Friday, December 7, 2012

French Colonialism - Markets and Resources

French Colonialism - French West Africa

French Colonial Africa
The colonies of French West Africa first began their fight for independence following the end of World War II. Prior to 1946, these colonies did not have many rights and only people in Senegal could be French citizens. In France's colonial past, it was interested in African colonies as a source of resources (large bauxite reserves) and labour. Forced labour, imprisonment, military conscription and etc. were suffered by the people of these colonies. Unlike other French colonies, no real attempt was made to improve their lives. In 1944 , at a conference in Brazzaville, colonies expressed their desire for more liberal policies by the French government. These post war movements towards independence led to a rise in political and nationalist parties, including the Rassemblement Democratique Africaine (RDA) and Senghor's Convention Africaine. Some of the main goals of the RDA included independence for colonies and unity. In 1946, the colonies of French West Africa were given the right to form local government and were given seats in the French government. However, local government was given to sections of colonies, not the colonies as a whole. It is suggested that this would destabilize French West Africa in the hope of maintaining control and access to resources. With some of the largest bauxite reserves in the world, and France producing plenty of aluminum, it is clear that France wanted to be able to continue to benefit from this resource. Considering colonies only gained independence in 1960, this also expressed France's unwillingness to give up the colonies, in a time where there was a push to decolonize from the new super powers: the United States and the Soviet Union.

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Elizabeth Schmidt. "Anticolonial Nationalism in French West Africa: What Made Guinea Unique?" African Studies Review 52, no. 2 (2009): 1-34. (accessed December 7, 2012).