anm document

Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger, "Inspection de Travaux" (1937-1938)
in ANM 2 K 1849 fonds nouveaux, tome III

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Directeur du Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
n°1590SP1 (Thiès, July 21, 1937)

There were 890 workers from the 2ième portion du contingent (forced laborers) at work for the railroad along with 23 surveillants (foremen). All were drafted in 1936 and due to be released in March 1938. The Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger needed 1,500 workers for 1938, so the Directeur du Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger asked that recruiters select 1,600 for forced labor in order to allow for attrition. They were put to work on the section of railroad construction between Dioubéba and Badumbé.

This letter also mentions the navétanage (seasonal migration to the coast for farming) and hivernage (rainy season, i.e. planting season) that tended to reduce the number of men available for requisitioned labor.


Gouverneur du Soudan Français to Commandant du Cercle de Gao Laffon,
telegram-letter n°7723/BT (Koulouba, November 6, 1937)

In 1935, 1936 and 1937, the Cercles de la Région de Tombouctou provided nobody for forced labor because the demand for labor was reduced in the various government services. The Commandant du Cercle de Gao requested that recruitment in 1938 be held to 50 men because he faced resistance by Africans in his cercle.

However, in the years between 1931 and 1934, the Cercle de Gao had provided men for forced labor. The Gouverneur du Soudan Français challenged the offer of fifty men by Commandant du Cercle de Gao, by citing figures that show his cercle used to supply more than that before 1935. "En outre, il est équitable que charge récrutement soit supportée par toute population sedentaire de la Colonie sans exception" (The requirement to supply forced laborers should be distributed equally among all the sedentary population of the Colony.)

The following table shows the number of forced laborers supplied by the Cercle de Gao and the subdivision of Bourem (located northeast of Gao in the Cercle de Tombouctou) from 1931 to 1934:

Year Number of recruits from Bourem Number of recruits from Gao
1931 12 42
1932 65 65
1933 11 12
1934 30 35
Average 29.5 38.5


Gouverneur du Soudan Français F. Rougier to Chef du Service de la Main-oeuvre,
telegram-letter n°7494 PT (November 8, 1937)

The forced labor requirements of the Cercle de Mopti were divided amongst the various subdivisions of the cercle in the following fashion: Mopti (100), Djenne (50), Bandiagara (230), Douentza (70).


Commandant du Cercle de Nioro to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
official telegram n°420 (Nioro, November 24, 1937)

Nioro provided 68 tirailleurs and 23 forced laborers, while Yélimamé provided 22 tirailleurs and 7 forced labvorers.


Gouverneur du Soudan Français to Commandant du Cercle de Tombouctou,
official telegram n°2276/BT (Koulouba, November 25, 1937)

The Cercle de Tombouctou was not required to provide any recruits for 1938.


Commandant du Cercle de Ségou to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
official telegram n°1903 (Ségou, November 23, 1937)

In the Cercle de Ségou, the subdivision of Macina provided 20 tirailleurs and 61 forced laborers, the subdivision of Dia provided 26 tirailleurs and 71 forced laborers, while Ségou provided 92 tirailleurs and 218 forced laborers.


Commandant du Cercle de Kayes to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
official telegram n°3558 (Kayes, November 22, 1937)

In the Cercle de Kayes, the subdivision of Bafoulabé provided 47 tirailleurs and 76 forced laborers, the subdivision of Satadougou provided 25 tirailleurs and 24 forced laborers, while Kayes provided 61 tirailleurs and 105 forced laborers.


Commandant du Cercle de Mopti to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
official telegram n°426 (Mopti, November 22, 1937)

The Cercle de Mopti provided no forced laborers. However, Mopti provided 56 tirailleurs, Djenné provided 29, Bandiagara provided 128 and Douentza provided 44.


Gouverneur du Soudan Français F. Rougier to Commandants des Cercles,
Circulaire n°1098 BM (Koulouba, December 17, 1937)

This memo contains instructions for recruitment of soldiers and forced laborers in 1938.

(pp2-3) The Cercles of Bamako and Ségou will provide 10 and 2 specialists respectively for service with the Cie. des Sapeurs Indigènes à Bamako. These specialists included scribes, woodworkers, iron workers, a locomotive driver, and three men with Certificats d'Études Primaires. The cercles of Kita, Koutiala, Segou, San and Gao would provide 5, 19, 10, 5 and 4 men respectively for service with the Escadrille de Thiès (Armée de l'Air). The cercles of San and Nema would provide 10 and 5 men respectively for the Cie. des Sapeurs Indigènes à Dakar.

(p4) There was room for a maximum of 1,615 volunteers distributed between the 1st Régiment des Tirailleurs Sénégalaises (200 men), the 2nd RTS (800 men), the 7th RTS (400 men), the BTS n°1 (75 men), BTS n°2 (40 men) and the 6th RAC.

(p6) Recruits received 100 grams of soap and sleeping mats as soon as they reached their departure point.

ANNEX n°2 "Plan d'evacuation des recrutes" The administration planned to use the river and railroad as much as possible to transport recruits to their duty stations.


Chef du Service Spécial des Travaux Bertrand to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
"Plan d'evacuation des travailleurs recrutés de la classe de 1938,"
n°68/B (Mahina, January 16, 1938)

Cercle ou subdivision d'origin Number of staff Number of workers Number of foremen Number of cooks Days of travel by truck Destination along the railroad
Diočla 6 15 2 6 1 Bamako
Bamako 8 222 5 11 0 Bamako
Sikasso 8 200 4 10 2 Bamako
Bafoulabé 4 89 2 4 0 Mahina
Koulikoro 7 150 3 7 0 Koulikoro
Satadougou 5 33 1 2 1 Mahina
Bougouni 8 210 4 11 1 Bamako
Kolokani 6 80 2 4 1 Bamako
Kayes 6 120 2 6 0 Kayes
Kita 5 105 2 5 0 Kita
Ségou 7 178 3 9 2 Koulikoro
Macina 5 44 1 2 2 Koulikoro
Dia 5 54 1 3 2 Koulikoro
Total 80 1,600 32 80 n/a n/a

NOTE: Low river levels required the use of trucks for transport, even between Ségou and Koulikoro.


Directeur du Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
letter n°525SC (Thiès, December 30, 1937)

This letter covers documents concerning auto transport of workers from the deuxième portion du contingent (forced laborers) and their supplies. Clothing and supplies from a French supplier were due to arrive in the Soudan on January 3, 1938, but a fire on train n°1 on December 9, 1937 destroyed them, and replacements could not arrive before February 15, 1938.

There is a copy of the document asking for bids on the transport of workers to railroad stations from their cercles of origin. It specifies that the trucks be enclosed or covered, that each man receive 0.5 square meters of space, and they be equipped for "transport en commun" which presumably means with benches. Each man was permitted to carry 2 kilograms of baggage.


Chef de la 4ième subdivision Exploitation du Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger to Gouverneur du Soudan Français,
letter n°1 EX.CC (Bamako, January 4, 1938)

Paul Larrieu of Bamako got the contract for most of the transportation of forced laborers. Farid Atem handled transport from Nioro and Yélimamé to Kayes. Each received 1.70 francs/ton-kilometer for baggage and 0.30 francs/kilometer per passenger.


Gouverneur du Soudan Français to Chef de la 4ième subdivision Exploitation
du Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger
, telegram-letter n°479BT (Koulouba, January 20, 1938)

There were a lot of problems to find truck transportation for forced laborers from Bougouni and Sikasso. Finally, the Maison Meier agreed to do it for 0.45 francs/kilometer per passenger. [On this subject, see also Gouverneur du Soudan Français to Commandant du Cercle de Bougouni, telegram-letter n°651BT (Koulouba, January 26, 1938), plus many other telegrams as well.]