Serahule (or as they are sometimes know the Sarahule,
Sarakole, Serahuli or Soninke)
make up 9% of the population of Gambia and were and are still
engaged in the occupations of peanut and cotton farming,
making decorative pottery, goldsmiths, trading and some are involved
in the diamond businesses of Sierra Leone and Angola. Today the
Serahule are among the country's leading entrepreneurs and real
estate owners & developers. Their largest population concentration
is in Basse town which is on
the eastern most part of the country and the vast majority are
They form minority ethic groups in other West African countries
such as Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.
History & Origins:
There is today much speculation about the origins
of the Serahule
ethnic group as there is with many groups in Western Sudan. The
first theory is that they originated from the ancient Songhai
Empire and were supporters of the Sunni royal family who were
exiled in 1493 by Askia Mohammed. Indeed Soninke
means "followers of Sunni".
The second and more widespread theory is that they
the inhabitants of the ancient Ghana Empire which was founded
by Berbers who gained greatly in economic terms with their Moroccan
The empire these people founded thrived on the Trans-Saharan trade
and stretched from Mauritania to modern-day Ghana and ruled it
from 777 A.D.
to 1076 when the empire was extinguished by the Almoravids. They
have an oral tradition that dates back to almost 1,000.
The Serahule came to The Gambia in large numbers in the second
half of the 1800's to look for work after after most of the Serahule
states and kingdoms had been conquered by the Bambara.
Other Ethnic Groups