New Publication: Boubacar Barry, The Kingdom of Waalo: Senegal before the Conquest (2012)
Boubacar Barry, The Kingdom of Waalo: Senegal before the Conquest (New York: Diasporic Africa Press, 2012), 374 pp., $29.95.
Situated along the Senegal River, the Kingdom of Waalo was the smallest of the Wolof states of Senegal, but it illustrates the broader consequences of a shift from trans-Saharan to trans-Atlantic commerce during a time of competing European, Muslim, and indigenous African forces. From the establishment of a French trading post in 1659 to the early nineteenth century, the history of Waalo was closely tied to French interests in St. Louis, popular revolutionary Islamic movements, and internal rivalries between competing royal families and provincial leaders. Stimulating Waalo’s socio-political changes were the devastations and fluctuations of the Atlantic slave trade, as well as the Muslim attack on its aristocracy. Torn by internal divisions, devastated by French and Berber incursions, Waalo’s institutions and its economy declined. Residents of Waalo sought their own solutions only for external agents to ruin their efforts. By the nineteenth century, the French attempted to establish a plantation economy in Waalo, culminating in their military control of the state and the Senegal valley.
This newly translated study is a vital tool in our understanding of Senegal’s history, its place in the era of trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic commerce, and its development into the present. The book should be of value to African studies scholars, anthropologists, and historians of Africa, colonialism, empire, and post-colonialism.
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