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Essay Number One
The Spread of Islam and the Slave Trade

"Segu is a garden where cunning grows. Segu is built on treachery. Speak of Segu outside Segu, but do not speak of Segu in Segu" (Conde 3). These are the symbolic opening words to the novel Segu by Maryse Conde. The kingdom of Segu in the eighteenth and nineteenth century represents the rise and fall of many kingdoms in the pre-colonial Africa. Therefore, Segu indirectly represents the enduring struggles, triumphs, and defeats of people who are of African decent in numerous countries around the world. There are three major historical concepts that are the focus of this book. One is the spread of the Islamic religion. Another is the slave trade, and the last is the new trade in the nineteenth century and the coming of new ideas from Europe (legitimate commerce). However, Segu does not simply explain these circumstances externally, but rather with a re-enactment that tells a story of the state of affairs on a personal level, along with the political one. By doing this, the book actually unfolds many deceitful explanations for the decline of West African countries in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

The spread of Islam took place all around Segu before actually getting to it. This period becomes one of constant debate between Muslims, Christians, and other people wanting to keep their already established sacred religions. The Islam religion is very different than that of the one previously practiced in Segu. If the people in Segu were forced to change their religion, they would be forced to change all of their customs and beliefs. However, if they did not follow, they could possibly lose their lives. It was truly a lose-lose situation for many people. A leader of the Islamic religion during that time was Usman dan Fodio. He was successful in getting rid of the corruptness of the Islamic religion and instituting a purified religion and political system. Another Islamic leader was...
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