Accepted paper:

West African political leaders travelling the world (1950s-1960s): between diplomatic exchange and globetrotting

Author:

Susann Baller (German Historical Institute, Paris-Dakar)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines official travels of West African political leaders who travelled within Africa and throughout the world in the 1950s and early 1960s. It focuses on the official tourist program offered to the visitors and raises the issue of how African travelers experienced their journey.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines official travels and state visits of West African political leaders who travelled within Africa and between Africa and the world during the decolonization period from the 1950s to early 1960s. This period was characterized by major social and political changes within West Africa. African political leaders used the platform of travelling in order to represent and showcase their political ambitions, agendas and states. Even though these travels mainly aimed at political and diplomatic goals, they also provided an opportunity for African political leaders to travel and to explore the world, while those inviting them carefully planned how to represent their countries to their visitors. This paper focuses on three aspects. First, it describes the official tourist program offered to the visitors. Whether in Africa or the global North, this was usually designed in a way to represent the host country as "modern", including the visit of dams, factories and major landmarks. The paper then raises the issue of how African travelers experienced their journey, including the question of what may have went "wrong" during the journey. Finally, it analyses how African political leaders represented their travel experience back home, even more as many political leaders were more frequently abroad than at home. The paper is based on archival research in Senegal, France, Great Britain and the United States. It mainly uses material on Senegalese and Guinean political leaders.

panel Anth54
African global travellers: (dis)connections, policies, and imaginations [CRG Africa in the World]