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11565 Posts

Posted - 24 Apr 2023 :  17:06:55  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote

By Dembo Fatty

A very long time ago ( around 9th century BC), in what is today known as Macina in present day Mali, was an area called simply Dia and today has a population estimated at 9000 people. But that pales in comparison to its humble beginnings. Its major ethnic communities today include the Bozo and Somono fishermen, Marka (Soninke) rice farmers and the Fulani herdsmen.

Please note that by 9th century B.C, Macina did not exist. The reference to Macina is just for illustration purposes only to allow the reader to locate the area under discussion.

Overtime, Dia Macina became a reputable Islamic center which attracted the likes of Alhajj Umar Taal who conquered the place in the 19th century. So many ethnic groups can identify themselves with Dia Macina along its historical and political evolution journey for nearly 3000 years ago.

History students would note or have already noted that Alhaji Salim (Suwareh) initially stayed in this very Dia Macinna in the 13th century before he moved to found Dia Bambuk or Bambuk Diakha. Concidence? No. In my opinion, Saloum Suwareh was merely retracing an old lineage and so he had to start somewhere. This Dia Macina may well be an earlier Diakha before another was formed called Bambuk Diakha.

According to historical accounts, the earliest known groups that populated Dia were the Tomotas and Kwantas, who are portrayed as autochthonous hunters and fishermen respectively (Sakai 1990). It was these two groups that united into what became the Bozo ethnic group. Now the can of worms is opened because these two ethnic groups are probably extinct and their language either dead or limited n geography. So the closest to our understanding and appreciation of the current inhabitants of Dia are the Bozo who still survived the journey of human development and societal evolution.

By today’s accounts, Dia is Bozo country who claim ancestry from the Tomata and Kwanta, who originally lived and populated the settlement.

Over the horizon appeared the Maraka/Soninke/Sarahulle group who would subjugate them under a key figure called Ndinga or Dinga (Fay 1997:166). Could this Dinga be the famous Dinka Ceesay the father of Jabi Ceesay who founded Wagadu around 790? Have you noticed the emergence of the names Jabi and Ceesay even before the formation of clerical Diakha? What comes to your mind?

Where is this leading to? Jabi and Ceesay names existed at least 400 years before Salim Suwareh and so Diakha has to be redefined to accommodate this historical fact. That is why Diakha must be seen from a geographical but more particularly from a clerical perspective rather than ethnic.

In fact some of the key families of Diakha like the Sillah, Jabi Gassama etc claim ancestry from Arabia not Diakha in Africa yet they are still associated with Diakha of Africa. The historical parallels are so obvious that a convergence is impossible. In my later write up, I will attempt to discuss the histories of the Sillah, Jabbi-Gassama and Jaiteh Kabba, key and prominent families contributing immensely to the founding and sustenance of this clerical movement based on peaceful conversion to Islam wherever they went. A reason why a Diakhanka would not want to swear to the Holy Koran or start a litigation process against anyone.

Salim Suwareh was in some accounts said to have a ceesay last name and that Suwareh was later added which diminished or dwarfed his baptismal name. It is not surprising that Salim would begin his religious life at Dia Macina where most likely the ceesay ruling class of Wagadu would have had a lot of influence because the settlement was near a body of water and rich in agricultural produce. In fact, one of his sons who later adopted the name Darameh Ba was associated with agriculture. That cannot be a coincidence.

The interesting issue that his frequent visits to Mecca, about seven times may have been partly due to the fact that he had family in Mecca. Did this family migrate with him and settled in Mecca, or was Ahaji Salim an Arab who later settled in Africa to propagate Islam? The Jury is still out

The question is asked why the Baa Naani of Saloum Suwareh all ended up having four different last names even though their father was Ceesay turned Suwareh? Fadiga Tulli, Fofana-Girasi, Suwareh and Drammeh were actually brothers but all of sudden they appear to have different last names. The reason is these new last names came about because of events. For example, Darameh ba was very much associated with agriculture and a name emerged. Fadiga was very good at using honey in religious offerings and honey became associated with Fadiga etc. From the outside, they appear to be different families but in reality it’s the same household. Last names can be very deceiving in West Africa.

Until we seriously understand the evolution of names and surnames, we will not appreciate the historical connections we share and sometimes we consider some people as outsiders who are in fact our brethren.

Sundiata Keita for example was Conateh and not Keita. He started a new line of family of Keita simply because he restored kingship to the family which in Mandinka means Kay Taa. Kay means inheritance and Taa meaning to restore or take because he snatched it from Sumanguru.

History must be understood from the perspective of language of the indigenes otherwise many mistranslations will occur throwing dust in the eyes of people creating a spiral of commotions that further muddies the streams of knowledge.

This was old Dia or Diakha if you like and it would take 2100 years after its founding for a clerical Diakha to appear. By the 9th century BC, even Christianity did not come into existence let alone Islam. So if you will claim connections to Dia or Diakha, you must be prepared to associate yourself to this old city which became a spring board for the founding of many Diakha settlements. From Bambuk Diakha to Futa Touba, to Diakha of Saloum all the way to Maka Koli Bantang in the Tamba region of Senegal.

There was a Diakha before the clerical Diakha. Each must be treated separately but concurrently to appreciate the historical and clerical evolution of Diakha as both a geography and a clerical sphere.

1. Fay, C. 1997 ‘Les demiers seront les premiers: peuplements et pouvoirs mandingues
et peuls au Maasina (Mali)’, M. de Bruijn and H. van Dijk (eds.) Peuls et Mandingues,
Paris, ASC-Karthala: 165-191.

2. Sakai, S. 1990 ‘Traditions Orales k Ja: Histoire et Idlologie dans une ancienne city Islamique’, Kawada Junzo (ed.) Boucle Du Niger - approches multidisciplinaires, Vol.2, Institut de Recherches sur les langues et Cultures d’Asie et d’Afrique, Tokyo: 211-259.

3. Many others. Be creative

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


11565 Posts

Posted - 26 Apr 2023 :  20:19:49  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote

By Dembo Fatty

As I have mentioned in many of my writings, Jakha or Jahanka is a complex term very difficult to define and those who are looking at it from the perspective of ethnicity will always come short of an acceptable definition with a broad base support.

However, if we open our minds to accepting that Jakha or a Jahanka should be defined from the perspectives of geography and or clericalism, then we will begin to descend to a more reasonable classification thereby recognizing the broad and complex nature of Jakha as a reference point on a map.

When the migration out of Bambuk Jakha was set in motion, one key figure, Karamokho Ba or otherwise known as Salim Gassama, named after Salim Suwareh of great feat, headed into the direction of Fouta and by 1804, a new settlement called Fouta Touba was founded. He too, like his namesake, (Salim Suwareh), undertook the task with many a following. His name sake migrated with about 100 families.

After founding Fouta Touba, the venerated leader divided the town into four wards for ease of administration as follows:

1. KARAMBA YAA (or Al-qasm al-awal)

This ward is the innermost ward and directly supervised by Karamokho Ba himself. This section consisted of the following patronymics: Kabba/Jaiteh, Sillah, Drammeh, Touray, Suwareh, Sawaneh, Fadiga, Dabo and Jallow.

Notice the last name Jallow which I have extensively written about and also appeared as one of the 16 Clans families of the military wing of Manding’s army. That is a subject for another day.

2. Ward Number 2
This ward consisted of; Gassama Temoto (middle Gassama) and Gassama Santo (upper Gassama).

3. Ward Number 3
This ward consisted of Fofana-Girasi, Ceesay, Dumbuya, Jawara and Kamara.

4. Ward Number 4
This ward consisted of Fofana-Jula, Bajo, Dansokho, Tamanate, Jakhabi Temoto, (middle Jakhabi) Jakhabi Santo (Upper Jakhabi), Danfakha and Minteh.

It is important to note that each of these wards were served by dependent castes especially leather workers who contributed immensely to the spiritual life of the communities they served especially in the preparation and preservation of jujus.

Looking at these names, it is clear that Jakha consisted of many families united by geography but more expressly by a prayer economy. This is why classification is difficult. Some last names that appeared here may be news to many let alone to be associated with Jakha.

In fact, the Jakha of Salim Suwareh was even more complex than that of Fouta Touba which boasted of over 100 families united under the main objective of propagating Islam through peaceful Da_wah (missionary work).

May be, you have shifted a bit to the right with your understanding of Jakha and ready to be accommodative of the roles of others.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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11565 Posts

Posted - 27 Apr 2023 :  17:00:19  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote


By Dembo Fatty

Quite often many tend to confuse the line of succession in Fouta Touba with Karanmokho Ba Yaa. These two are slightly different but similar.

The line of succession is simply his direct descendant which is not in doubt. However, Karamokho Ba Yaa is an administrative unit within his household which of course included his direct descendants.

We need some Mandinka grammar discourse for better understanding.

Yaa in Mandinka refers to a household. It could mean a compound and we all know that a compound can hosts different last names. Yaa in Mandinka language always refers to a first name and not a last name for example: Lamin Yaa, Ebrima Yaa but once you want to reference a last name, it becomes KUNDA; for example Jawneh kunda, Alikali Kunda, Alimami Kunda. In the case of the two preceding examples (Alikali Kunda, Alimami Kunda), it refers directly to the bloodlines who can become Alkali or Almami because these two are hereditary and obviously are based on last names not first names).

Unfortunately, the name KUNDA had never been used to refer to the administrative units. It will be grammatically wrong in Mandinka to say Karamokho Ba Yaa to mean his direct descents who would have carried his last name of Jabbi. Rather, a reference to his direct descendants would have been called Karamokho Ba Kunda which was never the case.

So simply put, Karamokho Ba Yaa is a reference to members of his household or ward who may not all be his direct descendants. Language and its appreciation are very important in research.

Let’s proceed. We are digressing.

There is a general consensus that Fouta Touba was founded in the year 1804 by which year Salim Jabbi was 74 years old because his date of birth is said be in 1730. He was definitely a senior citizen at the founding of the settlement of Fouta Touba.

From 1804 onwards, he was the religious leader of the settlement and over all the four wards that look up to him in both spiritual and political guidance although the other three ward heads tended to exercise some level of autonomy in matters of their internal administrative duties.

Salim Jabbi continued as head until 1824, when he died. He was also known by other names. These were Karamokho Ba and Jaghun Al-Hajj. He was buried in the precincts of the Mosque.

He had twelve sons as follows: Muhammad al-Kabir; Muhammad Diakhaba; Muhammad Sanusi; Mohammad Khasso; Muhammad Buhari; Muhammad Taslimi; Muhammad Sire; Muhammad Kamisatu; Muhammad ; Muhammad Khirasi; Muhammad Ghulli; Mohammad Tumaju; and Muhammad bin Ali.

Salim Jabbi was succeeded by his sixth son Muhammad Taslimi but also known as Karang Taslimanka or Karanmokho Sankung. Taslimanka’s mother was Isatou Kamara, the Sierra Leonean Princess from Faye (or Failung). Her father was King Ishaqa Kamara.
Probably because of longevity, Salim’s sixth son succeeded him who before marrying his mother, was foretold that his spiritual successor would come from the line of royals.

Tasilimanka was born in 1776 by which year his father, Salim Jabbi would have been 46 years old. So Tasilimanka could not have been born in Fouta Touba because he was 28 years old when Fouta Touba was founded. He continued as spiritual leader until 1829 when he died, a span of five years. He was credited to have continuously lived I Touba for over 20 years without leaving the city except once when he travelled to be inducted into the Qadiriya "Wird" by Sheikh Abd al-latif of Kounta and Muhammad Khalifa of Trarza. One of his known Gambian students was Sahil Binne from Baddibu Salikeni.

Tasilimanka was succeeded by his eldest son Karamokho Ba Madi in 1829 until 1837 a period spanning eight years. He died on a journey through Dabola (central Guinea).

Karamokho ba Madi was succeeded by his brother Muhammad Khasso who ruled for 40 years, perhaps one of the longest serving spiritual leaders in Touba. He died in 1877 and earned him the title “Abidan wara an” (shepherd of the flock, godly and upright).

Muhammad Khasso was succeeded by his brother Muhammad bin Ali who ruled until 1881; a period of only four years.

Muhammad bin Ali was succeeded by his brother Muhammad Mustafa ibin Muhammad Taslimi who also ruled for only four years and died in 1885.

Muhammad Mustafa Ibin Muhammad Taslimi was succeeded by in 1885 by his brother Karamokho Qutubo. Karamokho Qutubo was born in 1830 and died in 1905. He served as spiritual leader for a period of 20 years. He was one of the most influential spiritual leaders out of Fouta Touba. He travelled extensively especially to many Gambian districts and he was said to have about 780 students.

He was a diplomat as well and arranged a truce in the 1897 between Alfa yaya Jallow and his son Modi Aquibou Jallow. Aquibou, trying to place himself in a favourable succession to the throne of Fouta, decided to murder his brother and Alfa Yaya was furious who raised an army against his son. The son also raised an army against his father and as Alfa Yaya’s troops were nearing Fouta Touba for an eventual show down between father and son, Qutubo intervened and succeeded in having Aquibou submit to his father and a blood bath was avoided in Fouta. (Marty 1921 : 101)
Karamokho Qutubo died on the 6th /7th July 1905 at age 78 by Islamic calendar and 75 by the Christian calendar.

He was succeeded by Karamokho Madi also known as Karamokho al-Maghili who was born in 1885 and died in 1906. Served for only a year a spiritual leader.

Karamokho Madi was succeeded by Karamokho Sankoung also known as Muhammad Tasilimi who was born in 1860 and died in 1928. He was exiled in 1911

1. Marty P; L’Islam en Guinee, 1921

2. L.O. Sanneh; The Jahanka, 2018

3. Assan Sarr; Land, Power, And Dependency along the Gambia River, Late Eighteenth to Early Nineteenth Centuries (African Studies Review, Vol. 57, No. 3 (DECEMBER 2014), pp. 101-121)

4. John Hunwick; Gao and the Almoravids Revisited: Ethnicity, Political Change and the Limits of Interpretation; The Journal of African History; Vol. 35, No. 2 (1994), pp. 251-273 (23 pages) Published By: Cambridge University Press

5. Allen M. Howard; Mande Identity Formation in the Economic and Political Context of North-West Sierra Leone, 1750-1900; Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde, Bd. 46 (2000), pp. 13-35 (23 pages)

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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