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Posted - 09 Mar 2022 :  12:26:39  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
By Dembo Fatty

I have always held the believe that the battle of Kansala was not fought on the basis of an ethnic conflict as has been the mainstream believe. To the contrary, the battle of Kansala was both an economic and religious war. With limited resources and an increasing population, it was just a matter of time before conflicts will emerge between pastoralists and sedentary farmers. The demand for arable land and access to water, became so important that it made its way into the Manding Charter of 1235 or 1236 by other accounts.

Article 39 of the Manding Charter reads:
“Domestic animals should be tied during cultivation and freed after the harvest. The dog, the cat, the duck and the8 poultry are not bound by the measure”.

It shows the struggles over the centuries to maintain a balance between human activity and the environment but also the need to preserve property without necessarily endangering food security. This legislation is as old as 787 years and despite it, the struggle continued to this day.

Kaabu Empire was no exception to this multi-generational human phenomenon and it was a matter of time before the problem escalated to bring about strives. From the mass migration of the Fulani from Toro under the legendary Kolli Tengella Bah to the fertile lands of the Jallon, and the reverse migration to what would later become known as Kaabu Empire around 1725, a real demand for land for grazing was imminent. Coupled with the emergence of an Islamic theocracy around Labe, the heartland of the Imamate of Futa Jallon, what was cloaked with an ethnic pretext for “independence” was nothing but a fight for arable land and the spread of Islamic religion to the “heathens” of Malinke people north of Futa Jallon but south of Futa Toro.
The effect was a push from the southern fringes of the Sahara, specifically from Futa Toro down to Jimara under Alfa Molloh who would convert to Islam to be given the name Alfa by Sheikh Omar Futi but hitherto, he was simply Mollo Baldeh and a known elephant hunter.
To squeeze the non-Islamic state of Kaabu, an alliance was forged with their Fulani brethren south of Kaabu’s borders and a willing partner was found in Labe who too, held the secret ambitions of converting these heathens. Coincidentally, both forces belong to the same brotherhood of the Tijaniyya sect. What is however lost in the narrative leading to Kansala was that the Muslim forces that advanced from south of Kaabu also included thousands of Mandinkas who converted to Islam and were called Mandinka Mori meaning Muslim Mandinka a testament to their more recent conversion to the Islamic faith. Kansala was not an ethnic conflict.


The story of Queen Sira Bah had to predate the Battle of Kansala which occurred on May 13, 1867 and ended on May 24 1867, a duration of just 12 days. This in itself points to the fact that Kaabu in fact did not put up a good resistance and many in fact supported the Muslim forces. Kaabu had an unpopular king, who imposed himself on the people, went to war against his own people and was in fact on the path of self-destruction when he swore that he would be the last king of Kaabu on the day of his coronation. Kaabu had a king who was on a suicide mission in order to fulfill his prediction.

Only such a king would order his troops to dig trenches and ask guards to stand inside whilst sand was poured in the trenches up to the waists of the soldiers to show that a Nyancho will never run. The invading forces found this act too welcoming as they beheaded the soldiers in the trenches around the capital because they could not run and change battle plans in response to attacks. A Kaabu General was reported to have walked out of the gates of Kansala with just a stick because he felt too good to arm himself and face the invading force. He was killed instantly. In the end, Jankay Wally would fulfill his prophesy by blowing up the gunpowder stores and he himself died in the explosions.

We are digressing.

Legend has it that a long long time ago, a king of Kaabu known as Mansa Sio, rescued an enslaved Fulani girl called Sira Bah, granted her freedom and then married her. What this story points to is the fact that the inflammatory accounts of the great animosity between the Fulani and the Mandinka was unfounded. Otherwise, a Mandinka King would not have granted freedom to Sira let alone contemplate on marrying her. That would have been an unpopular event not only in the courts of kansala but across the great expanse of the Kaabu Empire.

In fact to celebrate this act, a song was composed for the Fulani Queen of kaabu as thus:
Sira Ba la jonya Sira Ba's slavery
Wo te mo diminna Wouldn't bother anybody.
A t'a tula mo ye She doesn't pound grain for anyone
A t'a bila mo ye She doesn't fetch water for anyone.
Don’t fall for the 19th century European version of our history which still is dragging us away from a unified Africa and we have unfortunately been seeing things through the borrowed lenses of the colonialists.

Many other events are abound to proof this thesis that Kansala was simply a competition for resources and the struggles between Islam and traditional Africa spirituality and way of life best captured in the book “The Lion and The Jewel” by Wole Soyinka.

Now let’s celebrate this Fulani Queen of Kaabu and for all I know, some Nyanchos may in fact be cousins of the Fulani. A similar event occurred in what is today Upper River Region, when a king granted freedom to an enslaved woman with a baby boy on her back, married the woman and adopted the baby who would later become king briefly before he was removed by the clan.

I claim no rights to the music. For entertainment purposes only

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


655 Posts

Posted - 10 Mar 2022 :  13:01:46  Show Profile Send kiwi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting reading!

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