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The similarities and differences between the British and French systems of Colonial Administration



SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BRITISH AND FRENCH COLONIAL ADMINISTRATIONS
Hierarchical  administrative structure

Under the French there was a Colonial Minister based in France below whom there was a Governor-General based in Dakar. Then followed the Lieutenant-Governor based in all the territories. The territories were divide into Cercles headed by Commandant du Cercle before the African Chiefs below. 

It was similar for the British too. There was a Secretary of State for the Colonies in London appointed by the British crown. Then there was a Governor just below him stationed in the colony. Under the Governor, were the Regional and District Commissioners and the local chiefs below the ladder.

Policy of divide and rule
There were citizens and subjects in French West Africa. The French drove a wedge between the citizens and the subjects by giving so much privilege to the citizens to the detriment of the subjects. The British on the other hand gave more say to African chiefs in the running of the affairs of the colony than the educated Africans. This tactic created a division among the local people to make it possible for the colonial authorities to easily rule them.
Mercantilist economic philosophy
The British and the French made their colonies suppliers of raw materials to feed the factories in their metropolis, and when the goods were produced they were then shipped back into the colonies to be sold to the people. There were no plans to develop the economy of the colonies. Even the provision of infrastructure was mainly to facilitate business in favour of the colonial master.

The use of chiefs
The two colonial powers used chiefs in local administration. The chiefs were used to implement policies that were churned out from the colonial offices in their respective metropolis. 

Reforms after World War II
Both colonial masters started introducing reforms into their administration after the Second World War. While the French eased the policy of assimilation with the introduction of the policy of association and loosening their grip at the centre, the British started accepting African into the Civil Service, the Legislative Council and later the Executive Council.

Policy of self-reliance
The French and British ensured that they did not invest their money in the administration of the colonies. Every money that was expended on the running of the colony was generated internally.

DIFFERENCES
A federation and a unitary system
The French operated a federal system where all the territories in West Africa were administered as one whole from the centre in Dakar. The British on the other hand allowed each territory to operate as a separate entity. The governors in the territories were had room act based on the situation of the ground.

Frequency of transfers
In order to prevent the French officials from staying at one station for too long and entrenching heir tentacles there, the French adopted a policy where the officials were transferred often. The British on the other hand, allowed their officials to linger on at one station for a long time before they were transferred. Some even stayed till they were recalled by the metropolis.

Uniformity of laws
The French applied the same rules in the entire French West African territories, irrespective of the differences in the local situation. The British, on the other hand, applied different rules in the various in the different colonies.

Policy towards education
The British encouraged the establishment of schools and the spread of education of the in the colonies. In French West Africa, the government had a tight grip on educational development. By the time the nations in both French and British colonies became independent, there were more schools in British West Africa than French West Africa.

The use of chiefs
The chiefs in French West Africa had less freedom to operate than the chiefs in British West Africa.Also the french appointed their own chiefs regardless of their right to the throne, but the British made sure that those who carried themselves as the chiefs had the right to be on the throne.


SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. Highlight six similarities between the French and the British colonial system of administration.
2. Highlight six differences between the French system of administration and the British system of administration.
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