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Journal Article

Révolte, Pouvoir, Religion: Les Hubbu du Fūta-Jalon (Guinée)

Roger Botte
The Journal of African History
Vol. 29, No. 3 (1988), pp. 391-413
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/182349
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Révolte, Pouvoir, Religion: Les Hubbu du Fūta-Jalon (Guinée)
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Abstract

In the middle of the nineteenth century, in Futa Jalon, the popular revolt of the Hubbu brutally revealed the underlying weaknesses of the most powerful state of its time in the region. A marabout of the Qādiriyya, Alfā Mamadu Dyuhe, took upon himself the leadership of the oppressed, the discontented, and the minority groups. The Hubbu survived for forty years, until exterminated by Samori in 1884, but the article concentrates on the movement from its inception in 1845 to the death of its founder in 1854, at the pinnacle of his success, in possession of the Futa state capital, Timbo. The Futa state, product of an Islamic revolution in the eighteenth century, had lost the fervour of its Fulbe founders in the endless contest for the position of Almamy between the rival lineages of Alfāyā and Soriyā. Based upon the jihād against paganism, upon the taxation of the conquered, and upon the slavery of more than half its population, it was rendered doubly oppressive by the political struggle for the rewards of power at all levels down to that of village headman, and doubly weak in consequence. The nomadic Fulbe, particularly angered by their treatment, were notably responsive to the preaching of Alfā Mamadu against the decadence and injustice of the rulers; so too were the Malinke of the eastern province of Fōduye-Haji. It was the breakdown of this large region into smaller and smaller chieftaincies, increasing the patronage of the reigning Almamy by multiplying the number of official predators, that created the special conditions for the Hubbu revolt. First the representations of Timbo, then the Alfāyā and the Soriyā themselves, were routed by the holy man and his increasingly numerous following. The religious leadership which had inspired the rising, however, faltered after Alfā Mamadu's death. The Hubbu, from ḥubb, 'love', the key word in the Arabic chant that bound them into a religious fraternity, failed to carry through their revolution, and instead became a community of refugees living by banditry. More important to their failure than the reform of the Futa state, undertaken by the Almamys at the insistence of their own clerics, was the fundamental inability of the movement, so characteristic of other popular revolts, to see the new society they wished to bring into existence as in any way different from the old. Slavery, for instance, was not abolished, despite the numbers of ex-slaves in the Hubbu ranks. Their failure was a failure of imagination.

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