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Friday, September 22, 2023

‘Mandinka is not a tribe and before 1864, there were no Mandinka speaking people in Gambia’ says Jammeh – My response


Sundiata died in 1255 and from then onwards his successors assumed the title of Mansa and the empire continued to expand until 1670 (after 435 years of existence) when internal struggles rendered the empire susceptible to secessions and revolts with the Songhai Empire being a major benefactor of the squabbles. One of his famous descendants was Mansa Musa. Mansa Musa was succeeded by his son Mansa Maghan I in 1337 but by 1341, Mansa Maghan was deposed by his uncle Suleiman. The famous Arab historian Ibn Battuta visited Mali Empire during the reign of Mansa Suleiman. Earlier on, a former slave of the royal court named Sakoura seized power in 1285 and ruled for many years. It was after his death that Sundiata’s lineage once again took over the reins of power.

The Kaabu Empire was in existence from 1537 to 1867 having initially been a province of the Mali Empire and covered parts of present day Guinea Bissau, Senegal and The Gambia until the Fulani revolt which rendered it weak and with coming of Europeans, the introduction of modern warfare and the Berlin Conference, colonialism became the final nail in its coffin.

According to oral tradition, Kaabu was inhabited by the Mandinka people around 1200 and by 1235, they invaded and made Kaabu a province or “Tinkuru” (in Mandinka) of the Mali Empire. The commander of Kaabu or “Farim Kaabu” (in Mandinka) became the representative of the emperor of the Mali Empire. However, due to internal struggles in the Mali Empire, Kaabu gained independence in 1537 and from then on used the title of “Mansaba” meaning “Great Ruler” for their kings. Sami Koli became the first king of independent Kaabu who was in fact a grandson of Turamakan Traoré. This is the lineage of the Nyancholu in Kaabu (Sanneh and Manneh). Oral tradition has it that the Sanneh and Manneh were in fact Traoré and their claimant to the throne was through Sami Koli.

Earlier on, we discussed the Koli River near which was situated the Manda Fortress of the Sarahulè near present day Guinea Conakry. It is believed that the River was named after Sami Koli, the first Mansaba of independent Kaabu.
At its peak, Kaabu composed of the following provinces with capital at Kansala: Firdu, Pata, Kamako, Jimara, Patim Kibo, Patim Kanjaye, Kantora, Pakane Mambura, Kudura, Nampaio and Pacana although other accounts mentioned 32 provinces.

Kaabu like all kingdoms before, had almost always reached its peak and began to decline. Internal disputes and usurpation of power by Janké Wali, and the Fulani revolt and jihadi wars from Fouta, rendered the kingdom incapable of holding on. At the assault by Alfa Molo Bandeh at Berekolong, it is narrated that the Kaabu Mansaba, Janké Wali ordered that the gunpowder store be set ablaze and the explosion killed all of the occupants of the fortress including the invaders that were inside. In the end, it was suicide not the bullet of the enemy that stopped the Kaabu Mansaba.

We have now defined who is a Mandinka, the migration, the state of Kangaba which later became the offshoot of the Mali Empire, how the Ghana Empire fell leading to the Sosso control and Mandinka revolt and creation of Mali Empire.
It must be stated that when the Mandinka arrived in what is now Guinea Bissau around 1200 and the eventual conquest of the area by Turamakan Traoré, they found other ethnicities in the area most of whom assimilated. It must also be made clear that the conquest by Turamakan Traoré was a more organised and systematic approach so it would be wrong to state that the Mandinka only arrived in Kaabu around that period.

There have been Mandinka speaking people in the area even before Turamakan. Family records and accounts I was able to dig up in Kaabu place my ancestors in the area by 1185, having previously migrated from Timbucktu, 50 years before Sundiata became emperor of the Mali Empire. It so happened that as an educated religious family, they kept accounts of family migrations and my paternal ancestor who migrated to what is now The Gambia and settled in Kunting, was also recorded as having left never to return.

I was one of a few to travel back tracing the route my ancestors most likely took. Today we are found in Jarra, Niani, Jokadu, Kiang and Kombo. What struck me most on my visit was that the family still holds pieces of property for those who left should they decide to return to build their houses. That was the deal breaker for me because someone was always expecting me even though they did not know me.

It will be a surprise to many Gambians that [the renowned marabout] Kunchumpa Fatty was born in The Gambia at Mandinary village, where his father is buried. He went back to trace his roots and settled in Guinea Bissau just as his ancestors did. The Fattys founded one of the oldest Mandinka Muslim settlements in Kaabu. Perhaps the only settlement to be named a mosque; a testimony to times when Islam was in its infancy where a lonely mosque in an area took over the name of the settlement. Now known only as Maana Jamang but to the founders, it is Pajass.

So yes, official timeline of Mandinka migration is set around 1200 but many have already been living in the area years earlier just like the Cissé have been kings in Ghana Empire around 790 AD, hitherto believed to have been principally a Sarahulè kingdom. Migration is as old as mankind.

Below I provide a list of notable Mandinka people that have international recognition (Wikipedia). If Yahya Jammeh is still not satisfied that the Mandinka people do not exist, I will, in the next and final episode provide a chronological account of events involving Mandinka people in our sub-region to prove that the Mandinka have been here well before 1864 and that the Mandinka are a nation not a tribe.

Sierra Leone
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, President of Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2007
Haja Afsatu Kabba, Former Sierra Leone’s Minister of Marine Resources and Fisheries; Energy and Power; Lands

Alhaji Mohamed Kemoh Fadika, Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to The Gambia and former High Commissioner to Nigeria, former Ambassador to Egypt and Iran.
Mabinty Daramy, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry
Fode Dabo, former Sierra Leone Ambassador to Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxemburg and Italy and former High Commissioner to The Gambia.

Alhaji Shekuba Saccoh, former Sierra Leone’s ambassador to Guinea and former Minister of Social Welfare
Ibrahim Jaffa Condeh, Sierra Leonean journalist and news anchor
Neneh Dabo, former Director of the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Mohamed Kakay, former MP of Sierra Leone from Koinadugu District (SLPP)
Mohamed B Daramy, former minister of Development and Economic Planning from 2002 to 2007, former Ecowas Commissioner of Income Tax.

Alhaji AB Sheriff, former MP from Koinadugu District (SLPP)
Tejan Amadu Mansaray, former MP of Sierra Leone representing Koinadugu District (APC)
Kadijatu Kebbay, Sierra Leonean model; Miss University Sierra Leone 2006 winner and represent Sierra Leone at the Miss World 2006 contest.

Sheka Tarawalie, Sierra Leonean journalist and former State House Press Secretary to president Koroma. Former Deputy Minister of Information and current Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs.
Alhaji Bomba Jawara, former MP of Sierra Leone from Koinadugu District (SLPP)

Kanji Daramy, Sierra Leonean journalist and spokesman for former Sierra Leone’s president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. He is also the former Chairman of Sierra Leone National Telecommunications Commission
Brima Dawson Kuyateh, Sierra Leonean journalist and president of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union
Karamoh Kabba, Sierra Leonean author, writer and journalist
Sitta Umaru Turay, Sierra Leonean journalist

K-Man (born Mohamed Saccoh), Sierra Leonean musician
Alhaji Lansana Fadika, Sierra Leonean businessman and former SLPP chairman for the Western Area. He is the younger brother of Kemoh Fadika.
Sidique Mansaray, Sierra Leonean footballer
Isha Sesay, journalist
Lansana Baryoh, Sierra Leonean footballer
Brima Keita, Sierra Leonean football manager


Guinea Conakry
Ahmed Sékou Touré, the President of Guinea from 1958 to 1984, was also the grandson of Samory Touré
Samory Touré, founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic military state that resisted French rule in West Africa

Alpha Condé, current Guinean President. A Mandinka who negotiated his safe exit from The Gambia.
Lansana Kouyaté, former prime minister of Guinea
Kabiné Kamara, former Prime Minister of Guinea
Diarra Traoré, former Prime Minister of Guinea
Sekouba Bambino Diabate, Guinean musician
Sona Tata Condé, Guinean musician

Fodé Mansaré, Guinean footballer
Daouda Jabi, Guinean footballer
Mamadi Kaba, Guinean footballer
N’Faly Kouyate, Guinean musician
Kaba Diawara, Guinean footballer
Mamady Keïta, Guinean musician
Mory Kanté, Guinean kora musician

Mamady Condé, Guinean foreign minister from 2004 to 2007
Alhassane Keita, Guinean footballer
Djeli Moussa Diawara, Guinean musician (also known as Jali Musa Jawara ).
Famoudou Konaté, Guinean musician

Momolu Dukuly, former Liberian Foreign Minister
Amara Mohamed Konneh, Minister of Finance
G. V. Kromah, member of the defunct Liberian Council of State


Alhajj Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, first President of the Gambia
Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, former politician and the First vice President of The Gambia
Ousainou Darboe, Gambian opposition leader and current Foreign Affairs Minister.
Sidia Jatta, opposition politician
Jatto Ceesay, footballer

Foday Musa Suso, international musician.
Jaliba Kuyateh, the most celebrated musician in The Gambia.
Yahya Jammeh former president, before he changed his ethnicity again.
Adama Barrow, current President.


Saidu Keita in action for FC Barcelona in 2008
Soumaila Coulibaly, Malian footballer
Bako Dagnon, Malian female griot singer
Massa Makan Diabaté, Malian historian, writer and playwright
Mamadou Diabate, Malian musician

Toumani Diabaté, Malian musician
Yoro Diakité, former Malian Prime Minister
Daba Diawara, Malian politician
Aoua Kéita, Malian politician and activist
Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, current President of Mali
Modibo Keïta, President of Mali from 1960 to 1968
Salif Keita, Malian musician
Saidu Keita, Malian footballer
Sundiata Keita, founder of the Mali Empire
Moussa Kouyate, Malian musician

Mansa Musa, the most famous and celebrated of all the Malian emperors
Mamady Sidibé, Malian footballer
Modibo Sidibé, current Prime Minister of Mali
Baba Sissoko, Malian musician
Mohamed Sissoko, Malian footballer
Amadou Toumani Touré, President of Mali from 2002 to 2012


Ivory Coast
Alassane Ouattara, current President of Ivory Coast
Sékou Touré (Ivory Coast) Ivorian politician, environmental engineer, former UN Executive
Tiken Jah Fakoly, Ivorian (Reggae) musician
Guillaume Soro, Ivorian politician
Henriette Diabaté, Ivorian politician, former
Kolo Touré, Ivorian footballer
Arouna Koné, Ivorian footballer

Abdul Kader Keïta, Ivorian footballer
Bakari Koné, Ivorian footballer
Alpha Blondy, Ivorian (Reggae) musician
Yaya Touré, Ivorian footballer
Ahmadou Kourouma, Ivorian writer.
Sidiki Bakaba, Ivorian actor and filmmaker


Aminata Touré, former Prime Minister of Senegal
Seckou Keita, Senegalese musician
Souleymane Diawara, Senegalese footballer
Papiss Demba Cissé, Senegalese footballer
Moussa Konaté, Senegalese footballer
Cheikhou Kouyaté, Senegalese footballer
Sadio Mané, Senegalese footballer

Mohamed Diamé, Senegalese footballer
Aliou Cissé, former Senegalese footballer
Ludovic Lamine Sané, Senegalese footballer
Lamine Gassama, Senegalese footballer
Keita Baldé Diao, Senegalese footballer
Papa Demba Camara, Senegalese footballer
Zargo Touré, Senegalese footballer

Boukary Dramé, Senegalese footballer
Amara Traoré, former Senegalese footballer
Diomansy Kamara, former Senegalese footballer
Souleymane Diawara, Senegalese footballer
Sidiki Kaba, Justice Minister of Senegal


Burkina Faso
Amadou Coulibaly, Burkinabé footballer
Cheikh Kongo, Burkinabé mixed martial artist
Joseph Ki-Zerbo, political leader and historian


United States of America
Martin Delany, abolitionist, journalist, physician and writer
Alex Haley, writer and author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family
Black Thought, rapper and co-founder of hip hop band the Roots
Kunta Kinteh, captured Mandinka warrior from the Atlantic Slave Trade drama Roots.
Thomas Joiner, captured Mandinka slave who gained his freedom in 1805 and returned home to The Gambia to become a successful businessman.
To be continued…

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