should be made where the conditions are comparatively favourable to success. In the absence or detailed local knowledge we have therefore selected the area centred on NEGEZI village which has the advantages of (i) a progressive chief (ii) a relatively stable population (iii) accessibility (iv) it is not upset by the compulsory transfer of population.
A rapid survey should be made in this area in order to find the most cohesive group, not necessarily an administrative group, in which to begin the experimental scheme. The force of cohesion may well be the common use of a particular market or water supply. The survey might be made by a local team or Administrative, Agricultural and other officers.
We consider that the effects of a mass education project on this group should be studied to ascertain which amongst various stimuli has amakened [sic] the greater interest of the people. The interests aroused will indicate the lines on which development should be encouraged, the eventual goal being the solution of the problem stated in para. 2 above. The initial impetus might well be given by literacy work by the encouragement of simple crafts etc. This work should not be that of the Development Team but a small team of trained Africans co-ordinated by a European organiser, as envisaged in the Philip's report on "Mass Education in Tanganyika Territory", should undertake this experiment. The organisation and training of this team should be on the lines recommended in the Philip's report with this modification, that the European organiser should be able to speak Ki Sukuma.
Note: Owing to the limited time available, the group was unable to go into details of the organisation and the training of the team nor was it able to suggest possible lines for development of the Mass Education project.Source: National Archives/London, File CO 691/198