History of West Africa Haute Volta

Upper Volta, 1895-1919

The region which from 1919 to 1984 was known as Upper Volta (in French : Haute Volta) and since 1984 as Burkina Faso had been settled by the MOSSI, whose city states date back into the 12th century. The most powerful were OUAGADOUGOU, YATENGA, TENGKODOGO.

In a region where strife among local chieftains was a permanent affair, the well-armed French were sought-for allies. In 1894/95 the French, the British and the Germans competed for influence. The French established a protectorate over the Gourma (Jan. 1895), Yatenga (May 1895) and over Ouagadougou (Sept. 1896). In some areas the protectorate was established by peacefull agreement; in a number of cases, the French concluded such agreements with one side in the conflict, and then proceded to defeat, or orchestrate the defeat, of the other side.
In agreements with Germany in 1897 (and again in 1912) and with Britain in 1898 (and again in 1905) the border between the Togo respectively the Gold Coast and the French territory later known as Upper Volta was fixed. In 1898 the Upper Volta was pacified, although resistance continued to flare up locally every now and then.
Administratively, the newly acquired region was part of the FRENCH SOUDAN, which in 1899 was renamed UPPER SENEGAL AND MIDDLE NIGER (which covered modern Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger), and in 1902 were amalgamated with Senegambia to form SENEGAMBIA AND NIGER, capital Kayes. In 1904 Senegambia and Niger was dissolved; Upper Volta now was allocated to Upper Senegal and Niger, capital Bamako.

Slavery was abolished in 1901. The activities of Catholic missionaries caused resentment in Muslim areas; in 1906 the French administration ordered the White Fathers to reduce their educational activity in Upper Volta.
French attempts to recruit soldiers for World War I caused rebellions by BOUNA (1915), the Marka and Kwa (1916) which were crushed.
In 1919, Upper Volta, capital Ouagadougou, was established as a separate colony.

Burkina Faso, History of, from Infoplease
Ouagadougou, Ouedraogo Dynasty, from Almanach.be
REFERENCE Daniel Miles McFarland, Historical Dictionary of Upper Volta, Metuchen : Scarecrow, 1978, 217 pp.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 6th 2004

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