The Tukulor ethnic group (or Tokolor as they are sometimes
known) make up less than 1% of the population of Gambia.
They are Muslim sedentary farmers, cattle herders and
fisherman. Today they are fairly widespread in Upper
Volta, Mali and Ivory Coast. Their name is from the
Arabic word Takrur which was a kingdom an 11th century
central Senegal River valley. They are closely related
to the Fula.
Traditional Social Class Structure
Tuklor tribe traditionally had 3 distinct groups made
up of 'castes' which have largely remained untouched
by their religious faith. First there is the ruling
class or Torodbe. Then there are the free-born made
up of agriculturalists, artisans, traders and clerical
workers. At the bottom are the 'slaves' (in name only).
Marriage is confined to the 'caste' in which you belong
and there system of governing their villages is carried
out by a council of elders from the ruling class.
The Tukulor are thought to have their origins in Futa
Toro in present-day Senegal. One theory is that
they are a branch of the Fula called the Torodbe.
Much of their language (Haalpullar), customs, history
and geographical dispersion is similar to the Fula.
Another theory is that they are the offspring of unions
between the Serer and Wolof tribe.
to 1776 the Brakna Moors collected yearly taxes in the
form of grain called muddu hormma in Futa Toro. Partly
because of this resentment and the desire to spread
Islam a militant Jihadist movement emerged under Sulayman
Bal, a Torodbe. In the 1760s and 1770s he won a number
of military victories in the valley of the middle Senegal
River against the pagan Fulani ruling dynasty, the Denianke,
under Suleyman-Bubu. Futa Toro eventually became a Muslim
theocracy in 1776 ruled by the almamys and a Muslim
It was their desire to spread Islam that resulted in
them migrating to the north bank of Gambia as well as
other West African countries such as Mali and Hausaland
in Northern Nigeria. In Gambia, under the leadership
of Maba Jakhou Bah, they established a theocratic state
in Baddibu. These migrations into Gambia continued through
to the early 1900s. Indeed they claim that it was their
ruler, the War Jabi, who was the first black African
ruler to convert to Islam and that the Tekrur Empire
was was founded by their people.
The French had however, through a number of treaties
taken over control of Futa Toro in 1891 after the murder
of the Almamy named Abdul Bokar Khan. By the end of
the 19th century all Tukulor states in Senegambia had
lost their independence to the French.