The Fulani who conquered and settled in Futa Toro were people
ready to abandon their nomadic way of life and create their own
state. This may have been caused by their extended contact with
the more settled Mandinka.
What prevented Futa Toro from expanding its territory was due
to a number of mitigating factors. The first is that Ghana's former
supremacy in the area had diverted the majority of the gold trade
along routes east of Senegal and this went to benefit the successor
state of Manding which emerged in the area between Niger and northern
Senegal. The second reason is that new Wollof
arrivals to Futa Toro began carving out their own mini-kingdoms
thus reducing the kingdom to smaller, weaker states.
The Fula and Mandinka founders of Futa Toro had steadfastly held
onto their animist beliefs
which was at odds with the Muslim
commercial class who began to leave the towns thus depriving the
state of important tax revenue and reduced its commercial significance.
In the mid 19th century Futa was endangered much more seriously
by two external forces. The French began to transform the relations
of mutual inter-dependence into relations of colonial domination,
particularly under the leadership of Governor Louis Faidherbe
(1854-61, 1863-5). The second threat came from a native son, Omar
Taal. Omar came from Toro province, whose grievances against the
domination of the central region he expressed during his entire
career. He left home early in the century, made the pilgrimage
to Mecca, and returned with considerable prestige, ambition and
following. In the 1850s he 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 regime, reached its culmination
in a massive drive in 1858-9. It had the effect of undermining
the charter and position of the Almamy even more. The French and
Umarian intrusions constitute the fourth portion of the anthology.
The authority of the regional chiefs, and particularly that of
the electors, was compromised much less than that of the Almamy.
One of these leaders, Abdul Bocar Kan,
emerged as the dominant force in the middle valley between 1860
and 1890. He was able to fend off the challenges of Islamic reformers,
who now evoked the example of Umar Taal as well as Abdul Kaader.
He effectively challenged the authority of the Klan lineage, who
in turn came increasingly to rely upon French support.
By the late 1880s it was obvious that the French would conquer
all of the land of Futa as part of their subordination of Senegal
and conquest of the Western and Central Sudan. The middle and
upper valley became essential staging areas for the expansion
into the regions today known as Mali, Niger and Upper Volta. Abdul
Bocar resisted the conquest, as long and effectively as possible,
but succumbed in 1891, the year which effectively marks the end
of Futa independence.