in Essays on African History: From the Slave Trade to Neocolonialism
Preface by Basil Davidson
Translated from the French by Christopher Hurst
C. Hurst & Co., London., pp. 25-55
The sixteenth century marks an important break in the history of Black Africa. The Middle Ages had seen the blossoming of an original civilisation. On the decayed foundations of the primitive community, which had reached a more or less advanced stage, there began to develop class opposition; slavery (in its patriarchal form); the formation of an aristocracy from the 'chiefdom' — in other words, members of the village community with specialised functions of an economic, religious acid military nature (respectively territorial and war chiefs) 2; and the appearance of towns (Timbuktu, Djenne, the Hausa cities, the cities of ɓenin) with a notable development of commercial activity but not using money. (As money equivalents, cowries 3 and a variety of merchandise were used — pieces of woven cotton, wrought iron bars, blocks of salt, measures of millet, livestock or slaves; there was no general standard of money equivalence.)
There are striking similarities between the economic and social formations of the Germanic peoples at the time of the invasions, and those of the Greeks of the archaic period (before the sixth century BC). However, Africa showed notable differences in the elements influencing the form of the productive forces. First, the use of the wheel either for transportation or for irrigation was unknown, although wheeled vehicles criss-crossed the Sahara well before the Christian era. Secondly, agriculture — generally extensive, but also at times intensive — only utilised various forms of hoe and not the plough, which moreover was ill-suited to the special climatic and soil conditions of' tropical Africa. And thirdly, agriculture and livestock-breeding remained on the whole separate, suited to different ethnic groups 4.
It was within this economic framework that the first great states of black Africa developed: Ghana (4th[?]-13th cent.), Mali (13th-15th cent.), the Songhai empire of Gao (15th-16th cent.), and the cities of ɓenin which appear to have reached their apogee in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
The African upswing was to be brought brutally to a halt, directly and indirectly, by the transformations which were affecting Western Europe. First there was the development of the trade in slaves destined for the American colonies, the role of which in the accumulation of capital in Western Europe is well known. Africa's destiny as a 'commercial reserve for the hunting of people with black skins' 5 was not finally sealed till the end of the sixteenth century. The Portuguese, who had sighted the coast during the fifteenth century, had at first wanted to procure gold and spices, and with this in view had penetrated the continent very early; even at the end of the sixteenth century, some adventurers still hoped to create another Brazil in Africa 6.
Although the question of why Africa's development took the course it did has never been satisfactorily answered, some reasons suggest themselves: the high density of population, the existence of societies at a sufficiently advanced stage of evolution to have, at times, an embryonic state organisation, but still close enough to the primitive community for tribal institutions to give it a considerable power to resist intruders, even those with firearms — these circumstances put obstacles in the way of the populations being enslaved or exterminated by a handful of conquistadores. Evidence of this is the fact that Portuguese attempts to set about exploiting the gold seams in the interior (Bambouk and Boure) or organise production of pepper (Guinean pepper or malaguette, once thought to be of inferior quality) were checked. On the other hand, the existence of relations with the character of slavery, and of an agricultural technique that was both advanced and well adapted to tropical conditions, indicated an ideal source for the supply of labour to replace the exterminated populations of the Caribbean and Brazil, whose more rudimentary state of social evolution and lack both of slavery and of habits of agricultural work corresponding to the needs of the colonisers would have excluded the possibility of their being utilised in this way.
The slave trade paralysed the development of productive forces in black Africa, first by the demographic blood-letting and the enormous loss of manpower that resulted from it.
According to W.E.B. DuBois, the loss amounted to 100 million in less than four centuries, comprising on the whole the youngest and most vigorous elements 7; D. Fage more conservatively puts the number at 30-40 million 8. Having remained static since the seventeenth century, the population of Africa, which had then probably represented one-fifth of the world total, did not represent even one-thirteenth by the nineteenth century. But the trade was pernicious above all because of its economic and indirect social consequences.
In exchange for slaves, Europe gave Africa nothing but shoddy trade goods of a derisory value, adulterated alcohol, and firearms and gunpowder — these last, ironically, were to intensify the hunt for slaves. Confining themselves to the role of intermediaries, the slavers made the Africans themselves their suppliers, and thus the agents of their own ruin: the most lucrative occupation ceased to be productive activity but became instead the war to gain possession of slaves for trade, with its train of material and human destruction 9.
It was above all the littoral (the Gulf of Guinea, the Congo and Angola) and its immediate hinterland that felt the evil consequences of the European trade. The Sahel and Sudanic regions only suffered attenuated effects, but they nonetheless suffered, if by a less direct route, the negative results of the great transformations in the Western world and the Mediterranean in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The great Sudanic empires of Ghana, Mali, Songhai and Bornu were created through the beneficial effect of commercial and intellectual relations with the Arab world. In exchange for gold and ivory, the Sudan received salt from Teghazza in the Sahara and, above all, merchandise produced by the Arabs — textiles, handicrafts, manuscripts 10. This brought about the prosperity of urban centres such as Timbuktu and Djenne. Relations with the Arab world were secured via two major routes. In the west, from the Niger and Senegal rivers, caravans reached the salt mines of Teghazza and ended at Sidjilmasa (in the Tafilalet, southern Morocco), from which the gold reached the Maghreb and Spain. In the east, from Gao or Bornu, various routes reached the coast of Tripolitania and thence Tunisia and, most important of all, Egypt.
The seventeenth century was to complete the ruin of these arteries of exchange. In Morocco, as throughout North Africa, the end of the Middle Ages was marked by the decline of urban, mercantile civilisation. The resulting decay encouraged attacks by the Portuguese and Spaniards who, after the reconquest of their own lands by the Arabs, went on to the offensive in North Africa and established themselves there as masters of the Moroccan littoral, the Portuguese took the place of the caravan drivers as intermediaries between northern and black Africa, going by the sea route to Cape Verde and beyond to sell merchandise once imported from the Maghreb. This diversion of the traditional commercial circuit made itself felt also in an inverse sense: the establishment of the fortress of Elmina on the Gold Coast attracted away from the Arab world, if not all the gold of the Sudanic region, then at least that of the southern mines 11.
In North Africa this Christian attack provoked a popular reaction and a reawakening of Islam, but this form of Islam was not that of the town-dwellers and merchants but a feudal and rural form of religious brotherhoods, marabouts and feudal warriors. In Morocco the movement resulted in the overthrow of the Merinids; the Saad dynasty (a Sherifian one, i.e. claiming descent from the Prophet) replaced them and drove out the invaders. However, Sidjilmasa was destroyed, and Morocco was isolated by a blockade mounted by both the Christians and the Turks. It was undoubtedly to replenish a stream that was drying up that the new ruler of Morocco sought to lay his hands on the sources of Sudanic gold. Sultan Moulay Ahmad Al Mansur (known as El-Dehebi, “the golden” 12) first tried to seize the salt-pans of Teghazza, a dependency of the Songhai empire, and then sent a formation of 1,000 Spanish turncoats, armed with muskets, who seized Timbuktu, Gao and Djenne, and destroyed the Songhai empire in 1591.
The Spanish Moroccans were nor able, any more than the Portuguese, to lay hands on the gold mines — they were too far away. Their descendants confined themselves to making frequent raids throughout the Niger valley. The principal effect of this was to complete the ruin of the Saharan trade (in the eighteenth century a large caravan left Morocco for Timbuktu only once every two or three years 13), traffic in slaves constituting a large proportion of what remained.
The routes of the central Sahara, terminating in Tripoli, were less frequented; but there too the traffic dwindled and partly changed its character. Tripoli was no more than a staging-post on the way to Egypt. The Portuguese, after destroying the maritime ascendancy of the Arabs in the Indian Ocean, went on to destroy the Egyptian fleet in 1509, and blocked access to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Egypt, deposed from its role of commercial intermediary between the Christian West on the one hand and India and the Far East on the other, fell eight years later to the Turks. The latter would now guarantee the defence of Islam, under threat from the Christians, as far as the Maghreb: Barbary pirates from the Aegean seized Algiers in 1516 and linked their destiny to that of' the Ottoman empire. The Turks occupied Tripoli in 1551 and Tunis in 1574. Over the Arab world, a vast area of commercial exchange, a feudal empire was installed where commerce languished and was largely in foreign hands. Here again, slave traffic took first place, and in addition supplied concubines and eunuchs to the Ottoman harems 14.
Thus the dilapidation of the commerce of Egypt and the Maghreb — originally due to internal causes (ossification and feudalisation of the Islamic world) but hastened by the attacks of the Europeans — had repercussions on the commerce of the Sudanic region, which lived solely by its relations with the Arabs. The urban centres like Timbuktu were weakened. Hence the great empires of the old type disappeared. These had been associated with urban markets and been supported by Islam, deriving their resources from taxes on trade arid tribute from their vassals. They had been relatively stable; Ghana and Mali were in existence for centuries, and were capable of maintaining order in the interior 15, probably due to the survival of ethnic institutions and military democracy.
Islam was in retreat, parallel to the towns losing their influence and an upsurge of new states that were essentially pagan (while Mali and Songhai drew their support from the towns and from Islam). The Mossi kingdoms and the Dogon and Gourmantche revived and stepped up their attacks on the Niger valley. At the same time the Serer, who had been driven back into the south of Senegal, freed themselves. In the middle of the sixteenth century the Fulɓe chief Koli, with an army of Fulɓe and Malinke followers, seized Tekrur and there set up a state ruled by the pagan Fulɓe dynasty of the Denianke. Mahmudu II, the “mansa” 16 of Mali, appealed in vain to the Portuguese to suppress it. Already penetrated in the north-west, what was left of Mali was also in retreat in the north-east. With the collapse of the Songhai empire, it hoped at first for a reconquest, and with the help of the Fulɓe of Macina, the “mansa” Mahmudu II tried to recapture Djenne: it was the firearms of the Spanish-Moroccan pasha of Timbuktu that stopped him in 1549
About 1660 the Bambara peasants, a branch of the Malinke people who had been the bedrock of the Mali empire, rebelled and formed the rival kingdoms of Segu and Kaarta (Nioro), both fiercely pagan. Biton Coulibali, who created the Segu kingdom, raised a professional army of slaves, with corps of engineers and a flotilla to deploy on the Niger, consisting of Somono fishermen. In 1670 he finally drove Mali back to the upper-Niger (the Keita, descendants and heirs of the “mansas” of Mali, withdrew to the village of Kangaba, where they continued to maintain themselves right up to our time, but in the reduced role of petty local princes) He then extended his authority to Djenne and imposed his overlordship to Macina and Timbuktu where the “Arma” aristocracy, descendants of the Spanish-Moroccans of Songhai who had become completely or partly negrified 17, were reduced to paying him tribute as they already did to the Tuaregs. After Biton Coulibali, the Diara dynasty, installed in 1750, maintained the power of the Segu kingdom. The Hausa cities profited from the collapse of the Songhai empire around 1600 to shake off the tutelage of the king of Kebbi, reject the interference of' Bornu in their affairs, in so restore their independent 18.
The period which began with the century did not only show symptoms of regression, although these certainly predominated.
It also saw the appearance of a new type of states, with a standing army as its nucleus 19. These states obtained a growing proportion of their resources from raiding and hunting for slaves, and they imposed tribute on their subjects and vassals which became ever more burdensome and was often levied by military means. It was an unstable and in some ways a barbaric form of state, but it was, in a word, far more advanced than its predecessors. The Bambara state of Segu was one example and the old state of Bornu, by adapting to new conditions, was another. The king of Bornu, Idris III (1571-1603), managed, with firearms obtained from Tripoli, to raise a battalion of slave musketeers.
With this help, he was able to extend the boundaries of his state so that it covered a greater area than ever before in its history: for a time it covered the entire shore of Lake Chad, Kano in the west, the Aïr massif, and the desert as far as Fezzan. After his time, however, ties with the tributaries slackened. It was on similar foundations that the states of the central Sudan — Bagurmi, Wadai and Darfur — were consolidated at the beginning of the century.
How one is to explain this evolution? If urban activity — especially that of the old traditional centers — was in jeopardy, the extension of trade — European and Muslim — brought about a development of commercial relations, which indeed had a special character : in the absence of any monetary equivalent, the slave served increasingly as the unit of account, along with the head of cattle, the block of salt, and cowries. European goods were imported on an increasing scale, both through European trade warehouses and through the instrumentality of the Ottoman empire 20. As the result, the process of social differentiation into opposed classes continued to deepen, and spread more widely. The dissolution of the tribal organisation of the society was speeded up. But the basis for this was a decline in productive forces, where the social differentiation merely redoubled the misery of the masses and was anything but a way forward 21.
From the eighteenth century onwards, the states ruled by the Fulɓe played a leading economic and social role. We have already seen them make an appearance with the state of the Denianke, but their role there was only temporary and they became involved in an animist counterattack ; in effect they established the overlordship of a pagan dynasty in Fuuta-Tooro, where Islam had put down deep roots, perhaps since the time of the Almoravids. However, the Fulɓe states of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were champions and propagators of Islam. They form a distinct phase in the history of black Africa, even if their movements in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had prepared the way for it.
In order to clarify the conditions for this transition to a new stage, we have to recall briefly what we know of the origin and ethnic character of the Fulɓe. The subject has spawned a vast literature of variable worth, in which an overheated imagination has sometimes supplied the deficiencies of hard information. It is true that the subject excites the imagination particularly because the Fulɓe occupy a special and undoubtedly unique place in West African ethnography. They call themselves Pullo, pl. Fulɓe (other West African peoples use a variety of such denominations: Fullâni for the Moors, Afuli for the Tuareg, Fula for the Malinke, Tsilmige, [pl. Silmisse] for the Mossi, and so on). The area they inhabit is not clearly defined; they are to be found from Cape Verde to Chad and the borders of Ubangi-Chari, from the desert to the edge of the equatorial region (Ilorin in Nigeria). All those who speak their language or are integrated into their economy number about 4.5 million people.
The principal reason for this dispersion is their economic specialisation. The Fulɓe are (or were originally) pastoralists who raise cattle. The zone which is best suited to their activity and which forms the axis of their homeland is the Sahel. Here and there they almost reach the desert itself and thus acquire pastureland to which they have access during the rainy season; but here they are at the limit of what they can achieve by husbandry, and run up against the pastoralists of the Sahara (Moors and Tuaregs). To the south, they are able to penetrate deeply into the Sudanic zone to which, as a rule, they come back in the dry season — but for this they need the compliance of the sedentary cultivators, the masters of the soil. But beyond this, at the approach to the forest zone, the tse-tse fly 22 bars the way. As nomads, they are not strictly on home ground anywhere, except where they have established themselves by conquest and become sedentarised. They do not form a solid homogeneous population anywhere, and coexist with other peoples.
Are the Fulɓe a race or racial type apart 23? If by Fulɓe we mean the 4.5 million people mentioned above, most of whom have long been intermingled with the people among whom they co-exist, certainly the majority have no physical characteristics that distinguish them from other black people. If, however, we consider the most “pure” groups, who have remained faithful to their primitive social organisation, there is indeed a dominant physical type which sets them somewhat apart from other blacks in West Africa (“plainsmen” and “forest dwellers”). The most prominent traits would be:
This racial type is not unique — it is also found, with some differences, in East Africa (the Ethiopian type) — and is one of several variants of the African negro race. It displays similarities with the morphological traits of the white race — hence the hypothesis that it has resulted from an ancient and very thorough intermingling between black and white; however, this is not proved, and in any case its essential morphological traits enable it to be considered a variant of the black race 24.
This fact, together with the colonialist mentality to which the natural inferiority of the black race was a fact admitting of no argument, explains how what J. Richard-Molard has justly called “fantastic lucubrations” 25 have developed concerning the origin of the Fulɓe. It is not difficult to grasp how theme arose. In so far as these shepherds formed a dominant aristocracy in certain regions (not in all, as we shall see), the way was clear for racists to ascribe reason to an imagined “white origin” — however black they might have become subsequently — in the style of nachgedunkelle Aryer (Aryans who were black after the event) of the late Dr Goebbels.
But where did these imagined whites come from? Some traditions hold that they came from the east (these traditions are found among all the peoples of West Africa, and their historical or mythical truth has never been established). As we shall see further on, this could possibly be the recollection of a genuine migration. But it is much more likely to reflect the normal preoccupation of Islamised peoples to attribute to themselves ancestors of Arab origin. The over-excited imagination of our authors then made them descendants of the ancient Egyptians, brought there in a long migration, or Hyksos, or indeed Israelite shepherds. . . . None of this has any foundation, any more than the still widespread idea which would make the Fulɓe, with the Mauritanians, the Tuaregs and the Ethiopians, a branch of the supposed “Hamite” race. This concept of a Hamite race is a monstrosity, of the same ilk as the “Aryan” race of the Nazi theoreticians. It confuses — in a way which permits any sophistry — notions of race which are radically different from the only useful sense of the word (i.e. the biological sense) and notions of language and civilisation (social order). If the term 'Hamitic has a meaning, it is simply that of a family of languages covering the greater part of North Africa, especially that part inhabited by whites, but without the linguistic boundaries always coinciding with those between races. Today, linguists are inclined to reject this term in favour of “Hamito-Semitic”, a linguistic totality embracing several groups — the Semitic, ancient Egyptian, ɓerber and Cushitic 26. The American specialist J. Greenberg 27 proposes the addition of a fifth group, the Chadic, including Hausa and the languages related to it (Kotoko, etc.) 28.
They have also tried to amalgamate with the so-called Hamitic race not only the whites of North Africa (most of whom now speak Arabic), who from an anthropological viewpoint link up with the Mediterranean sub-race which through other causes occupies parts of Southern Europe, but also the blacks of the Ethiopian sub-race, some of whom undoubtedly speak Cushitic dialects while others speak Semitic dialects (Arabic in Chad and Amharic in Ethiopia) and yet others, like the Fulɓe, speak a language related to those of the West African peoples — and all the while the Hausas, who are black (but not of the Ethiopian type, speak a language which integrates with the Hamito-Semitic family. . . . One thus sees the inextricable muddle when biology (racial in the only accurate and admissible sense of the term) is confused with linguistics and sociology.
It is true that laborious attempts have been made to link the Fulɓe language and thence the whole gamut of black African languages to ancient Egyptian. The most notorious such attempt was made in the early 1940s by Homburger 29, and more recently the same author has pressed the hypothesis still further in seeking to make the black-African languages derive, through ancient Egyptian, from the Dravidian languages of India, corresponding to the area covered by the civilisation of Mohenjo-Daro 30. Unfortunately Homburger is a specialist in neither Hamito-Semitic nor Dravidian languages, and the greatest authority in Hamito-Semitic comparative linguistics, Marcel Cohen, discounts this thesis completely 31. It is even more disturbing to find Homburger reinforcing these linguistic arguments by invoking “the traditions which point to the Sahara or Egypt as the cradle of the rulers who gave to the ancestors of the blacks of today their present culture” [sic] 32. The colonialist mentality pointed out above (the idea that the blacks of Africa suffer from a congenital incapacity) is all too visible here, even if it is not completely conscious. One can only agree with the Marquis de Tressan, that “these essays of' Homburger have unconsciously held back the understanding of Africa 33.
The Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop has taken up this thesis again to apply to comparisons between the Egyptian and Wolof vocabularies 34. Hitherto linguists have remained unconvinced by these comparisons; they are based on a vocalisation of ancient Egyptian which is open to dispute since ancient Egyptian had no notation of vowels, which means that we are ignorant of their exact value. For the rest, the most recent scholarship leads to the placing of the Fulɓe language in the black African family of languages; Greenberg integrates it with the vast Nigero-Congolese family, which embraces most of the languages of black Africa. Its relationship to Serer and Wolof seem well established, and it seems admissible that Fulɓe, together with those and several other languages, constitutes a “Senegalo-Guinean” group, centred in the far west; Fulɓe shows a very marked archaism 35.
The only concrete evidence supporting the theory of the Fulɓe' eastern origins is archaeological, provided by the cave drawings of the Sahara. The cattle herdsmen represented in these drawings have numerous similarities with the Fulɓe of historical times; the physical type shown in silhouette, hair dressed in the form of a crest or in tresses and a bun, hemispheric huts, style of life, etc. These drawings enable one to reconstruct an itinerary from the Nilotic region as far as Hodh, passing to the north of Tibesti, eastern Tassili, Hoggar and Adrar des Iforas — in a time when the Sahara still offered sufficient pasturage. The population movements of which we see a trace here took place, at the earliest, in the sixth or fifth millennium BC. Their occupation of the Sahara seems to have lasted until the time of the early Egyptian empire. It is highly probable that these “cattle herdsmen” were the forebears of the Fulɓe, although a number of obscure points remain. (E.g., why had the “historical” Fulɓe lost every trace of their ancestors' tradition of cave art ?) 36.
After a considerable interval, historical tradition shows us the Fulɓe, before the sixteenth century, living as nomads in the Termes (Hodh region), today semi-desert but once the heartland of the Ghana empire. In this region (Mauritanian Adrar, Trarza and Hodh), they co-existed with the nomadic Sanhadja nomads (ancestors of the now arabised Moors and authors of the Almoravid conquest of Morocco and Spain at the end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth centuries) but also with black agriculturalists, the Bafur, from whom, through differentiation and migration, the principal ethnic groups of' the eastern Sudan are descended (the Wolof and Serer, the Sarakole, and the Manding and Bambara).
The linguistic relationship of the Fulɓe language with Wolof and Serer gives some force to the hypothesis whereby the Fulɓe, like the “Bafur” with whom they co-existed, spread out from this region of the Western Sahara towards the west, south and east and thence, borrowing the savannas and steppes for the purpose, as far as Adamawa and Chad. In the view of Richard-Molard, this theory could well stem from an illusion: it was the French who, having made the acquaintance in Senegal of the “Hal Pular” (speakers of Pular, the Fulɓe language), went from there to Chad, met the “Hal Pular” again throughout their route, and attributed to them historically the same itinerary as they had followed themselves 37. Richard-Molard's opinion comes up against a fundamental objection: the thesis of a migration front west to east is not an invention of French colonisers, but was formulated by travellers of the preceding period such as Clapperton 38 and Barth 39 following information obtained on the spot.
It will still be objected that the Fulɓe appear in history travelling from west to cast, which confirms the theory of the migration; it is true that wherever the Fulɓe appear in history, they were already well established, even if they were later reinforced by migrations front the west. But from this one may conclude simply that the flow of migration had begun much earlier (perhaps around the end of the first millennium, and at the same time as the dispersion of the “Bafur”), and continued in the period for which we have historical evidence 40. Historical tradition, which appears coherent at this point and which we have no reason to doubt, retraces this migration in a very logical manner 41.
To conclude, the hypothesis of the Fulɓe having a “western” origin, and having migrated from the western Sahara as far as the borders of Chad, appears virtually proven. On the other hand, the hypothesis of a previous Fulɓe migration from the Nilotic region rests only on presumptions: physical similarities between the Fulɓe and the peoples of East Africa, and the evidence of cave drawings in the Sahara. Even if it had been completely verified, it would by no means justify, gratuitous speculations on 'cultural transfers' from Egypt which excluded Egyptian evidence and the chronology established by prehistorians 42.
Now let us return to what is known beyond doubt. There still exist today — notably in the Senegalese Ferlo but in other regions too — Fulɓe groups (the “Buruure” Fulɓe 43) who have remained faithful to their primitive organisation. What is striking is the extreme archaism of their social organisation, which has remained much closer to primitive communism than that of the agriculturalists, leaving aside the “paleonigritic' Lobi, Kabre, Tenda, et al. With them the ethnic organisation retained its full vigour, hiving the clan — originally matrilineal — as its basis. As everywhere, the clan was subdivided into extended families, groups of relatives capable of numbering up to several hundred; but even though, among cultivators, the extended family is the economic unit if not always the domestic one, among the Fulɓe it is divided into very small fractions. As a rule, the basic groups scarcely ever numbered more than ten people, e.g. in two (usually monogamous) households. This dispersal is probably due to the actual living conditions of the “Buruure”. With extraordinary powers of endurance, braving the extremes of summer heat as well as the winter cold, they infiltrate in the rainy season as far as the least habitable savannas or steppes: the Nigerian Sahel and the “deserts” (so named because they lack drinking water, not because of the climate) of Ferlo, of the area enclosed by the Niger bend to the south, of the Dahomey borders and of Upper Volta. They live there in solitude. At the end of the dry season, they are compelled to move near to rivers or wells, and enter into contact with agriculturists, the masters of' the soil, in order to gain authorisation to occupy the pasture lands. Permission is normally given without trouble; the Fulɓe herds bring their own manure for the fields, and certain exchanges take place (grain for milk products).
But the Fulɓe is free and proud; although poor, he is hostile to any stranger and scornful of the cultivator (who does him a good turn). A tolerated but often ill-treated guest, he is suspicious and flees at the slightest alarm. If he cannot avoid an attack, he will resist with desperate courage, but if there is previous warning he will not wait for it; even less will he be the aggressor. His power of resistance consists in his showing that he can always elude capture, as the colonial tax-gatherers were to discover. There were few slaves or people of comparable status (most were recruited from among black agriculturalists, even if they had adopted the Fulɓe language): mattyuɓe or rimayɓe (agricultural serfs), lawɓe (joiners or wood-carvers) and wayluɓe (smiths) were only found in significant numbers at a more advanced stage of social evolution
There was no political superstructure. At the level of the fraction or clan, the chief (arɗo), usually the senior member of the oldest generation, was no more than the spokesman for the group, and was under the strict collective control of the adult members. The “Bororo” Fulɓe remains (or remained till very recent times) fiercely pagan.
Archaism extended to dress. The “Bororo” Fulɓe goes about practically naked, with a leather apron covering the loins, and, like paleonigritic people, the head adorned with a large funnel-shaped straw hat. (It was Islam that introduced cotton clothing 44. )Their houses are rudimentary, being made of straw on a hemispheric frame which can easily be dismantled sometimes they are no more than shelters made of branches — and an enclosure of thorny branches protected the pen of the young animals from predators. This is the “Bororo” Fulɓe of today, and this is how he lived before his encounter with history. But once history intervened, he appeared in an altogether different guise; now sedentarised, he became a member of a warrior aristocracy which was an ardent disseminator of Islam, the support of powerful states, and master of the black cultivators who were thus reduced to servitude. It was from the eighteenth century onwards that this extraordinary mutation occurred — at different times according to locality, and never total. (Alongside the Fulɓe aristocrats were “Buruure” who, as we have seen, retained their primitive organisation; they had often been enslaved.)
We must now again take up the thread of historical development, before we try to explain the conditions and causes of this transformation.
As we have shown above, the first historical mention of the Fulɓe was at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Fulɓe chief Tenguella lived nomadically with his group of Termes in the region of Nioro and Diara. He revolted against the authority of the Songhai askia, then suzerain of the region, and attacked the king of Diara 45, who had accepted this suzerainty, probably with help from the mansa of Mali.
The army of askia Mohamed, commanded by his brother Amar, marched against him and pursued him as far as Diara, where he was defeated and killed (1512). According to legend, his son Koli Tenguella, who was supposedly descended from the mansas of Mali through his mother, took refuge with the remnants of his army in Badiar, to the north-west of Fuuta-Jalon 46. From there, with his Fulɓe and numerous Manding followers, he later returned to the north, conquered Fuuta-Tooro (the ancient Tekrur which was governed by officers owing allegiance to the kingdom of Diara, and there founded a pagan Fulɓe state in 1559. The Denianke dynasty held on to power there till 1776, persecuting the Muslims 47. Although it is difficult to confirm the details, this account seems to indicate that remarkable social transformations had taken place, at least in certain Fulɓe fractions; hitherto they had not produced groups of warriors organised for offensive warfare and conquest. It is worth noting that these fractions invariably entered into a combination with Manding elements: the title borne by the Denianke was no longer the Fulɓe arɗo (which was still used by Tenguella) but the Malinke title silatigi 48. On the other hand we should also note that the formation of this military state in Fuuta-Tooro, in the general economic context that we have defined above, seems to coincide with the disappearance of towns (Tekrur, Sila) mentioned and described by medieval Arab travellers; their very sites are unknown to us today.
The process which led to this military state being formed was not completely new. We find in its most rudimentary stages the elements of the dissolution of the primitive community. At the very heart of this community (the tribe or the clan), certain associations establish themselves, suitable for mobilisation in military expeditions. These associations are based no longer on blood ties but on an agreement to work in mutual alliance 49; in time they bring together groups which are ethnically diverse but which work together either on a basis of equality or in a patron-client relationship. Only at a more developed stage can they result in the subjection of whole peoples by a dominant fraction 50. In practice, the transition from a tribal aristocracy, formed within the community, into this aristocracy of conquerors often takes multiple forms. There can be no doubt that qualitatively this stage of evolution is new; without disappearing, ethnic ties give way to ties of' a new type — contractual, between patron and client, between lord and serf or vassal — even if these latter ties try to achieve “sanctification” by means of a magical assimilation with the ethnic ties (a blood pact). The internal evolution of the societies favours the establishment of these groupings of conquerors: they visibly attract a number of men who have become socially uprooted, above all young men from poor families or to whom the growing authority of the family and tribal chiefs has become burdensome.
The arrival of the Fulɓe in Macina, on the banks of the Niger, was accomplished with less disturbance. It was about the beginning of the fifteenth century that these Fulɓe, who also came from Termes under a chief of the Diallo clan, installed themselves on the Niger with the permission of the governor who wielded his authority in the name of Mali. But the Dialluɓe chiefs of the Fulɓe, despite their hostility to Islam, accommodated themselves willy-nilly to the overlordship successively of Mali, Songhai, the Spanish-Moroccans of Timbuktu, and finally the Bambara. In any case, immigration here was on a larger scale and resulted in the sedentarisation of these ancient nomads.
In a general context of economic and social regression, which they turned to good account, the former nomads can be seen to have undergone a considerable development in their social organisation; they had become a dominant aristocracy (locally, at least), and first assimilated and then subordinated agricultural serfs (rimayɓe) and artisans grouped in castes — the offspring of the peoples who had formerly occupied the country. Parallel to this, Fulɓe pastoralists were infiltrating into other regions further south (Fuuta-Jalon) and further east (Yatenga, Gobir and as far as Bagirmi). We have mentioned the great uncertainty which exists concerning these Movements, and it is not impossible that Fulɓe elements were present in these regions at a very early day. Pagan Fulɓe were established in Fouta-Jalon from the tenth century — if the local tarikhs are to be believed 51. It seems very much as if these movements attained their greatest volume in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; in any case it was then that, in a number of cases, they resulted in sedentarisation.
What were the conditions in which this happened? This is the moment to look at the role of livestock- raising in the evolution of societies. We know that Engels (following Morgan) considered its role to be decisive in this evolution; he also placed it chronologically before agriculture 52. He saw in it the origin of' private property and of male dominance and their social consequences (animals were the concern of men — following from the sexual division of labour which made hunting their domain as well). This conception is linked to that developed for the history of Asia at an earlier period and for the Mediterranean world, where the birth of the classical civilisations was ascribed to Indo-European and Semitic pastoralists. It is known today that these pastoralists, mere conquering minorities, superimposed themselves on earlier agricultural civilisations that were highly developed, which they destroyed while assimilating a great part of their store of knowledge. The example of black Africa shows a more complex state of affairs than one would tend to think. Thus male domination became established very quickly in purely agricultural societies; conversely, among pastoralists descent frequently remained matrilineal (e.g. the primitive Fulɓe), and women frequently enjoyed extensive freedom and social authority (e.g. the non-Arabised ɓerbers and the Tuaregs) 53.
And the fact remains that livestock-raising played a privileged part in social evolution. Introduced among cultivators as a supplementary resource, it speeded up the process of social differentiation. As Vieillard noted of the Hausas, To be a man was in itself capital in its essential form: to be part of a numerous and vigorous family, and to have slaves; then animals assumed some importance, because they had the best exchange value. 54 On the other hand, within pastoral societies livestock raising produces the conditions — the possibility — of a more rapid evolution. In the agricultural societies of black Africa, this evolution is held back (right up to the present time) by the general persistence of collective land rights to the exclusion of private property; and it is held back too by the relatively fixed nature of the custom which determines the proportion of family fields to individual ones, and of the clays and half-days of labour which must be reserved for one or the other. All attempts to modify it meet strong resistance.
Among the pastoralists, however, although collective grazing rights are precisely defined (even in the Sahara) and are stoutly defended when necessary, always retaining their collective character, the animals themselves can easily pass from collective to individual ownership; no proportion between the one and the other has been prescribed 55. As wealth is accumulated — above all in livestock — and the inequality of its division becomes marked, a rapid mutation can take place at the appropriate time. The mutation often seems to have been stimulated by the development of exchange through contact with preexisting urban centres.
An example of this can probably be seen in the Almoravid expansion. In the western Sahara during the tenth century, several populations were co-existing: the black cultivators of Ghana who controlled access to the gold-bearing regions in the south, acting as commercial intermediaries; Islamised ɓerbers traders originally from North Africa and others sedentarised locally, who together made up the populations of Ghana's vassal towns ill the Sahara (Aoudaghost, Walata, etc.); and finally the veiled Sanhadja ɓerbers of the desert — nomadic stockbreeders, only slightly Islamised — who were vassals of one or other of the groups just mentioned, and had the appearance of “poor relations”. Now it was these poor relations, organised in a religious and military brotherhood (ribât) 56, who were transformed in the eleventh century into extraordinary conquerors: converted to a strict form of Islam by the reformer Ibn Yassin, they attacked and subdued in turn various Sanhadja fractions, and in 1654 sacked Aoudaghost because it insisted on maintaining its allegiance to the pagan ruler of Ghana. Finally they took possession of Ghana itself in 1077 57 and compelled the ruler to embrace Islam. During this time other groups conquered Morocco and then Spain.
Another striking historical parallel is that of the Arab conquest. The description given by Ammianus Marcellinus of the Arabian desert ɓeduins at the end of the fourth century recalls in a remarkable way the primitive Saharan pastoralists and the “Bororo” Fulɓe 58. Two and a half centuries later, these same ɓeduins, transformed by internal processes (the result of contact with the commercial and caravan centres of Mecca and Medina) and disciplined by Islam, were to embark on world conquest. With the Arab empire they were to create the framework for one of the great civilisations of history, at the very same time as they left behind in their country of origin certain groups who were only to raise themselves slowly above their primitive level 59.
The case of the Fulɓe, meanwhile, is rather different. Here the catalyst which made the way easy for their abrupt transformation was not the presence of trading cities ; as we have seen, those to which they had access were stagnant or declining, and the Fulɓe states established themselves essentially in areas that were completely rural. But we have emphasised that, despite the weakness of the trading cities, the consequences of the slave trade had the effect of accentuating the process of social differentiation throughout the whole of rural Africa.
It is here that one is made aware of the Fulɓe's role as a specialist in stock-rearing. As Vieillard noted in the passage quoted above, it was in the absence of urban activities and of money as a means of exchange, and in the absence too of individual land-holding that would have allowed a monopoly in land to develop, that livestock became for a minority group of black cultivators a path to enrichment and the principal means of accumulating — or, better still, hoarding — the wealth they had acquired 60.
Richard-Molard rightly notes:
In most of the northern Sudanic region, the black peasant likes mown animals ; it ennobles him 61. But he would judge that by tending them he suffers an impairment of his honour. The opposite is true of the Fulɓe. Here one has recourse to the specialist, the humble pullo in the village. Half-starved, bound by a contract which assures film of grain, and a share both of dairy produce and of the annual increase in livestock, he takes charge of the livestock that is held in common and disappears into the wilderness to present himself again (once the crops are harvested, at the moment when it is opportune to graze his animals on the next season's lugans (fields ready to be cultivated). He thus penetrates deep into the Sudanic region during the rainy season. Little by little, he builds up his own herd. ɓetter still, he gives his daughters, who are the most beautiful girls in French West Africa, to the owner of the land. There they never forget that their situation must benefit the pullo, who, having become “negrified” and having enslaved the peasants, will be the future master the locality 62.
This is, on the whole, a correct picture, but one lacking in precision. The Fulɓe — as the guardian of accumulated wealth, and having within his care what is the essential mark of wealth in his peasant milieu — becomes increasingly conscious that he has economic control over a key sector. But he is always an interloper, a guest who is merely tolerated, and subjected to numerous vexations by the landlords, which he suffers less and less willingly. At times, none the less, he has stayed in this semi-sedentary situation, as the serf or vassal of the peasants, he is, says Richard-Molard, “the Fulɓe against whom this policy [which he invokes above] has not succeeded.” His setbacks have not affected him. In the countries where there were highly structured peasant states — like the kingdoms of the Mossi or the Bariba — ruled by a military aristocracy in the true sense, the Fulɓe remained a subordinate, and even tended to assimilate himself. Sometimes he adopted the language and type of dwelling of his masters. All he retained was his pastoral specialisation. The same was true of the Fulakunda of the Casamance-Guinea borders (Fuladu) in the course of their absorption by the Malinke, but for other reasons which are less clear.
Where the Fulɓe became master, it was not by his own doing, as the passage of Richard-Molard cited above would lead one to suppose ; a veritable revolution was needed. Neither the ethnic organisation, nor the animism to which hitherto it had remained grimly attached, provided the framework in which the revolution to which the Fulɓe aspired could be accomplished. Conversion to Islam furnished an ideology and at the same time rules of social life perfectly suited to this transformation, as they had been earlier for the Almoravids in Africa itself, and of course for the Arabs at the time of the Prophet 63 The role of the marabouts of Mauritania, teachers of the future chiefs of Fuuta-Jalon, and hat of the Fulɓe-speaking Muslim Tukulors who, under Denianke domination, had kept the flame of Islam alight, were not all important here ; they simply brought to the Fulɓe the ideology best suited to the social and political movement in which they were actors. This conversion to Islam was accompanied by the Fulɓe (or, to be more exact, certain groups and certain families) being constituted into a warrior aristocracy. This was the process whereby the revolutions in these very diverse regions came about, simultaneously or successively. In each region a similar situation had been created.
It was a revolution, first and foremost, which from 1727-8 made Fuuta-Jalon into a Fulɓe state, aristocratic, military and theocratic. Here, as in the earlier venture of Koli Tenguella, very diverse elements (Sussu, Sarakolle, Tukulors and Malinke from Upper Senegal) joined themselves to Fulɓe elements which had infiltrated long before or come from Termes and Macina. They were quickly assimilated, and reduced the indigenous Jalonke cultivators (related to the Malinke) to serfdom. The climate of this southerly but mountainous region was well suited to pastoral activities, which remained of great importance and the only aristocratic ones, even if they did not have the leading place. Indeed from that time forward, the aristocrats invariably entrusted the care of their herds to “Bororo Fulbe” who had remained loyal to their primitive organisation and often to paganism, and had been reduced to a vassalage that was punctuated by revolts. For the ethnic structure, which passed on to a second design and did not disappear, they substituted a territorial organisation: a confederation of nine provinces (diiwe, sing. diiwal, themselves subdivided into “parishes” (misiide), these last governed by a laamiiɗo or arɗo, the province by a superior laamiɗo, and the confederation itself by an almamy (Al Imam) chosen from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards for a term of two years from the Alfaya and Soriya families alternatively 64. Although a Muslim religious and political chief, the almami, had also inherited his office from the ancient agrarian kingships, as the rites observed at his investiture showed.
Then in Fuuta-Tooro a group of Muslim Tukulors, the Tooroɓɓe 65, inspired by the marabout Suleimane Ba, overthrew the pagan Fulɓe Denianke dynasty. Almamy Abdul Kader won a final victory over the last of the silatigui, Sule-Bubu, and in 1776 established a theocratic state in Fuuta-Tooro, with the form of an elective monarchy, The similarity to Fuuta-Jalon is in fact no more than superficial — for the Tukulors victors, although they were hal pularen, were also black cultivators, while it was Fulɓe pastoralists who had suffered defeat.
The explanation we have sketched above cannot easily be invoked here, and we must look for other influences: the weakness of the pagan Fulɓe monarchy which was dependent on a handful of adventurers and had not been able to consolidate an ideology suited to the times; and the existence of a peasant population at a much more advanced stage of' development than most others, influenced by the long-standing activity of the towns and by the traffic of the Senegal river, and penetrated since early times by Islam 66. On the other hand, it was Fulɓe Muslims in Ɓundu who, soon afterwards, achieved a very similar revolution and created a third theocratic state, also governed by an almamy 67.
We should not assume that these theocratic states were tyrannies. These monarchies were elective, and Mollien has already noted: The government of Fuuta-Tooro is an oligarchy, and the people themselves are not without power. 68 Just as at Fuuta-Jalon, the councils of elders, controlled from the bottom of the ladder by general assemblies of free men, played a decisive role. In this connection Vieillard writes: Under the ancien régime, political life was intense. Every decision that had to be taken, in the confederation and in each misiide, required consultation; diisondirde— to consult one with another — occurs in the chronicles at every turn 69. Although a source of weakness in so far as it encouraged dissension, this persistence of institutions inherited from the simple tribal period (which also recall the “military democracy”, as defined by Engels in archaic Greece and among the Germanic tribes) certainly gave them a superiority over their rivals, and assured them of a coherence which the latter did not possess 70.
A little later, in 1810, a band of Muslim Fulɓe led by Sheikh Amadu Bari (Seku Amadu) deposed the pagan chief (arɗo) of the Diallo clan, whom the people blamed for his submissiveness and inertia in the face of exactions from the Bambara and Tuareg overlords. It seized Djenne and even for a short while Timbuktu, and built a new capital, Hamdallahi (meaning “praise to God”), on the right bank of the Bani river. Thus the Fulɓe kingdom of Macina came into being; with a solid administration and well-organised system of finance, it lasted till 1862 71. About the same time, in 1801, the Fulɓe shepherds of Gobir revolted against their Hausa masters. Aided and abetted by a group of warriors from the Fulɓe and Tukulor countries (Macina and Fuuta-Tooro), the scholarly Osman dan Fodio had himself acknowledged first as Sheikh and then as Caliph of the believers, and set up a vast empire over them. From the capital which he established at Sokoto, he soon dominated the Hausa country, the Kebbi and the Nupe. His progress was halted before Bornu where a native sheikh, Mohamed El Amin El Kanemi, saved the old dynasty; but it was to make himself the power behind the throne in the mean time that his son, in 1846, deposed the slothful Sultan and took his place. Stopped at this point by the resistance of Kanemi, Osman's authority, at least on the religious level, reached as far as far Cameroon: there indeed the Fulɓe of the high plateaux revolted in their turn under the leadership of the chief' whom he had instituted, Adama, and created another peul empire bearing the latter's name — Adamawa.
How, while clearly in a minority, did the Fulɓe under Osman dan Fodio manage to overcome the Hausa states, firmly structured as they were, and with an old civilisation, and furthermore converted to Islam (superficially, at least) since the fourteenth century by traders of Malinke origin ? D. A. Olderogge has shown that the Fulɓe combined their attack with a revolt of Hausa peasants (slaves and tributaries) against the Hausa aristocracy. All they finally succeeded in doing was to substitute themselves for it and impose on the populations an even heavier oppression than they had known 72.
Osman dan Fodio, more a mystic than a warrior, left the direction of military operations largely in the hands of his brother. His son and successor Mohamed Ɓello (1843-55) had to suppress, at the beginning of his reign, a general revolt of enslaved people. Mediocre as a soldier, he was a punctilious administrator and a brilliant man of letters, author of many works in Arabic. After his time, never-ending revolts and growing independence on the part of provincial governors weakened the empire of Sokoto.
All in all, the peul hegemonies, in an unfavourable economic context and despite their heavy oppression of subject peoples, contributed some positive elements. The military chief was no longer simply the leader of an armed band; he was also a religious chief, and could not pretend to any dignity without being versed in the Scriptures — “Modibbo” “Tierno” and “Karamoko” 73 for the most learned after the almamy, or the Caliph. Preoccupation with religion led to religious teaching becoming universal; at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Mungo Park, when he crossed the Ɓundu, observed that no village was without its Koranic school. Doubtless the instruction was of a low standard; at the bottom of the ladder, they would confine themselves to deciphering the Koran and learning it by heart without understanding its meaning, but at the top, knowledge was at the level of medieval scholasticism, transmitted by the universities of Mauritania. This civilisation certainly did not have the brilliance which Timbuktu had known (in an urban setting) some centuries earlier. But it was better than the void which European colonisation brought in its place. Writing in Arabic, Fulɓe and Tukulors created a literature — in their own language but transcribed into Arabic script — consisting of' chronicles and poetry (the latter sometimes spoilt by an excessive concern to imitate Arabic forms and prosody).
Soon after the Fulɓe hegemonies were established in the east, a new empire established itself in the west. Its hero was El Hadj Omar Saidu Tall, one of the great figures of nineteenth-century Africa. In a certain way, his venture prolonged that of the Fulɓe and Tukulor politico-religious reformers of the previous period. It both surpassed and opposed it, and we shall look at it in terms of this paradox.
Omar was born around 1797 in the neighbourhood of Podor in Fuuta-Tooro, the fourth son of the marabout Saidou Tall. The family of the latter belonged to a group of Tooroɓɓe (see above, p. 47) who had overthrown the Denianke some time before. At the age of twenty-three he made the pilgrimage to Mecca; there, he had himself received into the brotherhood of Tijaniyah and returned not only with the title “El-Hadj”, then very rare in black Africa, but with the warrant of Caliph of the Tijaniyah of the Sudan. These titles, and in addition his genuine scholarship as a Muslim man of learning earned him a triumphal welcome home. El Kanemi, master of Bornu, and then his compatriot Mohamed Bello at Sokoto heaped him with honours, gifts and women (Mohamed Bello gave him two of his daughters as legal wives). The Fulɓe king of Macina also received him with honour, but less warmly; this king, Sekou Amadu, a rigid and austere Muslim, disapproved of the pomp which surrounded the scholar-pilgrim and, perhaps most of all, understood the danger which Omar's prestige presented for his established powers — he was even tempted to have him assassinated after his departure from Hamdallahi 74. The pagan king of Segu reacted even more unfavourably; after receiving him, he first arrested, then released him, and later tried to have him murdered after his departure. On the other hand, the chief of Kangaba — a member of the nearly 1,000-year-old
Keita dynasty and heir by a remote line of descent to the mansa of Mali — gave him a cordial, as the almamy of Fuuta-Jalon had done. The latter offered him a place of retirement in his dominions, and allowed him to found a zaria there (a religious-military community analogous to the ribâts which gave rise to the Almoravid movement). At the same time, Omar exploited the gold of the Siguiri region. After an official tour in Senegal, which he used for propaganda and recruitment, and in the course of which (in 1817) the French commander at Bakel gave him a frosty welcome (as did certain indigenous monarchs, for similar reasons), he established himself at Dinguiraye and built a fortress there.
How is one to explain the personal prestige of this pilgrim and at the same time the anxiety he aroused? For societies where the old ethnic organisations were breaking up on all sides, incapable of serving as a framework for new social realities, Islam provided a new religious, political and social framework which was better adapted to the purpose; but it did not remove the contradictions in the countries where it was implanted, at least not for everybody. The old ethnic institutions continued to resist, and the substitution of a new military and religious aristocracy to the old tribal nobility — when ultimately the two could not combine — only succeeded in removing one contradiction, which was then reborn in a slightly different form.
In the Muslim brotherhoods, which had been widespread up till that time (the Qadriya predominating at the beginning of the nineteenth century), there existed between the generality of adherents and the religious chief a great number of mystical grades to which only a few privileged individuals could aspire. In fact, these grades reserved for a minority, consisting of a small number of families, the direct and total contact with the religions chief from which mystical and material benefits flowed. They perpetuated under Islam, in a new form, the privileges of the tribal aristocracy (or those which benefited the initiates of the higher grades of the animist secret societies: the Guinean porro, the komo of the Manding and the oro of Merlin ??).
The Tijaniyah broke these barriers and established direct contact between the simple adherents and the Caliph, and it gave to all its vision of attaining to higher things through courage or learning (or better still, both). From this fact it derived a revolutionary and relatively democratic character (within the brotherhood) 75. It attracted all those, especially the young, who were oppressed by the social family.
or feudal set-up — all those for whom a growing internal differentiation between rich and poor spelt ruin. This was particularly the case in the Senegal river valley, and in Fuuta-Tooro, heartland of the Tukulors. From there the prodigious success of El Hadj Omar; the respect — and fear — he inspired among established authorities because these were at a stage where civil and religious society had become confused; the progress of the brotherhood; the growing authority of the Caliph — all these prepared the way for the seizure of political power. One could perhaps say, with Richard-Molard: In three-quarters of a century, the landmarks of Muslim Fulɓe power had become so solidly based and so widely distributed that the way seemed clear for the realisation of a Fulɓe-Islamic hegemony over the savannas of West Africa. Without France, most of West Africa might have fallen into the hands of a Toorodo Chief. 76 We do not share this view, since it allows too little importance to the limits imposed on El Hadj Omar by the social milieu, which explain, far more satisfactorily than French intervention, the relative failure of his venture. Undoubtedly he rose to prominence on ground prepared by earlier Islamic Fulɓe movements, compared to which he represented a superior stage. But he came into violent collision with the whole “established order” of Islamic Fulɓe states, as with the old agrarian and animist kingdoms; and because of the economic and social condition of the country, he could not overcome the contradictions on which he had relied for support in order to succeed, contradictions which re-appeared after him in a somewhat different guise.
As soon as he assumed the headship of state at Dinguiraye, El Hadj Omar came up against the declared hostility of the almamy of Fouta-Jalon, whose predecessor had supported his first steps. From 1850 till 1854 he destroyed the agrarian kingdoms of the Keita and the Bambara of Kaarta (the Capital of which was Nioro; then he turned west against the Muslim kingdom of Khasso whose capital Medina resisted 77 and was finally relieved by the French governor of Senegal, Faidherbe, in 1857. Colonial historiography took this episode as a basis fog crediting Faidherbe with having delivered the final blow which made the efforts of El Hadj Omar unproductive. This does violence to the facts, because El Hadj Omar immediately attacked French positions far in the rear in Ɓundu and Fuuta-Tooro, his own country. In 1859 he made an abortive attack on the French post at Matam, but nowhere was he defeated outright by the French forces. Meanwhile, he met the open hostility of first established aristocracy, the Muslim Tooroɓɓe chiefs from whose ranks he himself had emerged. The people were on his side, and many young men joined his armies; some chiefs, under popular pressure, went over to him 78. But most of the chiefs, against their people's wishes, resisted him furiously and appealed to the French 79. Without them, Faidherbe would certainly never have dislodged him from Fuuta-Tooro.
French-controlled Senegal, where more than anywhere else the traditional social patterns had disintegrated, is probably where El Hadj Omar would have found conditions best suited to the creation of a stable state; but the very factor which had created these conditions — the French presence — also stood in his way. Without artillery, he was powerless against French outposts armed with cannons 80.
Decided by his compatriots, El Hadj Omar turned east, and having returned to Nioro, went on the attack against the pagan Bambara of Segu and the Muslim Fulɓe of Macina whose alliance he had sought before his attack on Medina. He destroyed their states and seized Segu in 1861 and Hamdallahi in 1862. But he did not succeed in crushing their resistance: the Bambara carried on the fight in the bush, and the Fulɓe of Macina rose up, besieged him in Hamdallahi from which he managed to escape by setting it on fire, and ended by killing him in a cave in which he had taken refuge, in 1864. His nephew Tidiani succeeded, in spite of great difficulty, in gaining the upper hand with the help of the Dogon highland people who were pagans and traditional enemies of the Fulɓe. Installed at Bandiagara, he upheld the Tukulor hegemony till the conquest by the French. El Hadj Omar's son and successor Ahmadu, who remained at Segu, concealed the news off his father's death for a long time, and for more than a generation, fostered by the circumstances of his disappearance, the legend persisted that he was still alive and would one day return — as was later believed of the Mahdi. This is enough to show what El Hadj Omar represented for the people in the regions of Senegal actually under French domination or imminently threatened by it.
It should not be forgotten what desperate opposition El Hadj Omar met with from his rivals — most of all the aristocracy of Fuuta-Tooro and the Fulɓe aristocracy of Macina; thus he should not be represented as having received his support from the network of Fulɓe power, since it was the Muslim Fulɓe states that resisted his overlordship most strongly, and the Fulɓe of Macina — not Faidherbe — who caused his downfall.
The state which he created, and to the headship of which his son Ahmadu succeeded, was not long in showing other signs of weakness. Apart from the continuing resistance of the conquered aristocracies, there were limits to the egalitarian sentiments of the Tijaniyah. Among the talibe (disciples and lieutenants) of El Hadj Omar there were men of numerous ethnic origins who remained indissolubly tied to their master by the common faith 81. But ethnic rivalries were so persistent that, with Tukulors forming the greater part of his army, they finally worked against him and his successors, especially in the Niger region of the Sudan where the Tukulors were merely a conquering minority. Talibe and fighting men whose destiny was linked to his soon constituted a new aristocracy as oppressive as the old ones
After his death, the furious struggles among his own sons impeded attempts to resist French penetration. In 1890, when Archinard took Segu, there was this paradox: in Senegal the railway workers and traders went on strike and took part in demonstrations, so that a general Muslim uprising was feared. On the other hand, in Ahmadu's Sudanic states no coherent resistance could be organised; a short time before, his brother Muntaga had preferred to blow himself up rather than let Ahmadu enter his fief of Nioro, and his other brother Aguibu, with the defence of Dinguirave in his hands, went over to the French, as did the Bambara. It was not long before those who took this action came to repent of it bitterly. Aguibu, whom the French “promoted” to be king of Macina, was soon “retired from his post”; and the descendant of the Bambara kings enthroned at Segu, who took his role more seriously, was shot after a few months for “high treason”. So these puppets made way for “direct administration”.
We can summarise as follows. In relation to the intervention of France, which had the material means of obstructing him, and was soon to extend its stranglehold, El Hadj Omar had arrived too late on the scene to act as a unifying force. On the other hand, in relation to the Niger region of the Sudan, he had arrived too early: the social conditions there had not matured sufficiently for him to be able to overcome the obstacles inherited from the past. That is the significance of his tragic end.
Moreover, this point is of relevance for the whole of black Africa. At the time of the European imperial conquest, the social condition in Africa was such that it could not put up any serious opposition to it. This was not due to any lack of courage; the history of the conquest is studded with acts of heroism and fierce resistance by African peoples and their chiefs. But these acts could not alter the course of history.
The virtues of ethnic solidarity, which had given the first African states their staying power, were dying. But not only was it impossible to overcome the divisions and hatreds between peoples, which they inherited from their tribal past, but they became more acute as social differentiation progressed, so that hatred between one people and another and one family and another were compounded by hatreds between overlords and subjects. The European conqueror was given a perfect scenario, making use of Africans its his own profitable conquests, whoever the enemy of the moment might be, and playing on personal, family or tribal animosities. The unwise “collaborators” of yesterday would be crushed in their turn under the iron heel of colonisation. The fierce and prolonged resistance which the conquest sometimes met could be dealt with piecemeal; it was never necessary to meet a unified national resistance because the social conditions made it impossible. By a vengeful reversal of history, it was colonisation itself which created the conditions for them to find unity and emancipation — not before it had subjected the populations to a martyrdom lasting three-quarters of a century.
1. The original version of this chapter appeared in German with the title “Zur historischen und sozialen Bedeutung der Fulbe Hegemonie (XVII-XIX Jahrhundert” in Studien zur Kolonialgeschichte und Geschichte der nationalen Befreiungsbewegung, vol. 2, Berlin (East), 1960, pp. 25-9. A corrected and updated French version was published in Cahiers du C.E.R.M., 1964.
2. One can compare the most advanced African societies of that time with those in Asia, which Marx studied and took as his models for the “Asiatic mode of production”
3. Shells found in abundance in the Indian Ocean.
4. Among exceptions are the Serer of Senegal, who combined agriculture with livestock rearing. But this combination was only manifested in the use of manure in cultivation, not by the use of draught animals in agricultural works.
5. Marx, Kapital. Moscow, 1983, vol. 1, book 1, ch. 31, p. 702
6. “L'Afrique noire entre hier et aujourd'hui” (colloquium), Annales Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 1958, no. 1, pp. 64-6.
7. W.E.B. Dubois, The Negro, London, 1915, p. 156.
8. J.D. Fage, Introduction to the History of Africa, Cambridge, 1955, pp. 82-7
More recent publications have estimated the number of individuals transported to the Americas at 9-10 million, thus going back to the figure proposed by the Abbé Raynal at the end of the eighteenth century. If one takes account of the losses caused directly or indirectly by the trade (those killed in slave raids, or dying en route, either overland or on the sea voyages), this figure can be multiplied several times. This agrees with Fage's estimate of the cumulative population loss.
9. From the point of view of the productive forces, the connection with America was not without certain positive results. It led to the introduction of new and more productive plants for cultivation in Africa — e.g. maize, manioc and groundnuts. However, this was only a diversification of the species raised, or the replacement by more productive plants of local varieties which were then abandoned. It was not a revolution in the productive forces capable of offsetting the effect of the trade
10. Leo Africanus, in the sixteenth century, noted that in Timbuktu handwritten books from Barbary [the Maghreb] were sold — at a greater profit to the merchants than other goods.
11. See F. Braudel, “Monnaies et civilisations. De l'or du Soudan à l'argent de l'Amérique”, Annales, Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 1946, 1, pp. 9-22, and La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II, Paris, A, Colin. 1949, pp 364-9, Also R. Ricard. Etudes sur l'histoire des Portugais au Maroc, University of Coimbra, 1955.
12. Probably the proverbial riches of the Sudan never attained the value of the Portuguese ransoms, which earned Al Mansur the title of golden. See Ch. A. Julien, Histoire de l'Afrique du Nord, Paris. 1951, vol. II, p. 215.
13. Cf. Marcel Emerit, “Les liaisons terrestres entre le Soudan et l'Afrique du Nord au XVIIIe et au XIXe siècles”, Travaux de l'Institut de Recherches sahariennes, Algiers, 1954, vol. IX, pp. 29-47
14. It still needs to be noted that this traffic never had the importance of the European slave trade, contrary to the opinion of many bourgeois historians, who would like the responsibility for the latter shared with the Turks and thus attenuated. But the Turkish trade existed only to supply a domestic slavery, not a productive one. The trade towards the East did not grow to an appreciable size till the nineteenth century when it served to supply a plantation economy on the East African coast, for the profit of Arab navigators, who had resumed the position from which the Portuguese hand once ousted them.
15. Ibn Battuta praised the security of Mali in the fourteenth century: Throughout the length and breadth of the country, a perfect security prevailed; one could live there and travel about without fear of theft or depredation.
16. Mansa was the title borne by the monarchs in the Mali empire, and which is borne by kings in the Malinke country generally.
17. Nominated at first by the Sultan of Morocco but in fact independent, the Pashas of Timbuktu were, from 1612 to 1660, elected by their soldiers. The “Arma” aristocracy soon ceased to speak Spanish and adopted their Songhai language.
18. From this point on, we will leave out of consideration the forest and littoral regions whose evolution shows some original features. One was a decline of the old civilisation and ancient states (the cities of Benin and Congo kingdom); another was the establishment in the eighteenth century of the animist warrior kingdoms of Ashanti and Dahomey, which preserved in their organisation many strongly pagan features. The latter of these was evidently connected with the development of trading on the coast by European concerns.
19. Such an institution had appeared from the end of the fifteenth century in the Songhai empire under Askia Mohamed, former lieutenant to the usurper of the throne, Sonni Ali (1493-1529). Up till then, the emperors of Gao, like the rulers of Ghana and Mali before them, had resorted to levying their free subjects in order make war. Askia Mohamed created for the first time a professional army made up of slaves and prisoners-of-war, units of which, distributed throughout the empire, fulfilled the role of police, backed up by a flotilla on the Niger.
20. It was through the Ottoman empire that the first money came to be introduced into Africa at the end of the eighteenth century. This was the silver Maria Theresa dollar.
21. We should note in passing that this process remained relatively gentle and limited in scope. It was left for the imperialist colonisation of that time to accentuate and deepen it so that it assumed considerable proportion.
22. Carrier of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). However, the barrier was not as impenetrable as was sometimes supposed; the Fulɓe broke through it on occasions, even if it meant abandoning the zebu in favor of the Guinean ox (ndaama).
23. In 1978 I commented on the above: « Today I would not use the terms “race“ and “racial” to designate these physical types, which are nonetheless impossible to define precisely. The progress of biology in the past twenty years has definitely shown up the impropriety of the term “human races”.»
24. H. Vallois (Les races humaines, Paris, 1944) considered that a “primitive stock” existed there, “which is not clearly differentiated, either in a black or in a white direction. This would explain why the general Ethiopian type is so different from the Mulatto type. Crossing blood was only a secondary occurrence. It is generally agreed that the Ethiopian sub-race should be regarded as one of the variant of the black race, with which it shares at least one element: skin-colour.
25. J. Richard-Molard, Afrique occidentale française, Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1956, p. 97.
26. See M. Cohen, Les résultats acquis de la grammaire comparée chamito-sémitique (lectures at the Institute of Linguistics of the University of Paris, 1933), Paris, 1934 and “Langues hamito-sémitiques et linguistique historique”, Scientia, 6th series, 86 (1951), pp. 104-10
27. J. Greenberg, “Etude sur la classification des langues africaines”, Bulletin de l'I.F.A.N, séries B, XVI (1954), pp. 83-142, and XVII (1955), pp. 59-108.
28. The question was raised by Marcel Cohen and other specialists, but without their believing it possible to settle it once and for all.
29. L. Homburger, Les langues négro-africaines, Paris, 1941
30. L. Homburger, “L'Inde et l'Afrique”, Journal de la Société des africanistes, XXV (1955), pp. 13-18, and La langue et les langages, Paris, Payot, 1951. We should be aware in this connection that we have absolutely no knowledge (whatever the probabilities) of whether the founders of the Mohenjo-Daro civilisation spoke a Dravidian language.
31. M. Cohen, in “Compte rendu des langues négro-africaines” Journal Asiatique, 1943-5, pp. 382-7, notes particularly that Meroitic is not an altered form of ancient Egyptian (this being one of the elements of Homburger's “demonstrations”) but a Cushitic language.
32. L. Homburger, Les langues négro-africaines, p. 337.
33. M. de la Vergne de Tressan, “Du langage descriptif en Fulɓe”, Bulletin de l'I.F.A.N., XV, 2(1952), pp. 636-59.
34. Cheick Anta Diop, Nations nègres et culture, Paris, 1955, and “Histoire primitive de l'Humanité : Evolution du monde noir”, Bulletin de l'I.F.A.N., XXIV, 3-4 (1962).
35. M. de la Vergne de Tressan, Inventaire linguistique de l'A.O.F. et du Togo, Dakar, Mémoires de l'I.F.A.N., 30, 1953.
36. Cf. Henri Breuil, Les roches peintes du Tassili-n-Ajjer (Pan-African Congress of History, Algiers, 1952), Paris, 1955, pp. 65.-220
Henri Lhotte, “L'extraordinaire aventure des Fulɓe”, Présence Africaine, XXII, Oct.-Nov. 1958, pp. 48-57. A clear synthesis of existing knowledge on the question can be found in R. Cornevin, Histoire de l'Afrique, I, Paris, 1962, pp. 49-50, with an original map of the probable migrations (p. 45). This author also notes wisely that “the cave art of the Western Sahara enable us to presume, but not be certain, that this was the prehistoric route of the herders of bovidae towards Fuuta-Tooro.” (p. 50).
37. J. Richard-Molar, Les langues négro-africaines, op. cit., p. 96.
38. Hugh Clapperton, Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa, Philadelphia: Carey, 1829, p. 253.
39. Henri Barth, Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa, 1849-1855, vol. 1, London: Longman, Green, 1857, reprinted London Case, 1965.
40. Barth states that, coming from the banks of the Senegal river, they already formed an important element in the population of Bornu by the sixteenth century.
41. Cf. Cornevin, op. cit., pp. 353-4.
42. A much more convincing explanation for the similarities is the existence of a common Saharan area of civilisation in the Neolithic age, part of whose populations (the herders of bovidae) migrated westwards and then southwards, while others moved towards the Nile valley (Cornevin, op. cit., pp. 59-60).
43. “Buruure Fulɓe” is the plural of “Borooro or Buruure Pullo”.
44. However, the use of pantaloons coming down to the knee, and of the bubu, at first natural-coloured and blue, became widespread from the eighteenth century, even among the pagan Bororo. Cf. Mollien, Voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique, Paris, 1820, I, pp 140-1.
45. One of the successor-states which arose in the wake of the dismembered Ghana empire.
46. According to the chronology proposed by Delafosse. However, the Portuguese chronicles mention one Koli, king of the Fulas in the second half of the fifteenth century, who could conceivably be the same person; perhaps there were several Koli.
47. This, at least, was the version put about by the initiators of the “holy war” which defeated the Denianke. In fact, documents published after this essay was first published show that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Denianke were Muslims themselves .
48. Silatigi in Mande, means “chief of the road”, i.e. leader of the immigration from Badiar. This did not prevent Mali, having at first supported the efforts of Koli Tenguella (against the ursurpations of Songhai), from being disturbed by his progress: mansa Mahmoud II appealed to King Joao III of Portugal against Koli Tenguella's incursions on what he still considered part of his empire. In 1534 Joao III contented himself with sending not an army but merely an ambassador, Peros Fernandes.
49. A typical example of this can be seen among the Bamileke of Cameroon, where traditional associations, either of a religious character with pagan (komze) origins or based on age sets, with contractual warlike associations of limited size, going back two or three generations (cf. R. Delarozière, “Les institutions politiques et sociales des populations dites Bamileke”, Etudes Camerounaises. Douala, nos. 25-6 (1949), pp. 5-68, and nos. 27-8, pp. 127-76).
50. The same process was already present in the earliest formation of the Songhai empire of Gao, at least from the reign of askia Mohamed onwards, and even more in the formation of the Bambara kingdoms in the same period ; and it seems to have been present also in the establishment of the conquering ribats among the Sanhadja expansion.
51. It scarcely needed to be emphasized how suspect these tarikhs (local chronicles) are, with their vested interest in demonstrating the great length of time the present lords of the country have resided there. Louis Tauxier (Moeurs et Histoire des Fulɓe, Paris, 1937, p. 73) refuses to admit that the Fulɓe came to Fuuta-Jalon before the end of the seventeenth century (1694, to be exact), after which massive contingents arrived from Macina and Senegal. The earlier movement led by Koli Tenguella went no further than Fuladu (Badiar). But one wonders if certain elements of the Fulɓe culture of Fuuta-Jalon, of Malinke origins, are to be explained not solely by borrowings from the indigenous Diallonke but also by an earlier fusion with Malinke elements (This could easily be explained in the case of Fulɓe who had come from Fuladu, but less so in the case of those who had come directly from the north.) In addition, Portuguese documents attest to the presence of Fulɓe in the south of present-day Guinea (Conakry) and the north of Sierra Leone, from the mid-sixteenth century (Cf. Teixeira da Mota. Nota sobre a historia dos Fulas — Coli Tenguela e a chegada dos primeiros Fulas ao Fuuta-Jalom (2nd international conference of West Africanists, Bissau, 1947), Lisbon. 1950, V, pp 53-70.
52. F. Engels, The Origin of the Family, London: Penguin, 1985, p. 54.
53. This was also true of the Sanhadja Berbers of the Western Sahara before they became Arabised. Ibn Battuta (op. cit. ) notes the fact with precision concerning the Messufa of Iwalaten (Walata) in making a comparison with the Indians of Malabar.
54. G. Vieillard, Coutumiers juridiques de l'A.O.F., III: “Coutumier du cercle de Zinder”, Paris, 1939, p. 144.
55. The only detailed study of this question that we know of is by Marguerite Dupire: Fulɓe nomades, Paris, 1962. It relates to the nomadic Fulɓe in the Republic of Niger. According to this author, there is no hard evidence for collective ownership of animals by the extended patrilineal group; the animals were merely given the same markings. Ownership of animals is strictly personal — with the head of the family, however, managing the herd belonging to his wives and his children without property of their own, sometimes with considerable freedom to dispose of the animals. This is true, at least, as regards the animals belonging to the children ; the parents- in-law take a close interest in those of the wives, whose families or children enjoy the rights of inheritance.
56. Hence the name Al Morabetine, corrupted to Almoravid = those organising themselves in a ribât.
57. Both the fact and the date (advanced by Delafosse) are disputed.
58. Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, bk. XIV, 4, 3-6. Ammianus, a Syrian by birth who had done military service in the east, gives here a first-hand account.
59. W. Montgomery Watt's Muhammad at Mecca, London 1953, and Muhammad at Medina, Oxford, 1956, illuminate convincingly the way that these mutations took place.
60. Richard-Molard did not understand this when he wrote: “A pullo is someone, whatever the colour of his skin, who has an obsessive passion for oxen, however useless to him they may be. For Mediterranean and Western man, pecus = pecunia (livestock = capital). It is the same for the Saharan. For the black, too, animals always serve a purpose of some kind, even if it is to fulfil some religious ceremony. But nothing of the kind applies to the Fulɓe, as yet untouched by civilisation. The horned animal serves no purpose for him whatever. It is he who serves the animal. This is ox-mania that does not even become ox-worship (Richard-Molard, op. cit., pp. 95-6).
Richard-Molard here makes a wrong generalisation by in applying the idea of (productive) capital strictly in its modern sense, to historical periods and societies for which it had no meaning! The ox is the “Bororo” Fulɓe's means of existence; and if his herd of cattle is not an absolute necessity for the sedentarised Fulɓe, it remains for him, as for the cultivator who purchases cattle, a means whereby he can realise and save his wealth. Lucien Febvre had already drawn attention to the acquisitive character of livestock-rearing at certain stages of social development (L. Febvre, La terre et l'évolution humaine, Paris, 1922, pp. 350-3).
61. A note if caution here Richard-Molard saw only the psychological aspect of the phenomenon, without observing its economic and social content. The social consideration that attaches to ownership of animals in the result of the wealth to which it bears witness
62. Richard-Molard, op. cit., p. 98.
63. On this subject see W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Mecca, op. cit., which contains interesting views on the role of nascent Islam as a religious reaction to a similar social situation (development of wealth and social differentiation; the inadequacy of the ideology associated with the old ethnic structures). This work also contains some incorrect views. Cf. the criticism in M. Rodinson, “Mahomet et les origines de l'Islam”, Cahiers nationalistes, no. 164 (1957), pp. 173-83.
64. However, let us note, with G. Vieillard: The country was divided into fiefs, but it was the people who were given in fief, much more than the land. The fief, certainly, had the tendency to become territorial, but the vassals did not escape from the power of their suzerain by emigrating, any more than serfs could thus escape from their master, the hereditary tie was not broken. (“Notes sur les Fulɓe du Fouta-Djalon”, Bulletin de l'I.F.A.N., Dakar, I, 1939, p. 123)
65. Plural of Toroodo, a man who prays to God.
66. Works published after this essay was first published show that the decisive factor was a national movement of resistance to the encroachment of the Moors, which had been tolerated or even requested by the Denianke. 
67. The extremely mixed population of Ɓundu in fact comprised a large proportion of Tukulors .
68. G. Mollien, op. cit., I, p. 193. Emphasis added.
69. G. Vieillard, op. cit., p. 131.
70. Among West African peoples that had passed beyond the tribal stage, only the Fulɓe showed signs of military democracy; everywhere there is evidence of assemblies of free men advising and controlling the chiefs, even where the Fulɓe were in a subordinate position (e.g. those who were vassals of the Mossi kingdom of Yatenga — see L. Tauxier, Le Noir du Yatenga, Paris: Larose, 1917). But it is very probable that they existed among other peoples. Vieillard noted that the word teekun, which among the Fulɓe of Fuuta-Djallon meant electoral colleges and deliberative assemblies, “is a Diallonke word, undoubtedly borrowed by the victors from the vanquished. Among the Diallonke of Sangalan, teekun means age sets on active service, which play the most important role in the village community” (Vieillard, loc. cit., p. 132).
71. See Ch. Monteil, Djenné, Paris: S.E.G.M.C., 1932, and above all the admirable work of Amadou Hampaté Bâ and J. Daget, L'Empire peul du Macina, The Hague/Paris: Mouton, 1962 (new edit.)
72. D.A. Olderogge, The Western Sudan from the 14th to the 19th centuries, Moscow: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., 1960 (in Russian).
73. Local terms (the Fulɓe “Tierno” = Malinke “Fode”) corresponding to religious titles bestowed as a function of the bearer's Koranic knowledge: the ceremony for bestowal, which included the giving of a turban, implied that the recipient assumed obligations with regard to his religious conduct. The significance of the terms became honorific, and they were often used as fore names. [Addendum. See Gilbert Vieillard for the etymology of Modibbo, derived from Arabic mu'addib — T.S. Bah]
74. This statement comes from champions of Omar, probably anxious to excuse the fate of Seku Amadou's grand-son and successor, who was conquered and put to death by El Hadj Omar's followers.
75. The reference here, of course, is to the Tijaniyah of the Soudan and not of North Africa, the two having very different characteristics.
76. Richard-Molard, op. cit., pp. 68-9.
77. The resistance of the little French fort at Medina, under the command of the mulatto Paul Holle became part of the popular hagiography of French colonialism.
78. There were the turncoats who made up his forces, and who formed the original nucleus of the Tukulor population which today spreads throughout the Sudanic region: 50,000 from Bakel to Mopti across the Sahel of Nioro; 55,000 throughout the Ɓundu, the valleys of the Sine and the Salum and the Gambia, and 11,000 around Dinguiraye, the original base. This accounts for more than one-third of the total Tukulor population (300,000). Archinard had driven out those who had settle in the Segu region, and brought them back under escort to Fuuta-Tooro. The importance of the exodus of their subjects suffices to explain the displeasure of Fuuta-Tooro's traditional chiefs.
79. See Paul Marty, L'Islam en Mauritanie et au Sénégal, Paris: Leroux, 1915-16, pp. 276-7 (“Les groupements tidiania dérivés d'El Hadj Omar”); also A. Grouilly, L'Islam dans l'Afrique occidentale française, Paris, Larose, 1952, and “Vie d'El Hadj Omar” (transl. Saleno), Bulletin du Comité d'Etudes historiques et scientifiques de l'A.O.F., nos. 3-4 (1918), pp. 405-31. The latter records that one of his brothers had a dream in which he saw the Prophet Mohamed, who gave him this message for Omar: “ Finally, tell him that he should have nothing to do with the inhabitants of Fuuta in Senegal, because they are traitors” (p. 423). The explanation of Tukulor commentators, namely that these words refer only to the inhabitants of Bossea, is hardly convincing. Cultru's Histoire du Sénégal du XVe siècle jusqu'à 1970 (Paris: Larose, 1910) follows the same line: “Perhaps at first he thought that he would dominate the whole of Fuuta in Senegal” But the chiefs whom he disturbed showed themselves hostile. One of the chiefs of Bosseyabe tried to assassinate him” (p. 334). Also, “From Median to St Louis the blacks spoke of him and fixed their hopes on him; he had to be the instrument of vengeance for their race against the Moors, their liberator from the tyranny of chiefs” (p. 335 — emphasis added).
80. In 1855 El Hadj Omar had sent a letter to the Muslim inhabitants of St Louis; as the Annales sénégalaises (Paris, Maisonneuve et Leclerc, 1885) observed, “ in fact, he had many supporters even in St Louis” (p. 104). It says too that the people of Fuuta-Tooro and Bundu “had been roused to a state of fanaticism by his emissaries, and were prepared to do whatever he commanded at the first word” (p. 103). In 1862 his supporters unleashed a general rebellion in Fuuta-Tooro.
81. We only need to cite the example of the Bambara chief Bandiugu Diara, a convert, who died heroically defending Wossebugu against the French attackers on Ahmadu's behalf.