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The Development of Caste Systems in West Africa1

  • Tal Tamari (a1)
Extract

Endogamous artisan and musician groups are characteristic of over fifteen West African peoples, including the Manding, Soninke, Wolof, Serer, Fulani, Tukulor, Songhay, Dogon, Senufo, Minianka, Moors, and Tuareg. Castes appeared among the Malinke no later than 1300, and were present among the Wolof and Soninke, as well as some Songhay and Fulani populations, no later than 1500. All the West African castes ultimately developed from at most three centers, located among the Manding, Soninke, and/or Wolof. Migration is the key process explaining the current distribution of caste people. Formation of blacksmith and bard castes among the Manding may be related to the Sosso–Malinke war, described in the Sunjata epic, which led to the founding of the Mali empire. As they evolved over time, castes acquired secondary specializations or changed occupations, and moved up or down in rank relative to other social groups. Although marriage alliances took place within a caste or among a limited number of castes, castes did not form demographic isolates. Children of caste men and slave concubines had caste status, while free persons taken captive in war sometimes claimed to be caste members. Assimilation of local artisans to a caste may have occurred when caste institutions were first introduced into a given area.

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2 In April-June 1979, Sept.-Dec. 1985, Oct.-Dec. 1986, and Feb.-Aug. 1988. The first field trip was undertaken while I held a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation (Washington, D.C.). The following field trips were financed by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France).

3 Tamari, ‘Les castes’, 37–128, 299–336, 567–653. A book on this subject is in preparation.

4 The fullest ethnographic accounts of West African social hierarchies and endogamous occupational groups include: Camara, Sory, Gens de la parole. Essai sur la condition et le rôle des griots dans la société malinké (Paris, 1976); Diagne, Pathé, Pouvoir politique traditionnel en Afrique occidentale. Essai sur les institutions politiques précoloniales (Paris, 1967); Diop, Abdoulaye-Bara, La société wolof. Tradition et changement. Les systèmes d'inégalité et de domination (Paris, 1981); Diop, Majhemout, Histoire des classes sociales dans l'Afrique de l'Ouest. Vol. I: Le Mali. Vol. 2: Le Sénégal (Paris, 19711972); Gardi, Bernhard, Ein Markt wie Mopti. Handwerkerkasten und traditionelle Techniken in Mali (Basel, 1985); McNaughton, Patrick R., The Mande Blacksmiths: Knowledge, Power and Art in West Africa (Bloomington, 1988); NʾDiaye, Bokar, Les castes au Mali (Bamako, 1970); Pollet, Eric and Winter, Grace, La société soninké. Dyahunu (Mali) (Brussels, 1971); Richter, Dolores, Art, Economics and Change: The Kulebele of Northern Ivory Coast (La Jolla, Ca., 1980); Wane, Yaya, Les Toucouleur du Fouta Tooro. Stratification sociale et structure familiale (Dakar, 1969). Other important accounts include: Dieterlen, Germaine, ‘Contribution à l'étude des forgerons en Afrique occidentale’, pp. 528, in Annuaire de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Ve Section: Sciences Religieuses, 1965–6; Diouf, Mamadou, ‘Le problème des castes dans la société wolof’, Revue Sénégalaise d'Histoire, 11 (1981), 2537; Dupire, Marguerite, ‘A nomadic caste: the Fulani woodcarvers’, Anthropos lxxx (1985), 85100; Gosselin, Gabriel, ‘Ordres, castes et Etats en pays sérèr (Sénégal): essai d'interprétation d'un système politique en transition’, Can. J. African Studies, VIII (1974), 135143; Jonckers, Danielle, ‘Notes sur le forgeron, la forge et les métaux en pays minyanka’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, xliv (1979), 103–24; Richter, Dolores, ‘Further considerations on caste in West Africa: the Senufo’, Africa, 1 (1980), 3754; Zemp, Hugo, ‘Musiciens autochtones et griots malinké chez les Dan de Côte d'Ivoire’, Cah. Et. Afr., xv (1964), 370–82. On the Moors, the Tuareg, and the multi-ethnic society of Timbuktu, see especially: Briggs, Lloyd Cabot, Tribes of the Sahara (Cambridge, Mass., 1960); Norris, H. T., Shinqiti Folk Literature and Song (Oxford, 1968); Lhote, Henri, Les Touaregs du Hoggar (Paris, 1944); Comment campent les Touaregs (Paris, 1947); Nicolaisen, Johannes, Ecology and Culture of the Pastoral Tuareg, with Particular Reference to the Tuareg of Ahaggar and Ayr (Copenhagen, 1963); Dupuis-Yakouba, , Industries et principales professions des habitants de la région de Tombouctou (Paris, 1921); Ibrahima, Mohamane Albassadji, ‘Tombouctou. Etude de géographie humaine, économique et sociale’ (thèse de doctorat de 3ème cycle, Université de Paris I, 1970).

5 See notably Diop, Abdoulaye-Bara, ‘La tenure foncière en milieu rural wolof (Sénégal): historique et actualité’, Notes Africaines, CXVIII (1968), 4852, and La société wolof, esp. pp. 181–96; Wane, Y., Les Toucouleur, esp. pp. 3440; Wane, Mamadou, ‘Réflexions sur le droit de la terre toucouleur’, Bulletin de l' Institut Fondamental de l' Afrique Noire, XLII (1980), 86128.

6 Silla, Ousmane, ‘Persistance des castes dans la société wolof contemporaine’, BIFAN, XXVIII (1966), 731–70, especially pp. 755–8; Diop, M., Le Mali, 47; Pollet, and Winter, , La société soninké, 218.

7 Fieldwork within a radius of 30 km around Segou (1985, 1986) and in the Arrondissement de Nossombougou (1986, 1988).

8 See, e.g. Meillassoux, Claude (ed.), l'Esclavage en Afrique précoloniale (Paris, 1975), 1518.

9 See, e.g. Person, Yves, ‘Un cas de diffusion: les forgerons de Samori et la fonte à la cire perdue’, Revue Française d'Histoire d'Outre-Mer, CXCIV–CXCVII (1967), 219–26; Richter, , ‘Further Considerations’, 3940.

10 Zahan, Dominique, Sociétés d'initiation bambara. Le NʾDomo. Le Korè (Dijon, 1960), 234–6; Luneau, René, Chants de femmes au Mali (Paris, 1981).

11 Fieldwork, regions of Segou (1985, 1986) and Beledougou (1986, 1988); also Bafoulabe area, 1985.

12 Paulme, Denise, Organisation sociale des Dogon (Paris, 1988), 182; confirmed by Geneviève Calame-Griaule, personal communication, 1984. Soninke: Claude Meillassoux and Yakouba Diagana, personal communications, 1989.

13 See notably Paulme, , Organisation sociale, 184–5, 192; Calame-Griaule, Geneviève, Ethnologie et langage. La parole chez les Dogon (Paris, 1987), 397; Pollet, and Winter, , La société soninké, 206–60; Luneau, René, Les chemins de la noce. La femme et le mariage dans la société rurale au Mali (Lille, 1975), 101, 106–11.

14 Fieldwork, 1985, 1986, 1988.

15 Diop, Cheikh Anta, l'Afrique noire pré-coloniale (Paris, 1960), 718; Diagne, , Pouvoir politique, 71, 73; Diop, M., Le Mali, 47, 57–9; Camara, , Gens de la parole, 5766.

16 Doumbia, Paul-Emile-Namoussa, ‘Etude du clan des forgerons’, Bulletin du Comité d'Etudes Historiques et Scientifiques de l' A.O.F., XIX (1937), 334–80, 337; Youssouf Cissé, personal communication.

17 Pollet, and Winter, , La société soninké, 233.

18 Luneau, Les chemins de la noce, III; and fieldwork, Segou region, 1985, 1986.

19 Fieldwork, Segou region, 1985, 1986.

20 NʾDiaye, , Les castes, 73, 85, Pollet, and Winter, , La société soninké, 217–18.

21 Dieterlen, Germaine, Essai sur la religion bambara (Brussels, 1988), 166–7; Dieterlen, Germaine and Cissé, Youssouf, Les fondements de la société d' initiation du Komo (Paris, 1972), 30–1; Zahan, Dominique, La dialectique du verbe chez les bambara (Paris, 1963), 144.

22 See, e.g. Silla, , ‘Persistance’, 746–9 and Mauny, Raymond, ‘Baobabs-cimetières à griots’, Notes Africaines, LXVII (July 1955), 7276.

23 Fieldwork, Arrondissement de Nossombougou, 1986, 1988.

24 Among the best discussions of these groups, one may cite: Wane, Y., Les Toucouleur, 4250; NʾDiaye, , Les Castes, 5561; Diop, Boly, ‘Les subalbé. Pêcheurs de la moyenne vallée du fleuve Sénégal’, Brevet du Centre des Hautes Etudes de l' Afrique et de l'Asie Modernes (Paris), 1968; Pageard, Robert, ‘Notes sur les Diawambé ou Diokoramé’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, XXIX (1959), 239–60; Bazin, Jean, ‘Commerce et prédation: l'Etat bambara de Ségou et ses communautés marka’, International Conference on Manding Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1972.Monteil, Charles, Les Bambara du Ségou et du Kaarta (Paris, 1924), makes numerous brief references to the Sòmono.

25 Fieldwork, regions of Segou (1985, 1986) and Beledougou (1986, 1988); also Bafoulabe area, 1985.

26 Mahamadou Sissoko, ‘Les castes à Bamako. Essai d'étude sur leur évolution’ (mémoire de fin d' études, D.E.R. de Philosophie, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Bamako). Other important discussions of modernization include Rivière, Claude, ‘uinee: la difficile émergence d'un artisanat casté’, Cah. Et. Afr., XXXVI (1969), 600–25, and Silla, ‘Persistance’.

27 Baṭṭuṭa, Ibn, Tuḥfat al-Nuẓẓār fī Gharāib al-Amṣār wa-ʿAdjāʾib al-Asfār, ed. by Defrémery, C. and Sanguinetti, B. R., (Paris, 1969), IV, 398410; French translation in Cuoq, Joseph, Recueil des sources arabes concernant IʾAfrique occidentale du VIIIe au XVIe siècle (Bilād al-Sūdan) (Paris, 1975), 301–10.

28 Al-ʿUmarī, Masālik al-Abṣār fī Mamālik al-Amṣār, Ms. B.N. 5868, 26v, 29r–33r, translation in Cuoq, Recueil, 264, 269–76.

29 Al-Bakrī, , Kitāb al-Masālik wa-'l-Mamīlik, ed. de Slane, William MacGuckin (Paris, 1965). 175–6; Cuoq, , Recueil, 100; al-ldrīsī, , Nuzhat al-Mushtāq fi Ikhtirāq al-Āfāq, ed. Dozy, R. and de Goeje, M. J. (Leiden, 1866), 6; Cuoq, , Recueil, 133–4.

30 Fernandes, Valentim, Description de la côte occidentale d'Afrique (Sénégal au Cap de Monte, Archipels), ed. and translated by Monod, T., da Mota, A. Teixeira and Mauny, R. (Bissau, 1951), 811, 44–5. The assimilation of Jews to bards in the early European sources has had one enduring consequence: in Portuguese Creole, bards are called judéus.

31 André de Almada, Alvares, Tratado breve dos Rios de Guiné do Cabo Verde, ed. Silveira, Luis (Lisbon, 1945), 23–4.

32 Jannequin, , he voyage de Lybie au royaume de Sénégal, le long du Niger (Geneva, 1980), 173–9; Mollien, , Voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique, aux sources du Sénégal et de la Gambie (Paris, 1820), i, 155–8; Park, , Travels, ed. Miller, Ronald (New York, 1954), 213–14, 150; Barth, , Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa (London, 1965), iii, 112–13.

33 al-Mukhtār, Ibn, Taʿrīkh al-Fattāshfī Akhbār al-Buldān wa-l'-Juyūsh wa-Akābir al-Nās, ed. and translated Houdas, Octave and Delafosse, Maurice (Paris, 1981), 11, 94, 155 (pp. 14, 177 and 276 of the translation).

34 The term has already been discussed by Hunwick, J. O., ‘African language material in Arabic sources—the case of Songhay (Sonrai)’, African Language Review, IX (19701971), 69.

35 Al-Saʿdī, , Taʾrīkh al-Sūdān, ed. and translated Houdas, Octave and Benoist, Edmond (Paris, 1981), 102 (p. 168 of the translation).

36 Gaden, Henri, Proverbes et maximes peuls et toucouleurs, traduits, expliqués et annotés (Paris, 1931), 323.

37 Hama, Boubou, L'histoire traditionnelle d'un peuple. Les Zarma-Songhay (Paris, 1967), 119–20; Ahmadou Djibrilla Maiga et Mahamadou Maiga, ‘Le griot en milieu songhay’, mémoire de fin d'études, D.E.R. de Lettres, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Bamako, 1977–8; de Sardan, Jean-Pierre Olivier, Concepts et conceptions songhay-zarma (Paris, 1982), 281–2.

38 Al-Saʿdī, , Taʾrīkh al-Sūdān, 81 (p. 116 of the translation).

39 Soh, Siré-Abbas, Chroniques du Fouta sénégalais, ed. and translated Delafosse, Maurice and Gaden, Henri (Paris, 1913), 148, 225.

40 al-Mukhtār, Ibn, Taʿrīkh al-Fattāsh, 65 (pp. 123–4 of the translation).

41 Ibid. 116, 181–2, 186 (pp. 212, 317, 323–4 of the translation); al-Saʿdī, , Taʾrikh al-Sūdān 143, 147, 157–8, 165 (pp. 223, 229, 243, 253 of the translation).

42 Al-Saʿdī, ibid. 122, 140, 210 (pp. 196, 219, 321 of the translation). FRM (to be read Farma) and the final ‘d’ of JawnD (to be read Jawndo) are not vocalized.

43 Levtzion, Nehemia, ‘A seventeenth century chronicle by Ibn al-Mukhtār: a critical study of Taʿríkh al-Fattāsh’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, xxxiv (1971), 571–93; Abitbol, Michel, Tombouctou et les Arma. De la conquête marocaine du Soudan nigérien en 1591 à l'hégémonie de l'Empire Peulh du Macina en 1833 (Paris, 1979), 12.

44 al-Mukhtār, Ibn, Taʿrīkh al-Sūdān, 31–2, 55–8, 61–2, 64–8, 70–1, 116–17, 119, 123, 140–1, 143–4, 149 (PP. 52–4. 106–13, 118, 121–31, 136–7, 212–15, 218–19, 224–5, 255–6, 258–60, 266–8 of the translation).

45 Brown, William, ‘The Caliphate of Hamdullahi ca. 1818–1864: a study in African history and tradition’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1969), 116, 124, 129.

46 Most of the Bambara villages of the Beledougou region of Mali do not have resident bards or leatherworkers, only blacksmiths. However, the fact that Beledougou hóiran do not make any leather goods (except water skins) or play any of the musical instruments associated with bards, as well as their familiarity with the word nyàmakala, shows that they operate in terms of the social concepts and structures characteristic of other Manding areas. Beledougou Bambara make use of the services of wandering Malinke, Bambara, Soninke, and even Moorish artisans and bards. (Fieldwork, 1986, 1988).

47 Baṭṭūta, Ibn, Tuḥfat, vol. 4, 404–5; Cuoq, , Recueil, 304.

48 Baṭṭūta, Ibn, Tuḥfat, vol. 4, 385; Cuoq, , Recueil, 294.

49 The fullest versions collected include: Niane, Djibril Tamsir, Soundjata ou l'epopée mandingue (Paris, 1960); Innes, Gordon, Sunjata: Three Mandinka Versions (London, 1974); Cissé, Youssouf Tata and Kamissoko, Wa, L'empire du Mali, 2 vols. (Paris, 1975, 1976); La grande geste du Mali, des origines à la fondation de l'empire (Paris, 1988); Johnson, John William, The Epic of Son-Jara: A West African Tradition (Bloomington, 1986). Johnson provides quite a full bibliography, to which one should add Sory Camara, L'histoire pour les Mandenka, Université de Bordeaux, n.d., and a version included as an annex to Diakité, Drissa, ‘Le Mansaya et la société mandingue’ (thèse de doctorat de 3éme cycle, Université de Paris I, 1980).

50 See especially Khaldūn, Ibn, Kitūb al-ʿIbar wa-Dīwān al-Mubtadūʾ wa-ʿl-Khabar (Beirut, 19561961), vol. 4, 413–15; Cuoq, , Recueil, 343–6; and Levtzion, Nehemia, ‘The thirteenth- and fourteenth-century kings of Mali’, Journal of African History, iv (1963), 341–53.

51 Baṭṭūṭa, Ibn, Tuḥfat, vol. 4, 413–14; Cuoq, , Recueil, 307–8.

52 This idea, initially developed by Chadwick, H. Munro and Chadwick, N. Kershaw, The Growth of Literature (3 vols., Cambridge, 1932, 1936, 1940), has been applied to the Manding epics by Johnson, John William, ‘The epic of Sun-Jata: an attempt to define the model for African epic poetry’ (Ph.D. thesis, Folklore Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1978).

53 Thus, I reverse Gordon Innes' argument. According to him: ‘Folklorists have rightly pointed out that there is reason to suspect the historicity of any purportedly historical account when similar accounts are found elsewhere in the literature, either oral or written. […] Hence in the case of the Sunjata epic, which contains so many common motifs, one begins to wonder what, if anything, is based on historical facts. I must confess that if there were no independent historical documentation confirming the existence of Sunjata, I should be inclined to doubt that there had ever been a historical Sunjata’ (Innes, Sunjata, 26).

54 The only stringed instrument mentioned in the medieval Arabic sources is the kanībrī (Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, Tuḥfat, iv, 406; Cuoq, Recueil, 30s). This Persian word refers to an instrument which normally has only two strings (Mauny, R., Monteil, V., Djenidi, A., Robert, S., Devisse, J., Extraits tirés des voyages d'Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, Dakar, 1966, 55, n. 4). Trumpets, drums, and especially the xylophone are the prominent instruments at the Malian court. Cf. Ibn Baṭṭīṭa, Tuḥfat, iv, 405, 412; Cuoq, Recueil, 304, 307; and al-ʿUmarī, Masālik al-abṣār fo. 29V., 31; Cuoq, Recueil, 269–70, 272.

55 Niane, , Soundjata, 73–7; Cissé and Kamissoko, L'empire du Mali, i, 359–67; Innes, Sunjata, 200–31, 272–81; Johnson, Epic, 148–50.

56 See, e.g. Cline, Walter, Metallurgy in Negro Africa (Menasha, Wisconsin, 1937) and Balandier, Georges, La vie quotidienne au royaume du Kongo du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1965).

57 See notably Tardits, Claude, he royaume bamoum (Paris, 1980), 512513, 587, 637639, 682693; Perrot, Claude-Hélène, Les Anyi-Ndenye et le pouvoir aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles (Abidjan/Paris, 1982), 135–6; Adler, Alfred, La mort est le masque du roi. La royauté sacrée des Moundang du Tchad (Paris, 1982), 291–4, 336–7; Fortier, Joseph, Le couteau de jet sacré. Histoire des Sar et de leurs rois au sud du Tchad (Paris, 1982).

58 Kouyaté, Namankoumba, ‘Recherches sur la tradition orale au Mali (pays manding)’, Diplôme d'Etudes Supérieures, Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Université d'Alger, 19691970.

59 For a general interpretation of joking relationships, see Tegnaeus, Harry, Blood Brothers: An Ethno-Sociological Study of the Institutions of Blood-Brotherhood with Special Reference to Africa (New York, 1952). About joking relationships in the Manding world and their relationships to traditions of caste origins, see notably Labouret, Henri, ‘La parenté à plaisanteries en Afrique occidental’, Africa, 11 (1929), 244–54; Les Manding et leur langue (Paris, 1934), 100–4; Doumbia, ‘Etude’; Paulme, Denise, ‘Parenté à plaisanteries et alliance par le sang en Afrique occidentale’, Africa, XII (1939), 433–44, and ‘Pactes de sang, classes d'âge et classes en Afrique noire’, Archives Européennes de Sociologie (1968), 1233; and Camara, Gens de la parole, 34–40, 228–30.

60 See, e.g. Delafosse, Maurice, Haut-Sénégal-Niger (Paris, 1972), iii, 128–33, and Labouret, , Les Manding, 43–9, on the distinction between political and Earth chiefs among the Manding. In contrast to many recent studies (including Cartry, Michel, ‘Resumé des conférénces et travaux’, in Annuaire de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Ve Section–Sciences Religieuses, vol. 91 [19821983], 85–9, and Izard, Michel, Gens du pouvoir, gens de la terre. Les institutions politiques de l'ancien royaume du Yatenga (Cambridge/Paris, 1985), I feel that a careful look at the historical evidence shows that certain religious duties are attributed to the earliest or earlier inhabitants, sometimes leading – in areas characterized by several waves of settlement – to the parcelling of religious privileges.

61 For example, descendants of the Songhay ruler Sonni Ali are still renowned as magicians, and both they and descendants of Mall's Keita dynasty hold periodical gatherings. See, e.g. Rouch, Jean, La religion et la magie songhay (Brussels, 1989); Dieterlen, Germaine, ‘Mythe et organisation sociale au Soudan français’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, xxv (1955), 3976 & xxix (1959), 119–38; Meillassoux, Claude, ‘Les cérémonies septennales du Kamablõ de Kaaba (Mali) (5–12 avril 1968)’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, xxxviii (1968), 173–83. Sékéné-Mody Cissoko has shown that among the Manding-speaking Khassonké of the Kayes region of Mali, some princely lineages, though permanently excluded from political office, retained considerable prestige and received indemnities and tax exemptions. (‘Les princes exclus du pouvoir royal [mansaya] dans les royaumes du Khasso [XVIII–XIXe s.]’, BIFAN, xxxv [1973], 46–56, esp. pp. 54–6). In the quite different cultural context of southwestern Chad, Alfred Adler has shown how representatives of the first Moundang dynasty retained a residual role in the court ceremonies of the succeeding dynasty (La Mort, 33–8, 106–9).

62 These languages are: Manding, Soninke, Dan, Wolof, Fulfulde, Senufo, Dogon, Minianka, Songhay, Moorish Arabic and Tuareg. Dictionaries consulted include: Manding: Delafosse, Maurice, La langue mandingue et ses dialectes (malinké, bambara, diould), vol. 2: Dictionnaire mandingue-fratiçais (Paris, 1955); Bailleul, Charles, Petit dictionnaire bambara-français, français-bambara (England, 1981); Wolof, : Lexique wolof-frattçais, Centre de Linguistique Appliquée de Dakar, 4 vols. (Dakar, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981); Fulfulde: Gaden, Henri, Lepoular: dialecte peul du Fouta sénégalais, vol. 2: Lexique poular-français (Paris, 1914); Zubko, G. V., Dictionnaire peul (Jula)-russe-français d'environ 25,000 mots (Moscou, 1980); Dogon: Calame-Griaule, Geneviève, Dictionnaire dogon. Dialecte tóro (Paris, 1968); Minianka: Cauvin, Jean, La'image, la langue et la pensée, vol. 2: Recueil de proverbes de Karangasso (St Augustin, 1980), which includes a vocabulary; Songhay: Prost, André, La langue sonay et ses dialectes (Dakar, 1956), ‘Supplément au dictionnaire Sonay-Français (parler de Gao, Mali)’, BIFAN, xxxix (1977), 584–657, Ducroz, Jean-Marie and Charles, Marie-Claire, Lexique sorjey (songay)-français. Parler kaado du Gorouol (Paris, 1978); Moorish Arabic: Pierret, Roger, Etude du dialecte maure des regions sahariennes et sahéliennes de l'Afrique Occidentale Française (Paris, 1948); Tuareg: de Foucauld, Charles, Dictionnaire touareg-français. Dialecte de l'Ahaggar, 4 vols. (Paris, 1951); Nicolas, Francis, La langue berbère de Mauritanie (Dakar, 1953).

The following works also proved particularly helpful: Pollet and Winter, La societe soninké; Olivier de Sardan, Concepts; Zemp, ‘Musiciens autochtones’; and Norris, Shinqiti. All transcriptions and analyses of Senufo terms are due to Pierre Boutin and correspond to the Tyebara dialect (personal communication, 1982).

63 Fùne (also pronounced fina or fino), which designates a caste whose members often specialize in reciting the Koran and singing praises of the Prophet, pilgrims and religious scholars, may in fact be derived from the Arabic root fann, ‘art’, ‘technique’. However, it does not seem to be related to any non-Manding African words.

64 Meillassoux, Claude, Doucouré, Lassana and Simagha, Diaowé, Légende de la dispersion des Kusa (Dakar, 1967).

65 Fulfulde words are constituted by closed syllables, CV(V)C(C), to which various suffixes may be added. Manding words are typically composed of open syllables, CV(V)(X). (C, consonant; V, vowel; X, nasal).

66 According to Gaden (Lexique, 22), buurnaajo comes from a Wolof expression meaning ‘the Buur's man’. This etymology is powerfully supported by the fact that most buurnaaɓe have Wolof clan names. See Wane, Les Toucouleur, 59.

67 Càgi may ultimately come from Arabic: classical Arabic sāʿigh, pronounced sāyigh in most North African dialects→cayigi→càgi.

68 In the generic form of the base, Senufo nouns present the following tonal schemes: low-low, middle-low, middle-middle, low-middle. The last three schemes are found only in Senufo roots. The tonal scheme -low-low is found both in Senufo roots and in loanwords. The tonal scheme -middle-high is found both in compound words and in loanwords. The tonal schemes low-high and high-high are only found among loanwords (Pierre Boutin, personal communication, 1982).

69 Bisilliat, Jeanne and Laya, Dioulde, La tradition orale dans la société songhay-zarma: les zamu ou poèmes sur les noms (Niamey, 1972).

70 Calame-Griaule, , Dictionnaire, 122.

71 Ibid. 130–1.

72 Cauvin, Recueil, Jonckers, ‘Notes’.

73 Jonckers, , ‘Notes’, 112.

74 Maurice Houis and Hugo Zemp attempt to derive the Dan terms from the frequent Manding form yèli, but, for both linguistic and geographical reasons, this is unlikely. The Dan have manifold cultural relations with the Mauka, who use the form y⋯⋯ (Zemp, ‘Musiciens autochtones’, 377–8).

75 Bravmann, René A., Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa (London, 1974), 7480, 83, 87, 95–7, 99, 128, 132.

76 Turay, A. K., ‘Manding and Susu Loanwords in Temne’, International Conference on Manding Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1972.

77 This point has already been made by Norris, H. T., Shinqiti, 53.

78 Discussions of the meaning of nyàma and the etymology of nyamakala include Cissè, Youssouf, ‘Notes sur les sociétés de chasseurs malinké’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, xxxiv (1964), 175226, pp. 192207, and Charles Bird, Martha Kendall and Kalilou Tera, ‘The etymology of Nyamakala’, forthcoming.

79 For various hypotheses concerning the origin of Soninke ñaxamala, see Meillassoux, Claude, ‘Notes sur l'étymologie de nyamakala’, Notes Africaines, cxxxix (1973), 79.

80 Yaya Wane nevertheless provides a Tukulor popular etymology. According to him, this word literally means ‘those who eat from any trough’, Les Toucouleur, 50.

81 Christiane Seydou provides a good discussion of this question in ‘Aspects de la littérature peule’, in Adamu, Mahdi and Kirk-Greene, A. H. M. (eds.), Pastoralists of the West African Savanna (Manchester, 1986), 101–12. Also, compare Seydou, Christiane, Silâmaka et Poullôri (Paris, 1972), and La geste de Ham-Bodêdio (Paris, 1976), to Labatut, Roger, Chants de vie et de beauté, recueillis chez les peuls nomades du Nord-Cameroun (Paris, 1974).

82 Gaden, , Proverbes, 323; Gardi, , Ein Markt, 335–7.

83 Wane, Y., Les Toucouleur, 52, 54.

84 Pierre Boutin, personal communication, 1982.

85 Hama, , Histoire traditionnelle, 119–20; Maigaand Maiga, Legriot; Olivier de Sardan, Concepts, 157, 224–30, 281–2, 310, 330–1, 353–4, 400–1.

86 Richter, , ‘Further considerations’, 39, Art, 15–17, 81–2.

87 Zemp, ‘Musiciens autochtones, 376.

88 Norris, , Shinqiti, 35–6, 53–4, 65–7.

89 Jonckers, , ‘Notes’, 106, 119–20.

90 See, e.g. Calame-Griaule, Ethnologie et langage; Jean Rouch, Religion; Surugue, Bernard, Contribution à l'étude de la musique sacrée zarma-songhay (Niamey, 1972); Zemp, Hugo, La musique dans la pensée et la vie sociale d'une société africaine (Paris, 1971); Norris, Shinqiti; and Guignard, Michel, Musique, honneur et plaisir au Sahara (Paris, 1975).

91 See, e.g. Lhote, Les Touaregs, 276–8; and Comment campent les Touaregs, 51–61, 90–1, 107–10; and ‘L'anneau de bras des Touaregs, ses techniques et ses rapports avec la préhistoire’, BIFAN, XII (1950), 456–87.

92 Wane, , Les Toucouleur, 50–2, 5962.

93 Meillassoux, Doucouré and Simagha, Légende.

94 Kientz, Albert, ‘Approches de la parenté sénufo’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, xlix (1979), 970; xlix (1979), 9–28.

95 Clamens, G., ‘Notes d'ethnologie sénoufo’, Notes Africaines, lix (1953), 7680; Kulaseli, (pseudonym), ‘Une phase de l'initiation à un poro forgeron sénoufo’, Notes Africaines, lxv (1955), 914; Bochet, Gilbert, ‘Le poro des Diéli’, BIFAN, xxi (1959), 61101.

96 Bravmann, , Islam, 7480, 83, 87, 95–7, 99, 128, 132.

97 Richter, , ‘Further considerations’, 46–7, Art, 26–9, 95–7.

98 Baṭṭūṭa, Ibn, Tuḥfat, vol. 4, 385; Cuoq, , Recueil, 294; Norris, , Shinqiti, 35–6, 54–5.

99 al-Mukhtār, Ibn, Taʿrīkh al-Fattāsh, 11, 94, 155 (PP. 14. 177, 276 of the translation); Hama, , Histoire traditionnelle, 119–20; Maiga and Maiga, Le griot.

100 Fieldwork, Segou region, 1985, 1986.

101 Doumbia, ‘Etude’; Amselle, Jean-Loup, Les négotiants de la savane: histoire et organisation sociale des Kooroko (Mali) (Paris, 1977).

102 Appia-Dabit, Béatrice, ‘Les forgerons du Fouta-Djallon’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, xxxv (1965), 317–52.

103 Wane, , Les Toucouleur, 52.

104 Richter, , Art, 102–3.

1 This article summarizes the findings of my doctoral dissertation, ‘Les castes au Soudan occidental: étude anthropologique et historique’ (thèse de doctorat d'Etat, Université de Paris X–Nanterre, 1988).

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