A dialog on Lat Joor in the modern world: Railroad construction

From H-Africa list. October, 1995

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 16:29:14 GMT-5
Sender: H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@msu.edu>
Subject: QUERY: Lat Joor in the modern world
Date sent: Mon, 16 Oct 1995
From: A.M.Ridehalgh <A.M.Ridehalgh@soton.ac.uk>

I have been doing some research on the present-day status of Lat Joor/Lat Dior, the official national hero of Senegal. I recently came across a work by Ibrahima Niang: *Gaal Dieeri: un train de vie*, about the construction of the Dakar suburban railway. Can anybody tell me anything about the background to this book? I am particularly interested in the urban-folklore aspects of the work: visions of Lat Joor, alleged belief among the railway workers in spirits guarding certain goods yards etc.

I am also looking for work on urban/industrial folklore in Africa in general: I have found it difficult to find anything on Senegal. Many thanks (and promise of acknowledgement) to anybody who can help me.

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 17:25:59 GMT-5
Sender: H-NET List for African History <H-AFRICA@msu.edu>
Subject: REPLY: Lat Joor in the modern world

Date sent: Wed, 18 Oct 1995
From: Martin Klein, University of Toronto <mklein@epas.utoronto.ca>

I am not sure what A.M. Ridehalgh means by the Dakar suburban RR. The only RR construction in Dakar was for the Sakar-St.Louis line, which was built from 1881 to 1885 using Piedmontese labour. Lat Dior at first agreed to construction, and then withdrew. The indispensable book is Mamadou Diouf, *Le Kajoor au XIXe siecle*.

When the RR to the French Sudan was built, it connected at Thies, which became the major RR junction. On RR workers, see Ousmane Sembene's novel, *God's Bits of Wood*. There is also a good thesis on the RR by Paul Pheffer, submitted to Penn in the 1970's.

I know of nobody who asks the questions Ridehalgh is asking, though there is a rich literature of memoires and theses submitted at the University Chekh Anta Diop or various French universities and never published. Iba der Thiam did an early thesis on the 1939 RR strike. There might be some material in his 4400 page thesis, but I know of no one who has ever read that manuscript through from beginning to end.

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