The Serahule (or as they are sometimes
know the Sarahule, Sarakole, Serahuli or
Soninke) make up 9% of
the population of Gambia and were and are still engaged in the
occupations of peanut and cotton farming, making decorative
pottery, goldsmiths, trading and some are involved in the diamond
businesses of Sierra Leone and Angola. Today the Serahule are among
the country's leading entrepreneurs and real estate owners &
developers. Their largest population concentration is in
Basse town which is on the eastern
most part of the country and the vast majority are
They form minority
ethic groups in other West African countries such as Burkina Faso,
Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.
History & Origins:
There is today much speculation about the
origins of the Serahule ethnic group as there is with many groups in Western Sudan.
The first theory is that they originated from the ancient
Empire and were supporters of the Sunni royal family who were exiled
in 1493 by Askia Mohammed. Indeed Soninke
means "followers of Sunni".
second and more widespread theory is that they
the inhabitants of the ancient
Ghana Empire which was founded by
Berbers who gained greatly in economic terms with their Moroccan
The empire these people founded thrived on
the Trans-Saharan trade and stretched from Mauritania to modern-day
Ghana and ruled it from 777
A.D. to 1076 when the empire was extinguished by the Almoravids. They have an oral tradition that dates
back to almost 1,000.
The Serahule came to The Gambia in large
numbers in the second half of the 1800's to look for work after after
most of the Serahule states and kingdoms had been conquered by the Bambara.