anm document

Concours d'admission à l'école Primaire Superieur et d'Apprentissage de Bamako (1938)
in ANM 1 G 237 fonds recents

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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In 1938, the French composition question for prospective railroad professional school students required them to describe the economic structure of the colony. There was also a thirty-minute dictation exercise entitled "Le vrai sens de l'oeuvre coloniale française" (The true purpose of the French colonial effort). It included the following paragraph:

"Les populations dont les destinées nous sont remises, n'etaient pas de vrais `peuples,' capables de se conduire eux- mêmes; victimes de la géographie ou de l'histoire, elles se trouvient dépassées par le mouvement du monde moderne, en proie aux convoitises des voisins, écrasées par la tyrannie des dynasties indigènes ou l'aventuriers deroces, menacées de disparition par toutes sortes d'infériorités et de misères: la colonisation française, en realité, et malgre d'inévitable erreurs, les a sauvés, et elle entreprend aujourd'hui d'augmenter leur valeur d'humanité."

TRANSLATION: The populations whom destiny placed under our control were not real people, capable of directing themselves. They were victims of geography or history who found themselves left behind by the modern world, at the mercy of covetous neighbors, crushed by the tyranny of native dynasties or adventurers, and their very existence threatened by all sorts of weaknesses and miseries. In reality, despite some inevitable errors, French colonization saved them and remains dedicated to increasing their human value.

Of the 31 people who signed up to take the test, only 22 showed up. They were all employed elsewhere already: seven at Koulouba, seven in Bamako, four in Kati, one at Segou (Office du Niger), one at Markala, one at Compagnie Niger Français and one at Maurel et Prom. One of them, Aw ASSANE, was already employed by the Chemin de Fer Dakar- Niger as an écrivain-auxiliaire (assistant scribe).