anm document

Main-d'oeuvre Kayes Niger (1906-1918)
in ANM S 1 fonds anciens

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Gouverneur de la Territoire du Niger (Brunet) to Commandant de Cercle de Mossi, copy of telegram) n° AE 6785 (November 14, 1918)

M. Delmotte has stopped labor recruitment in Côte d'Ivoire because of unspecified difficulties. He claimed that more workers were still needed for the "Railway, Travaux Publics, TSF et Ravitaillement" (TSF refers to the radio transmission station). Brunet asks the Commandant de Cercle de Mossi to find workers willing to go to Bamako on 6-month contracts for one franc per day (including rations) and 15 francs of travel money (30 days @ 0.50 franc/day). The contract would run from December to May during the period when they were accustomed to go to Gold Coast to look for work.


1918: Directeur du Chemin de Fer à Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger, letter nÝ1001KN (Bamako, December 19, 1918)

The railroad requested the following men for 1919:

Section permanent laborers "exceptionnelle" laborers
Exploitation 190 50
Voie 520 150
Traction 80 30
Total 790 230


Lt. Governeur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger à Chef des Travaux Publics, Directeur du Chemin de Fer (Bamako, September 21, 1917).

This letter authorizes the purchase of salt from Timbuktu for use in railroad workers rations. 350 kilograms would sustain 250 workers for four months, so that amounts to about 10 grams of salt per worker per day.


Various telegrams concerning the requisition of forced laborers for the railroad (1918)

The following table shows a list of telegrams from various Commandants du Cercle to the Gouverneur du Haut- Sénégal-Niger describing contingents of forced laborers who were sent to work on railroad construction in 1918.

Cercle Date of telegram # of workers note
Sikasso June 26, 1918 0 nobody wants to work for the railroad
Bougouni June 24, 1918 0 needed everyone to work as porters
Bamako July 8, 1918 50
San September 1918 50 3-month contracts
Bamako September 12, 1918 52 3-month contracts
Bobo September 14, 1918 36 all from the village of Boueni
including the foreman
Dédougou September 14, 1918 14
Bobo September 18, 1918 120
Sikasso December 9, 1918 80


Directeur du Chemin de Fer to Lt. Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger (Bamako, June 17, 1918)

This letter described the problems with local recruitment for workers on the Kati-Bamako stretch of the Bamako. The railroad needed 220 more workers. The Directeur du Chemin de Fer suggested trying to retain current workers, but warned that this was only possible if all promises to workers were fulfilled.


Commandant de Cercle de Kita to Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger at Koulouba,
telegram (Kita, February 9, 1918).

Only one man, Alexandre Diallo, offered to work for the railroad. Diallo was an interpreter, a mediocre scribe, and a graduate of l'Ecole Pinet-Laprade.


Commandant du Cercle de Koutiala to Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger,
telegram n°4667 AE (Koutiala, July 7, 1918)

This is one of a series of letters and telegrams concerning two employees who wanted the government to help their wives come and live with them. There was a lot of confusion because the government confused the name of the wives and their villages, then had to have their marital status confirmed and found that at least one was not legally married.


1918: Letter Commandant de Cercle de Bamako à Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger
(Bamako, June 28, 1918)

This concerns the extension of current contracts by forced laborers. Workers from Bobo Dioulasso were willing to extend their contracts for 2 months in exchange for a 0.30 franc/day raise (to 1 franc plus 0.30 franc rations). Workers from Minianké (Koutiala) wanted the same pay raise and have their wives come to live with them, in exchange for accepting a two month extension on their contracts.


Résident d'Ouagadougou Bailly, "Liste des manoeuvres demandés
par le Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger" (March 31, 1919)

This is a list of the names of 150 workers from Ouagadougou (Haute Volta). They left Ouagadougou with 6-month contracts on February 12, 1919. They came from the provinces of Baloum (35 laborers), Ouidi (30), Gounga (30) and Kamsorho (55).


1918: Directeur du Chemin de Fer (p.i.) à Lt. Governeur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger,
letter n°819KN (Bamako, November 5, 1918)

This is a list of 300 workers whose contracts were about to expire. The Directeur du Chemin de Fer asked for 300 replacements with 6-month contracts. He also asked for advice on how to reduce desertion by African laborers on the railroad.

Cercle Number of workers Date contract expired Type of work
Sikasso 20 December 22 woodcutters for Kayes shops and locomotives
Sikasso 50 December 22 Toukoto chalk oven
San 78 December 12 Mahina brick factory
Bobo 80 November 4 woodcutters fired from Toukoto, Bamako and Travaux Publics
Bamako 60 December 12 construction in Bamako and new port
Sikasso 12 December 22 woodcutters on Kayes-Ambedidi railway


Directeur du Chemin de Fer to Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger. Letter n°1001KN (Bamako, December 19, 1918)

This letter described the railroad's labor needs for 1919.

Section #permanent workers #exceptional workers
Exploitation 190 50
Voie et Batiments 520 150
Traction 80 30
Total 790 230


Commandant de Cercle de Kita to Gouverneur du Haut-Sénégal-Niger,
letter (Kita, May 10, 1918)

Commandant Pierre Sicamois wrote that he thought the railroad's labor practices were corrupt. He refered to a request for more requisitioned labor by Hillaireau, the Chef de District de Chemin de Fer à Boulouli, and wrote that labor requisitions were bad business, especially in May when men were needed for planting. Sicamois thought that the system needed to be reformed, and wrote that regular contracts would reduce desertions and the need to train new workers with each requisition.

Sicamois mentioned the people of "Fouladougou Saboula" who cut construction timber for free, cut firewood for a fee, and even located their own millet for the government to purchase as their ration. Evidently, this was an example of successful labor recruiting practices.