Chiefs, Customs and Territory: The Legacy of French Rule

Sarró Ramon

in The Politics of Religious Change on the Upper Guinea Coast

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635153
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653003 | DOI:
Chiefs, Customs and Territory: The Legacy of French Rule

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This chapter examines several political developments that occurred among Baga, and especially among Baga Sitem, under French rule, focusing on the despotism of chiefs and the reification of customs as the main oppressions that Baga suffered, as these are the two factors most likely to be mentioned by Baga elders today. In the last analysis, both of these factors were manipulated by the French. Yet Baga villagers were never really interested in getting rid of the French. What oppressed them was less the French than their own chiefs and customs. Chieftaincies and customs were institutional ‘shields’ that absorbed the shocks from the discontented population, leaving the European colonisers reasonably well protected. This is why it was not the French that the people wanted to get rid of, but rather those Baga cultural elements which they felt to be so oppressive.

Keywords: Baga; French colonialism; despotism; chiefs; customs; oppression

Chapter.  12788 words. 

Subjects: African Studies

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