French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Zinder 9 June 1895

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

5 thoughts on “French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Zinder 9 June 1895

    1. I am not sure. That is a good question. It is not stated in the treaty. As common in some of those treaties, he might have gotten some little trinkets, guns, etc, and maybe a small stipend? However, that is just me speculating.


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