Even the opposition respected his integrity and his capacity to be infinitely discreet. No one ever suggested he was a French agent. […] As a study of an exercise in power in an African state, the story of Jean Collin is an extraordinary one. Much of it, however, may never be told. Obituary: Jean Collin. The Independent, 06/11/1993
Jean Collin (1924-1993) was a French-born Senegalese politician. Collin adopted Senegal as his country after independence in 1960. Mayor, deputy, high-official of the PS (Socialist Party), many-times minister, he was a key man in Senegalese public life for over thirty years. He came to prominence under the Council president Mamadou Dia, and then under the Republic President Léopold Sédar Senghor.
During the Presidency of Abdou Diouf, Colin was in effect, the regime’s “Number 2.” Nicknamed “The Toubib”, he was also a very controversial figure, whose departure in 1990 marked the end of an era.
Born Paris 19 September 1924
Senegalese Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs 1963-71
Minister of State, Interior 1971-81
Secretary-General to the Government and Minister of State 1981-90
Died Bayeux, France 18 October 1993
Born in Paris on 19 September 1924, he studied at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Sorbonne. He was educated at the “Ecole Nationale de la France d’outre-mer” and then at the School of Oriental Languages.
On 24 December 1948, Jean Collin married Adele Senghor, a niece of Leopold Sedar Senghor. After his divorce, he married another Senegalese, Marianne Turpin on 27 October 1973.
After ten years of service in the colonial administration, including in Cameroon, first in 1946, then again during year 1950 at Diourbel and a brief interlude at the head of the information service and radio, Dakar in 1948, he was appointed as the chief of staff in the first government (Mamadou Dia) set in place by the Framework law of 1956.
In 1958, he campaigned for the “No” to the referendum proposed by General of Gaulle on the establishment of a French Community in Africa. (Senghor had no choice but to support the “Yes” vote.)
Then Collin became successively governor of the “Cap Vert” region, General Secretary of the Government, and from 1962 to 1964, General Secretary of the President.
His career took on a new dimension when, on 8 February 1964, president Senghor, who had just abolished the position of the Prime Minister following his disagreement with Dia, appointed him as the Minister of Finance in place of Daniel Cabou, a nomination which was badly taken by his Senegalese rivals.
Collin kept this function until April 1971, when he is appointed to as Minister of the Interior.
In 1971 Collin moved to the Ministry of the Interior, with the rank of Minister of State, and he stayed there for 10 years, acquiring a mastery that made him, in effect, the second most powerful person in the country. At the ministry he acquired knowledge of the political files that was the beginning of the legend of Jean Collin the great “eminence grise” watching over affairs like Richelieu over France. (The Independent)
The only State government minister and number two of the Socialist Party, Jean Collin was increasingly challenged at the end of the 1980’s, by the opposition that accused him of being a “crypto-communist” and a “colonial governor”, but also by his own party.
On 27 March 1990, Diouf replaced Collin by André Sonko. This unexpected decision was welcome by a large majority of the Senagalese elite who disliked Collin. A month later, Collin was dismissed of his functions at the Socialist Party. Abdoul Aziz Ndaw, president of the National Assembly, succeeded him.
At that time, his son Francois Collin was the director of the office of the Minister of Tourism.
Jean Collin died on 17 October 1993 in Bayeux (Calvados) at the age of 69, following a long illness. Under his last will and testament, he was buried in Senegal, in Ndiaffate, a village near Kaolack where his second wife Marianne was born.