Friday, 30 December 2016

Similarities and differences between the British and French colonial administrative policies


1 .      In both  cases,  policy  making  was  done  at home  by the  metropolitan   governments.   The
parliaments  passed  their policies  to the colonies  through  the secretaries  for colonies.  Local authorities  made policies  concerning  minor  issues.
2.        Both  systems  established   new  laws  based  on  home  judicial    systems.   For  example   the French  code Napoleon   and the  British  judicial  system  were  used  in settling  issues  in the colonies.  They  both  undermined   the  local  authorities   and  they  regulated  punishments   to local authorities  in regard with European  statute.
3.    Both  systems  employed  Africans  at lower  levels of administration.   e.g.  all posts  from the district    commissioner     to  the   governor-general     were   filled   by  the  British   and  pure Frenchmen.
4.    Both systems  were built on fundamental  misconception   that the Africans  were backward  in the level of civilisation   and the colonial  administrative   policies  were  designed  to develop Africans.
5.    Both systems  had  legislative  councils.  These  institutions  were  initially  established   by the British but later the French  also developed  them. They were meant  to enact some laws and take them for approval  in metropolitan  colonial  offices.
6.    Both indirect rule and assimilation   failed to achieve  what they were set to do. Indirect  rule failed to preserve  the traditional  institutions  while assimilation  was abandoned  in favour  of Association.
7.    Both systems  used indirect  and direct rule. They  employed  the traditional  chiefs  to govern on their  behalf.  Where  there were  no recognised  chiefs  both  systems  appointed  their  own chiefs  (warrant)  thus making   it direct  rule.  In East Africa,  the  British  used  direct  rule  to govern  Eastern  Uganda,   in West  Africa  towns  like  Kaduna,   Lagos  and  Free  Town,  the British ruled  them directly.
8.    In both  systems,   chiefs  were  not  answerable   to  their  colonial   masters.  The  French   and British  had  no  respect  for  traditional   authority   in African  societies.   The French  had  no respect  for monarchs  and constantly  undermined  them.  Similarly,  the British destroyed  the powers of some African  leaders  e.g. the Asante Hene chiefs  in Asante  Empire.
9.    Both systems  survived  on colonial  exploitation  based on taxation  and forced labour. In both cases African local leaders were used to collect taxes and supervise  forced labour.
It's against  this background  of these  similarities  that some  historians  have asserted  that the
differences   between  indirect  rule  and  assimilation   were  more  mythical  than  real.  In both systems  the Africans  were  used  as mere  functionaries   of the  colonial  rule.  They  had  the same  impact  on traditional   institutions   and  the colonised   peoples  suffered  almost  similar consequences.
1.        The  French  established   a highly  centralised   and  authoritarian   administration.   The  French administered   alltheir   colonies  as a federation  under  the  governor  General  at  Dakar  under who was a hierarchy  of officials  in each colony. The British  on the other hand  established   a separate    administration     in  the   colonies.    i.e  the  British    colonies  were    administered independent  from the other  and got orders from the secretary  for colonies  based  in London.
2.        Assimilation  policy  was more  expensive  in terms  of manpower   requirements   and  financial costs  than the British  indirect  rule. The French  emphasis  on the employment   of  the French citizens  including  who  were  assimilated   was  more  costly  than  the British   employment   of traditional    or  local  chief   who  in  actual   sense  paid   himself   through.   locally   generated revenues.  Perhaps  this  is why  the French  had to abandon   assimilation   by  1905 the British went on with their system  up to the period  of independence   of their colonies.
3.    The British  tried to use indirect  rule and respected  the traditional  customs  and leaders  while the French  tried to use assimilation   policy  that never had  such characteristics.
4.    The  British  respected   the  traditional   methods   of  choosing   chiefs  and  respected   rules  of succession.   The  French   on  the  other  hand  chose  their  own  leaders  whom  they  posted   in French  West  Africa.  Hence  the  local  chiefs  under  the  French  were  nominees   who  lacked the traditional  approval  obviously  these  were from the French  citizens group.
5.    They   differed   in  their   attitude   towards   colonies.    While   the  British   regarded   them   as separate  entities,  the French  regarded  them  as the overseas  provinces.
6.        The  French  policy  of assimilation   led to the  creation   of French   citizens  while  the  British made no attempts  to turn  the Africans  into British.  The  assimilated   Africans  enjoyed   all the rights    and  privileges     of  the   French    citizens.    Africans     were   also   allowed    to   have representatives    in the  French  National   Assembly.   The  British   system  did  not provide   for anything  of this nature.
7.    Unlike  assimilation   policy  that  aimed  at destroying   African  cultural  and social  institutions, indirect rule did not attack  African  culture  and social  life atleast  directly.  This was probably because    of  the  British   superiority    complex   and  fear  of  devastating    and  disintegrating African  society  in the process  of cultural  intermixture.   The British  had a respect  and fear of African  cultures.
8.    The  African  chiefs  under  the  British  enjoyed  more  power   and  authority  than  those  of the French.   Whereas   both  used  chiefs  to collect   taxes,   the  British   allowed  some  control   of finance  to the local  chiefs  while  the French  took  away  all the revenue  and used  it the way they chose.
9.    In the French  West  Africa  all the revenue  was  collected  to the central  pool  in federal  pool (treasury)  at Dakar.  It was  the duty  of the Governor  general   to use it for the benefit  of the colonies.    On  the  other  hand   each  colony   in the  British   West  Africa  managed   its  own financial  resources.   Therefore,   the development   of each  colony  depended  on the revenu
collected.  In French  West  Africa  development   was  more  equitable  because  revenue  was shared according  to need of each colony.
10.        The British unlike  the French  did not attempt to pass laws in English  legislature  for all their African  colonies  or  protectorates.    Instead,  the  governor   of  each  territory   drew  up  laws according  to the area under  his authority.  However,  its important  to recognise  the fact that laws  made  in  the  British   colonies   and  protectorates    had  to  be  approved   by the  British secretary  of state for colonies  based  in London.  He could  pass it, amend,  criticise  or cancel it down.
Revision Questions.
1    "The  French  and  British  methods   of  colonial   administration    in  Africa  were  similar  not different".  Discuss with reference  to West Africa.
2.   Why  and  with  what  impact   did  the  French   abandon   their  assimilation    policy   in West
3.  "Indirect  rule was more  of a myth  than a reality".  Discuss  this  statement  in the context  of
British administration   in either Uganda  or Nigeria.
4.    Do  you  consider  the  French  assimilation   policy   as  a success  or  a failure?  Discuss  with reference  to either Maghreb  or West  Africa.
5.      Why did the indirect rule work in Northern  Nigeria  and not in in southern Nigeria?
6.      Why  and with  what  success  did  the British  adopt  the  system  of indirect  rule  in Northern
Nigeria  up to 1914?
7.    Compare  the British  and French  administrative  policies  in West Africa.
8.     Examine   the  differences    and  similarities    between   the  French   and  British   methods   of colonial  administration