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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:French Missions to the Central Sudan in the 1890s: The Role of Algerian Agents and Interpreters
Author:Kanya-Forstner, A. Sydney
Geographic terms:West Africa
Subjects:colonial conquest
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40341674
Abstract:French interest in the Central Sudan at the end of the 19th century, though not nearly so sustained or substantial as Great Britain's, was none the less significant. In March 1890, the Congrès colonial national, then meeting in Paris, called for the construction of a strategic railway system in the Sahara and for a simultaneous advance into the Central Sudan - from Senegal towards Sokoto and from the Congo towards Lake Chad. This article concentrates on the crucial role of Algerian agents and interpreters in the various French missions to the Central Sudan in the 1890s. Every mission into the Sudanese interior had to have at least one Arabic interpreter. Many of these interpreters came from Algeria, where the growing numbers of Muslim Algerians who had received some education in French, the requirement that French officers in the 'service des affaires indigènes' speak Arabic, and a well-established corps of both military and civilian interpreters created a large pool of potential recruits. Two points in particular stand out with respect to France's Algerian agents and interpreters: their intelligence and ability, and their steadfast loyalty and devotion. By the French government, however, they were treated with the rigidity for which the French bureaucracy has always been notorious. Bibliogr., notes, ref.