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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Decolonization by referendum: the anomaly of Niger and the fall of Sawaba, 1958-1959
Author:Walraven, Klaas vanISNI
Year:2009
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Volume:50
Issue:2
Pages:269-292
Language:English
Geographic terms:French West Africa
Niger
France
Subjects:decolonization
referendums
1958
national liberation movements
political history
historiography
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/25622024
Abstract:This article deals with the 1958 referendum that the French held in Niger to gain approval for the Fifth Republic and reorganization of their empire. It reassesses the French record in Niger, where more people voted 'No', in favour of immediate independence, than in other territories, except Guinea. It does this on the basis of research on the history of the Sawaba movement, which led Niger's autonomous government until the plebisicite. It shows that the French forcibly intervened in the referendum to realize a 'Yes' vote and preserve Niger for their sphere of influence after independence in 1960. In detailing the violence and manipulation of the referendum and its aftermath, the article criticizes a revisionist viewpoint which disputed the significance of French intervention. The analysis draws on research on the Sawaba movement, benefiting from insights of social history into the grassroots forces in the nationalist movements of the 1950s. It discusses the historiography of Niger's referendum in relation to new archival sources and memoirs, drawing parallels with other territories, notably Guinea. It concludes that France's interventions in 1958 are crucial for understanding the long-term consequences of the transformations of the independence era. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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