Kunta (tribe)

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A Kunta in the Timbuktu region c. 1908.

The Kunta are an Arab tribal group of Saharan Nomads, today residing mostly in Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Southern Algeria.

Believed to be descended from Arab nomads and warriors who brought Islam to North Africa in the eighth century (CE). Specifically, they trace their lineage from Uqba ibn Nafi, a Muslim leader of the conquest period.

Established in Mauritania since the eleventh century, the Kounta were instrumental in the expansion of Islam into sub-Saharan West Africa in the 15th century, and formed an urban elite in cities such as Timbuctu which were on the southern end of the Trans-Saharan trade.[1]

Modern history[edit]

While the nomadic Kunta clans were "pacified" early by French Colonial forces,the urban Kounta trading and religious groups to the east were instrumental in the Fulani Jihad States of the Sokoto Caliphate, Macina, and the Segou Tijaniyya Jihad state of Umar Tall.

Some leaders of the Kunta in north east Mali have come into conflict with Tuareg and Bambara populations in towns where they once held a near monopoly on political power. In 1998–1999 and again in 2004 there were brief flare-ups of intercommunal violence between these groups near Gao and Timbuctu, a rare event in postcolonial Mali. There has even been a small ethnic Kounta insurgency,[2] begun in 2004 by a former army colonel, though few attacks have been staged and the leadership has been largely rejected by the Kunta community.

See also[edit]

  • Kunta family: an ethnic Kounta clan network influential in the history of religion, trade and politics of the western Sahel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ John O. Hunwick, Rex S. O'Fahey. Arabic Literature of Africa. Brill, New York (2003) ISBN 90-04-09450-4
  2. ^ Eric G. Berman and Nicolas Florquin. Economic Community of West African States: Small Arms Survey (2006)