Contemporary Dynamics of the Bou Kounta Qadiri Community

By Maria Grosz-Ngaté

201511_SidiMouhamedKounta

Date: November 1, 2016
Sidy Mouhamed Kounta is the President of the Parents’ Association (Association des Parents d'Élèves, or APE) of Ndiassane. His paternal grandfather was Bécaye Kounta, the eldest son of Ndiassane founder Bou Kounta, who became the first khalif after his father's death. Mr. Kounta discusses his role as president of the association, the creation of the school, improvements over time, and the support he receives from his followers for the school. He also explains that he is one of the Kounta sons who has studied in Mauritania and that he lived in Casamance for seven years until his father asked him to return to Ndiassane. At the end of the interview he speaks briefly about the changes he has witnessed in Ndiassane over the course of his life. Interviewed in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated to French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150919_AssaneSene

Date: December 19, 2015
Mr. Assane Sène teaches at the lycée of Pout after having taught at several schools, including the Collège of Ndiassane (2003-08). He briefly discusses the development of the Collège and then describes his interactions with the Kounta family. Asked about his perspective on the responsibilities and concerns of the khalif, he notes that he considers the Kountas to be modern and forward-looking due to their openness to secular education. Interview in French by Hady Sow, transcribed by Gana Ndiaye.

20110804_ADCamara

Date: December 4, 2011
Mr. Camara has been an active member of the Mouvement des Jeunes Khadres (MJK) since 2002. He teaches at a middle school in the Kaffrine region of Senegal while also continuing his education at the University Cheikh Anta Diop. He grew up in a Qadiri family in Mbour and began going to Ndiassane at an early age. In the course of the interview Mr. Camara discusses the development of the MJK, his own role in it, and the activities of the daaïra he belonged to before joining the MJK. He also elaborates on the choice of the white camel as part of the MJK logo, explaining that they opted for it over the Kounta symbol of the ostrich because the Prophet Mouhamed made the journey from Mecca to Medina on a white camel. Interview in French by Maria Grosz-Ngate; transcribed by Gana Ndiaye.

Ndankh_Bouna Kounta 30 July 2011

Date: December 30, 2011
Cheikh Bouna Mouhamed Kounta, the imam of Ndankh, and Cheikh Bécaye Kounta provide a detailed history and genealogy of the founding family of Ndankh, drawing on their extensive research. They cover the arrival of Cheikh Bounama, father of Ndiassane founder Cheikh Bou Kounta, in Senegal; his settlement in Ndankh following his religious education under Cheikh Sidy Makhtar Kounta in the southwestern Sahara desert; and his contribution to the expansion of the Qadiri Path. They also elaborate on religious education and on the history of relations between Ndankh and Ndiassane. Interview conducted in Wolof by Toba Diagne Haïdara. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

Sidi Lamine Thiam ET AL. 14-12-2007

Date: December 14, 2007
Beginning with his father in 1932, Cheikh Sidi Lamine Thiam’s family has represented the Kounta kaliphs in Dakar. He relates his family history and links with the Kounta family, with interventions by Babacar and Abdoulaye Kounta. The discussion also touches on the relations between Khalif Sidi Lamine and the secular authorities; the reputed wealth of Bou Kounta and the early caliphs; French military recruitment for the two world wars in the Bou Kounta community; and Cheikh Thiam’s daaira (religious association). Interview conducted in Wolof by Toba Diagne Haïdara. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye and Adrien Pouille.

El Hadji Cheikh Bou Kounta Thiam_02-01-2008

Date: November 2, 2008
El Hadj Cheikh Bou Kounta Thiam received his religious education under Cheikh Abdourahmane Kounta and created the first Kounta daaira in Dakar. He shares his extensive knowledge of the Bou Kounta community, gained in the course of his long membership. Addressing topics ranging from the life of Bou Kounta, the development of the tarikha over time, relations with the state, and the ethnic diversity of the Bou Kounta Path, he weaves in numerous stories of specific incidents and interactions. Interview conducted in Wolof by Toba Diagne Haidara. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye and Adrien Pouille.

Cheikh Bou Diop, Ndiassane, 27-12-2007

Date: December 27, 2007
Cheikh Bou Diop, a devoted follower of Cheikh Bou Kounta, begins by tracing his ancestry to his great grandfather who relocated from Pir (Cayor region) in order to follow Bou Kounta. Known widely as a praise singer for the Kounta family at religious ceremonies, he explains that he inherited this vocation from his father and that his family is not of griot origin. He details his musical repertoire and the meaning that singing about Bou Kounta’s life, work, and genealogy holds for him. He also discusses the significance and role of the youth movement and comments on the use of the tabala musical instrument at religious events. Interview conducted in Wolof by Toba Diagne Haidara. Translated into French by Adrien Pouille, Moussa Thiao, and Gana Ndiaye.

Fatma Bouna Kounta 30-12-2007

Date: December 30, 2007
Madame Fatma Bouna Kounta speaks about her position in the Kounta family; her upbringing; her religious education; her membership in an association of Kounta family members; and the importance that Khalif Sidi Yakhaya has had for her. Interview conducted in Wolof by Toba Diagne Haidara. Translated into French by Adrien Pouille.

Interview Pape Malick Béye

Date: November 5, 2007
Mr. Pape Malick Béye directs one of the four Koranic schools in Ndiassane. Students are from Ndiassane, from nearby villages, and from neighboring countries. He notes that none of them beg. Mr. Béye discusses religious instruction in Ndiassane, his own background, and how he became a teacher. He also explains the difference between the Koranic schools of Ndiassane and a new religious institute established in 2000. Lastly, he offers his thoughts on the reasons for holding the major annual religious celebration (gàmmu) on the day when the Prophet was baptized rather than on his birthday, like the nearby Tidjani spiritual capital of Tivaouane. Interview conducted in Wolof by Toba Diagne Haïdara. Translated into French by Adrien Pouille. Arabic verified and translated by Moussa Thiao.

20070110_Makhtar Ndiaga Koné

Date: November 10, 2007
Mr. Koné is the descendent of a family with spiritual ties to both Ndiassane and Ndankh. The interview focuses on his experience as a founding member of the Mouvement des Jeunes Khadres (MJK), established in 1997 with the goal of educating Qadiri youth about the Kounta family. The khalif approved their plan in 1998 and the organization gained legal status as a civil society organization in 2002. They created cells as the organization grew and provided cell leaders with necessary information and training. Women constitute a significant part of the membership and are generally more active than men, although many leave the organization once they get married. In addition to organizing regular religious ceremonies, the MJK provide financial and organizational support at major religious events in Ndiassane and in Ndankh. MJK members are recognizable at events by their light blue tunics with the logo of a camel on the back. Interview conducted in French by Toba Diagne Haidara and Maria Grosz-Ngate. Transcribed by Gana Ndiaye.

20150616_AminataKounta

Date: November 16, 2015
Aminata Kounta, is a daughter of Khalif El Hadj Mame Bou Mouhamed Kounta and his second wife Aminata Mbacke from Touba. She begins by speaking about her upbringing, her schooling, and her work in education, and then discusses the establishment of the Ndiassane primary school and the middle school, where she works. In the last part of the interview she elaborates on her aspirations for herself and for the community and outlines some of the steps necessary to achieve them. Interview conducted in French by Daouda Faye and Maria Grosz-Ngaté. Transcribed by Gana Ndiaye.

20150617_AmouKounta

Date: November 17, 2015
Mr. Amou Kounta, who has lived in Ndiassane all his life, was appointed by the khalif to succeed his elder brother as village chief. He describes his responsibilities and how his role intersects with those of the religious authorities. He concludes by summarizing changes that have taken place in Ndiassane, emphasizing the role that Khalif El Hadji Mame Bou Mamadou has played, needs that remain to be addressed, and his wishes for his family and for the community. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150617_BouMouhamedKounta_2

Date: November 17, 2015
El Hadj Mame Bou Mouhamed Kounta (Ballé) is a grandson of Bou Kounta who was born in Ndiassane but grew up in Saint-Louis and received his Koranic and secular education there, graduating with a diploma from the technical college. His father graduated from the “School of Hostages” in Saint-Louis, a school created by the French colonial administration and later renamed “School of Sons of Chiefs and Interpreters”. El Hadj describes how he was inducted into 18 months of military service and recounts the working life that followed and that took him to Mauritania and Saudi Arabia. He stresses the importance of work and highlights with pride his skills in woodworking. He also offers his thoughts on religion, on the tarikha, and on relations between the tarikha. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translation into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150618_AbdouMbaye

Date: November 18, 2015
Mr. Abdou Mbaye is the griot (spokesperson) for the khalif, a role he inherited from his elder brother and, before him, his father and grandfather. His grandfather Bounama Mbaye was born in Ndankh and moved to Ndiassane after Cheikh Bou Kounta established himself there. Mr. Abdou Mbaye was able to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, thanks to the sponsorship of Khalif El Hadj Mame Bou Mamadou, and now bears the honorific El Hadji. El Hadji Mbaye explains the khalifate of Ndiassane and elaborates on changes in the religious, social, and material life of the community. In discussing the gàmmu and the ziara, he notes the presence of the media and of government representatives. Asked to comment on relations between the tarikha, El Hadji offers details on specific interactions and relationships. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

Interview with Sana Cissokho and Makhtar Ndiaga Kone

Date: December 16, 2007
Mr. Sana Cissokho, from the town of Malikounda, is a member of the Qadiri youth movement (Mouvement des Jeunes Khadres - MJK) with responsibilities for researching and disseminating information about the Bou Kounta Path. He discusses how he became involved with the movement as a student at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar and established a grouping there. In the course of the discussion he explains the structure and composition of the grouping, its activities, and the importance of being organized. Mr. Makhtar Koné contributes information on the structure and activities of the MJK. Interview conducted in French by Toba Diagne Haidara and Maria Grosz-Ngaté after a religious event in Bargny. Transcribed by Moussa Thiao.

20150618_MinetouKounta

Date: November 18, 2015
Madame Minetou Kounta, a daughter of Khalif Cheikh Bou Mouhamed Kounta (d. 2006), was born in the village of Thiariack, near Kaolack, but grew up in Ndiassane. She describes the activities of the NGO Tostan in Ndiassane and her own participation and role as treasurer. Madame Minetou Kounta concludes by discussing her involvement in Senegalese party politics after Tostan left Ndiassane, pointing out that she is applying what she learned about mobilizing people from working for Tostan. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150618_NogayeDieye

Date: November 18, 2015
Madame Nogaye Dièye is a tailor who was president of TOSTAN’s project in Ndiassane. She explains the activities of the NGO and the ways in which they benefitted Ndiassane. Madame Dièye concludes by briefly speaking about a development project, initiated after the departure of TOSTAN, and of which she has also become the president. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150619_BayeSidyMoukhtarKounta

Date: November 19, 2015
Baye Sidy Moukhtar Kounta grew up in Ndiassane. Apart from trips to other West African countries, he has spent his entire life in the community. Baye Sidy Moukhtar comments on some of the changes in the religious life of Ndiassane, the role of the media, and the participation of government representatives in religious events. He concludes by stressing the importance of the faith, personal conduct, and education. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150619_IFallATardif

Date: November 19, 2015
This interview deals with the partnership between the Collège (Middle School) of Ndiassane and the Association des Racines et des Hommes, a French humanitarian organization based in Vichy, France, with a branch in Senegal. The association’s founder Anna Tardiff describes in detail the history of the association’s partnership with Ndiassane and its contributions to the development of the Collège. In addition to the financial support for material improvements provided by the association, she initiated a partnership between the Collège and the Catholic school St. Benoît in Moulin, France, that entails sponsorship of individual students among other activities. This relationship even led to a visit by the bishop of Moulin in 2010 and a meeting with the khalif, an inter-religious encounter Ms. Tardiff found very moving. Mr. Ismaila Fall discusses his responsibilities as the coordinator of activities for the Senegalese branch of the Association des Racines et des Hommes and his work with Ndiassane. Mr. Fall and Ms. Tardiff both agree that the association’s relationship with Ndiassane is special and praise the smooth cooperation and the transparency that prevails in the conduct of activities. Interview in French conducted in Mbour by Daouda Faye; transcription in French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150619_PapaAbdourahmane Kounta

Date: November 19, 2015
Papa Abdou Rahmane Kounta traces his descent to Ndankh and to Ndiassane: his father was the son of one of Bou Kounta’s elder brothers in Ndankh and his mother was the daughter of Cheikh Al Bécaye, the first khalif of Ndiassane. He was born in Ndankh and received his religious education in Ndankh and in Mauritania. Mr. Kounta explains that he studied agriculture in Algeria and in Irak and gained competence in Arabic, French, and English in the process. He then discusses the development of Ndiassane, relations with the other Sufi Paths of Senegal, and the role of the state. He concludes with his thoughts on religious and secular education and his own involvement in furthering it. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150620_AmadouDiagneGaye

Date: November 20, 2015
Amadou Diagne Gaye has been teaching English at the Collège (Middle School) of Ndiassane since 2005. At the time of the interview he was also vice-principal, a member of the school’s Management Council, and the coordinator of the partnership with the Association des Racines et des Hommes. Mr. Gaye discusses the history of the partnership; its contributions; the sponsorship of children by families of St. Benoît Catholic School in Moulin, France; his own responsibilities; the evolution of the school, including some of the challenges over time; and the school’s student body. Mr. Gaye concludes the interview with his reflections on human and cross-national relationships, religious and ethnic diversity, and personal responsibility. Interview conducted in French by Maria Grosz-Ngaté. Transcribed by Gana Ndiaye.

20150620_KhalifeElHadjMameBou

Date: November 20, 2015
Khalif El Hadji Mame Bou Mamadou Kounta was the oldest spiritual leader of a tarikha (Khalife Général) in Senegal before he passed away on November 4, 2018. In this interview he provides an overview of his life, touching on various personal relationships that impacted his life and on travels he undertook to other West African countries. He emphasizes the importance of work and his personal growth as a result of agriculture and travel. Interview conducted in Wolof by Daouda Faye. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150621_CheikhBecayeCoulibaly

Date: November 21, 2015
El Hadj Bécaye Coulibaly offers an intimate account of his life and relationship with the Kounta family, providing considerable insight into the actions and interactions of the different khalifs. In a nearly seamless narrative he details how his father left the French Sudan (now Mali) to join the Bou Kounta community in Ndiassane to become a devoted follower. He remained after Bou Kounta’s death to serve his successor Khalif Bécaye Kounta, even when his family sought him to return home. El Hadj Bécaye eventually assumed his father’s role vis-à-vis the khalifs while also maintaining the relationship with his paternal family in the village of Dougabougou (Ségou region). Over time he became the khalifs’ intermediary with followers of Mande background and traveled to Mali regularly. In the latter part of the interview he speaks briefly about his Koranic school (daara), his dedication to agriculture, and some of the changes in religious rituals he has observed. Interview conducted in Wolof by Hady Sow. Translated into French by Gana Ndiaye.

20150815_MouhamedKounta

Date: December 15, 2015
Mouhamed Kounta was first interviewed by Maria Grosz-Ngate in 2007 as part of the project on the Qadiriyya Community of Bou Kounta, funded by a TICFIA grant. His father had become khalif the previous year, the first grandson of Bou Kounta to assume the khalifate. Mr. Kounta now reflects on the accomplishments and challenges during the intervening years, including his own role as the eldest son of the khalif. He also offers his perspective on the development of Ndiassane and projects yet to be realized, such as the creation of a permanent regional market and a technical high school, and the need of support by the state. During the last part of the interview Mr. Kounta speaks about the annual gammu and its importance in strengthening relationships with the members of the Bou Kounta community as well as the role of the media. Interviewed in French by Maria Grosz-Ngaté. Transcribed by Gana Ndiaye.

Date: January 1, 2016

Date: September 19, 2015

Date: August 4, 2011

Date: July 30, 2011

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