Chapters 7–9

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Last Updated on February 12, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1400

Chapter 7: Bamako: Tiémoko

Back in Bamako’s local union headquarters, a trial is set to begin against a ticket collector named Diara. While other strike-breakers, or “renegades,” have simply been beaten under orders from Tiémoko, Diara is formally charged with dynfa—a Bambara word for betraying your own people. The local secretary, Konaté, acts as judge, while a group of strikers have been appointed to the jury.

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Tiémoko begins the trial by saying that Diara is his uncle, so he harbors no ill will toward the man. He recounts the series of events leading up the trial: It began with a summons issued to all strikers to return to work; when five of the summons papers were missing after the union collected them, Tiémoko formed a commando to hunt down and assault the renegades. However, a group of policemen escort and protect Diara wherever he goes. Tiémoko is angry that Diara has been betraying strikers’ wives to the police. He enlists Diara’s own son, Sadio, in the commando, and Tiémoko boldly enters the train station to fetch his uncle.

While there, a retired watchman accosts Tiémoko about the strike, saying he and all the other workers should be in jail. Tiémoko leaves the station without Diara, having remembered a phrase he read in one of Bakayoko’s books. Tiémoko and Sadio go to the Bakayoko house, asking permission from Fa Keïta and Niakoro to borrow a book from Bakayoko’s library.

Before leaving the house, Tiémoko tells the elders that he plans to put Diara on trial. Niakoro is horrified at the thought of a good man being publicly shamed in the manner of the toubabs—a term that refers to whites.

Tiémoko demands that Konaté hold a meeting that evening to confer with the union council about the trial. After hours of deliberation, Tiémoko successfully persuades them to approve the trial. He asks Konaté to procure three police uniforms so that Tiémoko and two others can capture Diara.

Chapter 8: Bamako: The Trial

Once Tiémoko finishes his story, the women whom he had asked to attend the trial begin testimony. Four women openly accuse Diara of betraying their identities to the toubabs, stranding them in the brush or in neighboring towns. Next, a worker publicly condemns Diara as a traitor, saying the elder should have supported his fellow workers. An argument over what punishment should befall Diara erupts in the hall, with some supporting imprisonment and others flogging.

Amid the tumult, Fa Keïta, who is seated next to Ad’jibid’ji in the crowd, rises to speak. He praises Tiémoko’s trial, noting that he had never before witnessed one. The Old One cites Bakayoko’s assertion that the machines have united the people, and he notes that this trial has united the strikers. The Old One asserts that Diara’s public shame is sufficient punishment and none will dare break the strike knowing what fate now awaits such traitors. The Old One leaves, and Tiémoko is jealous of the elder’s persuasive eloquence. One by one, people exit the hall, leaving only Sadio, Diara, and Ad’jibid’ji remaining. Overcome with shame, Diara cries out in agony, collapsing into his son’s arms while Ad’jibid’ji watches.

At home, Fa Keïta feels sickened after what has taken place at the union hall. He goes into his room immediately, pondering why he had allowed Ad’jibid’ji to convince him to go to the trial. She has promised that if he went, she would not go again until her “petit peré,” Bakayoko, returned home. Fa Keïta has asked why Ad’jibid’ji even likes the meetings, to which she replied that Bakayoko told her that she would one day be a train conductor like him.

Niakoro feels uneasy the next morning when the other women leave on a days-long journey to a faraway market. In her loneliness, Niakoro turns to the precocious...

(The entire section contains 1400 words.)

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Chapters 4–6


Chapters 10–12