Reconciling with the past and looking to the future: The place of the Tirailleurs Sénégalais in post-colonial Senegal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The force known as the Tirailleurs Sénégalais, established by the French governor of Senegal, Louis Faidherbe, in 1854 was the main colonial tool used to conquer the territories of French West Africa, maintain order in them and later protect the entire French empire against anti-colonial movements. By exploring two sites of memory - the cemetery of Thiaroye and the military museum in Dakar - this chapter aims to examine the complex and often seemingly contradictory discourses about the soldiers in present-day Senegal and what we can learn from them about the Senegalese vision of their nation, its past and its future. After presenting the colonial and post-colonial varied and often opposing discourses of the Tirailleurs in Senegal, I focus on analysing two interviews with representatives of the two sites. I conclude that the so-called contradictions in the remembrance of African soldiers and their place in Senegal's national vision might not be contradictions at all but rather a reflection of Senegal's aspiration to highlight the peaceful nature of its society. While the desire to learn the truth about French brutal violence against the Tirailleurs is central in this discourse, it also highlights their reconciliation with France and with Senegalese society in general.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Francophone Africa
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351142168
StatePublished - 24 Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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