David Robinson
The Holy War of Umar Tal: the Western Sudan in the mid-nineteenth century

Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1985. 420 pages

Chapter 2
The Muslim Fulɓe

The jihaads of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries mark the emergence of a Fulɓe identity which contrasts sharply with their earlier image. Over most of the second millennium the predominantly pastoral Fulɓe spread across the savannah from west to east, starting in a region around Fuuta-Tooro and southern Mauritania 1. They characteristically lived far from the courts and market centres which dominated the political economy. Seldom were they involved in forming states or spreading Islam 2. They made no claims, in so far as the records show, to any origin outside of West Africa.
The Timbuktu chronicles of the seventeenth century are almost the only early sources to cite the Fulɓe by name. For the authors of the Tarikh al-Sudan and the Tarikh al-Fettash, the most salient characteristics of these people were their indifference to the faith and their inclination to raid the farms and centres of « civilization » 3. They considered the Maasina Fulɓe to be « pagan », barely organized as a society and suitable for enslavement. Fulɓe attacks on Songhay weakened the kingdom and facilitated the Moroccan conquest. The Bakunu Fulɓe received an even more negative rating. They were « the most vile and despicable of men » because they harassed the Soninke state of Jara. One of their leaders was Tengella, the « false and cursed prophet ». After a Songhay army killed him, his son Koli succeeded « by treachery » in killing the king of Jolof and establishing the Denyanke dynasty in Fuuta-Tooro 4.
The Denyanke regime represented, in fact, an important step in the growth of a new Fulɓe identity. It emerged in the late fifteenth century as a reaction against the domination exerted by the Mali state in Senegambia. In the sixteenth and much of the seventeenth century, its capital in Fuuta-Tooro controlled or influenced areas extending as far south as Fuuta-Jalon, as far west as the Atlantic Ocean and as far east as Bakunu. Some of the Denyanke made a serious effort to practise Islam at the court, in contrast to the images presented in the Timbuktu chronicles. In an effort to strengthen their political credentials, they claimed that the founder Koli was actually the son of Sundiata Keita, who had established the Mali state some centuries before 5. They did not, however, advance claims to the Near Eastern origins maintained by the ruling lineages of the Kanuri, Hausa, Songhay, or other West African states 6.
The Fulɓe jihaads took up where the Denyanke left off. The struggle to create and maintain Islamic states led to new and widespread assertions of political, religious, and genealogical distinction in the nineteenth century. It is to this process of state formation that I now turn in order to lay the foundations for understanding the Umarian jihaad. My reconstructions represent a synthesis of the available primary and secondary sources.
The first two movements, in Fuuta-Jalon and Fuuta-Tooro, owed some of their inspiration to earlier agitation in southern Mauritania and Senegambia 7. In the late seventeenth century Nasir al-Din and other Muslims of Berber descent sought to impose an Islamic state on Arab warlords in a movement called Sharr Bubba. At the same time they ignited similar concerns among Muslims in Fuuta-Tooro and the Wolof kingdoms. By 1680 the movement had everywhere collapsed, but it left important memories and some tightly organized Muslim communities at the local level. One of these groups, led by Malik Sy, emigrated from Fuuta-Tooro to eastern Senegambia and, by a combination of craft and conquest, established a regime called Ɓundu or Fuuta-Ɓundu. The Sy or Sisiiɓe dynasty struggled throughout the eighteenth century to establish its sway. It succeeded thanks to reinforcement from neighbouring states that had emerged from internal Muslim revolutions: Fuuta-Tooro to the north-west and Fuuta-Jalon to the south.

Map 2.1 Fulɓe Migration and Distribution
Fulɓe Migration and Distribution
Source: H.P. White & M. Gleave, An Economic Geography of West Africa (1971)

A. Fuuta-Jalon

Fuuta-Jalon is the mountainous region of Guinea which serves as the main source for the Gambia, Senegal, and Niger Rivers. The first stirrings of the Jihaad there came in about 1700 8. The organized military effort began about 1725, reached an initial triumph about 1750 and a more permanent consolidation about 1780, and completed the elaboration of its constitution by the end of the century. The length of the struggle probably reflects two factors: the absence of any previous tradition of a unified state with the possible exception of the Denyanke period, and the intense competition for wealth and power which resulted from immersion in the coastal trade in slaves, guns, cattle and grain. The ultimate victors were Fulɓe, including herders, farmers, and scholars; the losers were principally Jalonke, the Mandinka-speaking chiefs and farmers who had previously dominated the region.
By 1700 the wealthier Fulɓe possessed significant numbers of cattle and slaves and sought to change their tributary status. They formulated their grievances in Islamic and ethnic terms. They sought relief from taxation and confiscation and the freedom to establish their mosques and schools. They soon learned that their growing population and prosperity required political control. Choosing leaders who combined Islamic learning and wealth, they began to revolt against local masters and massed together against Jalonke coalitions under the leadership of a cleric named Karamoko Alfa 9. At this critical stage they took advantage of their numerical preponderance in the north, obtained the support of a Mandinka kingdom to the east and, by mid-century, succeeded in suppressing their former masters. They organized raids outside Fuuta and substantially expanded their holdings in slaves.

Map 2.2 The Four Fulɓe Jihaads
Four Fulɓe Jihaads
Source: J. Ajayi and M. Crowder, eds. History of West Africa, Vol. 2 (1974)

In the 1760s and 1770s, however, the Fulɓe were put on the defensive by armies from their former allies to the east. They eventually forged a strong coalition, rallied some of the poorer pastoralists and Jalonke farmers, and marched to victory under a brilliant general named Ibrahima Sori 10. This time they sealed their achievement in a confederation of nine provinces ruled by an Almamy 11 from the lineage of their military saviour. Their domain stretched about 200 miles at its furthest extent along both an east-west and north-south axis.
The new constitution was a triumph of balancing. It blended provincial autonomy and central power. It joined the heavily Fulɓe north and the mixed centre and south, where most of the fighting had occurred. It juggled consultative and executive authority, symbolized respectively in an inaugural centre at Fugumba and the court at Timbo. It mediated between two contending branches of the royal lineage, the Alfaya descendants of Karamoko Alfa and the Soriya from Ibrahima Sori 12. In theory the system was co-ordinated and harmonious. The provinces sent a portion of their taxes and tolls to Timbo. The two royal branches established coalitions of kinsmen and allies in each province; when one branch came into power at the national level, it brought a whole range of supporters into office at the lower levels, and the rival house became a kind of loyal opposition. In fact, before the mid-nineteenth century, the Almamy rarely ceded power to his rival without a political and military struggle. Candidates offered gifts and bribes, shifted coalitions and, in the last resort, went to war. Provincial leaders often spurned their obligations to Timbo and pursued their own policies regardless of which house held the Almamyship. But the ruling classes did close ranks whenever they were threatened by external invasion or internal revolt.

The Royal Lineage of Fuuta-Jalon
The Royal Lineage of Fuuta-Jalon
Source: Gilbert Vieillard « Notes sur les Peuls du Fouta Djallon » BIFAN 1940

The residual cohesion helped Fuuta to prosper during the nineteenth century. The basis of its prosperity lay in productive capacity and strategic location. Sufficiently far to the south to receive regular and abundant rainfall, sufficiently elevated to be free of the tsetse fly, and sufficiently close to the markets of the coast and Senegambia, Fuuta had the means to create large grain and livestock surpluses and exchange them on favourable terms. It provided most of the meat consumed along the Upper Guinea shores and much of the rice supplied to European ships. It sold slaves to the slavers who eluded the British naval squadron based at Freetown. The export was especially vigorous in the labyrinthine estuaries of the Rio Pongo. Futanke caravans provided « legitimate » goods in the Rio Nunez and the river ports between Conakry and Freetown 13. The salt, cloth, and weapons from the coast entered Fuuta's coffers or were exchanged for gold from Bambuk and Bure, horses from the Sahel, or slaves from the whole range of interior markets. The Fulɓe increased the slave supply by raids and expeditions, justified as jihad against “pagans”. Many of the purchased and captured slaves were put to work in the fields to generate the surplus which made the system work. As much as any other West African society in the nineteenth century, Fuuta-Jalon approximated a slave mode of production 14.
Hand-in-hand with Futanke commercial expansion went colonization and actual territorial expansion, led especially by the province of Labe. By 1870, when Fuuta reached its maximum extent, it actually controlled the lands next to the coast and up to the Gambia. The one direction in which Fuuta failed to expand was the east, and the principal reason was the Mandinka kingdom of Tamba, which emerged in the 1820s as the Segu state declined. It controlled the gold fields of Bure and more than held its own in a series of skirmishes with its Fulɓe neighbour. Tamba prevented Fuuta from establishing more secure sources of gold and regular trade with the Middle Niger 15.
Even where Futanke control was limited, its commercial influence and religious prestige were felt. Even where Fulɓe colonies were absent, Soninke, Mandinka, and Susu traders and teachers extended Futanke influence. Fuuta-Jalon was much more than an Almamate dominated by a Fulɓe aristocracy. It was a magnet of learning, attracting students from Kankan to the Gambia, and featuring Jakhanke clerics at Tuba as well as Fulɓe teachers. It acted as the nerve centre for trading caravans heading in every direction. The more enterprising commercial lineages, of whatever ethnic origin, established colonies in the Futanke hills and along the principal routes. It served their interests to send their sons to Futanke schools, to support the graduates who came out to teach, and in general to extend the vast pattern of influence that radiated from Fuuta-Jalon16.
The political arrangement which lay at the heart of this pattern was far from unified. The division between religious and political authority, provincial and central power, and the Alfaya and Soriya branches of the royal lineage ó all of which had been enshrined in the social charter of the late eighteenth century ó continued to mould its political life. In general, provincial autonomy grew at the expense of central authority in the nineteenth century. The most conspicuous example was Labe, 17 which expanded to the north and west and established control over the Rio Nunez section of the coast. It came to rival all the rest of Fuuta in size and wealth. Timbi Tuni was also quite successful, stretching its sway west to the Rio Pongo. The federal capital of Timbo attempted to compensate by intensifying its trade with the Freetown area and sponsoring colonization and expeditions on the eastern frontier, but it registered only modest gains.

Map 2.3 Fuuta-Jalon and Its Expansion in the 19th Century
Fuuta-Jalon expansion in the 19th cent.
Adapted from: Tierno Diallo, Les Institutions politiques...

The competition for the post of Almamy turned bitter in the early nineteenth century. On several occasions bloody civil war erupted over the succession. Many royal personages and royal supporters were killed or forced into exile, where they schemed to return to power. The mobilization of coalitions through bribes and promises became commonplace and, combined with the violence, degraded the values articulated in the earlier revolution, disrupted the productivity of the countryside, and pushed the commoners and slaves to the threshold of revolt.
Umar Tal spent several years studying in Fuuta-Jalon between 1820 and 1825, beginning at Satina in Labe province and ending in Timbo 18. He witnessed the rise of Tamba and the failure of Futanke campaigns to put the Mandinka, down. He watched a particularly bloody struggle between Abdul Gadiri, the ageing Almamy of the Soriya house, and his younger Alfaya rival Bakar. In 1824 and 1825 the coalitions moved in and out of the capital several times, at great cost in life and property.
On a more positive note, Umar witnessed the educational system which the Futanke had established and which functioned in the midst of strife and battle. The cement of the edifice consisted of a quite numerous Muslim clergy, starting at the village level and merging with the ruling class in the provincial and central capitals. Slave production freed some of these clerics from the need to farm or tend cattle. If they succeeded in instructing children of wealthier families, they received slaves or equivalent property in return and could devote more time to scholarship and pedagogy. While they gave most of their attention to the children of the aristocracy, they did educate the Jalonke and Pulli, as the simple pastoralists were now called.
It was the wealthier and better educated clerics, especially those in Labe, who developed the curriculum and methods used in the schools in the nineteenth century. Labe probably played a leading role because it had been less disrupted during the eighteenth century wars and enjoyed closer contact with clerics in Senegambia 19. The pedagogy consisted of overlapping stages of reading, writing, Koranic exegesis, and a study of the standard Islamic tests in jurisprudence, grammar, and tradition. The exegetical stage, which separated professional clergy from the ordinary male Muslims, concentrated on understanding the Koran, but it also involved learning to read and write Fulfulde, in Arabic characters, and mastering pedagogical Fulfulde poetry written by local scholars. These vernacular or 'ajami texts were prepared by well trained scribes 20. The teacher was expected to be able to read these poems in public as a way of carrying Islamic instruction beyond the school and into an idiom suitable for the women, Pulli, and rest of the population at large. Cerno Mamadu Samba Mombeya, an outstanding poet who lived through the founding jihaad and early Almamate, expressed the purposes of this vernacular literature as follows:

I will cite the classical sources in Fulfulde
to aid you in understanding.
As you hear them, accept them.
To each in effect only his own language allows him
to grasp what the classics have to say.
Many Fulɓe do not absorb what is taught them
in Arabic and remain in confusion.
To remain in incertitude, about the great obligations,
is not sufficient for speaking, nor indeed for acting.
He who would seek clarity, free of uncertainty,
may he read then in Fulfulde the verses of this modest man. 21

Mamadu Samba and others of his generation were the pioneers of the system of transcribing Fulfulde in Arabic characters. Their purpose was pedagogical and ultimately ideological. An aware, instructed population, able to conceive and express its faith in its own language, was the best guarantor of the gains won in the Islamic revolution and of the solidarity of Fulɓe against future threats. The founders did not develop a wholly adequate and consistent method, but the transcription and meaning were clear to those who came through the exegetical stage of the educational process and who then dispersed to the mosques, schools, and village squares of Fuuta 22.

B. Fuuta-Tooro

The second jihaad occupied a shorter period of time in the late eighteenth century. Fuuta-Tooro was a combination of attraction and vulnerability. The attraction stemmed from its strategic location in the middle valley of the Senegal River. It lay 100 navigable miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It lay at the limit between the Mauritanian desert and Senegambian steppe, and controlled the best route to the interior. Above all, it possessed a floodplain capable of producing a second annual crop in a zone of marginal rainfall agriculture, and thus became the breadbasket of the surrounding region. These magnets made for repeated immigration over the centuries and for complex forms of ethnic and class identification.
The middle valley was also highly vulnerable. It extended for 250 miles east-west and for 15 to 20 miles across the valley, with no natural defences in any direction. Its Denyanke rulers never developed a canoe fleet like the Songhay on the Middle Niger, and they were often unable to mobilize quickly to repel invasion or suppress revolt. This was particularly true in the eighteenth century, when Moroccan and Mauritanian armies invaded the middle valley at will and reduced the Fulɓe dynasty's authority to the eastern region. Mauritanian chiefs began exacting an annual tribute in grain, while poor rainfall and locust swarms cut deeply into agricultural production in the 1750s. In this context a number of Muslim lineages, collectively known as tooroɓɓe, fled from the north to the south bank of the river and started organizing their own defence. Gradually they congregated in central Fuuta, a rich agricultural region with some autonomy from the demands of the Moors and Denyanke 23.
These tooroɓɓe formed a more closely knit and intentional community than their counterparts in Fuuta-Jalon. Their ancestors had participated in the failed experiment of Sharr Bubba and had sealed their collaboration with marriage bonds. Linked by ties of kinship and religion, educated in the same schools, the Tooroɓɓe of the mid-eighteenth century had to develop a specifically Islamic identity over against their nominal protectors and overlords, who were also Fulɓe. Under the leadership of Sulaiman Bal they ended the tribute to the Moors, rejected their allegiance to the Denyanke, and won several signal victories in the 1770s.

Map 2.4 The Middle Valley of the Senegal River
Middle Valley of the Senegal River

A subsequent skirmish produced the death of Bal and the first internal crisis of the fledgling regime. After much hesitation the survivors went outside of their immediate ranks to choose Abdul Kader Kan as the new leader. Kan was also a kinsman and cleric. He had studied at the same schools, but he then chose to pursue a relatively quiet career as teacher and judge in eastern Senegambia. Now, at the age of fifty, he accepted the invitation and was duly installed as the first Almamy of Fuuta-Tooro. By this action the tooroɓɓe committed themselves to pursuing their revolution.
From the late 1770s until 1796 the Muslims succeeded in most of their goals under Almamy Abdul. The Denyanke were pushed back to the far eastern edge of Fuuta when their former soldiers joined the new cause. The Mauritanians were pushed back to the desert when colonies were posted at key fords on the north bank. A 1785 treaty with the French restored the annual custom paid for the right to trade in and through the middle valley. On the issue of slavery the Almamy enforced a position analagous to that of Fuuta-Jalon: no Muslims and especially no Futanke Muslims could be enslaved, but non-Muslims outside of Fuuta could be captured, incorporated into local retinues, or sold into the Atlantic or trans-Saharan trades 24. The Almamy extended his influence abroad, requiring kings in the west (Walo, Jolof, and Cayor) and east (Ɓundu, Gajaga, and Khasso) to practise Islam, protect clerical communities, and acknowledge their vassal status.
To consolidate the internal changes, Abdul gave rich floodplain land to influential tooroɓɓe and appointed imams and judges at the village level. At the same time, the Almamy was obliged to bring in several new and powerful lineages who, while affirming Islam and the Tooroɓɓe designation, did not share the ties of kinship and commitment to Islam of the early Muslim community.

Map 2.5 Western Fuuta-Tooro and Its Neighbours
Western Fuuta-Tooro and its neigbhors

The new regime suffered a sharp reversal of fortune between 1796 and 1807. At the source of this change were several factors: the limited commitment of the newly enrolled tooroɓɓe, the growing inflexibility of the ageing Almamy and the excessively ambitious effort to extend Futanke hegemony beyond the middle valley. The first sign of over-extension came in western Senegal, where a newly installed king of Cayor refused the terms of vassalage imposed on his predecessor and attacked local Islamic communities. Almamy Abdul organized a massive campaign to punish the new ruler and reorganize Cayor on the basis of new Futanke colonies. His jihaad, famous in Senegambian annals as the battle of Bunguy, failed miserably before the scorched earth policy of his opponent 25. Futanke were killed or sold into the Atlantic trade in great numbers, while the Almamy himself returned home with a damaged reputation after months in prison under an « infidel » king. Abdul, instead of learning from this experience, stepped up his intervention in Ɓundu, where he aroused the wrath not only of local factions but also of the powerful Bambara state of Karta. During these same years the French and Fuuta were not able to agree on terms of trade, with the result that customs revenue ceased to flow into the treasury. The Almamy consequently had few resources with which to maintain his supply of arms or reward his followers. In 1806-7 the eastern enemies of the state combined with the disenchanted Futanke to assassinate Abdul and defeat his supporters.
This humiliating end to the Toorobbhe experiment led to a weak and ineffective central government. No royal dynasty was allowed to emerge. The position of Almamy was reserved for a candidate chosen from the earlier Muslim lineages on the basis of Islamic knowledge. Those who elected ó and deposed ó the head of state came primarily from the later tooroɓɓe who had brought Abdul Kader down. Both “eligibles” and “electors” came from the central region. They preserved their control over national institutions while demanding a share of the crops and herds of the eastern and western provinces. Of all the Fulɓe cases, Fuuta-Tooro institutionalized the least of its original vision. This failure is directly relevant to Umar's conception of his mission and to the success which he enjoyed in the middle valley.
Below the national and regional level the important innovations of the founders were retained. The mosques, schools, and courts nurtured future generations of Futanke. These local institutions did not create a Fulfulde pedagogy comparable to that of Fuuta-Jalon, for reasons that are not entirely clear. The tooroɓɓe could not so easily emphasize ethnic identity, since they had fought against the Denyanke and some pastoral Fulɓe in the southern steppe. They did not acquire as many slaves as the ruling classes of the southern Fuuta, partly because the primary sources of enslavable non-Muslims lay some distance away 26. They remained vulnerable to external pressures and did not sustain as prosperous an economy during the nineteenth century. The net effect was greater difficulty in sustaining a significant number of clerics to study, copy, and compose manuscripts. The most important explanation may lie in the presence of strong alternative scholarly traditions in neighbouring areas. The early tooroɓɓe had studied in Cayor and southern Mauritania, in schools connected to the tradition of Sharr Bubba. Many of their successors in the nineteenth century went to the foyer of Sidiyya al-Kabir, a Moorish scholar who had learned his trade with the Kunta. It was in this context of a partly failed, partly successful Almamate that Umar Tal grew up.

C. Growing Up in Fuuta-Tooro

The most consistent failing in the secondary literature on Umar, of whatever tendency, is an inability to understand Fuuta-Tooro and its relationship to his career. This stems in part from the weakness of the historiography of the region, in part from the complexity of the middle valley itself. Lineage and residential identities overlap. The combination of a weak central authority, an exploitative central oligarchy, and a strong Islamic local culture is inherently difficult to comprehend 27.
Umar grew up in Toro, which had a particularly acute sense of the inequalities within the Almamate. Despite its participation in the Islamic revolution, this western province fared badly in the institutional arrangements established in the early nineteenth century. It provided neither candidates for the position of Almamy nor electors to make the choice. It received no share of the customs duties paid by the French, and yet paid a disproportionate share of its own produce to the state. Some of this wealth went to the coffers of the chiefs of central Fuuta through a system of administrative fiefdoms 28.
The crowning blow was that Toro received little protection from the dangers posed by its formidable neighbours. The group to the west consisted of the French administration and merchants based in St Louis. They could approach Toro villages at any time of year, unlike the regions further inland where the low-water season offered an annual respite. Most of Toro lived along the main branch of the river or the marigot of Dué, and thus within range of the gunboat cannon. While the French usually paid customs duties and traded peacefully, they could bring overwhelming force to bear on one place at one time. Witness the raids of 1804, in which 200 inhabitants of Toro were killed and 600 sold into the Atlantic slave trade, or the construction of the fort in Dagana in 1819 without the permission of local authorities 29.
Pressing down from the north were the warriors and merchants of the Brakna Moorish confederation who sought Toro's gum, land, and slaves. They were always ready to restore the tributary relationships that Sulaiman Bal had ended a few decades before 30. To the south were two pastoral Fulɓe constellations, the Wodhabhe and Uururbe, who depended on the water, pasture and grain of the valley for sustenance during the dry season. They fell under the nominal jurisdiction of the paramount provincial leader, the Lam Toro based in Gede 31, but they often raided with impunity. The Lam Toro also claimed jurisdiction over the village clusters of Halaybe and Hayre on his eastern border, but these people rarely acknowledged his authority.
The chief exercised effective control over a group of agricultural and fishing villages set in and beside the floodplain. Most of the villages near Gede were dominated by the Selobhe, a group of tooroɓɓe lineages who had rallied to the banner of the Islamic revolution. The Thiam and Tal dominated the settlement of Halwar, where Umar was born at the end of the eighteenth century. Umar, given the obscurity of his birthplace, usually identified himself as al-Futi al-Kadawiyyu, « the Futanke from Gede ». Gede was the symbol of Toro province.
In the early nineteenth century Toro tried to change its fortunes in two contrasting ways. On the one hand, it supported coalitions of eligibles and electors in return for commitments to improve the distribution of power. The coalitions were led initially by relatives of Sulaiman Bal from nearby Hayre and subsequently by Biran Wan of Law province, but they failed to wrest any permanent concessions from the powerful chiefs of the centre 32. On the other hand, the Lam Toro and his entourage considered secession and made overtures to the French about special trade and customs arrangements in western Fuuta. When the Europeans threatened a village or built a fort, Toro ran back to the Almamate and reaffirmed its unity. It was in this setting of ambivalence, semi-autonomy, and vulnerability that Umar Tal was raised 33.
His father, Eliman Saidu, was probably the leading Muslim in the village 34. Born in the mid-eighteenth century, Saidu witnessed the collapse of the Denyanke regime, the increasing depredations of Moorish raiders, and the emergence of the tooroɓɓe state. He joined the tooroɓɓe revolution and acquired greater prestige as a result. He married his oldest daughter to Lamin Sakho, a scholar and veteran of the campaigns in Cayor; he gave another daughter to the important Cam lineage of nearby Njum; and he apparently acquired the title of Eliman Gede for himself and his inheritors 35. The one vignette which Umar enjoyed telling about his father shows a man of independence and determination: “A dispute arose between my parents and the inhabitants of Halwar concerning a mosque my father wanted to build in his own compound, in order not to be troubled during prayer. The people of the village cut off his hair and had him beaten, saying that they would take him to the court of a very famous marabout [cleric] 36.
The growth in prestige did not appreciably alter the material situation of the Tal family. Saidu had only two wives: Adama, also a Tal from Halwar, and a former slave, Yumma Aisse 37. Adama gave him ten children and Yumma Aisse two, and all of them had to work in the fields and tend the flocks. Umar was no exception. Seventh son and tenth child born to Adama, he grew up under the watchful eye of older siblings as well as ageing parents. His date of birth is contested. I have opted for 1796 because of the consistent correlation in the Futanke oral tradition between Umar's birth and the battle of Bunguy, where Almamy Abdul suffered his defeat at the hands of the « infidel » king of Cayor 38. Umar's first decade corresponds to the betrayal of the vision of the tooroɓɓe, his second to the unsuccessful effort of Toro to change its terms of incorporation in the Almamate.
The years of childhood receive little attention in the internal sources of the Umarian movement. They constitute a virtual tabula rasa to which stereotypical miracles and fabricated encounters can, like so many barnacles, easily cling. Two themes run throughout the hagiography: the piety of Adama and the precocity of her son. By one account, Umar was born during Ramadan and immediately began to fast; he consumed Adama's milk only at night 39. A careful reading of this material none the less yields some insight. Umar certainly had a remarkable aptitude for learning, apparent to family and friends. The stories of his refusal to perform manual chores associated with Koranic school suggest that the boy rapidly distinguished himself from his peers and was allowed more autonomy to pursue his bent for study and reflection. He learned initially at the feet of his father, older brothers, and other teachers in Halwar. His most important early instructor was Lamin Sakho, brother-in-law, survivor of Bunguy and an authority on Arabic grammar. Lamin held the main Sakho lineage title, Cerno Bismor, and was the source of the support system which his family would later supply to the jihaad (see Table 3 in Chapter 9). Umar's residence with his teacher in the Halaybhe area broadened his perceptions of the dilemmas of Fuuta and strengthened his contacts with Muslims of different classes and ethnic origins 40.
The Halaybhe period probably falls in Umar's late teens, around 1815. After that time he apparently travelled and studied in eastern Fuuta, where he reported copying a manuscript of the Egyptian scholar al-Suyuti 41. He may have travelled and studied in southern Mauritania and as far east as Walata, but the traditions for this are weak. He most assuredly did not go to Pir, the Cayorian school which Futanke traditionists inflict on all their clerics 42. He left his homeland about 1820, never to return for more than a few months at a time. But he was permanently marked by his perceptions of a failed revolution, discriminatory regime, and vulnerable society.

D. Northern Nigeria

The jihaad of Northern Nigeria began as the centralized experiment of Almamy Abdul headed for its demise 43. The Nigerian Fulɓe traced their origins back to Fuuta-Tooro, but they lived in the very different world of the Central Sudan. The confederation which they created dwarfed the Futanke states in size: it extended about 800 miles from east to west and about 400 miles from north to south. Only by breaking it down into three basic components can the historian obtain units which are comparable to Fuuta-Jalon and Fuuta-Tooro.
The first sphere is the central area of Gobir, Zamfara, and part of Kebbi, where Uthman and his contemporaries concentrated their efforts and erected the confederal capitals of Sokoto and Gwandu between 1804 and 1810. The second sphere consists of the other Hausa states, where indigenous Fulɓe led successful revolts between 1806 and 1812 on the basis of flags of legitimation provided by Uthman. The final group comprises the areas beyond Hausaland where flag-bearing Fulɓe conquered, colonized and often created states where none had existed before. This process lasted through much of nineteenth century 44.
The overall structure bears a somewhat greater similarity to Fuuta-Jalon than to Fuuta-Tooro. Relatively autonomous provinces recognized the ascendancy of the confederal leaders and paid annual tribute. But Uthman and his family towered over the other leaders of their generation and were able to institutionalize allegiance in a way that Timbo, never achieved. Abdul Kader also dominated his contemporaries, but he never succeeded in training sufficient cadres to implement his vision and, when he sought to extend the jihaad in eastern and western Senegambia, he led the movements himself. This drew energy away from the task of consolidating the revolution at home and cast his jihaad, from the perspective of his neighbours, in the image of invasion rather than revolt.
The Gobir and Hausa phases of the jihaad occurred in an arena of established states, strong Islamic communities, and close integration with networks of production and trade. The principal Hausa cities were both commercial emporia and heavily fortified capitals. The dynasties controlling the capitals had developed bureaucracies and customs which combined Islamic and traditional practices. They fought one another and other enemies rather frequently, especially in the late eighteenth century when the level of violence increased sufficiently to interfere with the pursuit of trade, farming, and raising livestock 45. The pastoral vocation was monopolized by Fulɓe, who were probably less settled, less wealthy, and constituted a smaller proportion of the population than their counterparts in Fuuta-Jalon. They were concentrated in areas away from the commercial and political capitals.
A rising consciousness among the Fulɓe, who were excluded from power in the Hausa states and the outlying chiefdoms, was critical to the success of the jihaad. Uthman cultivated Fulɓe identity well before the military campaigns by writing, reciting and preaching in Fulfulde. In fact, he is by far the most important influence in the development of Fulfulde literature in Northern Nigeria, just as the Labe scholars were in Fuuta-Jalon. For these reasons, his movement has sometimes been called the “Fulani jihaad” It is important to note, however, that Uthman also wrote and spoke in Hausa and Arabic and never lost sight of the need for justifying his efforts to the non-Fulɓe constituents who were crucial to any lasting success.

Map 2.6 The Sokoto Caliphate in the Nineteenth Century
Sokoto Caliphate in the 19th century
Sources: R. Adeleye, Power and Diplomacy in Northern Nigeria, 1804-1906 (1971), p. 67;
M. Adamu, The Hausa in West African History

For purposes of this study, the critical sphere is the central area around Gobir. The most striking feature here is the continuity in leadership from the late eighteenth well into the nineteenth century 47. Uthman (born in 1754) carried the initial burden of moulding a community, formulating a message, and criticizing the Hausa court until the declaration of jihaad in 1804. He was assisted increasingly by his brother Abdullah (born in 1766) in the later stages. By the time fighting began, Muhammad Bello (born in 1781) was ready to assume military commands, and he soon began contributing to the scholarship and government of the young state. Uthman withdrew from active military and political responsibilities by 1810, but he continued to write and counsel his followers. After his death in 1817 Abdullah, Bello, and the Wazir, or chief minister, of Sokoto directed the affairs of state.
They continued to administer and write for the rest of their lives: Abdullah until 1829 at Gwandu, Bello until 1837 and the Wazir until 1842 at Sokoto. By the 1840s Sokoto scholars had established a received tradition about the early years and labelled them a Golden Age 48.
In none of the other Fulɓe jihaads, and indeed rarely in the history of any religious movements, do we find such a long and effective collaboration of leaders in the birth, achievement, and consolidation of a revolution, and in the military, political, judicial, and ideological responsibilities which such a revolution entails. Fuuta-Jalon had its Karamoko Alfa and lbrahima Sori, Fuuta-Tooro its Sulaiman Bal and Abdul Kader, but by the time the two Futanke groups attacked the task of consolidating their gains, much of the early leadership and vision had disappeared. The Nigerian movement also lost momentum, but the original vision was much more fully expressed in writing and oral tradition, and the custom of combining scholarship and administration was much more fully sustained.
Many of the flag-bearers who carried the jihaad beyond Gobir were associated with Uthman in one of two ways: as his students in the late eighteenth century or as co-combatants during the critical years of 1804-8 49. Almost all were Fulɓe surrounded by Fulɓe kinsmen and allies, and they had in most cases resided in their areas for some time. Success depended upon mobilizing around the grievances which their constituents felt towards their overlords and the opportunities which were available in the form of booty, land, subjects, and offices. Some of the flag-bearers tried to implement the counsel of the Uthmanians about what good Islamic government entailed, but the influence of Sokoto and Gwandu tended to diminish with distance and time.
In the second, or Hausa sphere, the new leaders quickly adopted the language and traditions of statecraft of their predecessors. They remained largely autonomous in their administration but they did send tribute and troops to the annual military campaigns organized out of Sokoto. The overthrown dynasties typically found refuge on the frontiers of the confederation. Where they commanded significant allegiance and enjoyed outside support, these exiles made life difficult for the Fulɓe Emirs and the Uthmanian capitals of Sokoto and Gwandu.
In the third sphere beyond Hausaland the results were diverse. In the east the flag-bearers had to contend with residual loyalty to the Mai, the traditional ruler of Bornu, and the religious and military reforms effected by Muhammad al-Amin al-Kanemi. Al-Kanemi was an important scholar in his own right, and he maintained in his protests to Sokoto that Bornu was a Muslim state which should not be subjected to attack. The result, in the debate and on the battlefield, was a stalemate. The jihadists had to be content with small emirates on the frontier 50. To the southeast, where Bornu influence was weaker or non-existent, the Fulɓe created larger states, greater wealth, and huge accumulations of slaves. The emirates of Gombe, Muri, Bauchi, and especially Adamawa, bore some resemblance to Labe in Fuuta-Jalon.
The southern and western frontiers of the confederation fell under the aegis of Gwandu, which intervened actively in support of its protégés. In the south the Fulɓe were less well entrenched and faced the established states of Nupe and Oyo. By taking advantage of dynastic strife and the antipathy of recently enslaved Hausa, and by bringing in significant numbers of kinsmen and supporters, they were ultimately able to sustain the emirates of Bida and Ilorin 51. The jihaad enjoyed much less success in the south-west and west, where the Fulɓe were not numerous and where an old tradition of resistance to outside encroachment could be invoked. In particular, the dynasty of Kebbi mobilized several successful campaigns against Gwandu, certified its independence in an 1866 treaty, and diverted energies that might otherwise have gone into the western expansion of the confederation 52.
The most enduring legacy of Sokoto for the savannah region was the creation of an important literature of law, theology, and administration which addressed the issue raised by all of the Fulɓe jihaads: how does an area of Muslim minorities and nominally Muslim authorities, isolated geographically by the desert and chronologically from the period of unified caliphal authority, transform itself into a Muslim society belonging to the Daar al-lslam? Uthman, Abdullah and Muhammad Bello were highly intentional in their approach to the jihaad in Gobir. When other Fulɓe sought their flags, they saw a new chance to extend the faith. When al-Kanemi challenged their assumptions, they justified and elaborated on their experience in a series of treatises. Their thinking was not new, but it was consistent, well documented in the works of earlier scholars, and persuasive when read in the light of their political achievements 53.
This codification is quite possibly the most significant West African contribution to the Islamic legal heritage. It certainly had a large impact on Muslim scholars and political leaders in the savannah, including Umar Tal. I call it the Sokoto model and define it in five propositions:

  1. The true reformer or renewer of Islam follows the pattern of Muhammad, who preached Islam to his contemporaries, fled from persecution (hijra), organized a new state in which he became the leader (imam and later Commander of the Faithful) and received the allegiance (bai“a) of his followers, and then declared holy war (jihaad of the sword) against those who refused allegiance.
  2. This pattern was closely followed by Uthman in his homeland of Gobir. Over thirty years of preaching and persuading, he established that the Hausa court was not Muslim, as it pretended, but “pagan”. He did not declare hijra and jihaad until after the “pagans” attacked.
  3. Uthman was then entitled to call on states other than Gobir to submit to his authority. Upon their refusal, he was justified in issuing flags to Muslims to wage the jihaad in those areas. The refusal freed the Muslims from the necessity of repeating the long Gobir process in each of the areas of Northern Nigeria.
  4. The Sokoto leaders and the flag-bearers were able to maintain a significant degree of control over their followers and to channel constructively the desire for power, wealth, and status. Uthman articulated the main differences between Muslim and “pagan” government. The new ruling classes were able to implement at least some of the principles of Muslim government. The confederation thereby represented a growth in the breadth and quality of Islamic practice and, in more general terms, a significant advance in civilization.
  5. The argument of al-Kanemi that the attacks on Bornu were an unjustified assault on a Muslim society was incorrect. Bornu was no longer a Muslim society because of its own “pagan” practices and its alliance with Hausa states which resisted the jihaad.

E. Maasina

The Sokoto experience supplied the model and some of the early justification for the fourth movement, the one that began in Maasina about 1815 54. Maasina constitutes the inland delta of the Niger River between Sinsani and Timbuktu. It bears a number of similarities to Fuuta-Tooro 55. Its floodplain produced a second crop each year. Its resources of farmland, pasture, fish, and trade attracted people of diverse background. It was likewise threatened by a strong Bambara state, in this case Segu, as well as warrior nomadic groups from the desert edge These external groups exacted tribute and helped prevent Maasina, despite its economic potential and dense population, from developing a strong state of its own. In size the Middle Niger delta is much larger than Fuuta-Tooro, for the floodplain measures 50 to 75 miles across. Moreover, the western and eastern borders are more hospitable than the confines of Fuuta. When the Muslim regime reached its fullest extent in the mid-nineteenth century, it occupied an area roughly comparable to the Almamate of Fuuta-Jalon 56.
In the late eighteenth century the fortunes of many of the pastoral Fulɓe and agricultural serfs of the floodplain declined. The Bambara of Segu, the wealthy traders in the city of Jenne and the dominant Fulɓe lineages laid claims to the work of the productive population through taxes and confiscation. In these conditions a rural cleric named Amadu Lobbo Bari began to preach against the impositions and to encourage a much stricter conformity with Islamic law than was customary in the cities. In the second decade of the nineteenth century Amadu mobilized a substantial following in the vicinity of Jenne. He sent for a Sokoto flag, challenged the local Fulɓe authorities, defeated the Bambara army in 1818, and organized a Muslim state in the southern and central portions of the delta 57.

Map 2.7 Maasina in the Nineteenth Century
Macina in the 19th century
Source: C. Monteil, Djenne (1932), 3

The next few years were marked by the elimination of the vestiges of Bambara hegemony and securing the allegiance of the serfs and Fulɓe, including those who had profited from the old order. In 1821 Seku Amadu, as his followers now called him, established a new capital, Hamdullahi or “God be praised”, just beyond the eastern edge of the floodplain. He then created the institutions of his caliphate: a system of military and civilian commands in the provinces, a policy of settling the pastoralists and regularizing the movement of their herds, and a programme of islamization from central to village level. With a council dominated by his early companions, he enforced an austere vision of Islam: the trade and consumption of tobacco were forbidden, women were to be secluded, architecture and dress must be kept simple. In comparison with the other Fulɓe states, Maasina was probably the most centralized, stratified, heavily taxed, and highly mobilized for military duty and public works 58.
About 1825 Seku Amadu began extending his domain to the north. He established tight control of the area around Lake Debo and then placed his yoke on a reluctant Timbuktu, the old trading and scholarly crossroads dominated by the Kunta. The Kunta clerics disdained the austerity and parochialism of the new “zealots” in Hamdullahi, contrasting them with the more tolerant and urbane leaders in Sokoto, but they eventually won conditions of local autonomy for their city and settled into a tense but workable co-operation with Maasina. The Kunta even gave added legitimacy to the Hamdullahi regime by certifying a boundary between it and Sokoto 59.
Amadu and his early companions provided strong continuity in leadership and a consistent example to their subjects until the 1840s. Unlike Almamy Abdul, they did not quickly over-extend themselves in expeditions beyond the floodplain. They succeeded in establishing schools for a broad Islamic instruction of the masses, but they were not able to dispense with the tradition of going outside the delta for the higher levels of education. The leaders of the caliphate did not write an apologetics for their movement nor, to the best of present knowledge, did they create a tradition of writing and reciting texts in Fulfulde.
Seku Amadu did take one bold literary and political step. In the early years he had sought the Sokoto imprimatur. He had profited from the Nigerian experience in establishing forts, settling pastoralists and creating the institutions of government. Between 1818 and 1821 he decided against membership in the Sokoto confederation 60. He built his new capital and took the title Commander of the Faithful.
To give added legitimacy to his state, he and his chief counsellor, Alfa Nuh Tayru, forged texts which established a fifteenth-century prophecy in favour of a final caliph and imam named Amadu who would appear in the inland delta 61.
The prediction was placed in the mouth of the famous Cairene scholar al-Suyuti, set in the context of the pilgrimage of Askiya Muhammad of Songhay, and then added to the copies of the Timbuktu chronicle, the Ta'rikh al-Fettash. Once Amadu established his sway in Timbuktu, he was able to alter most of the extant copies of the Fettash, which considerably delayed the discovery of this elaborate forgery. The prophecy also gave ownership of twenty-four « servile castes » to Amadu, thereby justifying the shift from the liberation of the lower orders, which marked the initial revolution, to a reinforcement of traditional stratification. In the highly regimented system of Maasina, the forgery was readily believed, gave sacred status to the Bari dynasty, and explained the separation from Sokoto 62.

F. The Emergence of a Chosen People

The Fulɓe jihaads show a distinct progression in intention and ambition. The early Futanke movements emerged from Muslims who shared common grievances against the dominant classes. The Sokoto and Hamdullahi cases show a much more conscious determination to follow a Muhammadan pattern of state formation and consolidate the conquest according to perceptions of the Sharia. The difference corresponds to the growth in a sense of « electedness » among Fulɓe over more than 100 years. This awareness was articulated by the learned leadership, but it was widely understood by the participants in the revolutions.
By the nineteenth century the Fulɓe had obviously taken the leadership in state formation and the spread of Islam, and they had fused the two activities in the practice of the Muslim state. They had developed systems for writing their language in the Arabic alphabet and a pedagogy for teaching those who were illiterate. They believed that their language had been blessed by the Prophet and was second in value only to Arabic 63. They may well have crystallized at this time the contrast between the intelligence, honour and honesty which characterized them as ruling classes, and the « uncivilized » behaviour of their slaves, whose numbers expanded dramatically in the course of the jihaads 64. Certainly they had entered the pantheon of Islamic « civilization » from which they had once been excluded.
Striking evidence for the transformation of identity comes from Senegambia, where French ethnographies of the nineteenth century distinguish the « Tokolor » of Fuuta-Tooro from the Fulɓe who were not engaged in building states and spreading Islam. While the word goes back to a Takrur kingdom of the eleventh century, the widespread usage of Tokolor emerged only in the 1800s to denote the inhabitants of Fuuta-Tooro. They had universal Islamic education and strict justice. They were arrogant and superior to other ethnic groups because of their special role in Allah's mission. They were demanding and often hostile towards Europeans and European trade along the river. This opposition coloured the judgments of the French but the new term did reflect the new Futanke behaviour 65.
In the realm of genealogy, a significant change can also be documented. From the Central and Western Sudan there now emerged the story of descent from one of the early Arab conquerors of North Africa. Muhammad Bello provided one of the earliest written versions in 1812. He fashioned his story around the « Torodo » people, who were obviously associated with Toro province, the torobbhe of Fuuta-Tooro, and his own Toronkawa lineage in Nigeria.

The Torodo people listened, and when the armies of the Companions [of the Prophet] came to the west they said: « We have seen the truth and followed it. » And when [the Companions] wished to leave, the Chief of the Torodos said: « Give us instruction in religion, for we are in ignorance. Leave us someone to teach us.»
So they left 'Uqba Yasir or 'Uqba b. 'Amir or, it is said 'Uqba b. Niafi', and he stayed there to teach religion and the Shari'a. The Chief of the Torodos gave him his daughter in marriage. Her name was Baja Magha. He fathered by her four children: Di'to, Bas, Wayo and Ru'ruba. Then he left the area and returned to Egypt, leaving the children with their mother. They grew up speaking a tongue that was different from that of their father and mother .... Then they married and gave birth to the ancestors of the Fulɓe, all of whose clans go back to these four stocks 66.

The story in this and several other versions follows the Wise Stranger motif of the folklorists 67. Uqba, Arab leader and Companion of the Prophet, is asked to stay on in the newly conquered area by a local chief to provide instruction in religion. The local people had been waiting for the rise of true religion for some time and, in contrast to many who resisted, they embraced it eagerly. The chief gave his daughter to the stranger, and the resulting marriage of Arab and Torodo produced the ancestors of the Fulɓe. The children produced the four original Fulɓe clans: Jal or Jallo, , So, and Bari 68. The value of the story for legitimation is immense. Biological links are forged through the male line with the earliest and most holy Arab Muslims. The Torodo people emerge as predisposed to accept Islam. They receive instruction at their own request. They are consequently set apart from other non-Arab groups.
The confusion in Bello's version, most notably the mention of three Uqbas, reflects the difficulties of creating credible links with early Islam. The Fulɓe sought to join the Arab conquest in several ways. One avenue went through Uqba b. Nafi, 69 nephew of the famous governor of Egypt, Amr b. al-As. This Uqba offered a number of places of attachment through the accounts available to West African scholars. He campaigned unsuccessfully against the Nubian states of the Upper Nile in 642. He may have raided Fezzan and Kawar in 643. In 669-70 he conquered Tunisia and founded Qayrawan, and in 681-2 he travelled as far as Morocco before succumbing to an ambush in eastern Algeria. This claim was contested by the competing assertion of the Kunta, who could actually provide a list of Arab names going back from a known ancestor of the fifteenth century to Uqba 70.
Fulɓe scholars could establish a less disputed tie through a more obscure chapter of the Arab conquest in which the same Amr b. al-As, in his capacity as conqueror and governor of Egypt, left a certain Uqba b. Yasir to instruct the people of Sinai in the 640s 71. Here the claim turns on the Arabic Tür, which is used to indicate both Sinai and the Toro of Fuuta. The Fulɓe also established a third link, to an Uqba b. Amir who probably served as a governor of Egypt in the early years 72.

Table 2.2
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century
European Commentaries on Fulɓe Origins

Date Observer Situation Fulbe claims Observer's claims Reference
1785-7 Golbéry residence in Senegal India Tauxier, 29, 109-10
1790s Winterbottom and Matthews journey to Fuuta-Jalon Arab Judaeo-Syrian Tauxier, 29
1818 Mollien Journey to Fuutas and Ɓundu Arab from Sahara Voyage, 162-3
1824,1826 Clapperton Journeys to Northern Nigeria Arab, Uqba Second ExPedition, 337-8
1826 Lander Journey to Northern Nigeria Arab, Uqba eastern origin Last Expedition, 11, 24-6
1840s d'Eichtal synthesis, from Europe Arab Malaysian or son of Ham Foulahs
1842-3 Thomson residence in Fuuta Arab CMS Archives
1846-7 Raffenel journey to Karta Arab , Uqba Nouveau voyage, 11, 310
1850 Hecquard journey to Fuuta-Jalon & Ɓundu Arab Voyage, 314
1851-5 Barth Journey through Centr. Sudan Arab Distant eastern origin Travels III, 110-15
1850s Wilson Missionary in Gambia son of Ham Western Africa, 79
1860 Lambert journey to Fuuta-Jalon Arabs of Fez Voyage, 40-1
1879-81 Lenz journey across North and West Africa eastern origin, Hamitic Timbouctou, 11, 266-77
1887-9 Binger journey across West Africa eastern origin Niger, 1, 390-3
1912 Delafosse French colon. official Arab Judaeo-Syrian Haut-Sénégal-Niger. 1, 207 ff

Note: For references, see bibliography. Tauxier refers to Louis Tauxier, Moeurs et histoire des peuls, 1937.

Despite the inconsistencies, the basic Uqba account served its purposes well. Fulɓe scholars, especially those in Hausa land and Fuuta-Jalon, had probably transmitted the tradition for several generations within their own lineages. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries they began to circulate it widely among their kinspeople. Ironically, most of the extant versions of the story are embedded in narratives by European travellers and administrators who dismissed the claim to Arab ancestry but invented other eastern antecedents which the Fulɓe never asserted for themselves (Table 2). These Europeans stumbled on the earlier claims made by chiefly dynasties in the savannah states. They were impressed by the physiological distinctiveness of many Fulɓe and their recently achieved prominence in creating states and spreading Islam. They were obsessed with the need to find external explanations for elements of « civilization » within Africa. Thus were born the theories of the Malaysian, Persian, Yemenite, Phoenician, and Jewish origin of the Fulɓe.
While the evidence is uneven and hard to date, it strongly suggests that the Fulɓe jihaads had helped to create a new Islamic ambience in the savannah. For scholars, merchants, and rulers in the nineteenth century, it was no longer sufficient to claim a pre-Islamic origin in the cast. The genealogical firmament became dense with Muslim Arab stars: the Hashimi lineage of Muhammad, the Quraysh clan in general, the Meccan and Medinan Companions or the early Arab conquerors. By the early twentieth century the desire for a new pedigree had spread very far, as the following table of Mandinka lineage claims from eastern Guinea reveals (Table 3).
Genealogical manipulation was not the only form of intensified identification with Islam. The « Sokoto model » and the Maasina forgery were other examples. The number of Meccas and Medinas on the savannah landscape increased, while the tombs of Muslim scholars and miracle-workers more frequently became places of veneration and pilgrimage 73. Traditions emerged about the Prophet blessing West African rocks 74. The Central and Western Sudan were ceasing to be a frontier of the faith; they were entering into the Islamic heartlands.

Table 2.3
Some Mandinka Claims to Islamic Origin in the Early Twentieth Century

Source of Legitimacy Claimant Reference
Abu Ayyub, Companion Fina Humblot, 539
Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, 1st Caliph Fofana, Sakho et al. Humblot, 538
Abu Muttalib b. Hashimi [sic], grandfather Muhammad Suware Humblot, 538
Bilali, muezzin Fadiga and Keita Humblot, 539, Delafosse, 19;
Soh, 21, 257
Hassan al-Basri, scholar Sakho Humblot, 539
Hassan b. Ali b. Abu Talib, grdson Muhammad and martyr Ture Humblot, 536
Hamza, uncle Muhammad Kaba and Sumare Humblot, 538; Soh, 112
Husayn b. Abu Talib [sic], gdson Muhammad and martyr Jubate Humblot, 536
Sa'd b. Abu Waqqas, conqueror Iraq Kamara Humblot, 539; Hunter, 436n.
Umar b. al-Khattab, 2nd Caliph various Jakhanke and Mandinka Humblot, 538; Soh,113,300; Marty, G, 106 ff
Uthman b.'Affan, 3rd Caliph Saghanogho et al. Humblot, 538

Many forces obviously contributed to this transformation, but the Fulɓe jihaads played a decisive role. They fused state formation, islamization, and Arab descent. They disseminated instruction in Fulfulde and Hausa and raised the possibility of transcribing other languages in the Holy script. They spread models for future renewers of Islam who would need to justify combat against « paganism ». They helped instil the sense that the savannah was a Muslim region where the only logical boundaries, such as the line suggested by the Kunta to separate Sokoto and Maasina, were those which divided specifically Islamic states. Umar Tal would build his jihaad on this sense of a Dar al-Islam and would carry the Fulɓe sense of election to new heights.

1. A. H. Bâ and G. Dieterlen, Koumen: texte initiatique des pasteurs peul, 1961.
2. The outstanding exception is the reference in the Kano Chronicle to Fulɓe clerics who arrived from « Mali » with books on divinity and etymology in the mid-fifteenth century. H. R. Palmer, Sudanese Memoirs (1928), vol. 3, p. 111.
3. G. Houdas, ed. and trans., Tarikh al-Sudaan (1964 edn.), pp. 58, 108-9, 124, 168, 188, 223, 228 of the French translation; G. Houdas, ed., and trans., Tarikh al-Fettash (1964 edn.), pp. 71, 91, 317. See also Saad, « Social history », pp. 174-5.
4. Tarikh al-Fettash, pp. 71, 145-7; Tarikh al-Sudan, pp. 127-8.
5. Shaikh Musa Kamara gives an extended critique of the Denyanke claims in Tanqiyat al-Afhaam min Shubuhaat al-Awhaam (IFAN Islamic Department, Fonds Kamara). The claim emerges in my interview with Samba Bokar Seck at Semme (Fuuta-Tooro) on 24 Apr. 1968 and in many Denyanke traditions. For Islamic practice among the Denyanke, see A. Teixeira da Mota, « Un document nouveau pour l'histoire des peuls au Sénégal pendant les XVème et XVIIème siècles », BCGP 96 (1969). For the formation of the Denyanke state, seej. Boulègue. « Un empire peul dans le Soudan occidental au début du XVIIe siècle », and Y. Person, « Nyaani Mansa Mamudu et la fin de l'empire du Mali », in the Raymond Mauny Festchrift, Le Sol, la Parole et l'Ecrit (2 vols., 1981), vol. 2.
6. The principal claims involved Alexander the Great, various Old Testament figures, the Copts, Persian refugees associated with Chosroes, Syrian refugees to Yemen and Abyssinia, and, above all, Himyarite or Yemeni kings. For some of these claims see Delafosse, Haut-Sénégal-Niger, vol. 1, pp. 216 and 254-6; Palmer, Mémoirs, vol. 2, pp. 61 and 96, vol. 3, pp. 6-8, 15, 24, 61-3, 87, 132 and 146; Fettash, pp. 330-2; Suddn, pp. 6-9. For an extended treatment of Berber myths of origin, see H. T. Norris, Saharan Myth and Saga, 1972.
7. For the Sharr Bubba and Ɓundu phenomena, see P. D. Curtin, “Jihaad in West Africa: early phases and interrelations”, JAH 1971, and David Robinson, “The Islamic revolution in Fuuta Toro”, UAHS 1975.
8. The most intelligible summaries of this jihaad are those by :

9. Karamoko is a Mandinka word for teacher and scholar; Alfa is a Fulfulde expression, taken probably from the Arabic al-faqih, “jurist”, which has a similar meaning. Saint-Père (“Création”, pp. 497-8) casts insight on the process of selection of Karamoko Alfa; the early leaders combined learning, prestige and wealth.
10. A cousin of Karamoko Alfa. Their family name is Bari and their lineage is often called Seydiyanke.
11. From the Arabic al-imaam, the official who leads in prayer. Almamy was the title of the heads of state in the two Fuutas and Ɓundu.
12. For the official account of the establishing of the constitution, see Tierno Diallo, Les institutions politiques; for a short summary, see Alfa lbrahima Sow, Chroniques et récits du Fouta Djalon (1968), pp. 3-13.
13. Bruce Mouser, “Trade, coasters and conflict in Rio Pongo from 1790 to 1808”, JAH 14.1 (1973), and “The Nunez affair”, Bulletin des Séances de l'Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer (Bruxelles), 1973.
14. On the question of a slave mode of production, see Mamadou S. Balde, “L'esclavage et la guerre sainte au Fuuta-Jalon”, in C. Meillassoux, ed., L'esclavage en Afrique précoloniale; A. Foster-Carter, “The mode of production controversy”, New Left Review, 1978; E. Terray, “Long-distance exchange and the formation of the state: the case of the Abron Kingdom of Gyaman”, Economy and Society 3 (1974); and the article of Rodney cited in note 8.
15. McGowan, “Development”, pp. 185, 240-59; William Cooper Thomson in CMS Archives, CAI/0214-0220, letter of 16 May 1843. Because of Tamba Fuuta consistently refused to allow European travellers to go down the Tinkisso valley for fear they might establish direct links with the enemy.
16. For examples of this pattern of influence, see the Mouser articles cited in note 13; Barbara Harrell-Bond, Allen Howard and David Skinner, Community Leadership and the Transformation of Freetown (1801-1976), 1978; and David Skinner, Thomas George Lawson, 1980.
17. For Labe expansion, see A. Demougeot, Notes sur l'organisation politique et administrative du Labe (IFAN, 1944), pp. 18-21.
18. The years in Fuuta-Jalon remain shrouded in mystery. Willis, on the basis of little evidence, has Umar studying in Fuuta-Jalon for twelve years (“Doctrinal basis”, chapter 1). He reduces this somewhat in his recent article (“The writings of al-hajj 'Umar al-Futi and Shaykh Mukhtar b. Wadii 'at Allah: literary themes, sources and influences”, in Willis, ed., Studies in West African Islamic History: the Cultivators (1979, p. 177), but he still maintains too long a period. Umar stayed for a maximum of five years and probably less. In Timbo, he studied with and took the Tijaniyya affiliation from Abdul Karim b. Ahmad al-Naqil, a member of the Bari lineage (see, for his colophon, BNP MO, FA 5410, 5438, 5477, 5581, 6503, and 5666). According to Umar, in Rimaah, vol. 1, 181, Abdul Karim became sick and died as Umar was heading cast on the pilgrimage, in about 1827; the colophons of the manuscripts, however, show him alive in 1245 A.H., or 1829-30 (5581, fos. 1-38, and 5603, fos. 106-11).
19. The most complete accounts of Islamic teaching in Fuuta-Jalon are found in:

20. I discuss Fulfulde 'ajami or vernacular literature in “Fulfulde literature in Arabic script”, HIA. 1982. Fuuta-Jalon tradition suggests that Umar opposed the use of Fulfulde texts (Sow, Filon, pp. 17-19) for fear of undermining instruction in Arabic. This is unlikely, and it does not coincide with the testimony of the Freetown tradition about instruction in the Umarian centres of Jegunko and Dingiray in the 1840s. See Said ud-Din al-Harazim, “The origin and progress of Islam in Sierra Leone”, SLS 21 (1939), pp. 21-2.
21. Sow, Filon, p. 43. Cerno Mamadu lived from about 1765 to 1852.
22. Sow, Filon, pp. 20-7, discusses some of the problems involved in developing a system of transcription. For the spread of Futanke education outside of the country, see W. Rodney, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545 to 1800 (1970), pp. 2345.
23. For a full discussion of the revolution, see my article, “Islamic revolution in Fuuta Toro”, IJAHS; Oumar Kane, “Les Maures du Fuuta-Tooro au XVIIIe siècle”, CEA 14 (1974). Toorobbhe literally means “beggars for alms” and was initially a pejorative term coined by the Denyanke Fulɓe to describe the clerics who sent their pupils out asking for gifts. H. Gaden, Proverbes et maximes peuls et toucouleurs (1931), pp. 316-17. The expression can also be derived from Toro, the province in western Fuuta for which all of Fuuta is named.
24. On the position of Fuuta-Tooro and other Senegambian states on enslavement, see B. Barry, Le royaume du Waalo (1972), pp. 215-18; Philip Curtin, Economic Change in Precolonial Africa (1975), vol. 1, pp. 182-5; and Rodney, “Social revolution”, pp. 281 ff.
25. In most oral tradition collected outside of Fuuta-Tooro, Almamy Abdul is portrayed as the aggressor who received his just reward. Robinson, “Revolution”, pp. 206-8.
26. The most accessible areas for raiding lay along the Gambia River and in eastern Senegambia, well to the south of Fuuta-Tooro. Pathe Diagne makes the same point in Pouvoir politique traditionnel en Afrique occidentale (1967), pp. 213 ff.
27. The worst case of misunderstanding is Oloruntimehin, Empire, especially chapter 1.
28. The fiefs were probably distributed by Almamy Yusuf Ly of Jaba in the early 19th century. See Robinson, “Revolution”, and Chiefs and Clerics (1975), pp. 184-90.
29. James P. Johnson, “The Almamate of Fuuta-Tooro, 1770-1836: a Political History” Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin (1974), chapters 4 and 6. The export of slaves from Senegal to the Americas remained quite substantial at least through the second decade of the nineteenth century. See the Report of the Commission of the African Institution, nos. 5 (1811) through 14 (1819). The British controlled St Louis briefly from 1809 to 1816.
30. P. Marty, Etudes sur l'Islam et les tribus maures: les Brakna (1921), pp.1-108; Stewart, Social Order, chapter 5.
31. On the Lam Toro's jurisdiction, see Robinson, Chiefs, pp. 43-53, 62-9, and 78-88.
32. The cousins of Sulaiman Bal, Hamat and Bokar Lamin Bal, were highly respected scholars. Hamat taught Biran Wan, married his sister, and made the Wan capital of Mbumba his home. Biran actually obtained the Almamyship several times in the 1820s and 1830s, but he made no changes in the structure of power. The head of the central Fuuta coalition which they opposed was Almamy Yusuf, and the power behind the throne, until his death in 1819, was Ali Dundu Kan. See Johnson, “Almamate”, chapters 6 and 7.
33. The turmoil of Fuuta and especially the western provinces was poignantly evident in 1828 when Hamme Bâ, a cleric from one of the Selobhe villages, returned from his studies and joined the Biran coalition against Yusuf. When his side suffered a stunning defeat, Hamme ó under the title Madiyu or Mahdi ó called on his supporters to repent in order to ensure victory the next time and sacrificed his own son as an example. The son, incidentally, was a Tal from Halwar on his mother's side. The leadership of Toro and the Almamate then expelled him from the middle valley for a period of time. See Robinson, Chiefs, pp. 82-4, and Johnson, “Almamate”, pp. 418-21. The most important original sources for the Madiyu are ANF, OM, SEN. 4.16 (reports of Berton, Director of Agriculture at Richard Toll, 30 Dec. 1828 and 16 Feb. 1829); and Shaikh Musa Kamara, Zuhur al-Basatin fi Tarikh al-Sawadin (2 vols., I FAN, Dakar, Arabic manuscript collection), vol. 2, fos. 371-2, 37983.
34. Eliman, a title reserved for a clerical family, derives from al-imam, the leader in prayer; it does not necessarily mean, however, that the holder of the title was also imam.
35. For the very scattered information on Eliman Saidu, see Kamara, Zuhdr, vol. 2, fos. 224, 232-4, 289 ff.; and the sources cited in chapter 1, note 49. Saidu probably studied at Pir, the famous school in southern Cayor, with some of the early tooroɓɓe. See note 42 below.
36. The marabout in question, Almamy Yusuf, told the two parties to make peace. Mage, Voyage, pp. 140- 1.
37. On the Tal family, see Gaden's notes in Tyam, Qacida, pp. 3n-4n; A. H. Bâ and M. Cardaire, Le Sage de Bandiagara (1957), annex; Marty, Soudan, vol. 2, p. 205, and his Etudes sur l'Islam au Sénégal (2 vols., 1917), vol. 1, p. 165; interview with Mamadou Dia, session 4 of 13 july 1968; interview with Amadou Wendou Node N'Diaye; session 2 of 7-8 Mar. 1968.
38. The problem of Umar's birthdate is compounded by the differences between the lunar Muslim calendar and the solar one used for counting the passing agricultural seasons in Fuuta-Tooro. When Mage, Voyage, p. 140) (says that Umar was 69 when he died in 1864 or Thiam (Qacida, p. 202) makes him 70, we do not know the basis of reckoning. The years 1794, based on solar reckoning, and 1797, based on lunar, are the usual choices, but there is no reason to exclude 1795 or 1796. For discussions of this problem, see Gaden's notes in Qacida, pp. 5-6; Umar al-Naqar, The Pilgrimage Tradition in West Africa (1972), p. 67; and Samb, “Omar par Kamara”, p. 789. In the absence of any reliable chronology for the first thirty years of Umar's life, I have followed the correlation in the oral tradition, for which see the interview with N'Diaye cited in note 37; interview with Thierno Yaya Sy, session 2 in Thilogne on 9 Apr. 1968; Kamara, Zuhur, vol. 2, fo. 294; Robinson, “Revolution”, pp. 205-8.
39. For the hagiography surrounding Umar's birth and childhood see chapter 1, section D. The story about refusing to take milk is found in Saki N'Diaye (Curtin interview) and Binta Madani N'Diaye (Radio Mali broadcast). One consequence of the confused hagiography and absence of other data on Umar's early years is that it will never be possible to write a full biography on the pattern of Hiskett's story of Uthman (Sword of Truth). There simply are no sources comparable to Abdullah's Tazyin al-Waraqat and Muhammad Bello's Infaq al-Maysur.
40. The main sources on Lamin and the Sakho lineage are Kamara, Zuhur, vol. 1, fos. 95-6, and vol. 2, fos. 223-5, 232-5, and an interview with Thierno Seidi N'Gayde and Sire Aminata Ly in Halaybhe on 11 Feb. 1974. Many Sakho clerics appear in the colophons of the Fonds Archinard manuscripts in the BNP, MO, FA.
41. BNP, MO, FA, 5519, fo. 97v.
42. Most Futanke traditionists put the tooroɓɓe leaders at the Pir school, in two or more cohorts. For the list obtained by Kamara in his compilation, see Zuhur, vol. 1, fo. 270.
43. Uthman dan Fodio and his supporters soon learned of the Almamy's death and of the selection of a cousin of Sulaiman Bal to be his successor. Muhammad Bello, Infaq al-Maysur (Whitting edn., 1957), pp. 207 ff.
44. The most important works are R. A. Adeleye, Power and Diplomacy in Northern Nigeria, 1804-1906, 1971; M. Hiskett, The Sword of Truth, 1973; and especially Murray Last, The Sokoto Caliphate, 1967.
45. Lovejoy and Baier, “Desert-side economy”.
46. See especially M. Waldman, “A note on the ethnic interpretation of the Fulani jihaad”, Africa 1966; M. A. Al-Haj, “The meaning of the Sokoto jihaad”, Sokoto Seminar paper (Jan. 1975). See also Last, Caliphate, pp. xxxviii, 9, 223; Hiskett, Sword, pp. 33, 157n., 177.
47. See Last, Caliphate, pp. 236 ff., for the prodigious scholarship of the Uthmanian leaders.
48. C. Stewart and R. Adeleye, “The Sokoto Caliphate in the nineteenth century”, in J. Ajayi and M. Crowder, eds., History of West Africa (revised edition, forthcoming), vol. 2.
49. The most succinct account of the jihaad in Hausaland and beyond can be found in Adeleye, Power, pp. 23 ff.; the most complete is S. Hogben and A. Kirk-Greene, The Emirates of Northern Nigeria, 1966, revised edn.
50. See Victor Low, Three Nigerian Emirates (1972), and Louis Brenner, The Shehus of Kukawa (1973).
51. In addition to Hogben and Kirk-Greene, see S. Johnson, History of the Yorubas (1921), pp. 190 ff., for a Yoruba perspective on the Fulɓe advance. See G. O. Gbadamosi, The Growth of Islam among the Yomba (1978), for a fuller discussion.
52. In addition to Hogben and Kirk-Greene, see S. A. Balogun, “Gwandu Emirates in the 19th century, with special reference to political relations, 1817-1903”, Ibadan University, Ph.D. thesis, 1971.
53. See the important text, translation, and introduction accomplished by F. H. El Masri in Uthman ibn Fudi, Baydn Wujub al-Hyjra “ala “l-ibad (1978); Muhammad al-Hajj, “The meaning of the Sokoto jihaad”, Sokoto Seminar, 1975; B. G. Martin, “Unbelief in the Western Sudan: Uthman dan Fodio's Ta“lim al-ikhwan”, MES 4.1 (1967); and Stewart and Adeleye, “Caliphate”.
54. For a succinct history of the Maasina Caliphate, see Johnson, “Economic foundations”. The most important sources are the oral traditions which appear in compressed form in A. Hampate Bâ and J. Daget, L'empire peul du Macina, vol. 1 (1818-53) (1962; hereafter and Daget, Empire peul), and William Brown, “The Caliphate of Hamdullahi, c.1818-64”, University of Wisconsin, Ph.D. thesis, 1969.
55. Maasina proper is the western portion of the inland delta but the term is used here in the large sense and as synonymous with the inland delta.
56. Barth (Voyage, vol. 3, map facing p. 683) shows the extension of Maasina to both the east and west.
57. Charles Stewart (in “Frontier disputes and problems of legitimation: Sokoto-Maasina relations, 1817-37”, JAH 1976) summarizes the information suggesting that Amadu initially, c, 1817, sought a flag from Sokoto-Gwandu, but never reaffirmed the tie after his 1818 success. See also Diarah, “Maasina”, pp. 204-19.
58. See Johnson, 'Economic foundations'.
59. Stewart, 'Frontier disputes'.
60. Stewart ('Frontier disputes') mentions the divisions between Bello and Abdullah and the suspicion that Sokoto was supporting a rival in Maasina as some of the causes.
61. For the forgery and how the forged passages fit into the Ta'rikh al-Fettash, see N. Levtzion « A seventeenth-century chronicle by Ibn al Mukhtir: a critical study of Ta'rikh al-Fattash », BSOAS 1971. Some of Seku Amadu's propaganda is contained in the Archinard collection (BNP, MO, FA, 5259, fos. 74-83).
62. In some Maasina circles the doctored account may still be believed. Cf. BSL and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 17 ff., 248, 257. Saad (« Social history », p. 377) suggests that certain Timbuktu scholars aided actively in the deception.
63. Kamara, Tanqiyat; Marty, Guinée, p. 353.
64. The contrast is formulated frequently in such twentieth-century works as Henri Gaden, Proverbes; Paul Irwin, Liptako Speaks, 1981; and Paul Riesman, Société et liberté chez les Peul Djelgobe de Haute Volta, 1974.
65. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century the torobbhe and other inhabitants of the middle valley were still called « Pooles » or « Foulhas ». The principal nineteenth-century ethnographies reflecting the new usage of Tokolor are L. Berenger-Feraud, Les Peuplades de la Sénégambie, 1879; Abbé P. D. Boilat, Esquisses sénégalaises, 1853; and Raffenel, Nouveau voyage. Ultimately the French usage has become standard and led to the titles of
Oloruntimehin's and Saint-Martin's books mentioned in the Introduction, note 8.
66. Bello, Infaq, pp. 208-9. See also M. Delafosse, « Traditions musulmanes relatives à l'origine des peuls », RMM 1912, pp. 259-60 and 251-2; and H. R. Palmer, ed. and trans., Sultan Mohammed Bello's Account of the Origin of the Fulɓe (1931), p. 20.
67. See Sayyid Hurreiz, « Afro-Arab relations in the Sudanese folktale », in R. Dorson, ed., African Folklore (1972), pp. 157-64.
68. For versions on the four sons and lineages, see Delafosse, « Peuls », 254-6, 260; Abdullah, Tazyin al-Waraqaat (Hiskett edn., 1963), pp. 97-8 of the translation.
69. A. Butler, The Arab Conquest of Egypt (1902), p. 432; J. Glubb, The Great Arab Conquests (1963), pp. 262, 353-5.
70. The Kunta list culminated in a son of Uqba who allegedly died in Walata. Marty, Etudes sur l'Islam et les tribus du Soudan (4 vols., 1920), vol. 1, pp. 2-11. The Kunta version was probably formulated at the same time as the Fulɓe claim. It first appeared in written form in the early nineteenth century. See T. Whitcomb, « New evidence on the origins of the Kunta », BSOAS 1975.
71.Delafosse, Haut-Sénégal-Niger, vol. 1, pp. 212-13; Soh, Chroniques, pp. 123-31.
72. Delafosse, « Peuls », p. 263; Kamara, Tanqiyat; Norris, Myth and Saga, p. 150. On the difficulty of manipulating traditions, see Robin Law's account of Oyo's efforts in « The heritage of Oduduwa: traditional history and Political propaganda among the Yoruba », JAH 1973.
73. The geographical observation comes from a close examination of maps for Senegambia, Khasso, and Fuuta jalon from about 1800 to the 1920s. Umar criticized Muhammad Bello for allowing the Sokoto community to venerate the tomb of Uthman (see Last, Caliphate, p. 218), but his own followers would later flock to his tomb in Degembere.
74. The Khasso reference comes from Duranton in C. Faure, « Le premier séjour de Duranton au Sénégal » RHCF 1921, p. 220. The Kano version comes from Adamu's testimony to Koelle in S. Koelle, Polyglotta Africana (1854), p. 18.