This article is an attempt to reconsider the representations that, in Senegal in the 2000s, linked the social history of the tirailleurs (African colonial soldiers) with the practical and symbolic processes at the heart of a number of migratory projects, especially among young people. The history of this social military body was rooted in almost a century of colonial domination, from 1857 to 1962. The tirailleurs played a part in all the battles of the French army and generated different kinds of social imaginaries that were woven between France and Africa. In the late 1950s, another figure, another ideal type, became established in the Senegalese public space: the migrant. After tracing the history of the way in which these two figures were constructed, I trace how, more recently, the younger generation has been able to mobilize the dominant memory of the tirailleur in its own aspirations of exile. Some preliminary methodological proposals will be needed to account for these migratory imaginaries.