Power Politics

  • John D. Hargreaves


Although the conquest of Dahomey had not been a primary objective of the French colonial party, the rationalizing logic of imperialism demanded that the new colony should expand: in the words of an armchair geographer, “il ne peut rester comme il est car il deviendrait une non-valeur ce qui est contraire aux principes mêmes d’une politique coloniale”.1 The obvious line of expansion was northwards towards the middle Niger; as early as December 1890 Cuverville had considered asking Behanzin to provide an escort for a French expedition from Grand Popo to Say, in hope of encouraging “les races fétichistes, bien plus accessibles à notre civilisation” to resist the Muslim opponents of the Sudanese army.2 Such a thrust would not only gratify businessmen in Marseille, who were becoming interested in a possible northern railway, but fulfil the ambition which Etienne had cherished since 1890, of challenging Goldie’s monopoly of the lower Niger. The region thus became the focus of the last and most bitter struggles of the European partition.


Power Politics Ivory Coast Neutral Zone Gold Coast French Colonialist 


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© John D. Hargreaves 1985

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  • John D. Hargreaves

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