Ruth Schachter Morgenthau
Political Parties in French-Speaking West Africa
Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1964. 439 p.
Planters and Politics In the Ivory Coast
The history of parties in Ivory Coast has several interesting features. One is the comparatively long life of the dominant mass party—the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire. Born in 1946, it is the oldest West African mass party, giving Ivory Coast the oldest single-party system. Moreover, the PDCI is in a special sense agrarian. Like the other successful West African parties the PDCI is composed of a vast rural majority, necessarily so, given the mass franchise and the present social structure. The PDCI has the additional special feature of growing out of a union of African planters, the Syndicat Agricole Africain. Its role in the PDCI is comparable to that of the trade unions in the RDA of Guinea, or the Trades Union Congress in the British Labour Party.
Furthermore, just after the war the political activities of the Africans involved in the planting and exporting of cocoa and coffee in Ivory Coast bordered upon revolt. This was a departure from the moderate tone which usually characterized African parties dominated by men involved in the growing and trading of the new export crops—the Action Group of Nigeria, for example. The explanation lies in the circumstances in which the Syndicat was born—out of African reaction against the control exercised over the economy and the administration of Ivory Coast by a small group of French settlers. The rise to power of the PDCI was also the fall of the European planters, the only such group in West Africa.
In 1949 there began a crisis in relations between the PDCI and French officials, taking the form of incidents which were among the most serious in post-war West Africa. At their close in 1951 the PDCI was in control of the Ivory Coast and changed to a policy which for a decade became a model of Franco-African co-operation. This change of policy had far-reaching effects not only on Ivory Coast but on the other French-speaking West African territories too.
For the PDCI was the base from which the inter-territorial organization of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain spread throughout tropical Africa under French rule. The struggle between the PDCI and the French administration also involved RDA partisans in the other territories, and all RDA sections had in common an attitude of militant anti-colonialism. After that common denominator dissolved, and partly in consequence, the inter-territorial RDA broke up in 1958. As for the PDCI, over a decade it emphasized not independence but the economic advantages of the French connexion. In 1960, in another policy shift, the PDCI led Ivory Coast to total independence from France. These events are studied here more closely.
At the end of the Second World War conditions favourable to the rise of a mass opposition party were present in Ivory Coast. These were brought about by the official policy of discrimination against Africans in a territory characterized by very rapid economic and social changes. The rate of economic growth in Ivory Coast was faster than in any other territory in AOF. It was illustrated by the rapidly increasing share of Ivory Coast in the exports of the federation. While Ivory Coast produced in 1925 only 14.8 per cent of the exports of AOF, by 1956 its share was 45 per cent, and of imports 30 per cent 1. Moreover, by 1951 Ivory Coast managed to surpass Senegal, and so became the richest of the French West African territories 2.
While the economy of Senegal rests on peanuts, that of Ivory Coast is based on coffee and cocoa. Since the end of the war these two crops constituted an average 90 per cent of the value of exports from Ivory Coast. They grew in Ivory Coast as a result of French official policy, as of British policy in Ghana. But the administration in Ivory Coast adopted a course quite unusual for West Africa—that of attracting European planters. Some Europeans came to Ivory Coast, particularly since the 1930s, and their cocoa and coffee plantations flourished in the forest belt 3—roughly south of the 8° parallel. European plantations were installed to the west of the Bandama river, near Gagnoa, Daloa, and Man; along the southern coast, near Grand Bassam, Abidjan, Grand Lahou, and Sassandra; along the railroad axis of Agboville, Dimbokro and Bouaké in the forest, and of Katiola and Korhogo in the northern savannah 4. The number of Europeans who became planters was never very large. In 1953 there were only 235 according to official statistics, and owning 61,877 hectares 5 of cultivated land 6. Though these figures may not constitute the highpoint of settler numbers and land holdings, they are a rough average, and must, of course, be viewed in relation to a total population estimated at the close of the war at 2 million, in 1956 at 2.5 million, but according to 1960 figures 3.1 million Africans, and 14,500 Europeans 7.
After the Europeans expanded their enterprises from trading and wood cutting to the planting of export crops, Africans also started plantations. Their methods were different from those of the Europeans—their plots were smaller, and scattered throughout the forest. They did not fully clear their land, a practice which on some occasions saved their trees from parasites which attacked trees of the Europeans, standing on fully cleared land. Gradually in the interwar years the African plantations spread east of the Bandama river among the Baulé and Agni peoples. (Baulé and Agni are related; both are, like the Ashanti of Ghana, classified as Akan) 8. More African planters installed themselves in areas where Europeans set the example 9.
At first the number of Africans who became planters and needed workers was not very large and their average yield per person was quite small, but they quickly outstripped the production of the European planters. In 1942 the Europeans produced approximately 55 per cent. of the coffee and 8 per cent. of the cocoa of Ivory Coast; in 1952 they produced but 6 per cent. of the coffee and 4 per cent. of the cocoa. Since 1947 Africans produced 90 per cent. or more of the coffee and cocoa exported 10.
These figures take on significance against the background of Ivory Coast history prior to 1944. Until then, and particularly during the war, the administration followed a policy which favoured the European planters, with the result that the points of conflict between European and African planters multiplied, particularly over land and labour. As early as 1925, when the cultivation of coffee and cocoa had just begun, the decree regulating forced labour was also intended to keep up a steady flow of workers for the European planters, which became necessary because Africans had started to plant 11.
Then in the 1930s competition between Europeans and Africans became sharper, for more Africans began planting 12. Prior to 1941, the African planters paid agricultural workers the same low wages as the Europeans, and indeed had some access to forced labour. This point became academic when the war began, for as the shortage of imported goods and labour became acute the administration proceeded to “systematically favour the Europeans” 13. The Africans were refused all labour 14, and only the special measures adopted by the administration kept the European planters solvent 15. There seemed little doubt that under Vichy the European planters and the administration planned to reduce the African plantations to a scale for which hired labour was unnecessary 16. European crops earned higher prices. Africans received but 2.60 francs for each kilo of coffee, and had to pay for transport, while the Europeans received an even 4.50 for each kilo 17. Europeans had priority rights to imported goods, which were then severely rationed, and which Africans recall with some bitterness they could only buy on the black market 18. In 1944 a decree declared a premium of 1,000 francs per hectare for all planters who had 25 or more contiguous hectares under cultivation. All the Europeans did, but only 50 Africans, for African plantations rarely extended contiguously for more than a few hectares 19. All the “subjects” including the planters could be drafted for forced labour.
“So-called plant sanitation teams” destroyed African plantations because they were “nests of parasites” and many African plantations were reclaimed by the forest 20.
The effect of these measures of economic discrimination was to throw the African planters into determined opposition to the French administration, an attitude distinguishing them from their counterparts in Ghana, for example. The Ivory Coast planters took the initiative in the anti-colonial struggle after the war. It is doubtful whether they would have done so if the administration had followed a policy of neutrality towards them or favoured them. In Ghana there were no European planters and the African farmers were much less involved in nationalist activities. It is possible to speculate further what might have been the social composition of the Convention People's Party if the British authorities had not replied with “downright refusal” to Lord Leverhulme's demands for “freehold concessions for planting, a labour supply guaranteed by the government, and the exclusive right of purchasing fruit from Native sellers at a price fixed by his own mills” 21.
Would the Ashanti planters have been as influential in the CPP as the Baulés became in the RDA? Would the CPP have been as sharply in conflict with chiefs as it became? Would the Life Chairman of the CPP have been an Ashanti planter, and his relations with the Asantehene as close as was Houphouët's with the paramount chief of the Baulés, Kouakou Anoublé? The only other French West African territory where a substantial group of Africans enjoyed a steady money income in 1945 was Senegal. But the resemblance in 1945 between the “citizens” of Senegal and the planters of Ivory Coast stops with numbers and income. It does not extend to politics. For the “citizens” were favoured by the administration while the Ivory Coast planters had their interests ignored.
Because the Ivory Coast planters took the initiative in building the RDA immediately after the war, which had mass support within a short time, it is worth looking rather more closely at their origins. Some were educated townsmen who grew coffee and cocoa because they saw it could free them from total dependence upon the French authorities. It added or even replaced the income which their peers in other territories could earn only through the civil service. Not all who took to planting had European schooling, however. There was a “plantation frontier” in Ivory Coast which attracted the most dynamic individuals and groups in the villages as well, particularly from the forest and coastal tribes owning the land best suited to growing the export crops. Many were commoners who saw in cocoa and coffee a way to achieve status and riches they had not inherited, and began growing—often with members of their age-group, or with kinsmen 22. Indeed, in areas where inheritance of land was in some form matrilineal, occasionally women also started plantations 23. Not only those traditionally commoners turned to planting. Though village land was for the most part communally owned first choice often went to the important people—to traditional chiefs where there were some, and to the officially designated chiefs also. Hence some chiefs profited directly from the new crops and most benefited at least indirectly from the increased wealth of their kinsmen.
Few pre-European cadres existed among the so-called stateless peoples living mainly along the Liberian and Guinean frontiers where generally “societies… lack centralized authority, administrative machinery, and constituted judicial institutions … there are no sharp divisions of rank, status, or wealth” 24.
But a pre-colonial hierarchy existed among the diverse coastal tribes, and most important among the Baulé and Agni peoples 25. The Baulé constitute the single largest ethnic group in Ivory Coast, an estimated 400,000; the Agni, about 95,000, are their relations but divided from them by historic differences 26. Among both groups, occupying pivotal positions within Ivory Coast comparable to the position of the Ashanti in Ghana, many of the pre-colonial leaders managed to become planters. Hence they kept, sometimes enhanced, the high status they had inherited, in contrast with the general decline of chiefly status that accompanied the introduction of European rule and technology.
Thus in Ivory Coast the spread of the money economy by way of small African plantations served to blur, though not erase, social distinctions which elsewhere in West Africa remained sharp among groups frequently opposed. In Ivory Coast, unlike Senegal, through planting most of the educated elite kept deep roots in the countryside. Rivalry between traditional and modern elites was cushioned since chiefs who earned money through planting sought the best possible education for their children. The distance between traditional commoners and chiefs was also reduced, within the planter class, as both came to accept money as a sign of high status. Even the distinction between traditional and official chief faded among the planters, and a man like Felix Houphouët-Boigny, of but minor traditional status, but a chef de canton and Ponty-trained, came to be accepted as a spokesman of chiefs. This process whereby not only educated men but also some of the cadres from the pre-European political systems shifted to new activities—economic, political, religious—without precedent in tradition, was by no means confined simply to Ivory Coast. It occurred in various forms, for example, among the Ashanti of Gold Coast, the Baganda of Buganda, the Wolof and Serere in Senegal.
In most West African territories the post-war politics of the official chiefs were closely linked with the administration. In Ivory Coast this occurred less, mainly because many official chiefs were related to the new planter class—and therefore, as we shall see, to the RDA.
The emergence of an African planter class was but one of many social consequences of the introduction of cash crops to Ivory Coast 27 The economy became sensitive to world market prices, and the number of Africans earning money increased. People's income—“inexorable barometer of social change” in the words of a former French governor 28—fluctuated with the depression, the rise in world prices in 1936, the decline of trade during the Second World War, and afterwards with the Korean war or frosts in Brazil. Yet another effect was the arrival. of migrants. Hundreds of thousands came, especially from Upper Volta (mostly administered as part of Ivory Coast between 1932 and 1947) to work on the farms at harvest time. The relation of migrant worker to planter, whether European or African, became a perennial problem. At the close of the war the abuses of forced labour had reached their height, and those African agricultural labourers who had not fled joined the African planters in determined opposition to the system. It would be wrong to underestimate the part of conviction in the condemnation by the African planters of Ivory Coast of forced labour. At the same time, their interests did confirm their convictions, for after 1940 labour was forced only for the convenience of the Europeans.
Some of the peaceful migrants from the savannah stayed, and became planters, calling upon their kinsmen to join them. They started their own settlements, and the geography of the forest made it easy to transfer from one plot to another, since building materials, game, water, and fertile soil for growing food were all readily available. Indeed this was yet another effect of the introduction of cash crops in Ivory Coast, the arrival of African immigrants—of “strangers” in search of business, work, and new horizons, who added yet more variety to the heterogeneous population of Ivory Coast. Even before the Europeans came the land was inhabited by many different tribes, mostly animists who were pushed south and west into the protective foliage of the forest by invaders from the savannah kingdoms. Thus the figures on religion—some 70 per cent. animist, 23 per cent. Muslim, and 7 per cent. Christian—hide a remarkable ethnic diversity 29; African leaders usually say some sixty different tribes 30.
As the internal market expanded still other aliens came as middle men, traders, transporters. Some were Lebanese or Syrian, others were Africans. Hence there took place in the forest and southern regions of Ivory Coast a process best described as “rural urbanization”, as the planter economy drew more and more people of different backgrounds to join an already diversified population 31. The extent of this process remained unknown for statistics were inadequate. But it is suggested by the results of such samplings taken, for example, in 1955, in a supposedly Agni region of Bongouanou. The administrative estimates were that some 2,100 strangers lived there; the sample showed 18,000 32, and showed further that among 8,531 people 23 different ethnic groups were represented, as well as 1,794 classified simply as “others” 33. One official estimate was that in 1957 60 per cent. of the wage earners were “strangers” 34.
Hence there were many “strangers” in Ivory Coast. It became general practice to call all strangers “dioula”, particularly among people in the countryside 35. The term is used even more loosely than is “Hausa” in Ghana. “Dioula” does not refer to any specific ethnic group, and indeed in some animist areas it is sufficient for a man to become a Muslim to be labelled a “dioula”. In the savannah regions it has a more specific meaning. It refers to the trading families, the peddlers, many of which have traditions reaching back many centuries to the trans-Saharan trade. Their trade changed direction after the arrival of the Europeans, when goods imported to Africa came across the ocean rather than across the desert. As the volume of trade increased, the route of the dioula traders became more profitable. A few became very wealthy, for example, the Marka trader from Nioro in Soudan, Yacouba Sylla. In the late 1920s he left Soudan due to French pressure against his Hamallist Muslim affiliations. In Ivory Coast he not only practiced Hamallism and helped spread it, but acquired trucking interests, motion picture halls, electrical installations, and plantations. From the first he expressed his family's tradition of revolt against French authorities by supporting the RDA. The interests of the African traders were closely tied to those of the African planters. They suffered from one of the by-products of the French rule—encouragement by French trading firms to European, Lebanese, and Syrian middlemen rather than African.
Yet another effect of economic change was the growth of cities—particularly Abidjan and the coffee trading city of Bouaké. Abidjan grew rapidly from one-third Dakar's size in 1945, with a population of some 46,000, to half Dakar's size when in 1956 it had a population of some 127,000 36. By then it was the second largest city in French-speaking West Africa, with double the people of the third largest, Bamako. Bouaké doubled its size between 1945 and 1955, becoming with 42,000 people almost as large as the peanut trading city of Kaolack 37. Apart from these two cities, however, all other centres remained very small—under 10,000 except for 13,000 in Korhogo. For Ivory Coast remained essentially rural, and it was in the countryside where profound social changes were taking place. This was reflected in the official statistics on the wage earners. By 1957 Ivory Coast had 90,000, more than half its regular wage earners, in the countryside, working not for themselves but for employers on farms, fisheries, and in the forest. For Senegal, on the contrary, no more than 4,650 people were in this category, and this constituted less than 5 per cent of the salaried wage earners. As for Ivory Coast employers, by 1957 there were 87,000 of them who were planters outside the cities, leaving only 3,200 in the cities. Senegal, on the other hand, then had no more than 6,500 employers all told 38.
Nevertheless, the cities were the centres of contact, and had special significance just when the post-war reforms were introduced; economic change was yet less advanced, and the total number of African planters was estimated at 20,000 39. Abidjan attracted a very varied population, including a fair number of strangers among the elite—clerks, teachers, doctors, lawyers-mainly from Senegal but also from Dahomey. In the city Africans came in touch with racial discrimination, which the settler community tightened considerably under the Vichy administration. In Abidjan some clubs, restaurants, hotels, and stores were reserved technically for “citizens”, but in practice for Europeans, since there were but a handful of African “citizens” in the territory. One incident, still discussed among RDA militants, evokes the state of relations between the two races at the close of the war. Two founding members of the inter-territorial RDA, Doudou Guèye, an African doctor from Senegal, and Ouezzin Coulibaly, then director of studies at Ponty, decided to test the validity of the laws saying African “citizens” had the same rights as Europeans. They went to an Abidjan restaurant patronized exclusively by Europeans. Almost immediately, the European employees tried to throw them out. The two Africans fought back, and there was a brawl, involving the European clients. The restaurant's owner, unaware that the two Africans were “citizens”, called the police, and invoked the indigénat applicable to African “subjects”. But at police headquarters the two Africans proved they were “citizens”. They knew the law, and claimed if they were jailed for the brawl, then they had to be in a common cell with the Europeans whom they had fought. In the end, the two Africans were released. Their fight against the Europeans symbolized the fight of the Ivory Coast RDA against local European privileges 40.
Thus the post-war reforms came in Ivory Coast to a setting of rapid economic and social change. People expected wealth to grow even more rapidly than in the past, and there were great extremes of wealth. Among Africans there were many existing or potential sources of division-between townsmen and planters, between planters and agricultural or town labourers; among members of different ethnic groups; within ethnic groups; between originaires whose residence in Ivory Coast predated the French conquest and those who came during the twentieth century—a full fifth of the African population 41. But Africans saw, at Liberation, ample reasons to unify against the colons and administrators, and tension between the Africans and Europeans mounted.
The reforms gave Africans in Ivory Coast some opportunities to express grievances legally. Rapidly they took advantage of the new rights to organize. Only briefly in 1943, were the African and European planters partners within the Syndicat Agricole de la Côte d'Ivoire. The partnership broke up since the organization was dominated by the Europeans among whom Africans found “total incomprehension” 42. The attitude of the European planters was illustrated by the views of Jean Rose, their president who was also a prime mover in the Etats Généraux de la Colonisation Française. When the administration gave a subsidy of 1,000 francs per hectare to all who had 25 hectares or more contiguously under cultivation, Jean Rose opposed giving more than 500 francs per hectare even to the 50 Africans who qualified, on the grounds they did not “have to worry about home leave, go to France or eat bread”. He said this while France was still occupied by the Germans and trips there were hardly possible 43.
Liberation gave the African planters the opportunity to strike out on their own. Early in 1944 the Brazzaville conference recommended the end of forced labour, while the Provisional Government in Algiers replaced the administrators who had been loyal to Vichy. Governor Rey was thus replaced by Governor André Latrille. He was a Resistance leader who with his chef de cabinet, Lambert, a man close to the French Communists, introduced a new order in Ivory Coast. For the first time French administrators actually helped when Africans “decided, in 1944, to take our interests in our own bands” 44.
In September 1944 the African planters set up their own organization—the Syndicat Agricole Africain (SAA) 45. Their first meeting took place at the Maison des Combattants, the club of veterans, to symbolize a challenge to the many European settlers who had cooperated enthusiastically with the Vichy administration. And they chose as their president the wealthy Baulé planter Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Born in 1905 of a chiefly family in the village of Yamoussoukrou, he became as the war began a chef de canton of the Akoues. Then he abandoned his practice as an African doctor, for which he had trained in Dakar at the Ecole de Medicine, and graduated in the mid-1920s as major of his class.
The SAA spread quickly with the aid of scarce cars and gasoline allocated by the administration 46. Officials added another incentive by exempting members of the SAA from forced labour service well before Parliament passed the law of 11 April 1946 abolishing it in all the French colonies 47. Officials ruled a man eligible for membership in the Syndicat if he had at least two hectares of coffee or three of cocoa under cultivation, and some 20,000 Africans qualified 48. The SAA challenged not only the European planters but also the European middlemen, by signing contracts directly with the big trading firms, particularly the Société Commerciale de l'Ouest Africain. The SAA laid plans for the creation of a Co-operative des Planteurs Africains under the direction of Jean Delafosse. But the immediate problem was bringing in the 1944 and 1945 harvests. In the recruitment of workers there began “the battle between settlers and Africans” 49 in Ivory Coast. First the SAA simply favoured the more equitable distribution of labourers between European and African planters. Soon, however, the SAA took a stand against the principle of forced labour. Houphouët claimed to be no more concerned about the economic consequences than the abolitionists of slavery had been in the nineteenth century 50. The SAA proceeded to recruit workers directly for voluntary labour 51. They did want to save at least some of the harvest from their plantations which had degenerated during the war.
Quite a few of the local agents of the Syndicat in the plantation belt of Ivory Coast were official chiefs 52. This made it easier for SAA delegates to reach agreements with the northern chiefs who supplied voluntary labourers—chiefs like the Morho Naba of the Mossi and the Gbon Coulibaly of the Senoufo 53. The SAA recruiters offered labourers part of the harvest and four times what the Europeans paid. The Europeans paid the official rate of 3.50 francs a day, plus maintenance. The Africans offered 20 francs a day, though they deducted 10 francs for maintenance, and one-third the cocoa or two-fifths the coffee harvest as well 54. No wonder the African planters had some success in winning workers away from European and Gold Coast farms. For the 1944-5 harvest they successfully enticed 4-5,000 voluntary workers to join the estimated 35,000 forced labourers 55.
This was not nearly enough workers for a normal full harvest—the estimated average need for seasonal workers after the war was 115,000 for African planters and 28,000 for European 56. Nevertheless the SAA felt in 1945 they had proved the case for free labour. The European planters vehemently denied this. Their lobby in Paris claimed they would be bankrupt without forced labour and attacked the policies of the Governor. The French government heeded the complaints and replaced Governor Latrille with the Comte de Mauduit 57 who again favoured the European planters and extended the operation of the forced labour system to allow the Europeans to bring in the 1945-6 harvest 58.
Meanwhile political reforms made it legal for Africans to form parties. As in the other territories, African town associations sought in Ivory Coast to transform themselves into parties, by forming alliances. There were in Abidjan many town groups. An organization like the Syndicat du Personnel Africain de l'Enseignement Primaire de la Côte d'Ivoire, defended the interests of African state school teachers. Their secretary-general, Philippe Yacé, later became secretary-general of the RDA sous-section in Treichville. There were also radical groups such as the Groupe d'Etudes Communistes (GEC), the Comité d'Etudes Franco-Africain (CEFA) and the Union Fraternelle des Originaires de la Côte d'Ivoire (UFOCI). These groups were linked by associations with French Communists, and by having members active in the Syndicat. The SAA had the advantages of funds and a structure reaching most villages in the coastal and forest regions. These related groups constituted the nuclei for the Ivory Coast section of the RDA, and organized the first parliamentary campaign, in 1945, with the assistance of some Senegalese “citizens” 59. They used the resources of the Syndicat and its “regional delegatesfor the most part chefs de canton and village chiefs” 60 —agreed to support President Houphouët.
Houphouët won only on the second ballot, by 12,980 votes against 11,621 for his nearest rival, the Baloum Naba 61. There were several reasons why the vote was narrow. First, the attitude of the administration became distinctly unfavourable towards the Syndicat after the Comte de Mauduit took Latrille's place as governor. Officials worked for Houphouët's defeat. They knew he was strong among the southern and forest peoples; that of the approximately 30,000 second college voters a little more than half lived in what became, in 1947, the territory of Upper Volta; and that of these perhaps three fourths were Mossi obedient to chiefs who were responsive to administrative pressures 62. Until the change in governors, the paramount chief of the Mossi, the Morho Naba, had agreed to support Houphouët. Then he changed his mind and presented the candidacy of his illiterate lieutenant, the Baloum Naba 63. He was the only candidate for a seat in the French parliament not educated in French schools. With some sympathy Houphouët later described the Baloum Naba's campaign:
He was watched, God knows he was watched. Whenever he could free himself from surveillance, he told people “Vote for my friend Houphouët… What will I do in that Paris, with my forty four wives and at my age? I can't speak a blasted word of French! … He was told ‘But you will have an administrator as secretary.’” 64
Administrative inspiration of the candidacy of the Baloum Naba was not the sole reason for a narrow vote. There was a genuine desire, particularly among the Mossi, for a separation from Ivory Coast. As early as 1945 the Mossi chiefs, with clients of chiefs around Bobo-Dioulasso, had formed the Union Voltaique. Its primary object was separate status for the area which became, in 1947, the territory of Upper Volta; a subsidiary object was “to see the railroad extended to Ouagadougou” 65. Separatist feeling there, and resentment of exploitation by the southerners added heat to the electoral contest. Houphouët's agents found their way barred by guards sent by Mossi chiefs, bridges cut and cars ambushed, when they sought to enter Mossi country 66.
It is doubtful whether Houphouët would have won this election without the support of most voters from the Bobo-Dioulasso region (subsequently in Upper Volta). There educated townsmen opposed to the “chiefs” were active in a small CEFA nucleus—men like Famory Coulibaly and Djibril Vinama. Their leader was Ouezzin Coulibaly, born a Bobo-fing and educated at Ponty some ten years after Houphouët. Ouezzin decided not to compete with Houphouët at their first meeting, on a train in Ivory Coast just after the war, which began a close association that lasted until Ouezzin died in September 1958. In 1945 he threw his energy and organizing skill behind Houphouët's campaign. It was in this first campaign that in Mossi country a French administrator seized Ouezzin, and to discourage potential voters, stripped him and with a rope around his neck promenaded him through the town. Some twelve years later he became the head of the first African government of Upper Volta. But in the interval, it was in Ivory Coast that Ouezzin Coulibaly spent most of his political career. From there, even after Upper Volta separated off, Coulibaly was elected a parlementaire and he remained Houphouët's closest companion. In Ivory Coast he represented not only the Association des Originaires de la Haute Volta and the wider “stranger” community, but also the federal, indeed pan-African tendencies of the RDA.
The Bobo votes made the difference. Rival candidates from several ethnic associations of eastern and southern tribes took only a few votes from Houphouët, because support was limited to their own small groups 67. Since the inter-war years there existed in the towns of Ivory Coast many ethnic and regional associations—such as the Association du Sanwy, the Union Fraternelle des Agnis de Sahoua, the Association Mutuelle des Originaires d'Assinie, the Union Sociale des Ressortissants Adioukrou de Tiebissou 68. The small southern tribes of Ivory Coast, like those of Ghana, had a long history of contact with Europe and a fairly high proportion of educated men interested in elective office. But the Syndicat had the support of most of the rural voters in the south and the forest. Only within two ethnic groups did the majority refuse to back the Syndicat president. One was the Bété, whose leader, Dignan Bailly, became the head of the Ivory Coast Socialist party 69. Just as the Socialists in Guinea were dominated by educated Fulani, and limited to that ethnic group, so the Ivory Coast socialist had an audience limited to the Bété. The other group was the Agni, who with their relations from Nkrumah's birthplace Nzima, on the Ghana frontier, became the basis of the Parti Progressiste de la Côte d'Ivoire, led by the Ponty-trained teacher, Kacou Aoulou 70. For some ten years after 1945 the Bété-based Socialists and the Agni-based Progressistes opposed the PDCI, and fought unsuccessfully, “to free themselves from the yoke of the Baulé and the Dioula” 71.
This first territorial election ever held in Ivory Coast was Houphouët's only narrow victory. During the 1946 campaign to the second Constituante he won by an overwhelming 21,099 out of 22,995 valid second college votes 72. There were three reasons.
- First, Latrille was back as governor. Perhaps the sight of Houphouët riding about in the governor's car 73 had something to do with the decision of the Mossi chiefs not to oppose him during what were the last months of their administrative connexion with Abidjan.
- Second, in Paris Houphouët successfully sponsored the law which abolished forced labour. In most territories the man who took credit for the end of forced labour—Senghor in Senegal, Apithy in Dahomeywas widely acclaimed. Rejoicing was more fervent in Ivory Coast because Africans there had been subjected to some of the worst abuses of the system. As the candidate of the Syndicat, Houphouët had made the abolition of forced labour his special task and became in the countryside a hero and a liberator. This achievement was the beginning of a myth around Houphouët, the first truly national Ivory Coast tradition.
- Third, Houphouët's supporters worked hard to organize, and they profited from his prestige to build a party structure. It was a testimony to their diligence, as well as the business sense of the dioula and Lebanese traders that by 1946 there were Houphouët pictures, perfume, lockets, and cloths on sale in the markets of Ivory Coast. And dances, legends, songs, and plays throughout the territory retold the tale of Houphouet's freeing of the workers.
Thus there was the basis for a mass party in Ivory Coast even before it was born, of consolidation of the existing town associations, which was the initial phase of party growth in Ivory Coast as in the other territories. In Abidjan as early as August 1945, just prior to municipal council elections, educated Africans unified in a Bloc Africain, the homonym of the Senegalese group of the same period. But while in Senegal the Socialist caucus gained control of the Bloc, in Ivory Coast it was the GEC caucus of men calling themselves democrates who took control. Under their lead, the Bloc boycotted all European candidates for the municipal council of the commune mixte of Abidjan. The election was the first in which some “subjects” could vote, and though both “citizens” and “subjects” had to be among the candidates, the vote was by single college. The Bloc successfully presented an all-African slate of nine “subjects” and nine “citizens”. This was the first electoral victory for the Africans, due largely to their united front against the Europeans 74.
During the first campaign for the Constituent Assembly the unity among the town Africans of Abidjan broke for a short time, as both a Socialist and Progressiste nucleus opposed Houphouët's election. By 1946, however, the “unity of action” of the Bloc was restored under the banner of a Rassemblement Africain. It became a party in the formal sense in April 1946 and took the name Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire. It spread quickly, along lines of communication within Ivory Coast provided by the structure of the Syndicat. Even before the first inter-territorial congress took place in Bamako in October 1946 the PDCI claimed more paid-up members than there were legally registered voters—some 65,000 75. For not only economic but also political, social, and religious forces of revolt sought a channel of expression. Even religious dissidents like the Muslim Hamallists and the Christian Harrists gave their loyalty to the PDCI. This success of the PDCI, the wealth of its planter-leaders and the special status accorded Houphouët from his parliamentary fight against forced labour, explained why he became by acclamation the president of the inter-territorial RDA. The power of the PDCI for at least a decade gave sustenance to the movement.
People knew that regardless of purpose “if Houphouët asks (the Baulés) today for five, ten, twenty million, he will have them within twenty-four or forty-eight hours” 76.
On various occasions PDCI leaders subsidized one or another section of the RDA, as these took root over the years throughout AOF (except Mauretania) and in parts of Equatorial Africa.
Rural discontent gave momentum to the PDCI and pushed the party to repeated electoral victories since 1945. Its candidates, returned uncontested to the 1946 Legislature, were picked with care for regional balance; Houphouët headed the list while Ouezzin Coulibaly from the Bobo region and Kaboret Zinda from Ouagadougou completed it. Zinda was a 27-year-old African pharmacist, a Mossi son of the chef de canton from Koudougou, with traditional status challenging the Morho Naba's. When the PDCI nominated him in 1946 the Mossi chiefs agreed, and he came to be the youngest member of the French National Assembly. Then the chiefs, like the administration, turned against the RDA. In 1947 at a meeting held before the door of the palace of the Morho Naba, Zinda attacked him and his entourage, cited many abuses and claimed the French deformed chieftaincy. He challenged the chiefs, “climb off your horses and walk with the people”. They walked out of the meeting. Shortly afterwards Zinda died, reputedly poisoned 77. He was never replaced; Upper Volta became a separate territory and the PDCI had no formal part in the by-elections won overwhelmingly by the chiefly party, the Union Voltaique.
The PDCI drew up yet another unity list for the elections to the first conseil général, which received 87 per cent of the votes cast 78, and won 25 out of the 27 second college seats; the other 2 were Agni, elected on the unity list, who then broke away. The care taken to keep an ethnic, professional, and status balance is evident from an analysis of the councillors for Ivory Coast proper-from the conseil general second college as it was after the 1948 by-elections replaced the 12 councillors who had been elected from Upper Voltan constituencies. Of the total 21 had been educated at Ponty and 7 were teachers, 8 clerks, and 6 African doctors. Nine came from chiefly families and the rest were commoners. They represented 18 different ethnic groups ; not more than 3 were members of a single ethnic group—and that only of Baulé, Malinke and Agni 79. Five were “strangers” from Guinea, Soudan, Senegal, Upper Volta, and Dahomey. The choice of candidates for the first conseil général began the series of negotiations among ethnic and professional groups which henceforth preceded all direct elections in Ivory Coast. Since the PDCI remained the dominant party and when votes were counted honestly ran up overwhelming majorities, the real struggle for power among Africans in Ivory Coast took place within the party, when candidates were chosen, rather than in the actual voting.
Even in 1947, when the pressure for unity among Africans came from their common hostility to the Europeans, the educated leaders of two ethnic groups dissociated themselves from the PDCI, the Bete-Socialists and the largely Agni-Progressistes. Their withdrawal from the PDCI was precipitated by quarrels over nominations. The Agni took further issue with Houphouët over the nomination of his brother-in-law as chief in Abengourou, which led early in 1947 to incidents 80. Agni and Bete disagreement with the leaders of the PDCI was a constant theme in post-war Ivory Coast politics, at least in part because of historic disagreements with neighbouring tribes.
In 1947 the educated leaders of the PDCI from the towns sought to formalize the structure. A permanent staff worked at territorial headquarters in Treichville, a suburb of Abidjan. In theory at least one member of the executive—the comité directeur—stayed at headquarters while at least three others toured the provinces. People snapped up party cards, first the agents of the Syndicat and the chiefs, then their followers. After Upper Volta was separated off, the PDCI claimed 350,000 members 81. By 1950 the PDCI claimed to have 850,000 card-carrying members who presumably had paid 25 francs for the card and another 50 francs annual subscription fee 82. These resources, together with the continuously generous response of the planter community to special appeals, made the Ivory Coast PDCI the richest party in French-speaking West Africa.
The fact was that popular support for the PDCI outstripped the capacities of the leaders to organize as they would have preferred. They tried to build according to a pattern agreed for all the territorial sections of the RDA—at the local level either rural comites de village or in the cities comités de quartiers; at the regional level sous-sections sent delegates to a territorial congress; which elected a comité directeur; which chose a smaller bureau politique.
In theory the units were to be determined by geography, while the relationships among them was to be vertical, and by elected representatives. These principles were usually followed in the other territories.
But in the Ivory Coast the crisis in the relations between Europeans and Africans led PDCI leaders to feel they had little time to spend on party organization. They already had a spontaneously evolving structure, along ethnic lines, and the organizers did not try to rebuild along the neighbourhood principle. Their immediate goal was to surmount the crisis; they tried to give direction to already formed groups; they would not risk further internal division by attacking within their own ranks. In their haste they also neglected holding annual territorial congresses and used the Treichville soussection for an “interim” territorial executive. This, too, was organized along ethnic lines even though neighbourhoods were not. An effect was to institutionalize the ethnic principle, which later weakened the PDCI's ability to cope with mounting ethnic tensions 83.
The sudden emergence of the Syndicat, the birth of the RDA and the adoption of reforms in the French Parliament, all these the European settlers in Ivory Coast considered to be defeats. Houphouët remarked of them:
Had they remained in France they would certainly have been among the Communists or the Socialists; but with a change in climate came a change in their social class; they were worse than those born reactionaries 84.
Communications between Africans and the Europeans broke down, and debates between first and second college councillors in the conseil général were generally disorderly 85. That its powers were inadequate was the only point on which both groups agreed. Fear and anger was behind such baseless rumours circulating among the Europeans like “on Christmas eve (1946) the whites will all be slaughtered” 86. Though there were no acts of violence by Africans against Europeans, nevertheless they took to sleeping “with their revolvers cocked” 87. Most settlers believed “Paris” was responsible for the changes they hated, and so their spokesmen went with their case to Paris, to the meetings of the Etats Généraux de la Colonisation Française. By co-operating with the extensive lobby of French colons in all the French colonies, the Ivory Coast settlers became part of a powerful machine, and gained sympathetic attention from such Right-wing newspapers as Climats and l'Aurore.
As long as the French Communists remained in the French government the Ivory Coast settler had little success in obtaining official support in France against the RDA, even though they charged that it was Communist-dominated. There was French Communist influence, but it was rather in the nature of swimming with a tide they could not control. Later, the French Communists claimed their influence prevented the Syndicat from dominating Ivory Coast politics, and led to the formation of a mass party 88. This claim seems exaggerated since the post-war reforms precipitated the birth of African parties everywhere and it is hardly likely the Syndicat leaders would have left the initiative in politics to others. During these formative years, a number of French Communists did act as advisors—one worked on the staff of the conseil général, another assisted at the birth of the CGT trade union movement in Ivory Coast while Communist lawyers, journalists, and technicians moved back and forth between Paris and the various capitals of French-speaking West Africa 89.
There is some evidence that the GEC of Abidjan met at least for a brief period in the offices of Lambert, the chef de cabinet of the governor, Latrille. But the French Communists were quite peripheral to the central fact that great popular enthusiasm for the idea of a real change in Ivory Coast became attached to the RDA.
The attitude of the French government towards the RDA altered after the tripartite alliance broke down in May 1947. The Vichy record of the settlers became less significant to a French government increasingly preoccupied with Communist opposition in France. Informed members of the French government did not go so far as to believe some of the more exaggerated statements of the European settlers—that Norwegian boats manned by Russians were unloading arms in Ivory Coast, for example 90. Yet they were fearful, lest a revolt in Ivory Coast follow the Madagascar rebellion, and took measures to transfer Governor Latrille early in 1947, on the pretext he mismanaged the controversy surrounding the chieftaincy of Abengourou, and was responsible for incidents there 91.
His successor, Governor Orselli, held office only between February and October 1948, and though his instructions were to tighten control over the RDA, he instead claimed he tried to reconcile settlers and the RDA, and to woo the RDA from their Communist allies. The attempt failed. He blamed the settler attitude for this, claiming they caused trouble when he tried to have mixed dinner parties, when a colon found Africans did not get out of the way of his sports car fast enough, when Africans sat on white benches in movie houses of Abidjan, when he tried to allocate 20 per cent of the imported refrigerators to Africans, when he allotted one of three American cars to the president of the conseil général, Auguste Denise, or when he tried to allocate a reasonable share of bread to Africans who had developed a taste for it 92. Orselli summed up the settler attitude in his report of a snatch of dinner table conversation “This matter cannot be settled here without 10,000 deaths.” 93
As for the Communists, their tone also sharpened after they became free from the restraints of co-operating with the parliamentary majority in France. In May 1947 they entered on a phase of systematic opposition, and since they subordinated African policy to the French, they urged opposition upon the RDA. More French Communists devoted their energies to the RDA, as Communist lawyers, journalists, cameramen, politicians and other functionaries moved between Paris and Ivory Coast. The French Communists under the lead of Raymond Barbé, wanted to consolidate their position and cautioned their African allies against Titoist deviation, against “a certain autonomism, African, perhaps even territorial” 94. Barbé and his comrades, instead of saying publicly, “obey the constitution”, as in 1946, said in 1948, “it is time for mass action against reaction” 95.
A large Communist delegation attended the second inter-territorial congress of the RDA in December-January 1949; in their speeches they made clear they connected events in Africa and the Cold war in Europe. They conducted a seminar on techniques of protest, and produced a film on forced labour and its aftermath. (The administration later seized this.) 96
French officials, between the settlers and the French Communists became convinced the RDA was a danger. The two extremes left no room for the neutral position, and this was observed in an RDA editorial.
To bring Africans together is a Russian plan. The Russians must be extraordinary people, geniuses, since everything which should make men happy, all that can diminish the exploitation of man by man, everything that can stop man from being a tool in the hands of man, is attributed to them.
The Bamako Congress? Russian plan. The formation of the RDA? Russian plan. United States of Africa? Russian plan. Do the people of France support the fight of the oppressed people? Russian plan. The Russians must really be geniuses since everything that is human is attributed to them 97.
The French government designated Governor Péchoux to Ivory Coast. He arrived in November 1948. It was his task to:
- restore the “prestige” of the administration
- stop the use of a service d'ordre at RDA meetings for arrogation of police powers
- close the 27 schools of the PDCI's Ligue Contre l'Ignorance for teaching without permission of the educational authorities
- end the use of party tribunals to settle differences for arrogation of judicial powers 98
He used the law to break the power of the RDA, even at the risk of incidents.
Péchoux expelled the Communists from the administration, and sponsored individuals and groups in opposition to the RDA. His plan included preparing a defeat for the RDA in the 1951 elections to the French National Assembly. Confronted with the united front of Africans within the RDA, the administration adopted divisive tactics, at every level from the capital to the village. The administration found it impossible to build a single opposition party and so sponsored five:
- among Baulé opposed to President Houphouët the Union des Independants de la Cote d'Ivoire
- among Muslims living in the savannah the Entente des Indépendants de la Côte d'Ivoire led by Sekou Sanogo
- in the southern lagoon area the Bloc Démocratique Eburnéen under the lead of former Senator Djaument
- Two other parties existed since 1946:
- the Progressistes among Agni later joined by Abrong
- the Socialists among the Bété
The next phase in the official campaign against the PDCI came with the arrest of most members of the comité directeur who were not covered by French parliamentary immunity. The circumstances were the following. To create the Bloc Démocratique Eburnéen, Etienne Djaument called a meeting for 30 January. He was angry that he was not renominated RDA Senator in November 1948, and Biaka Boda took his place. The BDE had police and official protection, and the place of the meeting, the Comacico meeting hall, was but a few yards away from the Syndicat in the predominantly RDA stronghold of Treichville, a suburb of Abidjan. At the 30 January meeting were some of Djaument's Sassandra kinsmen and a few supporters of the Progressistes and the Socialists. The bulk of the audience was RDA. After Djaument insulted Houphouët, Ouezzin Coulibaly, and the secretary general of the PDCI, Auguste Denise, went across the road to escort Houphouët to the meeting. Houphouët seated himself comfortably on the stage and asked for a right to reply. Questions were all right, said Djaument, but not speeches. Houphouët led the boos, catcalls, and hisses which drowned out Djaument's voice—then left the meeting, taking his followers with him. From the balcony of the Syndicat Houphouët told the crowd Governor Péchoux was really responsible for the insults, while in the hall Djaument adjourned the meeting until the 6th of February 99.
In the interval Djaurnent, the administration and the RDA formulated plans. The administration wanted to demonstrate encouragement to RDA opponents.
Pechoux's chef de cabinet, Raymond Lefevre, later stated 100:
We believed… we could not tolerate the dictatorship of the RDA… and certain of being able to re-establish order the Governor accepted the risk of seeing reproduced, perhaps in a somewhat aggravated form, the events of the previous Sunday.
Djaurnent and his friends met in the European sections of town, at the Chamber of Commerce and at the business headquarters of Massiege & Ferras. Their confidence in official support was shown by the telegram they sent all over Ivory Coast on 2nd of February:
« BATTLE DESTRUCTION SOVIET RDA DECLARED — BLOCK ALL ACTION SUPPORTERS KOMINFORM » 101
As for the RDA, in a meeting on the 1st of February at their Syndicat headquarters, the leaders pointed out that in France people who disagreed with political speakers had the right to reply, else there were boos, catcalls, and hisses. Houphouët clearly wanted Djaument put in his place. But not by violence. He said “even if M. Djaument wanted to insult in order to provoke the population, they should … content themselves with drowning out his traitorous voice” 102. Meanwhile, he recalled general councillors Paraiso and Mockey from the interior for the meeting, and then left town to join Ouezzin Coulibaly, the other deputy, on tour. Denise, Mockey, and Paraiso asked Governor Péchoux to cancel the meeting on 6 February, since Djaument's followers were armed and planned trouble. Péchoux refused. On the day of the meeting an enormous crowd milled in the streets. Police and military trucks were at the hall which Djaument's supporters entered first. Paraiso slipped in some of his men who reported Djaurnent's supporters, armed, had taken up strategic positions. At 9:10 a.m. the RDA contingent entered. Paraiso told his men to throw away even ball point pens if they were without caps, and asked the police to search for arms 103. This was done. In the hall trouble soon broke out. Houphouët claimed, “The minority, just a few men, beat our unarmed militants with sticks and slippers, under the eyes of the indifferent police.” 104 Who beat, insulted, and pushed whom is not clear. The police decided to evacuate and the two groups left by different doors. The police protected Djaument's men against the hostile crowd. Paraiso, Mockey, and Rigo (a French Communist organizer of the CGT), carried on the shoulders of their supporters, led singing of the Marseillaise—but also ordered the crowd to make way for the “traitors” 105. By noon the hall was clear, and it seemed a serious incident had been averted.
But only seemed. By early afternoon crowds besieged the homes of RDA opponents in both Treichville and Adjame. The secretary-general of the Progressistes, Kacou Aoulou, fleeing from pursuers, shot and wounded RDA supporter Sidibé, and when Aoulou took refuge in the house of Yapobe the crowd attacked and damaged it. People also attacked the house of superior chief Antonin Dioullo, another RDA opponent, and stole his “two hundred year old throne” 106. In the fracas his nephew was wounded and eventually died. The crowd also wrecked the headquarters and presses of the Progessives, “while Paraiso danced a Dahomean dance” 107.
By 3 p.m. the rioting ended. Forty-six Africans were arrested, 1 man was killed, 4 of the wounded were in hospital, while some 13 others were treated but discharged. Later the military patrolled the streets and reported “the night was never before so calm in Abidjan” 108. On 9 February the police arrested eight key leaders of the RDA, including Mockey and Paraiso, and kept them in jail for the duration of the repression 6. The eight felt they were fighting for freedom, and nicknamed the paddy wagon which transported them to jail and court, as “la liberté” 109.
These arrests were but the first of the measures officials took against the educated leaders of the RDA. Charges were brought against the Syndicat 110. The governor sued the RDA paper Le Démocrate, on more than fifty different counts (but since the editor Ouezzin Coulibaly was a deputy, covered by immunity, the cases could not come up until after Coulibaly lost his seat in 1951). Officials alternated threats and bribes to make men leave the RDA. So many civil servants lost their jobs for political reasons, some even formed, during 1950, a Syndicat des fonctionnaires sanctionnés pour raison politique. Civil servants were so vulnerable to official pressure the RDA made it a rule they could not be party officers. As for the conseil général, at the ordinary budgetary session in the fall of 1949 the RDA majority refused to approve the budget. The Governor dissolved the council and called an extraordinary session. In the interval, pressures, arrests, bribery resulted in cutting the number of RDA councillors from 25 to less than 10. They simply disowned the letters of resignation from the conseil général which they had filed with the party at the time of their election, and instead officials published, broadcast, and posted everywhere news of their resignation from the party 111.
Repressive measures were not confined to the educated. Major army and police movements occurred at any sign, real or imagined, of disorder. Africans considered a provocation the aggressively military celebrations, near Man, of the fiftieth anniversary of the French capture of the warrior Samory Touré 112.
In the countryside chiefs favourable to the RDA lost their offices—according to RDA estimates at least 300 113. Governor Péchoux took special pains to woo the paramount chief of the Baulé, Kouakou Anoublé. The Governor offered him “a car, grooved rifles for his elders, and encouraged the publication in the unofficial organ of the government, La Cote d'Ivoire… his resignation from the RDA”. Kouakou Anoublé made a personal trip to Abidjan “to denounce this fiction and to state publicly his devotion to the RDA” 114.
Ordinary villagers were as much involved in the incidents as were the chiefs. Village chiefs were pitted against their superiors, and some incidents took place where historically French conquest had always met with African resistance. An example were the incidents in the northern village of Koumbala, among the Senoufo in the cercle of Korhogo. At the turn of the century a chief of the Palaka had been executed in Korhogo by the French for refusing to pay taxes. Since September 1948 there were new troubles over payment of taxes. Sikaly, chief of the Palaka, who favoured the RDA, refused to pay 4,000 francs CFA in taxes which he owed to his superior chief and cousin Ouattara, who opposed the RDA. Sikaly said, “I pay only to Houphouët”. Officials claimed they made attempts to mediate, then to arrest Sikaly, but to no avail. At dawn on 26 February ten truckloads of Colonel Lacheroy's Alaouite troops (Syrian mercenaries) made a surprise attack on the small encampment of some hundred souls. Who fired first is a matter for controversy. The troops reported that when one of their three attacking groups was greeted by stones, shots, and poisoned arrows, it fired without waiting for orders and that then the other two groups also opened fire. But the RDA denied the Palaka attacked first, pointing to the disparity in forces, arms, and the absence of evidence. On record were four deaths among the villagers, including chief Sikaly and one woman, two wounded villagers, and the arrest of all those who did not flee 115. With some relish the settler paper Climats remarked “thus the Africans learned that the sorcerer and the RDA lied when they said the teeth of the French are broken” 116.
Officials raised taxes of villagers favouring the RDA. For example, on 14 March 1950, the elders in the village of Danane gathered 150,000 francs for the families of RDA prisoners. The administrator ordered their treasurer, al Hajj Sori Soumanhoro, to return the money, and then raised taxes which the elders had to produce 117. Officials turned down the applications by RDA members for import licences to buy cars or other scarce goods. Before pilgrims could leave for Mecca they were required to sign resignations from the RDA. The spiritual leader of the Muslims of Tienne (Odienné) was told by officials he should leave the RDA because Houphouët was not a Muslim. He replied, “and are you?” RDA supporters found, “in order to ask for a gun permit one must begin with an Indépendant membership card”. In Ivory Coast guns are not only symbols of prestige but also necessary to planters who must keep animals from eating their crops. RDA members learned that “to get an identity card (and the vote) one must show a card as an Indépendant, and the stupidity continues” 118. Customs held up one million membership cards printed in France for the RDA for “false declaration of contents” 119. Officials protected opponents to the RDA, in spite of the many questionable methods they used. Le Démocrate, the PDCI paper, printed accounts like the following:
Agboville. In order to show his infinite attachment to the colonialist administration, M. N'Guessan Jean, Secretary of the Progressistes presented a lamb to the administrator who had just ended an incendiary anti-RDA speech. As he was about to put the lamb in his truck, a man ran up, furious, and snatched the lamb away. To N'Guessan he shouted, “This lamb is mine. Who gave it to you? Mr. Administator, this man is a thief. He stole my lamb. I press charges against him.” Mr. the administrator of Agboville, embarrassed, preferred to leave rather than arrest his friend. Of course he left the lamb behind. What a regime! 120
Dubious methods were also used to distribute the cards of parties other than the RDA. Some of the more enterprising Africans bought the cards of several parties, so as to be left undisturbed 121. Under this constant fire from the administration, PDCI tactics were at first purely defensive. The leaders still at liberty toured the provinces urging their followers not to reply “to the provocation of the traitors”. The parlementaires wanted to avoid arrest, lest the movement remain without any leaders. They could be arrested, if caught in the act of breaking the law, or if the government convinced Parliament to lift immunity—for “inciting rebellion” as in the case of the Malgasy deputies. The parlementaires explained this to their followers, who asked “even if you wanted to, could you tell us to fight back?” The answer was “no”. Villagers at times took matters into their own hands, and transmitted what they called “silent orders”, real or imagined. Meanwhile a debate took place within the RDA, about tactics. The Communist advisors urged direct action; and among the Africans one wing wanted to fight back, while another pointed to the defections from RDA ranks, urged conciliation, and suggested cutting links with the French Communists.
The “fight back” wing won the debate 122. By the end of 1949, RDA leaders urged their followers to demonstrate peacefully in front of official residences and prisons, to protest against the arrest of their leaders. Monjauze, administrator of the Abidjan district, found on visiting the villages under his jurisdiction that the inhabitants slipped away, leaving empty huts to greet him when he arrived. On 18 October a tussle took place at Dabou and Akradio between the administrator and the population. First the villagers recovered their leaders whom the administrator had arrested, then troop reinforcements arrived and arrested the RDA leaders as well as many of the followers 123. In Abidjan the RDA organized large demonstrations and fishing boats in the lagoon carried banners printed with “Free the innocents”, “We defend liberty”, “We resist oppression” 124. Peaceful protests were organized throughout the territory, in Bouaké, and as far north as Ferkéssedougou near the frontier of Upper Volta. There Marc Rucart, European first college senator from Upper Volta, reported that after he had addressed a large crowd for some fifteen minutes, suddenly, without a sound, most of his audience walked out. He thought a hurricane was expected. When he left too, his path was lined by hundreds of children chanting RDA slogans 125. Not only children but also women were active for the RDA since August 1949. They organized many demonstrations particularly during the week of 21 December in front of the prison in Grand Bassam, holding the eight arrested leaders, and before the Governor's palace. The point was, said Mme. Ouezzin Coulibaly, an organizer of the women, “to show they could keep up the work of their arrested menfolk” 126. Senator Marc Rucart reported the women pushed back by guards from the prison, “lay down on the sidewalk, undressed, and presented their two hundred derrières to the gendarmes. A burst of water from fire hoses soon re-established reason out of this hysterical behaviour.” 127 RDA militants dubbed this “la bataille des jets d'eau” 128.
At the end of 1949, the party decided on several measures 129. Between 12 and 27 December the eight imprisoned leaders at Grand Bassam went on a hunger strike while their followers demonstrated outside the jail 130. This, advised by the Communists, never had the wholehearted approval of the RDA militants, particularly not of practicing Muslims. In contrast, all agreed on the boycott of all European goods between 15 December and 1 January. The RDA claimed a sharp decline in the profits of the European importers to one tenth of the normal amount 131, while the administration claimed that in the long run profits were unaffected, that Africans stored purchases before the strike and quietly made purchases during the night for emergency needs 132. Without warning for some days beginning 9 January domestic servants disappeared from the homes of Europeans, causing them to do unaccustomed work. From 15 to 19 January there was a boycott of the railroad, which appears to have been unsuccessful 133. At the end of January there was a strike of fruit and vegetable vendors at the principal market patronized by European housewives.
Meanwhile, in the countryside, during the spring “incident season”, there were numerous demonstrations, mostly in the plantation belt. Quite serious incidents occurred in the Baulé area, culminating at Dimbokro, 28-31 January. There was one attempt by officials to arrest President Houphouët, causing a wave of popular protest. It took place two days after the incidents of 22 January in Bouaké. Houphouët arrived and stayed at the house of an African planter who had recently been arrested. To welcome him in the usual manner, the population from the surrounding villages camped around Houphouët's temporary residence. Among those paying their respects was a local RDA leader, Zoro Bi Tra, wanted by the administration. Shortly after his arrival in the house, soldiers surrounded it, and the assistant attorney-general, together with the captain in command of the troops, challenged Houphouët to turn over the man whom, they claimed, he was hiding. There were several hundred witnesses who knew Zoro Bi Tra was in the house, and Houphouët turned him over to the troops. At that moment, Houphouët could have been charged with flagrant delit, and arrested even though a French deputy.
He was not, perhaps simply out of oversight. Several days later, after Houphouët continued on his tour and had arrived at his personal estate at Yamoussoukrou, troops with the assistant attorney-general, demanded the right to enter and arrest Houphouët at 1 a.m. The porter at the estate, well instructed in French law, refused to allow the troops to enter at that hour. The troops retired, and the news of the attempt to arrest Houphouët travelled through the countryside. People started marching on Yamoussoukrou. All night and all day the marching continued, until the roads were blocked, for miles, by crowds. At 4 p.m. on 27 January, the assistant attorney-general again came to the estate; he was allowed to pass by the crowd and made his way in. Houphouët claimed parliamentary immunity from arrest. Houphouët's interpretation of the law was correct; he was not arrested, though the French Communist publicist who was with him was, “for insulting a magistrate”. It is probable that had Houphouët not used his influence to prevent the crowd from touching the European magistrate, and further, had the magistrate not abandoned his attempt to arrest Houphouët, there would have been violence throughout the region 134.
The incidents at Dimbokro were clearly connected with the charged atmosphere resulting from the attempted arrest. For Dimbokro is also in Baulé country. European—African relations were bad, and both groups disliked the administrator, an Annamite mulatto named Montel. As early as February 1949 the administrator reported small incidents, when the RDA majority chased six chiefs out of their villages 135. On 29 January 1950 the excited RDA supporters had not yet returned from the pilgrimage to Yamoussoukrou. At 5 a.m. Montel arrested the RDA leader Samba Ambroise, a trader and planter who had been in the Syndicat. It was Ambroise's fifth arrest in two years, this time for ordering that RDA opponents not be sold food at the market. Montel charged further that Ambroise, who had urged the confiscation of any imported goods bought during the boycott, had stolen goods in his possession 136. Montel ordered a search of RDA headquarters and the arrest of several others also.
Then people massed in protest, and for some 48 hours the crowd in the market-place grew larger and larger. Some wore warrior fetishes, carried hoes and sticks. Homes, farms, and stores were deserted, as between two and four thousand demonstrated. Tension grew. The families of the Europeans took refuge at the official residence. The crowd wanted Samba back, and the administrator wanted to regain control. He called for troops which arrived by the 30th. The European territorial councillor Filidori wanted to avoid bloodshed and urged RDA secretary general Denise be called to speak to the crowd. But it was too late. At 2 p.m. on the 30th Montel ordered the troops to clear the market-place, ten minutes later the firing began 137, and thirteen Africans were killed while the official estimate of the wounded varied between twenty and forty 138. Some officials claimed the Africans fired first 139. This the RDA hotly denied, and their lawyer (a Communist, Blanche Matarasso) claimed the Africans, unarmed and in flight were taken in a crossfire between troops and settlers 140. Lt. Lefebvre who with one other European officer commanded the troops admitted that they “were not able to control the troops as well as might have been expected” 141. The bodies were buried in a common grave early on the morning of the 31st; they were buried in separate graves only after autopsies were performed on 4 February. The records did not show if the bullets causing death came from military rifles or from weapons of the calibre owned by the white settlers 142. A painting of the shootings at Dimbokro, by Ouezzin Coulibaly, decorated RDA headquarters in Treichville. It became the special task of a group of paratroopers to confiscate it.
There was yet another serious incident in this region at about the same time—the death of the Baulé Senator Biaka Boda. It illustrates the climate of fear and violence, and of baseless rumours of the time. Biaka Boda disappeared on the night of 28 January, when he was carrying a letter from Houphouët to the attorney-general at Bouaflé. His disappearance gave rise to a story sensational enough to attract a world-wide attention the incidents never received. The British student of French politics Peter Campbell 143, and the American publicist John Gunther 144 both picked up statements perhaps in the American and the French press that Biaka Boda had been “eaten by his constituents”. Campbell even embroidered the rumour by saying, “His two wives believe he has been eaten by some of his cannibal constituents”. It is hard to be certain who first launched the rumour. Senator Marc Rucart, when charged, staunchly denied having given this item of information either to the American press or to French Paris-Presse. He certainly transmitted the rumour, as well as such others as Boda, fearing for his life, fled to Liberia, to Nigeria, even to Chicago 145.
What were the facts? Boda's skeletal remains, and some of his clothes and papers were found. He had last been seen near the home of an Almamy in the vicinity of Daloa, where people were still excited over the attempt to arrest Houphouët. These facts came out at an official inquiry. The remaining facts, reconstructed by his successor as Senator, Ouezzin Coulibaly, are the following. On the road near Daloa, Boda's car broke down. He sent his chauffeur for spare parts, and remained alone in the car, surrounded by the forest. It was night. He became afraid—for fear was in the air after the many incidents. To prevent opponents from acquiring his notes, he threw his notebook into the dense foliage, where it was later recovered. He then started to walk to the nearest village, to seek shelter. He was taken in by a local Muslim leader, an Almamy. During the night, the agents of the local chief-newly installed in office because of his opposition to the RDA—dragged Boda from sleep, and took him into the forest for questioning. A small, slight man, Boda died under the ill treatment he received at the hands of his questioners. These men became afraid; they were not certain that their action would be covered by the administration, and were afraid of vengeance from fervent RDA militants. So they left his body in the forest. The damp heat, together with ants and insects, caused Boda's corpse to disintegrate quickly; and therefore only the skeleton was found. In 1953 Boda was officially declared dead by a French court of inquiry. Nothing was said about the circumstances under which he met his death.
While the incidents in Baulé country were the most serious, quite a few others took place, at Zénouala on 14 December 1949, Bouaké on 2 January 1950, Daloa on the 5th, N'Gorko on the 6th, Adzopé on the 17th, and many other places. This was the general pattern. First Africans secure in the knowledge of administrative support quarrelled with RDA members. The opponents frequently belonged to different social groups than RDA members. The administrator, following instructions, sided with the opponents and arrested the local RDA leaders whether or not they had been involved in the quarrel. Then the market-place filled with people, who appointed a delegation to ask for the release of the leaders. The official refused the request—and the crowd remained gathered at the marketplace. Responding to instructions, the hostility of the crowd, and sometimes to the urgings of local European settlers, the administrator called for troops which used force to disperse the unarmed crowd.
As the lines between Europeans and Africans were sharply drawn, the Churches became involved. Catholics were told of the incompatibility of Communism and Catholicism, in a pastoral letter by Monseigneur Thevenoud, Bishop of Ouagadougou, dated 3 May 1948. The explanations why conversions largely stopped during the repression, and most RDA militants who were Catholics left the Church, can be found in a letter from Ouezzin Coulibaly. He wrote:
« at Toumoudi, some Catholic comrades asked that a memorial mass be said for the thirteen relations who were shot at Dirnbokro. The Reverend Father Rey, who officiated at the mass, was sent back to France the same week; he was not even allowed time to pack … On 23 May our comrade Albert Yaya died, the leader of the RDA at Tabou. Five years ago he was married in church. The Catholic mission refused him the last sacrament and a Christian burial. » 146
Not all the Catholic missionaries agreed with this policy of the Church. Wrote a missionary: “It is true, for I must be honest, that the missionaries were lax in their duties and did not oppose the oppressors … Good priests, zealous, … but it must be said that the social side of the Church's teaching was largely overlooked by them.” There were those who discounted the exaggerated reports of Communist influence, and recognized that the incidents, explained mostly in terms of ethnic rivalries, “certainly did not disturb the settlers, who rubbed their hands and said openly ‘let them kill each other’” 147. They transmitted their views to left-wing Catholic circles in Paris, where by 1950 rare individuals like Mlle. Claude Gérard began to work on behalf of a new policy towards the RDA.
By spring 1950, the official records showed that 52 African men, women, and children bad lost their lives, that several hundred more were wounded, and that some 3,000 were in jail 148. But these figures are certainly too low since they do not account for the many casualties which administrators and RDA leaders were too busy to record. The incidents brought to the surface most of the controversiesabout land and water, religion, tribes, economic interests, women, and chieftaincy—which existed in the heterogeneous Ivory Coast society. Indeed matters had gone so far that both the administration and the RDA found themselves enlisting support among witch-doctors. RDA funds were low, and Houphouët had already advanced 3 million francs cfa to the movement 149. Both administrators and RDA leaders came to realize they were losing control and that the countryside was near anarchy. European planters were anxious to get back to planting. “We all need peace now. The plantations which used to produce 6,000 tons of coffee now yield only 2,000, and next year none at all,” said their spokesman, Filidori, in the conseil général 150. Robert Léon, a settler close to the PDCI, mentioned the high cost of the incidents—some 15 million francs CFA to bring the troops from Dakar and for the Alaouites alone. Then “they build a bridge, on a road which has no commercial value, and will cost 15-20 million” 151. Many Africans and Europeans in Ivory Coast were anxious to return to normal.
Since the spring of 1950 Houphouët was in Paris, engaged in political negotiations. The results were evident in the fall. Overseas Minister Mitterrand spoke of wanting to reduce the incidents to their true proportions, the “divergence between tribes exploited by the Communist party in order to encourage disorder” 152. The RDA parlementaires, for their party, after a lengthy internal debate, accepted Houphouët's thesis, “we were wrong in allowing the use of the COMMUNIST PRETEXT as a justification for a retrograde policy and for division among Africans … the battle continues but without the pretext of Communism” 153. The secretary-general of the RDA, Gabriel d'Arboussier did not want disaffiliation from the French Communists in Parliament, and he resigned under pressure from his colleagues before they issued, in September 1950, the communique announcing disaffiliation. This laid the basis for a new policy of co-operation, hard to implement because tension in Ivory Coast was high, and both the settlers and the French Communists tried to upset the new policy. The transition was awkward, and began publicly in Ivory Coast when the Overseas Minister invited the RDA deputies to attend the inaugural ceremonies of the newly completed port of Abidjan in February 1951.
When they heard this the settler extremists lamented, “how completely the policy in Paris can destroy the patiently elaborate work of the men on the spot” 154. The French Communists attacked “the slave traders, the purveyors of prisoners who might call themselves Pleven, Queuille, Rene Mayer, Péchoux, Bechard and Co., as well as their accomplices, some of the RDA leaders like Houphouet-Boigny“ 155 The French Communist lawyers of the Secours Populaire who were in Ivory Coast urged the RDA prisoners to petition for amnesty, a policy they knew would delay action on the appeal then lodged in the courts, and therefore keep them in jail longer. The lawyers solicited from the RDA prisoners a letter asking the parlementaires not to attend the ceremonies at the port. With some difficulty deputy Ouezzin Coulibaly convinced the prisoners of the need for the new policy, and argued, “the port stays when the French go“ 156. Then the RDA dismissed the Communist lawyers, who had worked for a very small fee–150,000 francs CFA a month plus expenses while the usual fee was 500,000 francs CFA. The RDA view was, “We could hardly keep and pay lawyers who stepped out of their role as our defenders and took it upon themselves to disapprove publicly of our political line”. At the same time the RDA parlementaires explained,
“we suffer from our knowledge that at the very moment when they repeated with us that we were not Communists, they had perhaps in the back of their minds the idea that they had us, without our knowledge, encircled. We suffer from the knowledge that in the eyes of Europeans we seem to remain eternally big children, who are to be enjoyed and easily led into changing their minds.” 157
The RDA leaders attended the opening of the port, and for the first time in some years shared the same platform with the overseas minister and the governor, as well as with visiting dignitaries like Lamine Guèye of Senegal. The crowd of Abidjan came, though they showed their primary allegiance by leaving as soon as Houphouet left. Nevertheless, formally, peace was declared.
By May 1951, the French government transferred Governor Péchoux to Togo (where he was to carry on a repressive policy against the nationalist Comité d'Unité Togolaise). But it took longer to transfer the officials lower in the hierarchy who had been picked for their qualities in implementing a policy of repression. They stayed long enough to carry out the plan to falsify the results of the June 1951 parliamentary elections, with the assistance of chiefs appointed during the repression. Afterwards Prince Adingra, chief of the Abrong and President of the Association des Chefs Coutumiers de la Cote d' lvoire remarked, “did we not expend our energies without limit in order to assure the election of Sekou Sanogo, our deputy? Thus we took one seat from our political adversaries who lied when they said they were assured of total victory” 158. Though Houphouet was re-elected, officials recorded the defeat of Ouezzin Coulibaly by Sanogo.
The techniques French officials used to falsify the 1951 Ivory Coast elections are worth examining since similar ones were used in other French-speaking territories 159. There were such simple tactics as reducing Ouezzin Coulibaly's audience among Upper Voltans in Ivory Coast, by emphasizing the points dividing Bobo from Mossi. There was a distinctly political flavour to Governor Péchoux's hospitality, for ten days, to a Mossi delegation of chiefs and élus 160. Other techniques are summarized in the documents presented by the RDA to the credentials committee of the 1951 National Assembly, where they challenged, unsuccessfully, Sanogo's election.
First, the administration named only opponents of the RDA to be members of the commissions charged with revising and correcting the electoral register and with supervising the distribution of cards among the electors. Hence members were officers of the Socialists, the two Independant parties, the Progressistes, and the president of the Association des Chefs Coutumiers de la Côte d'lvoire. These men were well qualified to point out to the European members of the commissions the identity of the local RDA militants in each area.
Second, men known to be RDA were crossed off the electoral register, even though they had been qualified to vote in previous elections. Known opponents of the RDA were enrolled even if their claims to the vote were unfounded in law.
Third, in accordance with the enlarged franchise provisions of the 1951 electoral law, additional voters were placed on the rolls. In Ivory Coast the increase was no more than 1 per cent, “while in Soudan the increase was 479 per cent., and even in the desert area of Mauretania the increase was 79 per cent” 161. The largest increase in qualified voters—far out of proportion with the population figures—was in the Muslim area of Odienné, the Abrong area of Boundoukou, and the Agni area of Abengourou. In these areas, the RDA's opponents had some following. The increase in the number of those entitled to vote in the highly populated Baule and southern areas was negligible; indeed in some Baule areas the number decreased.
Fourth, the local administrator in many areas announced his opposition to the RDA, restricted the movements of RDA campaigners and their right to call propaganda meetings, as well as covered the use of intimidating methods by RDA opponents.
Fifth, though by law each party presenting candidates was entitled to be represented at the polls, in many areas officials excluded RDA representatives from the polls. In and around the polls, RDA voters were beaten, while the ballot papers of parties opposed to the RDA were distributed illegally in the market-place. Officials paid no attention to the legally required precautions to keep the vote secret.
The falsification of the 1951 elections ended the official repression of the PDCI. But the consequences were many, on relations among all groups in Ivory Coast—European and African—and were evident throughout the ten years preceding, in 1960, the independence, of Ivory Coast.
The past left its legacy. One of the aims of the administration had been to restore its authority, yet in 1950 official prestige could hardly have been lower. “To each burst of a gun is attached one name: that of the Governor Pechoux” 162, said the secretary-general of the RDA, Denise, and the party paper spoke of “the Proconsul ALIBABA, that great big wicked wolf” 163. In African eyes the French institutions were discredited.
They have degraded the institutions by cynical collusion. They subordinate justice to a criminal policy: making war on men, women and children; destroying civilians pitilessly with bombs. They have degraded the institutions by setting up extraordinary courts, by discriminating against their political adversaries, against all those who fight for peace and liberty. They cover for thieves, high grade crooks, assassins, jail birds, all types of stooges bent on revenge against honest people whose only crime is their fight against colonialism and imperialism. They have violated the legal code … Judges have become deaf and blind towards the stooges' crimes, and exceptionally vigilant towards RDA militants, who are sentenced according to a pre-established table of sentences, like a table of prices … The prisons have become our schools in citizenship … You, in your folly, will have degraded your institutions, which one day, like you, will be swept out by the people, who want to live free and happy. 164
The French authorities accepted, after the incidents, the power of the PDCI. It grew steadily clearer that the government of France would yield to each successive demand of the PDCI. When the PDCI informally vetoed an action the Governor was aware he could only resort to force-and Paris forbade this. First the French government replaced the officials who had been involved in the repression. Soon, like for the BDS of Senegal, the French government replaced any officials, including governors, who displeased the PDCI. By 1956, when Houphouet became a French minister, administrators knew their jobs depended upon the PDCI, and as a result backed down or asked the party for help when they had to implement unpopular decisions. As for the courts, judgements also reflected the new balance of power in Ivory Coast. Between 1951 and 1953 there were trials of PDCI militants involved in the incidents 165. In 1950 the charges against the eight top RDA leaders were “rebellion, complicity in rebellion, pillaging, and destruction” 166. By 1953, however, in the words of Me Josse, one of the lawyers for the prosecution, the charges “had no further political content” 167. In 1956 the French government sponsored a law lifting the political disqualifications of some 3,000 people who had been arrested during the incidents 168, which made it possible for almost all to receive their political rewards over the next years.
The end of the incidents also marked a complete change in the position of the European settlers. The administration no longer was at their disposal, and they also became increasingly dependent upon the pleasure of the PDCI. The African planters had won their struggle. Yet they did not use their new political power directly against the economic position of French investors. On the contrary; after the incidents the territorial assembly even granted a long-term non-transferable lease to a French rubber plantation combine to transfer its activities from Vietnam to Ivory Coast. The PDCI took care to point out “no colon, no (European) trader, no European civilian was disturbed (during the incidents), and yet their dispersal in the forest made them very vulnerable” 169. Increasingly, however, French economic interests centred on activities other than planting, and French companies took care to include PDCI planters and traders on their boards.
While the PDCI leaders acted on the belief that their economic interests and those of European settlers and investors coincided, they took care to change relations at the political and social level. The end of the repression opened a new era in social relations between Europeans and Africans. Gradually racial discrimination disappeared from the towns though as late as 1957 the Cercle Sportif d'Abidjan was reserved to Europeans only, and even then the only Africans invited to join were Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Ouezzin Coulibaly. Indeed, to replace the Sportif at the top of Abidjan society, Governor Messmer in co-operation with RDA leaders sponsored the Cercle d'Amitié, where Europeans and Africans met. At about the same time a swimming pool in Abidjan still practised discrimination, and changed course only after the territorial assembly threatened to withdraw ground rights.
The settlers accepted the PDCI, and changed tactics to make relations as good as possible. Though some wanted to, they could not join the PDCI which after disaffiliating from the French Communists in Parliament made clear it wanted to remain an exclusively African party. Most settlers changed their party from RPF to the UDSR, with which the PDCl was allied in the French Parliament. For their part, until independence the PDCI leaders treated the settlers like a somewhat privileged ethnic minority. President Houphouet insisted that the PDCI sponsor some settlers in elections. Hence the 1952 “unity” list included 4 Europeans among 32 second college candidates; there were, however, at least 3 Africans among the 18 elected to the first college. Though in 1954 the proportion of Africans to Europeans living in the commune mixte of Abidjan was, roughly, 16:1, the PDCI sponsored the election by single college of 10 Europeans and 20 Africans to the city council 170. Similar tactics were used in the 1956 municipal elections. In 1957 the territorial assembly elections, the first held by single electoral college, the PDCI sponsored 10 Europeans out of a total of 60, making the proportion of Europeans to Africans in Ivory Coast higher than in any other territory. The PDCI maintained this “unity” tactic in the elections for the legislative assembly of April 1959 and abandoned it only after independence.
Determined PDCI co-operation with the European residents was one of the concessions the PDCI leaders made to the French authorities. There were others. The militantly anti-colonial pronouncement disappeared, at least in the French language. The new emphasis was on constitutional methods and on reforms which simply extended already existing French policies—the Code du Travail, equality between African and European soldiers, the extension of the franchise, the single electoral college, municipal reforms, extended powers for the territorial assembly, and internal self government 171. There was no challenge from Ivory Coast to France's rejection of independence. On the contrary, for a decade after the repression and especially after 1956 the PDCI leaders became loyal backers of French policy, pushing no faster than French officials were willing to go. Even while the PDCI conciliated European residents and assured the French administration of their loyalty, the party leaders proceeded to consolidate the ground lost during the repression. Over the next decade there was a general settling of accounts, as the PDCI reasserted control over most Ivory Coast institutions. Loyal party men took the lead in associations of veterans, ethnic groups, originaires from a given region, professionals, businessmen, teachers, civil servants, workers, young people, indeed even ·sportsmen, musicians, market-women, and co-religionists. The civil service reinstated PDCI men, and promoted them. Customs released the PDCI cards impounded during the repression, which the party distributed during 1956. PDCI militants could again expect gun permits and import licences 172; even ferry operators who had been loyal to the PDCI received medals for long service. Students who had lost their grants for political reasons again received aid. Many chiefs deposed for loyalty to the PDCI were restored to their posts. The PDCI made a point of defeating Sekou Sanogo when he stood in his native constituency for election to the 1952 territorial assembly. Governor Pechoux dropped his charges against Ouezzin Coulibaly, whom the territorial assembly elected a Senator in 1953, a post again conferring the parliamentary immunity he lost in the rigged elections of 1951. In all the elections after 1952 the PDCI won overwhelming victories 173.
Nevertheless after the crisis of the repression the PDCI, as an organization, was weaker than it had ever been, partly because it operated in new conditions. Unity was pressed less upon the party from the outside and therefore it had to find more cohesive forces from within. The fact was, however, that conflicts within the Ivory Coast population became the single most important problem for the party, and holding together preoccupied the leaders of the PDCI. Among Africans the repression had led practically to civil war, as the many conflicts of interest and outlook which characterized the heterogeneous population of Ivory Coast came to the surface.
This was illustrated by the way people developed a new vocabulary to differentiate degrees of party loyalty. There were the “hard” PDCI members loyal since 1945. At the territorial level this included the parlementaires with immunity, and the “martyrs” in jail or otherwise penalized by the administration. There were the “soft” members, including some wealthy planter-traders who simply withdrew from politics. As the repression progressed, moreover, and the PDCI was seen as the sole source of legitimacy, opposition to the party became tantamount to treason. Afterwards there was little room for the idea of a loyal opposition to take root. The terms “traitor” or administratif came to refer to those who yielded under official pressure and organized one of the opposition parties. Progressiste and Indépendant were used as terms of insults. (Later the terms “ex-RDA-RDA” referred to those who quit the party during the repression but returned afterwards; neo-RDA came to refer to those not involved in the incidents at all-men away as students, soldiers, civil servants or traders, for example.)
The new vocabulary was a corollary of the incidents which set ethnic groups against each other, divided families, generations, indeed in some areas even caused the physical separation of villages into “A” and “B” sections—Sikensi, for example, in the subdivision of Bouaflé 174. The decision taken in Paris and Abidjan- that French officials and the PDCI would co-operate—could not simply arrest the revolutionary pressures in the countryside. Incidents continued with a momentum of their own. After the 1956 PDCI victory in elections to the French National Assembly, there followed a wave of reglement des comptes incidents in the villages. People felt certain the administration would never again falsify elections.
Among Muslims in Issia, for example, there were incidents when PDCI “martyrs” refused “traitors” the right of burial in their cemetery. On the Liberian frontier there were incidents between Wobe and Yacouba. In the vicinity of Man an age-group called the “troops of the elephant” carried out a policy of revenge against former opponents. The elephant is the symbol of the RDA, but the “troops” in Man were certainly not under orders from the territorial headquarters. They simply assumed the “silent order” system of 1950 still applied-that even if the PDCI leaders wanted to they could not order revenge without risking prison. The “troops” forced former opponents to pay large sums for the PDCI cards, destroyed property, and committed some acts of personal violence. The administrator placed those he considered responsible in jail, and called for help from the PDCI. Headquarters in Abidjan sent a delegation, which discovered the wrong people were in jail. Yet so great was local solidarity with the leaders of the “troops” that the prisoners chose to stand trial rather than inform-they felt certain of acquittal.
Another example of the divisive heritage of the repression was events in Boundoukou on the frontier of Ghana. There were many historic differences between the Muslim dioula who were descendants of partisans of the nineteenth century warrior Samory Touré, and the animist majority of Abrong under their chief Prince Adingra. During the incidents the Muslims remained loyal to the PDCI, while the Abrong opposed the party. After 1951 the Abrong, “traitors” in the eyes of the Muslim followers of the Almamy, once again joined the PDCI, and hence it was within the party that the many and ancient conflicts between the two groups became expressed.
Acting in part on the theory that unity among the leaders might arrest the conflicts among their kinsmen, President Houphouët proceeded to reunite the elite of 1945. To former opposition leaders he offered protection against popular pressure for revenge, and other incentives. In spite of protests from among his militants he insisted on including four former adversaries on the list for the territorial assembly of 1952. Even Prince Adingra hastened to take out a party card, became a territorial councillor, and went so far as to “adopt” as his son Ouezzin Coulibaly whose father had died. This process of restoring unity among the elite which had been divided in the repression led in 1961 to the designation of two of them—Tidiani Dem in 1959 and Kouakou Aoulou in 1961—ministers in Ivory Coast governments.
The new unity was fragile and only on the top layer of Ivory Coast society. Though the former opposition parties faded away without official support and without leaders, in the countryside the kinsmen of the former adversaires were usually the losers in the incidents designed to settle the accounts of the repression. When the party was born a symbol of opposition to authority, the leaders did not try to stop conflict but simply to co-ordinate and use it against the administration. After 1950 new considerations became paramount as the phase of transfer of power began and the party came on to the side oflaw and order. Yet the party organization was often unable to stop or resolve conflicts. It was hampered by changes among the leaders and the crumbling of the structure which were consequences of the repression.
The PDCI began as an alliance of most forces making for unity in Ivory Coast—the planters, migrants, dioula and other immigrant strangers, religious dissidents of both Muslim and Christian inspiration, civil servants, traders, professional people, even football players and veterans of French wars. The PDCI had done much to unify representatives of all ethnic groups, of modern and traditional cadres, strangers and originaires, planters and migrants, traders and their customers. But this alliance broke up; in 1952 the party could renominate only twelve outgoing territorial councillors. As President Houphouet reported to the July 1955 meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee of the interterritorial RDA, the PDCI lost “first the chiefs, then the civil servants, the small traders whose livelihood depended upon the administration”. And the remaining territorial leaders found themselves deeply concerned what further violence “might have occurred, if in a wave of zenophobic nationalism” they, “the most responsible and educated Africans had been rejected by the population” 175. The repression thus reduced further an already far too small group of educated leaders of the PDCI—by discrediting some, and removing others who died, went to jail or were sent to outlying districts. The result was a serious crisis of leadership at the territorial level.
There was also a crisis at the local level. The evidence so far available from the local turnover of leadership suggests there was a pattern in these conflicts. Particularly outside the areas dominated by Houphouët's Baule kinsmen, “traitors” were often men with privileges to lose, and with a claim to traditional status among the originaires, the tribe owning the land. There was frequently no one in the village to replace them having the temperament, training, honesty, and background to run party affairs and settle conflicts. Often those who took their places as party leaders during the conflict were least suited to the responsibilities of peace. Moreover, it was not unusual for men whose claim to local land or status was uncertain, usually “stranger”, to use the occasion of the incidents to show loyalty and so rise. This pattern was suggested in the struggle for leadership in Boundoukou, Man, Danane, Gagnoa, and Daloa, for example, where “strangers” made dramatic Sacrifices during the repression. The available evidence suggests another pattern, however, in predominantly Baule areas. There often the “strangers” under pressure from the administration were accusers of Baulé “martyrs” in the repression. For many Baule the ideas of “traitor” and “stranger” became closely associated, while in much of the rest of the country, the ideas of “originaire” and “traitor” became linked.
Under the impact of the repression the party weakened also because its intermediate structure withered away. Many local and village committees of the PDCI which had emerged spontaneously after the war, though they continued to exist, were deeply involved in ethnic conflicts which the ethnic basis of local organization did little to reduce. Most formal links broke between the village committee and territorial headquarters in Abidjan. In the sous-sections it was hard to know which of many rival claimants to leadership had valid credentials.
The crisis of structure and leadership came to a head in December 1952, at the party conference in Treichville. The issues were many. The disorder of the sous-sections was evident from the presence of many rival delegations. Who were to be permanent employees of the party, and who would pay them? Few of the sous-sections had paid for all the cards they had ordered from headquarters, or for their subscriptions to Afrique Noire (the non-Communist RDA paper which succeeded Réveil in Dakar). Some militants were selling party cards at exhorbitant prices, extorting protection money from former enemies, and stealing party funds. There were debts. The president of the session of 21 December remarked, “It is important that the party cards be sold before the collection of taxes. The enthusiasm of debate is being replaced by a progressive cooling in mass sentiment. There is discouragement among our militant comrades who are not satisfied in their requests addressed to the authorities…” Over and above the financial and administrative questions the most serious issue was who spoke for the PDCI? As President Denise remarked, “the discouragement of the masses comes from the chill among the leaders. The matter can only be cured in the comité directeur.” 176
The problem had a long history. In the PDCI as in the interterritorial RDA after the 1948 Abidjan congress the theory was the élus were subject to control by the militants in the comité directeur. Before the repression this rule was not much of an issue. The two groups interlocked, fresh elections kept changing militants into élus, and the two groups kept a common front against the Europeans. By 1949 most militants were fully convinced of the usefulness of the rule after they saw the majority of territorial councillors elected on the party ticket turn “traitor”. But in 1950, the parlementaires violated the rule. While party machinery in Ivory Coast crumbled they took it upon themselves to change to a policy of co-operation with the government. They did not refer this decision to the interterritorial co-ordinating committee until 1955. Nor did the PDCI comité directeur have an opportunity to express an opinion.
Behind the confusion of party institutions was the confusion of leadership resulting from the repression. Less than half of the bureau politique were legally free for political action. It was uncertain who was in the comité directeur as Jong as the credentials of rival soussection leaders were not sorted out. As for the elus, most from the conseil general were in jail, retired from active politics, or “traitors”. Then President Houphouet effectively chose as PDCI-supported candidates for the 1952 territorial assembly some who were “soft” party members, “traitors”, and Europeans. This outraged many militants and “martyrs”.
Hence at the conference of 1952 there was sharp protest against the way recent party decisions had been taken. Yet those who protested had difficulty proposing alternative procedures. Except for Ouezzin Coulibaly—dubbed the “Lion” of the repression-they were mostly second-rank leaders. The important “martyrs” were still in jail. No one wanted to challenge Houphouët personally. Without an effective bureau politique they could not demand Houphouet submit decisions to its control, and they did not want to make the bureau politique effective by filling the seats temporarily vacated by the “martyrs”. They could not propose a reorganization of the bureau politique until the many conflicting credentials at the level of the sous-section were settled, for only then could the comité directeur be truly representative, and elect a valid new bureau politique. Nor did the militants want to give formal authority to the new élus, or to the tiny group of parlementaires. There were long and stormy sessions, opened and closed by President Houphouët's appeals to unity. At the end, they came to only one conclusion: the party had to be reorganized. Ouezzin Coulibaly was requested to do this in addition to his work as interterritorial RDA political director.
The fact was those who survived as territorial leaders of the PDCI became preoccupied with the transfer of power and took on governmental duties in France, West Africa, the territorial assembly, the Ivory Coast government, and the civil service. They did not reconstruct the party structure or even call a territorial congress until 1959. The members of the comité directeur and the bureau politique remained as in 1949; they sometimes co-opted a man to fill a vacancy. In theory the occasional conferences of élus, sous-section leaders, and members of the comité directeur chose candidates for election and took important decisions. But in practice power became progressively concentrated in the hands of President Houphouët.
He did not use his authority to halt this process. On the contrary. Houphouët often ignored disagreement with his policies from the PDCI comité directeur—for example, the demand he resign from the French government in 1956 unless African troops were immediately withdrawn from the Algerian war; or the rejection of his choice of the French UDSR leader Joseph Perrin as Senator from Ivory Coast in 1956. Houphouët went considerably further than most of his colleagues wanted, in conciliating European opinion in France and Africa, and in discarding the idea of eventual independence. Far from using his authority to institutionalize collective leadership and responsibility (as did for example Modibo Keita, Mamadou Konaté, or Sékou Touré) Houphouet appealed over the heads of his own associates to the masses. The status of every other Ivory Coast leader became dependent upon his personal relationship with Houphouet, and no party decisions became final without him. This made running things in his frequent absences difficult. There were more effects. As increasingly the leadership became ossified, Houphouet alone could recruit new men to the party. There were no regular channels through which new individuals could rise in the ranks of the party, challenge the policy decisions taken at the top, express the growing number of grievances about corruption and nepotism, or settle the many ethnic and other conflicts which arose within the party community at the grass roots level.
Without structure or precedure, the approach to issues in practice was short-term and piecemeal. Conflict was accepted as natural, and the press, party leaders, élus, civil servants, and President Houphouët simply ignored it where possible. PDCI leaders were glad to take assistance, for example, for reconciling conflicts among the Baule in the PDCI, from paramount chief Kouakou Anoublé. Only the most serious matters came before President Houphouët, and the one other man with some authority to settle matters, Ouezzin Coulibaly. In their piecemeal approach the PDCI leaders used to argue “the RDA does not need you; you need the RDA”. It is not certain whether a more systematic approach to settling the many conflicts would have been any more successful in making the transition from revolutionary opposition to responsibility among the heterogeneous population of Ivory Coast.
In the midst of conflict all claimed loyalty to the RDA. Around the party the leaders wove a national myth, having as prime elements President Houphouët, the end of forced labour, and the victorious emergence from the repression. The party surrounded President Houphouet with veneration, as the sage whose wisdom knew no bounds, who had abolished forced labour and led his people from the repression to prosperity. Though hardly a partisan of any cult of personality, the poet Bernard Dadié, the son of a founder of the Syndicat and himself one of the eight martyrs of the 6 February incidents, expressed how people thought of Houphouet:
As griot of the century, on the cora of old Africa,
Today in turmoil
Through the cities and the prisons
Under the baobabs at the crossroads
You are the Master!
You are the master
It's you who plants the rice
It's you who works the wool
It is you who builds the mansions
It's you who dies of hunger
It is you who walks on knees
It is you who sleeps under the stars
You are the king of the factories
You are the king of the fields
You are the people
You are the master! 177
The use the party made of the repression was similar to the use Gaullists made of Resistance victory over Vichy. This could be observed, for example, at.the ceremonies surrounding the inauguration of the regional PDCI headquarters at Agboville in the plantation belt during 1956. A large crowd attended, and from Abidjan came PDCI deputy Ouezzin Coulibaly, secretary-general Auguste Denise, and a large group of party dignitaries. The land for tho building belonged to Doudou Guèye, who gave it to the party shortly after the war; the PDCI put up only a temporary building. In 1950 officials ordered the party to bujld a permanent structure or forfeit the land. Volunteers put up a concrete structure in a month. Nevertheless, officials requisitioned the land, claiming the value of the building was too low to meet zoning laws. By 1956, however, the party resumed ownership of land and building. Hence the celebration, and many reminiscences. While people danced, sang, strutted around on stilts, brandishing Houphouet lockets and cloths as well as the tricolor, party officials made speeches in four languages. “Yesterday they took the house; today they return it. The times change. The whites are like chameleons, while we remain the same. They have a special kind of character. They recognize and respect force.” Drums, cries of “Vive RDA”, and songs accompanied these statements. “None dares to show he is not RDA.” The local “martyrs” were praised, and individually applauded by the crowd. Finally a village elder poured a libation of gin, exorcized the evil spirits which took the house from the RDA, called for the continued presence of the good spirits which gave the house back to the RDA, and requested the village ancestors to protect the house forever 178.
The myth of unity in Ivory Coast covered a studied disorder while for almost a decade the main energies of party leaders went into pressing forward on development. Rapid advances in education, health, and other social services accompanied the sharp rise in world prices due to the Korean War. The RDA received the credit for sub· stantially reducing many causes for mass protest-subordinate status for Africans, low incomes, stagnant education, and other services. The government undertook many projects in the villages, and on display in Abidjan.
Development costs money, and increasingly the leaders of Ivory Coast chose policies towards African neighbours and France which resulted in bringing money in. AOF took money out, and since 1947 the territorial assembly of Ivory Coast objected. The objections and the sums grew after the boom of the Korean War; the share of Ivory Coast by 1955 was 30 per cent. of the imports and 50 per cent. of the exports of AOF 178. In spite of a long record of backing federal ties within the interterritorial RDA at the governmental level, President Houphouet was the main African spokesman for the French policy of eliminating AOF. It was a painless way to increase greatly the assets of his government. It made possible in 1959 lower taxes for the rich and the elimination of the head tax for villagers. Most new wealth of Ivory Coast was still in the hands of a minority. In 1959 according to official statistics out of a total estimated population of three million Africans and 14,000 Europeans half were deemed “active” but they had very unequal shares of wealth. The “evolved” class of 12,000 had a total money revenue of ten milliard francs cfa; the “intermediate” class of 280,000 had a total revenue of 29 milliards CFA; and finally those in “traditional” society, some 1,300,000 active people had a revenue of only 25 milliards CFA.
Thus less than 1 per cent. of the population had more than one-sixth of the wealth, and less than one-fifth of the population had more than half 179.
Even while the PDCI leaders moved their country forward on development, they became part of the privileged 1 per cent, and many of the generation of 1945 lost their appetite for revolution.
Like Muños-Marín of Puerto Rico, President Houphouët was not inclined to press the point of independence. The French connexion brought in capital. He was satisfied with the pace of transfer of power under the Loi-Cadre, pointed to the scarcity of trained cadres among Africans, and claimed that without development and more education independence was an empty dream 180.
In this way the PDCI approached yet another crisis, both in its relations with its neighbours of Ghana and Guinea and internally. Cracks in the façade of unity internally were evident from the results of the 1957 territorial assembly elections. The PDCI won 58 of the 60 seats, and the two independents soon afterwards joined the party. All opposition groups together gained no more than 5 per cent. of the votes cast. But general discontent can be deduced if not proved from the abstention rate, 46 per cent 181. The explanations for growing discontent are several.
Opposition to independence separated the PDCI from the university students returning home first in tens, then in hundreds. In their student politics many sharply opposed the new look of the RDA in October 1950, which was accompanied by the withering away of the RDA student organisation in Paris. Repeatedly, too, the Association des Elèves et Etudiants de la Côte d'lvoire passed resolutions against the official policy of the PDCI 182. Many, when back in Ivory Coast, considered the repression old history, and independence the burning issue. Many openly snickered at public meetings when President Houphouët spoke in favour of union, fraternity, and co-operation with France. At the same time they were totally dependent upon him for jobs and resented that Europeans still held many top civil service posts and still held elective offices.
As student opposition mounted, the PDCI government slowed down Africanization. For a while between 1957 and 1959 it felt it could count on more loyalty from the Europeans than from the African intellectuals.
Nuclei of opposition groups began to crop up. The most determined attack on the PDCI came from the Front de Libération Noire-Kotoko (FLN-Kotoko). It was led by a private school professor, A. N'Goh Bony, who according to RDA leaders had “more pretensions than titles” 183. His mimeographed paper Attoungblan was filled with anti-Semitic, anti-American and vaguely pro-Russian statements like:
These JEWISH COLONIALISTS, refugees from ISRAEL the WAR MONGER, as well as their new valets, the HIRED NEGROES become BOURGEOIS, openly mock the people as long as they can travel in AMERICAN CARS 184.
More moderate was the criticism from the Action Démocratique et Sociale de la Cote d'Ivoire, a group of left-wing Catholic origins publishing Action Démocratique. They attacked unity, not in itself, but because:
Union before it is made around a man, regardless of how virtuous, must be made around a programme…
Under the label of sections of the RDA people organize themselves by tribes. The road is barred to those who do not belong to the tribe in the race for prebends and political offices … In many regions the nonoriginaires who have a future in commerce or administration are hated, execrated in the area by their brothers who know how to read and write. They are called strangers and are generally considered usurpers. They are the objects of cabals. Even some local élus excel in this sort of dishonourable plotting which divides Ivory Coasters among each other and Ivory Coasters from other Africans. Even some ministers are caught up in this complex of regionalism and weigh down their ministries with people whose only qualification is to belong to a tribe 185.
Though President Houphouet included four returned students in the 1957 territorial assembly, and two in the first government, opposition grew among the intellectuals.
Opposition grew from trade unionists also. When the PDCI planter-politicians took over the government they represented the single largest employer of labour. Privately, also, their interests became those of employers, as they shared activities with European entrepreneurs and with the wealthier traders and transporters. Tension grew, and by January 1957 there were incidents in Treichville between workers calling themselves RDA and their RDA employers. The election of union leader Kissi Camille Gris to the territorial assembly, and of the railway workers' leader Gaston Fiankan to the ministry of labour, did not appreciably reduce the hostility of the workers. Soon this conflict took on political overtones.
For President Sékou Touré of Guinea was also the key figure in UGTAN, the West African trade union movement; prior to the referendum the organization came out in favour of independence. By fall 1959, despite government appeals, the civil servants of Abidjan walked out on strikes and showed their feelings by tearing the name-plaque off the new model bridge, Pont Houphouet-Boigny.
Trouble built up in the countryside as well. Opposition to the PDCI from the Agni and Bete continued, and from these areas candidates opposed to the unity list ran in the 1957 elections. An opposition candidate ran in Boundoukou, also, where the “martyrs” supporting the Almamy were outraged at the extent to which the party had reintegrated the Abrong. In 1955 a mission from the territorial assembly of Upper Volta uncovered evidence of mistreatment of migrants by African planters; their list evoked memories of the forced labour system:
Imprisonment in dungeons, whipping for the least resistance or for work judged inadequate, non-payment of salaries, forced withholding of salaries to prevent flight, blows with sticks and dressing in ridiculous sisal sacks in case of attempts at flight, prizes given to a man who brings back a fugitive worker, excessive surveillance by overseers in the fields, and in the dormitories … to the extent that a worker could not go and relieve himself without being watched, obligations to work in order to be fed as long as the worker is not seriously ill, insufficient food … 186
As development advanced, there were more opponents, and not only students, salaried workers, and migrants. More and more people sought places in government office and in the machinery of the party. In Bouake, for example, though only 31 municipal councillors were elected, in November 1956 fully a thousand candidates sought the nomination. Inevitably the competition took on an ethnic form. As long as Ouezzin Coulibaly remained alive (he died in September 1958), he worked to minimise ethnic friction among 'strangers' and originaires. In Bouake he scolded:
And you, Africans, if you want an originaire of Ivory Coast to be separate from an originaire of Guinea and to be separate from an originaire from Soudan—where then will we go when you will be separated one from the other?… you who were born in Ivory Coast, respect well this sacred trust making your territory attract Africans from everywhere, like birds to a mirror. You are lucky that all Africans run towards you, and you know well the proverbial hospitality of our ancestors 187.
Soon afterwards, that hospitality came to an end. Even before the break became open in the interterritorial RDA between Guinea, Soudan, and Ivory Coast, it already existed in the countryside of Ivory Coast. It came to the surface of national life when relations among the leaders in Abidjan, Conakry, and Bamako became strained.
Until then the RDA hardly stopped at frontiers. “Strangers” carried news of the RDA from Ivory Coast to their kinsmen in Guinea, Soudan, and the other territories, thus contributing to the spread of the RDA in French-speaking West Africa. But after the dissolution of the RDA over the issues of federation and independence, the “stranger”-originaire question in Ivory Coast took on new meaning. The quarrel became the occasion for originaires from the border areas discredited during the repression to re-establish their patriotism, while among the Baulé the quarrel increased the already considerable suspicion of “strangers”. The rise of xenophobia which followed in Ivory Coast was not unrelated to McCarthyism in the United States, where some of German-American ancestry whose patriotism during the Second World War was suspect, used the issue of anti-Communism to prove they were patriots who always knew who was the real enemy.
Originaires on the frontiers pointed out to their Baule countrymen the danger to the internal security of Ivory Coast from those known to have foreign connexions. The Ligue des Originaires de la Cote d'Ivoire which the government outlawed after its leader triggered in October 1958 serious incidents against Dahomean and other African strangers working in the towns of Ivory Coast, were but the lunatic fringe of a wider group. Xenophobia accompanied in 1958 and 1959 the transfer of power. Such men as the dioula representative Ladji Sidibé fell from the favour of President Houphouët; Jean Baptiste Mockey lost his posts as minister of Interior and PDCI secretary-general at least in part because people suspected he was too close to disaffected youth, unions, the dioula and other “strangers”, and through them to Mali and Guinea.
Just before the 1958 referendum, President Houphouët added to the general suspicion of the loyalty of “strangers”. Calling for a “yes” vote in the referendum, he asked:
Would you have us in Ivory Coast and in Africa, novices in public affairs, who must ask aid from the Metropole and within the Community or from outside the Community … who must at all times keep the public order, indispensable if anyone of good will is to come to our aid, would you have us, out of immoderate love for democracy and liberty, accept that from frontiers near or far instructions be given to an irresponsible minority to endanger the regime we have freely chosen? Don't count on me for this. If, after the choice, some people, whether white or black, originoires of the country or non-originaires, men or women, want to sap the bases of indispensable co-operation by accepting the role of paid agents, I don't give them twenty-four hours to leave the Ivory Coast forever 188.
Thus until 1959 opposition grew from returned students, trade unions, disaffected “martyrs”; tribalism grew also.
For a while the PDCI government used force against its opponents—arrested some, exiled others who went to Ghana or Guinea. Some six hundred civil servants were penalized for their strike. But at the same time the PDCI leaders gave way. They enlarged their ranksand drew critics into the enlarged legislative assembly as well as the regional councils. Disaffected intellectuals were allowed to build their own organization, Jeunesse RDA de la Cote d'Ivoire (JRDACI), which became almost a party within the party. In 1959 there finally took place another PDCI congress, where many critics were drawn into the new comite directeur. The generation of 1945, though it still dominated Ivory Coast politics, ceased to monopolize aiJ the posts. At the congress the party recognized its own contribution to ethnic fragmentation by resolving to reorganize the sous-section of Treichville on a neighbourhood basis.
As Mali became independent, President Houphouët became disenchanted with his experiment in Franco-African co-operation. In 1960, Ivory Coast briskly took leave of France and the Community and became independent. There came to Ivory Coast a new surge of unity, related, perhaps, to the fact that the “martyrs” again saw continuity with the RDA tradition of 1946. They expressed it by excluding Europeans from the National Assembly of December 1960, and by blowing up the palace of the French governor. The chief goal remained development, and to end undue dependence on cocoa and coffee. The chief long term problem was unifying a heterogeneous population, and it compounded the difficulties of finding a possible successor to the man who held both party and state together—President Houphouët.
1. Preface by R. Saller, Ministre du Plan, to Inventaire économique de la Côte d'Ivoire 1947-1956, Service de la Statistique, Abidjan, 1958. Ivory Coast figures usually include those of Upper Volta.
2. See Appendix XI. Elliot Berg's 1960 article, op. cit., provides an excellent resume of the comparative economic position of Ivory Coast in AOF.
3. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., Introduction; also Gouverneur Messmer, Rapport à l'assemblée territoriale de la Côte d'Ivoire 1955, Abidjan, p. 13. (Hereafter cited as Messmer 1955 Report.)
4. See Fréchou, H., “Les Plantations europénnes en Côte d'Ivoire”, reprint by the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Dakar, département de géographie, no. 3, c. 1955. p. 3, Figure I. Also see Figure 5, p. 323.
5. A hectare is about 2.47 acres.
6. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., p. 114.
7. Annuaire Statistique, tome I, 1956, op. cit., p. 57; Outre-mer 1958, op. cit., p. 86; and Inventaire économique et social de la Côte d'Ivoire, 1947- 58; Ministère des Finances, des Affaires économique et du Plan, Service Statistique, Abidjan, 1960, pp. 35-6.
8. Leroi-Gourhan, André and Jean Poirier. Ethnologie de l'Union française, Tome Premier, Afrique, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1953, p. 280.
9. Fréchou's thesis presents an excellent historical summary of the rise of African planters, op. cit., pp. 182-207.
10. Fréchou article, op. cit., p. 24.
11. For further details, see the Bulletin de la Chambre de Commerce de la Côte d'Ivoire, no. 10, 24 March 1924; no. 12, 7 December 1924; and particularly no. 14, 5 April 1925. Imprimerie du Gouvernement, Bingerville, Ivory Coast. 1925.
12. See the Bulletin de la Chambre d'Agriculture et d'Industrie de la Côte d'Ivoire, no. 13, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1937-8, for details on the labour controversy in Ivory Coast. For the statistics confirming rising production of export crops in Ivory Coast, see Figure 5, p. 323.
13. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., p. 186.
14. d'Aby, op. cit., p. 111. Before 1941 African planters paid the same low wages as the Europeans.
15. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., p. 187.
16. Ibid., pp. 317 f.
17. Annex 113411, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 5.
18. Ibid., p. 6.
19. Ibid., p. 5.
20. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., pp. 317 f.
21. Hancock, Sir Keith. A Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs, vol. II, Oxford University Press, London, 1942, p. 191.
22. For an interesting example or co-operation among members or an age-group “whose resources were meagre” to finance cocoa plantations, see Etude sur la société Adioukrou et la région de Dabou, mimeographed, Ivory Coast, 1 September 1954-31 January 1955, p. 5.
23. Ibid., pp. 6-7.
24. Fortes and Evans-Pritchard, op. cit., p. 5.
25. For a description of the system of dividing land for plantations among the Baulé and Gouro, see Enquête agricole de Bouaké, Ivory Coast, mimeographed c. 1954, pp. 10- 1, 20, and Leroi-Gourhan and Poirier, op. cit., p. 280.
26. For a pioneer study of the Bété and Agni African planters, see Köbben, A. J. F., “Le Planteur noir: Essai d'une ethnographic d'aspect”, Etudes Eburnéennes, vol. V, I.F.A.N., Centre de Côte d'Ivoire, 1956. Polly Hill has written an interesting review of this work in West Africa, 12 April 1958. C.R. Hiernaux has a brief discussion of the repercussions of the introduction of cash crops on Gagou social structure in “Notes sur l'évolution des Gagous”, Bulletin de l'I.F.A.N., tome XII, no. 2, Dakar, April 1950, pp. 488-511.
27. Siriex, Paul-Henri. Une nouvelle Afrique: AOF 1957, Paris, Plon, 1957, p. 55.
28. See Ethnic Map 4.
29. Tam-Tam, March-May 1955, pp. 34-5. I.F.A.N. pamphlet, Présentation de la Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan, 1953, p. 40.
30. Rapport no. 5, Enquête nutrition niveau de vie, Bongouanou, 1955-56, mimeographed, Ivory Coast, p. 1.
31. Ibid., p. 3.
32. Ibid., p. 5.
33. Haut Commissariat à Dakar, Comptes économiques de l'Afrique occidentale française, Rapport no. II, Inventaire des Ressources Humaines en 1956, March 1959, p. 36.
34. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., pp. 182 f.
35. See Appendix IX.
37. Outre-mer 1958, op. cit., pp. 208-9.
38. See p. 177, n. 5.
39. Information based on interviews Abidjan, 1956.
40. Interafrique Presse, 11-17 July 1960, p. 1.
41 Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 4.
42. Ibid., pp. 5-6.
43. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 6. See also statement by Joseph Anoma, Houphouët's successor as president of the SAA, ibid., pp. 393 f.
44. d'Aby, op. cit., p. 112.
45. d'Aby, op. cit., p. 109.
46. Féchou thesis, op. cit., p. 139.
47. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, pp. 9-10.
48. Ibid., p. 6.
49. Houphouët-d'Arboussier correspondence, op. cit.
50. d'Aby, op. cit., p. 112.
51. Ibid., p. 113.
52. Houphouët's successor as SAA president. Annex 11348, op. cit., Anoma, pp. 393 f.
53. Ibid., Houphouët, p. 7.
54. The typescript of Houphouët's defence of the Syndical when it was attacked in the courts of Ivory Coast, c. 1948, claimed 4,000 workers; but in Annex 11348, op. cit., p. 9, Houphouët claimed 5,000; d'Aby, op. cit., p. 109.
55. M. Desclercs, president of the Ivory Coast Chamber of Commerce. “Le Problème de la main-d'oeuvre en Côte d'Ivoire”, S.I.A.M.O., Abidjan, 1950. Also Fréchou thesis, op. cit., p. 147.
56. d'Aby, op. cit., pp. 108-9.
57. Fréchou thesis, op. cit., pp. 140-5.
58. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 13, and d'Aby, op. cit., p. 56.
59. Ibid., p. 113.
60. Le Monde, ed. Elections et referendums, des 21 octobre, 1945, 5 mai et 2 juin 1946, Le Monde, Paris, 1946, p. 249.
61. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 13.
62. d'Aby, op. cit., p. 55.
63. Annex 11348, op. cit., p. 14.
64. Information based on interviews.
65. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 15; also his typewritten letter to the overseas minister asking for Latrille's return.
66. For supporting statistics on ethnic groups, see Annuaire Statistique, tome I, 1956, op. cit., pp. 55-7.
67. See Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Emergence of Two West African Nations: Ghana and Ivory Coast, Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University, New York, 1959.
68. Immediately after the war he was editor of La France Africaine, a newspaper in Paris. Annex 11348, op. cit., pp. 465-71. He became the director of a private school, and head of the Association des Contribuables Bétés.
69. It had loose ties with the MRP in France.
70. Citation from private correspondence of a Progressiste leader.
71. Le Monde, “Elections et referendums”, 1946, op. cit., p. 249.
72. Annex 11348, op. cit., pp. 211 f.
73. d'Aby, op. cit., pp. 36-7, 49- 50, 57.
74. Réveil, 3 October 1946.
75. Annex 11348, op. cit., Léon, p. 93.
76. Interafrique Presse. 11-11 July 1960, p. 9.
77. d'Aby, op. cit., p . 58
78. See Appendix VIII : A for supporting statistical data.
79. Annex 11348, op. cit., Josse, p. 931, and Houphouët, pp. 28-9.
80. Ibid., Houphouët, p. 48.
81. Le Démocrate 30 March 1950.
82. See Aristide Zolberg, “Effets de la structure d'un parti politique sur l'intégration nationale”, Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines, October 1960, p. 140.
83. Annex 11348, op. cit., p. 28.
84. Conseil général de la Côte d'Ivoire, Procès-verbaux des séances, mars 1947 Abidjan, 1947, p. 9.
85. Annex 11348, op. cit., p. 31.
86. Ibid., Orselli, p. 104.
87. Barbé circular for the GEC's, October 1946, op. cit., p. 5.
88. Annex 11348, op. cit., Orselli. pp. 112 f.
89. Ibid., Houphouët, p. 34.
90. d'Aby, op. cit., pp. 59 f.; Marc Rucart. Climats, 24 November 1959.
91. Annex 11348, op. cit., Orselli, pp. 104 f.
92. Ibid., p. 103.
93. Barbé's circular 144 to the GEC groups, mimeographed, 20 October 1948.
94. Annex 11348, op. cit., Monnet, p. 137.
95. Ibid., Péchoux, p. 257.
96. Le Démocrate, 19 December 1950.
97. Annex 11348, op. cit., Raymond Lefèvre, chef de cabinet of Pechoux, pp. 211 f.; Péchoux, pp. 221 f. and 329 f.; and Le Monde, 8 April 1953.
98. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 43.
99. Ibid., p. 215.
100. Ibid., Denise, p. 430.
101. Ibid., p. 43.
102. Ibid., Paraiso, p. 415.
103. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 43.
104. Ibid., Aoulou, pp. 225-6.
105. Ibid., Aoulou, p. 235.
106. Le Monde, 15 April 1953.
107. Unpublished report by Greffier-en-chef Divay.
108. The eight were: Bernard Dadié, Mathieu Ekra, Sery Kore, Lama Camara, Jean Baptiste Mockey, Albert Paraiso, Philippe Veira, and Jacob Williams.
109. Annex 11348, op. cit., Paraiso, p. 416. 1048.
110. Ibid., Coulibaly, p.
111. Climats, 24 November 1949, 12 and 19 January 1950.
112. Annex 11348, op. cit., Léon, p. 95.
113. Climats, 13-19 September 1951.
114. Annex 11348, op. cit., Gadeau, p. 459.
115. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 49, Douzon, p. 186, Péchoux, p. 259, military report, pp. 281 f.
116. Marc Rucart. Climats, 1 December 1949.
117. Letter in RDA archives, Ouezzin Coulibaly to administrator, 18 March 1950.
118. Both citations from Le Démocrate, 21 August 1950.
119. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, pp. 49 f.
120. Le Démocrate, 9 September 1950.
121. Annex 11348, op. cit., Filidori, p. 169.
122. See Houphouët-d'Arboussier correspondence, op. cit., and Annex 11348, op. cit., Sanogo, pp. 479 f. and Houphouët, pp. 487 f.
123. Ibid., Monjauze, pp. 239, 241-2.
124. Le Démocrate, 3 March 1950.
125. Climats, 15 December 1949.
126. Citation from an interview in 1956.
127. Climats, 19 January 1950.
128. I am indebted to Aristide Zolberg for this information.
129. Climats, 15 December 1949.
130. Annex 11348, op. cit., Monjauze, p. 246.
131. Ibid., Houphouët, p. 52.
132. Ibid., Monjauze, p. 247.
133. Ibid., p. 249, also Climats, 16 February 1950.
134. Annex 11348, op. cit., Houphouët, p. 61, Léon, p. 87; Monnet, p. 141 ; Denise, p. 431; see also Climats, 22 June, 27 July, 31 August 1950.
135. Annex 11348, op. cit., Léon, p. 77, and annex of documents submitted by Péchoux, p. 328.
136. Annex 11348, de Montera, p. 206, and Houphouët, p. 67.
137. Ibid., Filidori, p. 166.
138. Ibid., Péchoux's annex of medical report, p. 267, Matarasso, p. 173, de Montera, p. 206.
139. Ibid., Houphouët, p. 69.
140. Ibid., Matarasso, pp. 173, 185.
141. Ibid., Lefebvre, p. 688.
142. Ibid., Péchoux's annex, p. 267.
143. Campbell, “Vérification…”, op. cit., p. 68, n. 10.
144. Gunther, John. Inside Africa, Harper & Bros., New York, 1955, p. 872.
145. Annex 11348, op. cit., Rucart, pp. 1031 f.
146. From unpublished letter, 28 May 1950.
147. Both citations from unpublished letter by Père Bidon, 7 January 1952.
148. Esprit, December 1951, p. 832, Annex 11348, op. cit., p. 288.
149. Ibid., Houphouët, p. 47.
150. Ibid., Filidori, p. 167.
151. Ibid., Léon, p. 85.
152. Marchés Coloniaux, 7 October 1950, p. 2373.
153. Houphouët, “Réponse à d'Arboussier”, Afrique Noire, 24 July 1952.
154. Climats, 15 February 1951.
155. La Défense (Secours Populaire), special issue on Ivory Coast trials, Paris, c. 1951.
156. Private letter written from Ivory Coast by a non-Communist European close to the RDA. 9 August 1950.
157. Both citations from “To him or those who wrote this letter”; reply, probably written by Ouezzin Cou1ibaly, to an attack upon the RDA parlementaires by African students in Paris, c. 1952.
158. Climats, 13 September 1951.
159. See Senghor's attack on the falsification, Afrique Nouvelle, 9-15 July 1950.
160. Climats, 6 March 1951.
161. From the RDA documents, 1951.
162. Annex 11348, op. cit., Denise, p. 399.
163. Le Démocrate, 16 December 1950.
164. Le Démocrate, 4 August 1950.
165. For reports of the trials, which took place between 1950 and 1953, see Humanité, 17 March 1950; Climats, 23 March and 6 April 1950; Libération, 25 June 1952; France-Afrique, 21 June and 10 July 1952; la Côte d'Ivoire, 12 July 1952; Monde-Ouvrier, 5-11 July and 9-15 August 1952; L'Observateur, 24 July 1952; Témoignage Chrétien, 25 July 1952; La Défense, 25 July-8 August 1952; Afrique Informations, 1 and 15 April 1953; L'Observateur, 9 April 1953; Le Monde, 17 and 21 April 1953; Monde-Ouvrier, 11-17 April 1953; France-Afrique, 21 April 1953.
166. From the unpublished records of the defence attorney.
167. France-Afrique, 21 April 1953.
168. Siriex, op. cit., p. 236.
169. RDA electoral manifesto, June 1951.
170. Afrique Informations, 1 June 1954.
171. RDA electoral manifesto, June 1951 elections.
172. Climats, 7-13 April 1955.
173. See the three articles by Aristide Zolberg in West Africa, 30 July, 6 and 20 August, 1960.
174. Gouvernement Général de l'AOF, Côte d'Ivoire, Education de base, 1955, mimeographed, pp. 19-20.
175. From the RDA records of the Conakry meeting.
176. Citations from records of the December 1952 PDCI Conference.
177. Dadié, Afrique debout, op. cit., pp. 17-8, “Tu es le maître” dedicated to Houphouët-Boigny.
178. Based on personal observation, 1956.
179. AOF 1957, op. cit., p. 134.
180. Interafrique Presse, 11-17 July 1960, p. 17.
181. See his Discours et allocations, April-May 1956, and October-November 1956, printed in pamphlet form by the Service d'Information de la Côte d'Ivoire.
182. Zolberg in West Africa, op. cit., 30 July 1960.
183. Afrique Nouvelle, 6 March 1959.
184. Ouezzin Coulibaly in Concorde, 20 December 1956.
185. Attoungblan, 11 November 1956.
186. P. Kouame in Action Démocratique, 28 August 1957.
187. Mimeographed report, February 1955, written by Joseph Ouedraogo, Henri Guissou, and others.
188. Concorde, 15 November 1956.