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Tirailleurs; New Film Honors Thousands of African Soldiers Who Fought For France In Both World Wars

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Film star Omar Sy presented his latest film “Tirailleurs” by Mathieu Vadepied in Dakar. The film pays homage to the hundreds of thousands of Africans who fought for France in both world wars.

The story is about a young man in Senegal named Thierno who gets recruited into the French army, prompting his father to volunteer to take care of him. 

“We have a foot in each country and for our construction this story there it is important,” explains the French actor of Senegalese descent.

Tirailleurs

The 44-year-old actor highlighted the impact and value of this historical episode: “I think today’s generations need this story. We have to face history to see how we can build ourselves specifically in relation to France and Senegal [… ]”

More than 200,000 Africans were then serving in the French armed forces.

Many of them were cowboys or snipers sent to the infantry front lines where casualties were often devastating.

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“We told the story of these soldiers who arrived in France and were uprooted from their country. They came to a country they did not know and whose language they did not speak.“

“They were completely isolated. It was also important to show the complexity of the subject. They really had to communicate,” Sy said.

Tirailleurs; New Film Honors Thousands of African Soldiers Who Fought For France In Both World Wars

In fact, the body known as the Legion of Senegalese Archers or Tirailleurs Africains / (African Archers) was made up of soldiers of various African origins and countries.

They come from West and Equatorial Africa and North Africa.

The Senegalese riflemen were banned in 1857 by decree of the French Emperor Napoleon III. From that date until their abolition in the 1960s, the Rifles took part in all of France’s colonial campaigns.

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