In 1914, Blaise Diagne was elected as Senegal’s first black African representative to the National Assembly in France. Education as Politics reinterprets the origins and significance of this momentous election, showing how colonial schools had helped reshape African power and politics during the preceding decades and how they prepared the way for Diagne’s victory.
Kelly M. Duke Bryant demonstrates the critical impact of colonial schooling on Senegalese politics by examining the response to it by Africans from a variety of backgrounds and statusesincluding rural chiefs, Islamic teachers, and educated young urbanites. For those Africans who chose to engage with them, the French schools in Senegal provided a new source of patronage, a potentially beneficial connection to the bureaucratizing colonial state, a basis for claims to authority or power, or an arena in which to debate pressing issues like the future of Qur’anic schooling and the increasing racism of urban society under colonial rule.
Based on evidence from archives in Senegal and France, and on interviews Duke Bryant conducted in Senegal, she demonstrates that colonial schooling remade African politics during this period of transition to French rule, creating political spaces that were at once African and colonial, and ultimately allowing Diagne to claim election victory.