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Francophone Africa at fifty$
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Tony Chafer and Alexander Keese

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719089305

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719089305.001.0001

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‘Saving French West Africa’: the French army, African soldiers and military propaganda during the 1950s1

‘Saving French West Africa’: the French army, African soldiers and military propaganda during the 1950s1

(p.61) 4 ‘Saving French West Africa’: the French army, African soldiers and military propaganda during the 1950s1
Francophone Africa at fifty

Ruth Ginio

Manchester University Press

Continuities of military structures and of protagonists within these structures are a particularly important aspect of the process of transforming colonial domination into the uneven partnerships of the post-colonial period. Ruth Ginio discusses in this context the role of the so-called tirailleurs sénégalais (becoming soldats africains), West African (veteran) soldiers mobilized by the French for service during the Second World War and the wars in Indochina and Algeria. Ginio shows that the necessities of the anticolonial revolts and widespread discontent among African soldiers in the aftermath of the campaigns in Europe in 1944/45, led to a strategic reorganization of the treatment of these individuals. Notably, the author analyses the contribution of French propaganda in the context of psychological action. The French military employed audiovisual means, namely cinema, to influence the African soldiers. Another aspect of this complex relationship was the priority given to attempts at separating the African units from the local populations during the campaigns – a strategy that did not work out in all cases. By the end of the colonial period, the experience of these various methods had, as Ginio argues, qualitatively changed the attitudes of African veterans. The latter would retain a bond to the military officers of the former colonial power beyond the threshold of independence.

Keywords:   Military, Colonialism, soldats africains, anticolonial revolts, cinema

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