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The Kingdom of Fouta Djallon (also the Kingdom of Fuuta Jallon and the Timbo Almamate) (1725-1896) was a pre-colonial West African state based in the Fouta Djallon highlands of modern Guineamarker.

Origin

The Fuuta Jallon area was settled by the semi-nomadic Fula or Fulani people (Fulɓe in their language) over successive generations between 13th and 16th centuries. Initially they were a traditionalist people called Pulli or Pulaar, from which the language derives its name. In the 16th century an influx of Muslim Fulɓe from the Macina area of Malimarker changed the fabric of Fula society.

Jihad

As in the Kingdom of Fuuta Tooro, the Muslim and traditionalist Fulɓe of Fuuta Jallon lived side-by-side. Then, according to traditional accounts, a 17th century holy war erupted. In 1725, the Muslim Fulɓe took complete control of Fuuta Jallon and set up the first of many Fula theocratic states to come. Alfa Ibrahim was appointed commander of the Faithful and first Almaami of the kingdom of Fuuta Jalon. Fuuta Jallon's theocratic model would later inspire the Fula state of Fuuta Tooro.

Kingdom

The new kingdom of Fuuta Jallon was governed under strict Islamic Law with a central ruler in the city of Timbomarker, near present-day Mamoumarker. The kingdom contained nine provinces called diwe, which all held a certain amount of autonomy. These diwè were: Timbo, Timbi, Labè, Koîn, Kolladhè, Fugumba, Kèbaly, Fodé Hadji and Murya. The meeting of the rulers of these diwè at Timbi decided to introduce Alpha Ibrahima from Timbo as first Almamy Fuuta Jallon with residence at Timbo. Timbo then became the capital of Fuuta Jallon until the arrival of French colonialists. The objective of the constitution of this kingdom was to convince local communities to became Muslim. Through war and negotiation it became a regional power, wielding influence and generating wealth. As a sovereign state, it dealt with Francemarker and other European powers as a diplomatic peer while championing artistic and literary achievement in Islamic learning at centers such as the holy city of Fugumba.

Schism

After the death of the first Almaami of the kingdom, his descendents split into the two houses of Alfaya and Soriya. They fought incessantly throughout the kingdom's history and threatened to destroy the new state altogether. This was resolved by a system of dual leadership where there were always two Almaamis (one from each house). The two Almaamis would trade off power every two years, but the system was hardly streamlined and didn't always work smoothly.

Dominance

The kingdom of Fuuta Jallon became a multiethnic, multi-lingual society, ruled by Muslim Fulɓe and backed by powerful free and slave armies. The Fulɓe of Fuuta Jallon and Fuuta Tooro were able to take advantage of the growing slave trade with the Europeans on the coast, particularly the Frenchmarker and Portuguesemarker. The twin Fula states also supplied valuable grain, cattle and other goods to their European neighbors on the coast. The Almaami would demand gifts in return for trade rights, and could enforce his will with a well-supplied army.

Decline

The French were not satisfied with mere dominance of the coast and increasingly one-sided trade with the Fulbe. They began making inroads into Fuuta Jallon by capitalizing on its internal struggles. Finally, in 1896, at the battle of Pore-Daka, the French defeated the last Almaami of Fuuta Jallon, Buubakar dit Bocar Biro.

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