Week 30: Focus Côte d’ivoire

Reunification wants is to share the wealth and not the misery. And to do this, it must, above all, help to create this wealth.

President Felix HOUPHOUET BOIGNY

Official name: Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

Area: 322 462 sq. km.

Population : 26,441,530 (2020)

Ethnic groups: More than 60.

Religions: Indigenous 10%-20%, Muslim 35%-40%, and Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and other denominations) 25%-35%.

Languages: French (official); Bété, Dioula, Baoulé, Abro, Agni, Cebaara Senufo, Others.

Independence: August 7, 1960

Currency:  Franc CFA

Organizations: UN, AU, ECOWAS, UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, ILO, UNHCR, CONSEIL DE L’ENTENTE

History

HISTORY OF COTE DIVOIRE

Precolonial kingdoms

Built with the migration of people from north to south in the past, what is known today as Cote d’ivoire was the history of several kingdoms.  Indeed, in the 11th century, Islam was brought to western Africa by the traders from North Africa. Later, Islam was rapidly spread  and was accepted and embraced by many empires in West Africa including the northen part of the contemporary Côte d’Ivoire. Large part of the territory in the 14th century was ruled by the Mali empire and later on by the Songhaï empire.  With the livelihood of people who fled the south to the rain forest, after the 16th century, many other empires had emerged. During the 17th century in the south, the Abron kingdom by Jaman, was established; later the Kong Empire was also established by the Juula in the 18th,  a muslim centered and agricultural empire which didn’t really last.  In the mid-17th century in east-central Ivory Coast, other Akan groups fleeing the Asante established a Baoulé kingdom at Sakasso and two Agni kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi.

The french conquest

Like many other African countries, Cote d’ivoire was also influenced by western rules in every part of their life. Indeed the first Europeans to explore the West African coast were the Portuguese. In 1886, France also started showing interest for the coast and firmly established themselves in Côte d’Ivoire through an aggressive exploration program. In 1887 Lieutenant Louis Binger first in line in Cote d’ivoire signed with authorities about four treaties establishing French protectorates in Côte d’Ivoire.  The same year Marcel Treich-Laplène, negotiated five additional agreements that extended French influence from the headwaters of the Niger River Basin through Côte d’Ivoire. The first posts to be established in Côte d’Ivoire was at Assini and another at Grand-Bassam , which became the colony’s first capital.

As the share of Africa was very important to European, France rushed and claimed Côte d’Ivoire as a colony in 1893. Borders were determined in 1898, following the capture of Samory Touré. And in 1908 Gabriel Angoulvant, appointed as Governor, began the military occupation and forced the local population to abide by the existing laws, and supply the French forces with food, and ensure the protection of French trade and personnel. The imposition of forced labour and head taxes led to fierce resistance, especially among the Baule, Anyi, and Abe (Abbey). New revolts broke out when France conscripted thousands of Ivoirians to serve with other western African soldiers in World War I and II.

INDEPENDENCE PERIOD

As a cocoa farmer and very soon concerned with the colonial policy which favored more French plantation owners, Felix Houphouêt Boigny and Auguste Denise, founded the country’s first agricultural trade union for African cocoa farmers.

Houphouët-Boigny’s all-African slate swept local elections in 1946. He was elected to the French Assembly, where he really strived to end forced labour. Convinced about his country’s performance through France, he maintained a very strong relation with France and was later the first African to become a minister in a European government.  In 1960 Houphouët-Boigny, who had been a cabinet minister in two French governments, was elected president of the newly independent Côte d’Ivoire.

In 1946 Houphouët-Boigny helped found the African Democratic Rally (ADR), a western Africa–based umbrella organization that sought equality for Africans; the Ivorian branch was the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (DPCI). Though at first harshly repressed, the ADR achieved many of its goals. In 1960 Houphouët-Boigny, who had been a cabinet minister in two French governments, was elected president of the newly independent Côte d’Ivoire. After independence Cote d’ivoire was ruled by Houphouët-Boigny, Henri Konan Bédié, Robert Gueï,  Laurent Gbagbo, and Alassane Ouattara (the current president).

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