Seminar: Politics and Prophecy: Imagining the World in French Equatorial Africa, 1940-1960

André MatsouaBarthélémy Boganda
  André Matsoua (left) and Barthélémy Boganda (right)

The historiography of French Equatorial Africa (AEF) and its decolonization has long been dominated by a colonial view that privileges events and French (colonial) imaginaries. In doing so, it has ignored how people in AEF themselves made sense of the process of rapid socio-political change, how they understood themselves as actors within this process and how they translated this into political agencies and actions.

In this seminar, the speakers will focus on discourses of meaning-giving and political agency in late colonial AEF. By looking at two political leaders, André Matsoua and Barthélémy Boganda, and the support they rallied, the speakers provide insight into how people made sense of the rapid socio-political changes around them and how they participated in this process. A religious-political discourse, which builds on the strong tradition of Messianic politics and leadership in the Equatorial region and which employs the metaphysical to render meaning to the ‘political’, has shaped unique modalities of political agitation in the run-up to independence. By analysing the political action of Matsoua and Boganda, the speakers elaborate the nature of political experience of AEFians, which differed fundamentally from how this was understood by French colonial administrators. This offers an analytical lens through which we can understand processes of social and political change in Equatorial Africa.

Klaas van WalravenMeike de Goede

Dr. Meike de Goede has a PhD in international relations. Her current research focuses the late colonial and early post-colonial period in French Equatorial Africa. She is particularly interested in the history of the rapport between the late colonial and early post-colonial state.

Dr. Klaas van Walraven is a historian and political scientist. He has written extensively on the history of Niger and is currently engaged in biographical research centring on Barthélémy Boganda and political life in French Equatorial Africa (1910-1960).

Date, time and location

12 May 2016
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 3A06 (3rd floor)