Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Stamp Collection : BENIN-DAHOMEY

Historical Background

The area that is now the Republic of Benin is in a unique geographic area of the West Coast of Africa, where the dense jungle coverage along the coast is broken by a less dense area of savannah stretching along the coast of what is now approximately Ghana, Togo, Benin and Western Nigeria.  This environmental region allowed for the development of denser concentrations of population and would eventually provide an alternative trade route between the Niger Valley and the Atlantic Ocean.


The history of what is now Benin before the irruption of the West into the region in the fifteenth century is not well documented, and seems to have been characterized by the existence of a plethora of chiefdoms formed in the wake of various population migrations.  At the time of the arrival of Portuguese traders in the region, the most powerful kingdom along the coast was that of Great Ardra, a confederation of three chiefdoms formed by the Aja-speaking peoples who migrated from lands further to the West in earlier centuries.  In the seventeenth century disputes among different clans would lead one group of Aja to move inland to establish a new state. Intermixing with local Yoruba-speaking clans in the region around Abomey, this group would eventually come to be known as the Fon. 


Further to the north other ethnic communities had carved out chiefdoms or were under the influence of the more powerful Muslim empires of the Niger Valley (Mali and later Songhai).  It would also be in this region that the Bariba peoples would establish an interlinked series of states that recognized the political leadership of the chiefs (later emirs after the adoption of Islam) at Nikki that would stretch to the Niger River into what is now Northwestern Nigeria and would come to be known in the 19th century as the Borgu Emirate.


The arrival of the Portuguese into the region in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries would radically transform the political and economic landscape of the region.  At first hoping to use access to the region as a way to tap into the riches of the Niger Valley empires, the establishment of slave colonies in first Portuguese and later other European colonies in the Americas would lead to the region coming to be known as "The Slave Coast."  In the seventeenth century the major European powers established forts from which to channel the slaves gathered by the native rulers (usually via wars among neighbors).  In what is now Benin, the principle slave port would be Whydah (Ouidah), access to which would be fought over among the the various European powers while bringing great wealth to the Ardra Rulers.


A completely new dynamic would arise in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century with the rise of the Fon Kingdom centered inland at Abomey, from which the European merchants on the coast would derive the name "Dahomey" for the kingdom.  Expanding in all directions, the kings of the Fon would trade war captives with European slavers in exchange for weapons, revolutionizing the geopolitical situation of the region.  Desiring direct access to the Europeans, in 1727 the Fon King Agaja seized Whydah and annexed it to his kingdom, gaining access to the sea.  Now in complete control over the Aja-speaking regions, Agaja and his heirs looked to expand their influence further, coming into conflict with the powerful Yoruba kingdom of Oyo that dominated much of what is now Southwestern Nigeria.  A series of campaigns produced thousands of captives for the slavers, but in the end the Fon would be defeated by Oyo and forced to accept Oyo overlordship in 1730.  For the remainder of the century the Fon Kings would work to try and end its enforced subservience, leading to more smaller-scale wars that helped feed European demand for African slaves.


The end of the slave trade in the nineteenth century would once again transform the geopolitical balance in the region.  No longer exporting war captives, the Kings of the Fon used slaves to produce natural resource exports that were in increasing demand in the West in wake of the industrial revolution. In particular, the demand for palm oil, which was used extensively as a lubricant for machinery, would lead to dramatic increases in the amount of "legitimate" trade conducted through Whydah and other ports.  The Fon kings attempted to control this trade to the benefit of his state, which would soon cause peoples on the coast to become restless under the "burden" of Fon rule.  By the 1870s, the predominant European trade power engaged with the Fon kingdom was France, and while in the 1850s treaties between France and Fon regulated commerce under Fon control, the French merchants in the region began to support attempts by coastal peoples to break free of Fon dominance.  In 1882 the local chief of the port of Porto-Novo rebelled against Fon king Glele and received French protection. The result would be increasing tensions between Fon and the French. Then in 1889, with the accession of the aggressive, anti-French Behanzin to the Fon throne, the French claimed a protectorate over the port of Cotonou.  The result was war, and in spite of fierce Fon resistance (including the use of the famous "Amazons," special corps of female Fon warriors trained to be full soldiers in the Fon army), by 1894 the French had completely destroyed to power of Fon and proclaimed the establishment of the Protectorate of Dahomey.


Further to the north, the French saw their dominance over Dahomey as a step towards expanding their access to the Niger River.  The result would be the "Race to Borgu" between the British and French that became a classic case of the "Scramble for Africa" in the 1890s as European powers moved to establish clear domination over various parts of the continent.  Unwilling to fight a full war, the British and French would sign an agreement splitting the Bariba lands, with the French gaining control of the political center at Nikki and a small outlet to the Niger River, while the British maintained control over most of Borgu's riverine region centered on Bussa. Thus the Bariba peoples would find themselves split into two administrations, and this continues to the present with Bariba communities on both sides of the Benin-Nigeria border.


Under the French, the colony of Dahomey would become something of a colonial backwater.  Attached to French West Africa in 1905, its economy was dominated by the export of palm oil from the southern regions of the colony.  Much like the Ivory Coast, the native peoples were treated as sujets forced to live under the hated Code de L'Indigenat. A few native Dahomeans would be trained to work as lower level functionaries in the French colonial administration, but unlike in Senegal there were no communes granting French citizenship.  There was little investment in infrastrucure outside projects to support the palm oil industry, and educational opportunities were limited to a small elite along the coast.  In 1914 the French would conscript Dahomeans to conquer the neighboring German colony of Togo and, later, to help the French and British seize German Kameroun.


The impact of World War II on France and its empire would radically transform the nature of colonialism in France's African empire, and Dahomey would experience many of the same changes.  The small native educated elite and the increasing number of industrial workers in the palm oil industry began to develop a consciousness demanding a more equitable relationship between France and the empire. New political leaders such as Sorgou Apithy and Hubert Maga advocated, much like the Ivory Coast's Houphouet-Boigny and Senegal's Senghor, for political reform and economic investment - a new deal for the French Empire in Africa.  By the late 1950s, the pressure for moving towards full sovereignty grew, and with the failure to transform French West Africa into a single independent federation, Dahomey gained independence on 1 August 1960.


For the first decade of independence, Dahomey was rocked by political instability. Few identified themselves with the new nation (something that would be a bane to many new post-colonial nations), being more attached to their regional and ethnic identities.  Politicians such as Apithy (from the coastal region) and Maga (from the North) tended to support the interests of their region at the expense of others.  Dahomey's economy, less robust than other former colonies in French West Africa, did not provide the kind of economic growth needed to improve living conditions for the vast majority of the population that practiced subsistance agriculture.  Educational levels were very low, and the economy did not produce the kind of wealth that could allow major investment. The result was a revolving door of political instability, with six military coups between 1963 and 1972 installing various civilian political leaders into power.


Political stability would finally come to Dahomey in wake of the 1972 Coup.  The military leader, Mathieu Kerekou, decided to concentrate power into his own hands rather than return power to the squabbling civilians.  Playing upon the international tensions of the Cold War, and seeing in Marxism an ideology that could potentially overcome regionalism, in 1975 Kerekou renamed the country as Benin, and proclaimed a one-party Communist regime.  While a small amount of aid from the Soviet Union did trickle in, for the most part Benin would remain a backwater, and regarded with suspicion by its pro-Western giant neighbor Nigeria. Attempts to impose a socialist economy did little to relieve poverty while cutting off the traditional trade relationship with France, and by the late 1980s the economy was in crisis.  The end of the Cold war would see a democratic protest movement launched in Benin, demanding an end to the one party state and the socialist economic model. Unlike many other leaders, Kerekou would accept that change was necessary, and in 1990 a transition from a one party state to a democratic regime was launched  When the first presidential elections were held in March 1991, Kerekou was defeated and accepted the defeat.


Since 1991 Benin has been considered one of the most politically free nations in Africa.  Democratic institutions have been built and maintained, and even the democratic re-election of former dictator Kerekou in 1996 did not mean an end to democracy - after serving the maximum two terms as President, Kerekou left office in 2006 and the newly elected president, Yayi Boni, took power.  While its democracy has flourished, economically Benin has continued to struggle.  Lacking natural resources and with a small population still heavily reliant on agriculture, Benin remains one of the poorest nations in the world.  It has, however, increasingly worked to promote economic integration with other African nations, in particular Nigeria and Ghana, while plans are also underway to build transport infrastructure from Benin's principle port, Cotonou to the landlocked, mineral rich nation of Niger. It may not be an economic powerhouse, but Benin illustrates that generally good governance and democratic institutions can flourish when the population accepts the basic principles as the basis for organizing society.



The Philatelic Legacy of History

Benin shares much of the same philatelic history as the rest of the territories that formed French West Africa in 1905.  The first issues, general French colonial stamps overprinted "BENIN" locally in 1892 at the main French ports of Cotonou, Porto-Novo and Ouidah, were replaced in 1893 by the Navigation and Commerce colonial keyplates, first inscribed "Golfe De Benin" and then, in 1894, simply "Benin."  The liquidation of the Fon kingdom and the establishment of French control in the north would lead to the renaming of the colony as Dahomey, and between 1899 and 1905 new versions of Navigation and Commerce were released with the new colony's name. 


After 1905 and the creation of French West Africa Dahomey followed the pattern of the other colonies of the Federation.  The 1906 Palmiers series would be followed in 1913 with the first distinctive pictorial design for Dahomey - the iconic Man climbing Palm Tree.  This design would last until 1939, going through several changes in colors, new values and in the 1920s lots of surcharges as postal rates kept changing.  Starting in 1931 Dahomey was included in several colonial omnibus issues, the 1931 Overseas Colonial Exhibition, 1937 Paris World Expo, 1939 French Revolution and so forth.  The Man Climbing Oil Palm definitivies were finally replaced in 1941 with a new engraved pictorial series, its release delayed due to the calamity of France in 1940. With the end of the war and the decision to centralize postal authority under the Federation, the separate issues of Dahomey ended.


Dahomey returned to philatelic life with independence in 1960. Since then, it's philatelic program has gone from beautiful engraved stamps produced in France, to years with large numbers of topical issues promoted by various agencies in the late 1960s and 1970s, to years with few new stamps mainly of local significance in the 1980s (stamps inscribed Benin began in 1976), and another period of philatelic agency overproduction in the mid 1990s.  Dahomey-Benin also had produced a good number of souvenir sheets, a departure from what was happening in Senegal and the Ivory Coast in the same period. Of significant philatelic interest has been Benin's prominent use of provisional surcharges and overprints on older stamps (going back to 1960) in the period between 1985 and 2009.  Several hundred provisionals were produced to meet local demand for postage stamps when the ability to commission new stamp issues was limited.  Some of these provisionals are truly rare, printed in quantities of less than 1000, and for the most part were not marketed overseas.  


The main catalogs do not agree on what stamps have been issued, and for any collector trying to collate the different catalog listings, they are more than a bit of a nightmare.  But they reflect one of the major problems that the use of philatelic agents can cause for a developing nation. More often than not, the vast majority of the quantities of pretty topical issues released by philatelic agencies in the name of a postal administration never arrive in that nation, but rather are sold overseas for hard currency, of which the issuing nation, in theory, gets a percent of the profit.  Thus developing nations often face shortages of stamps in values that are needed for postal rates, and the result is often revaluing older stamps to meet current needs.  These provisionals, in my opinion, are among the most interesting areas of philatelic history in the post-Cold War era.


Since 2010, Benin has followed a very conservative philatelic program, dictated in part by the cost of printing new issues.  There have been a few issues since 2014 produced by agencies in the name of Benin, but these are apparently illegal cinderellas unauthorized by the Benin Post Office, and they have not been given catalogue status by the major publishers.



My Stamp Collection

Benin-Dahomey is one of my weaker areas of Francophone Africa, mainly focused on the Man Climbing Palm Tree pictorials. In general my plan for my collection will divide into two parts

I. The Colonial Era and Indepenedent Dahomey (1892-1975)

II. Independent Benin (since 1975) (this may neeed to be split in two, probably splitting in 1990 in wake of the replacement of the one party state with a democratic political system).


 Volume I Part I - The Colonial Era - Benin (1892-1899)  

Pages 1-3 - no stamps

 Volume I Part II - The Colonial Era - Dahomey (1899-1944)  

Pages 4-5 - no stamps. Navigation & Commerce and Series of 1906


Page 6 - 1912 Surcharges on Navigation & Commerce, 1913 Man Climbing Palm Series I 
on regular paper




Page 7 - 1913 Man Climbing Palm Series I on chalky paper, 1914 Cross of Agadez Postage Dues, 1915 Red Cross and 1917 & 1922 Man Climbing Palm New Values and Colors



Page 8 - 1924-1930 Man Climbing Palm New Values and Colors and 1922-1927 Surcharges




Page 9 - 1933-1939 Man Climbing Palm New Values and Colors, 1931 and 1937 Omnibus Issues




Page 10 - 1939 Omnibus Issues, 1940 Air Mails, 1941 Postage Dues




Page 11 - 1941 Pictorial Issue

Page 12 - No Stamps, Vichy Indigenous Children Welfare Issue


 Volume I Part III - Independent Dahomey (1960-1975)  



Page 13 - 1960-1961 Commemoratives (have the African Technical Cooperation Council, Inauguration of President Maga and First anniversary of UN Membership issues)




Page 14 - 1962-1963 Commemoratives (have the 1962 Air Afrique and Expusion of Portuguese from the Fort of São João Baptista in Ouidah and 1963 Freedom From Hunger issues) 



Page 14 - 1963 Pictorials and Postage Due Series (have the Postage Dues)




Page 15 - 1964 Commemoratives and Pictorials (have the 1964 Cooperation with France and Native Dances issues)



Page 16-22 - no stamps, 1964-1972 stamp issues

Page 3 - 1972 Commemoratives (have the Scouting and UNESCO Save Venice Campaign issues)

Page 24-30 - 1972-1975 Commemoratives  - none in my collection

 Volume II - Independent Benin (1976-present)  

as of now...nothing

and that completes my collection of Benin-Dahomey....for now!

Comments, questions, please ask!






Friday, October 13, 2017

Long overdue update coming soon

It's been more than a hot second since my last post and I do apologize for that. A combination of factors unfortunately have made my ability to update rather limited -

 1) my workload as manager of one of the largest supermarket seafood departments in Columbus means long hours and often overtime.

2) My health. I have liver disease that will likely require a liver transplant in the next few months.  While my condition is stable, I am on the transplant candidate list. One major side affect that has been a problem for me is fatigue which, combined with my heavy work schedule, leaves me with no real energy to do much after work.  The good news is that I still can work and the doctors expect me to make a full recovery once I do have the surgery.

3) The next nation I am posting is Benin. Now the process I have been using is first create a database in my copy of stamp mates for the complete country with catalog numbers by Scott, michel and the coorrsponding "national" specialized catalog - in the case of independent Francophone Africa this is Yvert. If you have ever looked at independent Benin in a catalog you know that there are hundreds of provisional overprints and surcharges on older stamps. Collating the listings in Scott to the equivalent Minkus and Yvert numbers...if they exist...was a major challenge that took me a good 2 weeks to finish.

But that work is now done and I am now laying out the vario pages. If all goes as planned I will have a new post for Benin-Dahomey this weekend.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Stamp Collection : IVORY COAST

Historical Background

Located on the coast of West Africa, the region that would become known as the Ivory Coast was, like most modern African nations, a mosaic of different ethnic communities in the era before European colonization. The southern coast was mainly composed of mangrove swamps, dominated by local peoples today called "Lagunieres" (people of the lagoons) while the northern regions were dry savannah lands more integrated with trade routes leading northward to the Niger Valley, exporting kola nuts and some gold in exchange for salt from the Sahara.

In the eighteenth century two major political transformations would occur.  In the north, a group of Muslim Mande traders would carve out a trade emporium at Kong that would grow to dominate the region between the tropical forest and the Niger valley, culminating in an attempt to seize control of access to the upper Niger River valley. The effort failed, and the Kong Emirate would eventually fracture by the early nineteenth century.   Further to the south, a mass migration of Akan-speaking peoples would migrate westward from what is now Ghana to escape domination by the rapidly expanding Asante Empire at Kumasi, leading to the rise of numerous small-scale states dominated by peoples who would become known as the Baule, today the largest single ethnic community in the Ivory Coast.

European interest in the coast of West Africa developed in the wake of Portuguese exploration starting in the late fifteenth century. However, a lack of good harbors and abundant gold deposits would restrict European interest in the region, which would come to be known as the Ivory Coast as ivory was the dominant trade good with Europeans. By the mid-eighteenth century the French would establish a small tradepost at Assinie, but compared to the wealth of the trading centers further to the east and lacking good harbors for sailing ships, European interest would remain minimal in the region, and by the mid-nineteenth century the French had abandoned Assinie.

With the growth of French interest in West Africa in wake of their expansion in Senegal, the French would return to the Ivory Coast, more with a view to approaching the percived riches of the Niger Valley (and blocking interest from other European powers) from a new direction than for any real economic interest in the Ivory Coast itself.  By the 1890s the French would establish a series of posts along the coast, and negotiations with the British and Liberians would fix the borders of France's zone of influence.  However, compared to Senegal the Ivory Coast would remain a backwater of France's West African empire, with very little French control over the interior.

All that would change in 1908 under to governorship of Gabriel Angoulvant, who believed that the colony could become economically self sufficient provided the French implemented more direct control over the native population.  The result would be a series of violent "pacifications" against the various native states of the interior that would secure French domination.  The indigeant legal code was introduced, heavy taxes were levied, and any signs of resistance were crushed.  By the end of his governorship in 1916 French control was secured at the price of a great deal of bloodshed and native resentment at French rule.

It would only be in the 1920s however that the Ivory Coast would find the commodity that would create the kind of economic growth the French desired. In cacao the French found salvation for their administration.  Working with native leaders willing to cooperate with the French administration, cacao plantations would rapidly expand in the southern two thirds of the colony. The use of tariffs, forced planting and low prices paid to producers by the French colonial monopoly ensured a healthy profit for the colonial regime, and by the late 1930s the Ivory Coast was rivalling Senegal as the "jewel" in the crown of French West Afica.  Expansion was further stimulated by encouraging labor migration from neighboring French colonies to work the cacao plantations, culminating in the decision to partition the colony of Upper Volta and ceding to the Ivory Coast the most populous parts of the formal colony in 1933, creating a labor pattern that would persist into the present day.

With the trauma of World War II, a new generation of colonial leaders, some educated in French schools with the goal of becoming lower level functionaries of the French administration, some becoming leaders of the workers in various areas of the export economy, would begin to demand political reform, including the right to vote, an end to the hated indigeant laws, and greater investment by France to develop the colony. Leadership would soon emerge under the son of a Baule chief who had done well in the cacao economy, Felix Houphouet-Boigny.  At first following the more radical socialist politics of Senegal's Leopold Senghor, by the early 1950s Houphouet would come to favor a less radical, more cooperative political stance with the French that would protect the interests of the elite of native cacao producers.  Houphouet would soon break with Senghor over the question of creating an independent French West African federation, fearing Senegalese domination and the loss of the Ivory Coast's wealth to prop up poorer regions of the proposed federation.  At first hoping to maintain the link with France in a "French Community," in 1960 Houphouet-Boigny would lead the Ivory Coast to independence from France.

While political independence would be gained in 1960, Houphouet-Boigny would ensure that his links with France and the West in general were close and cordial, to the point that the French were allowed to maintain military bases in the Ivory Coast.  French and other Western capital was encouraged to invest in the new nation, and enjoying a boom in the price of cacao and other exports, the Ivorian economy would grow rapidly, with some commentators praising the "Ivorian Miracle" that maintaining close ties with the West seemed to bring. Infrastructure was improved, especially in the southern two-thirds of the country, while French and other Western imports filled the shops of cities such as the capital, Abidjan. Plans were made to construct a new capital at Yamoussoukro (coincidentally Houphouet-Boigny's home town) complete with a Catholic basilica larger than St Peter's in Rome. Tourism, as in Senegal, was heavily encouraged, as an alternative source of Western currency.  Houphouet-Boigny however did not encourage economic development outside the export sector, believing that the country's population was too small to make industrial development a success. Thus the Ivory Coast would remain a classic case of "monoculture" export economic development, which tended to favor those with control over export production, at the expense of other areas of the economy.

So long as the price of its exports remained vibrant, the Ivorian Miracle would continue. However by the mid-1970s economic shocks caused by oil embargoes and overproduction of cacao in the global market would lead to severe economic problems.  These economic problems would focus attention on the political shortcomings of Houphouet-Boigny.  Having been raised in a chiefly family, the president did not brook any challenges to his authority.  An attempted coup in 1963 would be crushed with French help, and the Ivory Coast would become a one party state under the guiding light of the president, who was portrayed as the "father of the Ivory Coast." Corruption was also a growing problem, and by the mid-1980s it was estimated that the president had a personal fortune in the billions, with homes in France as well as the grand construction of the new capital at Yamoussoukro. In 1982 growing frustration with the faltering economy and the perception of corruption would erupt into anti-government protests, which Houphouet-Boigny would crush.  From then until his death in 1993, Houphouet-Boigny would maintain his dominant position in Ivorian life, and while small political concessions would be made after 1990, real power lay with the President.

The death of Houphouet-Boigny in 1993 would mark the end of political and economic stability in the Ivory Coast.  In 1994 the currency lost half its value, sparking severe economic hardship.  Politically, tensions between those communities who had done well during the Ivorian Miracle (mainly peoples in the southern, Christian half of the nation) and those who saw little improvement (mainly peoples in the Northern, Muslim half of the nation and migrant laborers, again mainly Muslim, from neighboring nations) would lead to a great deal of conflict, culminating in civil wars in 2002 and 2010 between the peoples of the North and the South.  This only served to further weaken the economy, and today the Ivory Coast is much poorer, per capita, than it was during the economic heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s, though there has been some recovery in the past few years. Since 2012 the political situation has stabilized to a degree under the leadership of Alassane Ouattara, but reports of human rights violations, political repression and outbreaks of communal conflict continue to haunt the nation.

The Philatelic Legacy Of History

The philatelic history of the Ivory Coast mirrors that of many former French colonies in Africa.  Post offices using French colonial stamps were opened in the late 1880s at Assinie, and in 1892 the Ivory Coast would have its first custom stamps using the Commerce & Navigation keyplate types.  The growth of the export economy would lead to the overprinting of French colonial postage due stamps of the Duval type for use as Parcel Post stamps, creating some of the rarest issues of the French colonial era. The formation of the French West Africa federation in 1905 would result in the release of a new set of stamps based on the Faidherbe-Oil Palm-Ballay keyplates common for all the colonies of the federation. In 1913 the Ivory Coast would get its own pictorial definitives depicting the Lagoon at Ebrie, which would serve as the main design for Ivory Coast stamps until 1935, undegoing various color changes and new values, as well as many surcharges to reflect changes in postal tariffs, especially in the 1920s.

In the 1930s the Ivory Coast would partake in several of the French Colonial omnibus issues, starting with the 1931 Colonial Exposition.  In 1936 a gorgeous new engraved pictorial definitive series was released, the low values depicting a woman of the Baule nation, the middle values depicting the mosque at Bobo-Dioulasso (today in Burkina Faso but after the partition of Upper Volta in 1933 part of the Ivory Coast) and a coastal lagoon scene, with the top value depicting women gathering water at the rapids on the Comoe River. Airmail stamps would be produced in 1940 based on the common West African type.  World War II would be reflected by the surcharges for national aid in 1941 and the issuance of charity issues by the Vichy regime.  The decision by the Free French to further consolidate French West Africa into a single coherent economic and political unit would result in the general issues of French West Africa replacing Ivory Coast stamps in 1945.

The Ivory Coast would resume its philatelic history in 1959 with the granting of first Autonomy and then independence from France.  During the 1960s the Ivory Coast followed a very conservative stamp issuing policy, averaging around twenty to twenty-five stamps until the mid-1970s.  Many issues feature Houphouet-Boigny, and the natural beauty of the Ivory Coast.  Only after the beginnings of economic instability in the mid-1970s would the Ivory Coast begin to pursue a more prolific stamp production, and by the early 1980s the country was producing around fifty stamps a year, many of them featuring topicals of international interest. Compared to many of its neighbors, however, the Ivory Coast remained relatively conservative, and since the mid-1980s the country's philatelic output has been reduced and more reflective of Ivorian themes or themes of international interest, averaging twenty to thirty stamps per year.

Unfortunately for collectors, in 2014 the Ivory Coast would "fall off the philatelic wagon" and become a client of Stamperija, a philatelic agent based in Lithuania which issues stamps purportedly in the names of client states but which never seem to be used in those nations.  The Ivory Coast also produces stamps with more local interest and not connected to Stamperija, but these are being lost in the flood of wallpaper being released in the nation's name. I do not plan to collect the Stamperija issues, but issues that do seem to be "legitimate" I will collect, a policy I generally follow for most nations whose stamp production comes under Philatelic Agents at different periods.

My Stamp Collection

The structure of my Ivory Coast collection is roughly similar to that of Senegal, in that it will be split into three parts

I. The Era of the French Colony 1892-1944
II. The Heyday of the Ivorian Miracle 1959-1982
III. The Post-Miracle Readjustment and Its Tribulations since 1982.

Parts I and II will be in the first volume of my collection, while the second volume will focus on post-1982 issues.  At this point, however, my collection is mainly focused on the French colonial era and only has a few post-independence issues.

And now - the collection. Enjoy!

 Volume I Part I - Ivory Coast in the Colonial Era (1892-1944)  

Page 1 : No Stamps (1892 Navigation and Commerce series)

Page 2 : No Stamps (1903-1905 Parcel Posts)

)
Page 3 : 1906 French West Africa common keyplate definitives.


Page 4 : 1906 Postage Dues, 1912 Surcharges, Chalky Paper Varieties of 1913 Ebrie Lagoon Defins


Page 5 : 1913 Ebrie Lagoon Pictorial Definitives, 1915 Cross of Agades Postage Dues


Page 6 : 1915 Red Cross Surcharge, 1917-1925 Additions to the Ebrie Lagoon Series, 1922-1924 Surcharges for Increased Postal Tariffs


Page 7 : 1926-1930 Additions to Ebrie Lagoon Series, 1931 Colonial Exhibition


Page 8 : 1933 Overprints on Upper Volta Pictorial Issue for use in Ivory Coast, 1933-1935 Ebrie Lagoon additional values and surcharges


Page 9 : 1936 Pictorial Issue, 1938 Commemorative honoring General Binger, 
first governor of the Ivory Coast Colony


Page 10 : 1937 Paris Expo issue, 1938-1939 additions to the 1936 Pictorial Definitives, 1939 omnibus issues for Rene Caillie and New York World's Fair.


Page 11 : 1939 Omnibus Issue for the French Revolution Centennial, 1940 additions to the 1936 Pictorial Issue (part I)


Page 12 : 1940 Additions to 1936 Pictorial Issues (Part II), National Aid surcharges, Vichy
Charity Issue for Native Child Care and the Imperial Fortnight

 Volume I Part II - Independent Ivory Coast during the Ivorian Miracle Era


Page 1 : 1959 Autonomy issues and new Airmail Pictorials, 1960 Mask Definitive and Postage
Due Series


 Page 2 : Issues of 1961-1962 including Independence Annversaries, Construction of Dam at Ayame, Membership in the UN, Stamp Day


Page 3 : Issues of 1962-1963 including International Fair at Bouake, UN Freedom From Hunger Campaign, Bingerville Art School Postage Due Series


Page 4 : Issues of 1963-1965 including UNESCO campaign to preserve Nubia monuments and honoring the Ivorian Red Cross.

And that concludes my collection of Ivory Coast for now. Plenty of work to still do on it!

Questions, comments, please feel free to post!!
















Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Stamp Collection : SENEGAL

Historical Background

Much as Algeria would be the lynchpin to the French colonial empire in North Africa, the lands that would become Senegal would serve a simlar role for the French in West Africa. In the period between the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Takrur polity arose in the valley of the Senegal River, becoming one of the first sub-Saharan regions to adopt Islam and spawning a Muslim revival movement, the Muwahhidun, that would conquer much of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula as the Almoravids. The following two centuries would witness the region's incorporation into the great Mande Empire of Mali, serving as that inland Empire's "window to the water" when Portuguese explorers made their voyages down the coast of West Africa in the late fifteenth century.

During the following century the dramatic growth in trade between Africans inland and Europeans at trade posts along the coast, first in gold, later in slaves, would cause the power of Mali to recede back to the interior, and loosely organized as a confederation under the ruler of Jolof, would come to dominate the lands between the Senegal and the Niger, while a Mande offshoot would come to dominate the lower Gambia river, and the Senegal River valley would come under the dominance of the Muslim Fula. On the coast, the Europeans struggled with each other to dominate the main trade post on Goree Island, just off the western tip of Senegal, with the Portuguese, Dutch, British contolling it in turn until the French finally secured their control, a control further enhanced with the establishment of the French trade post at Saint-Louis at the mouth of the Senegal River, tolerating a British presence at the mouth of the Gambia river at Bathurst, and laying the foundation for the odd geographic relic of Gambia surrounded by Senegal.

French control over the trade posts would provide the French with the basis for further expansion, which would be taken up in the 1850s with the appointment of General Louis Faidherbe as governor of Senegal.  Fearing French influence was being diverted by the greater economic influence of the British in Gambia, Faidherbe came to believe that the only way to secure France's control of the trade of the Senegal Valley was through direct rule.  This was reinforced by the rise a powerful new Muslim state in the Upper Senegal, Tukulor, whose influence began to spread downriver as well as challenge the rule of native non-Muslim states in the interior of Senegal.  A series of wars in the 1850s would result in the Tukulor recentering their power to the Upper Niger river, and France gaining dominance in the Senegal Valley.  To further French aims, In 1859 Faidherbe would also shift the center of French power in Senegal from Saint-Louis on the Senegal to a new base at Dakar, opposite Goree Island.

The shift to Dakar would be the first step in the eventual full conquest of what is now Senegal by the French. Western industrialization had led to a massive demand for vegetable oils to keep machines running, and Senegal was found to be the perfect place to grow peanuts for industrial use.  At first local Senegalese rulers welcomed the new economic activity, but in the 1880s, when the French proposed building railways, local leaders such as Lat Dior feared the result would be complete French domination. For the remainder of the decade the French would turn to military options against local African states to "secure" Senegal, which soon came to be seen by some in Paris as the springboard from which France could create an empire in Africa "From the Atlantic to the Nile."  By 1888 the French conquest in Senegal was complete, the military frontier against local African states had moved inland to the Niger Valley, and negotiations with Britain and Portugal would establish the colonial frontiers. A mosaic of ethnic groups would come to inhabit the colony, with the Wolof being the largest single group but also including Serer, Fula, Mande and several other peoples. In 1905, to "rationalize" its growing empire in West Africa, the French would create a colonial federation - French West Africa - with the Governor-General and federal administration based in Dakar.

Coastal Senegal would occupy a special place in the French sub-Saharan Empire in Africa.  Four communities - Dakar, Goree, Saint-Louis and Rufisque - were considered full French communes, and its inhabitants full French citizens, regardless of race. While the rest of the inhabitants of the French colonial empire in sub-Saharan Africa were treated as sujets, subjects who like the native population of Algeria had few rights whatsoever in face of the power of French colonial administrators, the inhabitants of the Quatre Communes had full political rights, and by the early twentieth century they began to use those rights to encourage a more equal relationship between France and the colonies. In 1914 Blaise Diagne would be elected from Senegal as the first African to sit in the French Chamber of Deputies.  Political parties and Labor Unions soon arose. With the establishment of the Ecole William Ponty, Dakar would become the center for education of a new generation of Africans, the "evoules" (evolved) who would join the French administration and, it was hoped, would create a new generation of "imperial Frenchmen" tied to the glory of France.

Unfortunately for the French, the hopes that the creation of an assimilated minority of Africans would permanently wed the Empire to France would fail in face of the rise of African nationalism, which resented continued European French domination of the levers of power in Africa and the economic development of African resources for the benefit of French commercial interests. France's defeat in 1940, and the resulting civil war between Vichy and the Free French (brought right to Senegal's doorstep when the British and Free French attempted but failed to seize Dakar from the pro-Vichy colonial regime in the autumn of 1940), futher diminished the belief that French leadership was needed to "guide" Senegal and the rest of the French Empire in Africa to "civilization."  For most of the colonial period, French colonial rule had been based on the principle that development would come from the natural evolution of the market economy, while the colonies themselves were expected to pay for social improvements like education. This benefitted the French colonial rulers, but did little for the mass of peoples, and with the end of World War II calls for a "new relationship" were increasingly made.

The French did make some attempts at this, ending the implementation of the "indigenat" law code in 1946 and making all sujets "citizens" of the colonies they lived in (but NOT of France - in both the colonies and in France the idea that colonial subjects could be transformed into "Frenchmen" had been replaced with the idea of "Association" and "Cooperation").  The colonies gained representation in the French Parliament, and although the right to vote was at first limited to a small elite it did allow for the creation of a new generation of African political leaders who would work within the system to improve colonial conditions. An economic fund to develop France's colonies paid for by the French State, FIDES, was launched in the early 1950s.  But in terms of politics, the French colonial administrators believed they needed to remain in firm control, and African political leaders who were seen to challenge that idea faced political persecution.

Indochina and Algeria changed all that.  The defeat at Dienbienphu and the anti-French insurgency in Algeria led to increasing demands among sub-Saharan African political leaders that the time had come for political power to be handed over.  In Senegal, the principal leader was Leopold Sedar Senghor, an academic who had been elected to represent Senegal in the French Parliament in the first postwar elections of 1946. A moderate socialist who promoted the ideas of negritude - pride in the historical and cultural attainments of Africans and peoples of African descent - Senghor had a close relationship with the French intellectual establishment, and greatly respected French culture.  Senghor would come to believe that Senegal's future lay in cooperation with, but not dominance by, France, while working to "nativize" the political and economic system for the benefit of all Senegalese, and worked hard to convince other French colonial African leaders of the same and promoted the idea of transforming French West Africa into a single federated state.  The leaders of the other colonies of French West Africa however, feared Senegalese political domination, while wealthier areas such as Senegal and the Ivory Coast feared the financial cost of supportig economically less well off regions.  After a brief attempt at forming a federation with the French Sudan as the Federation of Mali in 1960 failed, Senghor led Senegal to full independence.

Since 1960, Senegal has been one of the few African nations to maintain a relatively democratic political system.  In part this may be due to the legacy of the traditions of local government practiced in the original Quatre Communes and the experience of voting for a Senegalese delegate to the French Parliament after 1871. A large part is also due to Senghor. Although in the 1960s Senegal would in effect become a one-party state, legally the right to form political parties remained valid during Senghor's rule, and the press in Senegal remained generally free from poltical influence.  Senghor also was generally pro-Western (and especially pro-French) in his foreign policy, and encouraged an economy that was relatively open to foreign investment. Traditional industries such as peanuts and mining were joined by tourism as engines of economic development, while the generally tranquil political enviroment in Dakar would make it a center for regional organizations. In 1980 Senghor resigned due to advanced age (one of the first sub-Saharan African leaders to give up power of their own will), and his successor, Abdou Diouf, continued his policies, and would go further than Senghor in terms of economic liberalization.  While not all of the economic policies have been successful (in part due to the colonial inheritance of relying on the export of peanuts as the main engine of economic growth when a new generation of synthetic lubricants was replacing natural oils), Senegal's economy has grown at a rate more dynamic than many other African nations.

With the end of the Cold War, sub-Saharan Africa would experience a political "awakening" that would lead to further democratic reforms and by the early 1990s new political parties challenging some of the economic and cultural policies of the Senghor-Diouf era began to emerge.  While Diouf at times could employ a heavy hand towards his political opponents (and would face an insurgency in the southern Casamance region, a region culturally and ethnically very different from the rest of Senegal and resentful of what many in the region pereceive is Wolof domination of Senegalese politics and society), in general Senegal maintained its democratic institutions, and in 2000 this culminated in Diouf's defeat for a third term as president and the election of Abdoulaye Waye.  Further solidification would come in 2011 when Waye was defeated for president by Macky Sall.   While it still faces many economic challenges, Senegal remains one of the more successful post-colonial States in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Philatelic Legacy of History

Philatelically, the history of Senegal represents the impact of the establishment, flourishing and demise of the French colonial era and its replacement with the post-colonial State.  The Quatre Communes used stamps of France starting in the 1850s, and usage of these stamps in Senegal can be determined by cancellations. By the 1880s, however, the establishment of a full French colonial regime in Senegal outside the communes and the growth of commerical activity would lead to the creation of a separate postal system with its own postage stamps.  The first stamps were provisional surcharges on Imperial-Wide French Colonies stamps issued in 1887, and in 1892 the first regular issue of postage stamps inscribed "Senegal" was placed on sale.

The decision by the French to create a Federation of their colonial holdings in West Africa would be reflected shortly thereafter.  Each colony retained its own identity and local administration (including postal service), but was subsumed under the administration of the Federation based in Dakar.  This resulted in the issuance of stamps in 1906 with both the colony name (Senegal) and the Federation Name (French West Africa, Afrique Occidental Française) on the stamps.

 In 1914 this series (which depicted General Faidherbe on the lower values) was replaced in Senegal by the long-running pictoral series depicting a Fula market in the Senegal Valley. This series would run until 1933, and because of Senegal's larger volume of commerce and coorespondence,would be the subject of several reprints that can be categorized into one of three types depending on the length of the central vignette. (This is where having a specialized catalog really becomes useful. Neither Scott nor Michel, nor even Yvert & Tellier mention these types, but they are fully documented in the excellent Catalogue Maury Timbre de l'ex-empire Français d'Afrique).

A new pictorial series debuted for Senegal in 1935, and omnibus issues for the Paris exhibitions of 1931 and 1937, and the New York Exhibition of 1939, were released.   World War II and the tribulations of France are reflected in Senegal's philately more clearly than other areas, as the Vichy-printed Child Welfare and Imperial Fortnight issues actually would be placed on sale for use in French West Africa.

After the war, the new emphasis of the French on "cooperative development" would lead to a further "rationalization" of government in French West Africa, and the individual colonial postal administrations were replace by one Federation-wide system in 1945.  For the next fifteen years stamps were produced to highlight France's efforts at development while at the same time highlighting the diverse cultural and geographic panorama of the Federation.  The failure of political leaders such as Senghor to transform the colonial federation into a single independent Federal state would be documented in the one year of stamps released by the Federation of Mali and then the celebration of Senegal's independence in 1960.

Since 1960, Senegal's postage stamps have reflected, as they do in most newly-decolonized nations, the trials and tribulations of nation building and carving a place for itself in the world.  Unlike some African nations, Senegal's philatelic output has been reasonably conservative and focused on depicting themes relavent to local society (although there have been lapses when Senegal would go on the "philatelic agent" wagon, such as in 1991 and 1999, but these have tended to be brief flirtations and in the end Senegal would return to a more sober philatelic program).  In the 1960s and 1970s many of Senegal's stamps were printed by engraving in France, and some of them really are masterworks of the engravers' art. The natural beauty of Senegal is highlighted often, as the Senegalese State has made tourism a priority for economic development.  The diversity of Senegalese society - both ethnically and religiously (a majority of Senegalese are Muslim, but there are Christian minorities and Senghor himself was a Christian.  Officially like France, Senegal is a secular state) - is well reflected.  For the collector, overall Senegal is a wonderful nation to collect.

My Stamp Collection

Currently my collection runs up to the late 1960s, but Senegal is definitely a country whose later issues I plan to collect as well.  As far as organziation, my Senegal collection will be in two volumes

I. Senegal - Colonial Era (1887-1959) and the Senghor Era (1959-1980)
II. Senegal - The post-Senghor era (1980-present)

I have posted PDF files for the first volume in 4 parts - Colonial Senegal, French West Africa, the short-lived Federation of Mali (which I include with Senegal as the capital of the Federation was Dakar) and the Senghor Era.  I have not yet had a chance to do album pages for the post-1980 era, these will be posted at a later date.

And now - the collection. Enjoy!

 Volume I Part I - Senegal in the Colonial Era (1887-1944)  

Page 1 : No Stamps (1887 Surcharges)


Page 2 : 1892 Type "Groupe" (aka Navigation and Commerce)


Page 3 : 1900 Additional Values to Type "Groupe" and 1906 First AOF Issue


Page 4 : 1912 Surcharges on Type "Groupe" and Chalky Paper versions of 1914 Fula Market Series


Page 5 : Series of 1914 Issues (type I - central vignette 22mm long) and 1915 WWI Charity Issues


Page 6 : Series of 1915 Postage Dues, 1918 WWI Charity Issue and 
1920 reprint of 1914 Series, type II (central vignette 22.5mm long)


Page 7 : 1922 New Values & Colors to series of 1914, types I and II, 1922 Surcharges


Page 8 : 1923-1926 new values and colors to series of 1914, new print type III 
(central vignette 23mm long), surcharged issues for new postal rates.


Page 9 : 1926-1927 new values and colors to series of 1914, types II and III, surcharged issues


Page 10 : 1927-1929 new values and colors to series of 1914, types II and III, surcharged issues, 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition issue


Page 11 : 1930-1933 new values and colors to series of 1914, types II and III, and Series of 1935 Postage Due Stamps


Page 12 : Series of 1935 Pictorials - Faidherbe Bridge over Senegal River and the Grand Mosque of Jurbel


Page 13 : Series of 1935 Airmails (Plane over River, Plane over Camel Caravan), 1937 Paris International Exhibition, 1938 New Design addition to Series of 1935 (Native Woman)


Page 14 : 1939 Rene Caillie Centenary Issue, 1939 new values and colors to Series of 1935-1938, 1939 New York World's Fair and Bicentennial of French Revolution


Page 15 : 1940 Redesign of Airmail Series of 1935, additional values and new colors for series of 1935 pictorials.


Page 16 : 1942 Vichy Charity issues for Native Welfare, 1944 Surcharges on Series of 1935 (listed in Scott under French West Africa).

Volume I Part II - French West Africa (1944-1959)


Page 1 : Imperial Cooperation, Memorial to Felix Eboue (first colonial governor to rally to Free France), "Free French" Series of 1945 (printed in London) depicting Senegalese Tirailleur and North African Harki, Airmail Series of 1945.


Page 2 : Allied Victory in World War II, General LeClerc's March from Chad to the Rhine, Series of 1947 Postage Dues


Page 3 : Pictorial Series of 1947 Regular Issues and Airmail Stamps (one missing stamp is a shade variety of the 10c stamp)


Page 4 : Issues of 1947-1954 - reinscribed values from 1947 series (legend "TOGO" removed as Togo was a UN Mandate, not part of FWA), UPU 75th anniversary, Opening of Vridi Canal in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, colonial development, Airmail Series of 1954, Fiftieth anniversary of creation of Federation.


Page 5 : Issues of 1955-1957 - Wildlife, Rotary, promotion of FIDES work, Coffee production, centenary of creation of the French African army by General Faidherbe.


Page 6 : Issues of 1957-1958 - Infrastructure development, African Tourism Conference, Establishment of new capital for Mauritania at Nuwakshut, Centenary of founding of Dakar by the French, Series of 1958 Official Stamps


Page 7 : Issues of 1958-1959 : Flora, Banana Exports, UN Declaration of Human Rights, Restoration of the Colony of Upper Volta

Volume I Part III - Federation of Mali (1959-1960)


Page 1 : Issues of 1959-1960 - 300th Anniversary of founding of Saint-Louis, UN Technical Cooperation Agency for Africa, Series of 1960 Fish Definitives, Series of 1960 Bird Airmails.

Volume I Part IV - Independent Senegal : The Senghor Era (1960-1980)

Page 1 : No Stamps - Series of 1960-1961 Fauna of Senegal Regular and Airmail Issues, Series of 1961 Postage Dues, First Anniversary of Senegal's Independence


Page 2 : Issues of 1961-1962 - Traditional Festivals, Series of 1961 Official Stamps, Senegal in the United Nations, Formation of African-Madagascar Union



Page 3 : Issues of 1962-1963 - African-Madagascar Postal Union, Senegal in the UPU, Professor Gaston Berger, UN Freedom From Hunger and 1963 Friendship Games in Dakar.


Page 4 : Issues of 1963-1964 - Butterflies, Senegalese Red Cross, UN Campaign to save Nubian Monuments, Twin Cities Congress in Dakar, UN Declaration of Human Rights Anniversary


Page 5 : Issues of 1964 - Development of Senegal's Mining Industry, Memorial to John F Kennedy, 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Europe-Africa Cooperation, Religious Architecture in Senegal, French Satellite Launch


Page 6 - Issues of 1965- Anti-Leprosy Campaign, Postal History, Tourism Promotion, Development of Agriculture, International Cooperation Year, Centenary of International Telecom Union, Traditional Canoes

Page 7 - no stamps, issues of 1965-1966 - Fruits & Nuts, Traditional Dolls from Goree Island, World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Fish, French Satellites


Page 8 - issues of 1966 - Satellite launches, national coat of arms, Series of 1966 Official and Postage Due Stamps, Anniversary of Death of Aviation Pioneer Jean Mermoz

Page 9 - No stamps - issues of 1966-1967 - UN Hydrological Decade, Tourism Promotion, New International Airport at Dakar-Yoff, 1967 International Exposition in Montreal, Lions Clubs


Page 10 - Issues of 1967-1968 : African-Madagascar Postal Union, African Congress on Prehistory, Dakar, Memorial to Konrad Adenauer, International Human Rights Year, New values in Fauna of Senegal series


Page 11 - Issues of 1968-1969 : Rinderpest Campaign, World Health Organization, 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, 1969 Year of African Tourism, Philexafrique '69 Stamp Exhibition, New values in Fauna of Senegal series

Volume I Part V - Souvenir Sheets


Page 1 - 1937 Paris International Exhibition Souvenir Sheet and 
1959 Centenary of Dakar Souvenir Sheet

and that completes my collection of Senegal....for now!

Comments, questions, please ask!