LES TIRAILLEURS ET LA FRANCE
Locating Colonial Histories: Between France and West Africa
The Overseas Section of the French national archives at Aix-en-Provence is packed with American doctoral students, and
other scholars specializing in French history, who are busily elbowing aside genealogists and students of the "old colonies"
to get at files on Algeria, Vietnam, and Congo. As a historian of francophone West Africa, I welcome all this activity, as well
as the chance to engage in a deeper dialogue with my Europeanist colleagues. At the same time, I query the degree to which
French colonial history remains the history of France outside the Hexagon (or "continental France"), and how the boundaries
of inquiry, or at least of the academy, might limit historians to nibbling on the edges of potentially rich local histories.1 Aix's
Centre des Archives d'Outre-Mer (CAOM) is not the only place in the south of France where one finds traces of the colonial
past. Focusing on the unique history of the town of Fréjus (Var) and on war memorials built there and in the French Soudan
(today's Mali) between the 1920s and the 1990s, this essay asserts the importance of locality in colonial history and attempts
to illustrate past and present connections between metropolitan and colonial sites.2 It also poses a pair of related questions
about methodology, history, and location3: What units of analysis will illuminate broad questions yet allow the richness of
individual stories to unfold in particular sites? What might districts, towns, or camps have to tell us that colonies and empires
might not? 1
In a recent article on imperial India, Mrinalini Sinha asks whether or not new directions in the study of British
imperialism and domesticity "reduce [the empire] to a site from which to interrogate the metropole." She suggests that the
challenge facing historians is "to recognize simultaneously the specificities of [the metropole and the colony's] separate
imperial locations."4 Here I want not so much to take up her challenge—which diverges slightly from Ann Stoler and
Frederick Cooper's call to "treat metropole and colony in a single analytic field"5—but to rephrase it and to push it a little
further. I would like to register a plea that the specificities of particular places be brought to the fore, not only to ground
research empirically but also to disaggregate and cast new light upon colonial and postcolonial circumstances. Colonial
histories need a sense of place—an appreciation of the contrasts between, say, Guadeloupe and Paris or Niger—and the
ability to evoke the difference.6 But they need more than that: they deserve the kind of local analysis that has the potential
to illuminate the emergence of singular social forms or particular politics, the accidents of history by which, for example, a
seaside town in southern France becomes the temporary home of thousands of West Africans, Southeast Asians, and
Malagasy. Engaging in local analysis is hard work, but for some scholars, it is their bread and butter. Recently,
anthropologists have sought to reconcile an interest in mobility, displacements, and border crossings with a commitment to
being grounded in particular research sites, all the while preserving a place for capital and state power in the analytical
apparatus.7 Historians might not find a model in this body of work, some of which is profoundly ahistorical,8 but it helps to
recognize that in the "colonial situation" certain places may be "out of the way," yet none are remote from the workings of
Speaking to the literature I know best, the dynamism of the French-African colonial world is best illustrated by studies
well grounded in particular sites, almost always in Africa,10 while history explored through an imperial framework (for
example, all of French West Africa) has trouble venturing outside the archive.11 Dakar, the former capital of the federation
of French West Africa (AOF) and home to its archive, remains a significant attraction in the writing of francophone West
African colonial history. Working primarily from the archive there, Alice Conklin and Frederick Cooper have individually
made significant strides in understanding the processes by which public and private colonial actors engaged in an uneven
dialogue with each other and with African dissidents, leaders, and workers over civic membership, labor standards, and, in
the case of Conklin, republican ideology.12 While in their different ways Cooper and Conklin tie together metropole and
colony, they do so at the level of policy and ideology. In other words, the problem of operating on a "single analytical field"
has been addressed, but the field in question is discursive. The linked questions of scale and locality are unresolved. Yet to
be fully realized is the potential of studies of locality to illuminate and disrupt the colonial discourse that contrasted the
"universal" quality of French civilization with the "particular" and "ethnographic" elements of colonized societies.13 Among
other things, that lack of resolution draws researchers to Aix, which becomes a site for the research of an empire the city
hardly knew. There, archives can comfortably be read in the abstract, far from the sites and contexts of their production.14
Perhaps the most famous "sites" in French history are those Pierre Nora dubbed les lieux de mémoire. While studies of
ceremonies, holidays, monuments, and other focal points of collective memory have made important contributions to our
understandings of French history, the project as a whole has been criticized for its strongly national disposition.15 The
multiple volumes of Les lieux de mémoire famously exclude the colonies, and from the standpoint of current academic trends,
this omission is nothing short of fantastic.16 Although more recent work has criticized and to some extent corrected this
flaw,17 in this article I approach a new colonial history through what may be both the most local and the most "national" of
historical symbols, war memorials.18 The memorials analyzed below were erected over the course of seven decades,
beginning in the 1920s. Those in Bamako (Mali) and Reims (France) were identical, and in the 1990s a postcolonial sibling to
those statues went up in Fréjus. At almost the same time, that seaside town welcomed another, very different memorial
complex for "French" remains repatriated from Vietnam. In examining these memorials, my purpose is not to export a method
and a subject of inquiry to the former colonies. Instead, my engagement with the memorials is explicitly instrumental; I use
them as a device, analyzing what their presence says about place. The monuments and their stories illustrate connections
between colonial and postcolonial worlds, and they demonstrate that the colonial situation generated communities of memory
anchored in particular sites.19 It also engendered locality, making otherwise distant sites central to the experiences and
possibilities of the people inhabiting the sociopolitical categories—not only "indigène" (native) but also "africain" or
"français"—that colonial rule invested with such great importance.20 That quality of locality manifests itself in a web of
memory and meaning elaborated over decades. My analysis and my narrative move along that web as far as Mali, but the web
itself stretches to other places, particularly Southeast Asia. Traveling to Bamako and Kati (Mali), while stopping briefly in
Reims, both analysis and narrative return frequently to Fréjus, one of the web's oldest and most important nodes. There,
elements of the recent, shared past of France, West Africa, and Southeast Asia take concrete form, as a pair of memorials
dedicated in the 1990s partly revives tattered ideas of political community and provokes questions they leave unanswered.
In the eyes of French military planners, the conquest of large portions of Africa and parts of Asia in the late nineteenth
century paid immense dividends a generation later when the empire provided hundreds of thousands of men to the metropole
during World War I.21 While Southeast Asia and North Africa sent both workers and soldiers, the sub-Saharan Africans
who are the focus of this essay were almost exclusively soldiers assigned to combat units.22 The colonial federations of
French West and Equatorial Africa provided just over 200,000 soldiers, known collectively as tirailleurs Sénégalais.23 They
were deployed in Europe, Africa, and Anatolia, and many passed through Fréjus. They served as front-line infantry, and
30,000 to 31,000 of them died of combat or illness. A disproportionate number of the tirailleurs came from Soudan Français
(today's Mali), which at the time included much of the country now known as Burkina Faso. The forced recruitment and
provisioning of so many thousands of men caused an enormous amount of damage to African societies, and in some places it
sparked intense resistance to colonial rule. Using African troops under European command, the colonial military suppressed
these revolts with great brutality, and many historians consider World War I the last chapter in the colonial conquest of
Africa.24 Given the intensity of recruitment, rebellion, and repression, as well as the extraction of resources like rubber
and peanut oil, the war deeply scarred West African communities. 5
The war also left its mark on Fréjus, linking it to towns across the empire as a prominent point in a new colonial
constellation. At first blush, Fréjus might seem to be an unlikely site for a colonial encounter. Located on the Mediterranean
coast between Nice and Toulon, the town is best known as a vacation destination. Yet the history of colonialism extends from
one individual place to another, and it is not always necessary to pass through Paris. Residues of empire linger in particular
spaces within France and French national culture, representing both the recent colonial past and a deeper imperial history
that allows former colonial military officers who retired to the south of France to point proudly to the debris of the Roman
Of more immediate relevance is the military culture itself, which pervades Fréjus, long a base for the colonial army (la
Coloniale) and its current incarnation (les troupes de la Marine). Any visitor consulting a map will be struck by the town's
military and colonial nomenclature: Joseph Gallieni, Hubert Lyautey, and the famed Second Armored Division can each claim
their own roads, plazas, or parks, and there is even, without a hint of irony, a traffic circle dedicated to the memory of
Algerian soldiers who fought for France during the Algerian war (rond point des harkis). Conqueror of much of the African
empire, governor of Indochina, Madagascar, and Soudan (and, during World War I, Paris), Gallieni married into a family
from Fréjus. His former villa still bears his name, and he is buried in the neighboring town of Saint-Raphaël. Nearly 10,000
soldiers from all over the empire are also buried in the area, which was long home to colonial military hospitals.26 In fact,
during World War I there were many more Africans in and around Fréjus than there were Frenchmen in the huge territory
of French West Africa in 1921.27 The historical irony runs deep: a region that had only recently become a prominent winter
destination for European royalty was the temporary home of tens of thousands of colonial troops. 7
From 1914, Fréjus and its environs became one of the centers of the colonial soldier's existence in France and a
welcome counterpoint to the trenches.28 In a practice known as hivernage, West African tirailleurs were removed from the
front and garrisoned in the south during the long winter months, when they were thought to suffer greatly from the cold.29
In the southern camps, they would undergo training in military technique and in a rudimentary soldier's French known as the
parler tirailleur. Many soldiers suffered from bronchial afflictions, and they convalesced, or died, in specially segregated
military hospitals with all-male nursing staffs in Fréjus and Menton. Those who were seriously wounded in combat were also
evacuated to these hospitals, the best known of which were tourist hotels converted by a former colonial officer named Dr.
Maclaud. A far cry from any doctrine of assimilation, under Maclaud's leadership these hospitals were expressly dedicated
to a project of resénégalisation, which would ensure that the soldiers recuperating there did not forget their status as
subalterns or lose what he took to be their cultural moorings as Africans. As a step toward the latter goal, hospital corridors
were painted with scenes intended to evoke African village life, and the nursing staff was encouraged to learn and use
Bambara when delivering instructions and prescriptions.30 Whether or not Maclaud's efforts might have made West Africans
feel at home is debatable; Lucie Cousturier, a French artist and writer who had befriended some African soldiers,
caustically described resénégalisation as "recatechization in fear."31 8
Although the inhabitants of Fréjus and its environs were initially shocked to find that their quiet town would play host to
the colonial contingents, some of them would gradually develop familiar relations with the young men, exchanging French
lessons, fresh produce, bread, and conversation with them. Cousturier became particularly close to some of the West African
soldiers she found almost literally on her doorstep. She taught French to many of them, and hosted a dinner at which her
brother-in-law Paul, former lieutenant governor of Guinea and builder of its capital, Conakry, sat down with one of his
erstwhile subjects.32 Local merchants, by contrast, found them an easy mark.33 Not all of Fréjus's citizens interacted with
the colonial troops, but the culture of the town would be changed irrevocably. 9
Unfortunately, West Africans were not brought to France to rest in the pine hills outside Fréjus, but to fight in the
trenches. Considered to be ideal "shock troops," they served as the spearhead of assaults on fixed positions and suffered
predictably high casualty rates.34 As Bakary Kamian notes, "there was hardly a major offensive in which Africans did not
play an important role."35 However, one of their key engagements, in Reims, was defensive. Under intense German attack in
the spring and summer of 1918, they held the town and eventually counterattacked. Many tirailleurs died in the fighting, and
one battalion was virtually destroyed.36 The determination of the African defense of the town seized the imagination of
many, and in 1924 the erection of a twin set of war memorials would symbolically strengthen the new ties between Reims and
the distant city of Bamako, capital of Soudan Français.37 (See Figure 1.) Although the bond between the two cities would
prove fleeting—and in 1940 the German army would destroy the monument in Reims—the statue's form was enduring and a
variation on it appeared in Fréjus in 1994. Built on land donated by the Marquis de Polignac, the original 1924 monument in
Reims both recognized the town's special relationship with the African troops and asserted the virtues of their presence in
France as a symbolic counterargument to vociferous European and American objections to the use of African and other
non-European troops in the occupation of the Rhineland. In his speech inaugurating the monument, General Louis Archinard,
one of the primary architects of the conquest of the Western Sudan, underscored this point when he proclaimed the
tirailleurs to be "des Français noirs." The depth of the relationship was then highlighted by a spectacular "historical parade
[representing] all the Native troops" from the time of the Bourbon Restoration to the tirailleurs Sénégalais and
Indochinois.38 Reims was exceptional in its embrace of African troops, and the Rhineland controversy charged the political
Figure 1: Aux Héros de l'Armée Noire, Bamako. Author's photograph, 2002.
While monuments to the war dead mushroomed in interwar France, drawing local and national (republican) memories into
what was intended to be a sublime combination, they were also springing up in the colonies. Eric Jennings has demonstrated
that those erected in Guadeloupe represented a claim to cultural, and therefore political, assimilation on the part of the
island's veterans and others. They were simultaneously "local" and "national," as they "were designed by the island's elite as
assimilationist bridges between Guadeloupean and metropolitan allegiances."39 War monuments erected in Africa were more
properly "colonial." The form that appeared in Reims and Bamako emphasized the inequality between the white officer
holding the flag, distinguished by his posture and his uniform, and the tirailleurs clustered behind him. Moreover, statues in
the African colonies were not directly funded by veterans or other Africans, but were almost entirely paid for by the
administration and its supporters in France and among the very small European colonial population. 11
Bamako was a logical if not a consensual candidate for a monument to the Armée noire, since Soudan had provided so
many soldiers for the war.40 The city's intense traffic still swirls around the war memorial and its garden, but documents of
the period convey the sense that the monument was built primarily to assuage the memory of French administrators and
colonists and to assure them of the "loyalty" of a colony that had experienced significant revolts before the successful
recruitment drive of 1918.41 At one point, in the early 1920s, three separate committees dedicated to erecting a memorial to
African veterans competed for public and private funds. While Senegalese parliamentarian Blaise Diagne sought to create a
monument in Dakar, Archinard chaired a rival committee, which foresaw a memorial in Bamako. Meanwhile, Governor Guy,
West African commissioner to the exposition in Marseille, wanted to have built in France a monument that could service both
the exposition and its successor to be held in Paris. Governor-General Merlin preferred that Dakar, its sister city
Saint-Louis, and Bamako each have its own monument; in the end, this is what happened.42 Nevertheless, in Bamako as
elsewhere, former military officers were among those active in raising funds for the statue and in overseeing its design by
Paul Moreau-Vauthier, a well-known French sculptor.43 12
Several dignitaries attended the unveiling in Bamako in January 1924, including Governor-General Jules Carde, General
Henri-Edouard Claudel, commander of French forces in West Africa, and a representative of Minister of Colonies Albert
Sarraut. Yet perhaps the most notable of the invited guests was unable to attend. Poor health prevented General Archinard
from making the voyage to Bamako. Nevertheless, his speech was read to the assembled crowd, and it remains a remarkable
document. In his address, Archinard underscored the depth of the past shared by the French nation and the people of
Western Sudanic Africa. He brought this relationship to life as he wrote that he composed his speech, "thinking of my
former comrades of thirty years ago, some of whom, such as my old and courageous interpreter Mamadou Coumba, are
perhaps among those who listen to my speech today."44 Interim governor Terrasson de Fougères used the occasion to
anticipate the promising future of the colonial relationship. He claimed that, "When peace came, our tirailleurs returned to
their homes [where] they saw that France had kept her promises. They see their country evolving rapidly towards a better
future." The hallmarks of this bright future would include new schools and dispensaries, maternity clinics, roads, and
irrigation systems. In a fit of hyperbole, the governor proclaimed that French irrigation projects would make the valley of
the Niger "one of the richest countries in the world." The modernizing potential of French power in the Soudan was
underscored when a group of low-flying airplanes saluted the crowd, while troops from the nearby garrison of Kati paraded
in the streets.45 13
While Archinard and Terrasson saw the monument as a sign of French benevolence and indeed of cautiously expressed
gratitude, the prolific colonial critic Michel Larchain regarded such monuments as a poor use of resources. Comparing acts
of commemoration in France to those in the African colonies, he noted that French railway workers were building a
sanitarium as a living memorial to their dead. Meanwhile, a fund-raising event held in the Tuileries would help to pay for four
war memorials in towns across French Africa. Newly erected memorials "right in the heart of the old warring Soudan" struck
Larchain as a poor substitute for hospitals and other institutions that could better demonstrate French recognition of the
West African contribution to the war.46 Larchain did not point out the irony that Bamako's monument commemorating the
soldiers was located in the middle of the city, while the administration had sought to force demobilized tirailleurs and their
families out of the capital and back to the countryside.47 14
Neither Larchain nor Archinard would have anticipated that the war memorial Aux héros de l'armée noire would come to
be known locally as Samorikélékédenw (Samory's warriors), in reference to Samori Touré (d. 1900), who built a powerful
West African empire in the 1880s and 1890s and fought a long-running war with the French.48 No date can be assigned to
this interpretation, but if it is impossible to know what Bamako's inhabitants made of the war memorial when it was built, the
events of a sweltering Sunday morning ten years after its dedication may offer a glimpse of the meanings generated around
it.49 On May 13, 1934, the trains from Bamako to the important nearby garrison at Kati were packed with Africans and
Europeans eager to attend the dedication of another memorial to the tirailleurs.50 Thousands of Bamakois who could not
find places on the trains crowded onto trucks or hiked several miles across the hills to Kati. Much of the European population
of Bamako also made the trek. At Kati's Camp Gallieni, they joined representatives of tirailleurs regiments who had come
from Senegal in the middle of the hot season to present their flags at the unveiling of a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the
Second Regiment de tirailleurs Sénégalais (R.T.S.). (See Figure 2.) The event they were eager to see was a true spectacle,
complete with parades, a military band, maneuvers performed by juvenile cadets, "folkloric dances," games, and—for the
Europeans—an evening jazz band performance under electric light at which they could "drink copiously to the health of the
Figure 2: Colonel de Martonne inaugurates the monument to the Second R.T.S. at Kati, May 13, 1934. Photography
reproduced with kind permission of the Service Historique de l'Armée de Terre, France.
Along with the ceremonies surrounding its inauguration, the monument was the brainchild of the commander of the
Second R.T.S., Colonel Edouard de Martonne. De Martonne was an exceptional officer who stands out both for his
publications on the tirailleurs and for his skills in Bambara (Bamanankan), the corps' African lingua franca. He believed
strongly in the importance of ceremony and sought to cultivate actively a set of rituals and traditions particular to the
Second R.T.S. The previous year, he had launched what was to be an annual "fête du 2' R.T.S." with which he intended to
celebrate his soldiers, to affirm the "cordiality and good will" between the military and the civilian administration, and to
honor the regiment's history. A highlight of these celebrations was a mock assault staged by the tirailleurs on the parade
ground. After cavalry and infantrymen with fixed bayonets had charged to within twenty meters of the tribune on which the
European spectators sat, four flag-bearers came together at the foot of the tribune to strike the pose held in the Bamako
Although as a representational work, the old memorial was easily imitated, the new one was dramatically different, and it
evoked a singular response. No African-generated testimony to the 1934 inauguration of the monument at Kati survives, but in
his text describing the event, de Martonne offers tantalizing evidence of the excitement that it generated, as well as a
record of some of the resources from which meaning may have been constructed. After de Martonne's own bilingual speech,
a child cadet recited a historical example of the tirailleurs' "devotion" to their European officers. Young Adama Cissoko
declared that he and his peers would often visit the site, where they would "ask our predecessors to bring their bravery and
virtue into our hearts." De Martonne had carefully choreographed the ceremony of inauguration, but, according to his own
record of the event, at that moment he seems to have lost control, as "the entire Native part of the crowd—the civilians, of
course—surged forward with curiosity, and the barricades could hardly hold them back."53 17
According to de Martonne, the Europeans were also moved by this speech, and indeed by the ceremony as a whole. We
can assume that they assimilated this stone structure to that erected in Bamako ten years earlier and to countless others in
France. Although Bamako's monument was a representative sculpture and Kati's an obelisk, most French-speakers would have
understood by the term mémorial and by the inscriptions on its face, that the function of the monument was to perform a
particular kind of memory work and to reassert the alleged virtues of the colonial relationship, particularly the tirailleurs'
supposed loyalty. However, it takes much more imagination to understand why the crowd surged forward at the moment that
it did, at the end of the cadet's speech, or what it understood by the terms used to refer to the monument itself. In de
Martonne's speech, delivered first in French and then in Bambara, the monument was referred to in different terms in
different languages. In French the marble and concrete obelisk was a mémorial, and in Bambara it was a farasso
(alternately, fara so), literally a "stone house." The rhetorical conventions marking the French speech were well established,
announcing the monument as being dedicated to the soldiers of the Second R.T.S., to an unknown soldier, and to those who
had died both in the conquest of the Soudan and in the world war. A plaque had been inscribed in part, "à tous les
Bandiougou, Samba-Taraoré, Mamadou-Fofana, et autres braves ... hommage de leurs fils, de leurs neveux, de leurs
In Bambara, the conventions were much less clear, and de Martonne did not heed the most relevant of them. Rather than
having his words translated, de Martonne apparently delivered the speech himself, without an interpreter, and without a jeli
or griot, a professional orator to project his words for him. Of greater consequence for the present argument, the word
farasso, the term he used to refer to the new monument, has no apparent implications for memory work. De Martonne gave it
that meaning—that is, associated memory with the object—by erecting the obelisk as a site of greeting and of reflection on
the ancestors. Very few of the African soldiers and civilians would have understood de Martonne's French speech, in which
he proclaimed that the monument was for a particular regiment, one whose history and culture de Martonne had worked hard
to accentuate.55 Moreover, the camp housed many recent recruits who would not have seen the Bamako memorial either; what
de Martonne and the cadet Cissoko said became all the more important. In Bambara, the monument was for the fathers,
uncles, and grandfathers of the soldiers and cadets. When passing before it, one was literally to greet the dead ("I ni cé
Bandiougou! / Greetings Bandiougou!"). In both speeches, the practice of naming was an aspect of the work of memory, but
the names in question were not significant as the names of particular individuals, as Archinard had called upon in his Bamako
speech or as were commonly displayed on metropolitan memorials. No one proposed naming all of the tirailleurs from the
colony of Soudan or the administrative district of Bamako who had died in the war, as was often the case for metropolitan
memorials.56 Rather, the speeches and the inscription at Kati were meant to represent both certain illustrious predecessors
(in Bambara, grandfathers or ancestors) and a broader tradition of loyalty and fidelity thought to be characteristic of the
tirailleurs.57 In other words, the monument was not naming names so much as it was naming types. 19
General Archinard's inaugural speech in Bamako in 1924, in which he invoked the name of his interpreter Mamadou
Coumba, worked to define the monument as a physical manifestation of the highly prized quality of reciprocal loyalty. The
speeches made at Kati ten years later did much the same thing; they commemorated, thereby defining, a past relationship
between officers and men, and they projected it into the future. In the 1940s and 1950s, groups composed of both African
and European veterans built on the attention paid to the virtue of loyalty in order to claim that the French state did not live
up to its own obligations in the form of pensions and other benefits for former soldiers. The Bamako monument became a
favored site for veterans protesting low pension rates or welcoming visiting ministers.58 The fact that some of these protests
were staged in solidarity with metropolitan veterans' groups suggests that although enlisted men and officers, civilians and
soldiers, French-speakers and Bambara-speakers (or those who spoke both) may originally have understood the stone
monuments at Bamako and Kati very differently, by the postwar period they shared an understanding of their symbolic and
rhetorical potential. 20
While these African monuments represented a particular past, they neither anchored it permanently nor revived it in the
wake of independence. The Second R.T.S., to which the monument at Kati was dedicated, became the Third Détachement
Motorisé Autonome (D.M.A.) after World War II;59 the unit was dissolved when Mali became independent. While the
monument still stands, the military unit it was meant to honor no longer exists. In the wake of independence and the Malian
expulsion of the French military in 1961, the general staff of Mali's new army set out to transform the base at Kati into a
military school rivaling that at Fréjus, where many of its officers had trained.60 Similarly, the Bamako monument still stands
in the center of town, in the middle of a traffic circle. Although it was never taken down, it did not emerge from the
nationalist period entirely unscathed. According to an Icelandic travel writer who visited Bamako with her family in the
mid-1960s, "The statues of the charging African soldiers on the monument were still intact, as were the engraved names of
battles they had engaged in that meant nothing to me as an Icelander ... But what struck us at once was the fact that the
words of the commendation [sic] and dedication had all been carefully chiselled [sic] off and painted over with white paint!"
Although she took this modification of the memorial as evidence that the Malians "despise[d]" the French,61 it could equally
be understood as evidence of the respect, perhaps grudging, that the country's political leadership had for the veterans, who
were a potent if conservative constituency. A monument to General Gustave Borgnis-Desbordes, who established the first
French post at Bamako, had been torn down shortly after independence.62 While both the Bamako and the Kati monuments
survived the nationalist politics of the period relatively unharmed, the statue in Reims, twin to that in Bamako, had fallen prey
to a more poisonous nationalist rancor during the German invasion of 1940.63 As part of a wave of post-independence (and
post-Algerian War) commemoration of African participation in the world wars, the minister of armies dedicated a "monolithic
stele" on the site in 1963, and after 1996, a plaque recalled the destruction of the original monument.64 The twin pair in
Bamako and Reims had endured a tumultuous history when a sibling statue was erected in Fréjus in 1994 to commemorate the
role of African troops in the liberation of the region fifty years earlier. 21
The new statue stands on the promenade, its back to the sea. Erected by an association of former military officers, aided by
the national and municipal governments, the monument plays on the statue in Bamako. In this new sculpture, the heroic pose of
the 1920s has given way to a loose cluster of individual figures whose faces express confusion, pain, suffering, and
camaraderie. (See Figure 3.) The sole European depicted, the central figure in the 1920s version, now stands isolated, and
his support of the flag is only one among many narrative elements. One tirailleur walks upright, looking at the flag with an
open, perhaps querying expression; another, his knees bent, gestures away from it into the open air. In the foreground, two
companions stagger or huddle, and one leans on his rifle for support while his comrade seems to encourage him.65 22
Figure 3: à l'Armée Noire, Fréjus. Dedicated September 1, 1994. Author's photograph, 2004.
Fréjus's claim to such a monument extended beyond its role as the site for the African soldiers' hivernage during World
War I. First sent to the town to benefit from its mild climate and facilities intended for tourists, the tirailleurs maintained a
presence in its hinterland for decades. Hospitals intended solely for West African troops remained in operation at least into
the 1920s. Shortly after the war, a school for the training of indigenous noncommissioned officers (sous-officiers, NCOs)
opened its doors to soldiers from Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa.66 By 1926, nearly 45,000 "native" troops were
serving outside their territories of origin, and a good number of them were in France. Even if only a modest fraction of the
almost 27,000 tirailleurs Sénégalais outside AOF were in the metropole, they would have vastly outnumbered the several
hundred West African civilians then in France, most of whom were sailors.67 De Martonne's suggestion that the towns near
which they were garrisoned reacted to colonial soldiers "without too much dread" suggests that relations were not always
warm.68 However, when floods struck the southwest in 1930, African and Asian tirailleurs stationed at Castelsarrasin
renewed their welcome when they came to the rescue of civilians trapped by the waters.69 Across the south of France, and
into the Alps, colonial troops also fought wildfires and built and maintained forest trails.70 23
During the war, a visitor had characterized the camps at Fréjus and Saint-Raphaël as "a sad and morose land of exile,"71
but by 1931, a journalist reported that Fréjus was "almost like an ongoing Colonial Exposition."72 This was not simply
hyperbole, since soldiers representing almost every colony were either stationed in or passing through Fréjus. Friction among
them was always a possibility. In the 1920s, an officer on inspection claimed that having soldiers from all over the empire in
camps together did not give rise to any problems. At the same time, however, he noted that the Southeast Asian NCOs were
demanding a kitchen apart from the Sénégalais and the Malagasy, since the "cuisine of the Black cooks did not satisfy them
at all."73 24
Fréjus and the Colonial Exposition had other things in common as well; both the town and the exposition had mosques that
mimicked the neo-Sudanic architectural style epitomized by the famous Great Mosque of Djenné. The difference was that
the one in Paris was an enormous simulacrum, while the tiny structure in Fréjus was apparently originally intended to be used
for prayer (albeit by a small percentage of the camp's Muslims).74 African soldiers in what was considered to be "the most
important native colonial milieu in the entire metropole" had lacked their own religious site until 1928. While the Indochinese
had a pagoda and the Malagasy a church for their own use, the Governor-General of French West Africa bemoaned the
Africans' status as poor cousins to their imperial colleagues. A mosque was soon built with funding from the colonies of
French West Africa, as well as the charitable Comité d'Assistance aux Troupes Noires and the municipality of Fréjus.75
This addition to the landscape made it clear that Fréjus was a colonial site par excellence. 25
As such, the town attracted African migrants from elsewhere in France. Among the most notable of these was the
Senegalese radical Lamine Senghor, who traveled to the Var in 1926 to "give a moving speech at the tombs of his former
comrades in arms (Sénégalais, Malgaches, et Annamites)."76 Senghor was himself an ancien tirailleur and a veteran of World
War I whose disability was indexed at 100 percent.77 His visit to the military cemetery at Camp Gallieni was part of a larger
campaign to foster anticolonial sentiments and, eventually, activism among West African troops (such actions had already met
with some success among their Asian counterparts). Although terribly ill in 1926, Senghor made several trips back and forth
between Paris and the Var, and the agents of the minister of colonies followed his movements closely.78 They were
particularly concerned that as the largest group of colonial subjects in the metropole, soldiers be shielded from anticolonial
and communist influence. Senghor seems to have found some fertile ground in the Var, as "the soldiers complained that they
were badly fed and that they only had water and a little coffee to drink; they are also mistreated and sometimes beaten by
French NCOs."79 The following year provided unwelcome evidence that the efforts of Senghor and his comrades had met
with some success when an African officer serving at Kati reported that the radical journal La Race Nègre was circulating
among African soldiers in France, and possibly at Kati as well.80 Senghor's efforts cost him his health and eventually his
life. In Marseille, a West African man tried to kill him with a stone; upon being apprehended, he claimed to be working for
"a white," who was an agent of the Ministry of Colonies. If the allegation was true, the ministry might have economized its
efforts. Two months later, in November 1926, Lucie Cousturier's son wrote to Senghor's comrades in Paris to inform them
that Senghor's health had failed, and that he was unlikely to be able to return to Paris.81 Within a year, Senghor was
Fréjus did not attract only soldiers and radicals, and not all of its newcomers were itinerant. A number of less notable
African religious figures, peddlers, and scam artists passed through the town, and some retired African soldiers settled
there with their French wives, leading the local government to complain that they lived solely on public aid.83 A Senegalese
photographer established himself in Fréjus in the mid-1930s; in the chaotic months following the Liberation in 1944, when
impatient tirailleurs continued to be stationed outside the town, he drew attention to himself by urging soldiers to desert
rather than disembark for West Africa without being paid.84 In the same period, one deserter passed himself off as a
well-connected officer charged with Muslim affairs, appropriating the titles of lieutenant and el-hajj. Attempts to repatriate
him were frustrated by his circulation between Paris and Fréjus, and in the meantime officers feared the effect of his
presence on soldiers' morale.85 27
The town itself became something of an open site for colonial troops, who roamed freely. An African officer reported
that, "bakers and butchers can only serve their clientele in hiding ... as a constant stream of tirailleurs parades in front of
these establishments, demanding to be served ... the meager weekly rations intended for civilians." Not surprisingly, a black
market in clothing, food, and alcohol flourished in the camps, "where everything [could] be had."86 Pushed from the ranks in
order to incorporate resistance fighters, resentful combat veterans mixed with former prisoners-of-war who had been
captured in 1940. Both sets of men were impatient to be sent home, but a lack of shipping and other resources forced them to
spend a cold and hungry winter in camps across southern France. Soldiers stationed around Fréjus, Nîmes, and Marseille
sent a collective letter to "Monsieur le Chef du Gouvernement Français" asking if it was because of their skin color that they
lacked adequate food, shelter, and clothing. Some of their comrades were swapping whatever they could for American
uniforms, and all sorely missed "the celebrated American 'beans'" as they were reduced to eating boiled chestnuts.87 The
gravity of such complaints was made clear by outbreaks of violence in several garrison towns, including Fréjus, where a
tirailleur, a gendarme, and a civilian were killed in a brawl that degenerated into a full-fledged riot.88 28
In such circumstances, it is possible that West African soldiers would have seen some truth in French poet Jacques
Prévert's description of them as "the black slaves of Fréjus."89 However, just a few years later, in an era of
always-incomplete political assimilation, it is not likely that they would have agreed. During the Fourth Republic (1946–1958),
Fréjus was the "veritable capitol of la Coloniale"90 and the subject of a marching song, sung in Bambara, with the refrain
"awn bé ta Fréjus, awn bé ta Fréjus" (we are going to Fréjus).91 Throughout the 1950s, the colonial army became an
increasingly prestigious institution for some African men, and most of the officer corps—and therefore several of the future
presidents—of the independent francophone African states trained in Fréjus. In West African towns and cities, the French
army screened recruitment films featuring footage of the camps outside Fréjus, which many veterans would have
remembered clearly.92 29
Those memories came to the fore in the months immediately before independence, when a dam at Malpasset collapsed and
sent a wall of water toward Fréjus, killing hundreds. Soldiers stationed outside the town assisted in the relief effort, while
veterans in Bamako and elsewhere collected charitable contributions for the flood's surviving victims. While the actions of
colonial troops during the floods of 1930 were taken as evidence of their "devotion" and "loyalty," the disaster of 1959
punctuated a much more complex political moment, as the viability of the French Community was very much in question. A
Soudanese veterans' newspaper, representing an association advocating a negotiated independence with strong links to
France, reported that some 12,000 francs had been raised for flood victims, and it proudly printed a letter of thanks from
the mayor of Fréjus.93 The warmth of the veterans' response, and the correspondence it generated, contrasted sharply with
the tepid nature of veterans' nationalism. 30
The independence of France's sub-Saharan colonies came more quickly than had been expected and took effect while
African soldiers were still in the field in Algeria. Mali quickly demanded the withdrawal of its nationals from Algeria, sought
their repatriation, and, in 1961, expelled the French army from the national territory. Other newly independent nations (with
the exception of Guinea) were much less aggressive, and the French military maintained a presence in most of the former
colonies. However, the presence in the French ranks of soldiers who had become foreign nationals became a tricky political
issue, and after the defeat in Algeria, France no longer needed the extra manpower. In 1964, the minister of armies ordered
that all African and Malagasy soldiers be transferred to an "African battalion" in Fréjus. Aside from a small number of
Guineans who had chosen the French army over Sékou Touré's Guinea and were unable to return home, all African soldiers
would soon be discharged and repatriated. Excluded from this process of repatriation were a handful of African
noncommissioned officers training for service in their respective national armies at the Ecole de Formation des Officiers du
Régime Transitoire des Territoires d'Outre-mer (EFORTOM) outside Fréjus.94 Thus the town's connections with West
African soldiers continued after the formal dissolution of the empire they had represented and served, and schools like
EFORTOM came to be seen as a vital means of maintaining "the moral links of the ex-Community."95 Currently les Troupes de
la Marine (successor to la Coloniale) maintain bases outside of town where they host periodic training exercises with
members of other European and African armies. In addition, many former officers of the colonial military have retired to the
Var, sharing the region with civilians and vacationers. An Association des amis du musée des troupes de marine supports a
museum for the colonial troops, which opened in 1981 a few kilometers outside of town.96 31
As the scene (if not the product) of so much shared history, in the 1990s Fréjus was a logical site for the dedication of a
monument that sought to "re-cast" a French-African relationship then in a period of transition.97 Fifty years had passed
since African troops helped liberate the town, but that memory intersected with more immediate political circumstances. In
the early 1990s, Fréjus was the mayoral fief of the moderate François Léotard, who at the time of the monument's
inauguration was minister of defense; however, Jean-Marie le Pen's xenophobic Front National was then contesting the
larger region of which Fréjus is a part. In such a political environment, the unanticipated ambivalence of the sculpture begs
the question of what exactly it is meant to commemorate. (See Figure 3.) Are the soldiers whose figures are depicted
foreigners or locals? What role do they have in the immediate community of Fréjus, or the larger national community? What
do the weekenders, the tourists, and the West Africans selling belts and sunglasses on the promenade make of this statue?
After all, in a poem on the statue's base, Léopold Sédar Senghor, former French soldier and Senegalese president, explicitly
calls out to a "passer-by," addressing the stranger with the familiar "tu": "Passer-by, they fell, fraternally united, so that
you could remain French." Senghor's poem implicitly poses the question of who is and who is not "French," and it reminds the
attentive reader that men like those depicted died in defense of a nation-state of which they were not fully a part. 32
Whatever interpretations are produced, more than forty years after independence the memory of the tirailleurs
Sénégalais remains an awkward one for certain communities within the French nation. It occasionally makes unlikely allies of
those who claim the nation's core values yet understand them differently, such as Coloniale veterans and the republican left.
In another example, West African immigrants often appeal to memories of African participation in the world wars to assert
their rights to remain in France; in doing so, they win the support of certain retired officers, even if others reject such logic
outright.98 It is true that military culture is highly particular, boasting dense webs of obligation and duty, an intense sense
of history, and its own gendered and racial order. However, such networks are not limited to the troupes de la marine. In the
colonial period, African dockworkers and other laborers maintained their own chains of contacts in France, making not only
Marseille, but also Le Havre and Dunkirk "privileged sites of colonial history."99 The burial of a controversial West African
Sufi shaykh on French soil during World War II generated a new pilgrimage itinerary for some of his followers. More
broadly, since the 1960s, well-connected businessmen, ex-colonial functionaries seconded to the Ministry of Culture, and
former colonial surveillance officers attached to immigration services have represented other networks.100 Emerging from
the old Ecole Coloniale, colonial business circuits, intellectual circles, networks of migrants, and the remnants of a Gaullist
cabal devoted to "African affairs" is not a single postcolonial world, but several of them, some of which overlap in
In Fréjus, the story does not end on the promenade. Here intersections abound, and diverse histories fold into one another.
The town's former role as a meeting point for West Africans, Europeans, and Southeast Asians makes possible new sites of
memory based on the re-composition of past social and political forms. The point is best illustrated through yet another
memorial, yet again in Fréjus. This is le mémorial des guerres en Indochine.102 34
The war in Indochina (1946–1954) was the first in which former subjects fought as citizens of the Fourth Republic.
Some 60,000 of them were sub-Saharan Africans, and they represented around 16 percent of the total expeditionary force
in 1954. Between 2,500 and 2,800 of them died in Southeast Asia.103 Like their comrades, African soldiers in Asia were
volunteers attracted by high pay, aggressive recruiting tactics, and new opportunities for advancement within the ranks.104
In West Africa and abroad, their service became increasingly controversial, as left-leaning politicians and radicals called
for their return, or even branded them traitors.105 Meanwhile, the Viet Minh sought to persuade Africans to abandon the
fight by pointing out their common predicament of colonial occupation. Their success, however modest, did convince the
French military of the need to pay close attention to African morale.106 35
The memorial in Fréjus implicitly dismisses any doubts about African loyalty by incorporating African combat deaths into
a larger, if intentionally vague, statement of unity. A somewhat confusing combination of techniques of commemoration, the
site confronts the visitor with several modes of engagement. It contains a museum and an ossuary, as well as an ecumenical
site for reflection intended for Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The military cemetery lies within a circle, over one
hundred meters in diameter, which is formed by an elevated promenade that takes advantage of the site's gradual slope
toward the Bay of Saint-Raphaël in the distance.107 Within the circumference of the circle, tall, thick stone sepulchers are
laid out in rows on two levels. On the lower level, in addition to the ossuary itself, are commemorative plaques of various
veterans' associations. A long wall bears the name of all those "morts pour la France" in Indochina whose remains are not
part of the memorial; they are listed by name and by year of death. The remains of civilians lie in a distinct space nearby.108
At the entrance, a representative sculpture depicts two soldiers, one European and one Southeast Asian, who hoist an image
of the Indochinese peninsula with the figure of a dragon curled around it. 36
Erected by a local veterans' association, the statue predates the rest of the memorial, which was built after France and
Vietnam reached an agreement on the repatriation of the "French" dead in 1986.109 Being "anchored in colonial history,"
Fréjus quickly offered to host a memorial to the wars in Indochina, and a necropolis was built to house the remains of some
24,000 soldiers and civilians.110 But the protocol on repatriation raised an interesting problem: what would be done with the
remains of soldiers from the former colonies, who did after all die as citizens of the Fourth Republic? The solution is clear;
Alpha Camara, Benaissa ben Mohammed, and their sub-Saharan African and Maghrebi colleagues are named on the memorial
itself, while their remains are interred inside its walls. 37
The necropolis has very little to do with Fréjus's monument for the tirailleurs Sénégalais. Although Serge Barcellini has
aptly described Indochina (in the abstract) as the "memorial engine" of the French colonial possessions since the interwar
years, the fact that the two memorials were dedicated within months of each other seems to be mere coincidence.111 The
Indochina memorial opened several years after Vietnam expressed its unwillingness to continue to allow French cemeteries to
remain undisturbed,112 and the monument to the tirailleurs was tied to the observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the
Allied landing in the region (North and West African troops played a major role in the assault). Neither is entirely the
product of an emerging francophonie, although both must be understood partly within that context.113 38
Questions of timing aside, the disassociation of the two memorials illustrates my point: Fréjus's unique history generates
commemorative possibilities and creates new combinations of old forms of community. The Indochina memorial is precisely
not what Panivong Norindr has described as a "new political allegor[y]" placed "in an unlikely site ... the city of Fréjus."114
Rather, the memorial reworks an old allegory and resuscitates an idea of political community, redefining it as a community of
memory. And what site could be more likely? Fréjus has a distinct past, one not shared by the country as a whole. If the
presence of the memorial, along with Norindr's other examples, is meant to suggest that Indochina has "come to occupy an
'important' place in French 'collective memory,'" then it is indeed overburdened, as Daniel Sherman has pointed out.115
Indochina cannot become a synecdoche for "the empire,"116 and for Fréjus we cannot read "France." Either move would be
a reduction of local complexities and a dismissal of locality. "Memories ... of Indochina take up rather limited space in the
contemporary French imaginary," as Sherman points out.117 Yet the necropolis brings the memory of a particular French
Indochina—and the peculiar empire of the Fourth Republic—into a corner of the Hexagon that must be understood on its own
terms. Indeed, if Fréjus is anchored in colonial history, the inverse is also true. The town and places like it offer immense
potential for understanding the cultivation and evolution of historically grounded social and political formations, as well as
the emergence of new ones. 39
By 1918, Fréjus was both an African site and a truly "colonial" one, in several senses of the word. That phenomenon bears
exploring, as do others like it. Studying the town's military and memorial links with West Africa breaks down the distinction
between colony and metropole and opens up new lines of inquiry; another trail leads to Southeast Asia. An analysis of the
memorials themselves represents nothing more than a device that allows the identification of significant nodes on a shifting
web of memory and meaning. The evolving designs of the monuments to the tirailleurs, as well as the ceremonies surrounding
them, reflected emerging political and social forms. However, both the crowd's stampede at Kati and contemporary
references to the Bamako memorial as "Samori's soldiers" underscore the dissonance and the ambiguity such memorials and
ceremonies may engender. The ambivalence of the contemporary statue in Fréjus is a further case in point. 40
Some colonial sites were not so different from contemporary African cities and border trading posts, or for that matter
from the African-populated Parisian neighborhoods and suburbs where new social forms and strategies are produced and
re-produced.118 However, comparison between places, or even between past and present social locations, may prove less
rewarding than the integration of disparate sites and discursive maneuvers into a larger, more encompassing analytical
framework that is at once localized and supra-local. The garrisons and memorials of la Coloniale suggest that a sense of
place can provide, quite literally, a point of entry. 41
Yet why not study colonialism in the world that it claimed? One of the signal lessons of the "imperial turn" historiography
has been that colonialism shaped both the imperial metropoles and their colonies, as well as the nations that emerged from
them.119 But can garrisons, ports, and other stopping places tell us something that empires, federations, and colonies do not?
I argue that they can. Indeed without them, the new colonial history risks ending where it begins, in a national history of a
different nation—one that takes the imperial archive into account but does not go beyond it—rather than in a post-national
history that might better help historians understand the world in which they and others live. 42
I am grateful for the comments of Alice Conklin, Laura Lee Downs, and the anonymous referees of the AHR. This article was
written and researched with the support of the Fulbright Program, Northwestern University, the Camargo Foundation, the
Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall (Paris), and a Faculty Development Grant from Columbia University. I
thank Karine Valerie Walther for providing research assistance with contemporary French periodicals. An earlier version of
this paper was presented as "Locating the Imperial and the Empirical in Post-Colonial Francophone Histories" at the 116th
annual meeting of the American Historical Association, San Francisco, January 3–6, 2002.
Gregory Mann is an assistant professor in the History Department of Columbia University, where he specializes in West
African history. He recently completed a book manuscript on the evolution of a political language of reciprocity, reclamation,
and mutual obligation between Malian veterans of the colonial military and the French state. In 2003, Mann published
articles on Muslim-influenced religious movements and colonial surveillance in the Journal of African History and on the uses
of colonial history in contemporary immigration debates in Comparative Studies in Society and History. In 2000, he received
his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, where he studied under Dr. John O. Hunwick.
1 For an essay on the revival of colonial studies with particular reference to France and Africa, see Frederick Cooper,
"Decolonizing Situations: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Colonial Studies, 1951–2001," French Politics, Culture, and Society 20,
no. 2 (2002): 47–76. A recent historiographic survey with an emphasis on Indochina is Robert Aldrich, "Imperial Mise en
valeur and Mise en scène: Recent Works on French Colonialism," Historical Journal 45, no. 4 (2002): 917–36. See also
"Writing French Colonial Histories," Alice Conklin and Julia Clancey-Smith, eds., special issue, French Historical Studies 27,
no. 3 (2004); Gary Wilder, "Unthinking French History: Colonial Studies beyond National Identity," in Antoinette Burton,
ed., After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation, (Durham, N.C., 2003); Daniel J. Sherman, "The Arts and
Sciences of Colonialism," French Historical Studies 23, no. 4 (2000): 707–29. Wilder and Conklin and Clancy-Smith suggest
that historians of France have handled the curves in the "imperial turn" rather differently than have historians of other
European nations, Great Britain in particular. See the essays in Burton, After the Imperial Turn. The terms "colonialism" and
"imperialism" are frequently used interchangeably. In this paper, I prefer colonialism, following a distinction laid out by
Henri Brunschwig some years ago. For Brunschwig, colonialism, like imperialism, rested "on the assumption [of] political
domination and economic supervision over the territories which had been conquered. But it excluded a third assumption,
which was vital to imperialism: the possession of a clear conscience." Brunschwig, French Colonialism, 1871–1914: Myths and
Realities, William Glanville Brown, trans. (London, 1966), 180–81, emphasis added.
2 In my usage, locality, the identity of a place, is the product of histories that create particular social forms, types of
community, and vectors of memory while generating possibilities for the future. Localities enable meaning. They are in this
sense akin to Pierre Nora's lieux de mémoire; Nora, "General Introduction: Between Memory and History," in Nora, ed.,
Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, Arthur Goldhammer, trans., 3 vols. (New York, 1996–1998), see esp. 1: 15.
Note that my use of "locality" differs from that of Arjun Appadurai, who uses the term to refer to a phenomenological
quality. My definition more closely resembles the meaning he lends to "neighborhood," in that the latter characterizes a
social form; Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis, 1996), 178–99. See also
Mamadou Diouf, "The Senegalese Murid Trade Diaspora and the Making of a Vernacular Cosmopolitanism," Public Culture 12,
no. 3 (2000): 679–702.
3 By "location," I mean something quite different than do most scholars of postcolonial studies. I use the term to refer to
place and not to subject position; see Ruth Frankenberg and Lata Mani, "Crosscurrents, Crosstalk: Race, 'Postcoloniality,'
and the Politics of Location," Cultural Studies 7, no. 2 (1993): 292–310. Avowedly postcolonial scholarship veers from the
quite specifically localized—for example, "Under a Tree outside Delhi, May 1817," Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture
(London, 1994)—to place as mere metaphor; see the caution expressed in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of
Post-Colonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, 1999), esp. 209.
4 Mrinalini Sinha, "Britishness, Clubbability, and the Colonial Public Sphere: The Genealogy of an Imperial Institution in
Colonial India," Journal of British Studies 40, no. 4 (2001): 489–521, see 491.
5 Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper, "Between Metropole and Colony: Rethinking a Research Agenda," in Cooper and
Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley, Calif., 1997), 4.
6 Two excellent recent books do just that, in different places; Eric T. Jennings, Vichy in the Tropics: Pétain's National
Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, and Indochina, 1940–1944 (Stanford, Calif., 2001); Catherine T. Hall, Civilising
Subjects: Colony and Metropole in the English Imagination, 1830–1867 (Chicago, 2002). A sense of place is not new in
French history, only rare in its colonial versions. For an overview of the significance in French historiography of the local
and the regional, see Stéphane Gerson, "Une France locale: The Local Past in Recent French Scholarship," French Historical
Studies 26, no. 3 (2003): 539–59; Gerson, The Pride of Place: Local Memories and Political Culture in Nineteenth-century
France (Ithaca, N.Y., 2003); and Michel Denis, "L'Approche régionale," in François Bédarida, ed., L'Histoire et le métier
d'historien en France, 1945–1995 (Paris, 1995). See also Odile Georg, "The French Provinces and 'Greater France,'" in Tony
Chafer and Amanda Sackur, eds., Promoting the Colonial Idea: Propaganda and Visions of Empire in France (New York,
7 Janet MacGaffey and Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga, Congo-Paris: Transnational Traders on the Margins of the Law
(Bloomington, Ind., 2000); Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way
Place (Princeton, N.J., 1993); Charles Piot, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (Chicago, 1999); Liisa Malkki,
Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania (Chicago, 1995). A
particularly intriguing essay with a focus on memory is Mary des Chene, "Locating the Past," in Akhil Gupta and James
Ferguson, eds., Anthropological Locations (Berkeley, Calif., 1997). A recent look at mobility that leaves little room for
coercion, capital, or the state is James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge,
Mass., 1997). Previously historians of colonialism have looked to the work of anthropologists and literary critics in grappling
with the problem of culture; see, for example, Nicholas Dirks, ed., Colonialism and Culture (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1992),
Catherine Hall, ed., Cultures of Empire: Colonizers in Britain and the Empire in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New
8 Appadurai, Modernity at Large.
9 In a celebrated 1951 article on the "colonial situation," Balandier argued that the "situation" was created and recreated in
particular times and places, and could not be adequately understood without reference to the dynamism of local contexts.
Georges Balandier, "La situation coloniale, approche théorique," Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie 11 (1951): 44–79. See
the special issue of French Politics, Culture, and Society 20, no. 2 (2002), edited by Emmanuelle Saada.
10 See Francois Manchuelle, Willing Migrants: Soninke Labor Diasporas, 1848–1960 (Athens, Ohio, 1997), or, on the Belgian
Congo, Nancy Rose Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Durham, N.C., 1999).
Rooted in place, these works emphasize mobility. See also David Robinson, Paths of Accommodation: Muslim Societies and
French Colonial Authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880–1920 (Athens, Ohio, 2000); Julia Clancy-Smith, Rebel and
Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters (Algeria and Tunisia, 1800–1904) (Berkeley, Calif., 1994). Like
most contemporary African histories, these are neither "nationalist" nor "national" histories; see Alice Conklin, "Boundaries
Unbound: Teaching French History as Colonial History and Colonial History as French History," French Historical Studies
23, no. 2 (2000): 215–36, see 219.
11 See Owen White, Children of the French Empire: Miscegenation and Colonial Society in French West Africa, 1895–1960
(New York, 1999); and James E. Genova, Colonial Ambivalence, Cultural Authenticity, and the Limitations of Mimicry in
French-Ruled West Africa, 1914–1956 (New York, 2004). The federation of French West Africa (AOF) included the
colonies of Mauritania, Senegal, Soudan (Mali), Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Dahomey (Benin), and
Niger. The mandated territory of Togo was appended after World War I. It is worth noting that none of these were settler
colonies. The European population of each was quite small, a point to which I return below.
12 Alice Conklin, A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895–1930 (Stanford,
Calif., 1997); and Frederick Cooper, Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa
(New York, 1996). These are very different books, each with its own contribution to make. Cooper in particular is interested
in the comparative dimensions of empire.
13 In addition to Cooper, Decolonization and African Society, two studies that take on multiple and distinct colonies (as
opposed to a colonial federation) are Jennings, Vichy in the Tropics; and Gwendolyn Wright, The Politics of Design in
French Colonial Urbanism (Chicago, 1991). An excellent recent metropolitan example of incorporating what I term scale and
locality is Mary Dewhurst Lewis, "The Strangeness of Foreigners: Policing Migration and Nation in Interwar Marseille,"
French Politics, Culture, and Society 20, no. 3 (2002): 65–96. See also Clifford Rosenberg, "The Colonial Politics of
Healthcare Provision in Interwar Paris," French Historical Studies 27, no. 3 (2004): 637–68.
14 In this sense, the centralizing tendencies of the French empire and its bureaucracy threaten to become normalized in
research strategies, as the colonial bureaucracy becomes the frame of the analysis of which it is partly the object.
Moreover, the CAOM represents the top rung of an archival ladder that ascends from local administrators, whose reports
were often synthesized and sanitized before being passed upward to the Ministry of Colonies. Put simply, the view is
different from the top. Documents that reached Paris, or even Dakar, are often notably silent on violence, corruption, and
everyday abuse. Regarding Aix itself, it should be noted that a school for the training of teachers did attract a small number
of students from the colonies.
15 Nora, Les lieux de mémoire, 3 vols. (Paris, 1984–1992); translated as Realms of Memory (New York, 1996–1998). For two
seminal essays from Nora's project, see Antoine Prost, Republican Identities in War and Peace, Jay Winter and Helen
McPhail, trans. (New York, 2002), chaps. 1 and 2. Jay Winter has been among the most extreme in his rejection of Nora's
national framework, which he reframes as European; see Winter, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in
European Cultural History (New York, 1995). Local and regional processes are highlighted in Daniel J. Sherman's The
Construction of Memory in Interwar France (Chicago, 1999). See also Hue-Tam Ho Tai, "Remembered Realms: Pierre Nora
and French National Memory," AHR 106, no. 3 (2001): 906–23.
16 The sole exception is Charles-Robert Ageron, "L'Exposition Coloniale de 1931: Mythe républicain ou mythe impérial?" in
Nora, ed., Les lieux de mémoire, vol. 1 (Paris, 1984). This omission has been commented on in Sherman, "Arts and Sciences,"
708; and in Eric Jennings, "Remembering 'Other' Losses: The Temple du Souvenir Indochinois of Nogent-sur-Marne,"
History and Memory 15, no. 1 (2003): 5–48, see 7.
17 See Tai, "Remembered Realms"; Eric Jennings, "Monuments to Frenchness? The Memory of the Great War and the Politics
of Guadeloupe's Identity, 1914–1945," French Historical Studies 21, no. 4 (1998): 561–92; and Zeynep çelik,
"Colonial/Postcolonial Intersections: Lieux de mémoire in Algiers," Historical Reflections. Réflexions historiques 28, no. 2
(2002): 143–62. Other Africanist works that build on Nora include Marc Michel, "Mémoire Officielle: Discours et pratique
coloniale le 14 Juillet et le 11 Novembre au Sénégal entre les deux guerres," Revue Française d'Histoire d'Outre-Mer 77, no.
287 (1990): 145–58; Jean-Pierre Chrétien and Jean-Louis Triaud, eds., Histoire d'Afrique: Les enjeux de mémoire (Paris,
1999); and Pier M. Larson, History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement: Becoming Merina in Highland Madagascar,
1770–1822 (Portsmouth, N.H., 2000).
18 On the tensions between the local and the national in the building of memorials, as well as the meaning of "local" in the
administrative context, see Sherman, Construction, chap. 5, esp. 218–19.
19 Eric Jennings has studied one metropolitan site that was designed to commemorate the French presence in Southeast Asia,
and, just as significantly, its inverse; see Jennings, "Remembering 'Other' Losses."
20 Much recent work on French colonialism is devoted to the explication of these and other categories. See Emmanuelle
Saada, "The Empire of Law: Dignity, Prestige, and the 'Colonial Situation,'" French Politics, Culture, and Society 20, no. 2
(2002): 98–120; Saada, "La République des indigènes," in Vincent Duclert and Christophe Prochasson, eds., Dictionnaire
Critique de la République (Paris, 2002), 364–70. Some of the best of this scholarship recognizes that even categories emerge
from places with their own histories. See Laure Blevis, "La citoyenneté française au miroir de la colonisation: étude des
demandes de naturalisation des 'sujets français' en Algérie coloniale," Genèses 53 (2003): 25–47; and the seminal work of
Ann Laura Stoler, collected in Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley,
21 On colonial workers, see Tyler Stovall, "The Color Line behind the Lines: Racial Violence in France during the Great War"
AHR 103, no. 3 (1998): 737–69; on soldiers from across the empire, see Claude Carlier and Guy Pedroncini, eds., Les Troupes
Coloniales dans la Grande Guerre (Paris, 1997); and Richard Fogarty, "Race and War in France: Colonial Subjects in the
French Army, 1914–1918" (PhD dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2002). On soldiers from North and
sub-Saharan Africa, see Anthony Clayton, France, Soldiers, and Africa (London, 1988). On North Africa specifically, see
Gilbert Meynier, L'Algérie révélée: La guerre de 1914–1918 et le premier quart du XXe siècle (Geneva, 1981); and Driss
Maghraoui, "The Moroccan Colonial Soldiers: Between Selective Memory and Collective Memory," in Ali Abdullatif Ahmida,
ed., Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture, and Politics (New York, 2000). Note that North
Africans were not part of la Coloniale; they composed l'Armée d'Afrique.
22 On the French West African war effort, the key work is Marc Michel, L'Appel à l'Afrique: Contributions et Réactions à
l'effort de guerre en A.O.F., 1914–1919 (Paris, 1982), recently republished in a modestly revised version as Les Africains et
la grande guerre: L'appel à l'Afrique, 1914–1918 (Paris, 2003). See also Myron Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts: The
tirailleurs Sénégalais in French West Africa, 1857–1960 (Portsmouth, N.H., 1991), 25–46 and below; Joe Harris Lunn,
Memoirs of the Maelstrom: A Senegalese Oral History of the First World War (Portsmouth, N.H., 1999); and Bakari Kamian,
Des tranchées de Verdun à l'église Saint-Bernard: 80,000 combattants maliens au secours de la France (1914–1918 et
1939–1945) (Paris, 2001), chaps. 3 and 4. Figures are drawn from Michel, Appel, 404–408. See also Conklin, Mission, chap.
23 Michel, Appel, 404. Not all of these men would serve in Europe. Note that Michel's figures are cited incorrectly in
Echenberg Colonial Conscripts, 46.
24 This argument has most recently been made by Mahir Saul and Patrick Royer, West African Challenge to Empire: Culture
and History in the Volta-Bani Anti-Colonial War (Athens, Ohio, 2001).
25 Interview with the author, Commandant L. Baron, Aix-en-Provence, October 9, 1998. Two recent studies of the place of
the colonies in the popular imagination in France are Chafer and Sackur, eds., Promoting the Colonial Idea ; and Elizabeth
Ezra, The Colonial Unconscious: Race and Culture in Interwar France (Ithaca, N.Y., 2000). See also Jean de La Guérivière,
Les Fous d'Afrique: Histoire d'une passion française (Paris, 2001); and William H. Schneider, An Empire for the Masses: The
French Popular Image of Africa, 1870–1900 (Westport, Conn., 1982).
26 René Massip, "Le Musée des Troupes de Marine," Revue Historique des Armées 151 (1983): 116–19, see 116.
27 There were 7,742 people identified as "French" in the AOF in 1921; Raymond Leslie Buell, The Native Problem in Africa,
2 vols. (New York, 1928), 1: 925.
28 Michel, Appel, chaps. 17, 18. As the number of tirailleurs in France increased in 1917 and 1918, camps opened to
accommodate them in towns other than Fréjus; Lunn, Memoirs of the Maelstrom, 104–106.
29 In contemporary African French, the term hivernage refers to the rainy season, which in the Sahel extends from June to
30 Alphonse Séché, Les Noirs: D'après des documents officielles (Paris, 1919), 236–47.
31 Lucie Cousturier, Des inconnus chez moi (Paris, 1920), 215. All translations are those of the author.
32 Cousturier, Des inconnus chez moi, 143–44; see also Cousturier, Mes inconnus chez eux, 2 vols. (Paris, 1925), 1: 66.
33 Reports, Contrôleur des troupes Sénégalaises Logeay, sur les Batallions Sénégalais stationés dans les Camps de
Saint-Raphaël, Fréjus, et Formations sanitaires, March and September 1918; see also Report of February 14, 1918. All in
sub-series 4D, dossier 8g (hearafter, 4D89), Archives Nationales du Senegal (hereafter, ANS).
34 Joe Lunn, "'Les races guerrières': Racial Preconceptions in the French Military about West African Soldiers during the
First World War," Journal of Contemporary History 34, no. 4 (1999): 517–36.
35 Kamian, Des tranchées de Verdun, 122.
36 Michel, Appel, 326–30.
37 Georges Labouré, "Un monument aux troupes noires," La Revue indigène 17, nos. 165–66 (1922): 249–54. This was the
most significant monument to African troops in interwar France. See Serge Barcellini, "Les Monuments en hommage aux
combattants de la 'Grande France' (Armée d'Afrique et Armée Coloniale)," in Carlier and Pedroncini, Les Troupes Coloniales.
38 "A la mémoire des tirailleurs noirs," Bulletin du Comité de l'Afrique Française, August 1924, and "Pour les héros de
l'armée noire," Annales Coloniales, July 15, 1924, Agence de la France d'outre-mer (hereafter AgeFOM), carton 389,
dossier 13 bis (hereafter 389/13b), CAOM.
39 Jennings, "Monuments to Frenchness?," 588.
40 Note, "Souscriptions diverses en vue d'ériger des monuments aux morts de la Guerre en AOF" (n.d., 1921?), 1affpol 543,
41 See, for example, Labouré, "Un monument aux troupes noires." On the revolts, see Saul and Royer, West African
Challenge; and on recruitment, see Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts, chaps. 3 and 4; Michel, Appel, chaps. 3, 4, and 6; Lunn,
Memoirs of the Maelstrom, chap. 2.
42 Note, "Souscriptions diverses," CAOM. At the time, Dakar was capital of AOF, while Saint-Louis was the capital of the
colonies of Senegal and Mauritania. Two monuments were installed in Dakar, one in 1924 and another, sponsored by Diagne,
in 1929; Michel Africains et la grande guerre, 241–42. The memorial in Saint-Louis was not inaugurated until 1939. Armée
généralités, no. 303, "Sénégal, la fête du 14 juillet à St-Louis," July 27, 1939, AgeFOM 389/13b, CAOM. Such monuments
would gradually become common sights in colonial capitals and in some African towns.
43 On some of Paul Moreau-Vauthier's metropolitan activities, see Sherman, Construction, 185.
44Inauguration du Monument élevéà Dakar à la gloire des Troupes noires ... Monument élevéà Bamako Aux Héros de l'Armée
noire ... , Pamphlet, (Dakar, n.d., 1924?).
45Inauguration du Monument. The governor's comments support Sherman's point that such ceremonies function as "idealizing
representations of the communities they seek to shape." Sherman, Construction, 264, emphasis added.
46 Michel Larchain, "L'Hommage aux Morts: Deux manières de le rendre, une bonne et une mauvaise," La dépêche coloniale
et maritime, July 16, 1921; and "Statuomanie africaine,"La dépêche coloniale et maritime, January 26, 1921.
47 The colonial administration consistently opposed recently demobilized tirailleurs who sought to remain in the capital cities
rather than return to their villages of origin. However, whether or not the former tirailleurs should be expelled from urban
areas by force was a matter of some dispute, beginning in 1917; see the exchange between Governor-General
François-Joseph Clozel and Lieutenant Governor of Haut Sénégal-Niger Raphael Antonetti in sub-series 3n, dossier 243
(hereafter, 3N243), Fonds Ancien, (hereafter, FA), Archives Nationales du Mali, Bamako (hereafter, ANM). Into the 1920s,
veterans and soldiers' wives or widows were sometimes given money to leave Bamako for their communities of origin, which in
most cases were rural villages; see files of the Comité d'Assistance aux Troupes Noires in 2N85FA, ANM. As former slaves,
many were reluctant to return to their masters and wound up in towns instead. On tirailleurs as former slaves, see
Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts, chap. 2; Martin Klein, Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa (New York, 1998),
80–83, chap. 13.
48 In 1898, the French captured Samori and exiled him to Gabon, where he died. On Samori, see Yves Person, Samori: Une
révolution Dyula, 3 vols. (Nîmes, 1968–1975); D. T. Niane, "The Origins of Samori's State," Mande Studies 3 (2001): 7–14;
Lanisiné Kaba, "Almami Samouri Touré within the West African Imperial Tradition," Mande Studies 3 (2001): 15–34.
49 A recent wave of monument building in Bamako may offer some additional insight. In the 1990s, Bamakois sometimes
referred to the new statues as the then-president's boliw, or ritual power objects, implying with more than a hint of sarcasm
that they were intended to secure his rule through occult practices. The term Samorikélékédenw is in current usage in
50 My description of the dedication of the memorial is drawn from Edouard de Martonne, "Le Mémorial" du tirailleur
Sénégalais, Kati, le 13 Mai 1934 (Dakar, 1934).
51 De Martonne, Mémorial, 8.\.
52 Edouard de Martone, La fête du 2me[sic] Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais, Kati, le 7 mai 1933 (Dakar, 1933), 15.
53 De Martonne, Mémorial, 5–6.
54 The text in full reads: "To the unknown tirailleur, to the dead of the Second R.T.S., to every Bandiougou, ever
Samba-Taraoré [sic], every Mamadou-Fofana [sic], and [to all the] other brave men fallen for the conquest of the Soudan, as
well as during the great war of 1914–1918 and in the theaters of foreign operations in Morocco, the Levant, and Madagascar,
etc ... [sic] homage from their sons, their nephews, their successors." The opposite side bears the date of dedication, noting
that it is the thirty-fourth anniversary of the creation of the regiment.
55 The previous year, de Martonne had, for example, described the unit's flag as the "fetish of the regiment," suggesting
that it bore particular power; de Martonne, Fête, 4.
56 On the importance of naming in metropolitan France, see Daniel J. Sherman, "Bodies and Names: The Emergence of
Commemoration in Interwar France," AHR 103, no. 2 (1998): 443–66. In the African context, the colonial administration
could not have named with any accuracy those who had been lost, nor would its agents have wanted to present a public
accounting of the losses. Naming the African soldiers and auxiliaries killed in the Volta-Bani war, an anticolonial revolt
sparked by conscription, would have been a more feasible undertaking, but colonial administrators advocating the erection
of such a memorial in the town of San apparently never considered the option. Nevertheless, the names of European officers
figured on their tombs; President, Oeuvre des Tombes (Soudan Français) to Commandant de Cercle (CdC), San, November
1927; response of CdC, San, December 23, 1927, B352–3FR, ANM. On the Volta-Bani war, see Saul and Royer, West African
Challenge. By way of contrast with the anonymity of colonial memory, Malian historian Bakari Kamian's recent book names
2,588 "Native soldiers from Haut-SénŒal Niger who died for France and whose remains are not yet identified." Kamian
intends to underscore the "blood debt" owed by France; Kamian, Des Tranchées de Verdun, 377–434. As Kamian
acknowledges, many of those names are likely to be pseudonyms or aliases; see also Gregory Mann, "What's in an Alias?
Family Names, Individual Histories, and Historical Method in the Western Sudan," History in Africa 29 (2002): 309–20.
57 For instance, the original Mamadou Fofana was a legendary tirailleur from the time of the colonial conquest, but the name
Mamadou (or Mahmadou) Fofana came to stand for a type of tirailleur; in 1928, the well-known French art critic Raymond
Escholier published a novel bearing that name. The novel contains a brief discussion of a brothel in Fréjus, where the
tirailleurs had encounters with European women; Raymond Escholier, Mahmadou Fofana 12th edn. (Paris, 1928), 235–38.
58 See, for example, Haut-Commissaire/ Gouverneur Général AOF (GGAOF) to Gov. Soudan (Cabinet), October 16, 1953,
Fonds Numérique NI sub-series 1D dossier, 1484, ANM. In a similar vein, contemporary activists have staged demonstrations
in defense of African immigrants at memorials to colonial troops in France; Gregory Mann, "Immigrants and Arguments in
France and West Africa," Comparative Studies in Society and History 45, no. 2 (2003): 362–85, see 365.
59 Colonel Peltier, "Historique du Drapeau, D.M.A. No. 3," Kati, March 21, 1957, sub-series 16H, dossier 327, Centre
d'histoire et d'études des troupes d'outre-mer, Fréjus (hereafter, CHETOM).
60 Interview by Radio Mali with Chief of Staff Abdoulaye Soumaré, printed in L'Essor (Hebdo.), October 22, 1962. See
also Vincent Joly, "La fin de la présence militaire française au Mali," Revue Historique des Armées 218 (2000): 39–54.
61 Halla Linker, Three Tickets to Timbuktu (New York, 1966), 258–59.
62 Bulletin de renseignements du conseiller militaire près de l'ambassade de France au Mali, November 5, 1961, no.
2053/SC, sub-series 10T, dossier 701, Service Historique de l'Armée de Terre, France (hereafter, SHAT).
63 Barcellini, "Monuments," 132–33 and 151–52; M. Rives and R. Dietrich, Héros méconnus (1914–1918, 1939–1945): Mémorial
des combattants d'Afrique Noire et de Madagascar (Paris, 1990), 115. Dakar's 1923 monument, known as "Demba and
Dupont" for its two figures, one African and one French, has been removed to a less prominent place and is now in the
cemetery where President Léopold Sédar Senghor was buried in 2001; Annie Thomas, "Senghor reposera au côté des
tirailleurs sénégalais," Agence France Presse, December 24, 2001.
64 Although later in the war the German army destroyed other memorials for scrap metal, the 1996 plaque states that "the
occupier destroyed the 'Monument to the Blacks' out of racial hatred"; Barcellini, "Monuments," 132 and 151–52. In the
immediate wake of independence, other monuments to colonial troops were dedicated in Amiens, Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, and
elsewhere in France; see Barcellini, "Monuments" and 1K354, SHAT.
65 My reading of this statue's visual cues differs substantially from that of William Kidd in "Representation or
Recuperation? The French Colonies and 1914–1918 War Memorials," in Chafer and Sackur, Promoting the Colonial Idea, see
66 Chef du service de contrôle et d'assistance aux indigènes à M. le GG de l'Indochine, Hanoi (Tonkin), December 26, 1923,
Minute, Service de liaison avec les originaires des territoires français d'outre-mer (hereafter, SLOTFOM) carton 11, folio 1
(hereafter, 11/1), CAOM. See also René Massip, "Le Rôle de l'E.F.O.R.T.D.M. dans la formation des cadres africains," Revue
Historique des Armées 151 (1983): 96–101, see 98.
67 Ministère des Colonies, Direction des Services militaires, "Renseignements sur les effectifs militaires indigènes en
service en AOF, en France ou en dehors de leur pays d'origine, en 1913 et 1926," January 8, 1928, AgeFOM 389/13b,
CAOM. West African civilians, as well as those from other colonies, were the subjects of surveillance by the Ministry of
Colonies' SLOTFOM from 1916 to 1954; SLOTFOM recognized that its own figures were unreliable, but they can be found
in "Indigènes de l'AOF en résidence en France au 8 Avril 1924." "Note pour le Secrétariat Général du Conseil Supérieur des
Colonies," November 29, 1926; and "Nombre approximatif des indigènes travaillant en France et classement par colonie
d'origine," June 6, 1932, all in SLOTFOM 6/9, CAOM.
68 Edouard de Martonne, "La Verité sur les tirailleurs Sénégalais," Outre-Mer 7, no. 1 (March 1935): 27–45, see 28.
69 "Les tirailleurs coloniaux aux inondations," Revue des troupes coloniales (1930): 90–92 (reprinted from La Petite
Gironde, March 20, 1930). See also de Martonne, "Verité," 39, and Colonel Jean Charbonneau, Balimatoua et Compagnie:
Zigzags à travers le vaste Empire Français (Paris, 1934), 247.
70 De Martonne, "Verité," 39.
71 Séché, Noirs, 79.
72 Paul Catrice, "L'emploi des troupes indigènes et leur séjour en France," Etudes: Revue Catholique d'Intérêt Général 20
(1931): 387–409, see 402.
73 Rapport d'Inspection de M. Dupuy au Resident Supérieur, Chef du Service de Contrôle et d'Assistance en France des
Indigènes des Colonies, "Centres militaires de Grasse et de Fréjus," 1924; SLOTFOM 1/10, CAOM.
74 It is not clear that the mosque was used for prayer, but such was the governor-general's intention. GGAOF, Direction du
Cabinet Militaire to Lieutenant Governor's, May 11, 1928, no. 269 CM, 2N53FR, ANM.
75 GGAOF, Direction du Cabinet Militaire to Lieutenant Governors, May 11, 1928, no. 269 CM, 2N53FR, ANM. See also
76 "Manifestation au cimitière du camp Gallieni, à Fréjus," La Voix des Nègres 1 (January 1927). On the activities of
Senghor and his fellow African radicals, see Philippe Dewitte, Les mouvements nègres en France, 1919–1939 (Paris, 1985); J.
S. Spiegler, "Aspects of Nationalist Thought among French-Speaking West Africans" (PhD dissertation, Nuffield College,
Oxford University, 1968). The Dahomeyan radical Louis Hunkanrin had also worried his commanders when he was stationed
in the Fréjus-St. Raphaël area immediately after the war; Guy-Landry Hazoume, Jean Suret-Canale, et al., La Vie et l'Oeuvre
de Louis Hunkanrin: Suivi de deux écrits de Louis Hunkanrin (Cotonou, 1977), 154.
77 Agent Désiré, report of March 30, 1926, SLOTFOM 2/4, CAOM.
78 See reports of agent Désiré in SLOTFOM 2/4, CAOM and Désiré, report of March 26, 1926, SLOTFOM 3/112, CAOM.
79 Désiré, report of November 2, 1926, SLOTFOM 2/4, CAOM.
80 GGAOF Carde to Ministre des Colonies, Direction des Affaires Politiques, First Bureau, October 27, 1927, no. 367apa,
SLOTFOM 3/134, CAOM.
81 Désiré, report of November 13, 1926, SLOTFOM 2/4, CAOM. Lucie Cousturier died in 1925.
82 Senghor died on November 25, 1927; La Race Nègre 1, no. 5 (May 1928).
83 According to Nancy Lawler, this complaint eventually made its way to the minister of war; Lawler, Soldiers of
Misfortune: Ivoirien Tirailleurs of World War II (Athens, Ohio, 1992), 90, n. 24.
84 Rapport du Lt. Sekou Koné ... au Gén. Commandant le GOC [sic] à Montpellier, May 20, 1946; Rapport Confidentiel, no
author (Lt. Aho?), September 10, 1945, SLOTFOM 14/2, CAOM. On the photographer, see also Note of Renseignements
Généraux, Draguinan, March 7, 1955, Centre des Archives Contemporains (CAC, Fontainebleau) 0019850087, article 9.
85 Rapport du Lt. Sekou Koné, May 24, 1946, no number, SLOTFOM 14/2, CAOM.
86 Rapport confidentiel, no author (Lt. Aho?), September 10, 1945; also, Rapport du Lt. Koné, May 20, 1946, SLOTFOM
87 "Copie de la lettre adressée le 21–9–45 par les Sénégalais de quelques centres de rapatriement à Monsieur le Chef du
Gouvernement Français," appendix to Fernand Poujoulat, "Evolution de la mentalité des tirailleurs Sénégalais au cours de la
guerre 1939–1945," Mémoire, Ecole Nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer (ENFOM), 1945–1946, CAOM.
88 Poujoulat, "Evolution." See also Georges Pujol, "Nos soldats noirs d'aujourd'hui," Mémoire, ENFOM, 1945–1946; and
Echenberg Colonial Conscripts, 99–104.
89 Jacques Prévert, "Etranges Etrangers," in La Pluie et le beau temps (1955; Paris, 1981), 30.
90 Pierre Carles, Des Millions de soldats inconnus: La vie de tous les jours dans les Armées de la IVème République (Paris,
91 See Massip, "Rôle," 100. I have altered Massip's transcription. A soldier who trained there in the 1950s recalled that he
and his comrades were free to go into town on the weekends but were prevented from doing so by the amount of homework
their officers deliberately assigned on Fridays, due the following Monday morning; interview with the author, el-hajj
Nianson Coulibaly, Koutiala (Mali), February 11, 1998.
92 "Catalogue des Films du SCA (Service Cinématographique des Armées)," 17G520v143, ANS.
93L'Ancien Combattant Soudanais, issues of December 1959, January and February 1960. Such charitable giving by colonial
subjects for metropolitan causes was not new; see Jennings, "Monuments to Frenchness?"
94 Other exceptions included a small number of beneficiaries of individual ministerial decisions who had maintained French
citizenship, and a scattering of trainees at other military schools. Le Ministre des Armées to G.G. Militaire de Paris, Metz,
Lyon, Gén. Commandant les 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 Région Militaire, etc., August 11, 1964, no. 10.443/EMAT/1.ES, 14H127, SHAT.
95 Général-adjoint OM au chef d'état-major général des armées, Note à M. le Ministre des Armées (CM), December 5, 1960,
no. 5478/BOM/3/SC, 14H216, SHAT.
96 Massip, "Musée."
97 On the evolution of that relationship since 1994, see Tony Chafer, "Franco-African Relations: No Longer so Exceptional?"
African Affairs 101 (2002): 343–63.
98 Mann, "Immigrants and Arguments"; interview with the author, Col. Maurice Rives, Paris, April 29, 2004.
99 These networks were in turn distinct from those of Paris-based radical or communist African intellectuals of the
interwar period. Ousmane Sembène, interview with Samba Gadjigo, Contributions in Black Studies 11 (1992–1993): 75–94,
100 Catherine Hodeir, Stratégies d'Empire: Le grand patronat colonial face à la décolonisation (Paris, 2003); Chafer,
"Franco-African Relations"; Alexis Spire, Sociologie historique des pratiques administratives à l'égard des étrangers en
France (1945–1975) (doctoral thesis, Université de Nantes: 2003).
101 Jennings analyzes a similar circumstance around Nogent-sur-Marne in "Remembering 'Other' Losses."
102 The memorial commemorates both World War II and the anticolonial war of 1946–1954.
103 Michel Bodin, Les Africains dans la guerre d'Indochine, 1947–1954 (Paris, 2000), 6, 18, and 172.
104Revue trimestrielle (hereafter, RT), 3' trim. 1951, GSF to HCGG, November 20, 1951, no. 642/APAS; RT, 4' trim., 1951,
GSF to HC, Februrary 4, 1952, no. 61/APAS; and RT, draft (n.d.), IE3FR, ANM. See also Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts,
(1991), chap. 5.
105Message du Conseiller d'Arboussier aux Prisonniers de Guerre Africains aux Vietnam. Bulletin des écoutes Radio Viet
Minch [sic], October 15, 1952, no. 1749, 1affpol 2111/11, CAOM; and Renseignement, February 12, 1948, no. 167/C SU.
Soudan no. 503, 2N44FR, ANM.
106 See, among other documents, Note: Chef de Bataillon, chef de poste, SSDNFA/G/AOF/Togo, July 25, 1955, no. 3190,
secret; 17G594v152/1, ANS.
107 B. H., "Le Mémoire encerclée: Nécropole nationale, Fréjus," Téchnique et Architecture, 405 (December 1992): 110–11.
See also "La Nécropole de Fréjus," Le Moniteur-Architecture-AMC, 42–43 (June-July 1993): 24–5; Gilles Davoine, "Lieu de
culte oecuménique," Le Moniteur-Architecture-AMC, 77 (February 1996): 46–7; and B. H., "D'Or et de Silence," Téchnique et
Architecture, 428 (November 1996): 60–1.
108 The remains of civilians have been included "on an exceptional basis" (à titre exceptionnel). Ministère des Anciens
combattants et victimes de guerre, Le mémorial des guerres en Indochine, pamphlet (Paris, n.d., 1998?). The civilians do not
bear the administrative status, "died for France" (morts pour la France), and their cemetery was funded by the Ministry of
the Interior; "La Nécropole de Fréjus." See also David L. Schalk, "Of Memories and Monuments: Paris and Algeria, Fréjus
and Indochina," Historical Reflections. Réflexions historiques 28, no. 2 (2002): 241–53, 251–53, discuss the memorial.
109 The memorial would be inaugurated on February 16, 1993. Philippe Rochette, "Fréjus, capitale de 'l'Indo,'" Libération,
February 16, 1993, 6. See also, "Fréjus: La mémoire des soldats d'Indochine," Le Provencal, February 16, 1993, 24.
110 Ministère des Anciens combattants, Mémorial des guerres en Indochine. The pamphlet puns, as the anchor is the symbol
of la Coloniale.
111 Barcellini, "Les Monuments," 121.
112 Jean-Claude Pomonti, "Les restes de vingt-cinq mille soldats français morts en Indochine vont être rapatriés," Le Monde,
September 27, 1986, 5.
113 In 1986, the position of "secrétariat d'état à la francophonie" was created and a "francophone summit" was held. Since
1987, such summits have met biennially.
114 Panivong Norindr, Phantasmatic Indochina: French Colonial Ideology in Architecture, Film, and Literature (Durham, N.C.,
115 Sherman, "Arts and Sciences," 726. The internal quotes contain Norindr's words.
116 Despite the claims of Nicola Cooper in France in Indochina: Colonial Encounters (New York, 2001).
117 Sherman, "Arts and Sciences," 726.
118 See Florence Bernault, "The Political Shaping of Sacred Locality in Brazzaville, 1959–1997," in David M. Anderson and
Richard Rathbone, eds., Africa's Urban Past (Portsmouth, N.H., 2000); Janet Roitman, "The Garrison-Entrepôt," Cahiers
d'études africaines 150–152 (1998): 297–329; AbdouMaliq Simone, "On the Worlding of African Cities," African Studies
Review 44, no. 2 (2001): 15–42; Diouf, "Murid Trade Diaspora"; and MacGaffey and Bazenguissa-Ganga, Congo-Paris.
119 Stoler and Cooper, "Between Metropole and Colony"; Burton, After the Imperial Turn; Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial
Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York, 2000).
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AMERE PATRIE ,LA FRANCE NON RECONNAISSANTE
DE NOMBREUX COMBATS SONT A MENER DANS LA SOCIETE DANS LAQUELLE NOUS VIVONS;J'AI CHOISI LE MIEN :LA BATAILLE CONTRE L'INJUSTICE.
DANS CET ORDRE D'IDEE,UN DE MES CHEVAUX DE BATAILLE EST LA SITUATION DES ANCIENS COMBATTANTS AFRICAINS TRAHIS PAR LA FRANCE.
LA FRANCE SE DOIT UN DEVOIR DE MEMOIRE AFIN QUE JUSTICE SOIT RENDUE AUX CENTAINES DE MILLIERS D'AFRICAINS MORTS POUR UN PAYS QU'ILS CROYAIENT LEUR PATRIE.
AINSI C'EST PAR CENTAINES DE MILLIERS QUE DES SOLDATS D'AFRIQUE OCCIDENTALE FRANCAISE ,D'AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANCAISE ,D'AFRIQUE DU NORD FRANCAISE (MAROC,ALGERIE,TUNISIE),ONT ETE CONSCRITS DANS L'ARMEE FRANCAISE.
PLUS DE 2.5 MILLIONS SONT MORTS EN FRANCE DANS LA SOMME,A VERDUN....,A BIR HAKEIM EN LYBIE.
CE DEVOIR DE MEMOIRE SERA RETABLI QUAND LA FRANCE RECONNAITRA LA CITOYENNETE FRANCAISE IPSO FACTO AUX DERNIERS SURVIVANTS AINSI QU'AUX ENFANTS , PETITS ENFANTS ET ARRIERES PETITS ENFANTS DE CES HEROS AFRICAINS QUI ONT VERSE LEUR SANG POUR QUE LA FRANCE DEMEURE UN PAYS LIBRE.
COMBATTRE LA FALSIFICATION DE L'HISTOIRE TEL EST AUSSI L'AUTRE BUT DE MON BLOGUE.
LA VERITE SUR CES FAITS HEROIQUES DES VALEUREUX TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS DEVRA AUSSI ETRE RELATEE DANS TOUS LES LIVRES D'HISTOIRE DE FRANCE ET DE NAVARRE.
CE BLOGUE EST DEDIE A LA MEMOIRE DE TOUS CES HEROS AFRICAINS DES DEUX PREMIERES GUERRES MONDIALES AUJOURDHUI DISPARUS ET AUX SURVIVANTS DES GUERRES ( 1939-45), D'INDOCHINE ET D'ALGERIE.
E. do REGO
LA DETTE DE SANG DE LA FRANCE
NOUS SOMMES LÀ POUR DÉFENDRE CES CENTAINES DE MILLIERS DE TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS ET QUOIQUE QU'IL ARRIVE,NOUS PERPÉTUERONS LEUR MEMOIRE POUR LES GÉNÉRATIONS A VENIR.
LA FRANCE DOIT PAYER SA DETTE DE SANG DUE AUX TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS MORTS POUR ELLE .
LA MOINDRE CHOSE QUE CETTE FRANCE DITE DES DROITS DE L'HOMME SE DOIT DE FAIRE :
RECONNAITRE ET ACCORDER IPSO FACTO LA CITOYENNETÉ FRANÇAISE DE PLEIN DROIT AUX TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS MORTS ,AUX SURVIVANTS ET AUX DESCENDANTS DE TOUS CES SOLDATS AFRICAINS QUI SE SONT LEVÉS COMME UN SEUL HOMME POUR SAUVER LA FRANCE DE LA BARBARIE EUROPÉENNE.
E. do REGO
Hommage aux Tirailleurs Africains
Depuis un certain nombre d’années, à l’initiative de l'AMAF (Amis de l'Afrique Francophone), de l'ANEB (Association Nationale des Elus Des Banlieues) et de plusieurs autres associations, un hommage solennel est rendu aux Tirailleurs Africains morts pour la France. Ce 8 mai 2007, une cérémonie a eu lieu au Tata Sénégalais de Chasselay (69) en présence des autorités. Plusieurs gerbes ont été déposées en souvenir de ces vaillants combattants. Il est à rappeler que ces derniers combattaient encore pendant que les Allemands défilaient déjà en plein centre de Lyon puisque la ville avait été déclarée «ouverte» par le Maire Edouard HERRIOT. Tous ces combattants appartenaient à la 3ème compagnie du 25ème Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais. Ces vaillants soldats sont la FIERTE des Noirs de France au moment où certains ont tendance à croire qu’ils sont les seuls dépositaires de «l’identité nationale». Dans le reportage vidéo, vous pourrez voir les réactions du doyen BALDE (ancien combattant de Guinée), Sabiha AHMINE (Adjointe au Maire de Lyon), Hassan DIALLO (Conseiller du Président du Niger), Reski SEBAÏ (Lycée Al Kindi), Bacary GOUDIABY (Akody sur Radio Pluriel 91.5 fm Lyon), Azzedine GACI (président du conseil régional du culte musulman Rhône-Alpes) et le Père DELORME.
LES OUBLIÉS DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE
Par René Naba
Le 16 juin 2009
Photographies Philippe Guionie, Prix Roger Pic 2008 pour son portfolio Le tirailleur et les trois fleuves. Ouvrage : Anciens combattants africains, Éd. Les Imaginayres
La France qui se refuse aux statistiques ethniques comme contraires aux principes fondateurs de la République française (Egalité et Fraternité), est, en fait, un ferme partisan de cette pratique discriminatoire dans la rétribution de ses anciens combattants d’origine non française, et, même au-delà, dans la mobilité sociale des diverses composantes de la société française.
Pour mémoire, le bilan des pertes indigènes pour les deux grandes guerres mondiales du XX e siècle, s’est élevé, rien que pour les tués, à 113.000 morts, soit autant que la population conjuguée des villes de Vitrolles et d’Orange, les deux anciens fiefs du Front National. Il n’était pas alors question de «seuil de tolérance», encore moins de test ADN, ni de charters de la honte, mais de sang à verser à profusion, comme en témoigne le tableau suivant:
1-La contribution globale des colonies à l’effort de guerre français
La contribution globale de colonies à l’effort de guerre français pour la 1ère Guerre Mondiale (1914-1918) s’est élevée à 555.491 soldats, dont 78.116 ont été tués et 183.903 affectés à l’arrière à l’effort de guerre économique en vue de compenser l’enrôlement de soldats français sur le front (1). L’Algérie, à elle seule, a fourni 173.000 combattants musulmans, dont 23.000 ont été tués, et 76.000 travailleurs ont participé à l’effort de guerre, en remplacement des soldats français partis au front. La contribution totale des trois pays du Maghreb (Algérie, Tunisie, Maroc) s’est élevée à 256.778 soldats, 26.543 tués et 129.368 travailleurs. L’Afrique noire (Afrique occidentale et Afrique équatoriale) a, pour sa part, offert 164.000 combattants dont 33.320 tués, l’Indochine 43.430combattants et 1.123 tués), L’Ile de la Réunion 14.423 combattants et 3.OOO tués, Guyanne-Antilles (23.OOO combattants, 2037 Tués).
Pour la Deuxième Guerre mondiale (1939-1945): La première armée d’Afrique qui débarqua en Provence (sud de la France), le 15 août 1944, avait permis d'ouvrir un deuxième front en France après le débarquement du 6 juin 1944 en Normandie. Cette armée de 400.000 hommes, comptait 173 000 arabes et africains dans ses rangs. De juin 1940 à mai 1945, cinquante cinq (55 000) Algériens, Marocains, Tunisiens et combattants d'Afrique noire furent tués. 25 000 d'entre eux servaient dans les rangs de l'armée d'Afrique.
2- «Les oubliés de la République», la permanence d’une posture raciste.
Le maintien d’une pratique discriminatoire dans la rétribution des anciens combattants d’origine non française traduit le mépris de la France à l’égard de ses anciens servants, et pis, à l’égard de ses propres principes. Elle porte la marque d’un racisme institutionnel subliminal dans le droit fil des notations des travailleurs coloniaux de l’entre deux guerres (1919-1939). A l’instar d’une cotation boursière sur un marché de bétail, ceux-ci les étaient déjà à l’époque crédités de points, avec les responsabilités et rétributions y afférentes, en fonction de leur nationalité et de leur race avec de subtiles distinctions selon leur lieu de provenance. Ainsi le Chinois se situait au bas de la hiérarchie, sa production évaluée à 6 sur une échelle où le Marocain était placé à 8, l’Algérien (arabe), le Kabyle et le Grec à 10, l’Italien et l’ Espagnol à 12, alors que le Français se trouvait dans tous les classements naturellement au sommet de la hiérarchie avec une note inégalable de 20 sur 20. Score jamais enregistré par aucune autre nationalité, sous aucun autre ciel, dans aucune autre compétition (2).
La France a décidé de geler le montant des retraites des combattants étrangers en raison du poids financier que cette charge représentait pour le budget français, habillant cette mesure économique de considérations morales: geler le niveau de la retraite à la date de l’indépendance de leur pays respectif pour marquer la scission d’avec la métropole. Ce geste symbolique de rupture occulte le fait que les anciens combattants avaient servi leur colonisateur et non leur pays d’origine.
Argument fallacieux s’il en est, il ne résiste pas à l’analyse pas plus que l’argument de rechange qui relevait, lui aussi, de la pure casuistique: Le gel de pensions à leur niveau de l‘accession à l’indépendance du pays concerné évitait que les retraités indigènes ne disposent de revenus plus importants que leurs compatriotes non combattants de leur pays d’origine, afin de prévenir toute déstabilisation de leur environnement local. Une sorte de nivellement par le bas enrobé du pompeux mot de «cristallisation», par analogie au phénomène chimique.
Les circonvolutions juridiques ne changeront rien à la réalité des choses, et, au-delà des considérations économiques, la décision française induit implicitement un jugement moral sur la valeur respective du sang français et du sang indigène sur la bourse des valeurs entre des frères d’armes qui encourrait pourtant à l’époque le même péril dans un même combat. Comment justifier, sinon, cette discrimination dans le traitement d’un ancien combattant français qui perçoit 600 euro par mois d’indemnités, d’un sénégalais 100 euro par mois ou, pis, d’un marocain qui a droit à 60 euro par mois, soit dix fois moins que le français, sous réserve d’une obligation de résidence de neuf mois par France par an.
N’en déplaise à personne, la disparité des retraites constitue sans contestation possible une forme insidieuse de la diversité à la française ancrée durablement dans la conscience nationale et que le président Nicolas Sarkozy se propose de réactualiser comme antidote au principe fondateur de la République française, le principe d’égalité. La pension de retraite des anciens combattants indigènes apparaît ainsi comme un salaire ethnique, inique et cynique. Une discrimination injustifiable tant au niveau du droit que de la morale, en ce qu’elle aboutit à pénaliser des étrangers pour leur suppléance de la défaillance des Français dans la défense de leur propre territoire national. Une double peine en somme en guise de gratitude.
Son maintien, en dépit des critiques, signe la permanence de la filiation gobino-darwiniste du corpus juridique français matérialisée par la codification du Code Noir de l’esclavage (pour le continent noir) et le Code de l’Indigénat (pour les musulmans d’Algérie), au XVIIIe et XIXe siècle.
Cette approche raciale est en contradiction avec la contribution des peuples basanés à la liberté de la France et à sa reconstruction, en contradiction aussi avec les principes universalistes que la «Patrie des Droits de l’Homme» ambitionne de véhiculer à travers le monde, une théorie qui dessert enfin la France et son obère son discours humaniste.
3- Du rôle positif des colonisés par rapport à leur colonisateur
La France, pour douloureux que soit ce constat pour notre amour propre national, a été le seul grand pays européen à l’articulation majeure des deux grands fléaux de l’Occident de l’époque contemporaine, «les penchants criminels de l’Europe démocratique» (4), la traite négrière et l’extermination des Juifs, contrairement à la Grande Bretagne qui a pratiqué la traite négrière exclusivement, sans aucunement participé à l’extermination des Juifs, contrairement même à l’Allemagne qui a conçu et réalisé, elle, la solution finale de la question juive, mais sans participation significative à la traité négrière.
Elle se distingue aussi des autres grands pays occidentaux non seulement dans le traitement réservé à ses anciens combattants indigènes, mais aussi dans sa dette morale à leur égard. Jamais pays au monde n’a été autant que la France redevable de sa liberté aux colonies, jamais pays au monde n’a pourtant autant que la France réprimé ses libérateurs souvent de manière compulsive.
Là réside le paradoxe de la France: Par deux fois en un même siècle, phénomène rarissime dans l’histoire, ces soldats de l’avant, les avant-gardes de la mort et de la victoire auront été embrigadés dans des conflits qui leur étaient, étymologiquement, totalement étrangers, dans une « querelle de blancs », avant d’être rejetés, dans une sorte de catharsis, dans les ténèbres de l’infériorité, renvoyés à leur condition subalterne, sérieusement réprimés aussitôt leur devoir accompli, comme ce fut le cas d’une manière suffisamment répétitive pour ne pas être un hasard, à Sétif (Algérie), en 1945, cruellement le jour de la victoire alliée de la seconde Guerre Mondiale, au camp de Thiaroye (Sénégal) en 1946, et, à Madagascar, en 1947, enfin, au Cameroun, sans doute à titre de rétribution pour leur concours à l’effort de guerre français.
En Grande Bretagne, contrairement à la France, la contribution ultramarine à l’effort de guerre anglais a été de nature paritaire, le groupe des pays anglo-saxons relevant de la population Wasp (White Anglo Saxon Protestant), -Canada, Australie, Nouvelle Zélande-, a fourni des effectifs sensiblement égaux aux peuples basanés de l’empire britannique (indiens, pakistanais etc.). Il s’en est suivi la proclamation de l’Indépendance de l’Inde et du Pakistan en 1948, au sortir de la guerre, contrairement, là aussi, à la France qui s’engagera dans dix ans de ruineuses guerres coloniales (Indochine, Algérie).
Autre paradoxe, leur stigmatisation par le terme «Bougnoule» (5), terme pourtant qui tire ainsi son origine de l’expression argotique de cette supplique ante mortem. Par un dévoiement de la pensée sans doute unique au monde, la revendication ultime préludant au sacrifice suprême -«Aboul Gnoul, apporte l’alcool»- le breuvage galvaniseur de l’assaut des lignes ennemies, finira par constituer la marque d’une stigmatisation absolue de ceux qui auront massivement contribué, à deux reprises, au péril de leur vie, à vaincre, paradoxalement, les oppresseurs de leurs propres oppresseurs.
Dans les ouvrages français, le calvaire de leur dépersonnalisation et leur combat pour la restauration de leur identité et de leur dignité se résumeront à cette définition laconique: «Le bougnoule, nom masculin apparu en 1890, signifie noir en langue Wolof (dialecte du Sénégal). Donné familièrement par des blancs du Sénégal aux noirs autochtones, ce nom deviendra au XX me siècle une appellation injurieuse donnée par les Européens d’Afrique du Nord aux Nord-Africains. Synonyme de bicot et de raton». Un glissement sémantique du terme bougnoule s’opérera au fil du temps pour englober, bien au delà de l’Afrique du Nord, l’ensemble de la France, tous les «mélanodermes», arabo-berbères et négro-africains, pour finir par s’ancrer dans le tréfonds de la conscience comme la marque indélébile d’un dédain absolu, alors que parallèlement, par extension du terme raton qui lui est synonyme, le langage courant désignait par «ratonnade» une technique de répression policière sanctionnant le délit de faciès.
Bougnoule finira par confondre dans la même infamie tous les métèques de l’Empire, piétaille de la République, promus au rang de défenseurs occasionnels de la Patrie, qui étaient en fait les défenseurs essentiels d’une patrie qui s’est toujours voulue distincte dans le concert des nations, qui se distinguera parfois d’une façon hideuse, traînant tel un boulet, Vichy, l’Algérie, la collaboration, la délation, la déportation et la torture, les pages honteuses de son histoire, peinant des décennies durant à expurger son passé, et, pour avoir tardé à purger son passif, en paiera le prix en termes de magistère moral.......
Un pays qui ignore son histoire a tendance à la répétition et les opérations de récupération paraissent inopérantes pour la pédagogie nationale. Il en va du salaire ethnique des anciens combattants «basanés» comme de l’exaltation du martyr du jeune résistant communiste Guy Môquet (6) qui demeurera, lui aussi sans portée thérapeutique aussi longtemps que ne seront dénoncés, ses bourreaux, ceux qui ont inscrit son nom sur la liste des suspects comme ceux qui l‘ont livré aux Allemands, c'est-à-dire la police française et le ministre de l’intérieur de l’époque, le lointain prédécesseur de Nicolas Sarkozy auteur de cette mystification mémorielle. ...
De la même manière que les marronniers sur les oubliés de la République continueront de relever d’un pur exercice de style aussi longtemps que le silence sera maintenue sur la rémunération ethnique comme la face hideuse du racisme institutionnel français.
1- Cf.: «L’Empire dans la guerre» publication du service historique de l’armée, dont le document mentionne le critère religieux des soldats originaires d’Afrique. Ce document est publié en annexe du livre «Du Bougnoule au sauvageon, voyage dans l’imaginaire français», René Naba/ Harmattan 2002
2- «Une théorie raciale des valeurs? Démobilisation des travailleurs immigrés et mobilisation des stéréotypes en France à la fin de la grande guerre» par Mary Lewis, enseignante à la New York University, in «L’invention des populations», ouvrage collectif sous la direction d’Hervé Le Bras (Editions Odile Jacob).
3- «La France dans toutes ses déclinaisons, A propos du rôle positif de la colonisation: Déconstruction des mythes fondateurs de la grandeur française» Cf. :«De notre envoyé spécial, un correspondant sur le théâtre du monde» René Naba Harmattan Mai 2009
4- «Les penchants criminels de l’Europe démocratique»- Jean Claude Milner - Editions Verdier 2003
5- A propos du terme Bougnoule, ses origines, sa définition et sa portée symbolique: http://latelevisionpaysanne.fr/video.php?lirevideo=109#109
Et dans sa version mixée en reggae : http://www.jamendo.com/us/album/972/
6- «Cf.: «Comment Nicolas Sarkozy écrit l’Histoire de France» de l’affaire Dreyfus à Jean Jaurès à Guy Môquet, au plateau de Glières. Par Laurence de Cock, Fanny Madeleine, Nicolas Offenstadt et Sophie Wahnic- Editions Agone 2008.
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INVITEZ VOS AMIS A JOINDRE LE GROUPE TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS SUR FACEBOOK;
TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS EN IMAGES
DE NOMBREUX COMBATS SONT A MENER DANS LA SOCIETE DANS LAQUELLE NOUS VIVONS;J'AI CHOISI LE MIEN :LA BATAILLE CONTRE L'INJUSTICE.
DANS CET ORDRE D'IDEE,UN DE MES CHEVAUX DE BATAILLE EST LA SITUATION DES ANCIENS COMBATTANTS AFRICAINS TRAHIS PAR LA FRANCE.
LA FRANCE SE DOIT UN DEVOIR DE MEMOIRE AFIN QUE JUSTICE SOIT RENDUE AUX MILLIONS D'AFRICAINS MORTS POUR UN PAYS QU'ILS CROYAIENT LEUR PATRIE.
AINSI PLUS DE 5 .5MILLIONS D'AFRICAINS DE L'AFRIQUE OCCIDENTALE FRANCAISE ,DE L'AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANCAISE ,L'AFRIQUE DU NORD FRANCAISE (MAROC,ALGERIE,TUNISIE),ONT ETE CONSCRITS DANS L'ARMEE FRANCAISE.
PLUS DE 2.5 MILLIONS SONT MORTS EN FRANCE DANS LA SOMME,A VERDUN....,A BIR HAKEIM EN LYBIE.
CE DEVOIR DE MEMOIRE SERA RETABLI QUAND LA FRANCE RECONNAITRA LA CITOYENNETE FRANCAISE IPSO FACTO AUX DERNIERS SURVIVANTS AINSI QU'AUX ENFANTS , PETITS ENFANTS ET ARRIERES PETITS ENFANTS DE CES HEROS AFRICAINS QUI ONT VERSE LEUR SANG POUR QUE LA FRANCE DEMEURE UN PAYS LIBRE.
COMBATTRE LA FALSIFICATION DE L'HISTOIRE TEL EST AUSSI L'AUTRE BUT DE MON BLOGUE.
LA VERITE SUR CES FAITS HEROIQUES DES VALEUREUX TIRAILLEURS AFRICAINS DEVRA AUSSI ETRE RELATEE DANS TOUS LES LIVRES D'HISTOIRE DE FRANCE ET DE NAVARRE.
CE BLOGUE EST DEDIE A LA MEMOIRE DE TOUS CES HEROS AFRICAINS DES DEUX PREMIERES GUERRES MONDIALES AUJOURDHUI DISPARUS ET AUX SURVIVANTS DES GUERRES ( 1939-45), D'INDOCHINE ET D'ALGERIE.
E. do REGO
LA FRANCE ET SES NOIRS DEPUIS L'ESCLAVAGE
Le 10 mai 2006, la France commémore pour la première fois de
son histoire, l'abolition de l'esclavage.
France métropolitaine, aux Antilles et au Sénégal, soulève la "question
noire" qui se pose aujourd'hui.
Voir la video en cliquant sur le lien ci-dessous:
NOIRS - L'IDENTITE AU COEUR DE LA QUESTION NOIRE EN FRANCE
Durée : env. 50mn
Le 10 mai 2006, la France commémore pour la première fois de son histoire, l'abolition de l'esclavage. Ce documentaire, tourné en France métropolitaine, aux Antilles et au Sénégal, soulève la "question noire" qui se pose aujourd'hui. Il s'agit d'un sujet brûlant et parfois confus découlant souvent d'une méconnaissance de l'histoire de l'esclavage et de la décolonisation entretenue dans le pays. Quels sont les effets de la traite négrière et de la colonisation dans la représentation des Noirs au sein de la société française actuelle ? Existe-t-il une histoire commune à tous les Noirs ? En quoi le travail de mémoire est-il indispensable ? Quel lien peut-il exister entre un Antillais et un descendant de tirailleur sénégalais qui se retrouvent autour de revendications semblables ? Quelle est la condition noire et où en est l'intégration de cette minorité ethnique en France ? S'appuyant sur de nombreux témoignages parmi lesquels ceux de Christiane Taubira, Disiz La Peste ou Aimé Césaire, ce film tente de répondre à ces questions. Mené sous la forme d'une enquête et ponctué d'images d'archives, il retrace aussi les différentes périodes historiques qui ont lié la France à la communauté noire.
1ère partie: http://www.dailymotion.com/visited/wanzea/video/xuc1p_noirs-1ere-partie
Saturday, May 20, 2006
LES TIRAILLEURS ET LA FRANCE
Posted by EMILIANO do REGO at 5/20/2006 09:36:00 PM