Djenné is supposed to be a dangerous place today according to all the world's foreign office's travel advice, and should be approached only with great caution if at all. But as we also know, there has in fact been no disturbances of any major type in Djenné since the arrival of the French in 1893. Djenné has not always been such a peaceful place as it is today however and it was probably not a very comfortable place during the siege of Sekou (Cheikou) Amadou in 1818 when his troops arrived to subjugate the town to his Empire Peul de Macina
under his war-lord Amirou Mangal:
Djenné, 1818, just before the rainy season
Cheikou Amadou had to resort to armed force against the town
of Djenné, which had been so hostile
towards him when he lived in Roundé Sirou. Some months after the battle of
Noukouma and before the water had risen he
dispatched Amirou Mangal with his
cavalry to lay claim to the town which
proved itself intent on resisting and neither the Fulani horsemen,
nor the Rimaybé infantry were able to breach
the city wall which was very high and solidly constructed.
After several days of skirmishes,
Amirou Mangal decided to besiege the town.
He occupied all the surrounding villages. He requisitioned all the
canoes in the area and put them under the command of Samba Abou with the task
of intercepting all who were intending to leave the town or trying to enter it.
Cut off in this way, Djenné was unable to receive any supplies. At the end of
nine months the starving population gave up without combat and swore allegiance
to Cheikou Amadou who left the command of the town in the hands of the
traditional chief already in place, Bilmahamane, but he also added a marabout , Alfa Gouro Modi, chosen for his
piety and his wisdom.
It did not take long for the
Songhay to find Alfa Gouro Modi’s surveillance unbearable. The presence of the
marabout obliged them to go to prayer regularly; not to drink hydromel, a drink
to which they were accustomed and to abstain from all practices forbidden by
Islamic law. The representative of Cheikou Amadou was intransigent on all these
points. They therefore tried to enlist the help of the Bambara of Saro and of
Segou to get rid of Alfa Gouro
Modi. Bilmahamane got wind of his
compatriots’ schemes and advised against putting them into practise, warning
them of the reprisals that Cheikou Amadou would undoubtedly carry out if the town
rebelled. The Songhai, suspicious of their leader, decided to act on their own.
A conspiracy was formed, instigated by a certain Kombé Al Hakoum. Assassins broke
down the door of Alfa Gouro Modi and killed him. The next day his corpse was
dragged through the streets of Djenné before being abandoned on the market square.
From l'Empire Peul de Macina by Amadou Hampaté Ba and J. Gadet , Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines 1962, (translated by Sophie).