Imamate of Futa Jallon
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|Imamate of Futa Jallon|
The Fulani Jihad States of West Africa, c. 1830.
|-||1894-1896||Boubacar III (last)|
The Imamate of Futa Jallon (also Fouta Djallon[a]) was a West African theocratic state based in the Futa Jallon highlands of modern Guinea. The state was founded around 1727 by a Fulani jihad, and became part of the French colonial empire in 1896.
The Futa Jallon area was settled by the semi-nomadic Fula or Fulani people (Fulɓe in their language) over successive generations between 13th and 16th centuries. Initially they were a traditionalist people called Pulli or Pular, from which the language derives its name. In the 16th century an influx of Muslim Fulɓe from the Macina area of Mali changed the fabric of Fula society.
As in the Imamate of Futa Toro, the Muslim and traditionalist Fulɓe of Fuuta Jallonke lived side-by-side. Then, according to traditional accounts, a 17th-century holy war erupted. In 1725, the Muslim Fulɓe took complete control of Futa Jallon after the battle of Talansan and set up the first of many Fula theocratic states to come. Alfa Ibrahim was appointed commander of the Faithful and first Almami of the Imamate of Futa Jalon. He died in 1751 and was succeeded by Ibrahim Sori, who consolidated the power of the Islamic state. Futa Jallon's theocratic model would later inspire the Fula state of Futa Toro.
The new Imamate of Futa Jallon was governed under strict Islamic Law with a central ruler in the city of Timbo, near present-day Mamou. The Imamate contained nine provinces called diwe, which all held a certain amount of autonomy. These diwè were: Timbo, Timbi, Labè, Koîn, Kolladhè, Fugumba, Kèbaly, Fodé Hadji and Murya,Massi. The meeting of the rulers of these diwè at Timbi decided to introduce Alpha Ibrahima from Timbo as first Almamy Fuuta Jallonke with residence at Timbo. Timbo then became the capital of Fuuta Jallon until the arrival of French colonialists. The objective of the constitution of this Imamate was to convince local communities to become Muslim. It became a regional power through war and negotiation, wielding influence and generating wealth. As a sovereign state, it dealt with France and other European powers as a diplomatic peer while championing artistic and literary achievement in Islamic learning at centers such as the holy city of Fugumba.
After Sori died in 1784, his sons and those of Karamokho Alfa engaged in a struggle for succession. Sori's son Sadu was assassinated around 1797 by followers of Karamoko Alfa's son Abdoulaye Badema. The Muslims of Futa Jallon became divided into factions. The clerical faction took the name of the Alfaya out of respect to the legacy of Karamokho Alfa, while the secular faction called themselves the Soriya after his successor Ibrahima Sori.
The two factions came to an agreement that power should alternate between leaders of the two factions. The rulers of the two cities of Timbo and Fugumba were descended from the same original family, and later all competition for the position of almami was between these two cities.
The Imamate of Futa Jallon became a multiethnic, multilingual society, ruled by Muslim Fulɓe and backed by powerful free and slave armies. The Fulɓe of Futa Jallon and Futa Toro were able to take advantage of the growing slave trade with the Europeans on the coast, particularly the French and Portuguese. The twin Fula states also supplied valuable grain, cattle and other goods to their European neighbors on the coast. The Almaami would demand gifts in return for trade rights, and could enforce his will with a well-supplied army. In 1865, Futa Jallon supported an invasion of the Kaabu Empire resulting in its demise at the Battle of Kansala in 1867.
The French were not satisfied with mere dominance of the coast and increasingly one-sided trade with the Fulbe. They began making inroads into Futa Jallon by capitalizing on its internal struggles. Finally, in 1896, at the battle of Pore-Daka, the French defeated the last Almaami of Futa Jallon, Boubacar Biro Barry.
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