At Last: Senegalese Tirailleurs now allowed to receive their pension while living in Senegal

Inauguration of the Place des Tirailleurs-Sénégalais with Tirailleurs aged over 90-years-old on 10 March 2023 (Source: Sylvie Koffi, RFI)

Nine Senegalese tirailleurs, men who served for France for its liberation during the wars, have now won the right to receive their pension while living in Senegal. These men, aged 85 to 96 years, have served in the French army during the wars of Indochina and Algeria, and were forced to live in France at least 6 months per year to get their retirement pension! This meant that in essence, most of them just stayed in France, unable to afford the trips back home to Senegal. For those who do not know, the term “tirailleur” was the name given by the French Army to indigenous infantry recruited in the various French colonies. They were not all Senegalese, even though the name always said “tirailleur senegalais,” but rather came from all over Africa. They served for France in a number of wars, including World War I, World War II, Indochina, Algeria, and several others. The name “Tirailleur” is a link of two words “tir ailleurs” to laugh and denigrate the African troops by saying that the soldiers were not capable to shoot on target, more like to mean “shoot off target”; it could be translated as skirmisher. Although these soldiers fought to help free France, most of them were never recognized, and instead were insulted, laughed at and sometimes even abused or more. Find here an article on The Conversation, and more importantly on the video of the Massacre of Thiaroye [Thiaroye: A French Massacre in Senegal‘Thiaroye Massacre’ by Ousmane Sembene] showing the poor treatment and sometimes massacre of these tirailleurs by the French, when they returned home after serving France.

Senegalese Tirailleurs serving in France in 1940

So, after most of them have died, these remaining 9 Senegalese tirailleurs had to reside in France for at least 6 months every year to receive their due pension!!! Unbelievable! Who knows the atrocities they witnessed in the name of France? Who knows the blood, sweat, and trauma they lived through? Now that only 9 are remaining, France cannot even pay them their pension of 950 Euros per month! 950 Euros per month for 9 people? How difficult can it be for France who gets 500 billion Euros every year from Africa [The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in AfricaAfrica is funding Europe!FCFA: France’s Colonial Tax on AfricaIs France Trying to (re) Colonize Africa?]? And these men, tirailleurs Senegalais in their advanced age, had to live in France to even see a money that is due them? And people actually had to fight, and write petitions for the French government to finally agree to pay them in Senegal. See… they always wait for everybody to die, before even acknowledging them [The British Government apologizes for Mau Mau atrocities].

Enjoy the articles on RFI, France24, and AfricaNews. Excerpts below are from AfricaNews.


It is a trip they almost stopped dreaming of. Nine Senegalese veterans, aged 85 to 96, who fought for France during the XXth century, will join their families in Senegal.

After years and sometimes decades of living thousands of miles from their relatives so they could claim their French army pension, the soldiers were moved on their way to the airport Friday (Apr.28).

A few days before the journey home, AFP met with Yoro Diao [head medic during the war in Indochina, Vietnam, in charge of the stretcher bearers, carrying the wounded under enemy fire], a veteran aged 95….

It’s a victory,” the decorated veteran said on Wednesday (Apr.26) as he prepared his flight.

I’m going to live and eat well. I’ll walk around the village. It’s paradise over there,” he added, a smile lighting up his thin face.

Hundreds of thousands of African soldiers fought for their colonial master France in the two world wars and against independence movements in Indochina and Algeria. But until this year, surviving veterans among the so-called “Senegalese Infantrymen” had to live in France for half the year or lose their pension. In January, the French state dropped the condition, saying they could return home for good and continue receiving their monthly allowance of 950 euros ($1,000). It would also pay for the flight and move of any veterans wishing to leave.

… Their pensions were increased to adjust for inflation for the first time in almost five decades in 2006.

I was shocked that all these old men who had contributed to our freedom couldn’t even become French,” said [Aissata Seck, Head of the Association for the Memory and History of Senegalese Infantrymen].

… Diao said the French government’s waiver has been a long time coming — too late for some veterans who are now too frail to make the journey home. But for those who still can, “it’s better late than never,” he said.