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The Kingdom of Fouta Tooro or the Kingdom of Fuua Tooro (1776-1861) was a pre-colonial West African state of the Fula-speaking people (Fulɓe and Toucouleurs) centered around the middle valley of the Senegal River. The region is known as Futa Tooro.

Origins

The word Fuuta was a general name the Fulbe gave to any area they lived in, while Tooro was the actual identity of the region for its inhabitants. The people of the kingdom spoke Pulaar, a dialect of the greater Fula languages spanning West Africa from Senegalmarker to Nigeriamarker. They identified themselves by the language giving rise to the name Haalpulaar'en meaning those who speak Pulaar. The Haalpulaar'en are also known as Toucouleurs, a name derived from the ancient state of Tekrur.

Denanke period

From 1495 to 1776, the Fulbe people were under the control of the Denanke Kingdom. The Fulbe leadership of Denanke were non-Muslims that ruled over most of Senegal. By the 18th century, the kingdom was severely weakened by a combination of North African invaders and growing resentment amongst the largely Muslim lower class. Under the unifying banner of Islam, the Muslim Fulbe revolted under the leadership of Sileymaani Baal. The following Islamic revolution created the new kingdom of Fuuta Tooro under a government called the Almamate (a Fulbe corruption of the Arabic al-imaam)..

The Toorobbe

A new class was also born called the toorobbe. The name comes from the verb tooraade, meaning to beg for alms in reference to the Qur'anic school pupils who supported themselves in that way. The label of begging was likely applied by the Denanke court who made fun of the Muslim underclass. The toorobbe took the pejorative connotation and transformed it into a proud new identity. The toorobbe became the new ruling class and grew rapidly in numbers as pastoral and sedentary Fulbe joined their ranks.

Government

The kingdom was ruled by an Almaami or Almaamy elected from a group of eligible lineages who possessed the necessary credentials of learning by local chiefs called jaggorde or jaggorgal. There was an electoral council, which contained a fixed core and a fluctuating periphery of members. Two families were eligible for the post of Almaami, the Lih of Jaaba in Hebbiyaabe province and the Wan of Mbummba in Laaw province.

Abdul Kaader

The first and most effective ruler of Fuuta Tooro was Almaami Abdul Kaader, a victorious general who extended Fulbe influence into the regions of western and southeastern Senegal. He also redistributed lands amongst his followers and assigned imaams to many villages. The quick rise to power of the Fuuta Tooro kingdom was halted however by Almaami Abdul's defeat in Kajoor around 1797. This marked the beginning of the decline of the regime. Abdul was assassinated in 1807.

Decline

The Almamate survived through the 19th century albeit in a much weaker state. The state was governed officially by the Almaami, but effective control lay with regional chiefs of the central provinces who possessed considerable land, followers and slaves. The struggle of various coalitions of electors and eligibles further hastened the decline of the kingdom.

In the middle of the 19th century Tooro was threatened by the French under the leadership of Governor Louis Faidherbe. At the same time, Umar Tall, a native of Tooro, launched a holy war against the predominantly non-Muslim Mandinka and Bambara to the east. To achieve his goals he recruited heavily in Senegambia, especially in his native land. The recruitment process, in which Umar evoked the founders of the Islamic revolution, reached its culmination in a massive drive in 1858 and 1859. It had the effect of undermining the power of the Almaami even more.

The authority of the regional chiefs, and particularly that of the electors, was compromised much less than that of the Almaami. Some of these leaders became fully independent and fought off the French and Umar Tall on their own. As a result, the Almaami and the chiefs began to rely increasingly on French support.

The last Almaami of Fuuta Tooro was overthrown and made a lieutenant of Umar Tall in 1861.

See also



References




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