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Central Africa Republic Timeline -- Part 1: From Prehistory to Independence (13 August 1960)

A Chronology of Key Events in Central Africa Republic

By Alistair Boddy-Evans, About.com

c.2000 BCE Bouar megaliths show evidence of large, organized society in the region.
1400s Settlements founded by agrarian cultures in what is now Central African Republic.
1500s Region is troubled by slave raiding from the north and west.
1600s Arabic speaking slaver traders come to the region from two routes: trans-Saharan and Nile-River. Captured slaves are sent north to Mediterranean coast and Arabia, or west to trans-Atlantic slave factories.
1700s Bandia-Nzakara peoples establish the Bangassou Kingdom along the Ubangi river. Oral tradition has the kingdom founded by Ndounga after the defeat of the Voukpata clan which had ruled the Nzakara people until that time.
1780 Arrival of Portuguese traders on coast sends ripples through trading communities in central Africa.
1800s Baya people arrive from the region of modern day Cameroon fleeing the Fulani.
Banda people flee Islamic slavers from the Sudan.
Azande peoples migrate into region to avoid Arab slave traders from the Congo Basin to the south and Sudan to the east.
Mandjia people settle in north of what is now Central African Republic.
Mid 1800s Bobangi people along the Ubangi river take up the slave trade, predating on neighboring Baya and Mandjia peoples.
1885 Rabah, the Sudanese military commander, leads his forces against the Mandjia in the north of the region. The Mandjia under the command of Kaga Kazanba managed to repel the invaders.
1887 French explorers enter region from their Congo territory and make treaty settlements with local chiefs. The region is given the name Oubangui-Chari by the French colonizers.
1888 French develop a trading post at Liranga.
1889 French base established at Bangui.
1894 Oubangui-Shari annexed by the French Congo (which also incorporated the Gabon).
1897 Oubangui-Shari given its own lieutenant-General as governor within the French Congo.
1898 French administration of the French Congo grants concessions to European adventurers to exploit the region -- mining, hunting, and developing plantations -- to develop the resources of what is now the Central African Republic. Africans, however, suffer under the extreme conditions of forced labor -- food shortages and spreading disease.
1902 French government enables a colonial constitution which places a Commissioner-General to govern the French-Congo from its capital at Libreville (now in Gabon) and assisted by a Lieutenant-Governor in Brazzaville (now Republic of Congo).
New administration introduces the capitation ('poll tax') on African population.
1903-1904 With increasing rebellion against the poll tax, a revolt by the Mandjia is rapidly quashed by the French
December 1903 French decree on the establishment of general headquarters for the French Congo, its territories and dependents.
1905 Chad is annexed to the French colony of Oubangui-Chari creating Oubangui-Chari-Chad.
France stamps down on revolts amongst forced labor on plantations.
Pierre de Savorgnan de Brazza, the founder of much of France's central African territory, begins an enquiry into the exploitation of African labor by French countenanced commercial enterprises. (De Brazza dies before the report is published.)
1908 Oubangui-Chari becomes part of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa). Administration, headed by a French Governor-General, involves a nominated Government Council. The four individual parts (Gabon, Congo, Oubangui-Chari-Chad) are governed by a Lieutenant-Governor and a locally based council of Europeans.
1910 France adjusts the operation of concessions in the hope of reducing exploitation and abuse of indigenous African labor.
1911 Agreement between France and Germany trades part of Oubangui-Chari for Germany's abandonment of its claim for Morocco. The traded territory becomes part of Kamerun (Cameroon).
1914-18 First World War France recruits local Askaris as part of its operation to recover territory in Kamerun previously traded to Germany. The conflict intensifies the emerging famine.
1916 Administration of Chad removed from Oubangui-Chari.
1921 Chemin de fer Congo-Océan (CFCO, Congo-Ocean Railway) through what is now the Republic of Congo, Pointe-Noire on the coast and Brazzaville (and then Mayombe in the Belgian Congo), costs the lives of 20,000 African forced laborers recruited from what is now Chad and the Central African Republic.
1928-31 Kongo-Wara rebellion -- workers rise up against repressive and exploitative practices of concession industries in Oubangui-Chari. Rebellion leaders are arrested and executed and a significant section of the population is forced to move to new villages where they can be watched by the police. On the positive side, news of the rebellion reached France, where public pressure caused the government to announce that concessions would not be renewed.
1934 French administration in Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa) attempts to introduce reforms to reduce costs -- the whole federation is divided into 20 administrative districts. The change lasts only until 1937, at which point it reverted to its original administrative structure.
1937 Original four federal territories (Gabon, French Congo, Oubangui-Chari, and Chad) of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa) are reinstated.
1940 French administration and settlers of Oubangui-Chari support the Free French lead by Charles de Gaulle against the pro-German Vichy administration of France. More than 3,000 Africans are conscripted from Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa).
1941 The French administration of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa) under the leadership of General Felix Eboue, the French governor of Moyen-Congo ('Middle Congo'), organizes a meeting of colonial governors, administrators, traders, and missionaries to discuss the management of indigenous peoples. As a result, native districts are constituted throughout the regions over the next year.
28 January 1944 General Charles de Gaulle holds a conference with French colonial officials at Brazzaville (now capital of Republic of Congo) to discuss the reorganization of France's colonies in Africa (for after the end of World War II).
1946 Practice of forced labor ended in French colonies.
French overseas territorial (Territoires d'Outre-mer) assemblies are created for each of France's African colonies as part of the French Community (La Communauté). Each assembly has two electoral colleges -- one for French residents and selected, educated members of the African elite and the second for the rest of the African population. Territories have elected representation in the French parliament and an increased level of autonomy. The federation is under the overall control of the Grand Conseil (Grand Council) based at Brazzaville.
Barthélemy Boganda becomes the first indigenous citizen of the territory to be elected to the French parliament.
1950 Barthélemy Boganda, the colony's first Black-African French parliamentary deputy, founds the Mouvement pour l'Evolution Sociale de l'Afrique Noire (MESAN, Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa).
28 September 1958 Colony hold a constitutional referendum on question of internal autonomy within the Communauté Française (French Community) or independence. The vote for independence is 98.77%.
8 December 1958 After winning 97% of the vote, Barthélemy Boganda becomes prime minister for Mouvement pour l'Evolution Sociale de l'Afrique Noire (MESAN, Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa) as the territory gains internal self-government. Boganda also becomes the president of the Grand Council of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa).
1959 Charles de Gaulle announces that France's African colonies can negotiate their independence.
29 March 1959 Barthélemy Boganda dies in an air crash. He is succeeded as leader of the Mouvement pour l'Evolution Sociale de l'Afrique Noire (MESAN, Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa) by David Dacko (who is Boganda's nephew).
Abel Nguendé Goumba takes over as acting prime minister.
1 May 1959 David Dacko becomes prime minister for Mouvement pour l'Evolution Sociale de l'Afrique Noire (MESAN, Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa).
13 August 1960 Independence as the Central African Republic. David Dacko is the new republic's first (acting) president (given the death of Boganda in a air crash) -- he also retains the post of prime minister.

More on the History of Central Africa Republic
• Part 1: From Prehistory to Independence (13 August 1960)
Part 2: From Independence (13 August 1960) to Kolingba's Coup (1 September 1981)
Part 3: From Kolingba's Coup (1 September 1981) to the Death of Bokassa (4 November 1996)
Part 4: From the Death of Bokassa (4 November 1996) to the Election of President Bozizé (May 2005)
Part 5: From the Election of President Bozizé (May 2005) to the Present Day

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