anm document

Main-d'oeuvre Kayes Niger (1920)
in ANM S 1 fonds anciens

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Directeur du Chemin de Fer to Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger letter n°528KN "au sujet du décès du manoeuvre requisitioné Sibiri Ouattara" (Bamako, May 29, 1920)

Ouattara (a Bobo name) was headed to work at Kilometer 129 with six other men in a lorry when they spotted a train arriving from the other direction (Kayes) at Kilometer 136. The grade was too steep to stop, so everyone jumped, but Ouattara and one other man were run over by the lorry after it derailed.

Lt. Gouverneur du Haut-Sénéal-Niger Terrasson de Fougères to Directeur du Chemin de Fer, letter n°862 "au sujet de recrutement de la main d'oeuvre" (Koulouba, June 8, 1920)

Terrasson de Fougères said that the requisition of labor for the railroad was a terrible system and that the railroad would be better off if it offered competitive salaries and improved working conditions. He also pointed out that the railroad was forced to buy firewood commercially for 3 francs/cubic meter because woodcutters wouldn't work for less than 2 francs/day.

Various letters

There is a series of letters from various Commandant de Cercles asking what happened to people sent to the railroad as requisitioned labor. At least one Commandant du Cercle explained that his concern was due to the need to fulfill a local agreement to supply labor, so these letters are not necessarily evidence of altruistic or conscientious administration. There are demands and responses: for example, the Commandant de Cercle de Nara asked about 52 men. He was informed that they were no working for the Travaux Publics (public works) or the Chemin de Fer Kayes-Niger, but for the Chemin de Fer Thiès-Kayes. See Directeur du Chemin de Fer to Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger, n°621KN (Bamako June 29, 1920). See also Telegramme n°1587 from Delegué du Gouverneur Bourrouillon to Gouverneur du Territoire du Niger, telegram (Koulouba, July 12, 1920).

Lt. Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger to Commandant de Cercle de Bamako, n°883 (Bamako, November 4, 1920)

There was a huge problem with desertion by railroad laborers. 5 of 20 men from Koulikoro deserted and 10 men from Kati deserted. The Lt. Gouverneur urged that they be recaptured and punished to deter further desertion.

Commandant du Cercle de Sikasso to Gouverneur du Soudan, telegram (February 19, 1921)

The Cercle de Sikasso provided 24 forced laborers to the railroad to replace workers whose contracts expired on March 10, 1921.


There are plenty of telegrams concerning the arrival of workers from other cercles. Most heavily represented: Bobo, Dédougou, Ouagadougou, Kaya and Nara.

The last folder has folders for Koutiala, San, Sikasso and Nioro, but they have very little in them except for the Sikasso folder.

Based on a reading of telegrams from various cercles, travel money for each recruit was calculated at 0.50 franc/day, but different cercles were allotted different numbers of travel days to Bamako. For example, Ouagadougou workers got 30 days of travel money, workers from Bobo-Dioulasso got 20 days, and workers from Sikasso got 15 days.