Imams of Gonja: the Kamaghate and the transmission of Islam to the Volta Basin

The present article illustrates the expansion of a network of Muslim lineages which has played a prominent role in the peaceful spread of Islam in West Africa and forms part of the Diakhanke tradition of al-Haji Salim Suware from Dia. The Kamaghate lineage which claims to belong to the Diakhanke tradition of Haji Salim Souar and the Soninke clerical lineage of Diaby-Gassama has held the imamate in Begho and expanded with the Gonja into the Western Volta basin. Its roots can be followed to centres of Islamic diaspora such as Djenne, Odienne, Samatiguila, Tiem, Kong, Bouna and Bondoukou. It forms part of an Eastern Diakhanke branch which has introduced Islam into the Volta Basin, the Kamaghate being the principal actors in the western half, while the Baghayogho have established themselves more in the eastern half, among the Mole-Dagbane speakers. Islamic missionary efforts can thus be shown to be well organized by African Muslims, in establishing specialist ‘maraboutic’ lineages and attributing them exclusive spheres for the purpose of converting the non-Muslim populations of the Sahel and savannah regions, and even gaining influence as court advisors in the kingdoms of the forest zone. Thus the Kamaghate also hold the imamate for all Muslims at the Ashanti capital, while a special ‘karamoko’ serves the court alone. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]

Title: Imams of Gonja: the Kamaghate and the transmission of Islam to the Volta Basin
Author: Massing, Andreas Walter
Year: 2012
Periodical: Cahiers d’tudes africaines (ISSN 0008-0055)
Volume: 51
Issue: 205
Pages: 57-101
Language: English
Geographic term: West Africa
Abstract: The present article illustrates the expansion of a network of Muslim lineages which has played a prominent role in the peaceful spread of Islam in West Africa and forms part of the Diakhanke tradition of al-Haji Salim Suware from Dia. The Kamaghate lineage which claims to belong to the Diakhanke tradition of Haji Salim Souar and the Soninke clerical lineage of Diaby-Gassama has held the imamate in Begho and expanded with the Gonja into the Western Volta basin. Its roots can be followed to centres of Islamic diaspora such as Djenne, Odienne, Samatiguila, Tiem, Kong, Bouna and Bondoukou. It forms part of an Eastern Diakhanke branch which has introduced Islam into the Volta Basin, the Kamaghate being the principal actors in the western half, while the Baghayogho have established themselves more in the eastern half, among the Mole-Dagbane speakers. Islamic missionary efforts can thus be shown to be well organized by African Muslims, in establishing specialist ‘maraboutic’ lineages and attributing them exclusive spheres for the purpose of converting the non-Muslim populations of the Sahel and savannah regions, and even gaining influence as court advisors in the kingdoms of the forest zone. Thus the Kamaghate also hold the imamate for all Muslims at the Ashanti capital, while a special ‘karamoko’ serves the court alone. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]