Family Identity and the State in the Bamako Kafu, C.1800-C.1900

By B. Marie Perinbam | Go to book overview

2
Material Elaborations of
"The Mande Style"

The Bamako Kafu and Regional Perspectives1

Identity, Spatial Forms, and Relations

On constructing the kafu's nucleus, Bamako town--as opposed to the kafu--was built around four kindaw, or city quarters, facing north-northwest and east-southeast. Differing architectural styles marked each kindaws' ethnic identity. For example, Niarela, the Niare urban quarter and seat of the kafu-tigi, or head of state, was recognizable by its round structures and conical thatched roofs. Situated where the French later constructed the Société Commerciale Ouest Africaine (SCOA), the quarter was modestly appointed, the Niare apparently not consumer-rich. As a further sign of their agricultural and husbandry identity, Niarekindaw included orchards and pastures. Toward the city's east, marked by twostoried flat-roofed houses--"in the Segu or Moorish style" (according to archival reporting) imaging their Saharan identity--was Tawatila (Toutila, Tavatila, or Tourela), residence of the large mercantile and Islamized Ture family from Tawat in the Algerian Sahara. More numerous, richer, and more consumer-conscious than the Niare clans, the Ture were dunanw, or protected client-strangers, of the ruling Niare chiefs. Dravela housed the Drave, an Islamized mercantile Ture subgroup, also from Tawat (or the Adrar, or the Ouad Dra'a in southern Mauritania depending on the source), whose kinda faced west. As a mark of both their "Arabic" and "Islamic" identities, Dabani, the Ture-Drave mosque, since reconstructed and still extant, was located in the city's "Moorish" quarter. For

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1
As indicated in the Introduction, "regional perspectives" in this context refer to Mande-speakers east and southeast of Nioro and the Senegambia, e.g., the Segu, Beledugu, Bamako, and Mande regions. It does not refer to those Mande who migrated farther east to the Black Volta region.

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