Kayes-Niger, various letters dealing with the desertion of forced
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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In response to desertions, the Governor ordered that workers be warned that if they deserted, their villages would be required to provide twice as many forced laborers.
27 of 30 men from Kita deserted between March 24, 1921 and April 23, 1921.
22 of 32 woodcutters from Oualia deserted on April 16, 1921 atkm 179. These men were volunteers, not forced labor.
260 forced laboreres from Plantations de Kayes were available. 52 were sent to the Chemin de Fer, but 208 who originated from Haute Volta were sent home.
The Governor informed the Commandant du Cercle that since your people (forced laborers) are building the route from Mahina to Satadougou and taking care of the airstrip, he did not need to recuit any more workers for the Chemin de Fer Kayes- Niger.
The Commandant du Cercle had to fire 23 woodcutters from Bafoulabé because they refused to work, claiming that woodcutting was too hard for men accustomed to herding. The Chargé d'Affaires recommended that they be punished according to Article II of the 1ier Arrête de 4 Fevrier 1918.
This is an order to systematize the accounting of men requisitioned for labor. It also recommends grouping the recruits into contingents of at least 20 and preferably 50 to 100 men in order to reduce the number of requisitions.
There were a total of 1354 forced laborers at work on the railroad. The Director thought that this was too many because it caused hardship in the cercles of origin ("pèse lourdement sur les populations qui doivent y pourvoir"). He recommended that private industry find their own labor by improving working conditions instead of relying on the government to requisition labor for them.