Robert Delavignette: The Gentle Ruler (1897-1976)

African Proconsuls. European Governors in Africa.
L.H. Gann & Peter Duignan, eds.

New York/London/Stanford. The Free Press/Collier Macmillan Publishers & Hoover Institution. 1978. 548 pages

William B. Cohen


Robert Delavignette: The Gentle Ruler (1897-1976)

Georges Balandier, the great French sociologist, characterized Robert Delavignette as “a solid and obstinate liberal.” The description is well deserved. Delavignette was an able man, sensitive to change overseas, who also served as the conscience of French colonialism. His African career as a governor was brief; he served in the Cameroons as high commissioner for only one year, from 1946 to 1947. Nevertheless, he played a crucial role in the evolution of the French empire, especially as a writer, thinker, and educator. In his role as writer he was unrivaled among the French colonial service. No one was as prolific. For half a century he continued in an unending stream of books and articles to make Africa known to the French public. No survey of French colonial policy can afford to exclude Robert Delavignette.

Childhood and Early Career

Delavignette was born in Sainte-Colombe-sur-Seine in 1897 in the old province of Burgundy. His family was of moderate means, Delavignette’s father working as a manager at a small iron-smelting work. The picture that emerges from Delavignette’s writings is that of a relatively happy youth. His life was not socially restricted; he spent much of his free time in the forge talking to the workers, absorbing their tales about life in the old days and various legends associated with the career of smiths . He obtained his secondary education in Dijon, where he went to a lycée. His teachers seem to have been remarkable men, and he was especially affected by Auguste Mairey, a geographer, and Gaston Roupnel, an historian. Mairey opened to young Delavignette a window on the wider world, and overseas France was stressed in these geography lessons. In a geography textbook that Mairey had published, more space was spent on the empire than was common at that time . Roupnel was part of the distinguished tradition of French social historians that culminated in men like Marc Bloch. He stressed the importance of the social foundations of French history: it was not the kings of France who had made the country but the tillers of the soil, who by generations of their effort and suffering had made human progress possible. He conveyed to his pupil a sense of empathy for the common people and an interest in their culture and life-styles. The peasant was central in Roupnel’s historical scheme. The seeds planted by the teacher fell on fertile ground, for Delavignette was clearly receptive to these views. As a youngster, he had shown sympathy for the working man. And long before falling under Mairey’s influence, he had devoured the descriptions of exotic lands in the pages of popular journals like Illustration and Tours du monde and in the works of Jules Verne . These interests had awakened before he arrived at the lycée at Dijon and developed further while he was at school.
Delavignette graduated from the lycée in the fateful year 1914. Within months Europe was at war. In 1916 he was drafted, sent to the front, and wounded. Like so many sensitive men of his generation young Delavignette was shaken by the mixture of heroism, folly, courage, cowardice, and incompetence that so singularly characterized the Great War. What he found most despicable was the callous manner in which officers ordered men to their death merely to advance a few yards to win honors or promotion. Sixty years later anger still entered his voice as he recalled the soldiers who died merely to satisfy the amour-propre of some officer or other. This war experience made Delavignette suspicious of an official mind blind to the needs of real people.
In 1919, along with the rest of the French army, Delavignette was demobilized. He now had to decide on a career. It was expected that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and work at the forge, but the physical and spiritual destruction that had been wrought upon Europe gave a special sense of romance to the supposed opportunities and limitless horizons of the colonial world . Delavignette applied for the position of, and was appointed, colonial clerk to French West Africa. He was assigned to Dakar to the central bureaucracy of the French West African federation, working in the personnel office. The work was routine and paid very poorly. But it conferred one advantage: with some additional training he could qualify for a higher position and enter the corps of colonial administrators. In the British colonial system many of the clerical functions were occupied by Africans and further promotions into a higher administrative corps was impossible. In the French system there were few Africans in subaltern positions, and the Frenchmen who exercised these responsibilities-even with little education could aspire to higher positions and eventually become governors. Delavignette as a veteran was required only to undergo a six-month training course at the Ecole coloniale in Paris, the school for colonial administrators. After a year in Dakar he returned to Paris and then, having had his prescribed training, in 1922 was ready to return to Africa.
Thus, except for his six months at the Ecole coloniale, Delavignette had no higher education beyond that of the lycée, but that still represented a considerable amount of formal training. The pre-World War I lycée had a heavy classical curriculum that exposed its students to a vast culture, including Latin, the literature of antiquity, and the French literary tradition. If weak on the history of other countries, the curriculum imparted a good knowledge of French history and geography—often taught together. Graduates of a lycée usually developed a high sense of reverence for learning and culture, and in the case of Delavignette this was underscored by his fondness for Mairey and Roupnel, both of whom were distinguished scholars. (In France a lycée teacher was addressed as “professeur,” thus little distinction was drawn between him and a university professor.)
All his life Delavignette was to be attracted to the scholarly world; he counted among his friends many French academics, especially students of Africa—men like the ethnologists Paul Rivet and Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, the historian Charles André Julien, and after World War II the geographer Pierre Gourou and sociologist Georges Balandier. Delavignette was a teacher much of his life; his writings in the popular press in the 1930s were intended to educate Frenchmen about their colonies. Then, as head of the colonial school he was directly involved with the education of future colonial administrators, and years later when he had retired from active service he was still teaching (at the Ecole nationale de la France d’outremer). His interest in education was underscored by his long and active participation on the board of governors of the Alliance Française—he even served as its vice-president—an organization dedicated to spreading knowledge of the French language. Beginning in the 1950s he also served on the board of the news organization Havas, being particularly interested in seeing the press cover African affairs. His membership in scholarly organizations reveal his respect and interest in promoting the world of learning. He was an active member of the Académie des sciences d’outre-mer, an organization founded in 1921 to promote knowledge of overseas France. And at his death Delavignette was still honorary president of the Société francaise d’histoire d’outremer, the foremost French society devoted to the study of the history of overseas France.
Physically Delavignette was an imposing man; tall, with large shoulders, he carried himself well and had a solidity that tall people do not always possess (one thinks of the lankiness of the young de Gaulle). The people in his district were to remember him affectionately some fifty years later as Tchidjan, “Big One”; and his stepchildren nicknamed him “l’Eléphant,” his students at the Ecole coloniale, “Big Bob.” The size and authority of Delavignette made a lasting impression on those who came into contact with him. His habit of carefully listening to people gave him an added authority. He was patient and could wait to speak, but he was not cold. Rather, this trait of politeness added to the general impression of the man as competent and knowledgeable.
He was witty but never sarcastic and liked to tell stories. With considerable relish he would tell about the African mistress of the commandant who, when the commandant had finished his tour of duty and was ready to leave, would fall into hysterical bouts of grief. Deeply touched by this sign of affection, the administrator would generously provide for her, and as soon as he had left she would prepare the official residence, dress in her finest clothes, and ride out to meet the new commandant to insure that she would be chosen his mistress.
Some of Delavignette’s stories were about himself and he did not mind having people laugh at his expense. One of his favorites was about his first experience with buying supplies for his post in Niger. He arrived from France by ship in Cotonou, Dahomey. There he bought canned goods and other supplies to last him for a year. These were carefully crated and put on the tug that was taking him to Lagos, from where he would go toward Niger. As the boat was pulling out of the wharf, a distraught employee of the trading house came running to tell him that inadvertently two years’ supplies rather than one had been packed. Generously Delavignette (as many others) offered to pay for the extra supplies; the employ gratefully pocketed the money and waved to the boat as it disappeared. Reaching Niger, Delavignette found only one year’s supplies . His novel Toum reveal a fine sense of burner; it is a satire of colonial life often showing the manner in which the white man and his ways must appear hideous to the African.
Delavignette was not a vain or self-important man. Used to commanding and to having respect, he did not feel the need to prove himself. This frame of mind led him to avoid writing about himself and his experiences. The “commandant” in his writings clearly is himself, but he did not say so. In writing about the colonial administrator in many articles and books, he drew directly on his life in the colonies without making the fact plain. A marvelous stylist able to write with great empathy and understanding about colonial affairs, he did not publish his memoirs. The last ten years before his death saw him rather halfheartedly start them, but his poor health explains why they were not finished and why even the drafts of some of the finished chapters lack focus. There was also an intellectual reason: his unwillingness to put himself squarely in the middle of events, to make himself the hero of his account. It struck him as unseemly. He was bemused by the self-importance and aggrandizement of that successful memoir writer de Gaulle, and assuming the cadence of the general’s voice would say, “Général de Gaulle, il …” (de Gaulle wrote his memoirs in the third person, copying Julius Ceasar.)

Roi de la Brousse

The main function of members of the corps of colonial administrators was to serve as territorial administrators over the cercle, the basic district in French black Africa or a subdividion of it. They also occupied positions of responsibility in the government headquarters, the secretariat. To Delavignette’s disappointment his first assignment was the finance bureau in Niger. Its capital, Zinder, an ancient caravan town where nomads from the desert traded with the sedentary people from further south, was still a rather picturesque city reminding the young Frenchman of the Arabian Nights or the world of the Old Testament. Sitting in the treasury office, Delavignette yearned for the day when he would administer his own district and perhaps emulate Commandant Henri Fleury, the administrator of Zinder, who—with red beard flowing—rode in hot pursuit of horse thieves and was appropriately nicknamed “horse thief catcher.”
Delavignette had to wait only a few months for his assignment. In February 1923 he was appointed administrator of the subdivision of Tessao, located west of Zinder. He had as his superior an official whom later investigation proved both corrupt and brutal. Refusing to obey his orders, Delavignette was badly rated by his commandant and reassigned after a few months, this time to Dosso. This experience was to his credit, however; the governor of Niger was impressed by Delavignette’s courageous show of independence and in 1924 observed of him:

Elite functionary of an education and culture superior to the average. Is an aide in the real sense of the word and one can count on his loyalty, his good sense, his sense of balance, and his general knowledge. … When this young official has acquired a little more experience and colonial initiative, he will make an excellent cerele commandant or bureau chief

The frequent displacement that Delavignette experienced was common in the French administration, and he was fortunate to be able to remain in the same general region. These were Islamized areas with large nomadic populations whose relationships with the sedentary peoples were always difficult; the age-old struggle between nomad and peasant went on unabated. The former tended to dominate, and the young administrator interfered when he thought their rule overly harsh and arbitrary
Although Delavignette saw French rule as beneficent, he by no means shared the low respect for the local chiefs usually exhibited by French administrators. The sultans of the upper Sudan often had sophisticated governments with a firm control over their subjects. To ignore the traditional rulers seemed to him to invite chaos and anarchy. An administrator could not afford to take such risks. Delavignette’s early experience with traditional rule therefore convinced him that the French administration must prevent the worst abuses of cruelty and dishonesty in chiefs but nevertheless should respect and utilize the general institution of traditional rule 10. Delavignette’s ideas were probably an amalgam of his experience in the field and the example of the neighboring British in Nigeria. Although many French administrators were rather uninterested in the British or, for that matter, the experiences of other European nations in the colonies, Delavignette seems to have been well aware of them.
After serving in the Sahel region, Delavignette was transferred south to Upper Volta. In Ouagdougou he served as assistant to the district officer, the cercle commandant, the man on whom in the final analysis the efficacy of French rule depended. He administered regions varying in size and population. At the extremes were a small cercle like Cotonou in Dahomey, with only 85 square kilometers, and that of Timbuktu, 500,000 square kilometers (nearly as large as France, with its 540,000 square kilometers). In population, there were in 1927 ten cercles having fewer than 20,000 inhabitants and sixteen with more than 200,000. Most of the 115 cercles were somewhere in between these extremes 11. The very large districts were subdivided, and a junior administrator served as head of the subdivision.
The commandant had enormous power: he had both executive and judicial responsibilities; he tried cases and carried out sentences. Among his duties were to preserve order and to see that the regulations of the colony and the district were observed. He was involved in political actions such as choosing chiefs—an important function since the chiefs at the canton and at the lower village level were the African intermediaries through whom French authority filtered down. He sometimes had to act as diplomat, trying to reconcile differences between antagonistic clans or ethnic groups. He had to know something about agriculture, to help encourage the planting of various kinds of crops; he built bridges and roads; he took the census; he collected taxes; at times he even gave inoculations against epidemics.
To carry out his functions the commandant found he needed a growing staff at his headquarters. Delavignette was appointed to help fill this need in the cercle of Ougadougou, where he served from November 1925 to January 1927. Though he did not particularly like the red tape and dreariness of desk administration, he seems to have done well and his cercle commandant wrote in 1926: “This is a first-class official who will always be the right man, be it in the bush or in an office.” 12 After a leave Delavignette was assigned to the bush post of Banfora in Upper Volta, one of the three administrative subdivisions in the cercle of Bobo-Dioulasso. The cercle commandant in Bobo was responsible for the whole cercle, but direct responsibility rested with the chef de subdivision of Banfora: Delavignette. The region had a population of approximately 100,000. Each village had its own chief, and these in turn were responsible to an African appointed by the French, the chef de canton. There were nine such chiefs in the subdivision of Banforathese supervised by the chef de subdivision. As such, Delavignette had all the responsibilities of cercle commandant with the exception that he was formally responsible to the commandant located in Bobo-Dioulasso.
Banfora had been a turbulent region that the French had had considerable trouble controlling. In 1915 it was the scene of a violent uprising that had been put down only with the greatest difficulty. Using the common device of “divide and rule,” the French had brought in the Ouattara, a ruling clan from the Kong region of the Ivory Coast, to help suppress the inhabitants. As a reward for their efforts the Ouattara were made chiefs of the region. They were hated by the local inhabitants and in turn had utter contempt for the people over whom they had been given power. Forgetting that the French had put them in a position of authority, they felt they had a right to rule free of European intervention. When the French administrator of Banfora in late 1927, Livmann, fired a chef de canton in that district, the Ouattara precipitated violence; on January 3, 1928, Livmann was stabbed and had to be medically evacuated 13
It was under these difficult circumstances that Delavignette was appointed to head the Banfora subdivision. He had had previous experience with ethnic strife of various sorts, especially in Niger. By skillful diplomacy and a series of palavers with village elders he was able to arrest the would-be assassin and reestablish tranquility. Banfora was a poor region with few economic resources; the peasant lived at and sometimes below subsistence level. Delavignette saw his role as increasing their economic welfare as well as restoring tranquility in the region.
In the 1920s the colonial administration established seed cooperatives in West Africa; under government auspices millet and other foods were stored for the following year to insure that there would be sufficient seeds to plant. Delavignette actively encouraged the local peasantry to contribute to the cooperative. The world demand for peanuts was high and he saw in these legumes a cash crop that would give the people much needed money, so he toured his district preaching peanut cultivation. The peasants were naturally suspicious but overcame their reluctance. In 1927 450 tons were grown, and production increased nearly tenfold during the following two years: 8,000 tons were gathered in 1928 and 1929. Peanuts were exploited for their oil. They had to be pressed by hand, an inefficient method that yielded only half the oil of an industrial press. Delavignette helped bring an industrial press to Banfora 14, freeing much of the population from the back-breaking work of oil extraction. Thus, the laborers could concentrate on raising food crops or on increasing peanut production.
The success of the peanut harvests of 1928 and 1929 created a sense of well-being in the population. Delavignette’s espousal of cash crop production was very much a part of the concern of the interwar French administration. But unlike many of his colleagues, he made sure that his district produced more crops and he also saw to it that the newly created wealth went to the cultivators. In many districts the chiefs forcibly extracted labor from their subjects while withholding from them the fruits of their efforts. French administrators often condoned such behavior since they were interested only in high production figures for their district. But Delavignette was genuinely concerned for the peasants; by discussion rather than force, he seems to have convinced the chiefs and elders of the wisdom of letting all share in the newly created wealth. His understanding and empathy for the Africans turned him into a successful administrator. His authority was unquestioned. Delavignette’s methods were seen as a model and Covernor Jules Brévié summarized his colonial career as follows:

During his colonial assignments Delavignette has always acquired the best results at the head of the districts he has administered. Intelligent, energetic, having very good judgment and tact, and absorbed with his profession, he has acquired a profound knowledve of African affairs. A talented writer 15

As Brévié noted, Delavignette had become famous as an author. In 1926 he had written a semisatirical novel on French colonialism, Toum. Since such criticisms were not appreciated in the administration, and indeed even the publishing of general essays was frowned upon, he wrote under the pseudonym of Louis Faivre. Once his publications had received some acceptance, however, he published under his own name, and in 1931 authored the book that won him fame: Paysans noirs
The title of the book is significant. Frenchmen had become accustomed to thinking of the colonial peoples as faceless “natives.” Delavignette restored human dignity to them. He showed the Africans to be peasants, black peasants. He did not deny Africans their own personality, portraying them as inferior versions of French peasants. Although it was his knowledge of French peasantry that helped Delavignette understand that Africans were not uniform, they, too, had local traditions and beliefs that deserved respect. Like the French peasants, most Africans lived off the land; they were bound to it and their future depended upon how the soil was treated. The role of the French administration was to help develop that soil.
The administrator depicted in Paysans noirs respected the traditions of the elders and consulted them at length. By appealing to this tradition he sought support for the changes that were important if the community was to live at peace and in prosperity. Delavignette grasped what few colonial “developers” understood at the time, that ordinary people must themselves become convinced that change is to their benefit. Economic development should not be seen as a threat to a community’s way of life but as the key to its survival. Delavignette thought of change as a means of saving the village life while auguring a new era. Thus, the oil press in Banfora kept the young men from migrating southward by providing jobs. The community remained intact; the villages did not lose their young men. On the other hand, the new income received by wage workers allowed them to establish their own households and become more independent of their elders than had been the custom. A new, freer social organization was evolving. Humane administration would permit traditional societies to preserve much of their structure, but it was also creating a new Africa. Within African society there were forces susceptible of development and it was these forces that, according to Delavignette, the French presence should encourage and guide.
The role of the administrator was to deal with people not in the abstract but very personally, at the village level and down to the household. The whole community’s problems had become the administrator’s concerns. In this sense, as Delavignette later was to write, the colonial administration was a totalitarian system 16
The bulk of contemporary colonial literature was self-assured with regard to the white man’s mission overseas; Sanders of the River had no qualms about what he was doing. The mood of Paysans noirs was more hesitant. The characters described by Delavignette, white and black alike, were real human beings rather than heroes and villains, The white administrator at times was filled with self-doubt: had he misled his subjects, would in fact the rains come? Would the elders, so much wiser and experienced, listen to a man in his twenties whom they still considered a boy? What if all the efforts came to naught? 17 The attraction of the book was that it is a profoundly realistic colonial novel depicting in rich detail the life of Africans and of French administrators overseas. It was an immediate success and won the prize as the best colonial novel in 1931. The novel was made into a movie and in 1946 reprinted in a new edition.

Metropolitan Service

Delavignette’s health had not been good while he was in Africa. He had acquired chronic malaria, some of his war wounds acted up, and he suffered from a punctured eardrum. He was to become deaf in his right ear and later in life, at receptions at his home, one could always tell who was the guest of honor—the person sitting to his left. When the Agence économique pour l’Afrique occidentale française, located in Paris, offered him a post in 1931, he welcomed a stay in France to regain his health.
The position must have further tempted him since it allowed him to remain with his new bride, Annie Mairey, the widow of his geography teacher, who had been killed in World War I. Thirteen years his senior, she was a remarkable woman; for her generation she was very well educated, having received the baccalaureate, a rare feat for women before World War I. Her father was a schoolteacher and a member of the Socialist party in the city of Saint-Etienne, one of France’s industrial centers. Annie Mairey was brought up a Catholic and had at the same time developed strong socialist attachments. At the turn of the century, she married a lycée professor and socialist militant, Auguste Mairey, and had three children by him; the war left her a widow and she had to bring up her two remaining children (one died tragically in an accident) on the meager pension provided to war widows. When in 1920 the Socialist party split at the Tours conference she opted for the Communist majority and sat on the political bureau of the party, the first woman to do so. The party’s increasingly rigid position and its growing subservience to Moscow—the process usually described as Bolshevization—turned Annie Mairey against it. Furthermore, it became clear to her that she could not be a Communist and a Catholic at the same time. She left the party in 1924 but continued to have many friends who belonged to or who came from left-wing political circles.
During World War II the home of the Delavignettes was a haven for resistance members; Annie’s son Jean Mairey was to play a significant role in the resistance, becoming one of the seven commissioners of the republic—the superprefects appointed by de Gaulle to administer France after liberation. By her connection with academic circles from her first marriage and by her political associations, Annie Delavignette brought into their home people of intellect and sensitivity. Her husband seems to have enjoyed these visitors. But it would be hard to determine whether they or Annie had any direct influence on the shaping of Robert’s career and thought. They certainly constituted an intellectual reference group different from that which most colonial officials had. It probably made it easier for Robert Delavignette to develop his strongly independent ideas on the empire, which were not in conformity with the official doctrines of the day. Although everyone who knew the couple attest to their deep devotion to each other, they were both independent-minded individuals and Annie Delavignette does not seem to have influenced her husband’s thinking.
In 1931, newly married, Delavignette took the post at the Agence gconomique. The role of the agency was to attract investments to Africa and spread information about the continent. He was ideally suited for the latter role. The opening of the international colonial exhibition of 1931 was accompanied by the publication of an ambitious series of volumes on the empire. Delavignette was commissioned to author the volume on French West Africa 18. Beautifully illustrated with wood engravings, the book is written in the style that was Delavignette’s trademark. It is highly personal, revealing the experiences and feelings of the author, yet including all the official statistics usually expected of such volumes.
In a series of journal articles Delavignette wrote about the depression and its effect on Africa. The French government and people—he believed—should be concerned not only with the poverty of Europe but also with the misery of the African peasant. He argued that the African’s needs were in many ways more pressing; often lacking the most simple amenities such as a water well or an iron plow, the African was particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather and other uncontrollable forces. Delavignette advocated “small projects” such as the digging of a well or the installation of a water pump; they would have immediate impact on the daily lives of a village. Grandiose plans of dams, railroad networks, and ports were important, too, but they must not prevent the development of programs administering directly to human needs. In article after article he tried to educate the public about the needs of the colonies. If an empire united in purpose and goal was to be created, it had to share the experience of self-sacrifice. Delavignette scorned programs that sought to develop the colonies only the more readily to exploit them; what was needed, rather, was that people in the colonies experience a real improvement in their lot 19
In 1934, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the French conquest of the Sudan, Delavignette made an official journey to the Sudan and subsequently published his Soudan-Paris-Bourgogne. The thesis of this book is that the Sudan was as much a province of France as Delavignette’s own beloved Burgundy and. like it, had a right to its own life and personality. There was a symbiosis between these two provinces—Sudan and Burgundy—and Paris. They gave human meaning to the city; they both represented the historic verities of man, his age-old relationship with the soil, and the traditions of his ancestors. Paris was pointing to the future, but in order to gain wisdom and balance it needed to draw on the life of its provinces. As in Paysans noirs, Delavignette was able to combine a deep appreciation of tradition with commitment to change. Men’s lives could be improved by technology. The oil press in Banfora had helped enrich the peasants; the dam being built on the Niger would help irrigate new fields for the Sudanese peasant. But for his life to have meaning, the individual and the society of which he is a part has to have a culture, a central focus of beliefs. Thus, Delavignette did not advocate simply the substitution of French for African culture. Some aspects of French culture, for instance its technology, would be useful to Africans. But the culture exchange was not to go only in one direction. Frenchmen had much to learn from their compatriots overseas—their reverence for nature, their ability to live in harmony with it, and their spiritual values. By living together in a union in which each party would be allowed to preserve its own personality, the interchange of values would help enrich both cultures 20
As President Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal put it in a tribute published on the occasion of Delavignette’s seventieth birthday in 1967, “What makes Robert Delavignette a pioneer … is that in the colonial era itself he overcame the dichotomy white-black, Europe-Africa, in order to create a symbiosis.” 21 If he never quite spelled out what the future political configuration of the French empire might be, the general themes of his writings suggested a loose federation. Beginning in the 1930s, he went against common thinking on colonial questions, anticipating the evolution of the empire by more than a decade.
Delavignette also departed from contemporary orthodoxies in other ways. Western educated Africans, he argued, should play an important role in the African parts of the new federation. Such views were at variance with the attitude of French administrators, who were as a rule hostile to the évolués. For all their foibles, the évo1ués, Delavignette was convinced, were the symbol of successful assimilation, an example of the future Franco-African community 22. In his personal relations in Paris in the 1930s and the following decades, Delavignette was to have close friendships with many of the outstanding African intellectuals residing in Paris 23
Having won a reputation for his advocacy of overseas reform, Delavignette was asked to collaborate in the ministry of colonies under the Popular Front government that had come to power in June 1936, supported by France’s three largest political parties of the left—the Socialists, Radicals, and Communists. Delavignette never formally joined a political party, but it would be fair to label him a liberal Catholic; in the 1930s and the following decade he was to be an active contributor to the liberal Catholic journal L’Esprit, edited by Emmanuel Mounier. Although objecting to being labeled a disciple of Mounier, in many ways Delavignette paralleled the thought of the distinguished Catholic liberal in his social conscience and deep concern for the social and spiritual disruptions caused by the industrial revolution 24. The new minister of colonies, Marius Moutet, was a Socialist with a reputation as a critic of colonial abuse. As a result of the influence of a common acquaintance, the Socialist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, who as an ethnologist knew Delavignette and recommended him to his Socialist comrade, Moutet decided to appoint Delavignette as his chef de cabinet. Socialists in the colonial service were still rare in the 1930s, and appointment of a Socialist chef de cabinet might have alienated the service even further from Moutet, who was regarded with some suspicion since he was the first Socialist to occupy the position. The minister probably thought it useful to attach to himself a man known for his liberal inclinations who was not a member of the party.
As chef de cabinet, Delavignette’s main responsibility was to prepare the files for ministerial decisionmaking and screen the letters and people the minister should personally see. Though formally the chef de cabinet was outranked by directors of various services, his position of proximity to the minister made him nevertheless important. After World War I the ministry of colonies was divided into bureaus organized along functional lines; thus, there was a bureau of political affairs, one on personnel, one on economic affairs. Each bureau was headed by a senior official with the title of director. The most powerful of these was the director of political affairs; since nearly every decision overseas had political implications he was carefully listened to.
Delavignette as chef de cabinet spent most of his time on the daily chores of preparing files for his minister, but he seems to have played a direct role in the establishment of a “program of small works,” which he had advocated throughout the 1930s—small projects of great import to people in a village, such as digging a well or supplying tools and seeds 25. In political decisions he seems not to have had as much impact as he would have liked; the director of political affairs, Gaston Joseph, who was also an old African hand, usually won the minister’s ear. Joseph had been in the ministry for a long time; in the face of ever increasing agitation in Indochina he advocated repression. Moutet himself was ambivalent toward the overseas areas; although he desired reform, he feared the nationalist movements and was determined not to lose the empire for France 26. In recognition of his services, Delavignette obtained the rank of governor in 1937, a distinction normally granted only to senior overseas administrators but occasionally bestowed on distinguished senior civil servants at the ministry.

Ecole Coloniale

In the same year, Delavignette received a new assignment; he was appointed director of the Ecole nationale de la France d’outre-mer (ENFOM). This training institution for colonial administrators had been founded in 1887, and for over a generation was a colorless and little regarded body that educated but a small proportion of the men serving in the colonial service. After World War I the ministry of colonies required that all men entering the corps of colonial administrators have some training at the school, and in 1926 it acquired a new director, Georges Hardy, who freed the future administrators from much of the traditional legal curriculum and stressed courses that would more closely reflect the realities of overseas life, such as languages and ethnology.
Two directors served for short and undistinguished terms after Hardy. Delavignette, however, built on Hardy’s accomplishments, placing further emphasis on a curriculum reflecting the overseas evolution. He hired distinguished ethnologists such, as Marcel Griaule and Jacques Soustelle. African language teachers were also brought to the school: Diori Hamani, who taught Hausa, and later Léopold Sédar Senghor to teach Mandingo languages—both of them gifted men who in 1960 became presidents of their newly independent countries.
The school created a young group of administrators more in touch with colonial realities than their predecessors. But Delavignette himself helps explain the excitement and sense of commitment that animated the young graduates of ENFOM. He had close contacts with his students, frequently having them to his home and introducing them to his African friends. Several former students named their sons after him, and long after they had left ENFOM they continued to correspond with their former teacher. These contacts undoubtedly helped Delavignette to be so well informed on the evolution of the empire even after he had ceased to go overseas. Dozens of his correspondents throughout the empire—former students—continually apprised him of what was going on at their levels of the administration, information rarely reflected in the public media and even less in official reports to the ministry of overseas France.
Delavignette’s basic concepts as teacher and administrator are summarized in his book Les vrais chefs de 1empire published in 1939, This book, clumsily butchered by French wartime censorship, was reprinted in its entirety in 1946 as Service africain; four years later it was translated into English as Freedom and Authority in French West Africa. Much like Paysans noirs, it is the account of the life of the cercle commandants, who, according to Delavignette, were the real chiefs of the empire. In addition, the book was a programmatic statement of the duties and responsibilities of the administrator. He is to command and exercise his authority the better to serve the people under his rule. He must respect the culture of the Africans but also bring to them the technology and gift for organization of the Western world. He must realize that the colonies are changing, moving away from their traditions and developing a new culture. The Africans who had obtained schooling in Western institutions and culture would be the new leaders of Africa; these earnest young men wanted to play a role in the new Africa that was developing. Though it was common for many European administrators to scorn educated Africans, Delavignette welcomed them as representatives of the new Africa. In Banfora in the late 1920s Delavignette had been friends with the young Voltaic schoolteacher of the town, Ouezzin Coulibally, who later became political leader of the territory. He counted Léopold Senghor among his friends, and in the book Service africain acclaimed him as the representative of the newly emerging African man; in 1945 each dedicated articles to the other 27
Service africain is a guide and program for future administrators; to those already in the field it voiced their professional credo, spelling out the mission of the colonial administrator 28. In his writings and teachings at ENFOM Delavignette stressed French responsibility to the Africans and the need to understand their evolution by being in tune with the times. With this, it has been argued, Delavignette prepared a generation of administrators to cope with decolonization 29. His directorship at ENFOM ended in 1946 with his appointment as high commissioner to the Cameroons.

High Commissioner

The Cameroons, which had been a German colony in 1914, was seized by England and France during World War I, the latter occupying the larger eastern part and the rest being occupied by Great Britain. After the war all former German colonies were declared mandates under the supervision of the League of Nations, and France was confirmed as virtual ruler of Cameroons by being given mandate power over the area it had occupied during the war. France had to account to the League for its rule, but otherwise its administration was generally unimpeded.
Important changes occurred during World War II, however, that weakened French control. The Free French under General de Gaulle had seized the Cameroons, and it played an important role in the fight against both Vichy and the Germans. The control of the Free French over the Cameroons and French Equatorial Africa was for a while the only territorial claim to legitimacy that they possessed. The participation of Africans in the Free French war effort both as soldiers and as laborers providing needed wartime staples put the French in their debt. To broaden their authority during the war, the Free French allowed a greater participation in political affairs, which whetted the appetite of educated Africans for further responsibilities. In both the British and the French empire the end of the war unleashed among the educated colonial elite a sense of a new era dawning. Many wanted independence; others insisted on at least enjoying equal rights with Europeans resident in the colonies. Neither the colonial administration nor the settlers living overseas, however, were cognizant of the profound changes in attitude that had occurred as a result of the second world war.
Frustrations of various sorts, including economic ones, beset a number of overseas territories, and the Cameroons was no exception 30. In the autumn of 1945 a series of violent labor demonstrations had broken out that deteriorated into fullscale rioting; the governor was physically assaulted and French air force officers bombed and strafed Africans. Nine persons were killed and twenty wounded. Political ferment seemed to reach an all-time high; the prewar youth movement, the Jeunesse camerounaise française, now transformed itself into a political party, the Union camerounaise française 31
Internationally French control over the territory also seemed threatened. The draft of the French constitution of 1945 provided for full integration of French overseas territories with the metropole. But the United Nations Charter elaborated in San Francisco in April 1945 forbade such integration and gave the trusteeship council considerable control over the former mandates. Would France be allowed to administer the Cameroons; furthermore, could it be retained as part of the French empire? In considering these problems French colonial ministers vacillated between foolhardy boldness and timidity. Jacques Soustelle, minister at the end of 1945, thought the Cameroonian problem could be solved by dismantling the Cameroons, by having the territory divided up between the neighboring French colonies of Chad and Gabon. His successor in early 1945, Moutet, was afraid that the United Nations would not even name France as trustee of the Cameroons; he thought that at best France might be able to retain the territory by joining the British in a condominium rule over the ancient Germany colony of Kamerun (which, in addition to French Cameroons, was comprised of the British Cameroons administratively joined to Nigeria). It was only in December 1946, when the United Nations General Assembly approved the French trusteeship over the Cameroons, that the French were able to breathe a sigh of relief; they would be allowed to keep the territory and administer it very much like the other French territories; the legal fiction of its separateness could be maintained by declaring it an associated overseas territory 32
By December 1946 the danger of losing the Cameroons had apparently passed, but at the end of 1945 it had seemed like a real possibility. To win for France a sympathetic hearing in the United Nations, it was important that violence of the kind that had broken out in the autumn of 1945 not recur, and the minister of overseas France turned to Delavignette to serve as high commissioner. Moutet, who had worked closely with Delavignette during the Popular Front government, trusted him. To the people of the Cameroons and to the United Nations this appointment would be an indication of the willingness of France to introduce reform.
Delavignette was a Catholic, and that was probably also useful. The missions were a strong force in the Cameroons; in 1946 there were 500,000 Catholics and 200,000 Protestants. As a result of the League of Nations mandate, mission activity had been tolerated to a far greater extent than in other colonies (especially the activities of foreign missionaries). The missions had come to play an especially important role in education, and Moutet seems to have desired greater state control over them; if Delavignette were to carry out such functions he could not readily be accused of being anticlerical. Also, Catholicism was politically important; there was a strong Catholic union movement and the French Catholic political party, the Mouvement républicain populaire (MRP), had reason to believe that the Cameroons would be its political bailiwick (both deputies elected to the Constituent Assembly in October 1945 belonged to the MRP). A minimum of political tensions would occur if the high commissioner were of the same political persuasion. All these considerations seem to have played a role in the appointment of Delavignette. It was his first overseas assignment in fourteen years.
When he came to the Cameroons, he faced serious problems. The colonial administration was set in its ways and failed to understand the political and economic evolution that had been accelerated by the war. Shortly after arriving he told his subordinates in a strongly worded circular:

If you resent your loss of personal or public authority because there is a representative assembly, because your subordinates are unionized, because the indigénat code is suppressed, because you no longer possess judicial powers, because the Cameroons of 1946 no longer is that of 1920, you are really demanding the impossible. Catch up with the times 33

The settlers were another group resistant to change. The Cameroons had a well-organized European population; in 1946 there were 2,500 Europeans, of whom 1,700 were French. These settlers were wary of African participation in politics. Under the proposed constitution of the Fourth Republic, each overseas territory was to have a territorial assembly and send deputies to Paris. They were elected by two electoral colleges, the first consisting of Europeans and a few assimilés, the second of the mass of Africans. The first college in April 1946 elected seventeen European members of the territorial assembly and the Africans elected seventeen of their own. Even though the first electoral college had a disproportionate number of European representatives, seventeen for a few thousand voters, whereas the seventeen Africans represented 12,000 Africans—the group enfranchised out of the 3 million inhabitants—the settlers feared that they would not be preponderant. They demanded that their representatives form a separate assembly apart from the Africans, a kind of upper house that would have veto power over the African assembly. Delavignette refused to bow to settler pressure, insisting that the two assemblies meet jointly. He thus prevented exacerbation of a tense political situation, for the Africans would undoubtedly have vigorously protested administrative collusion with the settlers. The Cameroons was the first overseas territory to have a territorial assembly established, and it may well be true—as Delavignette claimed in his memoirs—that his insistence on a single chamber helped set the model for other territories 34
The year 1946 was a difficult one for the French in black Africa; it witnessed a transition from the old, prewar, authoritarian regime to a more liberal one. In addition to the establishment of African political participation (even if limited), other reforms were carried out: forced labor was abolished as was the indig9nat system, which had given French administrators special disciplinary powers; the rights to free speech and unionization were affirmed. This freer atmosphere led to exaggerated fears by Europeans that their authority was breaking down and that the Africans no longer compelled by forced labor and other forms of constraint would cease working. In a speech to the territorial assembly Delavignette insisted, however, that “the old paternalist organization … must cede to a new organization founded on the principle of collaboration” between Africans and Europeans 35. This collaboration was difficult, for as Delavignette wrote a friend, “There are Europeans here who are behind the times by twenty years and évolués [European-educated Africans] who are ahead by fifty.” 36 It was important to do everything possible to bring these antagonistic groups together; little in that way had been done before. Delavignette was the first high commissioner of the Cameroons to give a reception to which both white and blacks were invited.
The economic task of developing the Cameroons, Delavignette believed, would do a lot to ease the tense political situation. Also, the stark conditions of the Cameroonian population needed to be remedied; in the urban centers most lived in slums, and those on the land barely eked out a living. Before leaving Paris, Delavignette went to see the minister of finance, André Philip, to ask for funds. The French treasury was empty and the minister received him amiably, saying: “All I can do for you, if you smoke a pipe, is to share with you my tobacco pouch.” 37 A month after arriving in the Cameroons, however, Delavignette received news of an ambitious overseas development program, FIDES (Fonds d’investissement pour le développement économique et social des territoires d’outre-mer). He helped set the first plan of FIDES for the Cameroons; it was to concentrate on the infrastructure of the territory, 85.3 percent of the expenditures going to that segment of the economy during the first plan, which lasted until 1954 38. Roads, bridges, railroads, telecommunication facilities, ports, and hydroelectric plants were built.
Delavignette’s success in reducing political conflicts in Cameroons, the smooth manner in which social and political reforms had been introduced, and the economic improvements that he brought to the territory led the United Nations Trusteeship Council in 1947 to congratulate France for its accomplishments 39. Years later, when the Cameroons attained independence, its political leaders seemed to recognize his contributions by inviting him to attend independence day celebrations. Delavignette’s record was so outstanding that he was promoted to governor-general—a rank usually given only to the head of a federation who has several governors serving under him, but also an honorary distinction.

Delavignette and Decolonization

When Delavignette had completed a year’s service in the Cameroons, Moutet recalled him to Paris to serve as director of political affairs at the ministry of overseas France (the new name for the ministry of colonies). He was now the highest permanent official in the ministry and occupied a key office during a critical period of French colonial rule. During the late 1940s few Frenchmen, not even the Communists, anticipated that the French empire would not survive another two decades. But already there was widespread unrest. On the very day when Delavignette took over his new office, March 29, 1947, a bloody revolt broke out in Madagascar. He sanctioned the attempt to reestablish order, which led to terrible excesses. His reaction to Malagasy nationalism may have been different from what it would be toward other national movements in the French empire because he was intellectually unprepared for the outbreak. Elsewhere, in Indochina and North Africa for instance, important nationalist movements had developed before World War II; it was not difficult, therefore, to grasp the nature of anti-French agitation. In Madagascar, where there had been no such movements since the turn of the century, such activity could be more easily dismissed as a mindless outbreak of violence. It is also possible that Delavignette, faced by revolt on the very day that he took office, instinctively ordered the restoration of order; to preserve order was the minimal expectation of any colonial official.
Delavignette, however, showed considerable understanding with regard to Indochina possibly because the evolution of a strong nationalist consciousness there had already been well known in the 1930s. Unlike Madagascar, Indochina had been severed from France during World War II, when the Japanese occupied the country. Upon defeat, Japan evacuated Indochina during the interim before the French had a chance to return; the nationalist movement headed by Ho Chi Minh was established and claimed control over Vietnam. The French were at first ambiguous in their relationship to Ho, but very soon fighting broke out. Filled with illusions, French officials prosecuted the long colonial war hoping to find some alternative to a Ho Chi Minh victory.
Delavignette was one of the few officials who understood the extent to which the changes of the interwar era, the second world war, and then finally the Indochina war itself had transformed the colonial relationship. In a series of courageous memoranda he explained to his superiors that the Vietnamese wanted genuine independence. The relationship between Frenchmen and Vietnamese had become not unlike that of Germans and Frenchmen in World War II. Attitudes had changed, and the Vietnamese now saw the French as foreign occupiers. Delavignette did not advocate outright abandonment of Indochina, but he pointed out the difficulty inherent in French insistence on remaining in their Asian colony 40
The war in Indochina led to the transfer of French policymaking from the ministry of overseas France to the generals in Saigon or the ministry of war in Paris. Thus, the role of the overseas ministry diminished in Asia, and Delavignette’s ideas had little influence. In any case, in 1951 he left the ministry to return to ENFOM as a teacher. His role as a policymaker had ended.


Although no longer with the ministry of overseas France, Delavignette was still very much concerned with overseas developments. He had never served in North Africa, but in the early 1950s, he viewed French policy toward that region with increasing alarm. In Tunisia and Morocco nationalist opinion had made itself increasingly heard, and the only French response had been repression. A group of French Catholic intellectuals, led by François Mauriac, formed the Comité France-Maghreb, which advocated negotiation with the nationalists and the granting of some form of independence. Delavignette was a prominent member of this committee.
Many liberal Frenchmen could envision the independence of Tunisia and Morocco; after all, they were legally protectorates. But Algeria was different: it was technically an integral part of France and was considered fully assimilated to the metropole. In fact, however, the Muslim population did not enjoy the same political rights granted to the European settlers in Algeria or to the citizens of the metropole, and most Algerian Muslims were considerably worse off economically than their Christian compatriots. Muslim grievances could easily be channeled into nationalist agitation, especially since a similar mood had developed in neighboring Morocco and Tunisia. On the night of November 1, 1954, a small group of Algerian nationalists began the uprising that was to become the Algerian war.
Many institutions were to deal with the Algerian uprising. In the summer of 1955 the economic and social council, a high-level government advisory body, took up the Algerian question. Delavignette was a member of the council and authored its lengthy report spelling out the need for a massive French commitment to achieve the social and economic progress of Algeria. Implicit in the report was the notion that such a pledge might curtail the spread of Algerian nationalism 41. Thus, while making clear the social matrix from which the rebellion sprung, he, too, underestimated the nationalist convictions underlying the revolt and hoped that if France carried out a genuinely egalitarian policy in Algeria, vdth all the sacrifices such a policy implied, the territory could be saved for France.
In an attempt to control the uprising the French army instituted a police state in Algeria. The wholesale denial of human rights and the use of torture became so well publicized that in 1957, under considerable public pressure, the government appointed a commission for the protection of individual rights and liberties to investigate the accusations made against the army and administration in Algeria. Delavignette was appointed a member of the commission, which he regarded as France’s conscience in Algeria. He was committed to the notion that the total truth would be most salutary to France’s colonial mission. Anything else would poison the political system both overseas and at home. However, he soon realized that the commission report would fail to clarify the extent to which the authorities in both Paris and Algeria had prior knowledge of the use of torture and other illegal activities and were unwilling to right the abuses that had been committed. He resigned in protest, having filed a severe report indicating the systematic disregard for human rights that had developed in Algeria. He also publicly spoke out on the question 42
In regard to black Africa, Delavignette was sympathetic toward the reforms instituted in 1956-1957, which led to internal autonomy in the overseas territories and which, from 1958 to 1960, led to independence 43. Although many administrators had difficulty adjusting to these changes, Delavignette welcomed them because they would inaugurate a new era of full legal equality between France and its former overseas dependencies 44. He was eager to contribute, no matter how modestly, to the success of the newly independent states. In 1959 ENFOM had been converted to a training school for African administrators, and Delavignette returned to teach-as he had in times pastthe men who were to rule Africa 45
With the end of the empire he attempted to put the whole imperial experience in perspective and wrote books and articles trying to sum up what French rule had meant for both Africa and the metropole. He also continued an old theme: the duty and responsibility of Frenchmen to their fellow human beings in Africa. Decolonization had not diminished the moral obligation of a richer and more technically advanced society to help those less well endowed materially. Nor was there any less reason to learn from African culture those ethical values and esthetic perceptions that could enrich French civilization 46
Insisting on the fact that the French had contributed to the history and development of modern Africa, Delavignette had also been instrumental in advancing French knowledge of Africa. His writings conveyed to Frenchmen a better understanding of the traditional aspects of Africa, the world of the black peasant, and of the new and evolving continent with its modern cities, universities, dams, and ambitions for the future. Delavignette had seen in the French empire an institution that affirmed the unity of men by creating a symbiosis between various cultures. After the collapse of empires built upon force, he saw the opportunity of building new relationship on universal human values.
At the same time, he attempted to preserve the bonds that he first established with Africa over half a century ago. In 1974 he was still corresponding with the chief of Banfora who had been village elder when Delavignette had been the administrator there 47. He kept very much abreast of current affairs in Africa, interrogating recent visitors to the continent on economic and political developments. When drought hit the Sahel in the late 1960s and early 1970s Delavignette was active in soliciting funds for aid to the region 48
On February 4, 1976, aged seventy-nine, Robert Delavignette died after a long illness. He was one of the most distinguished members of that generation of administrators whom Maurice Delafosse called broussard, the bush administrator, the man who was as much an African as a European 49. By his life and writings Delavignette had tried to exemplify this ability to span two cultures. It is not surprising that President Senghor said that he thought of Delavignette “with piety.” 50

1. Georges Balandier, “Robert Delavignette, un libéral obstiné,” Le Monde, 10 February 1976.
2. His childhood is evoked in Birama (Paris, 1955) and in an unpublished fragment of his memoirs entitled “La classe et la cour.”
3. Gaston Roupnel, Histoire de la campagne francaise (Paris, 1932); Auguste Mairey, Géographie générale (Paris, 1911); idem, special texts on the colonies, La France et ses colonies (Paris, 1902).
4. “La Classe et la cour,” p. 23.
5. Robert Delavignette, Freedom and Authority in French West Africa (London, 1950), pp. 9-11.
6. Retold in his unpublished memoirs, “L’offrande de l’étranger: Mémoires d’une Afrique française,” pp. 71-72.
7. Delavignette, Freedom and Authority, pp. 9-11.
8. Personnel file, 1C 1143, Archives de l’Afrique occidentale française, Dakar (hereinafter cited AAOF).
9. On the Barmou, where Delavignette served in 1923, “Rapport politique, ler trimestre Niger, 1923,” Niger 2G 23-24, and personnel files, 1C 763, 1C 1143, and 1C 685, AAOF.
10. Robert Delavignette, “Les chefs noirs,” Le Temps, 4 June 1931; ibid., 10 September 1931; idem, “La politique et l’administration indigènes en A.O.F.,” Afrique francaise (hereinafter cited AF) 43 (January 1933):7-11; idem, Freedom and Authority, pp. 71-84.
11. “Documentation d’ordre administratif, politique, social, et économique de l’AOF,” 1927, 17G 161, AAOF; Georges Spitz, L’Ouest africain français (Paris, 1947), p. 90.
12. File 1C 1143, AAOF.
13. “Haute-Volta, résumé du rapport politique annuel, 1928,” Haute-Volta, 2G28/15, AAOF.
14. “Rapport agricole annuel, 1928, Haute-Volta,” 2G28/38, pp. 181-190, AAOF.
15. May 1932 note in file 1C 1069, AAOF.
16. Delavignette, Freedom and Authority, p. 22.
17. Robert Delavignette, Paysans noirs (Paris, 1931), p. 71.
18. Afrique occidentale française (Paris, 1931).
19. Robert Delavignette, “Le dispensaire au grenier,” Le Temps, 15 January 1932; idem, “L’esprit africain,” ibid., 8 August 1933; idem, “Mise en valeur africaine,” ibid., 19 September 1933; idem, “Le dynamisme de l’AOF,” Afrique française 42 (1932):578-579; idem, “L’esprit africain, l’Afrique occidentale française, et la conférence de Londres,” AF 43 (1933):336-337; idem, “Le bourgeois français an XIXe siècle et les colonies noires,” AF 45 (1935):279-282; idem, “Action colonisatrice et paysannat indigène,” ibid.:526-530; idem, “Les idées et les actes en A.O.F., I,” Journal de débats (hereinafter cited JDD) (9 December 1934); idem, “Les idées et les actes en A.O.F., IV,” JDD (22 December 1934).
20. Robert Delavignette, Soudan-Paris-Bourgogne (Paris, 1935).
21. Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Un gouverneur humaniste,” Revue Française d’histoire d’outre-mer, 54 (1967):26.
22. Robert Delavignette, “Lettre pour ceux qui ne savent pas lire,” Le Temps, 10 March 1932; idem, “La médecine en A.O.F. — L’école de médecine de Dakar,” La Revue mondiale (15 March 1934):15-19; idem, “Le Dahomey à travers ses journaux,” AF 45 (1935):232-235; idem, “La vie quotidienne et les feuilles locales,” JDD (13 August 1933); idem, “Le théatre de Gorée et la culture franco-africaine,” AF 47 (1937):471-472.
23. Paul Hazoumé, the Dahomean writer, has depicted the role Delavignette’s home played in the easy interchange of ideas between Frenchmen and Africans, “Souvenirs d’un Africain sur Monsieur Robert Delavignette,” Revue Française d’histoire doutre-mer 54 (1967):31-38.
24. Delavignette contributed a short essay in a memorial publication, 1950-1975: Vingt-cinq Ans après la mort de Mounier — Témoignages, a special issue of Bulletin des amis de E. Mounier 44-45 (October 1975):22-23.
25. Robert Delavignette, “La politique de Marius Moutet au Ministère des colonies,” Actes du colloque Léon Blum, chef de gouvernement, 1936-1937 (Paris, 1967), pp. 391-394.
26. William B. Cohen, “The Colonial Policy of the Popular Front,” French Historical Studies 7, no. 3 (Spring 1972):285-286.
27. Delavignette, Freedom and Authority; idem, “L’union française à l’échelle du monde, à la mesure de l’homme,” L’Esprit 13 (July 1945):214-236; Leopold Sédar Senghor, “Vues sur l’Afrique noire, ou assimiler, non être assimilés,” in Robert Lemaignen et al., La communauté impériale française (Paris, 1945), pp. 57-98.
28. Jean-Claude Froelich, “Delavignette et le service africain,” Revue française d’histoire d’outre-mer 54 (1967):44-51.
29. Pierre Kalck, “Robert Delavignette et la décolonisation,” ibid.:52-64; Charles André Julien, “Le jubilé du gouverneur-général Robert Delavignette,” Le Monde, 20 February 1969; interview with Pierre Alexandre, 13 October 1965.
30. On the demographic impact and changes in Duala, for instance, see Victor T. Levine, The Cameroons: From Mandate to Independence (Berkeley, 1964), pp. 53-57; David E. Gardinier, “Political Behavior in the Community of Duala, Cameroon: Reaction of the Duala People to Loss of Hegemony, 1944-1955,” Ohio University: Papers in International Studies, no. 3 (Athens, 1966).
31. Levine, Cameroons, p. 145.
32. The best survey of the Cameroon mandate problem after World War II is David E. Gardinier, Cameroon-United Nations Challenge to French Policy (London, 1963), pp. 1-52; the condominium plan was anticipated to such an extent that Delavignette appointed as an aide an administrator from the New Hebrides who had had experience with the condominium relationship there. Interview with Delavignette, summer 1975.
33. Circular, May 1946, reprinted in Ministère des colonies, Bulletin d’information (17 June 1646).
34. Delavignette, chapter 2, entitled “Une vie politique nouvelle,” in an early draft of unpublished memoirs.
35. Speech of 30 April 1946, Journal officiel du Cameroun français (15 May 1946):618.
36. Delavignette to Lacharrière, Duala, 23 November 1946, Delavignette Archives.
37. Delavignette, “L’offrande de l’étranger,” p. 307.
38. Gardinier, Cameroon, pp. 29-30.
39. Notes et études documentaires (19 August 1949):24.
40. “Note pour monsieur le ministre Paul Coste-Floret, 17 July 1948”; memorandum, 22 February 1949; “Note pour monsieur le ministre, 24 March 1949”; “Indochine, 29 October 1949”; “Note sur la situation an Viet-nam, 30 April 1950.” All in the Delavignette Archives.
41. “Rapport sur la situation économique et sociale de l’Algérie,” Conseil économique, Journal officiel (5 July 1955):325-357.
42. The text of the report and some of his public positions on the Algerian war after resignation from the committee are reprinted in Pierre Vidal-Naquet, La raison d’Etat (Paris, 1962), pp. 168-184. The damage the war had done to France was a theme he returned to often; Robert Delavignette.
L’Afrique noire française et son destin (Paris, 1962) p. 176; idem, “Le pus dans la plaie,” La Croix. 30 March 1972.
43. Immediately after the war he had pointed to that kind of development already in Robert Delavignette, “Le procès de la colonisation frangaise,” Renaissance, no. 15 (25 October 1945):14-21: idem, “L’union française et le problème constitutionnel,” Politique 1, n.s. (15 November 1945):413-427; typical of his later position in favor of an increasing autonomy for the overseas territories within the framework of the French union, idem, “La croissance économique des territoires d’outre-mer,” Semaines sociales de France, Dijon 1952 (Paris, 1952), pp. 213-229, and his attitude toward independence in idem, “Les transformations politiques et sociales impliquées par le développement,” Semaines sociales de France, Angers 1959 (Paris, 1959), pp. 297-311.
44. See Delavignette’s L’Afrique noire française and Du bon usage de la décolonisation (Paris, 1968).
45. He paid tribute to his new students in idem, “Randonnée africaine en terre de Gaule,” Nouvelle Revue française (1963):792-811.
46. Idem, “Tiers monde sans tiers état,” Revue de Paris 72 (1965):82-91; idem, Du bon usage
47. Hema Fedma to Delavignette, Banfora, 29 July 1974, Delavignette Archives.
48. Robert Delavignette, “Famine africaine: Signe pour notre temps,” La Croix 17-18 June 1973.
49. Maurice Delafosse, Broussard, ou les états d’âme d’un colonial (Paris, 1922).
50. Senghor, “Un gouverneur humaniste,” p. 25.

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