The term assimilation means ‘similar to’. The French used this term to refer to a system of administration that aimed at creating French Black Africans among the West Africans who would be French citizens. The French wanted the French Black Africans to enjoy the same status and privileges or suffer penalties like any French citizen in France.
The assimilation policy was first used in Indo-China and Algeria and later introduced in the four communes of Senegal-Goree, St. Louis, Rufisque and Dakar-in 1854 and spread to other French colonies in Africa. the assimilation policy proved to be successful when it was applied in Morocco. In Senegal the assimilation policy was introduced by Lewis, a trench governor, between 1854 and 1865. The following are the characteristics of assimilation policy;-
1. The French regarded their colonies as their overseas provinces thus the colonies were closely attached to France.
2. African citizens within the French colonies enjoyed the privileges and the rights that were given to any French citizen in the metropolis.
3. The African colonies under the French rule were represented in lower House of parliament. This showed that there was political integration of the Africans with France.
4. There was a close economic relationship between France and her colonies in Africa. The French currency was used in the colonies, an indication that the colonies were integrated to the metropolis country.
5. They had intention of making the Africans in their colonies to be good French citizens through dictatorship that forced the Africans to learn French language, follow the French laws, apply French civil and political system, be Christians and adopt French manners.