Cercle was the smallest unit of French political administration in French Colonial Africa that was headed by a European officer. A cercle consisted of several cantons, each of which in turn consisted of several villages, and was instituted in France's African colonies from 1895 to 1946.
At the bottom of the European administration the "Cercle Commander" ("commandant de cercle") was subject to the authority of a District Commander, and the government of the colony above him, but was independent of the Military structure (outside of Military areas, e.g. modern Niger and Mauritania prior to the Second World War). Below the "Cercle Commander" was a series of African "Chefs de canton" and "Chefs du Village": "chiefs" appointed by the French and subject to removal by the Europeans. As well, the "Cercle Commander" made use of a large number of servants, employees, and African officers such as the "Gardes-de-cercle" police, any military units seconded to them by government authorities, and sub administrators such as the Precepteur du marché trade inspectors, etc.
Cercle Commanders and District Commanders were also the chief judges of the Indigénat legal code in the area they commanded. Commanders were expected to make regular tours of their areas to enforce policies, rule on cases, extract taxes and Prestation labor and implement political and economic projects of either the colonial governor, the French Overseas Ministry, or of their own creation.
The commandant de cercle, or any white man in practice, was free to impose summary punishment for any of 34 (later 12) vague headings of infractions of the code: from murder down to 'disrespect' of France, its symbols, or functionaries. These could range from fines, to 15 days in prison, executed immediately.While the statute stated that all punishments must be signed by the colonial governor, this was almost always done after the fact. Corporal punishment was outlawed, but still regularly used. And while reforms were periodically placed upon these powers, in practice they became common and arbitrary. Over 1,500 officially reported infractions were punished under the indigénat in Moyen Congo in 1908-09 alone.
In addition, native sub-officials, such as the appointed local chiefs, made use of forced labor, compulsory crops, and taxes in kind at their discretion. As the enforcers of the indigénat, they were also, in part, beneficiaries. Still, they themselves were quite firmly under French authority when the French chose to exercise it. It was only in 1924 that chiefs du canton were exempted from the Indigénat, and if they showed insubordination or disloyalty they could still (as all Africans) be imprisoned for up to ten years for 'Political offences' by French officials (subject to a signature of the Minister of Colonies).
Gardes-de-cercle supported the European officer. Gardes-de-cercle were Africans used as auxiliary policemen to support local colonial administrators. Since they were often called upon to arrest people and to compel them to supply forced labor, the French usually recruited them from outside the cercle where they served. As a consequence, they were often disliked and distrusted by the local inhabitants, even though they were Africans.
The Lamine Guèye law finally enabled some form of small political representation from the colonies after the war. One year later, the courts and labor laws of the Indigénat were removed.
Legally, the Indigénat and the power of Cercle Commanders was dismantled in three steps. The ordinance of 7 May 1944 suppressed the summary punishment statutes, and offered citizenship to those who met certain criteria and would give up their rights to native or Muslim courts. This citizenship was given on a personal basis: their (even future) children would still fall under the Indigénat.The Lamine Guèye law of 7 April 1946 formally extended citizenship across the empire, indigènes included. Third, the law of 20 September 1947 removed the two tier court system and mandated equal access to public employment.
Reduced to a political subdivision roughly equivalent to a French department and stripped of the personal power of the Cercle Commander system, the Cercle name retained enough imperial connotations to be changed by most nations upon independence to Departments or Sub-Prefectures. Mali is the only nation in Sub-Saharan Africa to retain the name Cercle for its second level sub-divisions.
The date of the first human presence in Ivory Coast has been difficult to determine because human remains have not been well preserved in the country's humid climate. However, the presence of old weapon and tool fragments in the country has been interpreted as a possible indication of a large human presence during the Upper Paleolithic period, or at the minimum, the Neolithic period. The earliest known inhabitants of Côte d'Ivoire, however, have left traces scattered throughout the territory. Historians believe that they were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the present inhabitants. Peoples who arrived before the 16th century include the Ehotilé (Aboisso), Kotrowou (Fresco), Zéhiri, Ega and Diès (Divo).
French Sudan was a French colonial territory in the Federation of French West Africa from around 1880 until 1960, when it became the independent state of Mali. The colony was formally called French Sudan from 1890 until 1899 and then again from 1921 until 1958, and had a variety of different names over the course of its existence. The colony was initially established largely as a military project led by French troops, but in the mid-1890s it came under civilian administration.
French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan, French Guinea, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Dahomey and Niger. The federation existed from 1895 until 1958. Its capital was Saint-Louis, Senegal until 1902, and then Dakar until the federation's collapse.
Upper Senegal and Niger was a colony in French West Africa, created on 21 October 1904 from colonial Senegambia and Niger by the decree "For the Reorganisation of the general government of French West Africa".
The Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, commonly known as the RDA and variously translated as African Democratic Assembly and African Democratic Rally, was a political party in French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa which was important in the decolonization of the French empire. The RDA was composed of different political parties throughout the French colonies in Africa and lasted from 1946 until 1958. At certain points, the RDA was the largest political party in the colonies in Africa and played a key role in the French government headed by the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance (UDSR). Although the regional party largely dissolved in 1958 with the independence votes for the colonies, many of the national parties retained the RDA in their name and some continue to do so. The political ideology of the party did not endorse outright secession of colonies from France, but it was anti-colonial and pan-Africanist in its political stances.
An administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administration of a commune is located.
African Socialist Movement was a political party in French West Africa. The MSA was formed following a meeting of the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO) federations of Cameroon, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, French Sudan, Gabon, Guinea, Niger, Oubangui-Chari, and Senegal; the meeting was held in Conakry from 11 January to 13 January 1957. At that meeting it was decided that the African federations would break with its French parent organisation and form the MSA.
A cercle is the second level administrative unit in Mali. Mali is divided into eight régions and one capital district (Bamako); the régions are subdivided into 49 cercles. These subdivisions bear the name of their principal city.
Joost van Vollenhoven was a Dutch-born French soldier and colonial administrator. Van Vollenhoven died in the Second Battle of the Marne.
Amadou Lamine-Guèye was a Senegalese politician who became leader of the Parti Sénégalais de l'Action Socialiste. In 1945 he and his associate, Léopold Sédar Senghor, were elected to represent Senegal in the French National Assembly. Gueye was also elected to the French Senate in 1958. He gave his name to the 1946 Lamine Guèye law which granted French citizenship to all inhabitants of France's overseas colonies.
The "Four Communes" of Senegal were the four oldest colonial towns in French West Africa. In 1848, the Second Republic extended the rights of full French citizenship to the inhabitants of Saint-Louis, Dakar, Gorée, and Rufisque. While those who were born in these towns could technically enjoy all the rights of native French citizens, substantial legal and social barriers prevented the full exercise of these rights, especially by those seen by authorities as 'full blooded' Africans. Most of the African population of these towns were termed originaires: those Africans born into the commune, but who retained recourse to African and/or Islamic law. Those few Africans from the four communes who were able to pursue higher education and were willing to renounce their legal protections could 'rise' to be termed Évolués ('Evolved') and were nominally granted full French citizenship. Despite this legal framework, Évolués still faced substantial discrimination in Africa and the Metropole alike.
The Code de l'indigénat was a set of laws creating, in practice, an inferior legal status for natives of French Colonies from 1887 until 1944–1947. Implemented first in Algeria, it was applied across the French Colonial Empire during 1887–1889.
Niger is divided into seven regions, each named after its capital.
Gustave Borgnis-Desbordes was a French general. He was a major figure in the French Imperial conquest of the French Sudan, modern Mali. He was Commandant-Superior of the French Military Territory of Haut-Sénégal, attached to the colonial government of Senegal, 1880 to 1883.
The period from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries is the colonial period in Mauritania.
Niger is governed through a four layer, semi-decentralised series of Administrative divisions. Begun 1992, and finally approved with the formation of the Fifth Republic of Niger on 18 July 1999, Niger has been enacting a plan for Decentralisation of some state powers to local bodies. Prior to the 1999-2006 project, Niger's subdivisions were administered via direct appointment from the central government in Niamey. Beginning with Niger's first municipal elections of 2 February 1999, the nation started electing local officials for the first time. Citizens now elect local committee representatives in each Commune, chosen by subdivisions of the commune: "Quarters" in towns and "Villages" in rural areas, with additional groupings for traditional polities and nomadic populations. These officials choose Mayors, and from them are drawn representatives to the Department level. The same process here chooses a Departmental council and Prefect, and representatives to the Regional level. The system is repeated a Regional level, with a Regional Prefect, council, and representatives to the High Council of Territorial Collectives. The HCCT has only advisory powers, but its members have some financial, planning, educational and environmental powers. The central government oversees this process through the office of the Minister of State for the Interior, Public Safety and Decentralization.
The French Colony of Niger was a French colonial possession covering much of the territory of the modern West African state of Niger, as well as portions of Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. It existed in various forms from 1900 to 1960 but was titled the Colonie du Niger only from 1922 to 1960.
Fily Dabo Sissoko was a Malian author and political leader, born 15 May 1900 at Horokoto. He died 30 June 1964, imprisoned at Kidal. Fily Dabo Sissoko is chiefly remembered as one of the most influential political leaders of pre-independence Mali, primary conservative rival to Mali's first President Modibo Keita, and an influential writer of the Negritude movement.
Elections to the French National Assembly were held in the constituency of Mauritania–Senegal on 21 October 1945 as part of the wider parliamentary elections. Two members were elected from the seat, with the winners being French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) candidates Lamine Guèye and Léopold Sédar Senghor.
The Algeria–Mali border is 1,359 km in length and runs from the tripoint with Mauritania in the north-west to the tripoint with Niger in the south-east.