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 Muslims.
form minority ethic groups
in other West African countries such as Burkina Faso,
Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.
History & Origins:
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 Songhai 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 were
the inhabitants of the ancient Ghana Empire which was
founded by Berbers who gained greatly in economic terms
with their Moroccan cousins.
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.