Bamana Empire (also Bambara Empire or
Ségou Empire) was a large
West African state based at Ségou, now in Mali. This state was
established after the fall of the
Mali Empire and the Keita dynasty,
as a smaller Bambara Empire founded by other Bambara families related
to the Keita clan. It was ruled by the Kulubali or Coulibaly dynasty
established c. 1640 by
Kaladian Coulibaly also known as Fa Sine or
Biton-si-u. The empire existed as a centralized state from 1712 to the
1861 invasion of Toucouleur conqueror El Hadj Umar Tall.
1 The Coulibaly Dynasty
2 The Ngolosi
3 Economy and structure
4 Jihad and fall
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
The Coulibaly 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 a significant administrative framework,
and the new kingdom disintegrated following his death (c. 1660).
In the early 18th century,
Mamari Kulubali (sometimes cited 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 Bamana
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 Coulubali 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 Diarra seized 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 Diarra took the throne
following his father's 1795 death and began a series of successful
conquests, including that of
Tomboctou (c. 1800) and the Macina
Economy and structure
Bamana 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
Bamana 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
Ségou two years
after Diarra's 1795 death, recorded a testament to the Empire's
The view of this extensive city, the numerous canoes on the river, the
crowded population, and the cultivated state of the surrounding
countryside, formed altogether a prospect of civilization and
magnificence that I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa.
Jihad and fall
At the Battle of Noukouma in 1818, Bambara forces met and were
defeated by Fula Muslim fighters rallied by the jihad of Cheikou Amadu
(or Seku Amadu) of Massina. The
Bamana Empire survived but was
irreversibly weakened. Seku Amadu's forces decisively defeated the
Djenné and much of the territory around
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 Toucouleur conqueror who swept across
West Africa from
Dinguiraye. Umar Tall's mujahideen readily defeated the Bambara,
Ségou itself on March 10, 1861, and declaring an end to the
Bamana Empire (which effectively became part of the Toucouleur
Bambara language: a Mande language, spoken by 6 million people in
Bambara people: an ethnic group who represent 40% of Mali's
Kaarta, another Bambara kingdom of the same epoch
^ Quoted in Davidson, Basil (1995). Africa in History. New York: Simon
& Schuster. p. 245. ISBN 0-684-82667-4.
Djata, Sundiata A. K. (1997). The
Bamana Empire by the Niger: Kingdom,
Jihad and Colonization 1712–1920. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener.
Condé, Maryse (1996). Segu. Penguin Books.
Roberts, Richard L. (1987). Warriors, merchants and slaves: the state
and the economy in the Middle Niger Valley, 1700-1914. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1378-2.
Segu Kingdom rulers, from Host Kingdoms
Mali traditional states from World Statesman
Epics about the Segou Kingdom
2012 Tuareg rebellion
Ebola disease event