Samori Touré ( 1830 – 1900 )
African military leader. A Muslim, he began to amass a personal following in the mid-1850s, establishing a military base on the Upper Niger. By 1870 his authority was acknowledged throughout the Kanaka region of the River Milo, in what is now eastern Guinea. By 1880 he ruled a vast Dyula empire, from the Upper Volta in the east to the Fouta Djallon in the west, over which he attempted to create a single Islamic administrative system. His imperial ambitions clashed with those of the French and there were sporadic battles between 1882 and 1886 . His attempts to impose Islam on all his people resulted in a revolt in 1888 . A French invasion in 1891 – 92 forced him to move... (The entire page is 145 words.)
Born c. 1830 in Manyambaladugu (in what is now southeastern Guinea), the son of Dyula traders, Samore grew up in West Africa being transformed by growing contacts with the Europeans. European trade made some African trading states rich, while growing access to firearms changed traditional West African patterns of warfare. Early in his life, Ture converted to Islam. In 1848, Samore's mother was captured in the course of war by Séré-Burlay, of the Cissé clan. After arranging his mother's freedom, Samore engaged himself to the service of the Cissés where he learned the handling of arms. According to tradition, he remained "seven years, seven months, seven days" before fleeing with his mother. He then joined the Bérété army, the enemies of the Cissé, for two years before rejoining his people, the Kamara. Named Kélétigui ("war chief") at Dyala in 1861, Samori took an oath to protect his people against both the Bérété and the Cissé. He created a professional army and placed close relations, notably his brothers and his childhood friends, in positions of command. Expansion through the Sudan
In 1864, El Hadj Umar Tall, the founder of the aggressive Toucouleur Empire that dominated the Upper Niger River, died. As the Toucouleur state lost its grip on power, generals and local rulers vied to create states of their own. By 1867, Samore was a full-fledged war chief, with an army of his own centered on Sanankoro in the Guinea Highlands, on the Upper Milo, a Niger River tributary. Samore understood that he needed to accomplish two things: to create an efficient, loyal fighting force equipped with modern firearms, and to build a stable state of his own. By 1876, Samore was able to import breech-loading rifles through the British colony of Sierra Leone. He conquered the Buré gold mining district (now on the border between Mali and Guinea) to bolster his financial situation. By 1878 he was strong enough to proclaim himself faama (military leader) of his own Wassoulou Empire. He made Bissandugu his capital and began political and commercial exchanges with the neighboring Toucouleur. In 1881, after numerous struggles, Samore was able to secure control of the key Dyula trading center of Kankan, on the upper Milo River. Kankan was a center for the trade in kola nuts, and was well sited to dominate the trade routes in all directions. By 1881, Wassoulou extended through Guinea and Mali, from what is now Sierra Leone to northern Côte d'Ivoire. While Samore conquered the numerous small tribal states around him, he also moved to secure his diplomatic position. He opened regular contacts with the British in Sierra Leone, and built a working relationship with the Fulbe (Fula) state of Fouta Djallon. First battles with the French
The French began to expand in West Africa in the late 1870s, pushing eastward from Senegal in an attempt to reach the upper reaches of the Nile in what is now Sudan. They also sought to drive southeast to link up with their bases in Côte d'Ivoire. These moves put them directly into conflict with Samori. In February 1882, a French expedition attacked one of Samori’s armies besieging Keniera. Samore was able to drive the French off, but he was alarmed at the discipline and firepower of...
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