By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Felix Eboué became the first black man to be appointed governor in the French colonies, in Guadeloupe; as governor of Chad, he joined the Free French in their struggle against the Nazis and persuaded other French-African countries to follow.
Adolphe Sylvestre Félix Éboué born in Cayenne, French Guiana. He was the grandson of slaves, Éboué was the fourth of a family of five brothers. His father, Yves Urbain Éboué, was an orator, and his mother, Marie Josephine Aurélie Leveillé, was a shop owner born in Roura. She raised her sons in the Guiana Créole tradition.
Éboué won a scholarship to study at secondary school in Bordeaux. He was also a keen footballer, captaining his school team when they travelled to games in both Belgium and England. He graduated in law from the École nationale de la France d’Outre-mer (called École coloniale for short), one of the grandes écoles in Paris.
Éboué served in colonial administration in Oubangui-Chari for twenty years, and then in Martinique. In 1936 he was appointed governor of Guadeloupe, the first man of black African descent to be appointed to such a senior post anywhere in the French colonies.
Two years later, with conflict on the horizon, he was transferred to Chad, arriving in Fort Lamy on January 4, 1939. He was instrumental in developing Chadian support for the Free French in 1940.
As governor of the whole area between 1940 and 1944, Éboué acted to improve the status of Africans. He classified 200 educated Africans as “notable évolués” and reduced their taxes.
In 1922, he was initiated freemason at “La France Équinoxiale” lodge in Cayenne.
During his life he frequented “Les Disciples de Pythagore” and “Maria Deraisme” lodges. He is considered to be the first freemason to have joined the Resistance. He died in 1944 of a heart attack while in Cairo.