Federation (French: Fédération du Mali) was a federation in
West Africa linking the French colonies of
Senegal and the Sudanese
Republic (or French Sudan) for a period of only two months in 1960.
It was founded on 4 April 1959 as a territory with self-rule within
French Community and became independent after negotiations with
France on 20 June 1960. Two months later, on 19 August 1960, the
Republic leaders in the
Federation mobilized the army
Senegal leaders in the federation retaliated by mobilizing the
gendarmerie (national police) which resulted in a tense stand-off and
the withdrawal from the federation by
Senegal the next day. The
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
the premier was Modibo Keïta, who would become the first President of
Mali after the
Federation dissolved, and its
government was based in Dakar, Senegal.
3 Political tension and dissolution
5 See also
After World War II, the colonies of French
West Africa began pushing
significantly for increased self-determination and to redefine their
colonial relationships with France. Following the May 1958 crisis, the
colonies of French
West Africa were given the chance to vote for
immediate independence or to join a reorganized
French Community (an
arrangement which would grant the colonies some self-determination
while maintaining ties to France). Only
Guinea voted for full
independence and the other colonies of French
West Africa voted to
join the French Community.
In the 1958 election to decide the issue of independence, two major
parties split the countries of west Africa: the African Democratic
Rally (French: Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, commonly known as
the RDA) and the
African Regroupment Party (French: Parti du
Regroupement Africain, commonly known as the PRA). The two regional
groupings of parties struggled against one another on the issue of
independence and the extent of ties with France. The RDA was the
governing party in the Ivory Coast colony, the
French Sudan colony,
Guinea while the PRA was a major governing party in
had sizable majorities in many countries. The two parties also were
part of coalition governments in French Upper Volta, Niger, and French
Dahomey. While the two parties struggled with one another to shape the
political future of the region, Mauritania often became a neutral
party which would break any deadlocks. The vote of 1958 revealed a
number of divisions within the parties. The RDA held a congress on
15 November 1958 to discuss the recent election results and the
division became clear with
Modibo Keïta from
French Sudan and Doudou
Senegal arguing for primary federation (a federation which
France and the colonies in a unified system) and Félix
Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast dismissing the idea. The
resulting deadlock was so severe that the meeting was officially said
to have never taken place.
Colonies of French West Africa
In late November 1958, French Sudan, Senegal, Upper Volta and Dahomey
all declared the intention to join the
French Community and form a
federation linking the four colonies together.
French Sudan and
Senegal, despite longstanding divisions between their main political
parties, were the most enthusiastic pushers for this federation
while Dahomey and Upper Volta were more hesitant in their desire to
join the federation.
French Sudan called for representatives of
each of the four countries (and Mauritania as an observer) to Bamako
on 28 to 30 December to discuss the formation of the federation.
French Sudan and
Senegal were the leaders at the congress with Modibo
Keïta named the President of the meeting and Léopold Sédar Senghor
Senegal being the key leader on many issues, including developing
Federation for the proposed union. Although Upper
Volta and Dahomey declared formal support for the federation, and
Upper Volta even approved the
Federation Constitution on 28
January 1959, political pressure from
France and the Ivory Coast (both
of which opposed the federation for very different reasons) resulted
in neither ratifying a constitution which would include them within
the federation. The result is that only the colonies of French
Sudan (by this point called the Sudanese Republic) and
engaged in the discussions of the formation of the federation by
Elections in March 1959 in both
French Sudan and
Senegal cemented the
power of the major parties pushing for the formation of a federation.
Keïta's Union Soudanaise-Rassemblement Démocratique Africain
(US-RDA) party won 76% of the votes in
French Sudan and all of the
seats in the territorial assembly and Senghor's Union Progressiste
Sénégalaise (UPS) won 81% of the vote and all of the seats in
Senegal's territorial assembly. Although Senghor won the elections
by a large margin, some conservative Islamist marabouts supported the
candidacy of Cheikh Tidjane Sy. This challenge to Senghor's party
showed some of the weakness in Senghor's domestic political base and
required a complex system of alliances with various domestic
constituencies, both of which would become important as the federation
progressed. Sy was arrested on election day as a result of some
rioting which was blamed on his party.
After the elections, the assemblies of
Senegal and French Sudan
approved the federation and began the process of constructing a
political system to unite the two colonies. This involved three
different political projects with the principle of parity (even
representation from both colonies) enshrined in each: A federal
government, united social movements (a labor and youth movement), and
a shared political party for both countries. The federal
government was going to have an assembly composed of 20 members from
each of the colonies (40 in total), a President (set to be elected in
August 1960), and six federal ministers (with 3 from each colony).
Until a president was elected, the premier of the
to be Keïta and the vice-premier (and the person in charge of the
armed forces) was to be
Mamadou Dia from Senegal. Further,
as part of the parity principle, any legislative initiatives required
a signature by both the premier (then later the president) and the
minister responsible for that issue. The colonies were to share
the import and export taxes raised in the port of
Dakar between them.
This sharing was to the advantage of
French Sudan which had almost a
third of its 1959 budget provided by this tax income.
At the same time, the
Mali federation sought to create unified social
organizations which would facilitate the union between the countries.
This involved creating labor movements and youth movements, which
would operate at both the federal and national levels, and a unified
political party. The political party was the major project as the
ruling parties in both colonies combined to form the Parti de la
Fédération Africaine (PFA). The PFA was organized separately from
the federal government but with many of the same members and leaders.
Senghor was the party president and Keïta was the secretary general;
in addition to have a regional influence
Djibo Bakary of Niger and
Emile Zinsou of Dahomey were named the vice-presidents of the
party. As articulated at the first PFA congress in July 1959 by
Senghor, the party would be the single political party in the country,
aiming to unite across the different ethnic groups in the
In December 1959,
France and the
Federation began negotiations
regarding independence and sovereignty of the federation. These
negotiations were formally started when French president Charles de
Gaulle visited Bamako on 13 December, 1959, and lasted until March
1960. Although the French had earlier resisted the
when the two countries showed willingness to remain within the French
Community and the Franc zone and keep the French military bases within
its territory, the French supported the formation of the federation.
The negotiations agreed upon 20 June 1960 for the formal independence
day of the
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal
Modibo Keïta of Mali
Mamadou Dia of Senegal
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle of France
Political tension and dissolution
Tensions quickly arose within the
Federation as planning for the
implementation of the federation began in 1959 and early 1960. Unlike
some other areas of French West Africa,
French Sudan and
not have significant amounts of migration or intercultural movement
during the colonial period (although they were linked together in
French economic policy and linked by a key railway). More serious
than ethnic or linguistic differences though were some of the results
of the design of the federation. While the parity principle allowed
both countries to join together without fears of losing their
sovereignty, it also resulted in political spillover as political
disputes moved from one arena to another throughout the
organization. Similarly, the PFA tried to combine two political
parties which were in very different situations with the French Sudan
political party having achieved political dominance while the Senegal
party needed an elaborate and complex arrangement of alliances in
order to maintain authority. In addition, some of the aspects left
vague in the first discussions became key issues of debate between the
political leaders of
French Sudan as their articulation
became more important: including armed forces, development of an
indigenous bureaucracy, the strength of the federal government, and
the precise relationship with France. Finally, different
visions for the colony between Senghor and Keïta proved very
difficult to mediate: Keïta, after the dissolution of the federation,
claimed that he pursued socialism while Senghor pushed a bourgeoisie
The disagreements remained manageable until April 1960 after
France for recognition of independence had finished.
French Sudan began to push for a single executive in the federation
with significant independent authority,
Senegal preferred to maintain
the parity principle as it had been developed in 1959 and restrain the
power of any president. When a PFA congress to decide the issue
ended in a deadlock, the PFA members from outside the federation were
called in to mediate and they recommended the creation of a single
executive to be appointed by an equal number of representatives from
Senegal and French Sudan, but also that the taxation would no longer
be widely shared between the two colonies (a key Senegal
position). Although that issue was resolved to the agreement of
both parties, a series of misunderstandings quickly followed. When
French Sudan attempted to remove a single military base within its
territories, this was interpreted as an attempt to eject the French
from the entire territory, which was viewed with suspicion by both
Senegal and France.
The tensions hit their high point in August 1960 in preparation for
the election of the President of the
Mali Federation. Cheikh Tidjane
Sy, who had been released from prison and became a member of Senghor's
political party, approached Senghor and said that he had been
approached by representatives from Sudan who had expressed a
preference for a Muslim president of the
Federation (like Sy)
rather than a Catholic president (like Senghor). An investigation
by Senghor's political allies found evidence that French Sudan
emissaries had visited Sy's uncle, himself a Muslim political
leader. At about the same time, Keïta, as
Premier of the Mali
Federation, began meeting formally with many of the Muslim political
leaders of Senegal, although there is no evidence of any discussion of
undermining Senghor's leadership. On 15 August, Senghor, Dia, and
other political leaders of
Senegal began to work on how to get Senegal
out of the federation. Mamadou Dia, as the vice-premier and person
in charge of national defense, began surveying the readiness of
various military units in case the political situation were to become
hostile. These questions to the various military units resulted in
panic by Keïta and the French Sudanese politicians. On 19 August,
with reports of Senegalese peasants arming in Dakar, Keïta dismissed
Dia as the defense minister, declared a state of emergency, and
mobilized the armed forces. Senghor and Dia were able to get a
political ally in the military to demobilize the military and then had
the national gendarmerie which surrounded Keïta's house and the
Senegal declared independence from the
Federation at a midnight
session on 20 August. There was little violence and the French Sudan
officials were sent on a sealed train back to Bamako on 22 August.
The federation may have been salvageable in spite of the crisis but by
sending Keïta and the others back on a hot, sealed train during
August, rather than a plane, led Keïta to declare that the railroad
be destroyed at the border after the trip. Independent nations of
Senegal and the
Mali were recognized by most countries by
mid-September and accepted into the United Nations in late September
Federation existed in name only in Bamako for
France and most other nations recognized the two
colonies as separate independent countries on 12 September 1960.
The Sudanese Union –
African Democratic Rally
African Democratic Rally party in French Sudan
adopted the slogan "Le
Mali Continue" and at a meeting on 22 September
the party decided to rename the country
Mali and to sever ties with
the French Community. The admission to the United Nations for both
countries was delayed until late September as a result of the Mali
Senghor and Keïta both ruled their countries at the time of the split
Federation and for a number of years: Senghor was
Senegal from 1960 until 1980 and Keïta from 1960 until
1968. Senghor suffered some domestic challenges after the split from
Federation but after an armed fight between his supporters
and those of Mamadou Dia's supporters in 1962, he had largely
consolidated his rule. Senghor became very wary of unification
efforts after the failed experiment and despite attempts to create
other federations in
West Africa and with Senegal's neighbors, Senghor
often restrained these efforts and they only progressed after his
rule. In addition, as the first failed unification experiment in
Federation served as a lesson in future attempts at
unification throughout the continent. Keïta became more assertive
with pushing his ideology after the collapse of the federation and
refused diplomatic relations with
Senegal for many years.
Mali under Keïta still pursued the goal of West African
unity but did so in a variety of different international
connections. The railroad was reopened on 22 June 1963 and Senghor
and Keïta embraced at the border.
East African Federation
Union of African States
^ a b c Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964, p. 243.
^ a b Kurtz 1970, p. 405.
^ Foltz 1965, pp. 85–87.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 98.
^ a b c Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964, p. 242.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 99.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 100.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 102.
^ Foltz 1965, pp. 109–111.
^ a b Foltz 1965, p. 116.
^ a b c d Foltz 1965, p. 162.
^ a b c Imperato 1989, p. 54.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 156.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 165.
^ Zolberg 1966, pp. 50–51.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 168.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 148.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 163.
^ Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964, p. 244.
^ Foltz 1965, pp. 169–172.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 169.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 170.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 175.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 177.
^ a b c Foltz 1965, p. 180.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 182.
^ Pedler 1979, p. 164.
^ a b Foltz 1965, pp. 182–183.
^ Pedler 1979, p. 165.
^ a b c Foltz 1965, p. 183.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 184.
^ Welch Jr. 1966, p. 265.
^ Kurtz 1970, p. 406.
^ Hodgkin & Morgenthau 1964, p. 245.
^ Foltz 1965, p. 185.
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West Africa to the Mali
Federation. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Hodgkin, Thomas; Morgenthau, Ruth Schacter (1964). "Mali". In James
Scott Coleman (ed.). Political Parties and National Integration in
Tropical Africa. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
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Imperato, Pascal Jame (1989). Mali: A Search for Direction. Boulder,
CO.: Westview Press.
Kurtz, Donn M. (1970). "Political Integration in Africa: The Mali
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Pedler, Frederick (1979). Main Currents of West African History
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Welch Jr., Claude E. (1966). Dream of Unity, Pan-Africanism and
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