History. Culture. Islam

Louis Brenner
West African Sufi
The Religious Heritage and Spiritual Search of Cerno Bokar Saalif Taal

University of California Press
Berkeley & Los Angeles. 1984. 215 p.

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The Political Background

The patterns which shaped Cerno Bokar's life were informed by three major interrelated themes:

Most of this book is devoted to the first of these themes, to an examination of the content of Cerno Bokar's religious thought and teaching and to the influences which informed it. Of course, one can only go so far in such an exploration. The broader religious and intellectual background is relatively easy to establish, but the causes of Cerno Bokar's precise orientation within this context are very elusive because their understanding requires an exploration into personalities and personal relationships about which one necessarily knows little. For example, a study of Tijani doctrine and practice in West Africa can reveal the possible sources for most if not all of Cerno Bokar's religious ideas and teachings, but this exercise cannot explain the reasons for his personal attraction to contemplative mysticism. Similarly, Cerno Bokar's position of leadership in the Tijaniyya Sufi order seems easy to comprehend when one considers his status in the Taal family and his training in religious studies; such a development seems natural if not inevitable. But this kind of reasoning cannot explain events in Cerno Bokar's later life when his religious convictions set him in direct confrontation with most members of his family. Finally, we know virtually nothing about how Cerno Bokar felt or what he thought about the colonial presence in West Africa, although the tightening grip of French authority and influence could not but have been of concern to him. The crisis which overshadowed the final years of his life was in large part the result of French attitudes and policies towards Islam.
This book explores at varying levels of analysis the interrelation of these thematic patterns in Cerno Bokar's life. The object is to present the relevant background in as much or as little detail as seems appropriate so that the development of Cerno's life can be viewed not only in proximity to the man himself but also from the broader perspective of the world in which he lived. That world was in change, and much of the dynamic tension in Cerno's life was the direct result of the varying pace and differing directions of this change. Cerno Bokar himself was the advocate and agent of a particular form of religious radicalism which he had inherited from his family forebears: he was a proselytizer of Islam among the “unbelievers,” especially the Dogon among whom he lived; as a teacher he developed and improved the forms and texts of religious instruction, especially those designed for teaching the non-literate; and he was a propagator of Tijani Sufism as a leading muqaddam of that brotherhood. Indeed, it was as a Tijani that his radicalism was most pronounced, because he clung tenaciously to the fundamental precepts of that order at a time when many others had begun to drift away from them. This drift was the direct result of Tijani political successes, uneven as they were. In the aftermath of the jihâd of al-Hajj Umar earlier in the nineteenth century, many Tijani leaders became rather more interested in conserving their political authority than in confronting the spiritual rigours of Sufism. This trend was only intensified by the onslaught of French imperial power; Tijani leadership was decimated and dispirited by the imposition of this alien authority. For many Tijanis the only response they could find to the new situation was political: some resisted, many others collaborated in one way or another. But Cerno Bokar, who was born only about a decade before the French conquest, found for himself a somewhat different response: he acted almost as if the conquest had never occurred. This strategy seemed to work well enough until the time when the pursuit of his personal religious goals came into direct conflict with French political interests.
Cerno Bokar was not a political man, but neither was he immune to the effects of the political forces around him. His disciples were drawn to him because of the qualities they saw in him as a man of religion, but many of these same persons were also being drawn into the political turmoil of the day. One flirted with the French Popular Front, another was active in forming the Dogon Union, a nascent political party, another was passionately and aggressively anti-French. None of them received any encouragement for their political activities from Cerno Bokar; sometimes quite the opposite. For Cerno the French presence was a fact of life which must be accepted, no more and no less important than any other fact of political and social life. What was of primary importance to him was how one lived one's life so as to prepare for religious salvation. For him rulers were necessary in society; but, who ruled was not terribly important. Rulers should be just, of course, but he was not shocked to find that many of them were not. The French possessed both good and bad qualities; so did members of his own family, the Taal, who had come to power under his great-uncle, al-Hajj Umar. He believed in the inevitability of inequality in society, but also in the equality of all men before God. He did not proclaim any of these views with political intention, which does not mean they were not understood by those around him to have political implications. Cerno does not even seem to have been much concerned over whether young Muslim children attended French schools, a highly emotive issue for many Muslim parents early in the century. In his opinion one could be a good Muslim regardless of the nature of one's formal education, and being a good Muslim was the ultimate goal to which all others were secondary.
In short, Cerno Bokar was a non-political man living in a highly charged and turbulent political world. Proclaim as he might his lack of interest in politics, politics was interested in him. For much of his adult life he managed to remain isolated from direct political engagement, but he could never completely separate himself from the heritage of his own family nor could he escape the nervous attention of French colonial authority. We therefore begin with an examination of the complex interrelationship between two of the thematic patterns which shaped Cerno Bokar's life: the wave of religious renewal initiated by al-Hajj Umar and the expansion of French imperial domination. Indeed, these were two powerful transforming forces which deeply affected all the western Soudan in the nineteeth and early twentieth centuries.

Al-Hajj Umar and the forces of Islamic renewal

Al-Hajj Umar Taal al-Fûtî al-Tûrî 1 is one of the most prominent Muslim figures in West African history. Born in the last decade of the eighteenth century in the Senegal River valley, he devoted his life to religious study from an early age. In about 1825 he undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca, and remained for about three years in the environs of the Holy Cities where he received instruction and guidance in the doctrines of the Tijaniyya Sufi order which he had joined in West Africa. His instructor in Mecca, one of the most elevated leaders of the order, appointed Umar a khalifa in the Tijaniyya order, a position which gave him effective spiritual authority over all Tijani adherents in West Africa 2.
Although the Tijaniyya order was not yet very widespread in West Africa, al-Hajj Umar began actively proselytizing on its behalf as soon as he had returned from Mecca. His enthusiasm was not welcomed in all quarters and he occasionally found himself engaged in serious disputes, especially with the Shehu of Borno and with the Qadiri Sufi leaders of Timbuktu and Masina. On the other hand, he got on well with the Qadiri Caliph Muhammad Bello of Sokoto, with whom he remained for some years and whose daughter he married. During these years Umar also wrote quite extensively, and the subject to which he increasingly warmed was the explication of Tijani doctrine, an interest which culminated in 1845 in the completion of what must be considered his major work, Rimâh hizb al-rahîm 'alâ nuhr hizb al-rajîm (The Spears of the Party of the Merciful against the Throats of the Party of the Damned) 3. Despite its militant title, the book is a detailed explanation and defense of Tijani ideas and teachings and is considered by members of the order to be one of their most authoritative doctrinal works. It must be one of the most widely read books ever written by any West African Muslim scholar and has been published in Cairo, Tunis, and Beirut.
Although upon his return to West Africa al-Hajj Umar put most of his effort into spreading the doctrines of the Tijaniyya order, this was not the only subject about which he wrote, nor the only issue which attracted his attention. He was also very disturbed about factional strife and disunity among West African Muslims, about the widespread distribution of what he considered prohibited or misguided practices by Muslims, and generally about the sea of unbelievers which often surrounded West African Muslim communities. He was extremely outspoken on all these matters. In Futa Jallon, where he finally settled fifteen years after setting out on his pilgrimage, he attracted a growing number of Muslims to his following and very soon he was himself the leader of a burgeoning Muslim community. As this community grew, relations worsened with local political leaders who began to fear a threat to their own authority. The increasing tension culminated in 1852 with an attack by a non-Muslim chief against al-Hajj Umar, who consequently declared jihâd, or religious war, against the “unbelievers.” Local success by the Muslims was followed by more far-reaching campaigns northward toward the Bambara 4 kingdom of Kaarta, conquered in 1857, and where a new Muslim administrative centre was established at Nioro. An unsuccessful confrontation with the French in 1858 turned Umar's energies eastward toward a second Bambara kingdom, Segu, the conquest of which in 1861 led to conflicts with the neighbouring Muslim state of Masina. Masina had aided Segu against the Umarian forces, and even though he now found himself in the midst of the kind of intra-Muslim conflict he had so often condemned in the past, Umar refused to seek a compromise with his adversary. In 1862 the Masina capital, Hamdallahi, was captured and its ruler subsequently put to death.
Umar and a large contingent of his forces settled in Hamdullahi. Geographically, the fruits of the jihâdi conquests had been extensive. Umarian lieutenants were established over a wide territory as local rulers; nascent Muslim administrations were functioning in many formerly non-Muslim districts. But the position was far from secure. Bambara rebellions were widespread, and the defeated Fulbe of Masina were not idle. By 1863 they had formed an anti-Umarian coalition of Muslim groups in the Niger valley which counterattacked Hamdallahi. Warfare continued for months and Umar was besieged in Hamdallahi. Early in 1864 he managed to escape eastward, only to be surrounded again among the hills and rocks near a village called Degembere, and there, in circumstances still not fully explained, he died apparently from the effect of an explosion of gunpowder.
Following Umar's death, the coalition of his enemies began to split apart. The Umarians regrouped their forces, defeated the Fulbe, and set about the task of tightening their grip on Masina. They established a new capital on the plateau east of Hamdullahi at a Dogon village called Bandiagara 5.
Umar's conquests not only changed the political face of the western Soudan, but modified its religious complexion as well. This was not only due to the establishment of new Muslim regimes in formerly non-Muslim areas, but also because Umar never ceased to proselytize on behalf of the Tijaniyya Sufi order. Large numbers of those who joined the jihâdi cause became adherents of the Tijaniyya, and every administrative centre in the Umarian organisation was also a centre from which the religious order was proclaimed. In the inland Delta regions of the Niger valley, where Islam had enjoyed a lengthy and often illustrious history, Umar's movement met not only political and military resistance, but also serious doctrinal opposition to some of the basic teachings of the Tijaniyya. The spiritual leadership of the long established and eminent Qadiriyya Sufi order was centered among the Kunta in Timbuktu. Qadiri objections to Tijani doctrine were not new to al-Hajj Umar; he had encountered them soon after his return from Mecca. But during the jihâd there was an intensification of the doctrinal debate, in which the political and military stakes were very high. The disputes were resolved on the battlefield; the doctrinal debates themselves cooled as the antagonists came to accept the new political order, unstable as it was. The Tijaniyya spread into former Qadiri areas, and eventually adherents to the two orders adopted attitudes of mutual tolerance. The expansion of the Tijaniyya continued unabated and even gained momentum in the twentieth century; today the order exist's throughout Muslim West Africa.
Upon al-Hajj Umar's death, his eldest son Amadu, whom Umar had named as his successor, sought to pick up the reins of his father's political and spiritual authority and to unify the newly conquered territories into a centralized state. For almost twenty-five years he struggled from his capital in Segu to achieve this goal, but the odds were overwhelmingly against him. Not only was there the constant problem of retaining control over conquered territory, but many of those to whom Umar had delegated administrative authority, for example in Dinguiray and Nioro, refused to accept Amadu's claims to leadership. Dissension in these areas erupted into armed conflict. In Masina Ahmadu's cousin, Tijani, who had founded the new capital of Bandiagara, maintained a peaceful but nonetheless carefully guarded attitude of independence. These internal divisions prevented the consolidation of the Umarian conquests into a cohesive Muslim state, but the collapse of the entire political edifice was precipitated not by an internal threat but by an external one: French imperial expansion.

French conquest in the Western Soudan

The French presence in St. Louis and along the Senegal River valley had affected the entire course of Umar's jihâd. Umar had undoubtedly cherished the hope of extending his Muslim community to his homeland of Futa Toro. This dream was shattered by defeat at the hands of the French in 1857, after which he redirected his efforts eastwards. Even in 1864 when Umar was fighting for his life in Masina, a French envoy was in Segu seeking to conclude a treaty of friendship with Amadu. The French were eager not only to protect their position on the coast, but also to tap the interior trade potential of the Soudan. Opinion on how best to achieve these goals differed depending upon who was making the decisions, and policy alternated between negotiation and ultimatum backed by military force. But during the final decades of the century, when the “Scramble for Africa” reached a fever pitch, the militant approach gained the upper hand, and the Umarian centers in the Soudan fell one by one to the superior power of French arms.
The climax for Ahmadu came with the arrival in the western Soudan in 1888 of Colonel Louis Archinard who was in no way ambivalent about the appropriate French course of action. In a series of dry season (October-June) campaigns, Archinard drove Ahmadu and large numbers of other Umarians and Muslim leaders not only out of their seats of power, but completely out of the western Soudan. Not even under the threat of French force could the Umarians forget their differences and fmd a way to unified resistance. In the mid-1880s Ahmadu found it necessary once again to suppress the independent tendencies of Nioro. Additional threats to security forced Ahmadu to remain in Nioro from where he attempted to forge an anti-French alliance. But in 1890 Archinard launched a direct attack on Segu, and Ahmadu was unable to aid his son who had been left in command there. In 1891 Nioro also fell to the French and Ahmadu fled to Bandiagara where he was not very warmly received. Although his independent-minded cousin Tijani had died in 1887, another of Umar's sons, Muniru, now ruled and many of the Bandiagara notables had no desire to fall under the direct command of Ahmadu. In the end, however, Muniru agreed to abdicate in Ahmadu's favour; he died shortly thereafter and many claimed that Ahmadu was responsible for his death. In any case, Ahmadu was not long in Bandiagara; in spring 1893 Archinard captured the Masinan capital and Ahmadu fled eastwards toward the Sokoto Caliphate (in present-day northern Nigeria) where he died a few years later.
The Umarians who remained in the western Soudan were in almost complete disarray, stunned and leaderless. As if this widespread defeat were not enough, early French policy seemed designed to humiliate them completely. In Segu the French placed in authority a member of the former Bambara dynasty which had been defeated by al-Hajj Umar. He did not long remain in power because the French could not abide his excesses, but his presence was enough to spread considerable consternation among Umarians still in the region. To Bandiagara Archinard brought a younger son of al-Hajj Umar, Agibu, who had decided to throw in his lot with the Europeans. Agibu was made the chief of all Masina and given power to organise and administer this region.
The establishment of a protectorate in Masina was for the French but a single step in the construction of their West African empire. Masina would soon become integrated into an entirely new political entity of French invention, the colony of Soudan (or French Soudan) which in turn would become part of a French West African confederation governed from Dakar. The boundaries of the new colonies were drawn in response to French concerns about the administration and economic integration of the region into an efficient and productive unit. Politically, however, the French wished to maintain the disunity bf their African subjects so as better to control them. In this the Africans managed unwittingly to aid their colonial rulers, because although most Africans might well have perceived the French presence as a profound challenge to the old social, political and economic order, they could not agree on a unified response. In the Soudan, one possibility for widespread African unity lay in Islam and in the heritage of tentative political hegemony and religious authority which al-Hajj Umar had established over that part of the region lying south and west of Timbuktu. But for all those who might have rallied to the Umarian heritage, there were many more who were its avowed enemies. In any case, Umarian political authority had been crushed by French arms; and as the new colonial structure became more firmly entrenched, the French became very sensitive to the emergence of religious movements which might bring a modicum of unity to their subjects. We can here survey only the broad interplay of these forces in West Africa, and present two specific case studies which illustrate both French-African and intra-African conflict and which relate specifically to the life of Cerno Bokar. The first is that of Agibu himself, who attempted to strike an Umarian compromise with the French from his new capital in Bandiagara; his case illustrates a political response to French conquest, and it is important because of its ramifications upon Cerno Bokar who lived almost all his life in Bandiagara. The second case is that of Shaykh Hamallah whose religious movement was perceived as a threat by both the French and by many Umarians alike.

Agibu, "King of Masina "

The case of Agibu vividly illustrates both the factional strife which plagued the Umarians after the death of al-Hajj Umar in 1864 and the political pressures to which they were subjected by the French conquest. Agibu had remained with his elder brother, Amadu, in Segu after the Umarian conquest of that city in 1861. Between 1870 and 1874, when Amadu, in an effort to enforce his authority as successor to his father, was campaigning against several of his dissident brothers in the Western provinces of the fragile Umarian state, Agibu had been left in Segu as his regent. On his return, Amadu apparently became jealous of Agibu's popularity, and some evidence suggests that members of his court capitalized on these feelings to drive a wedge between the two brothers so as to isolate Agibu and limit his influence. This same faction encouraged Amadu to appoint Agibu governor of Dinguiray when the post fell vacant in 1876 (following the death of yet another brother), thus removing him completely from court politics. In spite of some interpretations to the contrary 6, Agibu and Amadu do not seem personally to have been on such bad terms at this time; otherwise, why appoint Agibu governor of an important province? The issue is confused, however, by a letter from Agibu to a French official in which he claims that he had later sided with the French because Amadu had taken one of his wives from him, as well as some 200 slaves and “3000” in gold 7. The letter does not state precisely when this alleged seizure took place, but had it been before Agibu went to Dinguiray it would hardly have provided assurance of loyal behaviour by the new governor.
Agibu and Amadu certainly drifted apart, but some doubt must remain as to when the rift between them became serious. Even by the late 1880s, when French pressure upon him to conclude a separate treaty with them was intensifying, Agibu refused to act independently of Amadu. What is more clear is that the closer Amadu came to ultimate defeat by the French, the more evident became Agibu's desire to succeed him, although his motives are obscure. French reports favour the interpretation that Agibu was driven by self-interest and a kind of juvenile avarice; he seemed to covet the material rewards that cooperation with the French brought to him 8. But certain of his African partisans have argued not only that Agibu was seeking to preserve some semblance of the Umarian state, but that Amadu had instructed him in writing to do so; however, the purported letter which could prove this assertion was allegedly destroyed in a fire 9 ! Perhaps each of these extreme views contains some truth; no doubt Agibu, along with many other Umarians, would have wanted to retain a degree of administrative authority even under the French, all the more so in order to ensure the security of Degembere, the site where Umar had died and which had already become a holy place for Tijani pilgrims 10. Going to Masina afforded Agibu these opportunities. But even his protagonists have quoted him as saying that he wished to go to Masina because of its “handsome horses and beautiful harnesses.” 11 The fact is that Agibu's appointment by the French stirred up all kinds of contradictory feelings among his own people. Some detested him for his collaboration with the French 12, while others supported him in his efforts to reconstruct some form of Umarian political unity and authority out of the ruins of defeat.
Events after 1893 reveal that Agibu had definitely decided to throw in his lot with the French, but whatever plans he may have nurtured for forging a new unity among the Umarians never advanced very far. The French allowed him little free rein; they appointed him to a position which they had created — that of King of Masina — and they deposed him when they saw fit. In addition, internal African political divisions were deep. Agibu was invested as king in Bandiagara, the town founded by Tijani after the death of Umar. Bandiagara is located on a gently sloping plateau, which is bounded on the west by the flood plains of the vast inland delta of the Niger and Bani rivers and on the east by an extensive escarpment known as the Bandiagara cliffs. At the foot of these cliffs an alluvial plain stretches south-eastwards into what is today Upper Volta. These three regions — parts of the flood plain, the central plateau and the northern reaches of the alluvial plain — comprised the Masina over which Agibu had been given putative control by the French 13. Although the region was inhabited by members of a number of ethnic groups, the most important for this discussion were the Dogon, the Fulbe, and the Umarians themselves who in this region came to be known collectively as Futanke, the people of Futa.
The Dogon, who were primarily agriculturalists, inhabited the cliffs, but their settlements extended on to both the plateau and the alluvial plain, of which they constituted almost half the population. Although they were not politically unified into any sort of state organization, their political presence was strongly felt in the region. They had played a crucial role in aiding Tijani to gain ascendancy over his Fulbe enemies, and the first two decades of French rule in Masina were very much dominated by Dogon unrest. Indeed, final submission to the French by the Dogon came only after extreme repressive measures coupled with the decimation of the population through death and emigration which resulted from a severe drought between 1911 and 1914. Some estimates suggested that the Dogon population in the area was reduced by as much as half during this period 14.
The flood plains of the inland delta contain a major concentration of Fulbe populations, although Fulbe are also found in considerable numbers in the plateau and the alluvial plain. Fulbe movement to the plateau occurred mostly in the nineteenth century, when the rulers of the newly founded Muslim theocracy in Hamdullahi encouraged their supporters to occupy recently conquered lands. It was in his attempts to gain control of this Fulbe state that al-Hajj Umar had lost his life, and it was upon the ruins of this same state that Tijani built his own Futanke-ruled state of Masina. Although the Fulbe, unlike the Dogon, could look to a heritage of centralised government, the political institutions of Hamdallahi were so recently imposed that they had not yet become firmly rooted. Their deeper political traditions were much more inclined toward the diffusion of political authority among families and lineages. The Fulbe proper were pastoralists, although Pullo society included groups of slaves, former slaves and other dependent peoples now acculturated to Fulbe ways, who farmed and engaged in various craft industries, such as weaving and leather working. After the death of al-Hajj Umar the Fulbe were unable to sustain a unified posture, even under the threat of Tijani's armies. Some shifted allegiance to the Futanke, some submitted begrudgingly, and others resisted and were defeated.
The Futanke who conquered and ruled Masina under the leadership of Tijani constituted a minority of the population of the region. Although there were numerous religious teachers and scholars among their ranks, they came as conquerors and they established themselves as rulers, and that for the most part was their role. Most of them settled in Bandiagara, although some were dispersed as administrators of newly conquered territory. They had relied heavily on the support of certain Dogon groups in their struggles against the Fulbe, an alliance which persisted, with occasional setbacks, into the twentieth century. The process of Dogon islamization, which would gain pace with the increasing political and social changes of the colonial period, stemmed from their political relationship with the Futanke 15.
During the years of Tijani's rule, the Futanke leaders remained fairly well unified among themselves. They were a minority among numerous enemies and were forced to defend their claim to suzerainty by force of arms. Tijani also maintained a quietly independent attitude toward Amadu in Segu, neither endorsing Amadu's position as successor to Umar nor openly challenging him. But this stance, of course, gave birth to a latent rivalry between Segu and Masina which developed into a fullblown political struggle with the arrival of Amadu in Bandiagara in 1891. Muniru, a younger half-brother of Amadu, was now ruling in Masina. Some Futanke felt he should step down in favour of Amadu; others encouraged him to defend what they considered his legitimate claim to rule in Masina. In the end Muniru abdicated, but when he died soon afterwards, rumours spread that Ahmadu had somehow bee'n responsible for his death. These rumours seem to have originated among Ahmadu's enemies in Bandiagara, and they were taken up by certain French writers, endorsed no doubt as further justification for their campaigns against Ahmadu 16.
Ahmadu's emigration in 1893 reduced the Futanke to less than one percent of the total population of Masina 17. And the arrival of Agibu and his retinue in Bandiagara established a third political faction among this still divided tiny remnant of the Futanke population. Although the latent hostility among certain members of these three groups was to smoulder for many more years, Agibu went some distance toward trying to bring the Futanke together. He did this by attempting to establish himself as the successor to his father, at least in the sense that he was a legitimate figurehead for the Umarians and the protector of the now defeated and dispersed Futanke. He accepted into his care numerous Futanke refugees from the French conquests of the western Soudan 18, and encouraged many of Ahmadu's comrades, who had fled eastward with him and then deserted him, to return to Bandiagara 19. Of course, he did all this in the context of an extremely pro-French attitude, which alienated many Futanke from him. But Agibu was persistent in his collaboration; not only did he aid the French directly by acting as their front-man in the administration of Masina, but he sent his children to French schools, thus preparing them to work as functionaries in the nascent colonial administration. His actions may have been motivated by the sincere belief that the French intended, as his appointment suggested, to allow him to re-establish a limited Futanke hegemony in Masina. But even this justifiable expectation was to prove tragically incorrect.
From the beginning of his rule, ceftain limitations had been placed upon Agibu's activities; for example, he was not to go to war with allies of France, he was to welcome all French to Masina, and he was to send ten horses to Segu every year as a sort of tribute. He was also to provide rice for the French garrison in Bandiagara. In return, the French would aid him in various ways, primarily by providing the military support which would keep him in power. Beyond these conditions he was free to go to war, levy taxes and administer as he saw fit. But Archinard made it clear that he did not want Masina to become a new Umarian state, and he warned Agibu about the treachery and disloyalty of the Futanke, thus stirring the rivalries ainong them which were already deeply entrenched 20.
In the event, Agibu enjoyed very little independence. Within a year of his installation he was writing letters of bitter complaint about the local French authorities: “Everything which the Commandant of Bandiagara does is specifically aimed at suggesting that I am incapable Of governing.” 21 He even went to the extreme of writing to Archinard pleading with him to intervene so that he might be allowed to administer the territories which had been ceded to him 22. All to no avail; local French officials convinced themselves that Agibu was unable effectively to govern the unruly and rebellious populations over which he had been given authority. In 1895, a council of notables was appointed with powers of shared responsibilities of governance with Agibu. And in 1902 Masina was transferred to a civil administration and Agibu's title and authority were reduced to chief of Bandiagara; with this demotion he lost almost all his authority. What for the French was a simple administrative order was for Agibu a great personal blow. His mind seemed to crack under the strain; his behaviour became erratic, and by 1906 an official report stated that he no longer exercised any authority whatsoever, neither among the population of Masina nor within his own family. Indeed, one report alleged that for the most part he was “cordially detested.” 23 So much for the King of Masina.

1. Al-Fûtî al-Tûrî refers to Umar's birthplace, Futa Toro in the Senegal River valley.
2. The Tijaniyya Sufi order is discussed in detail below.
3. Rimah hizb al-rahîm 'alâ nuhûr hizb al-rajîm, published in the margins of
'Alî Harazim, Jawâhir al-Ma'ani (Beirut, no date).
4. The ethnic designations employed in this book are briefly described in Appendix IV.
5. Numerous studies of al-Hajj Umar exist; several of the more recently published are: F. Dumont, L'Anti-Sultan ou al-Hajj Omar Tal du Fouta, Combattant de la Foi (1794-1864) (Dakar-Abidjan, 1974); T. Oloruntimehin, The Segu Tukolor Empire (New York, 1972); Y. Saint-Martin, LEmpire toucouleur et la France (Dakar, 1967), and L'Empire Toucouleur, 1848-1897 (Paris, 1970); J.R. Willis, “The Writings of al-Hajji 'Umar al-Fûtî and Shaykh Mukhar b. Wad-i'at Allâh: Literary Themes, Sources, and Influences,” in J.R. Willis, ed., Studies in West African Islam, vol. I, The Cultivators of Islam (London, 1979). Unpublished theses include: Omar Jah, “Sufism and Nineteenth Century Jihâd Movements in West Africa: a case study of al-Hajj 'Umar al-Fûtî's Philosophy of Jihâd and its SufiBascs," Ph.D. thesis, McGill University, 1973; and J.R. Willis, “AlHajj 'Umar b. Sa'id al-Fûti- al-Tûrî (c. 1794 - 1864) and the Doctrinal Basis of his Islamic Reformist Movement in the Westcrn Sudan,” Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1970. In addition, David Robinson has kindly allowed me to read his draft manuscript on the jihâd of Umar.
6. See Y. Saint-Martin, “Un fils d'El Hadj Omar: Aguibou, roi du Dinguiray et du Macina (1843-1907),” Cahiers d'Etudes africaines, 29, viii.i, 1968, 144-78; for this period see also Saint-Martin, L'Empire Toucouleur, 18481897, and St-Martin, L'Empire Toucouleur et la France.
7. ANS, 15-G-75, Correspondence avec les chefs indigènes. Aguibou 1888-1900, Deuxième chemise, pièce 23, Aguibou to Col. Humbert' Internal evidence shows the letter to have been written after the French conquest of Segu, although Saint-Martin suggests the seizure of persons and property occurred at the time of Ahmadu's return to Segu in 1874, “Un Fils,” 152. In this he follows the account of A. de Loppinot, “Souvenirs d'Aguibou,” Bulletin du Comiti Historique et Scientifique de l'Afrique occidentale française, 1919, p. 41.
8. This is the view of Saint-Martin in “Un Fils.”
9. lbrahima-Mamadou Ouane, L'Enigme du Macina, (Monte-Carlo, 1952), 48-9 and 45, note 1.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid., 48.
12. See ANS 15-G-75, Première chemise, pièce 70, in which Agibu speaks of the hatred of his niece for him because of his cooperation with the French.
13. ANM, Fonds ancien, 1-D-7, Notice Générale sur le Soudan, “Etat d'Aguibou,” 1896; and 1-D-47, Monographies sur le Macina, “Notice sur le Macina, Cercle de Bandiagara, 1896.”
14. ANM, Fonds ancien, 1-E-24, Rapports Politiques et Rapports de Tournées, Bandiagara 1911-1920.
15. Baba Thimbely, interview of 21 January 1978.
16. These rumours spread throughout the French community. See Mme. Bonnetain, Une Franfaise au Soudan (Paris, 1894), 185ff.
17. Fawtier, “Le Cercle de Bandiagara,” Bulletin du Comité de l'Afrique française, Renseignements coloniaux, 1914, 71.
18. See, for example, ANS 15-G-75, deuxième chemise, pièce 9, in which a large number of Futanke noble captives are listed as having been sent to Agibu by the French.
19. See Ouane, 5 2 - 6, for the case of Ibrahim Almamy Ciré and his nephew Ahmadu Cheikh Khalil, who was a strong pro-French advocate in Bandiagara; see also P. Marty, Etudes sur l'Islam et les Tribus du Soudan (Paris, 1920), II 211-13.
20. Ouane, L'Enigme, 49-52.
21. ANS 15-G-75, deuxième chemise, pièce 3, letter of 2 May 1894 to Commandant Plaintes.
22. Ibid., première chemise, pièce 77.
23. ANM, Fonds ancien, 1-E-23, Rapports politiques, Cercle de Bandiagara, 1893-1910; see March 1904 and Annual Report, 1906.

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