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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Conversion to Islam: Military Recruitment and Generational Conflict in a Sereer-Safèn Village (Bandia), 1920-38
Author:Searing, James F.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Senegal
religious conversion
military recruitment
Military, Defense and Arms
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4100383
Abstract:The Sereer-Safèn are a minority population in a predominantly Wolof and Muslim region in Senegal. During the colonial period the Safèn were ruled by Wolof chiefs, who treated them as a conquered population. Until the First World War, Safèn resistance was based on preserving a separate religious and ethnic identity, symbolized by the village shrine and matrilineal descent. Conversion to Islam had its roots in the crisis created by military recruitment. When the Safèn were forced to give soldiers to the French, 'maternal uncles' used their authority over their 'nephews' to recruit soldiers. Today this act is remembered as a 'betrayal' that called into question the legitimacy of the matrilineal system of labour and inheritance. Oral testimony from converts emphasizes changes in behaviour, funeral rites, inheritance and patterns of labour and power in the village community.The article is based on interviews conducted by the author in 1995 in the important Safèn village cluster of Bandia. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]