Samori was not originally a Muslim scholar like Usman and Seku. He was born in the Guinea highlands in 1830. He embraced Islam in 1850. About thirty years later, he intended to administer his kingdom as an Islamic one. His capital was Bissandugu.

He appointed Muslim scholars to his council. He subsequently banned alcohol in the kingdom, enforced the five daily prayers, compelled the citizens to register their children in Qur’anic schools scattered all over the empire and withdrew the rights of non-Muslims to gather for worship.

He made a pronouncement that all his subjects must become Muslims. This drastic change was strongly opposed and he was forced to reconsider some of his decisions.

Samori’s kingdom became the third largest state in 19th century Sudan. It covered about 298,000km2. It extended from Sierra Leone in the West to Ivory Coast in the East, from a point near modern Bamako in the north and to the Liberian frontier in the south.

In 1891, there was a war between Samori and the French caused by a breach of the treaty. Samori had earlier signed a treaty with the French (Treaty of Bissandugu) after clashes with them when they had occupied Bamako. The French were more inclined to conquer Samori in particular for fear of losing the empire to a rival European power.

Samori shifted his base and built another capital at Dabakala. By doing this, he lost the goldfields in the first capital and the revenue they provided. He then had to depend on his workshops for military supplies.

The French continued in their invasion while Samori and his people began to run short of food, horses and guns. But by 1898, Samori’s army was victorious over the French at Owe.

Thus, Samori went back with his army and moved west. Unfortunately, they were met with famine and this severely dealt with them. Samori was finally captured in September 1898 by a French troop and was deported to Gabon where he finally gave up the ghost two years later at the age of seventy.

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