Cheick Omar Coulibaly, "Les Migrations interieurs passées et presentes de l'Empire du Mali à ce jour"
(Bamako: Memoire de l'École Nationale d'Administration, 1968), 3ième Année B.

in Bibliotheque de l'l'École Nationale d'Administration, Bamako
Notes © 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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The first part of this thesis (memoire) describes migration in terms of the political expansion of various kingdoms.

(p18) In the mid 18th century, while Kaarta was expanding towards the southwest and east, Ségou was consolidating its hold on the Niger River. This put the squeeze on the people of the Bélédugu Plateau.

(p22) Slave prices dropped in the mid-19th century as a result the Umarian wars.

(p21) The town of Nyamina was destroyed several times, but following the treaties between the french and Toucouleur (Mage in 1866, Nango in 1880-1881), it was repopulated.

(p21) Following his early defeat by the French, Samory retired to Wassalou (Ouassalou) where he allied with the local Peul, resident since the time of Soundiata Keita. He wanted to attack the French again, but first had to capture Tiéba's Sikasso, which lay in the way. The failure to take Sikasso was caused by Peul (p21) According to the author, "Jamais, me confiait un instituteur servant à Yanfolila, les gens de Ouassoulou n'oublieront l'expedition punitive de Samory. Jusqu'à aujourd'hui, si j'aborde le chapitre de l'histoire consacré à Samory Touré, mes éléves ne m'ecouteont pas. Constraintes de rester en class, ils assombrissent l'atmosphere du début à la fin du cours." (A teacher at Yanfolila told me that the people of Ouassoulou have never forgotten Samory's punitive expedition. Even today, if I teach the chapter on the history of Samory, the students refuse to listen. Forced to remain in class, they withdraw completely until the lesson is over.)

(p22) The massacres produced a Peul exodus, while many of Samory's slaves were sold to northern Saracollés to obtain horses for the army.

(p22) When the town of Ségou refused the offer of an alliance with Samory, he attacked it as well, adding to the flow of refugees. They headed for the French posts at Kita, Bafoulabé and Kayes. Many hid in the forest because the French used their flight as an excuse to launch their own expeditions to punish "a great African patriot."

(p22) The French abolished slavery in 1906. This cost them nothing and weakened their enemies.

(p23) The French ignored the slaves that belonged to the Moors and concentrated on those that belonged to Sarracollés and Toucouleurs, the people who had caused the most trouble for the French.

(p26) Part II: "Les Migrations Interieurs Presentes"

(p26) Modern migrations appear to be the result of the colonial economic structure. The colonial economy was based on trade, which introduced the notion of time because the availability of different trade commodities was determined by the seasons.

(p26) Once a region began to industrialize, the French colonial administration moved people from other, less productive regions to provide labor. As a result, Africans became accustomed to moving for work and obssessed with accumulating wealth. On the other hand, this pattern did not increase overall production or wealth in the Soudan.

(p26) This quotation describes the goal of rural peasants who leave to find work: "... des intentions nobles - celle de rapporter de l'argent à la famille pour pouvoir payer les imp“ts, avoir une bicyclette neuve vƒniteusement décorée avec des bandes plastiques multicolores, des sonneries retentissantes, phares de toutes les grosseurs; il faut des habits pour les frères, les mères et les soeurs, un poste-radio pour la famille, un pardessus de l'oncle, des lampes et des lampes-torches. Tout cela à l'instar du neveu ou du demi-frère qui, de retour du Sénégal, a été accuelli comme un enfant prodigé, envoié et désiré dans le village." (... noble intentions - to earn money so that the family can pay its taxes; buy a bicycle ostentatiously decorated with multi-colored plastic bands, loud bells, and lights of all sizes; buy clothing for brothers, mothers and sisters, a radio for the family, an overcoat for uncle, lamps and flashlights. [Last sentence is difficult to translate] All of that, plus to receive the warm reception given to a nephew or half-brother who returns from Senegal as a sort of prodigy.)

(p26) Often boys of the same age group will encourage each other to leave the village on the "great adventure" to look for work.

(p27) The act of departing for work is seen as a great adventure, a gamble, a courageous act, evidence of independence and power. It makes their mother proud; it makes them the object of songs sung by the girls in the village. As a result, no one wants to stay home and be a farmer. This is terrible for the life of the local community ("la vie communautaire"). The urban innovation is that workers want to return with cars instead of bicycles.

(p28) Characteristics of the French economy: Forced labor introduced a large number of Africans to migration for labor, especially on the Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger, the Chemin de Fer Congo-Océan (Congo) and the Markala Dam. Many went to Ivory Coast to work on plantations as well. The strongest workers were the Bambara, Minianké, Malinké and Bobo. On irrigation projects, the Bobo, Mossi and Bambara were the best.

(p28) French commerical enterprises operated at enormous profits by controlling the prices of both imports and exports. They employed a fair amount of labor for loading and unloading, especially in the towns along the railroad and river. As a result, there was a movement towards those towns to find work. There was also a movement of Saracollés towards the towns to trade goods with the French, Lebanese and others.

(p28) As a result of French economic activity, both Kayes and Bamako grew enormously, especially after WWII.

(p29) "Les migrations saisonnières": the author mentions three types of seasonal migrations. One is by "Associations des pˆcheurs" who follow the fish during high water and then sell their product at a distance after it is dried. Fishermen at Kayes go to Senegal and those from Ségou go towards Ghana.

(p29) A second type of seasonal migration is due to transhumance (pastoralists seeking pasture for their animals). He says nothing radically new about this. The third type is a seasonal migration of rural youth to cities following the harvest. Generally, they are young - aged 14-22 - and they find work as "gar‡ons de cour‡e" or "boys" (errand boys).

(p32) "Les migrations de longue durée": The author mentions two types of migration for longer periods of time. The first is by Saracollés who travel for 2-5 years in order to trade in other African countries. The author mentions some 25,000 Malians who were expelled from the Congo in 1966.

(p32) The second type of long migration is to France. Especially after 1961, when Algerian workers were leaving France, there was a substantial flow of Malians towards France to fill menial jobs. Saracollés resident in France served as labor brokers for the French by buying 4th class steamship tickets (Abidjan was the most popular port) and sending them to friends and acquaintances in Mali.

(p36) A final type of long-term migration is by nomads in the desert along the edge of the Sahel.

(p34) This table shows data on "laissez-passer" (travel permits) issued by the Surété Nationale du Mali in 1965. It is reasonable to assume that many more people left Mali unofficially, especially to the countries along its border.

Region of
Destination Total
Ivory Coast Ghana Upper Volta Niger Liberia Congo (Fr. & Belg.) Senegal Europe Guinea
Gao n/a 5,000 1,000 3,000 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 9,000
Mopti 1,800 220 100 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2,120
Ségou 4,000 n/a 1,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 5,500
Sikasso 3,175 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 3,175
Bamako 15,601 200 101 10 338 202 2,603 127 n/a 19,182
Kayes n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 960 n/a 210 1,170
Total 24,576 5,420 2,701 3,010 338 202 3,563 127 210 40,147