Commune and town
Ségou workers
Ségou workers
Ségou is located in Mali
Location within Mali
Coordinates: 13°27′N 6°16′W / 13°27′N 6°16′W / 13.450; -6.267
Country Mali
CercleSégou Cercle
 • Total37 km2 (14 sq mi)
Elevation294 m (965 ft)
Population (2009 census)[2]
 • Total130,690
 • Density3,500/km2 (9,100/sq mi)
Time zoneGMT (UTC+0)
Tomb of Biton Mamary Coulibaly at Ségou-Koro
Entrance to the palace of Ahmadu Tall at Ségou-Sikoro in around 1866

Ségou (also Segou, Segu, Seku) is a town and an urban commune in south-central Mali that lies 235 kilometres (146 mi) northeast of Bamako on the River Niger. The town is the capital of the Ségou Cercle and the Ségou Region. With 130,690 inhabitants in 2009, it is the fifth-largest town in Mali.

The village of Ségou-Koro, 10 km upstream of the present town, was established in the 17th century and became the capital of the Bambara Empire.


In the middle of the 19th century there were four villages with the name of Ségou spread out over a distance of around 12 km along the right bank of the river. They were, starting from the most upstream, Ségou-Koro (Old Ségou), Ségou-Bougou, Ségou-Koura (New Ségou) and Ségou-Sikoro. The present town is on the site of Ségou-Sikoro.[3][4]

The village of Ségou-Koro prospered after Biton Mamary Coulibaly became king in 1712 and founded the Ségou (or Bamana) Empire. Mungo Park became the first European known to have visited the village in 1796.[5] The empire gradually declined and was conquered by El Hadj Umar Tall's Toucouleur Empire in 1861,[6] then by the French Army Colonel Louis Archinard in 1890.[7]


Ségou has contested origins. Some claim that the word Ségou come from "Sikoro", meaning to the foot of a shea butter tree. Others argue that it was named after Cheikou, a marabout who founded the city, while still other theories support the claim that Ségou was founded by the Bozo fishermen coming from the north, who established their villages along the Niger River.

The 11th century CE saw an influx of the Soninke people, who were trying to escape from the expansion of the Ghana Empire, with Mandinka populations following. It is believed that Kaladjan Koulibaly, founder of the Bambara Kingdom's Koulibaly dynasty established the first sedentary villages here at his time. The later Diarra dynasty moved the capital of the Bambara Kingdom to Ségou.

Ségou Koro

Ségou Koro is located about ten kilometres from Ségou, on the road to Bamako. Segou Koro was created by the founder of the Bambara dynasty. During the 17th century, Bambara coming from Djenné, led by Kaladjan Koulibaly settled along the Niger River. Danfassari, Koulibaly’s son continued his father’s work by building his city there. After Koulibaly’s death, his eldest grandson Mamari—also known as Biton—ruled the city and made it flourish. Today the town in some ways conserves the tradition and architecture of the ancient city.[8]

Bambara Kingdom

The Bambaras from Djenné with Kaladjan Koulibaly established their nation along the Niger River and founded the town of Ségou-Koro, the capital of the Bambara state. Bortolot (2003) says that Ségou evolved from a simple social structure, characterized by hunting and farming, to a more complex city dominated by a dynasty system.

One of Koulibaly’s descendants, Mamary Coulibaly, became the chief of the Bi-Ton and later took the name Biton. Biton spread terror, organised the army, and restructured the association into a city. He expanded the territory from Segou Koro to Timbuktu. Under his rule, the Macina and Djenné trading centers became a part of Ségou. Timbuktu was not part of Ségou. It remained autonomous and paid tribute to Biton.

After Biton’s death in 1755, one of the Coulibaly family slaves, Ngolo Diarra, obtained power to control the Bambara kingdom and established the Diarra dynasty. Ngolo Diarra ruled Ségou until the 19th century. He moved the kingdom's capital from Segou-Koro to Ségou-Sikoro, close to the site of the current city. Diarra continued Biton’s conquest and extended the kingdom from Guinea to Timbuktu.[8]


In March 1861, the Muslim Toucouleur leader, El Hadj Oumar Tall, conquered the town.[6] On his death in 1864, he was succeeded by his son Ahmadu Tall. Ahmadu had to deal with Bambara rebellions and challenges from his brothers but he continued to rule until 1890 when the town fell to French forces led by Colonel Louis Archinard.[9]

Other Languages
العربية: سيغو
asturianu: Segú
bamanankan: Segu
Bân-lâm-gú: Ségou (chng-thâu)
Cymraeg: Ségou
dansk: Ségou
Deutsch: Ségou
Ελληνικά: Σεγκού
español: Segú
Esperanto: Ségou
euskara: Ségou
فارسی: سگو
français: Ségou (ville)
Frysk: Ségou
한국어: 세구
Bahasa Indonesia: Ségou
italiano: Ségou
ქართული: სეგუ
Latina: Ségou
Lëtzebuergesch: Ségou (Stad)
lietuvių: Segu
magyar: Ségou
Nederlands: Ségou
日本語: セグー
Nordfriisk: Ségou (Steed)
português: Segu
română: Ségou
русский: Сегу
suomi: Ségou
svenska: Ségou
українська: Сегу
اردو: سیگو
中文: 塞古