Following the last episode of “Comme un roman” radio show on RFI (listen to it HERE), Vlad, our journalist focuses on the song: “Autorail”, Orchestra Boabab.
This song by Orchestra Baobab, main orchestra from Dakar in the 70’s, pays tribute to Senegalese railways. At that time, the train from Senegal to Mali was an adventure. At the beginning its was an mean for colonization, and the it became a symbol of independance.
In 1947-48, railway workers of Western French Africa were on strike. Most resistent were on the line Dakar-Niger, that links the Senegalese Capital to Bamako and ends at Koulikouro, the harbour where used to arrive food product and travellers from Mopti, Tombouctou, Gao… This main strike, told by the writer Ousmane Sembène in his book « Les bouts de bois de Dieu » lasted 5 months and a half, and made colonial authorities go back on income inequalities between senegalese, malian and french workers.
This victory contributed to independance. After 1960, railways kept on being an economic leg of both countries, and was a sign of pride as this song reminds it?
On of these train used to stop by Thiès, main subject of this song. In Bamako, this golden age was embodied by the Rail Band from the “Buffet-Hotel de la Gare”, where Salif Keita started and where Mory Kanté and Djelimady Tounkara played.
Today, the highline Dakar-Bamako is in bad shape. Privatised in 2003, a new agreement has been signed end of 2015, with China to renew the line. The train mai find again its golden age and inspire new songs…
Listen to the track “Autorail” by Orchestra Baobab on :
And don’t miss next “Comme un roman” radio show RFI on next saturday at 10 am !