The Kénédougou Kingdom, also referred to as the Kenedugu Kingdom,
(c. 1650–1898) was a pre-colonial West African state established in
the southern portion of present-day Mali.
1 Traoré Dynasty
2 Kénédougou's Resistance
3 French Conquest
Kénédougou was first established in the 1650s by the
who originate in modern-day Cote d'Ivoire. They began traversing the
borders of Cote d'Ivoire, Mali,
Burkina Faso and
Ghana around the 13th
century. The new kingdom was conveniently centered on the border of
Mali and Burkina Faso. Its position was crucial to the exchange of
desert and forest goods. Sadly, the
Senoufo traditionalist practices
put them at odds with the Muslims to their north. The
Kenedougou adopted some Mandé practices such as the king title of
faama. Nanka Traoré became Kénédougou's first ruler and began the
Traoré dynasty, which would last into the late 19th century.
There is little information about the kingdom's formative years, and
approximately five to seven famas ruled between the foundation of the
dynasty and Fama Douala ba I. Kénédougou's existence was marked by
relative peace compared to neighboring states of the period.
This would all come to an end in the last quarter of the 19th century
as the double threat of French colonialists and Samori Toure began
swallowing up its commercial partners in the south, west and east.
Possibly anticipating the inevitable outcome,
Faama Tieba moved the
capital of the kingdom to his mother's home city of
Sikasso in 1877.
There he built a new palace called the Mamelon on a strategic hill.
The decision proved wise, as Tieba and his successor Babemba Traoré
fought a number of battles against both Samori Toure and the rapidly
advancing French army.
Ironically, the small kingdom of Kénédougou would become one of the
last major hold-outs against French ambitions in West Africa. The
larger states were falling like dominoes to either Samori's Wassulu
Empire or the French. Samori attacked
Sikasso with an army of 12,000
men in April 1887, but failed to take the city. Then, from 1887 to
1888, the French besieged
Sikasso but also met with defeat. In light
of these threats, Tieba ordered the construction of a tata, or
fortified wall, around the city in 1890. Parts of the tata have become
one of present-day Sikasso's major tourist attractions.
Following Tieba's death on January 1, 1893, his brother Babemba
Traoré assumed the throne. He held the French at bay for another five
years. In 1897, the French conquered Ségou, the capital of the
Kénédougou's northern neighbor, the Toucouleur Empire. This victory
renewed the France's ambition toward Sikasso, and they prepared to
take the city again determined to avenge the previous disgrace.
The French launched an artillery assault against Sikasso's tata in
April 1898, and the city fell on May 1 of the same year. Rather than
see the French take control of his city, Fama Babemba ordered his
guards to kill him. The territory of the
Kénédougou Kingdom was soon
assimilated into the colony of French Sudan, and later into the
country of Mali. The memory of Tieba and Babemba are still revered to
this day in
Mali as symbols of African resistance to the French.
Pascal James Imperato. Historical Dictionary of Mali. Scarecrow Press/
Metuchen. NJ - London (1986) ISBN 0-8108-1369-6 pp. 91,
173-74, 214, 237-38, 241
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