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(Soninke) Serahule Tribe in Gambia
 
Ethnic Groups
 
The 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 Muslims.

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 were the inhabitants of the ancient Ghana Empire which was founded by Berbers who gained greatly in economic terms with their Moroccan cousins.

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.


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