anm document

Rapport fait par M. Demongin, Inspecteur 2ème class des Colonies, concernant la vérification de M. le Capitaine du Génie Faure, Chef du Service des Travaux Neufs du Chemin de Fer T.K.N. à Kayes, à l'époque du 20 Fevrier 1926, et explications fournis par ce ______ sur les résultants de sa vérification.
in ANM S 140 fonds recents

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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This file contains a single item, a twenty-page inspection report on the use of forced labor by the railroad.

(p4) Work on a number of projects in the Soudan was completed in 1925. Workers finished the deviation de Siguiféri (construction of new track), built hangars and shelters in various locations, and completed part of the direct telegraph line from Thiès to Kayes.

(p5) Projects in 1926 included the construction of new housing at Kayes, repairs to the stations at Kita and Kayes, and repairs to the bridge at Galougo. There were also repairs to the "ouvrages d'art" (literally "works of art" but in this case, it refers to masonry culverts and retaining walls) at kilometer 760.

(p13) The following table shows how forced laborers were distributed among variosu work sites:

Cercle of origin Number Work site
Sine-Saloum 86 Guinguinéo
Bougouni 91 Guinguinéo
Bafoulabé 8 Guinguinéo
Bafoulabé 79 kilometer 528
Bafoulabé 30 kilometer 550
Bakel 46 Goudiry
Sikasso 98 kilometer 528
Bandiagara 138 kilometer 550 - kilometer 760
Kayes 50 Ambidédi
Kédougou 69 Kayes
Niafunké 97 kilometer 760
Koutiala 55 Kayes
Koutiala 49 Kita

(p14) "Les travailleurs `forcés' provenant des cercles de l'interieur et mis pour six mois à la disposition du chemin de fer sont munis d'un contract de travail, pure plaisanterie d'ailleurs car ils ont été non discutés par les interesées mais purement et simplement imposées par l'autorité administrative." (Forced laborers from the interior are placed under the control of the railroad for six months. They are given a contract, but that it is a joke because the workers have no chance to discuss the terms of a contract which is simply imposed by the administraiton.)

Demongin tried to compare forced labor wages with private industry wages, but found that private firms obtained their labor in the same way as the railroad. There was little security for the worker - they received their full salary if injured while working and half salary if they became ill as a result of their work, but there were no benefits for temporary illness or death. In the case of death, it was customary to send 100 francs to the worker's family as an "indemnité." Demongin protested this whole system, which was in complete opposition to the public pronouncements of the Gouverneur Géneral de l'AOF.

(p15) Actually, the total value of the salary and rations per person per day worked out to 3.43 francs.

(p16) One consequence was that workers disappeared for hours at a time in nearby woods to avoid work. They rarely worked a ten-hour day, or even nine hours. European surveillants fought back, but were unable to do much to stop it, and sometimes resorted to violence.

(p18) For digging and grading, Bambaras and Mossis made the best workers because they were robust and disciplined.

(p19) There were 312 deserters between July 3 and December 30, 1925. Big exoduses took place on October 6, 1925 (47 deserters), November 12, 1925 (82), November 14, 1925 (55), December 3, 1925 (15) and December 30, 1925 (50). Demongin's solution was to do away with forced labor.

(p20) Signed by Demongin in Bamako on March 4, 1926.