Re: Samori Toure (1830-1900)

sainey and samoriBy Sainey Faye

Samori Toure – One of Africa’s most heroic, gallant, and revolutionary anti-colonialist resistant leaders who was a general and an Almamy [Imam]. He was also a disciple of Sheikh Omar Futiou (Omar Taal). He was almost 34 years, an adult when Sheikh Omar Futio a.k.a. El-hadj Omar Taal died in 1864. French colonialism finally ended its largest and longest anti-colonialist war in West Africa, with his exile and demise in jail in Gabon. His Empire was more than Western Europe in area.

This African warrior and military genius took on France and its allies in one of the bloodiest war of resistance against the European intruders in the latter part of the nineteenth century. For better understanding; we could narrow it to the after effect of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885; in which the partitioning of Africa was completed. It started in 1880 or sooner.

Samori was born somewhere around 1830; and was one of the founders of the Wassoulou Empire that resisted any form of European intrusion into their territories. This territory covered many states which are now called countries and extended to Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, etc. Indeed Guinea, was one of the countries where Islam had earlier taken root; and established or were influenced by the Muslim religion- recall El-hadj Omar Futio.

It is noted that the great empires of the cultural zone namely Ghana, plus Wassoulou, Mali , Gao, Fouta-Toro, and Fouta-Djallon all developed under the influences of the Muslim religion. With the fall of Mali, and Gao in trade, influence and centers of learning; Fouta-Toro, Fouta-Djallon and Wassoulou Empire took up the momentum and founded and consolidated Islam and the Muslim religion. Consequently, its leaders had to wage wars to consolidate their powers to build their empires; whilst making sure that they also have a unified kingdom.

The European colonialist would not let that happen, in Guinea – (France) was not about let loose its grip of more land from Senegal to Cote d’Ivoire. So then wars broke out which were called “jihads” or “marabout” wars etc. To better understand this time line many like El hadj Omar Tall (Sheikh Omar Futio), Almamy Samory Toure, Almamy Bakar Biro Barry, Alpha Yaya etc. were all anti-colonialist and anti-French. Thus Guinea was the only African country that they could not easily and rapidly colonize, no wonder it was no until after the capture and death of Samori Toure in 1900; that they were able to consolidate their colonial apparatus and hegemony. He called for united front from Mauritania to Sokoto, Nigeria.

Unlike Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and many others on the continent; Guinea was able to declare Independence by 1958; only a half a century of French rule. The kingdom of Fouta Djallon was one great centre of learning that many scholars went to gain knowledge and folks from Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Ivory Coast, all the way to Niger and Nigeria ventured to.Sheikh Omar Futio had followers all the way to Kano and other parts of Northern Nigeria and Cameroon.Shiekh Amadou Bamba of Senegal, El Hadj Malick Sey and many others of the Islamic faith have their roots in Fouta.The Jahanke’s of Tuba and the Fulbhe or Peule scholars have long established centres of learning. It was no wonder Fouta Djallon with its terrain and historical area was hard to subdue; and many scholars from Gambia and Senegal have written extensively in detail about them. Listen to oral historians on Alhaji Omar Futio a.k.a. El-hadj Omar.

It is not possible to give even a fraction of these historical narratives in an article of this kind. Indeed what we intend to share is the little knowledge about a great leader, who helped slow the penetration of French colonialism in West Africa. To say that a leader can organize a well-disciplined army of 40,000 – 50,000 infantry, organized into platoons and companies, along with a huge 3,000 calvary in squadrons of 50 each; and confronted enemies, defeating them in many battles for 10 to 18 years; is definitely the peak of gallantry and heroism.

Samori Toure was a master in guerrilla warfare, and one of our shining princes and torch bearers….. a true “Nyancho” or “Guellewar” who, we must not forget. Bembeya Jazz National sums it best in “Regard Sur Le Passe” [A Look at the Past] of the heroic nature of this great nationalist resistance anti-colonialist leader. Alas, his capture was a betrayal of our people giving information to the enemy. But even French Commandant Gouraud who led his capture had to agree that few military geniuses can rank Samori. By the way, Shiekh Amadou Bamba (Hadim Rasool), who was in the same prison with him in Gabon prayed over his body (“Janaaza”)? Some said he did….you find out!!!



  1. A very good piece of history Uncle Sainey. Thanks as always for the vital journey you always take readers of African history. Blessed.

  2. thanks a million. kele mansa. Mmbemba samori