Niger_Zinder_Gaya_Liptako_with all modern day regions

Map of modern-day Niger highlighting the Liptako region (in blue) which extended into Mali and Burkina Faso, and Gaya and Zinder.

Here is another treaty signed in Niger, this time in the Liptako region which was part of the Liptako Emirate, a hilly region beginning on the right back of the Niger river, and today part of Burkina FasoMali, and Niger. Modern-day Liptako, most of which falls in 10 to 19 provinces of Burkina Faso, along with Niger‘s Tera and Say Departments, and small parts of Mali, is a hilly and in parts sparsely populated area. It is also known as Liptako Gourma, from the name of its original historic inhabitants the Gourmantche.  Parfait-Louis Monteil was the French officer who signed this treaty on 23 May 1891 with Boubakar, son of Boari, the King of the Liptako.


Parfait-Louis Monteil: De Saint-Louis a Tripoli par le Lac Tchad, voyage au travers du Soudan et du Sahara accompli pendant les années 1890-91-92. Paris 1895

The French original is found here: Niger_Traite francais de protectorat et de commerce avec le roi du Liptako 23 Mai 1891. It was also translated to Arabic at the time, which was the language of business at the King’s palace and in the region. The English version is brought to you by Dr. Y.,


Treaty between France and the Liptako

Between us, Monteil (Parfait Louis), Captain in the general staff of the infantry of Marin, Knight of the legion of Honor, Officer of the Academy, representing the government of the French Republic and imbued with necessary powers, and, Boubakar son of Boari, King of the Liptako, and mandated by him, the following treaty was concluded:

Article I

The King of the Liptako in his name and in the name of his successors places his country under the protectorate of France.

Article II

France acknowledges the independence of the Liptako under the current king and his successors.

France agrees to ensure this independence against attacks from neighboring countries.

Article III

The King of the Liptako commits to protecting by all means in his power the trade of the caravans.

Article IV

The trade will be entirely free in the Liptako, the caravans shall not be subject to any duty either upon arrival or departure.

Article V

In all countries under French domination or protectorate, the caravans coming from the Liptako will be efficiently protected and no duty shall be levied on them.   

Article VI

The French or French subjects who will come to settle in the Liptako for trade will be, they, and their goods, under the sincere protection of the King who will be responsible for any looting or vexation committed against them.  

Article VII

The King of the Liptako agrees not to sign any treaty with another European foreign power without submitting it to the prior sanction of the French government.

Article VIII

As a sign of our effective protection that he can use as a matter of right, the King of the Liptako has received the French flag which he agrees to keep.

Made in Dori, the twenty third of May eighteen ninety one, in two expeditions, including one which was left in the hands of the king to serve him as matter of right, the other one was kept by us.

Niger_Town of Zinder 1906 from the French fort

Town of Zinder viewed from the French fort in 1906

France had many colonies in Africa. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the French colonial empire was the second largest colonial empire behind the British Empire . This explains why today France has a seat at the table of world powers, mostly because of its colonial heritage which continues with its French Colonial Tax in Africa in action to this day with its slave currency called CFA Franc. As a part of the Scramble for Africa, France aimed to establish a continuous west-east axis across the continent, in contrast with the proposed British north-south, Cairo to Cape, axis. It had colonies in North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Madagascar and the Comoros.

Map of modern-day Niger with the Zinder region highlighted (this is smaller than the original 19th century version)

I am sharing with you here a treaty that was signed in an area which was part of French West Africa (AOF), in modern-day Niger, between the King of Zinder and the French representative Georges Joseph Toutée on 9 June 1895. Note that in the treaty, it states that “the king places his territory, without any restriction or reserve, under French sovereignty.” Zinder was part of the Sultanate of Damagaram, a powerful kingdom founded in 1731, which lasted until the 1890s with the French conquest. In the mid 19th century, the state covered some 70,000 square kilometers and had a population over 400,000, mostly Hausa, but also Tuareg, Fula, Kanuri, Arab and Toubou. By the end of the 19th century, Damagaram could field an army of 5,000 cavalry, 30,000 foot soldiers, and a dozen cannons, which they produced in Zinder.

The English translation of the treaty, below, is by Dr. Y., For the French original click here: Niger_Traite de protectorat avec le roi de Zinder 9 Juin 1895.


Zinder in Niger, 9 June 1895

 Treaty between the French Republic and King Atikou of Zinder

Between the Undersigned,

Atikou, King and owner of the city and territory of Zinder in Niger, stipulating for him and his successors on one hand, and Georges Joseph Toutée, Staff Captain of artillery, Knight of the legion of Honor, Commander of the royal order of Annam on the other hand,


Article I

The King Atikou places his country, without any restriction or reserve, under the sovereignty and exclusive protectorate of France.

 Article II

He makes the solemn declaration that he has never made any commitment to any other European power.

 Article III

In sign of which he accepts the French flag.

 Article IV

The present convention, subject to the ratification by the French government shall nevertheless enter immediately into force.

Made in Zinder, the nine June eighteen ninety five, in three expeditions, including one in Arab.

The King

The Captain


Flag of Kenya

I admire this African anthropologist’s determination. Thanks to his perseverance, he was able to make a discovery which changes our understanding of humanity, or rather of what humans’ ancestors may have looked like. Isaiah Nengo of DeAnza College in the US, made a discovery in Kenya, in the Turkana Basin, of a 13-million-year-old ape skull. When he embarked on his research, no one wanted to follow him, and everybody told him what a waste of time this would be. But determined, he set out by himself, hired 5 local Kenyan fossil finders, and went off to the area he thought would bring results. A month went by without results, and at the end, as the team was leaving the area, they stumbled upon the skull. He had made a discovery, as it turned out, the team found what is thought to be the most complete skull of an extinct ape species in the fossil record. His findings have just been published in the Aug. 10 issue of the journal Nature. You can also read more in this article published in the Washington Post. Talk about perseverance!

Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 9, 2017

15-Year-Old Sierra Leonese Inventor Wowing MIT

Sierra Leone_flag

Flag of Sierra Leone

This is old news, but I am still in awe with this kid and had to share it with you. Meet then 15 years-old Sierra Leone boy, Kelvin Doe, who wowed MIT! Enjoy! He is very creative: he created his own battery because of electricity shortage, he made his own radio because he wanted to broadcast to people in his neighborhood, he made his own generator because he needed it. He works by reverse engineering. Enjoy!

Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 7, 2017

The Path to Freedom

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” Long walk to freedom by Nelson Mandela, 1994


Mountain: Mts Bamboutos, Cameroon


Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 4, 2017

Proverbe sur les secrets/ Proverb on Secrets



Confier un secret à un troisième est source de regret (proverbe Maure – Mauritanie, Niger, Algerie, Mali, Maroc, Sahara Occidental, Tunisie).

Entrust a secret to a third is source of regret (Moor proverb – Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Tunisia).

Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 2, 2017

Why the Name: Nouakchott?


Map of Mauritania

What comes to mind when you say the name of the capital of Mauritania, Nouakchott? Well, to me, instant thoughts of sandy dunes, the Atlantic ocean, and the desert come to mind. So does its name come close to any of these?

Nouakchott or‎‎ Nuwākshūṭ in Arabic, is originally derived from the Berber Nawākšūṭ, or “place of the winds,” and is the capital and largest city of Mauritania, as well as being one of the largest cities in the Sahara. From the different transcriptions, the name of the city, Nouakchott or Noiakchott gave rise to different translations, among which 5 principal ones:

  • Mauritania_flag

    Flag of Mauritania

    place where water appears when a well is dug

  • land where shells abound
  • place with salted pasture
  • place where the wind blows
  • without ears

Chott may mean beach or foreshore or batture. Noua in hassaniya Arabic (Moor dialect) means “bay.” Thus, Nouakchott literally means “the beach of the bay.” Even though the Mauritanian shoreline does not present any bays on the outskirts of Nouakchott, the shape of the coastline is slightly hollow there.


Aerial view of Nouakchott 2002 (Wikipedia)

Nouakchott was a small fortified fishing village (ksar) in pre-colonial times and during French rule. Early in colonial times, the city was a French military camp where Mauritanians were not allowed to stay. In 1958, it was chosen by Moktar Ould Daddah, the country’s first president, as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania. The village was selected as the capital city for its central location between Saint-Louis, Senegal, the city from which the colony of Mauritania was governed, and Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s second largest city.


Fishermen in Nouakchott (Wikipedia)

Nouakchott is located on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara Desert. It is largely flat, and only a few meters above sea level. It is daily exposed to sand dunes. Nouakchott is built around a large tree-lined street, Avenue Gamal Abdel Nasser, which runs northeast through the city centre from the airport. It divides the city into two, with the residential areas in the north and the medina quarter, and shantytowns to the south. The main neighborhoods are Arafat, Dar Naim, El Mina, Ksar, Riyadh, Sebkha, Tevragh-Zeina, and Toujounine.


Camel market in Nouakchott (Wikipedia)

Today, the city is the heart of the Mauritanian economy and is home to a deepwater port and one of the country’s two international airports. It also hosts the University of Nouakchott. If you visit Nouakchott, don’t forget to visit the camel market, a very big attraction in a country where a lot of its population is nomadic.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 31, 2017

Rebranding Africa – Akon speaks



I had to share with you this video of Akon at the YouthConnekt in Kigali, Rwanda, this past July. I am not a fan of Akon, but what he says about rebranding Africa is so true. It is just the reason I started this blog, to talk about Africa, the part that we should know: our history, our lives, our realities! The fact that Africa is being represented by wars, when there is only war in maybe 4 countries out of 54, makes me mad. I remember talking to Americans, and they thought I lived on trees in the jungle; when I told them that we had real cities, and that their city in America looked worst than where I came from, they couldn’t believe me. Rebranding Africa is so important… we have to tell OUR own story, and stop letting others tell it! This is also similar to Chimamanda Adichie’s talk: The Danger of a Single Story.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 26, 2017

The Eagle and the Tortoise



Eagle and Tortoise were the very best of friends – so much so that every single day, the eagle flew down from the high mountain where he had his eerie, across the steep cliffs, down past the stony slopes, over the trees, across the river, and past the meadows until he came the scrubby wilderness where tortoise made his home.

Tortoise was always there to meet him and make him welcome, and the two friends would have lunch together.

This went day after day, year after year, and the friendship between the two never wavered, until one day, Tortoise noticed that his friend was quieter than usual. He asked him why.

Have you ever noticed that it’s always me who comes to visit you?” Eagle said. “In all these years, I don’t think you’ve ever come to my house even once.”



But you live so far away!” replied Tortoise. “There are mountains to climb, ravines to get over, rivers to cross. The forest is full of tangled roots, the way is littered with boulders and stones. It would take me forever, if I got there at all.”

“Still,” said Eagle. “ I think you might have managed it just once, if you cared for me as much as I care for you.”

Tortoise was hurt and shocked that his friend felt this way, but the journey was far, too difficult and dangerous for a stumpy legged little thing like him to ever attempt.

Don’t be like that,” he begged.  “I’m sorry you feel let down. Give me time. Let me try find some other way of proving my loyalty to you.”

Months passed and Eagle sadly thought that Tortoise had forgotten his promise. But then came his birthday, and he forgot about his doubts, looking forward to the big day. Every year, Tortoise prepared a special lunch for his friend and always began the meal with a splendid present.



On the day, Eagle excitedly made the flight down from the mountain to the desert in double quick time, he was so excited. But when he got there – what’s this? No table spread with goodies, no group of friends – no Tortoise. All there was, was a package and a card.

Eagle opened the card and read. “My friend, I’ve tried for months to think of a way to repay you for all the visits you’ve made to me over the years, but I’ve failed. So today, on your birthday, I’ve decided to come to visit you at your house. It’s a long journey for me, so I’ve decided to take several days to get there, to make sure I’m on time. As you can see, I was unable to carry your present as well. I hope you won’t object to carrying it yourself to your house – where I shall be ready to greet you and help you celebrate this special day!”

Wow,” thought Eagle. “Finally – he’s actually doing it!” He took the present in his talons and set off – over the desert, across the meadow, over the river, which he noticed today was very full and strong … Above the forest that was as Tortoise had said, full of tangled roots breaking up the ground, as well as sharp thorns in the twigs and branches. Then up, up he soared, up the slopes of the mountain, beyond the stony slopes and towering cliffs back to his eerie home.

Tortoise wasn’t there.

Never mind,” said Eagle. “It IS a long way for someone who can’t fly.  He’s probably still walking. I can wait

Eagle waited … and waited … and waited.

After a bit he began to worry. The mountain certainly was very steep. Tortoise had such tiny legs – there were a million places where he could slip and fall to his death.



I’ll find him and give him a lift,” Eagle thought. He flew off over the mountain, up and down, up and down. But there was no sign of Tortoise. He asked his friends the other eagles to help, and they all flew to and fro, but none of them saw anything.

Maybe he fell into a ravine,” one of the other eagles said.

Unless he’s crept past us and is waiting for you at your place, ” said someone else. Eagle dashed home, full of hope, but the tortoise still wasn’t there.

Maybe he’s still at the river. But that’s ludicrous – he can’t swim with that shell. He’ll drown! How stupid I’ve been! I must stop him,” thought Eagle.

He flew off down the mountain side to to river and searched and searched – he even got one of the crocs that lived there to help him … But no one found anything

Maybe one of my cousins found him first,” suggested Crocodile.

Off Eagle flew, in a panic now .. back home , then to the forest, then to the desert, then to mountain again, then back home, then off again … back and forth and to and fro, until his wings ached. But of the tortoise, there was no trace …

It was getting late now. Eagle realized that what for him was a simple journey on the wings of the wind, was a terrible ordeal for his little friend – an ordeal that had surely killed him. He flew wearily back home, full of guilt. He had lost the best friend in the world, and it was no one’s fault but his own.

He got back and – who should be there to greet him, but Tortoise himself,  looking comfortable and rested as he raised a glass to his friend.
Eagle took one look and said…


Can’t you guess?” said the Tortoise. “You gave me a lift! I was hiding … inside the parcel you so kindly carried here for me. I AM your birthday present!

When he realized he had been tricked, Eagle was at first angry … then relieved … then angry again … and then at last he began to see the funny side and started to laugh … and laugh … and laugh.

Finally, they had their party.  At the end of the day, Eagle carried Tortoise safely back home and dropped him gently  at his front door.

Just promise me one thing,” he said.

What’s that?

Don’t EVER come to visit me again! I don’t think I could stand the stress!

This is a Congolese tale from Melvin Burgess blog

Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 24, 2017

Proverbe sur les tentations / Proverb on Temptations


Fumée dans une foret / Smoke in a forest

Contre la fumée, il n’y a qu’un seul remède : fuir (Proverbe Sotho – Lesotho, Afrique du Sud). – Fuir les tentations.

Against smoke, there is only one remedy: to flee (Sotho proverb – Lesotho, South Africa). – Fleeing temptations.

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