L’évocation du souvenir des disparus du Camp Boiro met en évidence l’existence de différentes catégories de personnes qui y furent emprisonnées et torturées. La plupart furent tuées. D’autres survécurent et recouvrèrent la liberté, durant et après la chute de la dictature de Sékou Touré. A ce stade, on peut grosso modo dégager deux groupes :
Les victimes pures ou martyrs. Exemples : Mamadou Petit Touré, Baidy Guèye, Dr. Bocar Maréga, Dr. Taran Diallo, Telli Diallo, Alioune Dramé, Dr. Alpha Oumar Barry et des milliers d’autres noms.
Les perpétrateurs-victimes. Exemples : Fodéba Keita, Fadiala Keita, Emile Cissé, Capitaine Lamine Kouyaté, et des centaines d’autres collaborateurs et agents
Les anciens détenus du Camp Boiro qui devinrent perpétrateurs sous le régime de Lansana Conté. Exemples : Alsény René Gomez, Facinet Touré, etc.
Pour l’instant, qui veut parler du Camp Boiro, doit nécessairement et obligatoirement mentionner, au moins, Fodéba Keita.
La personnalité et le sort de Fodéba constituent un sujet complexe, qui est loin d’être traité. On trouve des passages sur lui dans :
Kaba 41 Camara résume l’implication directe de Fodéba dans la création de la section carcérale du Camp des Gardes républicains de Camayenne, qui devint plus tard le Camp Boiro. Dans le sous-chapitre intitulé “Les fondations du Camp Boiro” l’auteur écrit :
« Le camp d’extermination des détenus politiques, à Conakry, se trouve dans l’enceinte du vieux camp de la garde républicaine, vieux camp colonial tout juste situé en face de l’hôpital central de Conakry, l’hôpital Donka. Les bâtiments et leurs cellules achevés, Fodéba invita un jour le docteur Roger Accar, alors ministre de la Santé, à visiter les lieux et à donner son avis. La visite terminée, le docteur Accar posa une question et une seule, à Fodéba. — C’est ici que vous allez mettre des hommes ? — Et alors ? C’est fait pour ça non ? répondit l’illustre ministre. — Ce n’est pas croyable, Fodéba ! Les cellules n’ont même pas de fenêtre et pas de plafond ; avec leur étroitesse, des hommes mis ici perdront la vue et mourront comme des mouches et… — Ça suffit ! coupa le ministre. La visite est terminée. Nous étions en 1961. En 1969, Fodéba finit sa vie dans la cellule n° 72 qui est à la porte des WC, la dernière cellule du deuxième bâtiment de la mort, bâtiment aux portes métalliques, sans fenêtres. »
Pour autant qu’on puisse dire, la vie de Fodéba Keita se découpe en plusieurs tranches et périodes :
la formation familiale et scolaire
la carrière d’instituteur à la sortie de l’Ecole William Ponty
la chute graduelle, son arrestation et son exécution en 1969
On le voit, s’agissant de la recherche et de la publication sur ces étapes de la vie de Fodéba, on est très loin du compte. Il en est de même pour les autres membres de la génération des fondateurs de la république de Guinée. Car il n’y eut pas un SEUL, mais plusieurs pères de l’Etat né des cendres de la Guinée française le 2 octobre 1958.
Le drame de la Guinée se situe dans :
la destruction, la déconstruction, le silence, l’omission et l’ignorance de l’apport des hommes et femmes anti-colonialistes de la première moitié du 20è siècle (1910-1960)
l’exagération du rôle du leadership individuel (Sékou Touré) au détriment de l’oeuvre collective qui mena la Guinée à « l’indépendance ».
Corrections d’informations sur Fodéba
Ecrivant sur ma page Facebook par le canal de mon neveu Alpha Mamoudou Diallo, M. Ibrahima Berthe affirme, (je le cite textuellement ) :
En plus de notre hymn national qu’il composa avec Jean Surecanal un ecrivain francais,Fodeba insist era que le titre soit Alpha Yaya pour le bas peuple et Liberte en francais .Il composera une version de l’hymn en Malinke intitule Alpha Yaya
Réagissant à ce paragraphe, je rédigeai les corrections suivantes :
Fodéba Keita ne composa pas mais adapta plutôt l’hymne national à partir de la chanson de louange à Alfa Yaya, Lanɓo (chef) du Diiwal de Labé. Lire le précieux article De la mélodie populaire « Alpha Yaya » à l’Hymne national « Liberté » publié Recherches Africaines par Mamba Sano, un des pionniers de la politique partisane en Guinée française sous la 4è république française (1946-1958).
Les compositeurs du chant traditionnel sont les griots Korofo Moussa et Silatéka, tous deux de Kissidougou
Jean Suret-Canale était géographe-historien et non pas musicien.
Le Français Louis Cellier et Fodéba Keita collaborèrent pour l’adaptation moderne du chant griot traditionnel en hymne national guinéen.
La désignation Liberté fut un acte officiel de l’Assemblée nationale. Elle est inscrite dans l’Article 1er de la Constitution promulguée le 10 novembre 1958, au même titre que le drapeau (Rouge-Jaune-Vert) et la devise (Travail-Justice-Solidarité). Cette appellation n’était donc pas une initiative du ministre-artiste-compositeur Fodéba.
Il n’y eut pas une version pour le “bas-peuple”. La mémoire collective reconnaissant instantanément la mélodie comme étant celle de la louange à Alfa Yaya.
L’original étant en maninka, il n’y eut pas non plus une version pour cette langue.
Alfa Yaya, composé en 1898 par les griots Korofo Moussa et Silatéka de KIssidougou en l’honneur d’Alfa Yaya Diallo, chef du diiwal (province) du Labé. La chanson fut adaptée en 1959 comme hymne national de Guinée par Fodéba Keita et Jean Cellier, professeur de musique. Ali Farka Touré (guitare) et Toumany Diabaté (kora) jouent ici une version instrumentale d’Alfa Yaya.
André Lewin note que Jean Cellier vint “en Guinée avant l’indépendance comme professeur de musique, après trois années passées à Saint-Louis. Jean Cellier — par ailleurs vénérable d’une loge maçonnique de Conakry et mari de la directrice du lycée de jeunes filles — choisit de rester en Guinée après 1958 et devint plus tard le président de l’Amicale des enseignants français de Guinée. Contrairement à son épouse, qui quitta la Guinée après la rupture des relations diplomatiques en novembre 1965, il resta encore plusieurs années à Conakry, qu’il ne quitta qu’après l’arrestation en 1969 de son ami Keita Fodéba. Il est décédé le 11 mai 1995.” [Fodéba Keita et Jean Cellier se connurent donc à Saint-Louis du Sénégal, vraisemblablement au début des années 1950. — T.S. Bah]
Après lecture de ma contribution, M. Berthe répondit (une fois de plus, je reproduis exactement son texte) :
Nous peuple maninka du mandingue avons notre version du l’hymn national intitule Alpha Yaya que nous chantons avec fierte pour rehausser la valeur artistique et culturelle de ce Mr. Niez le cela n’a aucune influence sur ce qu’il a fait pour ce pays. L’ingratitude de l’etre humain vis a vis de son proche ne date pas d’aujourd’hui. Alors Je ne suis du tout surpris de vos assertions sur le Mr quand vous lui faites partager les actes criminels du regime de Sekou dont il est lui meme Victime.
Réponse à Ibrahima Berthe
M. Berthe, votre réaction ne correspond pas du tout aux corrections que j’ai apportées. C’est votre droit de faire des déclarations grandioses par lesquelles vous prétendez parler au nom du peuple maninka. Mais n’oubliez pas que l’auteur de la chanson Alfa Yaya était une paire de griots Maninka vantant la générosité d’un seigneur Pullo. Et que Fodéba a hérité de cet artiste autant que vous et tous les Guinéens. C’est un signe de la solidarité séculaire entre les ethnies du pays.
A cela s’ajoute qu’en 2001-2003 j’ai interrogé et supplié Bakary Keita, le frère cadet de Fodeba, de publier un livre sur son aîné. Je connus Bakary de 1973 à 1981, dans les séances de projection suivies de délibérations pour l’acceptation ou le rejet de films importés au sein de la Commission nationale de censure cinématographique. Il m’informa que le fils de Fodéba était en train de rédiger un témoignage sur son père. Espérons que la famille Keita dira son mot et contribuera à une meilleure connaissance de cette personnalité centrale de la jeune République de Guinée.
En attendant, ainsi que l’indique la citation de Kaba 41 ci-dessus, il est établi de façon indéniable que Fodéba Keita fut l’organisateur des deux premiers faux complots de la dictature naissante contre des Guinéens :
La tragédie de Fodéba Keita est toute aussi ironique, paradoxale, singulière et tragique. Car il disparut dans le Camp Boiro qu’il fit construire au faîte de sa puissance.
En dernière instance, M. Berthe, il s’agit ici de l’histoire de la Guinée post-coloniale. Ce terrain-là est inconnu, méconnu, contradictoire et, finalement, impersonnel. En traitant du rôle officiel de Guinéens dans la débâcle du pays, peu importe les loyautés régional(iste), la subjectivité, la susceptibilité !
Quant à la gratitude ou à l’ingratitude individuelle, l’Histoire n’en n’a que faire. Moi, non plus !
Dealing with the Fulɓe, this paper first appeared under the title “Fulɓe” in Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East. An Encylopedia. (pp. 96-100). John A. Shoup, ed. ABC-CLIO. Santa Barbara/Denver/Oxford. 2011. 377 pages. This version has been edited, updated and expanded. It includes content from my “Fulbe Identity and Cultural Heritage” Project (exhibition, festival, conference, education, publishing), which I discussed with the management and staff of the National Museum of African Art and the Warren M. Robbins Library at the Smithsonian Institution, back in 2011.
Fulɓe (plural) and Pullo (singular) are the proper names of this pastoral people of West and Central Africa. They specialize in cattle herding. Roaming the Sahel and the Savanna expanses, these nomadic cattle herders are named differently by their hosts or neighbors: Peul, Fula, Ful Fula, Fule, Fulani, Fellatah, and Silmiga, among others. Today, the majority of Fulɓe are sedentary and live in more than 18 African countries, from Senegal to Darfur, and from Mauritania to Cameroon. However, some groups, e.g., the Woɗaaɓe of Niger, northern Nigeria and Cameroon remain nomads. The main Fulɓe regions are:
The overall population (Fulɓe and related communities) is estimated at 35 million people.
Fulɓe speak a noun-class language split into two dialectal regions; Pular (also Pulaar) is spoken west of the Niger River Bend, whereas Fulfulde extends east of that line; hence the Pular-Fulfulde compound name. Some dialects have up to 25 noun-classes, or substantive categories that are declined with suffixes:
debb- / gork-
debbo / gorko
woman / man
The noun-class system’s function is not limited to ordinary talk and informal communication. It extends beyond the boundary of the substantive to provide ample expressiveness resources. Thus, the suffix is relayed along the sentence and it influences the pronunciation of all dependent elements, whether grammatical (articles, pronouns) or lexical (adjectives). By chaining and repeating itself, the noun-class produces a redundant yet alliterative and rhythmic flow. This effective mechanism is recurrent in esthetic speech and verbal art performance. It is a mainstay in the folklore and lay genres (songs, tales, proverbs, legends, epics, riddles, tongue-twisters, lullabies), as well as in the sacred categories: written ajamiyya and its oral renditions (incantations, tajwid, chants, psalms, hymns).
UNESCO ranks it among Africa’s top 10 languages for numbers of speakers.
A wealth of linguistic resources enable the continued renewal of genres in both the oral (myths, legends, tales, epics, proverbs) and written ajami (meaning written in their language using Arabic script) literature. They shape and proceed from the quest for beauty, knowledge, and understanding: a hallmark of Fulɓe culture. Folklore masters, court poets (griots) and scholars tap them to carry on a vibrant cultural heritage.
Theories on Fulɓe origins abound. And they range from outlandish and superficial to plausible and heuristic. They have been varyingly called “distinguished Semites,” “negricized” Caucasians, mysterious Hamites, a lost tribe of Israel, 12th-century dynasty Egypt, or Dravidian descendants.
Fulɓe civilization rests on four major groupings identified by the four family names: Baa, Bari, Jallo, and Soo, which correspond to the four natural elements (earth, water, fire, wind) and to the cardinal points (north, south, east, west). In contrast, ‘Haal-Pular are non-ethnic Fulɓe communities who natively speak Pulaar/Fulfulde. In Fuuta-Tooro, sociologist Yaya Wane (1969) lists hundreds of family names. Conversely, while retaining the four-tiered naming system, some Fulɓe communities (Wasulu, Khasonke) speak Mande, not Pular/Fulfulde.
Original naming matrix
Fula Wasulu correspondents
The Fulɓe population displays physical traits (skin tone, hair, facial features) characteristic of a phenotype. Typically the Fulɓe skin shade is copper-like, with a lower melanin complexion. The Pular/Fulfulde language reflects awareness of the phenomenon, hence Fulɓe consider themselves non-blacks and call their neighbors ɓaleeɓe (blacks). Yet, despite some phenotype peculiarities, it is quite certain that Fulɓe are indigenous to Africa. Accordingly, the timeline of their civilization breaks down into four periods :
Prehistory (12,000 BCE)
Antiquity (0-1450 CE)
The Middle Ages (5th-15th century CE)
Modern Times (16th – 21st century)
Fulɓe prehistory is embedded in the domestication of cattle. In 2009, led by Dr Christine Elsik*, professor of computational biology and bioinformatics at Georgetown University (Washington, DC), a team of scientists published their report on the genome sequencing or description of the cow. The genetic sequencing proved that the bovine made a genetic switch some 15,000 years ago. The mutation meant the processing of low-quality food intake into high-grade output (milk, meat). The taming of the bovine constituted “one of humanity’s first leap forward” (Anselin 1981). It was a watershed achievement that spurred humans’ march into civilization. Boubacar Diallo, cattle farming engineer (ingénieur d’élevage) from Guinea, participated in the landmark effort. Not that he enjoys a modern research infrastructure in his country. However, as a Fuuta-Jalon Pullo, his cooperation had a technical aspect and a symbolic value. Between 12,000 and 5,000 year ago it is likely that M. Dialllo’s distant ancestors, the “Proto-Fulɓe”, adopted this ruminant as a lasting companion. In effect, the Pullo and the cow bonded together and became interdependent. A dictum warns that “the strength of the Pullo is in the bovine; if he loses it, he will face distress.” Fulɓe devotion to their cattle started in the Sahara, when that region was a well-watered land with abundant green pastures. Fulɓe were among the area’s likely inhabitants. Ever since, the Pullo has stuck to the cow like a stick. As the desert advanced, they both migrated westward, leaving behind engravings of their pastoral lifestyle and hints of their cosmogony.
Archeologist Lhote (1959) was the first to associate contemporary Fulɓe with his findings in the caves of Tassili n’Ajjer (Algeria). Amadou Hampate Bâ and Germaine Dieterlen (2009, 1961) agreed. They pointed to similarities between today’s Fulɓe pastoral rites and some rock drawings. However, since rock art predates writing considerably, its analysis entails guesswork and, hence, warrants caution. Thus, scholars have expressed reservation about any Fulɓe Saharan legacy. However, they have not yet come up with a published refutation of the Bâ-Dieterlen-Lhote hypothesis.
The Bovidian period (4,500-2,500 BCE) sealed the connection between Fulɓe pastoral society and cattle herding. Like Ancient Egyptians, Prehistory and Antiquity Fulɓe gave the cow and the sun a central role in their liturgy. Profoundly esoteric and filled with poetic metaphors, the Kumen text goes beyond the one physical sun. It has two main characters: Kumen, the bearded and dwarf “angel” is the protector of the herds; his wife, Foroforondu, is the “goddess” of milk and butter. They both make frequent references to “the adorable seven suns.” However, unlike the Egyptians, the Fulɓe belief in Geno was monotheist through and through. Their credo was that Geno, the Supreme Being, created the universe from a drop of milk. A pantheon of adjunct deities (laareeji) oversaw animal husbandry and partook with herders in the animals’ well-being. Geno then created:
Kiikala, the first man
Naagara, the first woman
Ndurbeele, the first bovine, a hermaphrodite who procreated the first cattle of 22 animals. They multiplied to populate the world with herds
This other version of Fulɓe creation myth is found in La Femme, La Vache, La Foi (The Woman, The Cow, The Faith), Alfâ Ibrâhim Sow, ed. (1966), who writes:
In a pastoral society such as the Fulbe, the woman and the cow are inseparable; they are to be loved together because according to the legend “God created the Cow. He created the Woman, He created the Pullo. He put the Woman behind the Cow and the Pullo behind the Woman” thus creating the intimate trilogy.
Other sources call this ternary bonding a symbiosis.
Bull worship was widespread some 6,000 years ago. Both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an relate, differently, the incident of “The Sin of the Calf“. While Moses was up on Mount Sinai to seek God’s guidance, the Israelites, led by Aaron, sculpted a golden calf to worship. When Moses returned with the Ten Commandments and found his people around the altar, he became angry and threw down the two Tablets of Stone…
Strikingly, millennia later, leading Muslim Fulɓe thinkers (Tierno S. Mombeya, Usman ɓii Fooduye, circa 1780), A. H. Bâ (1940) and mystic Sufis would interchange the name Geno and Allah, thereby acknowledging God’ Oneness, above human diversity and beyond language barriers.
In his thoughtful Introduction of Oogirde Malal, stanza 13th, Tierno Samba writes:
Moving in on the bank of the Senegal River, Fulɓe eventually achieved a dual specialization: nomadic pastoralism and sedentary agriculturalist. Between the 5th and the 13th centuries, Fulɓe rulers led the centralized state of Takrur (mispronounced Tukulor). Running a standing army, they led the first state to convert to Islam in the sub-Saharan region. They engaged in domestic slavery and they alternated between vassalhoold and rivalry with the Ghana Empire. Takrur probably was the result of an alliance between nomadic leaders (silatigi), trail-heads (arɓe, sing. arɗo) and blacksmiths. In Kaydara Hammadi wonders aloud:
ko waɗi afo baylo wonti aga faa aga waylitii baylo;
But in the footnotes we learn that « the Blacksmith/Herder pair is embedded in the myth of the origin of the Fulani and the legend of Buytorin, their ancestor. » (note 156). It is also stated the denɗiraaku or joking relation that exists between blacksmiths and the Fulɓe (note 157).
Anyhow, the above trio transformed its power into a pastoral monarchy dominated by the herder-in-chief, the Aga, symbol of wealth, might, and wisdom. King Yero Jaaje was one such ruler in the ninth century, approximately.
Islam became religion of the court but was not practiced by the rest of the people. Historical record indicates that a Takrur Fulɓe regiment participated in the Almoravid conquest of Southern Spain (Niane, 1984). At the peak of its hegemony, Takrur designated generically all sub-Saharan Africans in the Arabic literature.
In the 13th century, Sundiata Keita, emperor of Mali, vanquished both Ghana and Takrur. Fulɓe scattered throughout the region —all the way to Gobir, Nigeria— during an interregnum that took place with the rise of the Koli Teŋella Baa dynasty in the West. They also marched eastward, and by 1200 CE, they had arrived in Hausa country. Until circa 1600, these non-Muslim rulers controlled non-contiguous territories, from northern Senegal to western Guinea. Approximately three meters-long, the grave of one Teŋella successor is located in Telimele (Guinea).
Hymn to the Deniyaaɓe dynasty founded by Koli Teŋella Baa (Baaba Maal & Daande Leñol)
Samba Gelaajo by Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté, 2001. Samba Gelaajo Jeegi is the archetype of chivalrous hero in the Fulbe culture of the Middle Ages, namely the Deeniyaaɓe dynasty of Koli Teŋella (12th-16th century). Read the special issue of Etudes Guinéennes about the Fulakunda who live on the Guinea-Senegal border. And the legend around his exemplary deeds lives on. It inspires traditional and modern contemporary artists: Baaba Maal, Mansour Seck, etc. Here, Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté perform the ode to Samba. Notwithstanding his Mande family name, Ali Farka Touré was a leading cultural icon among Fulbe. Actually, entire Mande communities have retained their ethnic family name (Camara, Keita, Sylla, Touré, etc.) while adoping Fulbe language and/or culture throughout the Western Sudan. Exactly the inverse experience of the Wasulu Fula.
From the 17th century to the 19th century, Muslim Fulɓe scholars launched an Islamic hegemony that placed them to the forefront of history in the Western Sudan. The Jihad-driven movement began around 1625 in Fuuta-Ɓundu (Senegal). Then it spread out south, north, and east to Fuuta-Jalon (1725-1896), Fuuta-Tooro (1775-1885), Maasina (1804-1865), Sokoto (1814-1908), Adamawa (1815-1909), and to lesser dominions and chiefdoms. The main leaders of these Sunni theocracies were: the Sisiiɓe (Sy), Karamoko Alfa, Sulayman Baal, Sheyku Amadu, Shehu Usman ɓii Fooduye (aka Uthman dan Fodio), Moodi Adama, and last but not the least, Al-Hajj ‘Umar Taal, arguably the most erudite of these leaders, he spent twenty years learning and lecturing in the Middle-East. Imitating the model of the Prophet Muhammad, these warriors-priests mastered the intellectual (esoteric and exoteric) and the aesthetic dimension of Islam. They proselytized and built empires. Their states ruled over stratified societies of aristocrats, free communities, castes, and captives. Critics have emphasized the practice of slavery under Fulɓe hegemony. But, on one hand, although time-immemorial, dehumanizing and reprehensible, slavery remains a universal activity. On the other hand, slavery under Fulɓe rule should not deny or negate the achievements of those leaders, who learned, taught, wrote, and upheld the spiritual and temporal duality of their system of government.
At the peak of the Fulɓe state , two great minds, Tierno Muhammadu Samba Mombeya and Usman ɓii Fooduye (aka Usman dan Fodio), separately took Pular-Fulfulde ajami literature to new heights. Yet, at the same time, Muslim Fulɓe supremacy significantly altered pre-Islamic traditions, for example, by replacing indigenous names (people, places) with Arabic words. Furthermore, the Muslim rulers’ narrative sought to give Fulɓe an Arab ancestry. However, this move was a secular construct purposely invented by the elites to strengthen their grisp on power.
Nonetheless, in the 18th century some leading scholars questioned the prevalent rote learning in Arabic. They advocated the meaningful teaching of the masses in Pular. A fierce debate erupted between partisans and opponents of this (ajamiyya) localization. The tension was not unlike the divide between the Latin and the vulgar languages camps in medieval Europe. To make his case, Tierno Muhammadu Samba Mombeya, the standard-bearer, composed his masterwork: Oogirde Malal (The Lode of Eternal Bliss). Theologian, philosopher, artful teacher, his superb poetry flows through Classical Arabic metrics. But it yields rhymed and alliterative verses that heighten the redundancies of Pular’s rich noun class system and nuanced verbal framework. They lend themselves to regular reading, declaim, chant and recital. Their content synthesizes the dogmas and canons, codes and laws, rules and regulations of life and living in the theocratic Confederacy.
Tierno Samba and his opus became instantly popular. They gained respectively the status of an emblem and an anthem, which keeps growing with time. Alfâ Ibrâhîm Sow (1971) captured the essence of this chef d’oeuvre when he wrote:
« If one hundred years following his composition, the Lode of Eternal Bliss continues to move readers of our country, it’s chiefly because of the literary vocation it bestows on Pular/Fulfulde, because of its balance, sure and elegant versification, its healthy, erudite and subtle language, and because of the national will of cultural assertion it embodies as well as the desire for linguistic autonomy and dignity that it expresses. »
As “West Africa’ master cattle herders,” the Fulɓe created an original material art and a universal intangible culture. Today that dual heritage truly stands out as a shining component of Africa’s contribution to the dialog of civilizations. Pulaaku, the bosom Fulɓe/Haal-Pular identity, is acknowledged throughout the world. It evolves with each stage: nomadic, Islamic, modern. Pulaaku encompasses more than what cursive definitions say. For instance, Monteil (1963) breaks down Pulaaku (aka fulanité) to: courage, excellence and reserve. In reality, Pulaaku runs deeper. It echoes Fulɓe eras and worldviews that are long lost.
The Fulɓe creation myths and millennia-old way of life point to a perpetual quest for enlightenment and wisdom, as expressed in verbal art, speech mastery, and abundant poetry. Hence, in the epic poem Kaydara, the journey of the hero, Hammadi, evokes the pre-Christian and Arthurian quest for the “Holy Grail,” or the search for the unattainable.
In-between the two world wars colonial ethnographers collected and published extensive records on Fulɓe history and culture. Following up on brilliant precursors, colonial administrator Gilbert Vieillard championed Fulɓe studies. After extensive fieldwork he published pioneering ethnographic works. Upon his death on the World War II front, Fulɓe Ponty graduates from Fuuta-Jalon formed the Amicale Vieillard to carry on Gilbert’s legacy. Eventually, the group switched to partisan politics in Guinea, at the dawn of the French Fourth Republic in 1946.
Slavery and colonialism were altogether aberrant and violent. And the independence series of the 1960s were supposed to reverse Europe’s Scramble for Africa in the 1880. Unfortunately, given its dismal record, African writers now that independence and the post-colonial experience have been as much a blessing as a bane. Nonetheless, Hampâté Bâ championed the promotion of Fulɓe and African oral tradition. Drawing on serendipity, tireless fieldwork and privileged access to secretive pastoral initiation rites, he wrote Kumen (1961) with G. Dieterlen. Although short, the masterpiece fuses the Verb with the Spirit, the Act with the Idea. Thus, it nurtures the Mind and the Soul. Its form is so pristine and its substance so genuine that a critic compared “the striking poetry of the text” to “the most beautiful pages of the Bible.” (Hubert Deschamps, 1961) Then, A.H. Bâ composed the beautiful Kaydara (1969) and Layteere Koodal (1974) epics.
Bâ’s memorable phrase « In Africa , when an elder dies, it’s a library that burns down, » was greeted around the world. UNESCO has etched it in marble at its Paris headquarters. His indefatigable efforts earned him the moniker of “pope of African oral tradition.”
In the arts, the creativity is as vibrant, as names such as Sori Bobo, Hamidou Balde, Ali Farka Touré, Bintal Laali Sow, Baaba Maal, Aly Wagué, Oumou Sy, Mamar Kassé, Cole Arɗo Sow, Oumane Sow, Oumou Sangaré, etc. contribute significantly to the vitality of the culture.
The overall roster is long. And the above listings are just indicative and by no means exhaustive. They mix living and departed authors. To the latter, Ad perpetuam rei memoriam. To the former, cheers and keep at it! To all, thank you for making Fulbe one of the most studied, published and celebrated people in Africa and perhaps in the whole world.
George Colinet. Afro-Pop Worldwide. Fula Music
Finally, Fulɓe politicians participated in the birth and the expansion of post-World War II African nationalism. In 1963, Guinea’s Telli Diallo became the first Secretary general of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union).
Beginning with his May 29, 2015 inauguration, Muhammadu Buhari becomes — after Olusegun Obasanjo — the second Nigerian General to lead the Federal Republic twice. Both officers come to power the first time in a military coup, and the second time, as elected politicians. In 1983, General Buhari toppled President Shehu Shagari, although both of them are Fulɓe. The late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (1951-2010) joined them as the fourth Pullo president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was in office from 2007 to 2010.
Macky Sall, the current president of Senegal, is a Halpular.
Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania have had Fulɓe/Halpular heads of state.
General Murtala Mohammed was born in Kano on November 8, 1938 into the Gynawa clan of the Fulani. He was assassinated in Lagos on February 13, 1976.
His Mande patronym notwithstanding, former President Amadou Toumani Touré is a Pullo form Maasina, renamed Region of Mopti.
Former heads of state Captain Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso) and Alpha Oumar Konaré (Mali), and the now President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, are all sons of Fulɓe mothers. And their fathers are respectively Mõnrè, Bamana, and Soninke.
Yet, like elsewhere on the continent, the economic prospects are bleak. Missed priorities, wrong policies and environmental disasters combine to threaten the Fulɓe way of life (Pulaaku). But various grassroots associations are active in each country and region. They fight to stem the negative trends and they strive to rise to colossal challenges.
On the Internet, dozens of Web sites publish Fulɓe content in Pular/Fulfulde and/or in European languages.
Last but not least, the Woɗaaɓe face painting and male beauty contests (jeerewol ) inspire educational literature and are a main stay in world tourism. It is a fitting tribute to the originality vitality and universality of Fulɓe/Haal-Pulaar civilization.
Caveats, failures, prospects
This blog only scratches the surface of a complex and permanent field of investigation. Fulɓe’s African roots range among the deepest. Their prehistoric and contemporary presence spans at least three out of the five regions of the continent. This somewhat near ubiquity in Africa inspired the coinage of such expressions as Fulɓe Planet, Peul Archipelago… Despite the dispersion dictated by nomadism, they retained their cultural identity through time. They built alliances and complementarity with agriculturalists and other toolmakers: blacksmiths, leather workers, woodcarvers, etc. They valued fusion in Takrur, and they experienced fission with Wasulu. They faced adversity, overcame rivalry, and fought hostility… But “life is an unfinished business” that unfolds as an imperfect —even non-perfectible process. Those truisms apply equally to individuals and communities. And Fulɓe/Halpular fit right in.
Therefore an objective, positive or upbeat account must to be balanced by an awareness of the shortcomings and failures in the Fulɓe/Halpular —past and ongoing—experience.
The failings and gaps are found in history and in present times.
Historically, Fulɓe and Africa have been stuck in the subsistence economy mode for millennia. We learn increasingly why and how Western Europe made the – lengthy and painful — capitalist switch from subsistence economy to a wealthy society through the Industrial Revolution (18th century). The transformation was evolutionary. It dates back from the Middle Ages and it leveraged the wheel, literacy, the clock (an early automaton that has made its way into the heart of today’s digital computing and networking systems), etc. Why the process did not spread elsewhere in the world? Why did it elude the other continents, especially Africa. Moral and psychological arguments (work ethic) and ideological claims (racial supremacy) are inconclusive and controversial. As a result, an objective and satisfactory answer is yet to be formulated. Meanwhile, the discrepancy in development between continents takes on tragic and vexing dimensions with slavery and colonialism. Those two phenomena do not simply linger on. They never ended and are still alive. And today Fulɓe and Africa find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, rich countries (Western Europe, North America, Japan and now China) are unwilling to share their knowledge, technology and financial resources. On the other, leadership —Fulɓe and African— is unwilling or unable to conquer and indigenize those prerequisites for development. Anthropologists and social scientists diagnose this behavior as “technological somnambulism”, in this case, a lack of policies aimed at embedding technology, effective and innovative tool-building processes into these societies.
Concretely, for Fulɓe this attitude translates into:
The inability to process, store and distribute dairy products (cheese, butter, meat)
The non-adoption of crops-growing techniques useful, for instance, in hay cultivation
The failure to cross-breed bovine species for enhanced milk and meat productivity In a paper titled “The Fulani and cattle breeds: crossbreeding and heritage strategies” Jean Boutrais (2007) writes that Fulɓe “cross and change cattle breeds in order to adapt to new ecological or sociopolitical conditions.” But he focuses on grassroots practices in two ares of Cameroon and Burkina Faso. Here, I am suggesting a continental strategy and broader policies aiming to improve cattle species.
Bad habits die hard. But let’s hope for a revolution in the mindset and the attitude of African and Fulɓe economic, political, social and religious leaders. May they realistically embrace the world, reduce consumerism, increase production, lessen dependency so that, in unison, they can show the way in carving out Africa’s rightful place in the globalization era.
Tierno Siradiou Bah
Anthropologist, Fulɓe Studies
Smithsonian Institution Research Associate, National Museum of African Art. Washington, DC. (2006-2012)
Drupal & WordPress Content Managment Systems & Websites builder (theming and information architecture) and Open Source software evangelist
Cultural consultant, Prince Among Slaves, the 2006 documentary movie about Abdulrahman, a Muslim prince from the Islamic theocratic Confederacy of Fuuta-Jalon (1725-1897), who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Mississippi in 1790, and freed 1829.
LAMP (Linux(CentOS & Ubuntu)/Apache/MySQL/PHP) and DNS (Domain Name System) network administrator
First public advocate for the .africa Top Level Domain (TLD) Name Space
Holder of theGuiBase Assigned Network Number, Serial # 9321/TCP — 9321/UDP for XML-RPC or JSON-RPC machine-to-machine communications interfaces, network information products, web services and distributed African content: taxonomies, vocabularies and ontologies.
Lessee/owner of the TCP/IP Class B Address Space #184.108.40.206 assigned by IANA in 1993, thus granting me the management of the last two octects [0.0] which, in the binary numbering system (216), yield a total of 65,534 fixed IP addresses
Director, University Library, IPGAN, Conakry (1980-1982)
Co-publisher, Miriya, Economic and Social Sciences Journal. IPGAN, Conakry (1975-1982)
Linguistics & African languages faculty, Social Sciences Department, Polytechnic Institute G.A. Nasser (IPGAN), Conakry (1972-1982)
* In their report “The Genome Sequence of Taurine Cattle: A Window to Ruminant Biology and Evolution” published in Science, Christine G. Elsik, Ross L. Tellam and Kim C. Worley, members of the Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium, wrote: « Domesticated cattle (Bos taurus and Bos taurus indicus) provide a significant source of nutrition and livelihood to nearly 6.6 billion humans. Cattle belong to a clade phylogenetically distant from humans and rodents, the Cetartiodactyl order of eutherian mammals, which first appeared ~60 million years ago. Cattle represent the Ruminantia, which occupy diverse terrestrial environments with their ability to efficiently convert low-quality forage into energy-dense fat, muscle, and milk. These biological processes have been exploited by humans since domestication, which began in the Near East some 8000 to 10,000 years ago. Since then, over 800 cattle breeds have been established, representing an important world heritage and a scientific resource for understanding the genetics of complex traits. » (Science, Vol. 324, no. 5926. April 24, 2009, pp. 522-528) Further Reading
Delange, J. “Fulɓe Art.” In The Arts of the Peoples of Africa. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co, 1974
Elsik, Christine G., Ross L. Tellam, and Kim C. Worley. “The Genome Sequence of Taurine Cattle: A Window to Ruminant Biology and Evolution. The Bovine Genome Sequencing and Analysis Consortium.” In Science 324, no. 522 (2009).
Fisher, A. Africa Adorned. New York: Harry N. Abram , Inc, 1984.
La bousculade a eu lieu lors d’un concert organisé sur la plage Rogbané, à Taouyah, près de Conakry. Au moins 24 personnes sont mortes.
Un concert organisé sur la plage Rogbané, à Taouyah, près de Conakry, a tourné au drame. Au moins 24 personnes sont mortes à la suite d’une bousculade. Un dizaine de blessés est également à décompter selon une source à la gendarmerie nationale.
Le concert était organisé au lendemain de la fête de l’Aïd, célébrée lundi en Guinée, pour marquer la fin du ramadan. Au moins 24 corps en provenance de cette plage – dont ceux de 13 filles – ont été déposés par des secouristes et des agents de sécurité à la morgue du Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) de Donka, ont indiqué des sources hospitalières.
“Nous avons pour le moment 24 corps à la morgue de l’hôpital Donka et des dizaines de blessés admis en urgence dans plusieurs centres de santé (de Conakry) suite à cette bousculade meurtrière. Pour le moment, je ne peux pas vous en dire plus”, a de son côté affirmé la source à la gendarmerie.
“C’est avec consternation et une vive émotion que le gouvernement a appris le drame tragique survenu (…) suite à des mouvements de foule lors d’un événement culturel organisé” dans la commune de Ratoma, a déclaré la présidence dans un communiqué diffusé dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi. La déclaration a déploré “mort d’hommes et plusieurs blessés” mais sans préciser de bilan, en indiquant que les services de santé s’activaient dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi “pour porter secours aux blessés”.
En raison du drame, “une semaine de deuil national est décrétée à partir de ce jour (mardi)”, selon le communiqué. En outre, “le Directeur général de l’Agence guinéenne de spectacles est suspendu de ses fonctions”, une enquête, confiée au procureur de la République de Dixinn (Conakry), a été ouverte “pour situer les responsabilités”.
Aucune explication n’était immédiatement disponible sur ce qui a pu être à l’origine du mouvement de foule. La bousculade s’est produite alors qu’une foule nombreuse était rassemblée pour suivre le concert ayant pour tête d’affiche le groupe de rap Instinct Killers, très populaire dans le pays, d’après diverses sources. Plusieurs autres groupes et artistes de musiques urbaines devaient aussi se produire durant la soirée.
Selon les annonces publicitaires de l’évènement, le concert était organisé par Meurs Libre Prod, une société guinéenne spécialisée dans l’évènementiel et la production musicale. Aucun des responsables de cette structure n’avait pu être joint dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi.
Maya Angelou All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
Sheikhali was exotic, generous and physically satisfying, but we had trouble translating ourselves to each other. My upbringing had not fitted me for even a pretended reticence. As a Black American woman, I could not sit with easy hands and an impassive face and have my future planned. Life in my country had demanded that I act for myself or face terrible consequences. Three days after our meeting, I returned home to find a grinning Kojo and a large white refrigerator standing in my living room. Kojo rubbed the enamel and said: — Auntie, it’s for you. — For me? From where? — Briscoe’s, Auntie. It came today. He grinned. Admiring me as much as the refrigerator. — The Mali man sent it. I read the tag attached to the door of the appliance. “For Mrs. Maya Angelou. From Mr. Sheikhali.” I said: — But I have a refrigerator. — I know, Auntie, but the Mali man said you could have two. — It’s silly. I’ll send it back. Consternation wiped away Kojo’s grin. — Oh, Auntie. You’ll hurt the Mali man. — Tomorrow I will call Briscoe’s and have someone come here and pick it up. Nobody has enough food for two refrigerators. — But please, Auntie. He was pleading as if he was the donor, or even worse the recipient. — I will do so, tomorrow. His little shoulders fell and he turned, mumbling, and walked into the kitchen. That next evening Kojo met me at the door. — Auntie, Briscoe came and got your refrigerator. His voice accused. He shook his head sadly. — Poor Mister Mali man. Sheikhali was disappointed that I refused his gift, but he offered to pay my rent and give me money for my car. When I explained that I was a woman used to working and paying my own bills, he stared at me in a questioning silence. One late evening, in his hotel room, he told me he would marry me and take me to Mali. I would learn his language, Fulfulde, and teach his children proper French and English. — What children? You have children? I was standing at the window, looking down on the lighted gardens. — I have eight children, from two women. But only one wife. You will like her. She is a good woman. Tall like you. He sat on the bed, looking like a black Buddha, his wide shoulders outlined by a white sleeveless undershirt. — You will be my second wife. I will build you a beautiful house and you will be happy. The unusual proposal nearly made me laugh. — But if you have one wife who is good, why do you want to marry me? And you already have children. What do you want with me? I sat beside him on the bed. — If I need more children I will take a young girl because you and my wife will have no more babies. But you, you are kind and educated. My wife is also kind, but she is like me, she has no education. My family will accept you. I will send to America for your parents and I will bring your son to Mali. Thus our families will marry. He had taken my life and the lives of my entire family, except my brother, into his plan. There was no way to explain that not one of us could live within his embrace. He laughed when I thanked him, but refused. — Women always say no. I will find out what you want, and then I will ask again. My emotions, raised on the romance of Hollywood films, might have faltered had he pleaded love, but his offer had the crispness of a business negotiation, and I had no difficulty in refusing to participate in the transaction.
Legendary poet and author Maya Angelou died this morning at age 86. Among other many other words of wisdom, she advised:
“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. Please remember that your difficulties do not define you. They simply strengthen your ability of overcome.”
In 1986 she published the fifth volume titled All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (Random House. 210 pages.). The book shares an important milestone in Maya Angelou’s journey and experience. As Professor Albert M. Greenfield put it in a review for the New York Times (May 11, 1986), the story unfolds in “the early 1960’s in Ghana, where Miss Angelou is teaching at the University of Ghana and working as an editor. In Accra, she joins a number of Afro-Americans, ‘“a little group of Black folks, looking for a home.” Kwame Nkrumah‘s Ghana became a haven for black Americans during the late 50’s and early 60’s, and Miss Angelou provides glimpses of people like the black novelist Julian Mayfield and the activist Malcolm X in a Ghanaian landscape. More captivating, however, are her own episodic engagements with a homeland that refuses to become “home.” Though independence and prosperity make Ghana a festival in black, there is no point of connection between Miss Angelou and what she calls the “soul” of Africa. She speculates that perhaps “only the African living in total despair, pressed down by fate, refused, rejected and abandoned” can understand the sound of “homely” Afro-American spirituals and know that home is the place where one is created.”
Maya Angelou devotes her work “… to Julian Mayfield and Malcolm X and all the fallen ones who were passionately and earnestly looking for a home.”
The book opens with the famous gospel song so memorably rendered by Louis Armstrong:
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Coming for to carry me home.”
The complete collected poems of Maya Angelou. New York : Random House, 1994.
Maya Angelou. I know why the caged bird sings. New York : Random House, 1969.
Jeffrey M Elliot. Conversations with Maya Angelou. Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1989
Edwin Graves Wilson; Jerome Lagarrigue. Maya Angelou. New York : Sterling, 2007
Bill D. Moyers. Maya Angelou, Corporation for Entertainment and Learning.; PBS Video. Washington, D.C. 1982.