In Le Désir de calme Klaas van Walraven traces the history of the Sawaba movement in Niger and its rebellion against the French-protected regime during the 1960s. The book analyses its guerrilla campaign and failure, followed by the movement’s destruction.
Le Désir de calme is the French translation of a book that deals with a totally neglected subject, i.e. the Sawaba movement and its rebellion in Niger. Klaas van Walraven traces this story from a social history perspective, placing back an entire generation of activists, removed from the official record, into mainstream Nigérien history. Representing a genuine social movement, Sawaba formed Niger’s first autonomous government under French suzerainty. Overthrown by the Gaullists and persecuted, it attempted a comeback with a guerrilla campaign (1960-1966), which failed, leading to its destruction. Le Désir de calme – based on numerous interviews with survivors and a vast range of archival sources, including France’s secret service – is essential reading for the re-evaluation of Niger’s history and the role of militant nationalist movements in the decolonisation of French West Africa.