Soukhs - Expo Brussels 1935

Soukhs at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1935
© L'Epi

Originally, French colonial participation in the Brussels Exhibition^ appeared to be of secondary importance. The sum of one million francs had only been foreseen to build the Palace which was to house the official sections of all the colonies.

However, by appealing to private initiative, the French Ministry of the Colonies was able to build, in addition to the Palace, and at no cost to the State, a real city covering more than 3,000 square metres: the official section of the Soukhs. This is where the main indigenous colonial firms were installed.

The Soukhs (a description can be found in the chapter on the "Picturesque") were divided into districts corresponding to each of the main colonies, each section being headed by a commissioner appointed by the Government. The exhibitors, chosen and approved by their respective commissioner, sold only products from the colony they came from. They occupied 94 small pavilions, each with its own character. The variety of goods and objects exhibited, and the oriental sumptuousness of some of the stands, made the Soukhs one of the greatest attractions of the Exhibition. Near them stood a "Colonial Theatre", a restaurant and a Moorish café, which were a great success.

To enhance the representation of overseas France, the Minister of Colonies did not hesitate to send a detachment of Senegalese riflemen, led by an officer of the colonial infantry. The local atmosphere was further enhanced by the presence of black A.O.F. gendarmes and camel drivers of the purest Mauritanian type. The latter were in great spirits, and their daily walk through the avenues of the Exhibition was a lively attraction. As for the black gendarmes, they were superb men, of imposing size and impeccable dress. The President of the Republic, during his visit to the French sections, did not fail to congratulate these magnificent soldiers, some of whom had been in the service of the Residence during the time when M. Albert Lebrun was in Africa.

All the buildings of the French Overseas Territories covered nearly 7,000 square metres; indeed, to the buildings we have listed we had to add the wine pavilion of the Chamber of Commerce of Algiers, and the Tirailleurs' Guard Corps.

© Le Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1935