Big Read: Félix Houphouët-Boigny: Builder of modern Ivory Coast
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Félix Houphouët-Boigny (18 October 1905 - 7 December 1993) was the first President of Côte d'Ivoire.
Originally a village chief, he worked as a doctor, an administrator of a plantation, and a union leader, before being elected to the French Parliament and serving in a number of ministerial positions in the French government. From the 1940s until his death, he played a leading role in the decolonization of Africa and in his country's politics.
Under Houphouët-Boigny's politically moderate leadership, Côte d'Ivoire prospered economically. This success, uncommon in poverty-ridden West Africa, became known as the "Ivorian miracle" and was due to a combination of sound planning, the maintenance of strong ties with the West (particularly France), and development of the country's significant coffee and cocoa industries. However, the exploitation of the agricultural sector caused difficulties in 1980, after a sharp drop in the prices of coffee and cocoa.
Throughout his presidency, Houphouët-Boigny maintained a close relationship with France, a policy known as Françafrique, and he built a close friendship with Jacques Foccart, the chief adviser on African policy in the de Gaulle and Pompidou governments. He aided the conspirators who ousted Kwame Nkrumah from power in 1966, took part in the coup against Mathieu Kérékou in 1977, and was suspected of involvement in the 1987 coup that removed Thomas Sankara from power in Burkina Faso. Houphouët-Boigny maintained an ardently anticommunist foreign policy, which resulted in, among other things, severing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1969 (after first establishing relations in 1967), refusing to recognise the People's Republic of China until 1983, and providing assistance to UNITA, a United States-supported, anti-communist rebel movement in Angola.
In the West, Houphouët-Boigny was commonly known as the "Sage of Africa" or the "Grand Old Man of Africa". Houphouët-Boigny moved the country's capital from Abidjan to his hometown of Yamoussoukro and built the world's largest church there, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, at a cost of US$300 million. At the time of his death, he was the longest-serving leader in Africa's history and the third longest-serving leader in the world, after Fidel Castro of Cuba and Kim Il-sung of North Korea. In 1989, UNESCO created the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for the "safeguarding, maintaining and seeking of peace". After his death, conditions in Côte d'Ivoire quickly deteriorated. From 1994 until 2002, there were a number of coup d'états, a currency devaluation, an economic recession, and, beginning in 2002, a civil war.
Birth, childhood and education
According to his official biography, Houphouët-Boigny was probably born on 18 October 1905, in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire to a family of chiefs of the Baoulé people. Unofficial accounts, however, place his birth date up to seven years earlier. Born into the animist Akouès tribe, he was given the name Dia Houphouët: his first name Dia means "prophet" or "magician" and his surname came from his father, N'Doli Houphouët. Dia Houphouët was the great-nephew of Queen Yamousso and the village chief, Kouassi N'Go. When N'Go was murdered in 1910, Dia was called on to succeed him as chief. Due to his young age, his stepfather Gbro Diby ruled as regent, Dia's father having already died.
Houphouët-Boigny descended from tribal chiefs through his mother, Kimou N'Drive (also known as N'Dri Kan), who died in 1936. Doubts remain as to the identity of his father, N'Doli. Officially a native of the N'Zipri of Didiévi tribe, N'Doli Houphouët died shortly after the birth of his son Augustin, although no reliable information regarding his death exists. This uncertainty has given rise to rumors, including a widespread one that his father was a Sudanese-born Muslim named Cissé. Houphouët-Boigny had two elder sisters, Faitai (1898?-1998) and Adjoua (d. 1987), as well as younger brother Augustin (d. 1939).
Recognising his place in the hierarchy, the colonial administration sent Houphouët to school at the military post in Bonzi, not far from his village, despite strenuous objections from relatives, especially his grand-aunt Yamousso. In 1915, he was transferred to the école primaire supérieure (secondary school) at Bingerville in spite of his family's reluctance. The same year, at Bingerville, he converted to Christianity; he considered it a modern religion and an obstacle to the spread of Islam.
He chose to be christened Félix. First in his class, he was accepted into the École William Ponty in 1919, and earned a teaching degree. In 1921, he attended the École de médecine de l'AOF (French West Africa School of Medicine) in Senegal, where he came first in his class in 1925 and qualified as a medical assistant. However, he never completed his studies in medicine and could only aspire to a career as a médecin africain, a poorly-paid doctor.
On 26 October 1925, Houphouët began his career as a doctor's aide at a hospital in Abidjan, where he founded an association of indigenous medical personnel. This undertaking proved short-lived as the colonial administration viewed it unsympathetically, considering it a trade union. As a consequence, they decided to move Houphouët to a particularly insanitary hospital in Guiglo on 27 April 1927 After he proved his considerable talents, however, he was promoted on 17 September 1929 to a post in Abengourou, which until then had been reserved for Europeans. At Abengourou, Houphouët witnessed the mistreatment of indigenous cocoa farmers by the colonists.
In 1932, he decided to act, leading a movement of farmers against the influential white landowners and for the economic policies of the colonial government, who favoured the farmers. On 22 December, he published an article under a pseudonym titled On nous a trop volés (They have stolen too much from us), which appeared in the Trait d'union, an Ivorian socialist newspaper.
The following year, Houphouët was summoned by his tribe to assume the responsibilities of village chiefbut preferring to pursue his medical career, he deferred in favour of his younger brother Augustin. However, wishing to live closer to his village, he obtained a transfer to Dimbokro on 3 February 1934 and then to Toumodi on 28 June 1936. While Houphouët had displayed professional qualities, his attitude had chafed those around him.
As a result, in September 1938, his clinical director demanded that he choose between his job as a doctor and his involvement in local politics. The choice was quickly made for him: his brother died in 1939, and Houphouët became chef de canton (an office created by the colonial adminstration so to collect the demanded tax-quota). Due to this, he ended his medical career the next year
In 1930, Houphouët married Kady Racine Sow (1913-2006) in Abengourou despite the fact that he was a practising Catholic, and she was the daughter of a wealthy Muslim from Senegal.[ The families of the two eventually overcame their opposition and accepted the interfaith union, the first ever celebrated in Côte d'Ivoire. The couple had five children: Felix (who died in infancy), Augustine, Francis, Guillaume and Marie, all raised as Catholics.
Chef de canton and union leader
By becoming chef de canton, Houphouët assumed responsibility for the administration of Akouè, a canton which comprised 36 villages. He also took charge of the family plantation-at the time one of the most important in the country-and worked to diversify its rubber, cocoa and coffee crops. He soon became one of Africa's richest farmersOn 3 September 1944, he established, in cooperation with the colonial administration the African Agricultural Union (Syndicat agricole africain, SAA).
Under his presidency, the SAA brought together African farmers who were dissatisfied with their working conditions and worked to protect their interests against those of European planters. Anti-colonialist and anti-racist, the organisation demanded better working conditions, higher wages, and the abolition of unfree labor. The union quickly received the support of nearly 20,000 plantation workers, together with that of the left-wing French administrators placed in office by the Provisional Government. Its success irritated colonists to the extent that they took legal action against Houphouët, accusing him of being anti-French for never seeking French citizenship. However, Houphouët befriended the Inspector Minister of the Colonies, who ordered the charges dropped. They were more successful in obtaining the replacement of the sympathetic Governor André Latrille with the hostile Governor Henry de Mauduit.
Houphouët entered electoral politics in August 1945, when elections for the Abidjan city council were held for the first time. The French electoral rules established a common roll: half of the elected would have to be French citizens (who were mostly Europeans) and the other half non-citizens. Houphouët reacted by creating a multi-ethnic all-African roll with both non-citizens and citizens (mostly Senegalese with French citizenship). As a result, most of the African contenders withdrew and a large number of the French protested by abstaining, thus assuring a decisive victory for his African Bloc.
In October 1945, Houphouët moved onto the national political scene; the French government decided to represent its colonies in the assemblée constituante (English: Constituent Assembly) and gave Côte d'Ivoire and Upper Volta two representatives in Parliament combined. One of these would represent the French citizens and another would represent the indigenous populatio, but the suffrage was limited to less than 1% of the population. In an attempt to block Houphouët, the governor de Mauduit supported a rival candidature, and provided him the full backing of the administration.
Despite that and thanks to the SAA's strong organization, Houphouët, running for the indigenous seat, easily came first with a 1,000-vote majority. He failed, however, to obtain an absolute majority, due to the large number of candidates running. Houphouët emerged victorious again in the second round of elections held on 4 November 1945, in which he narrowly defeated an Upper Voltan candidate with 12,980 votes out of a total of 31,081 At this point, he decided to add "Boigny" to his surname, meaning "irresistible force" in Baoulé and symbolizing his role as a leader.
Member of Parliament
The Palais Bourbon, where Houphouët-Boigny was appointed to the territorial commission In taking his seat at the National Assembly in Palais Bourbon, Houphouët-Boigny had first thing to decide with which group side, and he opted for the Mouvement Unifié de la Résistance (MUR), a small party composed of Communist sympathizers but not formal members of the Communist Party. He was appointed a member of the Commission des territoires d'outre-mer (Commission of Overseas Territories) During this time, he worked to implement the wishes of the SAA, in particular proposing a bill to abolish forced labor-the single most unpopular feature of French rule.
The Assembly adopted this bill, known as Loi Houphouët-Boigny, on 11 April 1946, greatly enhancing the author's prestige not only in his country. On 3 April 1946, Houphouët-Boigny proposed to unify labour regulations in the territories of Africa; this would eventually be completed in 1952. Finally, on 27 September 1946, he filed a report on the public health system of overseas territories, calling for its reformation. Houphouët-Boigny in his parliamentary tenure supported the idea of a union of French territories. Such a union would, in his view, create a policy that was "métropolitaine et démocratique" (metropolitan and democratic), the other "coloniale et réactionnaire" (colonial and reactionary).
As the first constitution proposed by the Constituant Assembly was rejected by the voters, new elections were held in 1946 for a second constituant assembly. For these elections Houphouët-Boigny organized on 9 April 1946, with the help of the Groupes d'études communistes (English: Communist Study Groups), the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), whose structure closely followed that of the SAA.
It immediately become the first successful independent African party when the new party Houphouët-Boigny easily swept the elections with 21,099 out of 37,888 votes, his opponents obtaining only a few hundred votes each. In this he was helped by the recall of Governor Latrille, whose predecessor had been fired by the Overseas Minister Marius Moutet for his opposition to the abolition of the indigénat.
With his return to the assembly he was appointed to the Commission du règlement et du suffrage universel (Commission for Regulation of Universal Suffrage); as secretary of the commission from 1947 to 1948, he proposed on 18 February 1947 to reform French West Africa (AOF), French Equatorial Africa (AEF), and the French territories' federal council to better represent the African peoples. He also called for the creation of local assemblies in Africa so that Africans could learn how to be autonomous.
Foundation of the RDA and Communist alliance
During the holding of the second Constituent Assembly the African representatives witnessed a strong reaction against the colonial liberalism that had been embedded in the rejected constitution drafted by the previous assembly. The new text, approved by the voters on October 13, 1946, reduced the African representatives from 30 to 24, and reduced the number of those entitled to vote; also, a large number of colonial topics were left in which the executive could govern by decree, and supervision over the colonial administation remained weak.
Reacting to what they felt was a betrayal of the MRP's and the Socialists' promises, the African deputies concluded they needed to build a permanent coalition independent from the French parties. Houphouët-Boigny was the first to propose this to his African colleagues, and obtained their full support for a founding congress to be held in October at Bamako in French Sudan The French government did all it could to sabotage the congress, and in particular the Socialist Overseas Minister was successful in persuading the African Socialists, who were originally among the promoters, from attending.
This ultimately bacfired, radicalizing those convened; when they founded the African Democratic Rally (RDA) as an inter-territorial political movement, it was the pro-Communist Gabriel d'Arboussier who dominated the congress. The new movement's goal was to free "Africa from the colonial yoke by the affirmation of her personality and by the association, freely agreed to, of a union of nations". Its first president, confirmed several times subsequently, was Houphouët-Boigny, while secretary-general became d'Arboussier. As part of the bringing of the territorial parties in the organization, the PDCI became the Ivoirian branch of the RDA.
Too small to form their own parliamentary group, the African deputies were compelled to join one of the larger parties in order to sit together in the Palais Bourbon. Thus, the RDA soon joined the French Communist Party (PCF) as the only openly anti-colonialist political faction and soon organised strikes and boycotts of European imports.
Houphouët-Boigny justified the alliance because it seemed, at the time, to be the only way for his voice to be heard: "Even before the creation of RDA, the alliance had served our cause: in March 1946, the abolition of compulsory labour was adopted unanimously, without a vote, thanks to our tactical alliance."
As the Cold War set in, the alliance with the Communists became increasingly damaging for the RDA. The French colonial administration showed itself increasingly hostile toward the RDA and its president, whom the administration called a "Stalinist". Tensions reached their height at the beginning of 1950, when, following an outbreak of anti-colonial violence, almost the entire PDCI leadership was arrested;
Houphouët-Boigny managed to slip away shortly before police arrived at his house. Although Houphouët-Boigny would have been saved by his parliamentary immunity, his missed arrest was popularly attributed to his influence and his prestige. In the ensuing chaos, riots broke out in Côte d'Ivoire; the most significant of which was a clash with the police at Dimbokro in which 13 Africans were killed and 50 wounded. According to official figures, by 1951 a total of 52 Africans had been killed, several hundred wounded and around 3,000 arrested (numbers which, according to an opinion reported by journalist Ronald Segal in African Profiles, are certainly underestimated).
In order to defuse the crisis, Prime Minister René Pleven entrusted the France's Minister for Overseas Territories, François Mitterrand, with the task of detaching the RDA from the PCF, and in fact an official alliance between the RDA and Mitterrand's party, the UDSR, was established in 1952. Knowing he was at an impasse, in October 1950, Houphouët-Boigny agreed to break the Communist alliance. Asked in an undated interview why he worked with the communists, Houphouët-Boigny replied: "I, a bourgeois landowner, I would preach the class struggle? That is why we aligned ourselves with the Communist Party, without joining it."
Rehabilitation and entry into government
In the 1951 elections, the number of seats was reduced from three to two; while Houphouët-Boigny still won a seat, the other RDA candidate, Ouezzin Coulibaly, did not. All in all, the RDA only garnered 67,200 of 109,759 votes in that election, and the party in direct opposition to it captured a seat. On 8 August 1951, Boigny, speaking at René Pleven's inauguration as president of the board, denied being the leader of a communist group; he was not believed until the RDA's 1952 affiliation with UDSR.
On the 24th of that same month, Boigny delivered a statement in the Assembly contesting the result of the elections, which he declared tainted by fraud. He also denounced what he saw as the exploitation of overseas deputies as "voting machines", who, as political pawns, supported the colonial government's every action. Thereafter, Houphouët-Boigny and the RDA were briefly unsuccessful before their success was renewed in 1956; at that year's elections, the party received 502,711 of 579,550 votes cast. From then on, his relationship with Communism was forgotten, and he was embraced as a moderate.
Named as a member of the Committees on Universal Suffrage (distinct from the aforementioned committee regulating said suffrage), Constitutional Laws, Rules and Petitions. On 1 February 1956, he was appointed Minister Discharging the Duties of the Presidency of the Council in the government of Guy Mollet, a post he held until 13 June 1957. This marked the first time an African was elected to a leading position in the French colonies' governments. His principal achievement in this role was the creation of an organisation of Saharan regions that would help ensure sustainability for the French Unionand counter Moroccan territorial claims in the Sahara.
On 6 November 1957, Houphouët-Boigny became Minister of Public Health and Population in the Gaillard administration and attempted to reform the public health code. He had previously served as Minister of State under Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury (13 June - 6 November 1957). Following his Gaillard ministry, he was again appointed Minister of State from 14 May 1958;- 20 May 1959). In this capacity, he participated in the development of France's African policy, notably in the cultural domain. At his behest, the Bureau of French Overseas Students and the University of Dakar were created On 4 October 1958, Houphouët-Boigny was one of the signatories, along with de Gaulle, of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic. The last post he held in France was Minister-Counsellor in the Michel Debré government, from 23 July 1959 to 19 May 1961.
Leading up to independence
Until the mid-1950s, French colonies in west and central Africa were grouped within two federations: French Equatorial Africa (AEF) and French West Africa (AOF). Côte d'Ivoire was part of the AOF, financing roughly two thirds of its budget. Wishing to liberate the country from the guardianship of the AOF, Houphouët-Boigny advocated an Africa made up of nations that would generate wealth rather than share poverty and misery. He participated actively in the drafting and adoption of the framework of the Defferre Loi Cadre, a French legal reform which, in addition to granting autonomy to African colonies, would break the ties that bound the different territories together, giving them more autonomy by means of local assemblies.
The Deffere Loi Cadre was far from unanimously accepted by Houphouët-Boigny's compatriots in Africa: Léopold Sédar Senghor, leader of Senegal, was the first to speak out against this attempted "Balkanization" of Africa, arguing that the colonial territories "do not correspond to any reality: be it geographical, economic, ethnic, or linguistic". Senghor argued that maintaining the AOF would give the territories stronger political credibility and would allow them to develop harmoniously as well as emerge as a genuine people. This view was shared by most members of the African Democratic Rally, who backed Ahmed Sékou Touré and Modibo Keïta, placing Houphouët-Boigny in the minority at the 1957 congress in Bamako
Following the adoption of the Loi Cadre reform on 23 June 1956, a territorial election was held in Côte d'Ivoire on 3 March 1957, in which the PDCI-transformed under Houphouët-Boigny's firm control into a political machine-won many seats. Houphouët-Boigny, who was already serving as a minister in France, as President of the Territorial Assembly and as mayor of Abidjan, chose Auguste Denise to serve as Vice President of the Government Council of Côte d'Ivoire, even though Houphouët-Boigny remained, the only interlocutor in the colony for France.
Houphouët-Boigny's popularity and influence in France's African colonies had become so pervasive that one French magazine claimed that by 1956, the politician's photograph "was in all the huts, on the lapels of coats, on the corsages of African women and even on the handlebars of bicycles". On 7 April 1957, the Prime Minister of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, on a visit to Côte d'Ivoire, called on all colonies in Africa to declare their independence; Houphouët-Boigny retorted to Nkrumah:
Your experience is rather impressive ... But due to the human relationships between the French and the Africans, and because in the 20th century, people have become interdependent, we considered that it would perhaps be more interesting to try a new and different experience than yours and unique in itself, one of a Franco-African community based on equality and fraternity.
Unlike many African leaders who immediately demanded independence, Houphouët-Boigny wished for a careful transition within the "ensemble français"because, according to him, political independence without economic independence was worthless. He also invited Nkrumah to meet up with him in 10 years to see which one of the two had chosen the best approach toward independence.
On 28 September 1958 Charles de Gaulle proposed a constitutional referendum to the Franco-African community: the territories were given the choice of either supporting the constitution or proclaiming their independence and being cut off from France. For Houphouët-Boigny, the choice was simple: "Whatever happens, Côte d'Ivoire will enter directly to the Franco-African community. The other territories are free to group between themselves before joining." Only Guinea chose independence; its leader, Ahmed Sékou Touré, opposed Houphouët-Boigny, stating that his preference was "freedom in poverty over wealth in slavery".
The referendum produced the French Community, an institution meant to be an association of free republics which had jurisdiction over foreign policy, defense, currency, common ethnic and financial policy, and strategic raw materials.
Houphouët-Boigny was determined to stop the hegemony of Senegal in West Africa and a political confrontation ensued between Ivorian and Senegalese leaders. Houphouët-Boigny refused to participate in the Inter-African conference in Dakar on 31 December 1958, which was intended to lay the foundation for the Federation of Francophone African States.
Although that federation was never realised, Senegal and Mali (known at the time as French Sudan) formed their own political union, the Mali Federation. After de Gaulle allowed the Mali Federation independence in 1959, Houphouët-Boigny tried to sabotage the federation's efforts to wield political control in cooperation with France, he managed to convince Upper Volta, Dahomey, and Niger to withdraw from the Mali Federation, before it collapsed in August 1960.
Two months after the 1958 referendum, seven member states of French West Africa, including Côte d'Ivoire, became autonomous republics within the French Community. Houphouët-Boigny had won his first victory against those supporting federalism. This victory established the conditions that made the future "Ivorian miracle" possible, since between 1957 and 1959, budget revenues grew by 158%, reaching 21,723,000,000 CFA francs.
Early years and second marriage
Houphouët-Boigny officially became the head of the government of Côte d'Ivoire on 1 May 1959. Although he faced no opposition from rival parties and the PDCI became the de facto party of the state in 1957, he was confronted by opposition from his own government. Radical nationalists, led by Jean-Baptiste Mockey, openly opposed the government's Francophile policies. In an attempt to solve this problem, Houphouët-Boigny decided to exile Mockey in September 1959, claiming that Mockey had attempted to assassinate him using voodoo in what Houphouët-Boigny called the "complot du chat noir" (black cat conspiracy).
Houphouët-Boigny began drafting a new constitution for Côte d'Ivoire after the country's independence from France on 7 August 1960. It drew heavily from the United States Constitution in establishing a powerful executive branch, and from the Constitution of France, which limited the capacities of the legislature.
He transformed the National Assembly into a mere recording house for bills and budget proposals; the representatives were to be appointed by the head of government, and the PDCI was to act like an intermediary between the people and the government. On 27 November 1960, Houphouët-Boigny was elected unopposed to the Presidency of the Republic, while the list of candidates of the PDCI-the only participating party-was approved for the National Assembly.
1963 was marked by a series of alleged plots that played a decisive role in ultimately consolidating power in the hands of Houphouët-Boigny. There is no clear consensus on the unfolding of the 1963 events; in fact, there may have been no plot at all and the entire series of events may have been part of a plan by Houphouët-Boigny to consolidate his hold on power. Between 120 and 200 secret trials were held in Yamoussoukro, in which key political figures-including Mockey and the president of the Supreme Court Ernest Boka-were implicated.
There was discontent in the army, as the generals grew restive following the arrest of Defense Minister Jean Konan Banny, and the president had to intervene personally to pacify them. From then on, Houphouët-Boigny governed Côte d'Ivoire as a dictator. Nevertheless, once he had consolidated his power, he freed political prisoners in 1967. Under his "unique brand of paternalistic authoritarianism", Houphouët-Boigny subdued dissent by offering government positions instead of incarceration to his critics. According to Robert Mundt, author of Côte d'Ivoire: Continuity and Change in a Semi-Democracy, his power was never seriously challenged from 1963 until his death.
In order to foil any plans for a coup d'etat, the president took control of the military and police, reducing their numbers from 5,300 to 3,500. Defence was entrusted to the French armed forces that, pursuant to the treaty on defence cooperation of 24 April 1961, were stationed at Port-Bouët and could intervene at Houphouët-Boigny's request or when they considered French interests to be threatened. They subsequently intervened during attempts by the Sanwi monarchists to secede in 1959 and 1969, and again in 1970, when an unauthorised political group, the Eburnian Movement, was formed and Houphouët-Boigny accused its leader Kragbé Gnagbé of wishing to secede
Félix Houphouët-Boigny and his wife Marie-Thérèse Houphouët-Boigny with John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in 1962 Houphouët-Boigny married the much younger Marie-Thérèse Houphouët-Boigny in 1962, having divorced his first wife in 1952. The couple had no children of their own, but they adopted two: five-year-old Hélène in 1960, the granddaughter of King Baoulé Anoungbré, and Olivier Antoine in 1981. The marriage was not without scandal: in 1958, Marie-Thérèse went on a romantic escapade in Italy, while in 1961, Houphouët-Boigny fathered a child (Florence, d. 2007) out of wedlock by his mistress Henriette Duvignac.
Leadership in Africa
Following the example of de Gaulle, who refused proposals for an integrated Europe, Houphouët-Boigny opposed Nkrumah's proposed United States of Africa, which called into question Côte d'Ivoire's recently acquired national sovereignty. However, Houphouët-Boigny was not against African unity which developed on a case by case basis.
On 29 May 1959, in cooperation with Hamani Diori (Niger), Maurice Yaméogo (Upper Volta) and Hubert Maga (Dahomey), Houphouët-Boigny created the Conseil de l'Entente (English: Council of Accord or Council of Understanding). This regional organisation, founded in order to hamper the Mali Federation, was designed with three major functions: to allow shared management of certain public services, such as the port of Abidjan or the Abidjan-Niger railway line; to provide a solidarity fund accessible to member countries, 90% of which was provided by Côte d'Ivoire; and to provide funding for various development projects through low-interest loans to member states (70% of the loans were supplied by Côte d'Ivoire). In 1966, Houphouët-Boigny even offered to grant dual citizenship to nationals from member countries of the Conseil de l'Entente, but the proposition was quickly abandoned following popular protests.
The ambitious Ivorian leader had even greater plans for French-speaking Africa: he intended to rally the different nations behind a large organisation whose objective was the mutual assistance of its member states. The project became a reality on 7 September 1961 with the signing of a charter giving birth to the l'Union africaine et malgache (UAM; English: African and Malagasy Union), comprising 12 French-speaking countries including Léopold Sédar Senghor's Senegal. Agreements were signed in various sectors, such as economic, military and telecommunications, which strengthened solidarity among Francophone states.
However, the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in May 1963 affected his plans: the supporters of Pan-Africanism demanded the dissolution of all regional groupings, such as the UAM. Houphouët-Boigny reluctantly ceded, and transformed the UAM into the Organisation africaine et malgache de coopération économique et culturelle (English: African and Malagasy Organization of economic and cultural cooperation).
Considering the OAU a dead end organisation, particularly since Paris was opposed to the group, Houphouët-Boigny decided to create in 1965 l'Organisation commune africaine et malgache (OCAM; English: African and Malagasy Organization), a French organization in competition with the OAU. The organisation included among its members 16 countries, whose aim was to break revolutionary ambitions in Africa. However, over the years, the organisation became too subservient to France, resulting in the departure of half of the countries.
In the mid-1970s, during times of economic prosperity, Houphouët-Boigny and Senghor put aside their differences and joined forces to thwart Nigeria, which, in an attempt to established itself in West Africa, had created the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The two countered the ECOWAS by creating the Economic Community of West Africa (ECWA), which superseded the old trade partnerships in the French-speaking regions. However, after assurances from Nigeria that ECOWAS would function in the same manner as the earlier Francophone organisation