Researching my genealogy in archives
In December 2019, I started doing some interviews of my grandmother. Aida Touré, born Aida Diouf. My father's mother. My family is mostly living in Ivory-Coast, but it appeared my grandmother's family is mostly from Senegal. Both were French colonies. During colonial times, I learned that Senegal was the administrative center for the power of the A.O.F, French West Africa. Her grand-father Galandou Diouf was the deputy for the West African territories and would travel regularly to Paris for his meetings at the Assemblée Nationale in Paris.
In some archives, I found some pictures of himself and his wife Rabi Diop in 1939.
I translated some of these articles in English.
Brussels, January 1st 2020
Married to the Deputy for Sénégal Galandou Diouf, Madame Galandou Diouf arrives in Paris in 1939. For her first time in France, she discovers la vie Parisienne of her time. Her first journey to Paris will last only for a short time. On June 20th, 1940, Diouf will board the cruise ship Massilia to return to his district in the company of Jean Zay and Mendes-France who refused to vote for Petain's accession to power and are all convinced that it is possible to continue war against the German Reich from the French colonies in Africa where the French Government could be based.
Racist and antisemitic rhetoric was omnipresent at this time an early sign of the anti-jewish laws put in place by the Marechal Petain later on.
In January 1939, the Dioufs were welcomed in Paris, with the hope that the Deputy for Senegal could mobilise troops in French West Africa, if requested.
"I will gather a million black soldiers ready to fight for their Motherland" he would say. Both himself and Blaise Diagne had previously recruited 400.000 soldiers during the First World War. Diouf professed that the allegiance of the African soldiers was still existant towards France.
The brightness of their teeth, the darkness of their skin and the flamboyance of their clothes, would constantly be mentioned in descriptions in the papers. Madame Diouf, dressed with colorful dresses made with Madras fabrics is described as a "chirping bird". Their Parisian apartment is full of birds such as described in "The propaganda of using birds" article in the issue of Le Monde Illustré of February 1939 in which Madame Diouf and her husband are again posing in front of a sewing machine:
"Monsieur and Madame Galandou Diouf had a charming idea. They brought back many singing birds which have the particularity to remember songs taught by their owners, more talented than our local blackbirds. And these animals for which we are ignorant of the name, will listen until satisfaction, vinyls of songs from our own local folklore. (…) Then, they will go back to their homeland in complete freedom. In the Senegalese forest and the jungle, they will teach their brothers these popular songs and it will become an easy propaganda."
Horse races, theatre and opera, official dinners, were their tools to gather the spotlight. The couple is aware of this "exotic" perception of their body and dress while gravitating amongst the elite and use it in their strategy of communication. A real danger is awaiting the French colonies: the racist ideology spread throughtout Europe by the German Reich against which Galandou Diouf would write an article in the anti-racist newspaper Le Droit de Vivre entitled « A Crime ! To give our colonies to the Barbarians » in March 1939.
From Sénégal to the rives of the Seine river.
Arriving from Dakar Madame Galandou Diouf discovers Paris.
Paris, January 16th 1939 - Le Journal
We are overwhelmed by an extotic feeling as soon as we push the door of the apartment : tropical birds chirping in a whir of their rainbow colored feathers. The hall was full of trunks and boxes slightly opened, from which shimmering textiles, multi-coloured necklaces, crafted leathers with a primitive touch, ebony and teak wooden statues with grimacing expressions.
M. Galandou Diouf, the Deputy for Senegal welcomes us in his Parisian apartment in a prosperous place located half-way between the Eiffel tower and the green quays where boats are tied up on the Seine.
So many strange objects, strange by their colours, shapes and symbols were collected by the master of the house, during his long trip of six months which led him to visit Sénégal, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, jewels of our colonial Empire, before getting back to his work as a Deputy.
M. Galandou Diouf is optomistic from his visits to the A.O.F (nb : French West Africa) : the reign of social peace and concord is back.
The black Deputy came back to Paris in the company of Mme Galandou Diouf who finally decided to discover France and its capital.
Looking young, her silhouette is tall and lean, her French accent sounds like a bird chirping coming from her dazzling mouth.
Her impressions as a new Parisienne ?
She did not yet have time to visit the big city as the long trip from Dakar to Paris just ended a few hours earlier.
"If my wife did not yet have time to visit Paris, said M. Galandou Diouf, I can tell you she was already astonished in Casablanca where we had a lay-over. This modern city, magnificent, with its tall white buildings, impeccable avenues and crowds has been for her a first contact to the « European » way of life. In Marseille, her admiring impression has grown."
And Mme Galandou Diouf added :
"Why are the whites so interested in coming to Sénégal while their home is full of beautiful things we don’t have?..."
They have, Madam, sparkling stores, old buildings filled with glory, however if one day they are taking a boat to your perfumed shores, where adventure is probably awaiting, it is inspired by a secret desire to escape an old world !... And in exchange, give you an opportunity to become a real Parisienne, for which this fresh enthusiasm is maybe the justification of the work of art that is French colonialism. – L.A
"Yonne" and "Mac Kann" win the Poule d’Essai
Paris, May 15th 1939 – L’œuvre
Yesterday at Longchamp
"The weather was gorgeous and women were wearing hats overflowing with flowers. We noticed the exotic dress of Madame Galandou Diouf, wife of the Deputy for Senegal. The Baron Edouard de Rothschild only had one horse running today : Pierre de Rosette started as a favourite in the first race : she ended up coming last.
The Boussac stable continues to be unlucky. Yesterday, Gillas who seemed to be unbeatable at the Grand Prix de Tremblay, finished in fifth position.
Today, Canzoni who was the odds-on favourite at the race of fillies Poule d’Essai came a close second after Yonne. The Robert Lazard stable defeated La Poule des Poulains quite easily with Mac Kann, however, the adjudicator was generous in his judgment as he stated the distance to be two lengths. The favorite was followed by Romeo and Turbulent in the order of the punters’s predictions.
The hard-won trophy makes for a wonderful spectacle on the track of the Grand Prix de Paris. The jockey Toche rode Sesterce beautifully, winning at some lengths, giving some space to his horse on the ascent of the race and then starting again in a snap at the Porte de Boulogne to leave all his competitors flabbergasted behind him."
« No ! » protests Mme Galandou Diouf. I won’t dress in European style !...
Paris, January 31st 1939 - Les Annales Coloniales
by Jean Mani
We could not leave the Deputy for Sénégal without asking Mme Galandou Diouf about her impressions of Paris, for it is her first trip to Europe. While we were interviewing the Deputy, his wife was sewing a piece of shimmery yellow silk fabric with her sewing machine.
She accepts to speak, interrupt her sewing.
… I had a first revelation on the way to Paris, the proud city of Casablanca !
- "I explained to my wife, said Galandou Diouf, where there are now all these houses, stores, hotels, thirty years ago there were miserable slums like the huts we have in the jungle.And then an important « Toubab » (translation: white man) suddenly arrived! She and I went to place some flowers under the freshly inaugurated statue. (statue of the Maréchal Lyautey inaugurated on the November 5th, 1938 ). »
After Casablanca was Marseille and then Paris !...
… Paris halas ! In the cold and under the rain !...
- "Is this always the case ?..."
- "No, in a few months the sun will be back and leaves on the trees and the joyful and light colours of dresses on the streets…"
However, the magic atmosphere of evening lights and the splendor of the boutiques, theatres, orchestras and the movement, the noise and the relentless activity in the capital are already evident.
- "Why are there French people in our poor Africa while they have so many marvelous things here? The Priests, I mean, I can understand, it is understandable, as they took an oath to bring God to the black men… but the others ? "
- "Do you have the intention, Madame, to dress yourself in European style while you are in France ?"
She replies in the negative :
- "My wife will keep her hairstyle and her costume. And I fully approve! Wouldn’t you agree each race owns its own particular genius? Each group of human owns its own suitability. An African woman has nothing to gain by copying European fashion. Nevertheless, she can prove that women from her country do have style, coquetry, and people like her are not any more primitive savages as some misinformed people still imagine !..."
We are humbled by such a wise feeling, which we will surely share with everyone meeting Mme Galandou Diouf, wearing her precious fabrics which she is expertly sewing in front of us. Let us wish her now a wonderful journey in Paris where she brings some of the pride and classic beauty from our Tropical provinces.
A Black woman who is the equal of a white one
Paris, January 14th 1939 - Le Petit Dauphinois
By Jean Derives
Paris, January 13th.
On this Friday the 13th, I want to put down a marker with black ink, meaning some ink borrowed in our African Empire. For her first time, Mme Galandou Diouf, wife of the Deputy of Senegal visits France with her husband. The photographer caught them during a lay-over in Casablanca, and this indiscreet picture is a worthy part of M. Daladier’s collection of images which he will bring back from Tunisia.
Have a look at this Française of Sénégal. She did not abandonned her habits , traditions and the proud attitude of the women of her race. The way she lives in Dakar or Saint-Louis is the way we discover her now, in her striking outfit, such as Pierre Loti would have described in his novel « Roman d’un Spahi ».
She did not try to conform to the standards of beauty of the French Metropole and she is above the dictatorship of women’s elegance. I will tell you, ladies, her style has nothing to do with your’s, but I repeat, she is as French as you are, and if you witness her smoking a cigarette, believe me this is not in an effort to appear snobish ! Many years before Jean Nicot introduced tocacco to France the « mamas » already appreciated tobacco...in order to be immoral ? Not at all, but to keep flies and mosquitos away from their baby’s cribs. Our women do not have this reason for smoking…
With Deputies Gratien Candace and Sévère, Galandou Diouf is one of the three black Deputies who are representing the Antilles and Africa at the National Assembly. I know him since fifteen years and I owe him a fratenal warmth and friendship which, beyond our skin colours, predisposed me to consider him as a European and an indigenous.
-"I have only known one group as a French citizen, the Army…I will make sure it stays this way."
From his arrival in France as a simple soldier, injured three times, promoted to the rank of Officer in Verdun, decorated with the Legion d’Honneur, Médaille Millitaire and the Croix de guerre among his numerous medals, Galandou Diouf is allowed to use these words. When he came back to his country, without any political agenda, he became administrator of Saint-Louis, in a manner to which we would like our own metropolitan cities to be managed. Building schools, and multiplying hospitals, devloping medical services and community projects, only by his virtuous example, this black man who is proud to be black, has done so much for the prestige of France, the white should tip their hats and vote for him without feeling humiliated. Because where equality reigns – equality meaning duty and philantropy - there is no abdication, nor mortification.
Those who do not understand this concept are revealing their failure to understand colonisation : they confuse epowerment with slavery and doing so they condemn their ambitions.
The real human civilisation, is welcoming to the French Chamber of Deputies Madame Galandou Diouf wearing a dress of madras textile, holdig her husband’s arm.
A crime : Give our colonies to the Barbarians
Paris, March 11th 1939 - Le Droit de Vivre
By Galandou Diouf – Deputy for Senegal
While Germany and Italy are claiming some colonies, it is essential that a unique French voice, either from the mainland or the colonies, stands against such pretentions.
I am speaking with both these statuses coming from the colonies and also being French, I want to raise my voice as others have already done.
Hitler and Mussolini who do not hesitate to persecute people because of their race, color, a difference of opinion and religion are claiming huge territories where black people are living, who pray to different gods and even sometimes to Idols, which is after all, an ancient religion.
Not only would it be madness, but also a crime to give these countries to those barbarians of fascists and nazis.
After all the disgusting articles published in Germany, how would any coloured person, would anyone, even think about the possibility for these people to look after even one black person?
Has not Hitler already many times insulted as « savages » my colored brothers ?
I defy Germany and Italy to indicate me one barbarian action that would have been committed by an indigenous in our french Africa !
But all black people know massacres committed by Hitler and the terrible massacres of Ethiopians executed under Mussolini’s power.
Giving colonies to Germany and Italy? One could just go to Africa and see by himself, visit the jungle, deserts and remote forests. Explore it far and wide the African jungle and I am sure they will find no black person that will accept the domination of Hitler and Mussolini.
Savages, barbarians, none of them can be found in Africa and my black brothers will never accept them coming from Germany and Italy.
In our next edition of Dimanche-Illustré...
The weekly newspaper for all the family
Paris, June 30th 1939 - L'Excelsior
You can read about:
- A Senegalese woman in Paris
Madame Galandou Diouf, Deputy for Senegal's wife, is too cold to go outside.
- Our report about the Diver's School of Toulon
- The Western world seen by a Chinese man.
At the close of Auteuil’s horse race - « Weekend » wins the Vittel Price under the gaze of French Africa nigger chiefs.
Le Petit Journal
July 1939 - Paris
During the weigh-in, the presence of the Black Tribal Chiefs, led by M. Galandou Diouf, was seen as highly successful.
The last Sunday of the season at the Auteuil Hippodrome – which will reopen on Saturday the 14th of October.
Although the weigh-in is not attracting the crowd, everyone is gravitating towards the African costumes. These powerful Tribal Chiefs and nigger Sultans of French East Africa or French West Africa are attracting everyone, dressed with green, cyclamen red, white costumes, one of them wearing a tiny hat made of soft black felt, another a golden cap, picturesque, superb, all enjoying the race.
Madame Galandou Diouf - who came with her husband, the Deputy for Senegal, is a regular of the place and was wearing a beautiful costume: blue Madras fabric, a purple shawl, a type of long sea-green blouse, black, smiling and as formally dressed as these Great Warlords.
Propaganda with birds, Le Monde Illustré, February 1939
by Noël Villiers.
Monsieur Galandou Diouf is a coloured man of Senegal - one hundred percent. He is proud to fully represent his own race at the Chamber of the Deputies, both his political agenda as well as the darkness of his skin. We are born the way we are born and M. Galandou Diouf, upon whom civilization has smiled, considers with contentment that he is French, just like you and me. At the same time acknowledging that his ancestors were pure Africans without any blood mix. « Bon Dieu li a fait café, bon Dieu li a fait café, bon Dieu li a pas fait café au lait », he says, quoting his grandmother who was not in favour of mixed marriages. Naturally, he says this in better grammar than her as he does not ignore the perfections of our language – his language.
And M. Galandou Diouf married one of his young fellow citizens, racially as pure as him and as French as he is. She left her native Senegal, one of the pearls of our empire, to accompany him during the Parlimantary session. And Madame Galandou Diouf is enchanted to discover the Metropole, especially Paris. However, as someone who gotten the taste, she is not abandoning the costume of her land, a costume we can say is as regional as the ones from our own provinces - isn’t Senegal a French province since Richelieu ?
Monsieur and Madame Galandou Diouf had a charming idea. They brought back many singing birds which have a special gift of remember songs taught to them by their owners, more talented than our local blackbirds. And these animals of which we do not know the name are listening treasures, vinyls of songs from our own local folklore.
We imagine in a few month they will know « Le Bon Roi Dagobert », « Auprès de ma blonde », « Fanfan la Tulipe », as well as other tunes and, we hope, the chorus of « La Marseillaise ».
Then, they will go back to their homeland in complete freedom. In the Senegalese forest and the jungle, they will teach their brothers these popular songs and it will be easy propaganda.
What a joy for our explorers when they will suddenly hear a birdsong with this Parisian expediency, from behind the leaves of a kapok tree, in a still uncleared land of Senegal: « Ah ladies, here comes some good cheese ! … »