The Wassoulou Anthem: to the Glory of the Great Samori Touré

Samori
Samori Touré

The beautiful words of the anthem below were composed by the Griots of the Wassoulou empire (or Mandinka empire) which went from 1852 to 1898, to the glory of the then Fama (King), the Almamy Samori Touré. The words are quite deep and celebrate courage, vigor, and righteousness. Enjoy! In recent times, this anthem was sung by the Bembeya Jazz National.

 

If you cannot organize, lead, and defend the country of your fathers, call upon the most valiant men;

If you cannot say the truth, at all times and all places, call on the most courageous men ;

If you cannot be impartial, give the throne to righteous men;

If you cannot protect the iron to face the enemy, give your sword of war to women who would point you to the path of honor;

If you cannot courageously express your thoughts, give the floor to the griots talk.

Oh Fama ! The people trust you, it trusts you because you embody its virtues.

From the journal l’Autre Afrique N° 01, juillet 2001, new version. Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

 

Proverbe Bété sur la solidarité / Bété Proverb on Solidarity

CryingLorsque l’oeil pleure, le nez ne se réjouit pas (Proverbe Bété – Côte d’Ivoire). – Le malheur de quelqu’un touche aussi les parents et les amis.

When the eye cries, the nose does not rejoice (Bété proverb – Côte d’Ivoire). – Someone’s misfortune also affects parents and friends.

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: 24 February 1852 in Piquini-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire

La ville d'Abidjan
La ville d’Abidjan (source RFI)

Today I will share with you another treaty signed in Piquini-Bassam (modern-day Côte d’Ivoire), this time between Charles Martin des Pallières, a French colonial officer, and the King of Piquini-Bassam. It is good to note that Piquini-Bassam or Petit-Bassam was also known as Picaniny-Bassam or Picanimy-Bassam, and became Port-Bouët after the French naval Captain Édouard Bouët-Willaumez in 1904. What hurts is to see what the French ‘paid’ for all that land: 10 pieces of cloth? 5 rifles? Seriously? Sadly this was a common play by European colonizers in those days: trade nothing for everything, all your land! Not much has changed today, at least not in Francophone Africa!

The English translation of the treaty is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com. For the French original click here: Cote dIvoire_Traite relatif a la souverainete de la France sur le territoire de Piquini Bassam 24 Fevrier 1852.

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Cote dIvoire_Louis_Édouard_Bouët-Willaumez
Edouard Bouet-Willaumez

Fortified Trading post of Grand-Bassam

Treaty between M. MARTIN DES PALLIÈRES, lieutenant of the 3rd regiment of navy infantry, knight of the Legion of Honor, acting on behalf of Mr. the Governor of Senegal and its dependencies, and the king of Piquini-Bassam.

Article 1

Considering that it is in their interest to align under the protection of France and to start with her useful commercial relations, the king, the chiefs, and inhabitants of Piquini-Bassam, in exchange for protection, recognize the full and entire sovereignty of the French Republic on their territory.

Article 2

The King and his chiefs adopt the French colors to the exclusion of all others, and undertake to expel from their territory whoever will present himself with another flag or intentions hostile to the interests of France.

Article 3

The king and his chiefs cede in all property to the French lands which will be necessary to them [the French] to build such fortification or commercial establishment that they [the French] will judge necessary, upon payment, according to an estimate of the value of said lands.

Article 4

All foreign ships will be able to anchor in Piquini-Bassam.

Cote dIvoire_E._Bouët-Willaumez_et_les_chefs_indigènes de la cote de Krou 1890
Bouet-Willaumez with the Kru chiefs (Cote d’Ivoire)

Article 5

In case of shipwreck, they [the king and chiefs and inhabitants] should lend a hand to the rescue; a third of the cargo will be granted to the rescuers.

Article 6

If some difficulties shall arise between the French traders and the natives, it would be decided by the Trade post commander of Grand-Bassam, who would promptly render justice to the guilty persons, no matter what side they were from.

Article 7

The king and chiefs of Piquini-Bassam undertake (agree) to always receive the french well who would come to his house, whether for trading or for any other reason; They will give them help and assistance and will, as much as they can, promote the trading of palm oil and other products of the country with the french traders.

Article 8

In exchange for these concessions, the king and his people will be granted protection of the outpost and french warships. The king will be, after his signing the treaty, paid five barrels of juniper, five rifles, five barrels of powder and ten pieces of cloth.

The said treaty, read and re-read in the French language and the local language was made double and in good faith between us in the village of Piquini-Bassam, the twenty fourth of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty two.

The Commander of the fortified trading post of Grand-Bassam,

DES PALLIERES.

The Sergent of the trading post of Grand-Bassam,

       BOUNILLEAU.

 

Signature of PETER, King of Grand-Bassam.

Signature of GADJI, King of Piquini-Bassam.

Signature of MOBA (chief).

Signature of AKA (chief).

Signature of ASSAKOU (chief).

Signature of DIAVAU (chief).

 

Identical copy,

The Governor

Signed: PROTET

 

 

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: 7 February 1869 in Petit Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire

Map of Cote d'Ivoire
Map of Cote d’Ivoire

Since we were talking about Côte d’Ivoire, I thought about taking us down memory lane with this 1869 treaty between France and the King of Petit Bassam in modern-day Côte d’Ivoire. Today, on the island of Petit Bassam are neighborhoods such as TreichvilleKoumassi, and Marcory; these are all parts of the city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire‘s most populous city. The treaty below was signed between the French navy lieutenant Vernet and King Bogny of Petit Bassam.

The English translation of the treaty is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com. For the French original click here: Cote d’Ivoire_Traite relatif a la souverainete de la France sur le territoire de Petit Bassam 7 Fev 1869.

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Cote dIvoire_Abidjan map
The city of Abidjan and its neighborhoods, from colonial times to now

Treaty between M. VERNET, navy lieutenant, Knight of the Legion of Honor, Senior Commander of the Gold Coast trading posts, on behalf of the M. the Counter-Admiral, Commander in Chief of the navy of the western coast of Africa, Gabon, Gold Coast and BOGNY, King of the country of Petit-Bassam.

Article 1

The king and chiefs of Petit-Bassam, desiring to place their country under the protection of France, concede the full and entire sovereignty of their territory to H.E. Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.

Article 2

The French flag will be on all points where the Admiral Commander-in-Chief will deem necessary as a mark of sovereignty.

Article 3

The king and chiefs give up in full ownership to the French the lands which will be necessary to  them [the French] to build a fortification or commercial establishment that they [the French] will judge suitable.

Article 4

In the event of the sinking of a ship, to whatever nation it belongs, they must lend their hands to the rescue; one-third of the cargo will be conceded to the rescuers.

La ville d'Abidjan
La ville d’Abidjan (source RFI)

Article 5

In the event that disputes arise between the locals and Frenchmen or foreigners, if the matter cannot be arranged amicably, it will be brought to the court of the Senior Commander of Grand-Bassam who will judge in the last resort, unless approved by the admiral commander chief.

Article 6

Any ship, from whatever nation it belongs to, may deal with the villages of Petit-Bassam, in accordance with the orders of the admiral commander-in-chief and subject to a customs duty of 4% on exported goods, fixed by the decree of September 12th 1868. This right will be levied by the French agents from May 1st 1869.

Article 7

In exchange for these concessions, it will be granted to the king, chiefs, and inhabitants of the villages of Petit-Bassam protection of the colonial outpost and French warships.

 

The said treaty, read and re-read in the French language and the language of the country, will start its course today.

Cote dIvoire_Port Bouet le phare de Petit Bassam_2
The lighthouse of Petit Bassam, Port Bouet

It was made double and in good faith between us, and a copy was issued to each of the parties.

In the village of Petit-Bassam, the seven of February one thousand eight hundred and sixty nine.

The Senior Commander of the Outposts of the Gold Coast

            Signed: VERNET.

Signature of BOGNY.

Mark made by the King

+

Certified True:

            Signed: VERNET

                        Signature of DÉDÉ, translator.

                        The doctor of 2nd class of Grand-Bassam

                                    Signed: Le BUNETEL

 

Approved:

The Counter-Admiral, Commander-in-chief of the naval division of the Western coasts of Africa and Senior Commander of the trading posts of the Gold Coast and Gabon.

Signed: A. Dauriac

 

Yaa Asantewaa, the Great Ashanti Queen fighting for Freedom

asantewaa
Queen Yaa Asantewaa in Batakarikese (Ceremonial war dress)

With the liberation of Simone Gbagbo last week, it is good to explore other strong women in African history. I would like to talk about the great queen Yaa Asantewaa who was a queen in the neighboring country of Ghana, when it was still called Gold Coast, and fought against the European colonizers. I explored her story amply in the article: Yaa Asantewaa or the Ashanti Cry for Freedom.

ashanti_golden_stool_31_january_1935
The golden stool in 1935

At a time when the British exiled many of the Ashanti leaders to the Seychelles, including the King of AsantePrempeh I, and other members of the Asante government, Yaa Asantewaa became regent of the Ejisu-Juaben District. After the deportation of Prempeh I, the British governor-general of the Gold CoastFrederick Hodgson, demanded the Golden Stool. This request led to a secret meeting of the remaining members of the Asante government at Kumasi, to discuss how to secure the return of their king. Many of the men were afraid, undecided, and unwilling to take any action. Yaa Asantewaa said these strong words to them: “Now, I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight for our king. If it was in the brave days of Osei TutuOkomfo Anokyeand Opoku Ware Ichiefs would not sit down to see their king to be taken away without firing a shot. No European could have dared speak to chiefs of Asante in the way the governor spoke to you this morning. Is it true that the bravery of Asante is no more? I cannot believe it. It cannot be! I must say this: if you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields.

The BBC recently made a very short cartoon of the story of the great Queen Yaa Asantewaa. Although I applaud the effort, it is at best a very flimsy take on such a great historical moment in Ghanaian history, and I await the day when Ghanaians and Africans will undertake to tell her story properly for all Ashanti, Ghanaian, and African children around the globe. As you watch the cartoon, remember that before the BBC, you first read her story here on Afrolegends.com! Enjoy!

Free at Last: Simone Gbagbo Liberated

Simone Gbagbo
Simone Gbagbo, after her liberation

Yesterday, on 08/08/2018, the former first lady of Côte d’Ivoire, Simone Ehivet Gbagbo, was freed from imprisonment. It has taken 7 years for Simone Gbagbo to be free! 7 years of humiliation, 7 years of pain, 7 years of Lord knows what, for Simone Gbagbo to finally be free! And why was she imprisoned? For her deep love for her country, a country she believed needed to be respected, and whose people needed their dignity restored. She did not fit in the world’s agenda to let her country be pillaged, and so she paid the price when Ouattara, the infamous, made its way to the presidency of Côte d’Ivoire via the war planes and military forces of France and the UN led by the infamous Sarkozy and Ban-Ki Moon. Well, 7 years later, Ouattara the infamous, has granted amnesty to 800 people in the country, 800 political prisoners, 800 who were a ‘threat’ to his system. The amnesty comes as a way to reconcile the country, but it probably comes because of the political climate which makes it so that Ouattara needs some sort of an opposition to break the rank of his current opponent Konan Bedié: this is the politic of ‘divide and conquer’. Whatever the political scheme, we are grateful for it. We salute this step toward reconciliation, and we do hope that more will follow, and that Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé will be free at last. We thank all the people around the globe for their tireless prayers, and wish the land of Côte d’Ivoire peace in dignity and harmony forever. A luta continua e la vitoria e certa.