The text in this volume covers a large period. It runs from the intensification of Islamic teaching during the reign of Alu Maana, to the struggles and intrigues at the court when Seeku Aamadu reigned over the neighbouring Islamic emirate of Maasina, to the French colonial regime. During the latter episode, a lot of attention is given to the manipulation of the appointment of rulers and the subsequent decline of their power under Modibo Keita and Moussa Traoré in independent Mali. This interference of the French has resulted in doubts about the legitimacy of the kings, which is symbolized by the royal drums that are no longer played upon. The political developments involving the foundation of two parties by the Malian state, further diminished the role of the leaders of the Haayre as mediators for their people. This development is embodied in the final sentence of the text when Aamadu Baa Digi desperately concludes that "Jamaa oo, haya joonin, kaanankoo'be mon 'be, laamu walaa", which was translated as "Peuple, maintenant, vos rois, ils n'ont plus de pouvoir".
A team of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds (forestry, anthropology, linguistics, religious studies) has provided commentary on the social, cultural, geographic, ecological, political, linguistic and religious context of this text. An account is also given on the production and the producer of this text recited so vividly by Aamadu Baa Digi.
Caroline Angenent is a theologian who has worked for the Kaberry Research Centre in Cameroon and the Leiden Institute for the Study of Religions.
Anneke Breedveld, Ph.D. (1995) in Linguistics, works for African Languages and Cultures at the Leiden University. She does research on various dialects of Fulfulde. She published on the Maasina-dialect of Fulfulde and on the semantics of ethnic labelling.
Mirjam de Bruijn, Ph.D. (1995) in Anthropology, does fieldwork in Cameroon and Mali, mainly among pastoral people. Her fields of interest are: pastoralism, nomadism, ecology, social (in)security, poverty, urban-rural linkages and interethnic relations. Her last work in Mali was in Menaka (Tamacheck) and in the Mopti area (Fulani/FulBe and Dogon). She works at the African Studies Centre Leiden.
Han van Dijk, Ph.D. (1995) in Agricultural Sciences, is an anthropologist and studied forestry. His research focuses around a number of topics such as political decentralization, land tenure, natural resource management and farmer-herder strategies in response to climate variability and development policy. He works at the African Studies Centre Leiden. Previous publications include
Pastoralists under Pressure?, with Mirjam de Bruijn and Anneke Breedveld (Brill, 1999).