According to the baoulé, Queen Aura Poka, the sister of a
failed beggar to the throne of the Ashantis, went with her
people to the west in 1730 and founded a new state in the
middle of the region known to Europeans since the 15th
century under the name Côte d 'Ivory, Ivory Coast, due to
the intensive trade in elephant tusks.
the boom of this ashanti state was a threat to the smaller
Aigini and Atopkara kingdoms on the coast and inland
respectively. They therefore sought protection from the
French in 1843. It gave the French a monopoly on the
establishment of trading stations along the coast and -
almost half a century later - the opportunity to penetrate
the country, in an attempt to link the Ivory Coast with
Guinea, Mali and Senegal.
In this process, fierce opposition was met by Samori Turé,
whose state was located precisely in the central part of the
area that the Europeans wanted to merge. (See: Guinea ).
After three decades of bloody fighting (1870-1998), Turé
was defeated, and the leaders of the largest tribes met to
make agreements with the French.
In 1895, the French founded French West Africa, composed
of Senegal, French Sudan - the present Mali, Guinea and
Ivory Coast. Later the area was expanded with Chad, Burkina
Faso - the former Upper Volta - and Mauritania. In this way,
attempts were made to achieve some stability between the
poorest countries - Chad and Upper Volta - and the poorer
countries - Senegal and Ivory Coast. However, it did not
succeed in continuing the Union after the individual
countries gained independence.
Attempts at economic integration have been tested ever
since - with changing success - but only recently have
concrete initiatives been taken with the establishment of
the West African Economic Community. An association of 15
countries in the region, formerly French, British and
Politically, French West Africa came "to the world" in
1946 with the formation of the African Democratic Group, the
RDA, a party of "settlers" in Senegal, Mali and Guinea,
whose goal was independence and unity among the French
colonies in the area.
The heir to the Baoulés, the physician and the landlord,
Félix Houphouet Boigny, was appointed President of the RDA
because of his experience as leader of an association of
peasants who had been in opposition to the French colonial
Having entered into an alliance with the French Communist
Party, the PCF, the only party that in fact defied
anti-colonialist views, organized the RDA strikes,
demonstrations and boycotts against European companies. The
reprisals against the RDA cost hundreds of lives, while
thousands were arrested. This prompted Boigny to discontinue
cooperation with the PCF in 1950 and to accept an agreement
proposed by Francois Mitterrand, then French minister
responsible for the overseas territories. RDA quickly lost
credibility after the change of attitude and Boigny
eventually had only support in his home region.
All French possessions in West Africa gained independence
in the period 1958-1960, and the new nations were admitted
as members of the UN. Aware of their countries' poor
financial capacity, the leaders argued for the creation of a
union, but Boigny rejected the idea of fear of losing the
relative welfare and privileges the country enjoyed over the
former colonial power of France. "We are not saying goodbye
to France, but to each other," the Ivory Coast president
said as he proclaimed his independence.