Failed Islamic States in Senegambia

David Robinson

Verbal portrait of Umar

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The Shaikh was always simply clothed: a small calico cap, short turban, white shirt and pants covered with a light blue robe, and yellow slippers.... In his hand he carried a small metal pot and, on important occasions, one of his two canes.... He was strikingly handsome. His eyes were clear; his skin bronzed, his features symmetrical. His beard was black, long, soft and divided at the chin. He wore no mustache.

He seemed never to be more than thirty years old. No one ever saw him blow his nose, spit, sweat or complain of being warm or cold. He could go indefinitely without eating or drinking. He never seemed to tire of riding, walking, or remaining seated on a mat.

His voice was gentle, but it had extraordinary carrying quality. He never laughed nor cried, he never got angry. His face was always calm and smiling....
Courtesy of David Robinson

Related Essay
Umar Tal Or Al-hajj Umar
Creator: Soleillet, Paul
Gravier, Gabriel
Description: Impressions gathered by Paul Soleillet in 1878 in Segu, where he was visiting the capital and court of Umar's son Ahmad al-Kabir. Soleillet's journal was edited and published by Gabriel Gravier in 1887.
Date: 1887
Date Range: 1880-1889
Location: Segu, Mali
Format: Text/txt
Rights Management: For educational use only.
Contributing Institution: David Robinson; MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University
Digitizer: MATRIX
Source: Gabriel Gravier, ed., Paul Soleillet, Voyage a Segou 1878-1879, redige d'apres les notes et jojurnaux de voyage de Soleillet. Paris: Challamel, 1887

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