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., 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.


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,


The Sergent of the trading post of Grand-Bassam,



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., 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.


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



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


French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in the Comoros, Treaty with Anjouan 21 April 1886

Comoros_Anjouan-Sultan_Saïd_Mohamed 1920s
Sultan Said Mohamed of Anjouan in 1928

The Comoros  was a French colony until 1975. Below is a treaty signed between a representative of the French Republic and the Sultan of Anjouan on 21 April 1886. As you can see from this treaty, France did not just get the rights to almost everything, but it also got the right to judge Anjouan citizens, but most importantly, it also got the right to choose the successor to the throne of the sultanate, in cases when the Sultan’s first choice could not take over. So this way of France meddling into local politics and choosing local kings that could be their puppets instead of the ones chosen by the people or traditions, is not new!

The English translation of the treaty, below, is by Dr. Y., For the French original click here: Comores_Traite de protectorat avec sultan d’Anjouan 21 Avril 1886.


18th century map of Anjouan

The government of the French Republic, rightfully represented by Mr Gerville-REACHE, Commandant of Mayotte and His Highness ABDALLAH BEN SULTAN SALIME, Sultan of Anjouan, intervening directly, concerned by the development of the prosperity of the Anjouan Sultanate, have decided to consecrate by the following conventions the friendship relations existing between us for a long time and to ensure the preponderance of France in Anjouan.

Article I

His Highness assisted by the council of ministers places the Island of Anjouan under the protection of France. She commits herself, and thereby commits her successors to never deal with any other nation and to never grant any privilege to foreigners without the consent of France.

Article II

The subjects of His Highness will be able, in all freedom, to enter, reside, circulate, and trade in France or in French colonies in the same conditions as the French settlers, on one part, the French will enjoy the same freedom in the states of His Highness.

Article III

The Sultan hereby makes the commitment to provide French industrials who would want to settle in Anjouan the lands that they will need for their exploitations, within the bounds of his domain.

Map of the Comoros with the Anjouan island

Article IV

Disputes that could arise between the French citizens and people of Anjouan will be judged in French courts.

Article V

The rights of the foreigners actually established on the island remain reserved such that in no case the French government will be responsible for the execution of former facts and conventions. If there were any dispute about those facts and conventions, the Government of the Republic will be referee.

Article VI

Anjouan buildings will be treated in French ports as French ships. The same advantages will be given to the Republic’s ships which will enter in a port tributary to the states of His Highness.

Article VII

In order to ensure peace in Anjouan and to allow the regular succession on the throne, according to the customs of the country, the sultan makes his choice of his successor as SALIM BEN ABDALLAH, his eldest son, and in case of the later’s decease, before the advent on the throne of ABDALLAH ben SALIM, oldest son of SALIME. The French government will have to settle the throne’s succession in cases where the dispositions taken by His Highness would have no effect and in cases when there will be no direct and immediate heir in his family.

Article VIII

The Sultan promises to provide each of his brothers with means of livelihood.

Image of Anjouan (Source: BBC)

Article IX

To end the civil wars that have plagued ANJOUAN for many years, the French Government and His Highness declare that any person who would have taken arms against a constituted government will be considered a rebel and judged according to the laws of the country.

Article X

The Government of the Republic is committed to not grant asylum to any Anjouan person who, found to be a rebel, would seek refuge in France, in Mayotte, and in any other French possessions.

Article XI

His Highness commits not to take arms in any of the islands of the Comoros and not to lend his support to any party and assistance without the consent of the Commandant in Mayotte.

Article XII

The Sultan declares that there does not exist between his kingdom and any other power an act that could invalidate the current convention.

Article XIII

 The Sultan commits to take all necessary disposition for the abolition of slavery in all his states.

Mutsamudu, capital of Anjouan, today (

Article XIV

The present contract which will be final after the approval of the Government of the Republic has been signed in the presence of, on one part, MM. BRICH, lieutenant of the vessel, commandant of the “CHACAL” DE LESTRAC, deputy commissioner of the Marine, GAUTHIER and LESQUIVIT, sailors, DESLANDES, Medical doctor of the 2nd class in the Marine; on the other part, of SALIME BEN SULTAN ABDALLAH, MOHAMED ben sultan SALIME, SAID ATTOUMASI ben sultan SALIME, SAID ALI ben sultan SALIM, ABDALLAH MOHAMED or DIAMOND prime minister, SAID JAFFAR minister of Foreign Affairs, SAID ALI ben SAID MOCOU, MAUOME ALLASSE BEN SAID ABDERHAMA, MASAILA, …*

          Made in 3 expeditions in MOUSSA MOUDOU (ANJOUAN) the 21st April 1886 (Is Radjabou 1303 era of the hegire)

          Signed: GERVILLE-REACHE, DESLANDES, BRICH, LESQUIVIT, de LESTRAC, GAUTHIER, Sultan ABDALLAS, King of Anjoua, H.H. Prince SALIME, interpreter of the Government

(* the list continues)

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Gaya 23 June 1895

Niger_Zinder_Gaya_Liptako_with all modern day regions
Map of modern-day Niger with the Gaya region highlighted in orange, and the Liptako and Zinder regions as well.

Here is yet another French treaty signed in Niger, this time in the Gaya region. It is hard to say if this treaty was just for the area encompassing the city of Gaya, in Niger today, or the entire department of Gaya in the Dosso Region of Niger, or even if it went as far as the city of Gaya in Nigeria.

The treaty was signed between the King of Gaya, H.E. Abdoulaye, and the French officer Georges Joseph Toutée, on 23 June 1895. The French original is found here: Niger_Traite de protectorat France avec le Roi de Gaya 23 Juin 1895. The English translation below is brought to you by Dr. Y.,


23 June 1895

 Treaty between the French Republic and the King of Gaya in Niger

Between the Undersigned,

H.E. Abdoulaye, King and owner of the city and dependencies of Gaya, assisted by his council, on one hand, and Georges Joseph Toutée, Staff captain of artillery, Knight of the legion of Honor, commander of the imperial order of Annam, acting in the name and in accordance with the instructions of the French Republic on the other hand,

It has been agreed the following treaty.

Article I

The Kingdom of Gaya is placed for life under the sovereignty and exclusive protectorate of France.

Article II

The present treaty, which will take effect immediately is hereby submitted for ratification by the French government.

Article III

On the occasion of this convention, the King of Gaya accepts the presents sent to him by the French government, as well as the tricolor flag, symbol of the union between the two countries.

Made in Gaya on the Niger river, the twenty third of June eighteen ninety five, in three expeditions, including one in Arab.

And have signed: 

The King                  X

         The Captain,         G. Toutée

    The adjutant          Douse

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Liptako 23 Mai 1891

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.