Saturday, August 5, 2023

What is the history of French colonialism in Africa?

 French colonialism in Africa has a long and complicated history. Although initial French colonization primarily occurred in the Americas and Asia, the French did establish a few colonies and trading posts on the African continent. Initial French colonization in Africa began in modern-day Senegal, Madagascar, and along the Mascarene Islands. The French East India Company partially administered initial French colonial projects, which prioritized plantation economies and slave labor. These economies were based on monoculture agriculture and forced African labor. Poor living conditions, famines, and disease made enslaved labor conditions particularly lethal across French colonies. French presence in Senegal began in 1626, although formal colonies and trading posts were not established until 1659 with the founding of Saint-Louis, and 1677 with the founding of Gorée. Additionally, the first settlement of Madagascar began in 1642 with the establishment of Fort Dauphin

French colonial policy in Africa was driven by commercial interests and, to a lesser degree, a civilizing mission. The French colonial encounter in West Africa was focused on the Senegal River area and its hinterland. Assimilation lay at the base of France's experience in West Africa. West Africa would become a part of France. The French colonialists came to think of their sphere of influence "as mere provinces overseas"
 French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan (now Mali), French Guinea (now Guinea), Ivory Coast, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Dahomey (now Benin), and Niger. The French colonial policy aimed to assimilate and transform all Africans into “French” colonies into black French men
The French colonial empire in Africa began to decline after World War II, and most French-controlled territories and colonies gained independence by 1966. However, French influence over its former possessions continued through political, security, economic, and cultural connections, as France attempted to maintain a hegemonic foothold in Francophone Africa, both to serve its interests and maintain a last bastion of prestige associated with a legacy of past mastery


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