KHASSO or XAASO was a West African kingdom of the 17th to 19th
centuries, occupying territory in what is today
Senegal and the Kayes
Mali . Over two thousand years ago, it was part of Serer
territory. From the 17th to 19th centuries, its capital was at Medina
until its fall.
Seated at the head of the
Senegal River , the
Khasso kingdom was
composed of Fulas who had immigrated to the area and integrated with
Malinké and Soninké populations. Séga Doua (r. 1681 -
1725) is remembered as the first Fankamala (king) of the Khasso, and
his dynasty would last until the death of his descendant Demba Séga
in 1796. Following a civil war between his sons Dibba Samballa et
Demba Maddy, the kingdom fragmented into five smaller states, the most
powerful of which was Dembaya under Hawa Demba Diallo (r. 1810-1833).
Bambara Empire to the east, the
Khasso kingdoms depended
heavily on the slave trade for their economy. A family's status was
indicated by the number of slaves it owned, leading to wars for the
sole purpose of taking more captives. This trade led the
increasing contact with the European settlements of Africa's west
coast, particularly the French .
In 1857, Toucouleur conqueror El Hadj
Umar Tall attacked the Khasso
as part of his jihad , but was repulsed at Medina Fort with the aid of
the Khasso's French allies, particularly General
Louis Faidherbe .