Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté

Last updated

Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté, teacher, journalist and political activist was a pioneer for African nationalism and one of the first Communists in Africa. He was born on April 27, 1902 in Ségou, French Soudan. [1] Kouyaté was regarded as the most influential personality among the West African migrant community in France according to French intelligence assessments. [2] Kouyaté was also among the first generation of Western-educated Africans in French Soudan. [1] He was from the Bambara ethnic group of Mali. He was first educated at a primary school in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Kouyaté arrived in France after he was awarded a scholarship to further his studies at the Ecole Normale at Aix en Provence. [1]

In 1926 Kouyaté, alongside Lamine Senghor, a Senegalese nationalist and World War I veteran, [3] created the Ligue de Defense de la Race Nègre (the League for the Defense of the Negro Race, or LDRN). It was one of the most important pan-African political movements to emerge from interwar Paris. [4] A key characteristic of the LDRN is that it demanded full citizenship for all colonial subjects [5] and was funded by the French Communist Party. [6] Kouyaté took over the direction of the LDRN after the death of Senghor a year after its creation. Assuming the role of secretary general, he constructed a program that called for the independence of African colonies and the establishment of socialism in Africa. [7] Under Kouyaté’s leadership, the league supported Garveyism and the United States National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. [4] On interactions with W.E.B Du Bois, famous African American leader on April 29, 1929 he described the aim of the league as “the political, economic, moral, and intellectual emancipation of the whole of the Negro race. It is a matter of winning back, all honorable means, the national independence of the Negro peoples in the colonial territories of France, England, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal…and of setting up in Black Africa a great Negro state.” [1] Consequently, in 1927 and 1928, La Race Nègre. published articles of cultural interest about blacks in the United states as well as the cultural achievements of Africans throughout history and the eyewitness accounts of abuses committed by the colonial administrators. [4] French colonial authorities considered the LDRN a dangerous and inflammatory organization and banned La Race Nègre in the colonies. [1] Kouyaté was under close watch by French authorities after the Colonial Ministry requested background information on him. This led to information on him being dispatched in the French West African monthly propaganda reports.

After attending a conference in Frankfurt at the end of July in 1929, he visited Berlin, where his contact with Wilhelm Münzenberg, German Communist political activist and publisher, allowed him to gain access to the African community there.

In 1931 the League for the Defense of the Negro Race, acquiring a new leader split. This led to the creation of the Union des Travailleurs Nègres (Union of the Negro Workers), an association made up of both communists and ex-communists. From this emerged a new journal titled Le Cri des Nègres (Cry of the Negroes). The magazine focused on the poor treatment of Black people globally and published an article by the Guadeloupian communist Stephane Rosso where he described the Scottsboro rape trial in the United States and the deaths of Africans in the construction of the Congo-Ocean railroad. The article reached Dakar in Senegal almost immediately. [4]

Kouyaté was banished from the French Communist Party as well as the Union Des Travailleurs Nègres in October 1933. After being accused of being in contact with enemies of the revolutionary trade union movement and of not facing responded to requests of justifications, Kouyaté’s name and photograph were published in the Communist Party’s blacklist which explained he was “kicked out of the party for being anti-communist, indelicacy and having a disaggregated attitude”. [7]

In 1935, Kouyaté wrote a letter to the Ethiopian leader, Haile Selassie where he pledged to do everything possible, including the provision of material support, to defend the country against the Italian invasion. [2] As part of movement against the war and the occupation of Ethiopia by fascist Italy, Kouyaté also participated in the founding of the Ethiopian Defense Committee, going as far as writing articles on the county in El Ouma, the organization’s journal. In addition to that, he organized protests against the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. In December 1935, he created a monthly magazine named Africa in which he used to continue his campaign for the independence of the colonies and call for the reforms for the benefit of Africans. [1]

The specific circumstances surrounding the death of Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté’s are uncertain. One theory believes that he was entrusted with money for propaganda by the Germans but kept it for himself leading to his demise during the Nazi occupation of France. [1]

Related Research Articles

Léopold Sédar Senghor First president of Senegal, poet, and cultural theorist (1906–2001)

Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese poet, politician and cultural theorist who was the first president of Senegal (1960–80).

French Union 1946–1958 political entity replacing the French colonial system

The French Union was a political entity created by the French Fourth Republic to replace the old French colonial empire system, colloquially known as the "French Empire". It was the formal end of the "indigenous" status of French subjects in colonial areas.

French Sudan French colonial territory in West Africa from 1880 to 1960; now Mali

French Sudan was a French colonial territory in the Federation of French West Africa from around 1880 until 1959, when it joined the Mali Federation, and then in 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 French colonial federation in west Africa from 1895 to 1958

French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in West 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 in 1960.

African socialism Form of socialism in Africa after the 1950s

African socialism or Afrosocialism is a belief in sharing economic resources in a traditional African way, as distinct from classical socialism. Many African politicians of the 1950s and 1960s professed their support for African socialism, although definitions and interpretations of this term varied considerably. These politicians include Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Modibo Keita of Mali, among others.

The Pan-African Congress was a series of eight meetings, held in 1919 in Paris, 1921 in London, Brussels and Paris, 1923 in London, 1927 in New York City, 1945 in Manchester, 1974 in Dar es Salaam, 1994 in Kampala, and 2014 in Johannesburg that were intended to address the issues facing Africa as a result of European colonization of most of the continent.

Négritude is a framework of critique and literary theory, developed mainly by francophone intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930s, aimed at raising and cultivating "Black consciousness" across Africa and its diaspora. Négritude gathers writers such as sisters Paulette and Jeanne Nardal, Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, Abdoulaye Sadji, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Léon Damas of French Guiana. Négritude intellectuals disavowed colonialism, racism and Eurocentrism. They promoted African culture within a framework of persistent Franco-African ties. The intellectuals employed Marxist political philosophy, in the Black radical tradition. The writers drew heavily on a surrealist literary style, and some say they were also influenced somewhat by the Surrealist stylistics, and in their work often explored the experience of diasporic being, asserting ones' self and identity, and ideas of home, home-going and belonging.

George Padmore Trinidadian Pan-Africanist and writer (1903–1959)

George Padmore, born Malcolm Ivan Meredith Nurse, was a leading Pan-Africanist, journalist, and author. He left his native Trinidad in 1924 to study medicine in the United States, where he also joined the Communist Party.

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.

Mali Federation 1959–1960 French territory then independent country in West Africa

The Mali Federation was a federation in West Africa linking the French colonies of Senegal and the Sudanese Republic for two months in 1960. It was founded on 4 April 1959 as a territory with self-rule within the French Community and became independent after negotiations with France on 20 June 1960. Two months later, on 19 August 1960, the Sudanese Republic leaders in the Mali Federation mobilized the army, and Senegal leaders in the federation retaliated by mobilizing the gendarmerie ; this resulted in a tense stand-off, and led to the withdrawal from the federation by Senegal the next day. The Sudanese Republic officials resisted this dissolution, cut off diplomatic relations with Senegal, and defiantly changed the name of their country to Mali. For the brief existence of the Mali Federation, the premier was Modibo Keïta, who would later become the first President of Mali, and its government was based in Dakar, the eventual capital of Senegal.

I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson

Isaac Theophilus Akunna Wallace-Johnson was a Sierra Leonean and British West African workers' leader, journalist, activist and politician. Born into a poor Creole family in British Sierra Leone, he emerged as a natural leader in school. After attending United Methodist Collegiate School for two years, he dropped out and took a job as an officer in the customs department in 1913. He was dismissed for helping organize a labour strike, but later reinstated to his position a year later. After resigning from his job, he enlisted as a clerk with the Carrier Corps during World War I. After being demobilised in 1920, Wallace-Johnson moved from job to job, before settling as a clerk in the Freetown municipal government. He claimed to have exposed a corruption scandal, which resulted in the incarceration of top officials, including the mayor. After being fired from this job in 1926, he left Sierra Leone and became a sailor. He joined a national seamen union and it is believed that he also joined the Communist Party. In 1930, he helped form the first trade union in Nigeria and attended the International Trade Union Conference of Negro Workers in Hamburg, where he established a number of contacts. He published articles and edited the Negro Worker, a journal devoted to uniting black workers around the world. He travelled to Moscow, where he claimed to have attended classes on Marxism-Leninism theory, union organisation and political agitation.

Decolonisation of Africa 1950s–70s independence of African colonies from Western European powers

The decolonisation of Africa took place in the mid-to-late 1950s to 1975 during the Cold War, with radical regime changes on the continent as colonial governments made the transition to independent states. The process was often marred with violence, political turmoil, widespread unrest, and organised revolts in both northern and sub-Saharan countries including the Algerian War in French Algeria, the Angolan War of Independence in Portuguese Angola, the Congo Crisis in the Belgian Congo, the Mau Mau Uprising in British Kenya, the Zanzibar Revolution in the Sultanate of Zanzibar, and the Nigerian Civil War in the secessionist state of Biafra.

Garan Fabou Kouyaté was a Malian civil and social figure. He was a member of Mali's Association for Unity and the Progress of Islam (AMUPI), Director of Mali's first Islamic radio La Voix du Coran et du Hadith and a member of Mali's National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) as representative of religious associations. Prior to that civil society career, he was very much involved with soccer, having been referee, founder and first President of the Ligue Régionale de Football de Ségou, and founding member and Vice-Chair of Referee Commission of Malian Football Federation. He was commonly called "Ba Garan".

James W. Ford American politician

James W. “Jim” Ford was an activist, a politician, and the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Communist Party USA in the years 1932, 1936, and 1940. Ford was born in Alabama and later worked as a party organizer for the CPUSA in New York City. He was also the first African American to run on a U.S. presidential ticket (1932) in the 20th century.

Amadou Lamine-Guèye Senegalese politician

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.

The League against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression was a transnational anti-imperialist organization in the interwar period. It has been referenced as in many texts as World Anti-Imperialist League or simply and confusingly under the misnomer Anti-Imperialist League.

Lamine Diakhate was an author, poet and literary critic of the négritude school and has served his country as a politician and diplomat.

Fily Dabo Sissoko was a Malian writer 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.

Jeanne "Jane" Nardal was a French writer, philosopher, teacher, and political commentator from Martinique. She and her sister, Paulette Nardal, are considered to have laid the theoretical and philosophical groundwork of the Négritude movement, a cultural, political, and literary movement, which first emerged in 1930s, Paris and sought to unite Black intellectuals in the current and former French colonies. The term "Négritude" itself was coined by Martiniquan writer-activist Aimé Césaire, one of the three individuals formally recognized as the "fathers" of the cultural movement, along with Senegalese poet Léopold Senghor and French Guianese writer Léon Damas. It was not until relatively recently, however, that the women involved in the Négritude movement, including Jane and Paulette Nardal, began to receive the recognition they were due.

Lamine Senghor

Lamine Senghor was a Senegalese political activist, Senegalese nationalist, and member of the French Communist Party. He ran candidate in the Paris local elections in 1924. Nonetheless he remained committed to an independent Senegal and became part of the internationalised struggle against colonialism and imperialism. In 1927, shortly before his death he was invited to attend the congress of oppressed nationalities in Brussels in Belgium where the League against Imperialism was established. The meeting was significant because it brought together representatives and organizations from the communist world and anti-colonial organizations and activists from the colonized world. In his speech he denounced the crimes committed by the colonial administration in Congo, concluding that:


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Shillington, Kevin, ed. (2013-07-04). Encyclopedia of African History 3-Volume Set. Routledge. ISBN   978-0-203-48386-2.
  2. 1 2 Genova, James E. (2001). "The Empire Within: The Colonial Popular Front in France, 1934-1938". Alternatives: Global, Local, Political. 26 (2): 175–209. ISSN   0304-3754.
  3. BlackPast. "(1927) Lamine Senghor, "The Negro's Fight for Freedom"" . Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  4. 1 2 3 4 KELLER, KATHLEEN (2018-04-01). Colonial Suspects. UNP - Nebraska. ISBN   978-1-4962-0620-6.
  5. Miller, F. Bart (2014-01-01). Rethinking Négritude through Léon-Gontran Damas. Brill | Rodopi. ISBN   978-94-012-1071-3.
  6. Aitken, Robbie; Rosenhaft, Eve (2013). Black Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1-139-64957-5.
  7. 1 2 "KOUYATE Tiemoko Garan - Maitron". maitron.fr. Retrieved 2020-12-07.