On the early influence of the Spanish on the English in America, see Elliott 11—12, In discourse related to African Americans, it has come to relate to the question of whether or not there was any cultural continuity from Africa in the diaspora. By looking in detail at this process, we may see Dunn There are other debates to be had with regard to processes of identity formation and the degree to which the Creole language was constitutive of a new collective identity for some.
Indeed the very idea of linguistic creolisation emerged in Western Africa, where it was first used by Jajolet de la Courbe in This process of Creole language formation is, however, deeply connected to associated socio-cultural changes, and it is this which makes it an important prism for assessing the trans-Atlantic slave trade from a more cultural perspective. The development of a new language may reflect new social forces. Where social interactions and exchanges are intense, linguistic change follows. See also Jacobs ; and Veiga 37 for this periodisation. Jacobs shows that Kriolu had become a vernacular in Upper Guinea by the s.
Seibert forthcoming, argues that this creolisation did not occur in Upper Guinea. The key point is that that historical situation was associated with the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which occurred earlier in Western Africa than elsewhere in the African Atlantic, and thereby laid down early markers for the process in the wider Atlantic world. Back in the s, the Jamaican writer Edward Kamau Brathwaite suggested that the study of creolisation was inseparable from the study of slavery.
This book thus does as Brathwaite did for Jamaica, and interconnects the study of creolisation and slavery, though this time in a Western African historical context. Linguistic diversity was much richer in Western Africa than in Central Africa. Gruzinski 4. However, in this new literature the role of African societies has been conspicuously absent.
The recent dearth of studies by Africanists on the early modern period is a major cause of this, but more general narratives have also failed to give an adequate account of the place of African societies in the Atlantic. By studying the first century of Atlantic history in detail through events in Western Africa, we see not only the importance of Western Africa in the developing picture See Hawthorne ; ; ; Klein A point made by Eltis See also Green In particular, it is argued that mercantile diasporas in the Iberian Atlantic emerged in part through the contact which members of those diasporas had with societies of Western Africa, in which such cross-cultural trading diasporas had long exerted influence.
Because recent works have emphasised the role of mercantile diasporas and ideas of shared identity in the rise of the Atlantic system, it becomes clear that the importance of diaspora trading networks to the Atlantic world cannot be separated from the contact which those networks had with African societies. This book argues that this connection is central, and therefore reasserts the centrality of African societies to the study of early modern diasporas and to the early Atlantic world. Such an emphasis is important in a context where the place of diasporas in early modern cross-cultural trade is an increasingly important question for historians.
Frank 62 ; A. Cohen ; ; Lovejoy ; Such mutual reciprocity was a by-product of the development of long-distance trade networks on the one hand; and, on the other, of the long-standing history of cultural pluralism in West Africa which meant that trading communities characterized by the ability to retain distinctive original cultural features and yet also adopt traits of the host culture were widespread cf. Chapters 1 and 8. On Africa as a part of the emergent global economic system that predated European expansion, see Bayart , and as in some ways more open commercially than Europe, see Mendes 9.
To compound this issue, this African role in early Atlantic history was moreover concealed by ultra-nationalist ideologies for many decades. However, the experiences which the Portuguese sailors had on the African coast depended on preceding exchanges and historical events dating to an already distant past.
In Upper Guinea, peoples had come under pressure since the thirteenth century from the Mandinka of the famous Mali empire in their push towards the coast, a pressure which had affected the structure of their societies and the way they responded to newcomers cf. Chapter 1 ; with the arrival of the Portuguese, the peoples of Upper Guinea would find themselves between Mandinka and Atlantic powers, a situation which brought new changes.
There was little reconstruction of earlier African histories which may help to grasp how Africa affected the early Atlantic. It is therefore the ethnonym used in this book except where the discussion is more widely of Mande peoples in West Africa. From the African perspective, as we have just seen, this involved Upper Guineans who had adapted to the Mandinka expansion, and from the European side, New Christians, who were descendants of Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity by Manoel I in Indeed, integrating the New Christians into the picture decisively connects the patterns of creolisation in West Africa to the wider Atlantic world, which makes the case for the importance of the history of African diasporas mentioned earlier.
There is no significant published study of the New Christians in this region, although in addition to this work by Mark and Horta there are recent studies of the Sephardim in seventeenthcentury Senegambia by Mendes , Mark and Horta ; ; ; and Green ; a and b.
Chapter 2. The accommodation of New Christian diaspora networks within West Africa was vital to the process of forging this pan-Atlantic in the sixteenth century. The development of creolisation in Western Africa, it turns out, was facilitated by the existing practices of both African and New Christian diaspora merchants. For the trade diaspora of the Wangara in Central Sudan in the sixteenth century, see Lovejoy ; for the trade diaspora of the Hausa of post-colonial Nigeria, see A.
Cohen For the scholarship on early Atlantic networks of New Christians, see for example Wachtel ; Israel ; Schorsch See for example Bernal ; Lefkowitz However, Blumenthal agrees with Medeiros and RussellWood that this picture, though nascent, was not institutionalised until later in the sixteenth century; a contrary position on this is taken by Sweet For new perspectives on the growing marginalisation of New Christians in the Iberian Atlantic, see Schwartz ; and Yovel Because of its contrary register to the discourse of creolisation, the question of race emerges only in a minor key in this book.
Through engaging with these themes, this book illustrates how peoples of Western Africa had an important place in building the Atlantic world, and that this was indeed a relevant location in the birth of economic and ideological currents associated with modernity see especially Chapter 4. This sort of argument, of course, runs counter to the ideas concerning the historical place of African societies which emerged in the colonial era, and now, in the twenty-first century, different ideologies challenge these ideas.
Many cavil at talking about African agency in these centuries for fear of blaming the evils of slavery on Africans themselves; and indeed, some scholars, in a desire to demonstrate such agency in the early Atlantic, come dangerously close to abetting this position. Indeed, almost all large-scale societies have practised or benefited from some form of forced labour. To hold that African societies cannot or should not have done so is thus to hold a paternalistic myth of the noble savage and thereby to replicate, unconsciously, older historiographies.
It emerges that although pre-existing African cultural and economic patterns were vital to shaping the formation of the early Atlantic, within a few decades the demand side of the Atlantic economy had begun radically to affect the way in which African communities defended themselves, built alliances and structured their societies. Here the book supports the work of Walter Rodney, who more than forty years ago argued for the influence of this early Atlantic trade on cycles of violent disorder and practices of enslavement in Western Africa.
So although for ideological reasons related to perceptions of African history in the epoch of twentieth-century imperialism we must recognise African agency, we should at the same time not be afraid to see the limits of this idea; we must recognise that even its positing is in some senses a response to the earlier assumptions of white racism. Johnson , Rodney ; idem. It includes material derived from interviews and observations relating to cultural practices there.
I have also drawn on published collections of oral traditions of the peoples of Upper Guinea. Much published material has also been consulted. I have drawn from the Spanish accounts of their conquest of the Americas in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. They are thus fairly representative, bearing in mind that different African peoples were used for different labour tasks in the Americas. They allow us to reinterpret Almada and Donelha, corroborating some of their observations and permitting new interpretations. Some readers may worry as to the reliability of inquisitorial sources, but there is a general consensus among scholars of the Inquisition that such information cannot be discounted.
For a good discussion of the value of these identifications, see Hawthorne b: introduction. See also Green b: This table illustrates the origins of Upper Guinean slaves in the Americas in the mid sixteenth-century. Readers should note, however, that although Spanish scribes did note down with reasonable accuracy what they perceived as the ethnicities of slaves arriving in the Americas, sold in deeds of sale, etc. With this caveat in mind, however, this information can still tell us much about the areas which traded most heavily, and is in all likelihood as good a window as we can have onto how this picture fluxed over the course of the sixteenth century.
Those wishing to engage further in the question of the reliability of these ethnic identifications are advised also to consult Hawthorne b: Introduction. Some readers may feel that dependence on these sources weakens this book. Two thousand five hundred individuals are tabulated here, giving an average of roughly per decade or 60 individuals per year. This is not an inconsiderable statistical sample. The sources are varied. The only possible overlap i. These are given in percentages, but broadly bear out the numerical spread provided by my own research. Although they only give a partial view of an event, questions of identity and the past are often increasingly caught up in the way in which that past is presented in texts, and thus the use of texts is undeniably important.
Moreover, passing archival sources over for the exclusive use of oral history is impractical. As Peter Mark and Donald Wright have argued, oral history before the eighteenth century becomes too sketchy to provide detailed and reliable accounts. Keepers of oral histories are just as open to ideological diversion as writers of modern history, and both Charlotte Quinn and Wright have noted how the griots of the region around the Gambia River appeared unreliable as sources of factual information.
Some decades ago Miller noted for the Imbangala and Mbundu of WestCentral Africa present-day Angola that oral traditions for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have little to say about individuals and rather deal largely with institutional changes. This first volume commences circa , with the Mandinka expansion into Upper Guinea and Senegambia, and ends in This date marks an important moment with the construction of the Portuguese fort at Cacheu, a move which followed the first in a series of terrible droughts afflicting Cabo Verde between and The book is divided into two parts.
Part 1 is a regional history of the emergence of creolisation in Western Africa — , throughout which the importance of Atlantic slavery and slave production is emphasised, and the socio-cultural context for the commercial networks which facilitated the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is elucidated. Part 2 spans the years — and integrates this regional history with wider global factors involving the Atlantic world.
This half of the book deals in detail with both the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its cultural, political and social consequences in Western Africa. We see both how the emergence of creolisation in Western Africa influenced the Atlantic world and also how Atlantic factors in turn affected events in Western Africa. The book thus offers a thematic structure around a broadly chronological base, allowing us to see how creolisation and slavery were connected. By integrating the regional development of creolisation in Western Africa with global forces, the shape of the book illustrates one of its key points: that the emergence of what we may call world historical connections in the sixteenth century was a consequence of the interaction of analogous local and global forces on all sides of the Atlantic world.
This structure indeed shows how events in Western Africa served, in part, as a prototype for what followed. Hall, Vol. Argenti See Sweet Yet it was not always so. The coast stretching from the baobab-sprinkled scrubland by the Senegal River down to the creeks and forests of Sierra Leone saw exchanges between Africans and Europeans in the fifteenth century which formed a prototype for the relationships between European imperial emissaries and others that have defined so much subsequent world history.
The cultural world established in Western Africa at the time of these exchanges did not spring from nothing.
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Rather, it developed from antecedents which had shaped fifteenth-century societies on the Upper Guinean coast. By the s, this was a region where already for several centuries there had been a tradition of accommodation to the presence of powerful and at times violent outsiders who represented the commercial and political interests of the empire of Mali. To understand the historical picture which emerged by the fifteenth century, it is important to know something of the different groups which lived there at this time.
There were two main geographical sub-regions of continental Western Africa. To the north, the Senegambian region between the Senegal and Gambia Rivers was Sahelian in character. The land was dry. The Jolof lived in the interior to the north, the Mandinka settlements were along the Gambia River, and the Sereer inhabited the creeks of the Saluum delta along the coastline north of the Gambia.
Some way inland along the Senegal River, the Pullo established themselves at Fuuta Tooro in the late fifteenth century: The Pullo migrated in search of pastures for their cattle and were also to be found in number throughout the region. Culture, Trade, and Diaspora 33 sickness, horses and cattle were able to live there. In general, this was an area of fairly centralised polities.
The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, –
By the time of the Portuguese arrival in the fifteenth century, the Jolof polity consisted of five sub-kingdoms, each with a viceroy, whereas the Mandinka presence operated as an arm of the powerful trading empire of Mali. To the south of the Gambia River lay a more fertile forested area that stretched south to Sierra Leone, generally known as Upper Guinea. Tsetse flies were found south of the Casamance River, which made cattle-raising and maintaining cavalry difficult. All this made political units smaller and contributed to an area of great human and political complexity.
However, in spite of the difficulties of centralised control, the Mandinka related to Mali exercised hegemony over some of the groups living there, who as a consequence exhibited some acculturation to the Mandinka and also shared some cultural and productive practices. Inland from the coast, occupying much of the plateau inland from the coastal belt that straddles the borders of present-day Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal, was the Kaabu federation, a loose-knit collection of Mandinka states which asserted independence from Mali in the late fifteenth century.
This chapter examines the relationships that these peoples had both with one another and with the Mandinka in the centuries preceding the creation of the Atlantic world. It underlines the role of trans-Saharan trading diasporas in aspects of commercial and cultural practice in Senegambia and Upper Guinea in this era, and suggests that this pattern was significant when European mariners arrived, assisting in the 1 On tsetse fly distribution, see Fields-Black 45—6 ; for Almada, see MMAII: Vol.
Its primary contribution to the historiography is to foreground the role diasporas had in the historical process in Western Africa and to connect this pattern to subsequent developments in the early Atlantic era. However, although I place the role of diasporas within the political paradigm of the Mali empire, I am also wary of understanding this era through what might be called an imperial straitjacket; the personal connections and shared values of diaspora networks were, as this chapter and book show, just as significant as the policies of centralised powers in shaping patterns of change in the late medieval and early Atlantic eras.
The pattern linking Senegambia and Upper Guinea to Mali dates to the latter half of the thirteenth century. By looking at this primary creolisation, this chapter shows that analysis of the Atlantic Creole world in Western Africa must acknowledge the influence of this preceding history. Direct written sources are scant. While one or two historians have reconstructed elements of pre-fifteenth-century history through mixing oral and written traditions or through ethno-linguistics, this is a notoriously difficult enterprise; and as we saw in the Introduction, some historians doubt that detailed histories of this type can be constructed.
Most were written between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries by Islamic scholars for whom, as Paulo Farias argues, the lands of the Sahel were simultaneously objects of desire and dread. On landlord-stranger relationships, see Brooks b. Rather than offering a detailed chronological account, therefore, this chapter presents a wider pattern. Although oral sources may not be reliable on specifics, they help to understand fluxes of migration and exchange. The extensive collection of oral histories held in Fajara by the National Council of Arts and Culture of The Gambia offers an important window onto these processes.
They can be blended with such written sources as we do have and help in developing persuasive hypotheses. This chapter therefore synthesises these oral traditions, other published oral accounts, and ethno-linguistic considerations with these written sources, coupled with oral traditions from my own interviews. The resulting analysis works towards an explanatory paradigm for social change along the Western African littoral prior to the Atlantic era. As with this text, all known oral traditions there describe the arrival of the Mandinka in Upper Guinea from the east and their formation of the kingdom of Kaabu in the plateau between the Fouta Djalon mountains and the creeks and forests of the coast.
This expansion is said to have begun in the second half of the thirteenth century.
Between and there was a dry period which saw geographical boundaries shift, and this may have encouraged the migration of smiths who possessed important ritual power for Mande peoples. Although it is important to recognise that the evidence for this movement of smiths is scant and debated, the importance of smiths to the gold trade and political power in Upper Guinea may be reflected in the widespread oral traditions that hold that the Mandinguised Bainunk king Gana Sira Bana always sat on a gold chair.
Brooks b: Appendix A established this climatic periodisation; see also FieldsBlack 91—2. On the ritual power of Mande smiths, see McNaughton Hawthorne 31 , like Brooks, sees smiths and merchants leading this migration as due to the dry period. However, Colleen Kriger 9 suggests that the evidence for this passage of the smiths southwards is limited to a projection from twentieth-century ethnographic research and is very hard to prove. The growing strength of the smiths reflected an increase in trade and demand for gold. However, gold was not the only commodity in demand, and this expansion cannot have been entirely separated from the trans-Saharan slavery which accompanied the gold trade; indeed Meillassoux suggests that Mandinka unity against brigandage and this slave trade was also important to the rise of Mali.
This violence may well have affected smaller political units in areas such as Upper Guinea, whereas Mande unity against this problem may have been a factor in political developments. This coincidence was probably significant. In this picture, the place of religion and religious trading diasporas in the Sahel is important.
It was important for members of the initial trading communities to secure conversions among their host communities, but in time the adoption of an exclusive and distinctive religious practice also became important to maintaining the corporate identity of the trading communities. Prior to the adoption of Islam, under pressure from the Almoravids in —7, the capital was divided into two towns, one of which was Moslem and one of which was not although it contained a mosque.
However Bovill 86 places the conversion of Mande leaders to Islam to the early twelfth century cf. See ibid. In spite of this hybridised religious practice, however, Islam was key to the expansion of trade and political centralisation. Its adoption by the Mande ruling caste reflected the growth of plural identities among ruling circles, where one Islamic religious face was presented to members of this powerful trading diaspora and another hybrid ritual face was presented to populations at home.
This strategy cemented the place of cultural flexibility as an important strategy of power brokering in the Sahel. The centrality of this nuanced approach to Islam to the rise of Mali emerges in the foundational myth of the empire of Sunjata Keita. On this interpretation, the rise of the Almoravids in the mid-eleventh century led to important cultural and political changes in the Sahelian region.
Historians have long held that there were material effects also, because the flow of gold and slaves from the Sahara northwards rapidly increased, doubtless facilitated by the Almoravid presence in Morocco and Spain. Subsequently, the emperors of Mali did not proselytise producers of gold. Johnson Interestingly, such strategies are used by other groups today to claim an orthodox Islamic heritage.
On the Almoravids, see Farias Mansa Musa, on his famous pilgrimage to Mecca in —5, recounted in Cairo that whenever they had tried to conquer the land where the gold was produced, the gold production had disappeared. This attitude towards non-Moslems was an acknowledgement of the complex ritual and religious situation of the Sahel and of the co-existence of both the exclusivist and proselytising versions of Islam in the region; it was an expression of the plural cultural outlook that was one of the consequences of the arrival of diaspora merchants from North Africa.
Following the expansion of trade under the Almoravids in the twelfth century, a strong imperial force emerged in the Sahel in the thirteenth century as Mali was founded. Trade and religion were the keystones to new Mande power. It was indeed precisely the distinctiveness of these diaspora communities that was most important, for it was this which allowed them to act as cultural go-betweens bridging the Sahara; as Curtin noted, without this difference, the capacity for diaspora traders to act as cross-cultural brokers vanished.
The diaspora of Wangara merchants linked areas such as Gao, in the far east of present-day Mali, with the Borgu borderlands of present-day Niger and Nigeria from perhaps the late thirteenth century until the rise of the Songhay empire in the late fifteenth century. Indeed, the strength of the Wangara diaspora may have influenced the rise of Songhay. This connection is underscored by the fact that Jews residing in North Africa and the Saharan oases were also Curtin Farias ; idem. However, in contrast to their kin in Mali, the Mandinka who arrived in Kaabu in the thirteenth century, following the smiths, retained the old non-Islamic rites.
This is also implied by Sereer oral traditions, which, according to Henri Gravrand, suggest that the migration of Guelwaar princes from Kaabu to the Siin region north of the Gambia river occurred circa —40, following the Battle of Trubang in which the issue of religion may have been a trigger. On the Jewish clothmakers and the trans-Saharan trade see Prussin , —5. Cohen ; for more recent manifestations. It may, therefore, have been the connection of religion to trade which was the source both of the cohesion of Mali in the thirteenth century and of the differences which developed between Kaabu and Mali.
Following the rapid expansion of the Mandinka under Sunjata Keita during the thirteenth century, matters had stabilised by around By that time, political and cultural influence from Mali was strong on the Atlantic coast. Thus in the coastal regions of Casamance and present-day Guinea-Bissau, although decentralised polities of the mangrove creeks and channels of the coast were never subordinate to the Mandinka and retained their own structures of authority, Mandinka power from Mali was always proximate.
That this was the southern limit of Mandinka influence is shown by the fact that when the Italian sailor Alvise de Cadamosto arrived there in , he was unable to find a common language. Hair suggests that the common language between the first Portuguese sailors and the peoples of Senegambia and Upper Guinea was Arabic. Some Portuguese sailors would have spoken Arabic following the long history of Islamisation of Iberia, and the Mandinka dyula traders brought Arabic into the towns in which they traded.
However, although there was little political influence from the Mandinka south of Biafada territory, there were connections between this region and Mali. The absence of a common language in the Rio Grande region demonstrates that this was the limit of the Mandinka influence. Brooks b: suggests that this was an error and true only of the dyula traders encountered by his informants.
Pacheco Pereira says that the Sapes and Cocolis in this area were subject to Mandinka hegemony and grew these crops. Fields-Black —54 shows decisively that Susu iron technology was important to Nalu and Baga peoples in their agriculture from the fifteenth century onwards; she disputes, however, that such tools were always imperative to rice production, but holds that they were in widespread use by Culture, Trade, and Diaspora 45 as markets are often in border areas, it was probably here that these exchanges occurred.
The formation of a strong Mandinka power in the mid-thirteenth century was related both to the expansion of the trans-Saharan trade in gold and slaves and the rise of Islam in the Sahel. By the fourteenth century the political power of Mali stretched to the lower Senegal valley, and by the fifteenth century and perhaps earlier as far south as present-day Guinea-Bissau. Cultural influences accompanied the spread of political power, and Mandinka words entered the languages of the Jolof around the Senegal valley. Religion also acted as a vector of political and commercial acculturation; embedded Mandinka cultural influences, with Arabic vocabulary accompanying Mandinka into the languages of Upper Guinea, were testament not only to the spread of the Mandinka, but also to the acculturation which the Mandinka themselves had displayed towards the diaspora merchants from North Africa.
The power of the Mandinka and of their shared outsider religion was expressed through the growing ritual significance of amulets made by itinerant scholar-traders by using Islamic script, which were known as gris-gris and were used throughout Upper Guinea. The formation of Mali, the expansion of trade, the presence of diaspora merchants professing an outsider religion, and the growth of that religion itself were all interconnected.
This meant that the ritual power associations formed by the smiths who produced the iron used to work the gold deposits were deeply connected to the expansion of trans-Saharan trade. Two consequences of great importance emerged from this constellation of factors. The first was the way in which economic utility and power I am grateful to Olukoya Ogen of Osun State University for this point. Green Under these conditions, membership of an alien religion such as Islam, far from being a handicap, was a trading advantage.
Yet the process of cultural accommodation flowed in two directions, as aspects of the diasporic trading religion themselves were influenced by local ritual practices, and it was this complex interplay of reciprocal cultural influences from both host and guest cultures which was to be of fundamental importance when the first Atlantic traders began to arrive.
Accommodation and Expansion in the Formation of Kaabu The relationship of commercial and cultural accommodation which developed between members of North African trading diasporas and West African rulers and their peoples continued in the thirteenth century. It was transferred with the Mandinka migration towards the Atlantic coast and the formation of Kaabu. Kaabu was the most important polity of the pre-colonial era in Upper Guinea. In time, it grew into a large federal structure spreading from the southern Gambia River states to the Grande River and across the plateau between the coastal lowlands and the Fouta Djalon mountains.
It was here that its capital, Kansala, was located. Many different peoples co-existed in this zone. The creeks and forests of the coast were impossible to subdue because of the difficulty of using mounted armies there. They were populated by groups whose oral histories recount their movement from further inland in part as a response to the Mandinka migrations. According to oral traditions, at the time of the Mandinka arrival in Kaabu in the thirteenth century, the land in the creeks and forests of what is today Guinea-Bissau was all bush.
G r an d e Guinala Bijagos Islands 0 0 50 25 50 75 km miles Map 3. Map of Extent of Kaabu Federation. Hawthorne The Brames, who later became Mancanha, Manjaco, Papel, joined together to form an empire known as Tancabaceira around a capital of Cobiana, in the area south of the later Portuguese settlement of Cacheu. Gradually, a definitive settlement pattern was constructed during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The Brames possessed many different lineages which came to live largely under Mandinka hegemony, and they tended to define themselves according to specific regional origins whether from Cacheu, Baserral, Bajola or the island of Pecixe.
Farther north in the Casamance were the Bainunk, on many accounts the oldest group of the region. This accommodation did not categorise all groups however, and Balanta and Floup groups, who had the most decentralised forms of political organisation, remained outside significant Mandinka influence. Sandoval 93 emphasises the different languages spoken in the Bijagos islands. Thefts occur between members of the different lineages, and hospitality is not always shown to people from one island by those of another. Owing to its Mande roots, Kaabu has widely been seen as the western outpost of the Mali empire, even though, as we have seen, there were differences in religious emphasis between Kaabu and Mali.
To add to these religious differences were strong discrepancies in other cultural practices which developed with this Mandinka migration. Oral histories suggest rather a gradual spread of influence through the formation of alliances. See for instance Innes Following this line of thought, a reasonable suggestion is that the waves of Mandinka began to exert a growing influence after their arrival with Tiramaghan, and that by the fourteenth century they were in political control of what was to become the Kaabu federation of states, in part through the multiple new lineage alliances that they had made.
Such a picture, as we shall see later in this chapter, is in keeping with the importance of lineage to comprehending the social composition of societies in Africa at this time.
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Nowhere is this better exemplified than by the formation of the Sereer kingdom of Siin to the north of the Gambia. Lopes 57, Thus events in the Saluum may illustrate the sort of primary creolisation which was mentioned at the start of this chapter. Given the oral histories of the mixing of Mandinka and local peoples in what became the Kaabu heartland, this strategy in the Saluum was probably a continuation of that previously adopted there.
Oral history from Kaabu confirms this hypothesis. On these accounts, as we have seen, the Mandinka mixed rapidly after their arrival there, living in the same villages and taking the names of their Bainunk wives. Rather, as with the earlier incorporation of North African trading diasporas into the Sahel, there was a two-way interaction. We can therefore learn much about the Upper Guinea region of distant times from oral history.
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We do not learn the specifics of events and dates but rather glimpse changing patterns. Mandinka adoption of matrilinearity, intermarriages and the formation of new lineages suggest cultural accommodation. Whereas all societies have within them a capacity for such accommodation and syncretism, these qualities can emerge more strongly at certain times; in this case, the connection to long-distance trade in key commodities and the political power associated with incomers appear to have been pivotal both for the Mandinka of Mali in their Gravrand On the patrilineal inheritance typical of Mande societies in the region of the present-day republic of Mali, see J.
Johnson 11— The key finding to emerge is that right from the start cultural change was a two-way process, and was not characterised by the simple imposition of Mandinka practices. Yet at the same time, this should not blind us to the fact that the Mandinka rapidly came to constitute a dominant influence. Although the Mandinka themselves accommodated themselves to the practices and rituals of those who lived in Upper Guinea, so too the peoples of Upper Guinea learnt to adapt to the powerful newcomers.
Acculturation in Upper Guinea This section of this chapter seeks to understand this process of acculturation to the Mandinka and what it may have signified for subsequent events. As we have seen, intermarriage of Mandinka and other groups was one important factor in the spreading of the Mandinka cultural world. The development of new shared kinship entailed some sort of identification with Mandinka practices. Added to this was the role of diaspora traders in spreading commerce and ideas, bringing with them as they did the goods and symbols of the rich trans-Saharan trade.
Yet the idea of Mandinguisation needs to be treated with care. Indeed, the very idea of Mandinguisation was invented by Portuguese colonial officials who may have seen their role in a similar light. The key to this was Carreira When we cast around to see what characterised these changes, an important clue may lie in language. In Upper Guinea in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Mandinka was certainly a lingua franca, if not a vernacular among non-Mandinka groups.
Even today it is perhaps the most common second language in the Casamance and parts of northern Guinea-Bissau. By the eighteenth century this situation was identified by outsiders for trading transactions with Kaabu, and it probably developed much earlier. The role of language in the spread of Mandinka culture is very important. It reveals that Upper Guinea of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries really was a place in which intense cultural exchanges are demonstrated by linguistic changes. Although this did not lead to the formation of a vernacular Creole, it does emphasise that the term primary creolisation is appropriate, at least as a metaphor for cultural mixing of the sort discussed in the Introduction.
Although the economic and political power of the Mandinka must have constituted a major factor in this process, we must not lose sight of the perceived ritual power of the Mandinka and particularly their smiths. The magic powers held to reside with the power associations formed by Mandinka smiths would certainly have influenced the acceptance of Mandinka customs. The political importance of ritual power is suggested by the very many oral histories which depict the role of ritual in political conflicts, the most famous of these being that between Sunjata Keita and Sumunguru for control of Mali.
This is by no means the only example. The Bainunk themselves began to practice a sort of federal structure of kinship analogous to the federation of allied states found in Kaabu, and their acculturation to the Mandinka can be seen in the fact that according to Carlos Lopes, many Bainunk today pretend to be Mandinka.
Lopes The influence of the Mandinka in Casamance stretched beyond the Bainunk. It has also been identified by specialists on the Floup of Casamance as transforming their cultural practices. Mandinka influence in Upper Guinea in these centuries matters greatly when we try to understand the first African-European exchanges of the mid-fifteenth century.
The arrival of outsiders bearing goods and political and religious changes through long-distance trade was nothing new. The capacity of the peoples of Upper Guinea to adapt to such outsiders and incorporate them into society was also nothing new. Yet, as we have seen so far in this chapter, this accommodation was not just an acceptance of a dominant power; rather, it was coupled with the imposition of local values as new lineages were formed, and these new kinship lines developed their own loyalties and practices which derived from local custom.
In Senegambia and Upper Guinea, Mandinka power derived both from their connections to the trans-Saharan trade and from the ritual power associated with it. As we have seen, key to the development of this power by Mali had been its receptivity to and treatment of trading diasporas, as well as its accommodation to the Islamic religion professed by diaspora members. It is surely significant, then, that in Upper Guinea the Mandinka themselves came to constitute a sort of diaspora, thereby replicating the pattern which emerged in the trans-Saharan trade.
Thus did the importance of diasporas in Western African culture and commerce spread from their role in the trans-Saharan trade to Upper Guinea through the intermediaries of the Mandinka. In the Casamance, the Mandinka brought trade and with it a hint of the great world beyond. Social structures changed through a growing commercialisation and opening to the outside world. On the Biafada and the Mandinka, see Mota 6—9. Thus Mandinka political, cultural and ritual power was expressed at these markets to groups not under their direct control, because the ritual power of the smiths was well-known and the commercial and political power of the Mandinka was asserted in the long-distance trade practised by the dyula.
In this way trade and exchange formed a powerful means of spreading Mandinka influences even among those groups of Upper Guinea who were not politically subordinate to them. Equally as important as trade in terms of Mandinka influence on society was production. Fields-Black has shown that rice-growing technology was ancient in Upper Guinea already by the fifteenth century.
Thus the ritual power of the smiths, the trans-Saharan trade and the social changes produced by changing agricultural techniques were all interconnected. Such exchanges, however, were not just between Mandinka and others, but they also Fields-Black From a tradition I collected in Simbandi-Balante in March We can begin examining this pre-Atlantic primary creolisation by looking at Casamance. Co-existence in this space precipitated a sharing and mixing of local cultures. Such cultural mixing of different groups has indeed often been a feature of large polities, which of their nature tend to embrace many different peoples.
Evidence for a long-standing sharing of practices exists. This can be noted for instance among the Brame. As a whole, the Brame have a history of shared linguistic and cultural practice, and in the fifteenth century this was intense. The two exhibit a linguistic affinity which is indicative of some past shared history.
Almada described how all Ibid. Horta , makes the important point that these texts were primarily collations of oral histories and accounts, indicators of an oral culture in Upper Guinea. To the north of the Grande River, it may have been that the creation of a larger political space encouraged this process by breaking down the boundaries between the different lineages and facilitating their co-existence.
Thus it was the strength of Mandinka power in West Africa as a whole, cemented through the long-distance trade and adhesion to Islam, that facilitated the potential for cultural flexibility in the Upper Guinea region. Indeed, even those groups who resisted the Mandinka in some sense defined themselves culturally through this resistance.
The Balanta illustrate the same phenomenon. This custom continues to this day. My informant, a BalantaMane wearing Mandinka dress, described the typical Balanta origin story concerning their migration from the east. Yet at the same time, events here foreshadowed the process of cultural exchange in the Atlantic, for this primary creolisation both facilitated the exchange of practices and, as in the Atlantic, was also predicated on violence.
The way in which hunting, resistance and subordination are implied in these ethnonyms make it clear that exchanges with the Mandinka were not exactly peaceful. Violence escalated with primary creolisation, both among these peoples and others of the region. Moreover, as we have seen, the trans-Saharan commerce itself involved a heavy trade in slaves, some of whom may well have come from victims of the violence which accompanied these processes of change. It is difficult to imagine how things could have been any different. The imposition of new cultural and economic realities such as the Mandinka embarked upon in Upper Guinea in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries It should be noted, however, that the origins of this name are unclear, with some sources pointing to the Balanta as soldiers of the Pullo warrior-king Koli Tenguella cf.
Chapter 2 , who refused to accompany him back north from the Fouta Djalon to Fouta Tooro. Ba 25 ; and also information from an interview with Seydhou Fall, Goudomp, Casamance, April The Bainunk and Balanta namings and the Sereer foundation story imply that Mandinka expansion was accompanied by slave-raiding. Certainly, in the mid-fifteenth century the sale of slaves into long-distance trade was not a new phenomenon.
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Creolisation, Lineage and Naming in the Pre-Atlantic and Atlantic Worlds The casual visitor to Western Africa today may pick up a guidebook describing the peoples of the region. Here is a projection of the ethnic essentialism which engulfed African and European societies in the era of colonialism. Yet this chapter has shown how the historical reality of the peoples of Senegambia and Upper Guinea is infinitely more composite than ethnic nationalism can allow.
As we have seen, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century barriers to inter-cultural mixing were never so high that they could not be overcome. The peoples known with ethnic labels today had ancestors in these times who would not have recognised themselves in these labels. This was of particular significance in Upper Guinea because, as Martin Klein and Paul Lovejoy have pointed out, lineage structures in Africa are in general more pervasive in non-Islamic societies. It becomes clear that lineage, and not some form of proto-ethnic identity, matters most here when we recall that the very names which the Mendes As we have seen in this chapter, the likelihood is that early communication between Africans and the Portuguese was carried out using the Mandinka as intermediaries and the shared language of Arabic, which some Mandinka and Portuguese held in common.
This being the case, the names by which the Portuguese learnt to call the peoples of the region were likely imparted to them by the Mandinka, a hypothesis substantiated by the fact that many of these names are Mandinka in origin. What was true of the British in the nineteenth century was also true of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, and, it would appear from this discussion, the Mandinka before them.
Both collaborated together in giving the names by which the peoples of the region are known today. This matters to this study on the level of articulation of and identification with difference. Although all cultures are hybrids of different linguistic and social habits from different groups, not all cultures recognise this and articulate it in their social identity. Classificatory cultures ignore this reality and try to bury it beneath artificial differences.
As I have suggested, it was the particular constellation of factors surrounding the trans-Saharan trade, the role of diasporas, and the power of the Mandinka which may have generated the tendency towards primary creolisation at this time. West Africa was doubtless no more or less inherently disposed than any other region of the world towards such cultural exchange; rather, the economic, political, religious and social conditions that prevailed in the pre-Atlantic era had shaped a particular outlook which would be of great importance.
In a region where the distances between ecological zones north and south of the Sahara were much larger than the ordinary and where long-distance trade in the early modern era was generally conducted by diasporas, the particular socio-cultural and political features associated with such cross-cultural trade were liable to be especially accentuated. The much more African-centred ideas of kinship relations and lineages is more useful. These ideas are also helpful when looking at some of the other groups of the region.
For as identities changed with new lineages as with inter-marriages with Mandinka for instance , so SG, Etiopia Menor. Sandoval fol. Some have argued that this perspective is vital to understanding African participation in the Atlantic trade because lineage chiefs and rulers rapidly began to acquire more followers through their acquisition of new trade goods from the Atlantic. Supra-kinship national identities such as those imposed from the outside would not necessarily have lent themselves as easily to this worldview; in the framework of lineage, however, it is clear that the larger and more extensive the lineage, the greater the degree of wealth in that lineage.
Hence this discussion illustrates another way in which perceiving the exchanges of pre-Atlantic Africa and their influence on the early Atlantic requires conceptualisation through the notion of lineage. Understanding that external ideologies cannot explain how Western African societies saw the Atlantic turn also helps to elucidate one of the central themes of this chapter, that of the role of diasporas.
We have seen how the mercantile diaspora of Islamic merchants from North Africa was crucial in creating a flexibility of outlook among the Mandinka ruling clans, and also how the subsequent migration of Mandinka towards the Atlantic created similar tendencies among the peoples there.
In each of these two cases, the incoming diaspora brought powerful ideas, rituals and wealth, and forced a certain amount of cultural accommodation. Yet this accommodation could not override local practices and beliefs, which Miller 47—8. Thornton The argument of this chapter about the flexible identities and growing openness of peoples in Senegambia and Upper Guinea to external influences emerges most strongly in this context of diaspora and lineage. The mixture of cultural practices was facilitated particularly by the organisation of society according to lineage lines, where inter-marriage with the Mandinka would create kinship ties which themselves brought the cultural mixtures highlighted here.
Thus although the context of this world was often violent, the creation of new lineages and the allegiances these brought with them would have gone some way to promoting acceptance of this situation. Moreover, the fact that these lineages were themselves connected to centres of wealth and political power through the Mandinka diaspora of merchants must have been attractive and fostered accommodation. In , the Genoese sailor Alvise de Cadamosto navigated down this flat coastline that had seen so many changes over the preceding two centuries. South of the Cape Verde peninsula there were still trees and evidence of fertility where today there is arid scrub filled with gnarled and twisted shapes of baobabs.
Their ships had been coming for ten years. Extensive changes can occur in such a short period of time, as human beings have seen in our days with the growth of the Internet from a position of relative unimportance in the late s. In the light of those ten years, the Damel was probably already aware of how the new seaborne traders could be worked to his advantage in his relationship with the Jolof ruler farther north.
It would obviously be to his benefit if he could forge a new alliance. Such nuances were lost on Cadamosto, who doubtless would not also have imagined how events during the preceding two centuries in Senegambia and Upper Guinea could have influenced his reception. Yet clearly these changes had shaped the way in which Cadamosto and those like him were received. The Damel may have been playing the long game, but Cadamosto and others like him had more immediate desires for personal riches and gratification.
Over the coming centuries it would be these desires which would be served by the forces which oversaw the rise of the Atlantic world. Yet the Spanish settlement and conquest of the Canary Islands in the late fifteenth century only gathered pace as a direct response to Portuguese activity there.
Primary creolisation in Upper Guinea and the process of state formation in medieval Portugal shaped an early Atlantic economy influenced profoundly by violence and its legacies. Yet on the other hand, these conditions had enabled a tradition of cultural sharing to develop in Western Africa. It was this combination of violence and flexibility which came to characterise Creole societies both here and elsewhere in the Atlantic world.
This chapter begins the examination of how this position developed and offers new perspectives on these vital first African-European exchanges. A variety of written sources is used. Chronicles of European mariners, with their inevitable quota of bias, are mixed with accounts by Islamic scholars. The chapter shows that the first encounters in the s were not between peoples that were unknown to each other and that, in fact, continuity 1 2 Elliott For explorations of the Gold Coast, see Vogt 7—9.
Thus I suggest here a need for a new perspective on the early Atlantic world in the phase before the Spanish voyages to America. My argument is that neither Africans nor Europeans saw this world as being revolutionarily new. Indeed, elements of continuity enabled the first steps towards the creation of a mixed society to be taken on the West African coast. We also see how pre-existing political configurations determined patterns of settlement for Europeans and the shaping of these very early mixed communities, as well as how these configurations were then influenced by the patterns of the new Atlantic trade.
In examining these exchanges, I place the importance of the slave trade in the foreground. Historians have traditionally seen the motivation of the early Portuguese trade as having been to procure better supplies of gold, but in contrast to this earlier emphasis, this chapter shows that the strongest early impact in Western Africa was in exacerbating cycles of violence and political instability that had already emerged with Mandinka expansion and the trans-Saharan slave trade.
We see here how the earliest steps towards mixed societies in the African Atlantic occurred within the prism of a trade in slaves, which makes apparent the interconnection of Atlantic creolisation and slavery examined throughout this book; we also see how the demand side from the Atlantic influenced the development of patterns of violent disorder in Western Africa, as Rodney argued in the s. Green tackles the complications, the beauty, and the ugliness of the human condition without making excuses for the actions of men whose deeds, travails, and pragmatism gave birth to and sustained the transatlantic slave trade for more than years.
He has published several books, the most recent of which is Inquisition: The Reign of Fear His books have been translated into ten languages. Green has also written widely for the British press, including book reviews for the Independent and features for Financial Times, the Observer and the Times.
Part I. Culture, trade, and diaspora in pre-Atlantic West Africa; 2. The formation of early Atlantic societies in Senegambia and Upper Guinea; 3. The early trans-Atlantic slave trade from Western Africa; 7. Trading ideas and trading people: the boom in the contraband trade from Western Africa, c. Cycles of war and trade in the African Atlantic, c. Conclusion: Lineages, societies, and the slave trade in Western Africa to Lyssna fritt i 30 dagar! Ange kod: play Du kanske gillar.
Brokers of Change Toby Green Inbunden. Spara som favorit. Skickas inom vardagar. Laddas ned direkt. The region between the river Senegal and Sierra Leone saw the first trans-Atlantic slave trade in the sixteenth century. Drawing on many new sources, Toby Green challenges current quantitative approaches to the history of the slave trade. New data on slave origins can show how and why Western African societies responded to Atlantic pressures.