French West Africa
Note: The Tuareg are descendants of ancient Saharan peoples described by Herodotus, who mentions the ancient Libyan people, the Garamantes. Archaeological testimony are the ruins of Germa. The modern Tuareg descended from the Garamantes. Later, they expanded southward, into the Sahel.
For over two millennia, the Tuareg operated the trans-Saharan caravan trade connecting the great cities on the southern edge of the Sahara via five desert trade routes to the northern coast of Africa.
The Tuareg adopted camel nomadism, along with its distinctive form of social organization, from camel-herding Arabs about two thousand years ago, when the camel was introduced to the Sahara from Saudi Arabia. Like numerous African and other groups in pre-modern times, the Tuareg once took captives, either for trade or for domestic purposes; those who were not sold became assimilated into the Tuareg community. Captive servants and herdsmen formed a component of the division of labor in camel nomadism. Among the Tuareg, the work of pastoralism was specialized according to social class: warrior-aristocrats who organized group defense, livestock raids, and the long-distance caravan trade; vassal-herdsmen who pastured and tended most of the confederation's livestock; and blacksmith-clients who fabricated and repaired the saddles, tools, household equipment and other material needs of the community. After the adoption of Islam, a separate class of religious clerics also became integral to Tuareg social structure.
In the early nineteenth century, the Tuareg resisted the French invasion of their Central Saharan homelands for the purpose of colonization. Tuareg broadswords were no match for the cannons and automatic rifles of French squadrons, and after numerous massacres, the Tuareg were subdued and required to sign treaties in Mali 1905 and Niger 1917. In southern Algeria, the French met some of the strongest resistance from the Ahaggar Tuareg.Their Amenokal, traditional chief Moussa ag Amastan, fought numerous battles in defense of the region. Finally, Tuareg territories were taken under French governance and their confederations were largely dismantled and re-organized. Before French colonization, the Tuareg were organized into loose confederations, each consisting of a dozen or so tribes. Each of the main groups had a traditional leader called Amenokal, along with an assembly of tribal chiefs: Imgharan, singular Amghar. The groups were: Kel Ahaggar, Kel Ajjer, Kel, Adrar N'Fughas, Iwellemidan, and Kel Gres. Following the independence of African countries in 1960s, Tuareg territory was artificially divided into modern nations: Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso.
Collection of 3 illustrations of the wreck of the Medusa. T
Note: In 1816 the new Bourbon government of France sent a small fleet to officially receive the British handover of the port of Saint-Louis in Senegal to France. The fleet consisted of four ships; the storeship Loire, the brig Argus, the corvette Echo and the frigate Medusa. Medusa was to carry the passengers, including the appointed French governor of Senegal, Colonel Julien-Désire Schmaltz and his wife Reine Schmaltz. In addition there were a total of 400 passengers, including 160 of the crew. The French Ministry of the Marine made the mistake of appointing inexperienced Frigate-Captain Hugues Duroy de Chaumereys to lead the fleet. He had mainly worked as a customs officer more than twenty years previously and had worked against Napoleon. His crew did not particularly appreciate him, because they had served with Napoleon during his reign.
The fleet left Port de Rochefort on June 17. Medusa sailed quickly away before the rest of the fleet. On July 17, Captain de Chaumereys ran the ship aground in shallow water off the west coast of Africa. At first the crew tried to release her by throwing heavy items overboard, but de Chaumereys stopped the effort. Eventually he decided to abandon ship. Because there were only six lifeboats, he made a raft out of masts and crossbeams to carry the rest of the crew. Dignitaries – 250 of them – took the lifeboats and attempted to tow the raft. The raft was too flimsy to keep all the rest (149 men and one woman) afloat. Seventeen men decided to stay on Medusa. The rest were left with no food and water to speak of.
Those in lifeboats soon noticed that the idea of towing the raft was impractical. De Chaumereys decided to cut the rope and leave the rest of the crew to its fate, four miles (6 km) off shore. (According to other sources it was Governor Schmaltz's boat that was first to drop the tow line to the raft.)
On the raft, the situation deteriorated rapidly. Men began to throw wine and flour out of spite and fight among themselves. On the first night 20 men – whites and Africans, soldiers and officers – were killed or committed suicide. Rations dwindled ever more rapidly and on the fourth day some on the raft resorted to cannibalism. On the eighth day, the fittest began throwing the weak and wounded overboard. Thirteen days later, when Argus found the raft almost by accident, there were only 15 survivors remaining. Argus took them to Saint-Louis to recover. Five of the survivors, including Jean Charles, the last African crew member, died within days. Three of the seventeen men that had decided to stay on the Medusa were later recovered alive. British naval officers helped the survivors to return to France because aid from the French Minister of the Marine was not forthcoming.
Medusa's surviving surgeon Henri Savigny submitted his account to the authorities. It was leaked to an anti-Bourbon newspaper, the Journal des débats, and appeared on September 13, 1816. The matter became a scandal embroiled in French internal politics and officials tried to cover it up. De Chaumereys was found guilty in the court martial at Port de Rochefort.
Note: After two periods of British occupation, Saint-Louis and Gorée were returned to France in 1816. When attempts to grow cotton near Saint-Louis proved unprofitable, the colonial economy came to depend on trade for gum in the Sénégal Valley, where an upriver station was founded at Bakel. In the 1830s two coastal factories, at Carabane and Sédhiou, were acquired in Casamance. In 1848 the ailing colonial economy was further disrupted when the Second Republic outlawed slavery on French soil. In 1854, at the request of local merchants, Napoleon III appointed as governor Commandant Louis-Leon-Cesar Faidherbe , who began to establish French military hegemony. He soon came into conflict with al-Hajj ‘Umar, a Tukulor from Fouta-Toro who, having become regional head of the Tijaniyah fraternity, was establishing an economic and military power base in the upper Niger Valley; but a military stalemate after 1857 led to a truce of coexistence. When Faidherbe retired in 1865, French power was paramount over most of the territory of modern Senegal; and growing exports of peanuts, through the new colonial port of Dakar, were providing some economic resources. In 1879 the French government approved a large program of railway construction. One line was designed to facilitate penetration of 'Umar's empire; another linked Saint-Louis with Dakar through the main peanut area in Kajor, where commercialization and indebtedness were already disturbing Faidherbe's system of collaboration. In 1886 the deposed damel (king), Lat Jor, died in battle against the French; Islamic legitimacy among the Wolof now passed to his kinsman Amadu Bamba Mbake; he became spiritual leader of a new fraternity, the Muridiyah, whose devotees were exhorted to discharge their religious obligations by diligent cultivation of peanuts. Meanwhile, France was consolidating direct control over the rest of Senegal and other African colonies. In 1895 Jean-Baptiste Chaudié became first governor-general of French West Africa, and in 1902 its capital moved to Dakar.
Collection of 8 illustrations from French and Italian periodicals concerning the 1889-1892 war with France. T
Note: When the French won control of Porto Novo and Cotonou and attracted coastal trade there, commerce at Whydah collapsed. After the accession of Behanzin (1889-1894) hostilities precipitated.
Alfred-Amedee (1842-1922) was the French military figure who played a leading role in French colonial expansion in West Africa in the late 19th century. In 1892-1893, he led the campaign against the native forces of King Behanzin of Dahomey. His victory at Abomey (1892) was vital to the eventual linkage of French posessions in upper Senegal and the upper Niger Region. King Behanzin was subsequently exiled to St. Pierre in Martinique and died there in the 1902 volcanic eruption, in which only one resident of St. Pierre survived.