Collaboration, Modernity and Colonial Rule: Sidiyya Baba and Mauritania

By David Robinson

Bu El Moghdad

Bu El Moghdad
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The Seck family was one of two leading Saint-Louis families who combined distinction in Islam, close ties with Mauritanian clerical families, and close affiliation with the French presence; they combined these three relationships without any apparent problem, and were a great boon to the colonial enterprise. Their home in the town often served as a reception area for distinguished Moors who were visiting Saint-Louis.

The first distinguished member of the family was Bu-El-Mogdad (1826-80), also called Dudu Seck. He became the chief translator of Arabic Correspondence for the French and, more briefly, the Qadi of the Muslim Tribunal of the town. He is shown here in a formal robe with his French medals pinned conspircuously on this chest; this was a posed shot, taken in about 1860, at the same time that he accomplished the pilgrimage to Mecca with French support - a journey that he accomplished with the expressed purpose of creating a rival pilgrimage to the conspicuous one of Al-hajj Umar.

A second distinguished member of the family was his son, also called Bu-El-Mogdad (I usually call him Bu-El-Mogdad II) and Dudu Seck. He had the same schooling, mainly in southern Mauritania, and the skills in speaking Hassaniyya, the Arabic dialect of Mauritania. His main service to the French cause came in the 1890s and early 1900s as the Europeans sought to create a colony in Mauritania.

Courtesy of Tour Du Monde ()
Bu El Moghdad
Bu El Moghdad
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Courtesy of Tour Du Monde

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Creator: Tour Du Monde magazine
Description: The Seck family was one of two leading Saint-Louis families who combined distinction in Islam, close ties with Mauritanian clerical families, and close affiliation with the French presence; they combined these three relationships without any apparent problem, and were a great boon to the colonial enterprise. Their home in the town often served as a reception area for distinguished Moors who were visiting Saint-Louis.

The first distinguished member of the family was Bu-El-Mogdad (1826-80), also called Dudu Seck. He became the chief translator of Arabic Correspondence for the French and, more briefly, the Qadi of the Muslim Tribunal of the town. He is shown here in a formal robe with his French medals pinned conspircuously on this chest; this was a posed shot, taken in about 1860, at the same time that he accomplished the pilgrimage to Mecca with French support - a journey that he accomplished with the expressed purpose of creating a rival pilgrimage to the conspicuous one of Al-hajj Umar.

A second distinguished member of the family was his son, also called Bu-El-Mogdad (I usually call him Bu-El-Mogdad II) and Dudu Seck. He had the same schooling, mainly in southern Mauritania, and the skills in speaking Hassaniyya, the Arabic dialect of Mauritania. His main service to the French cause came in the 1890s and early 1900s as the Europeans sought to create a colony in Mauritania.
Date: 1861
Location: Saint-Louis, Senegal
Format: Image/jpeg
Rights Management: For educational use only.
Contributing Institution: Tour Du Monde; David Robinson; MATRIX: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University
Digitizer: MATRIX
Source: Robinson, David. Paths of Accommodation: Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authoirties in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880-1920 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000). Tour Du Monde magazine.

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