Lagos Historical Review

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The legacy of French colonial policy on the nation building process in Chad, 1900 – 1975

Friday Aworawo


Since independence, many African states have experienced large-scale instability as a result of numerous African leaders’ inability to forge national cohesion out of a multiplicity of ethnic groups within individual states. A fundamental issue has been the way and manner in which many of the states were administered during the colonial era. It is against this background that this article examines France’s colonial policy in Chad and its impact on nation building process before the outbreak of the country’s civil war in the period shortly after independence. The essay argues that France’s policies of “useful” and “useless Chad” was greatly responsible for the challenges of nation building in post-colonial Chad. The policies classified Chad into two neat compartments for the administrative convenience of the French. The south, which was called “useful Chad”, was suitable for agriculture. The colonisers therefore concentrated all forms of French civilization, development and education in the south, while the parched north branded “useless Chad”, hardly witnessed any form of development. In addition, the policy of ethnic chauvinism orchestrated by those who came to power after independence was substantially responsible for why division along ethnic lines has persisted. It maintains that political elites in Chad must rule in the interest of all and promote good governance as the best way to overcome the problem of nation building in the country.
AJOL African Journals Online