Wassoulou Empire

Wassoulou Empire
1878–1898
Flag
Flag of the Wassoulou Empire
Wassoulou Empire at its peak
Capital Bissandugu
Languages Mandinka
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy
Faama Samori Ture
History
 •  Established 1878
 •  Disestablished 29 September 1898
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Baté Empire
Toucouleur Empire
French West Africa
Sierra Leone Colony and Protectorate

The Wassoulou Empire, sometimes referred to as the Mandinka Empire, was a short-lived (1878–1898) empire of West Africa built from the conquests of Malinke ruler Samori Touré and destroyed by the French colonial army.

In 1864, Toucouleur ruler El Hajj Umar Tall died near Bandiagara, leaving the then-dominant Toucouleur Empire tottering and a number of chiefs rushing to break their own pieces away from the newly weakened federation. By far the most successful among them was Samori Touré of what is now southwestern Guinea.

Army organization

Samori's army was well equipped with European firearms and a complex structure of permanent units. His army was divided into an infantry wing of sofa ( Mandinka for infantry, usually slaves) and a cavalry wing. By 1887, Samori could field 30,000 to 35,000 infantry and about 3,000 cavalry. [1] Infantry were divided into units of 10 to 20 men known as a "se" or "kulu". Cavalry were divided into bands of 50 horsemen called a "sere". [2] Kulus were under the command of a Kun-Tigui, meaning chief. Ten kulus equaled a bolo (100-200 men). The bolo, which in the Banmana language translates to "arm", was strictly an infantry unit. [3] The bolo kun-tigui commanded this unit.

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