Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Siege of Djenné

Djenné is supposed to be a dangerous place today according to all the world's foreign office's travel advice, and should be approached only with great caution if at all. But as we also know, there has in fact been no disturbances of any  major type in Djenné since the arrival of the French in 1893. Djenné has not always been such a peaceful place as it is today however and it was  probably not a very comfortable place during the siege of Sekou (Cheikou) Amadou in 1818 when his troops arrived to subjugate the town to his Empire Peul de Macina under his war-lord Amirou Mangal:

Djenné, 1818,  just before the rainy season
Cheikou Amadou  had to resort to armed force against the town of Djenné,  which had been so hostile towards him when he lived in Roundé Sirou. Some months after the battle of Noukouma and  before the water had risen he dispatched  Amirou Mangal with his cavalry to lay claim to the town which  proved itself  intent on  resisting and neither the Fulani horsemen, nor the Rimaybé infantry were able to breach  the city wall which was very high and solidly constructed.
After several days of skirmishes, Amirou Mangal decided to besiege the town.  He occupied all the surrounding villages. He requisitioned all the canoes in the area and put them under the command of Samba Abou with the task of intercepting all who were intending to leave the town or trying to enter it. Cut off in this way, Djenné was unable to receive any supplies. At the end of nine months the starving population gave up without combat and swore allegiance to Cheikou Amadou who left the command of the town in the hands of the traditional chief already in place, Bilmahamane, but he also added  a marabout , Alfa Gouro Modi, chosen for his piety and his wisdom.
It did not take long for the Songhay to find Alfa Gouro Modi’s surveillance unbearable. The presence of the marabout obliged them to go to prayer regularly; not to drink hydromel, a drink to which they were accustomed and to abstain from all practices forbidden by Islamic law. The representative of Cheikou Amadou was intransigent on all these points. They therefore tried to enlist the help of the Bambara of Saro and of Segou  to get rid of Alfa Gouro Modi.  Bilmahamane got wind of his compatriots’ schemes and advised against putting them into practise, warning them of the reprisals that Cheikou Amadou  would undoubtedly carry out if the town rebelled. The Songhai, suspicious of their leader, decided to act on their own. A conspiracy was formed,  instigated by  a certain Kombé Al Hakoum. Assassins broke down the door of Alfa Gouro Modi and killed him. The next day his corpse was dragged through the streets of Djenné before being abandoned  on the market square.

 From l'Empire Peul de Macina  by Amadou Hampaté Ba and J. Gadet , Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines 1962, (translated by Sophie).


Blogger jm.herraiz said...

to get wind of something... Certainly, your blog is improving my english day by day

9:32 AM  

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