Upper Senegal and Niger (Haut Sénégal et Niger) was a colony in French West Africa, created on October 21, 1904, from colonial Senegambia and Niger by the decree “For the Reorganisation of the general government of French West Africa”. At its creation, the “Colony of Upper Senegal and Niger” contained the old territories of Upper Senegal, the Middle Niger, and the military Niger territory. It consisted of 617,600 square miles of territory with its capital was Bamako.
A decree of March 2, 1907, added the cercles of Fada N’gourma and Say, which had been part of the colony of French Dahomey (present day Benin). On January 1, 1912, the military territory of Niger was split off from Upper Senegal and Niger, and became its own colony in 1922.
Between November 1915 and February 1917, the Colony of Upper Senegal and Niger witnessed vastly popular, temporarily successful, and sustained armed opposition to colonial government in its western Volta region, which is referred to as the Volta-Bani War. It challenged colonial government authority for more than a year in an area stretching from Koudougou (in present day Burkina Faso) in the east, to the banks of the Bani River (present day Mali) in the west. This was the most significant armed opposition to colonial authority organized anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa in the period preceding World War II.
After World War I ended, the unsuspected success of this resistance movement caused the French authorities to issue the decree “Concerning the Division of the Colony of Upper Senegal and Niger and the Creation of the Colony of Upper Volta” of March 1, 1919, which divided the colony into two distinct units:
- Colony of Niger
- French Upper Volta, formed from the cercles of Gaoua, Bobo-Dioulasso, Dédougou, Ouagadougou, Dori, Say, and Fada N’Gourma;
- French Sudan (present-day Mali), was formed later on January 1, 1921, with the remaining territory, implementing the decree of December 4, 1920, “For the Denomination of the Colonies and Territories Composing the General Government of French West Africa.”
The first post offices in what was to become Upper Senegal & Niger were set up from Senegal in 1890. The first stamps used were the general issues for the French colonies and stamps from Senegal. The Senegal post offices were transferred to French Sudan in 1892. Issues from French Sudan were used until 1903, when they were superseded by stamps from Senegambia & Niger and, from 1906, by those of Upper Senegal & Niger.
The issues of Upper Senegal & Niger were of a common design used for the French possessions that were part of French West Africa. Aside from being inscribed HAUT SENEGAL & NIGER, they also included the additional inscription AFRIQUE OCCIDENTAL FRANÇAISE. These stamps were used in French Niger until it has become a civil territory and began to issue stamps of its own in 1921. In Upper Volta and French Sudan, stamps of Upper Senegal & Niger were used until superseded by the issues of these two countries in 1920 and 1921 respectively.
Scott #20 was issued in 1920, part of a set of 17 stamps (Scott #18-34), all bearing the camel and rider design. The 4-centime black and blue stamp was printed by typography and perforated 13½x14.