- Bamana Empire
Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name = Bamana Empire
common_name = Bamana Empire
continent = Africa
region = West Africa
era = Early Modern Period
year_start = 1640s
year_end = 1861
s1 = Toucouleur Empire
image_map_caption = Some of the cities in Mali which were under the control of the Bambara Empire.
common_languages = Bambara
government_type = Monarchy
year_leader1 = 1640s
The Bamana Empire (also Bambara Empire or Ségou Empire) was a large pre-colonial
West Africastate based at
Ségou, now in Mali. It was ruled by the Kulubali or Coulibaly dynasty established circa 1640 by Fa Sinealso known as Biton-si-u. The empire existed as a centralized state from 1712 to the 1861 invasion of Toucouleurconqueror El Hadj Umar Tall.
The Kulubali Dynasty
In around 1640, Fa Sine became the third
Faama(Mande word for King) of a small kingdom of Bambara people in the city of Ségou in Mali. Though he made many successful conquests of neighboring tribes and kingdoms, he failed to set up significant administrative framework, and the new kingdom disintegrated following his death (c. 1660).
In the early 18th century,
Mamari Kulubali(sometimes sited as Mamari Bitòn) settled in Ségou and joined an egalitarian youth organization known as a "tòn". Mamari soon reorganized the tòn as a personal army, assumed the title of "bitòn", and set about subduing rival chiefs. He established control over Ségou, making it the capital of a new Bambara Empire.
Fortifying the capital with Songhai techniques, Bitòn Kulubali built an army of several thousand men and a navy of war canoes to patrol the Niger. He then proceeded to launch successful assaults against his neighbors, the
Fulani, the Soninke, and the Mossi. He also attacked Tomboctou, though he held the city only briefly. During this time he founded the city of Bla as an outpost and armory.
Mamari Kulubali was the last ruler to be called Bitòn. All future rulers were simply titled Faama. Bakari, the first Faama after Mamari reigned from (1710-1711). Faama De-Koro ascended in 1712 reigning until 1736. The kingdom had three more faamas with unstable 4-year reigns until falling into anarchy in 1748.
In 1750, a freed slave named
Ngolo Diarraseized the throne and re-established stability, reigning for nearly forty years of relative prosperity. The Ngolosi, his descendants, would continue to rule the Empire until its fall. Ngolo's son Mansong Diarratook the throne following his father's 1795 death and began a series of successful conquests, including that of Tomboctou(c. 1800) and the Massinaregion.
Economy and structure
The Bambara Empire was structured around traditional Bambara institutions, including the "kòmò", a body to resolve theological concerns. The "kòmò" often consulted religious sculptures in their decisions, particularly the four state "boliw", large altars designed to aid the acquisition of political power.
The economy of the Bambara Empire flourished through trade, especially that of the slaves captured in their many wars. The demand for slaves then led to further fighting, leaving the Bambara in a perpetual state of war with their neighbors.
Mungo Park, passing through the Bambara capital of
Ségoutwo years after Diarra's 1795 death, recorded a testament to the Empire's prosperity:
Jihad and fall
Battle of Noukoumain 1818, Bambara forces met and were defeated by Fula Muslim fighters rallied by the jihad of Cheikou Amadu(or Seku Amadu) of Massina. The Bambara Empire survived but was irreversibly weakened. Seku Amadu's forces decisively defeated the Bambara, taking Djennéand much of the territory around Moptiand forming into a Massina Empire. Timbuktu would fall as well in 1845.
The real end of the empire, however, came at the hands of El Hadj
Umar Tall, a Toucouleurconqueror who swept across West Africa from Dinguiraye. Umar Tall's mujahideenreadily defeated the Bambara, seizing Ségou itself on March 10, 1861, forcing the population to convert to Islam, and declaring an end to the Bambara Empire (which effectively became part of the Toucouleur Empire).
Bambara language: a Mande language, spoken by 6 million people in Mali.
Bambarapeople: an ethnic group who represent 40% of Mali's population.
Kaarta, another Bambara kingdom of the same epoch
*Davidson, Basil. "Africa in History". New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
* Djata, Sundiata A. K. "The Bamana Empire by the Niger: Kingdom, Jihad and Colonization 1712-1920." Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1997. ISBN 1-55876-131-4.
* Condé, Maryse. "Segu". Penguin Books, 1996. ISBN 978-0140259490.
* [http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/09/sfw/ht09sfw.htm Timeline of Western Sudan]
* [http://www.histoire-afrique.org/article76.html?artsuite=6#nb17 Pre-colonial Malian History (French language)]
* [http://www.hostkingdom.net/noafrica.html#Segu Segu Kingdom rulers, from Host Kingdoms]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Mali_native.html Mali traditional states from World Statesman]
* [http://www.personal.psu.edu/staff/s/p/spb3/bamana.html Epics about the Segou Kingdom]
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