La Marseillaise •
GREEN: French Sudan
LIME: French West Africa
GRAY: Other French possessions
BLACK: French Republic
Federated with Senegal
20 June 1960
1,241,238 km2 (479,245 sq mi)
3.6 /km2 (9.2 /sq mi)
FRENCH SUDAN (French: Soudan Français; Arabic : السودان
الفرنسي as-Sūdān al-Faransī) was a French colonial
territory in the federation of
French West Africa
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.
A number of administrative reorganizations in the early 1900s brought
increasing French administration over issues like agriculture,
religion, and slavery. Following World War II, the African Democratic
Rally (RDA) under
Modibo Keita became the most significant political
force pushing for independence.
Mali initially retained close connections with France and joined in a
short-lived federation with Senegal in 1959, but ties to both
countries quickly weakened. In 1960, the
French Sudan colony formally
became the Republic of
Mali and began to distance itself further from
Senegal and France.
* 1 Colonial establishment
* 2 Administration and jurisdiction
* 3 Agriculture
* 4 Religious policy
* 5 Slavery policy
* 6 Independence
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 Bibliography
* 10 Further reading
The wealth of the
Mali Empire -here
Mansa Musa is depicted
holding a gold nugget from the 1375
Catalan Atlas , which led the
French to pursue colonization of the area.
French Sudan originally formed as a set of military outposts as an
extension of the French colony in Senegal . Though the area offered
France little economic or strategic gain, the military effectively
advocated greater conquest in the region. This was partly due to a
fascination with the great empires, such as the
Mali Empire and the
Songhay Empire that rose to prominence in the area, and partly due to
the promotional opportunities that military conquest offered for
French military personnel.
French conquest began in 1879, when
Joseph Gallieni was dispatched to
the area to establish a fort and survey the land for a railroad from
Dakar in Senegal to the
Niger River . This was followed with the
establishment of a number of French forts and political alliances with
specific leaders in the region in the early 1880s. The administrative
structure of the area was still largely under control of the French
Governor of Senegal, and the most significant colonization were simply
the military forts and outposts, including the important one
Kayes in 1881 by
Gustave Borgnis-Desbordes . Though
the civilian administration of the French governor of Senegal formally
ruled the area, military officers in the region largely bypassed these
leaders and answered directly to commanding officers in Paris.
Desbordes gradually took over more territory, often using inter-ethnic
rivalries and political tension among leaders in the area to appoint
French civilian administrators struggled with the military leaders,
and the two forces went through a number of leadership changes over
the territory, until
Louis Archinard was appointed military governor
in 1892. Archinard led military campaigns against
Samori Ture , Ahmadu
Tall , and other resistant leaders in the region, with varying
success. Archinard's campaigns were often executed through direct
military control, without civilian oversight. As costs increased, the
French administration decided to replace Archinard's control over the
area with a civilian governor, Louis Albert Grodet .
ADMINISTRATION AND JURISDICTION
NAMES OF COLONY
Divided into two administrative districts: Middle Niger and Upper
Senegambia and Niger
Upper Senegal and Niger
Mali Federation (June–September), Republic of Mali
(after 22 September)
Map of French colonies in West Africa in 1889.
The region was governed under a number of different names between
1880 and 1960. The area was Upper River from 1880 until 18 August
1890, when it was renamed French Sudan, with its capital at
Kayes . On
10 October 1899,
French Sudan was divided, with the southern cercles
joining coastal colonies, and the rest split into two administrative
areas called Middle Niger and Upper Senegal. In 1902, the region again
was organized as a unified colony under the name Senegambia and Niger
(Sénégambie et Niger). The name changed again in 1904 to Upper
Senegal and Niger (Haut Sénégal et Niger). Finally, in 1921, the
name changed back to
French Sudan (Soudan Français).
Borders and administration of the colony similarly changed a number
of times. Originally, and for the initial period, the colony
vacillated between military administration and civilian administration
from Senegal. In 1893,
French Sudan formally came under civilian
administration, which lasted until 1899. At that point, a
reorganization of the colony split 11 southern provinces to other
French colonies like
French Guinea , the
Ivory Coast and Dahomey .
The area that was not reorganized was governed in two administrations
linked to other French colonies. Following this, the territory of the
colony was reestablished in 1902. Though the borders shifted slightly,
there was little territorial change until 1933. At that point, the
colony of the
French Upper Volta (Haute-Volta, modern
Burkina Faso )
dissolved, and the northern territory was added to French Sudan.
In 1947, Upper Volta was reestablished, and the
French Sudan borders
became those that eventually became the borders of Mali.
the original capital city from the 1890s until 1908, when the capital
Bamako , where it remains.
The colony supported mostly rain-fed agriculture, with limited
irrigation for its first 30 years. The only cash crops were nuts
gathered close to the railroad between
Kayes and Bamako. However,
following successful tests of growing Egyptian cotton in West Africa
during World War I, Émile Bélime began to campaign for the
construction of a large irrigation system along the
Niger river .
Starting in 1921, significant irrigation projects around
Baguinéda-Camp and the
Ségou Cercle began to bring water.
The French believed this project could rival the major cotton growing
centers of Egypt and the
United States .
Unlike other agricultural projects in French West Africa, the French
Sudan irrigation project initially relied on families voluntarily
resettling along lines established by the colonial authority. Unable
to attract enough volunteers, the colonial authorities began to try
forced resettlement to the cotton project. The
Office du Niger was
founded in 1926 as the main organization facilitating planned,
irrigated agricultural projects. Farmers resisted forced resettlement
and petitioned for permanent land rights to the irrigated land (which
was usually held as property of the Office du Niger). Despite these
efforts, a significant cash crop economy did not develop in the French
Like much of the rest of French West Africa, the colony had a number
of policies regarding
Islam and the Muslim communities. The Arabic
Islamic law were preferred in the colony by the French in
the establishment of colonial government, largely because both were
codified, and thus easy to standardize.
Though they maintained a formal neutrality policy in regards to
religion, the French colonial administration began to regulate Islamic
education in the early 1900s. In addition, fear of a pan-Islamism
political rise throughout North Africa and the Sahel led the French to
adopt policies that aimed to prevent the spread of
Islam beyond where
it already existed and to prevent Muslim leaders from governing
non-Muslim communities. Indigenous religions and Christianity
existed under less formal policies, and French efforts often used
these to balance the spread of
Islam in the region.
In the 1940s, a religious movement called Allah Koura began in the
San Cercle based upon the visions of a single person. Local
administrators allowed the Allah Koura movement to spread and
practice, seeing it as a potential limiting influence on the spread of
Islam farther south. In the late 1950s, Muslim protests and riots
throughout the colony further contributed to a growing independence
Like much of the rest of French West Africa, authorities enforced
explicit rules in an attempt to end slavery in the region. In 1903,
the government instructed French administrators to not use slave as an
administrative category anymore. This was followed in 1905 by a
formal French decree that ended slavery throughout French West Africa.
Almost a million slaves in
French West Africa
French West Africa responded to this by
moving away from their masters and settling elsewhere. The French
supported these efforts by creating settlements around the Niger River
and digging wells for communities elsewhere so they could farm away
from their former masters.
This process affected the southern and western parts of present-day
Mali most significantly, but in the northern and eastern parts of the
colony large numbers of slaves remained in servitude to their masters.
According to rough estimates, throughout the area of present-day Mali
about one-third of former slaves moved away from the slavery
relationship, while two-thirds remained with their masters. In the
1920s, most Tuareg households still had slaves who tended to the house
Though slavery persisted, some aspects of the relationship changed
with the French administration. Escaped slaves could find official
protection by French authorities in the cities for a limited time.
Slaves could sometimes renegotiate the terms of their servitude in the
changed political situation. Some were willing to agree to remain in
servitude if they received control over their family life and some
land to pass to their children. In addition, the French
administration actively worked to end slave raiding and the most clear
manifestations of the slave trade, greatly reducing those means of
acquiring slaves. However, for many decades after the 1905 abolition
of slavery, the practice continued in much of French Sudan.
Poster for Modibo Keïta, the first President of Mali, who led
French Sudan to independence.
Following the passage of the
Loi Cadre by the French National
Assembly in 1956, many of the colonies in French West African began to
hold elections to increase the self-determination of their
territories. In the first elections held in
French Sudan in 1957, the
African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique Africain,
commonly known as the RDA) won the elections in French Sudan, as well
as winning majorities in neighboring Ivory Coast, French Guinea, and
the Upper Volta. Following the French constitutional referendum of
1958 , of which received an overwhelming majority in support, the
République Soudanaise declared itself a republic with internal
autonomy on 24 November 1958. The Sudanese Republic, as the area was
now called, was the second colony after
Madagascar to join the French
Community , which provided it internal autonomy while linking its
currency, foreign policy and defense with France.
In early January 1959, there were plans for a federation linking the
Sudanese Republic with Senegal, Dahomey, and the Upper Volta in a
federation of autonomous states. By April, however, neither Dahomey's
nor Upper Volta's legislatures had ratified the federation, and so the
Mali Federation was formed with only the
Sudanese Republic and
Senegal. In 1959,
Modibo Keïta 's RDA party won all 70 seats in the
legislative elections in the
Sudanese Republic and joined forces with
the dominant party in Senegal, headed by
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor .
The federation achieved independence on 20 June 1960 within the French
Community; however, divisions between Senghor and Keïta on the
governance of the federation resulted in its dissolution on 20 August
1960. The area of
French Sudan formally proclaimed itself the
Mali and, with increasing radicalization of Keita, left
French Community in September 1960.
Sudan (region) : the Sudan (or Soudan in French) climate region,
French Sudan formed the western part.
French colonial empire
List of French possessions and colonies
* ^ A B C Imperato & Imperato 2008 , pp. lxxxii-lxxxiii.
* ^ A B C D Klein 1998 , p. 78.
* ^ Thompson & Adloff 1958 , p. 146.
* ^ Klein 1998 , p. 91.
* ^ Klein 1998 , p. 92.
* ^ A B C Lea & Rowe 2001 , pp. 276–277.
* ^ A B C Klein 1998 , p. 124.
* ^ Klein 1998 , p. 122.
* ^ Lea & Rowe 2001 , p. 276.
* ^ Becker 1994 , p. 375.
* ^ Becker 1994 , p. 374.
* ^ Becker 1994 , p. 376.
* ^ New York Times 1921 , p. 4.
* ^ Becker 1994 , p. 380.
* ^ Becker 1994 , p. 387.
* ^ Becker 1994 , p. 383-385.
* ^ O\'Brien 1967 , pp. 311–314.
* ^ O\'Brien 1967 , p. 309.
* ^ O\'Brien 1967 , p. 311.
* ^ O\'Brien 1967 , p. 314.
* ^ A B Mann 2003 , p. 278.
* ^ Mann 2003 , p. 266.
* ^ Mann 2003 , p. 279.
* ^ A B Klein 2005 , p. 831.
* ^ A B Mauxion 2012 , p. 197.
* ^ Mauxion 2012 , p. 200.
* ^ A B Klein 2005 , p. 833.
* ^ A B Seddon 2000 , p. 220.
* ^ de Bruijn & Pelckmans 2005 , p. 76.
* ^ Mauxion 2012 , p. 203.
* ^ Durdin 1957 , p. 3.
* ^ A B Washington Post 1958 , p. A5.
* ^ Cutler 1959 , p. 1.
* ^ Teltsch 1959 , p. 1.
* ^ Anda 2000 , p. 79.
* ^ Howe 1959 , p. E5.
* ^ Chafer 2002 , p. 185.
* ^ Mann 2006 , p. 141.
BOOKS AND JOURNAL ARTICLES
* Anda, Michael O. (2000). International Relations in Contemporary
Africa. University Press of America. ISBN 978-0-7618-1585-3 .
* Becker, Laurence C. (1994). An Early Experiment in the
Reorganisation of Agricultural Production in the French Soudan (Mali),
1920–40. Africa. 64. pp. 373–390.
JSTOR 1160787 . doi
* Bigon, Liora (2015) "Military Settlement Forms in Colonial Dakar
and Western Sudan: Hesitative Moments" Journal of Asian and African
Studies, doi: 10.1177/0021909614548240
* de Bruijn, Mirjam; Pelckmans, Lotte (2005). "Facing Dilemmas:
Former Fulbe Slaves in Modern Mali". Canadian Journal of African
Studies. 39 (1): 69–95. -
* Imperato, Pascal James; Imperato, Gavin H. (2008). Historical
Dictionary of Mali. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN
* Klein, Martin A. (1998). Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West
Africa. London: Cambridge University Press.
* Klein, Martin A. (2005). "Concept of Honour and the Persistence of
Servility in the Western Soudan". Cahiers d'Études Africaines. 45
(179/180): 831–851. doi :10.4000/etudesafricaines.5665 .
* Chafer, Tony (2002). The End of Empire in French West Africa:
France\'s Successful Decolonization?. Berg. ISBN 978-1-85973-557-2 .
* Lea, David; Rowe, Annamarie (2001). A Political Chronology of
Africa. Taylor & Francis. pp. 277–. ISBN 978-1-85743-116-2 .
Retrieved 26 June 2013.
* Mann, Gregory (2003). "Fetishizing Religion: Allah Koura and
French 'Islamic Policy' in Late Colonial French Soudan (Mali)". The
Journal of African History. 44 (2): 263–282. doi
* Mann, Gregory (2006). Native Sons: West African Veterans and
France in the Twentieth Century. Duke University Press. ISBN
* Mauxion, Aurelien (2012). "Moving to Stay: Iklan Spatial
Strategies Towards Socioeconomic Emancipation in Northern Mali,
1898–1960". The Journal of African History. 53 (2): 195–213. doi
* O'Brien, Donal Cruise (1967). "Towards an 'Islamic Policy' in
French West Africa, 1854–1914". The Journal of African History. 8
(2): 303–316. doi :10.1017/s0021853700007076 .
* Seddon, David (2000). "Unfinished business: Slavery in Saharan
Africa". Slavery & Abolition. 20 (2): 208–236. doi
* Thompson, Virginia Mclean; Adloff, Richard (1958). French West
Africa. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4256-6 . Retrieved
24 June 2013.
NEWSPAPERS (organized chronologically)
* "France in Cotton Project: Plan Immense African Irrigation Scheme
to Produce Own Supply". New York Times. 22 May 1921. p. 4.
* Durdin, Tillman (11 April 1957). "French Yielding in West Africa:
Elections under New System Provide Greater Control by Negro
Inhabitants". New York Times. p. 3.
* "Links Kept in
French Sudan Vote". Washington Post. 25 November
1958. p. A5.
* Cutler, B.J. (18 January 1959). "4
French West Africa
French West Africa States Form
a Nation: will Keep Ties with Paris, but can Secede Freely Under
Constitution". New York Herald Tribune. p. 1.
* Teltsch, Kathleen (5 April 1959). "Africans Speed Pace of Drive
for Freedom: Unrest and Violence are Growing as Movement Gains
Momentum". p. E4.
* Howe, Russell (26 April 1959). "2-Party System Fails in Africa".
Washington Post. p. E5.
* Joseph Roger de Benoist, Église et pouvoir colonial au Soudan
français: les relations entre les administrateurs et les
missionnaires catholiques dans la Boucle du Niger, de 1885 à 1945.
539 p. Karthala, 1987 ISBN 978-2-86537-169-3
* Georges Spitz, Le Soudan français, Éditions maritimes et
coloniales, 1955, 111 p.
French overseas empire
Former French colonies in Africa and the Indian Ocean
FRENCH NORTH AFRICA
FRENCH WEST AFRICA
* Côte d\'Ivoire
* French Sudan
* Upper Volta
* James Island
FRENCH EQUATORIAL AFRICA
* Middle Congo
French Somaliland (Djibouti)
* Isle de France
Former French colonies in the Americas
* Terre Neuve
Haïti , Dominican Republic
* Saint Kitts
French colonization of the Americas
French West India Company
Former French colonies in Asia and Oceania
* Kouang-Tchéou-Wan, China
French Mandate for Syria
and the Lebanon
* State of Syria
* Jabal al-Druze
Sanjak of Alexandretta
* Port Louis-Philippe (Akaroa)
French East India Company
OVERSEAS DEPARTMENTS 1
* St. Barthélemy
* St. Martin
* St. Pierre and Miquelon
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
SUI GENERIS COLLECTIVITY
Overseas territory (French
Southern and Antarctic Lands)
Scattered islands in
the Indian Ocean
Bassas da India 3
Europa Island 3
Glorioso Islands 2, 3
Juan de Nova Island 3
Tromelin Island 4
* 1 Also known as overseas regions
* 2 Claimed by
* 3 Claimed by
* 4 Claimed by
* French Sudan
* 2012 Tuareg rebellion
* 2012 coup
* Ebola disease event
* Environmental issues
* National parks
* Foreign relations
* Human rights
* LGBT rights
* Law enforcement
* National Assembly
* Political parties
* Prime Minister
* Foreign aid
* Ethnic groups
* Public holidays
Coordinates : 12°39′N 8°0′W / 12.650°N 8.000°W /
12.650; -8.000 Retrieved from
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. , a non-profit organization.
* Cookie statement
* Mobile view