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Futa Toro (Tekrur) Kingdom
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Part 2

The West African Kingdom of Futa Toro (aka Fuuta Tooro - formerly Tekrur) is the region on the Senegal River in what is now northern Senegal and southern Mauritania.

When Arabic historians first mentioned the Western Sudan in the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. they also wrote about a series of African States along the River Senegal. On the coast north of the Senegal estuary was the town of Awlil, which exported salt to the states along the river near the estuary on both banks was the kingdom of Saghana. Further up river was the Futa Toro.

Early History:
The ancestors of the Tukulor founded Tekrur probably as early as the 2,000 years ago. The significance of Tekrur is illustrated by the fact that early Arabic scholars of the Western Sudan described the whole area as "The Land of Tekrur".

The high point of Futa Toro's territorial growth might have been under the Dya'ogo dynasty, which came to rule around 850 A.D. They royal house was bought down by the Mandinka's Manna dynasty around 980 A.D.

Not much is known about the Manna's rulers with the exception of the Jihadist King War-Jabi who ruled in the 1030s and died in 1040. He was one of the first rulers to convert to Islam in the Western Sahara. He also forced his subjects to convert as well as introducing Sharia Law within the empire in the 11th century.

A Muslim Jihadist named Abdullah Ibn Yasin, who was fleeing from persecution by the Sanhaja Berbers, sought sanctuary in the Senegal Valley.  From here his teachings emphasised the need for a Jihad against the areas Kafirs and over time he build up a loyal and dedicated number of followers particularly from the Lamtuna branch of the Sanhaja.

Leb, son of War Jabi, envisioned that there could be economic and political benefits for Tekrur if Abdullah Ibn Yasin was given military backing against the Berbers, Sanhaja, Mesufa and Goddala. These groups controlled the commercial trade routes which ran north as well as the route from the Ghana Empire. Ghana had also forced Tekrur to become a partially-independent state within their dominion. An alliance with with Yasin offered the kingdom two  advantages. The first was to win them their full independence as well as a chance to take a share of the trade in gold. The second benefit would be that if Yasin failed then chance lay whereby Tekrur could expand its power to Goddala which lay to the north. Ibn Yasin, with his followers converted into a militant Islamic movement called the Almoravids. Together with Tekrur they waged a holy war that led to the eventual conquering of Kumbi (Ghana's capital) in 1076.

Denianke Dynasty:
Shortly after 1500 a group of Fulani cattle herders ruled by a prince called Tenguella waged a revolt against the rule of Askia Mohammed of Songhai mainly because they wanted their cattle to move freely & maybe due to the taxes levied on them. These groups of Fula were living in the plains between Thermes and Nioro between the Sahara and Upper Niger. Tenguella led his soldiers across the plains against Diara, one of the old successor states of Ghana whose king was now a vassal of the Songhai Emperor, perhaps encouraged by the reigning king of Manding, who was now a declining rival of Askia. Askia's brother, Amar, led an army against the Fulani (Fulbe) invaders. When the two armies met near Diara in 1512 Amar's won the day and Tenguella was killed. Tenguella's son, Koli, took over and led his army south west, over the Senegal River and arrived at Badiar, a region which was situated to the north-west of the Futa Jallon Mountains. Here he was joined by many Mandinka fighters.

Looking for a new home to settle, these Fulani and Mandinka marched round the fringe of the Wollof states and attacked Tekrur. The ruling chiefs were overthrown and a new royal lineage was established. The name Tekrur was changed to Futa Toro. These new rulers were known as the Denianke. They remained in control until 1776.

Government & Power:
During the 19th century the Almamate survived in its basic institutions, but it never recovered the strength and zeal of the earlier period. It was officially governed by the Almamy of Futa Toro, picked from a group of "qualified" lineages who possessed the necessary credentials of education, but effective control lay with regional chiefs of the central provinces who possessed large land estates, constituents and slaves. Most of these chiefs served in the capacity of "electors" (jaggorde, sg. jaggorgal) of the Almamy; their electoral council contained a fixed core and fluctuating periphery of members. Two families who were "eligible" for the post of Almamy, the Lih of Jaaba in Hebbiyaabe province and the Wan of Mbummba in Laaw province, also succeeded in maintaining considerable power during the 19th century. The Wan in particular used their growing wealth in land and slaves to establish a power base in Laaw, compete for the Almamy-ship, and at times threaten to turn the national post into their own fiefdom. The struggle of various coalitions of "electors" and "eligibles" for power constitutes the third part of the anthology.

Part 2


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