21 October 2021, Papalaye
Thiaroye Camp, a story that no African should ever forget. France executed Senegalese people one by one, like rats, after these Senegalese gave their soul to save France from the Nazis.
Have we already forgotten “The Thiaroye Camp,” this transit camp in which the skirmishers were brought, and massacred, to the last, under the bullets of the France’s tanks, for whom these skirmishers sacrificed their life to ensure the freedom of France, this France which was occupied by the Nazis and which had requested the aid and support of African countries.
They were mainly skirmishers who had stayed in a Nazi concentration camp. By arriving there, some probably already had apprehensions about the real intentions of France. Their “native French brothers” in arms (implying: “White”), with whom they had shared the joys, sorrows and sufferings of the war, had already received their pay, and the various bonuses linked to their status.
Although they took the same risks, braving the cold, the fire of the weapons, the machine guns of the enemies and that many of them had died there, or contracted definitive handicaps, the skirmishers had not (yet ) been paid, but they were assured that they would be paid once in Africa.
Once in Africa, they are crammed into the Thiaroye camp where from the start racism and amnesia of certain French officers disappointed these men who went to defend a country other than their own, but who are now treated like subhuman, by characters who still suffering from the colonial superiority complex. Moreover, the military uniforms they had been withdrawn from them, to replace them with a more ordinary outfit and a red hat identical to those sadly popularized by the “Banania.”
Their fears will soon be confirmed when they want to change their French francs into local African currency. Forgetting their warlike deeds, the military administration refuses to proceed with the exchange at the legal rate, but at half of it, as if equity would have jeopardized the republican finances.
This will not be the only humiliation suffered since the military administration will be evasive about the payment of allowances for soldiers on the pretext of budgetary constraints. Remember, their “native French” comrades had already been paid.
It will be more than what these men could bear, and they decided to revolt, and took a French general hostage, on November 30, 1944, which they released a few hours later, after the latter claimed to have understood them, that their money would be changed at the official rate, and that they would receive their allowances before being demobilized. No one will be surprised, they know how to lie!
It was bad for them because, a few hours later, on December 1, 1944, by order of the same general and with the approval of the hierarchy, the French army, although knowing that the skirmishers were disarmed, attacked the camp using its heavy artillery, including tanks. The camp was destroyed, and a large number of Senegalese soldiers died there, not because of Nazi guns, but of French guns, those French whose territory they had liberated. There is no more ungrateful than these!
The survivors had to hastily bury the unfortunate killed ones, and then return home, without touching the promised bonuses.
As if the humiliation was not complete, many of the survivors were sentenced to firm prison terms for “insubordination.” Some served there for up to 2 or even 3 years, shortly after spending a few years in concentration camps.
We will read in Charles Onana's book, a “justification” for the killing by French officers who castigated the claim that would have led the colonized Senegalese people to take themselves for the equals of others, simply because they fought together, and who considered the killing “necessary” for the prestige of the French army.
This slaughter was a very sad epilogue to a flawless commitment, which can only lead to wonder if France ever had consideration for these men that she went to seek in their countries...
And today, we are asking exactly the same question in the face of a France that continues to maintain its grip on Africa.
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