"Géographie du Cercle
de Bamako, 5 Notices 1850-1914"
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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(p1) Bamako is the center of distribution for all French goods imported to the Soudan. It was also the "point de concentration" of all local export products. The author mentioned the Russian Transcaspian Railroad as an example of how RR construction led to economic development. Médine, Kita and Bamako were towns developed by the railroad.
(p2) Somono people have to get permission from "sedentaires" at Bamako to fish ("tendre leurs filets dans ces eaux réservées") "Une centaine" de Somonos voluntarily went to work for the European commercial houses moving frieght up river and past Sotuba. Their regular pay was 15francs/month, but chefs got 20-25-30francs/month. All received rations as well. (JJNOTE: The Somonos were displaced from their traditional river work by the Umarian invasion, according to Roberts. They must have welcomed the opportunity to work for the French, once they overcame the objections of Bamako residents.)
Africans in the "flotille de Koulikoro" got the same treatment as the Somonos at Bamako. Menusiers received 5 francs/day; masons got 2.5-4 francs/day; head-masons got 4-5 francs/day. The French also obtained casual labor for periods of 3-4 days by offering a bou-bou (garment) or other small objects.
(p3) Salaries for labor are the same throughout the cercle - 250-400 cowries/day, which is equivalent to 0.25-0.4 francs/day. Therefore, in 1890, 1000 cowries must have been equivalent to 1 franc. They also received food worth 0.10 francs/day. Often, the workers requested to be paid in rice or mil instead of cowries.
(p3) "Bouviers" (cowherds): Most Africans hire Peuls to watch their herds. A shepherd receives 2 "moules" of mil per animal, plus 1 franc for each cow or donkey. One "moule" is equal to 2 kg. They also get all the milk produced by the animal on Monday-Friday.
(p3) Based on these figures and assuming an average herd of 100 animals, a shepherd's annual salary is 100 X 4 kgs mil, where mil costs an average of 0.05 francs/kg, so this is equivalent to 20f. Since Africans susually get rid of bulls, asume that 100 head contains 80 cows, so the shepherd receives an additional 80f. Thus, the initial payment is 100f.
(p4) A cow produces 1 liter of milk twice a week, so 80 cows produce 160 liters. Milk sells for 0.15francs/liter, so this milk is worth 24 francs/week, 96 francs/month or 1152 francs/year. (Note how sloppy this calculation is - it uses a 48-week year instead of 52 weeks.) The total for one year is 1252 francs, or an average of 3.43 francs/day.
(p4) If the shepherd has a family who helps him with his herds, they are paid differently. The children watch the sheep and goats, for which they receive 4 moules per animal at the beginning of the year and 5 moules at the end. However, they have no right to the milk.
(p4) Fishermen: the Somonos live in villages led by hereditary chiefs. They form a caste similar to the forgerons in that they marry only among themselves and are treated like strangers by other Africans. (After this page, the pages appear to be out of order, so I have no page numbers)
6ième Section "Main d'oeuvre" (African Labor)
Useful qualities in African workers include "la regularité et la compétence ou, du moins, la faculté d'education."
African labor was not regular for two reasons: the planting season occurred at the same time as high water on the river, which was precisely the time that the Europeans needed African labor to unload and move goods. This was also the time that the Maures, who provided most of the transport, left for the Sahel.
In 1903, 30000 loads were carried to various locations in the Soudan by labor requisitoned by Commandants du Cercle. They also found enough labor to work on the routes to Siguiri and Sikasso. Road workers voluntarily sought work, so the news of a labor market was spreading. As a result, it was also possible to establish a wage tax.
There was little effort at education, but there was hope. "On peut prevoir en effet que le Bambara deviendra un bon ouvrier agricole et il est actuellement, grÉce Ö l'éxperience acquisé sur les chantiers du Chemin de Fer, un ouvrier assez adroit."
Agriculture: Africans only sought agricultural labor if they thought that their own harvest would be poor, and then only at the last minute. In that case, they stayed no longer than one month.
The report discusses types of crops and animals owned by local people.
Industries indigänes: "Tisserands" Many young Bambara and Sarakole earn money weaving cotton grown in Peul and Tukolor villages. They can work only 4-5days/week because it is so tiring. They produced a cloth that is 0.15m wide and 15m long.
Forgerons: this caste is considered "malheureux" by other Africans. They make iron "hÉches, dabas (small hoe), couteaux." A few manufactured "fusils de traite" but they have trouble making the barrels, so they had to rely on barrels from old guns. They also worked gold, silver and copper.
Charpentiers make chalands that sold for 500-1000f. They employ workers for one-month periods in the construction of chalands (barges; i.e. large canoes).
There was a single private agricultural entreprise run by the Sociātā Niger et Soudan.
The above-mentioned cotton cloth, 0.15m wide, costs 0.10 francs/meter throughout the Cercle of Bamako.