Charter van Kurukan Fuga

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Charter van Kurukan Fuga

Bericht  Jan op di okt 28, 2008 2:41 pm

De winterslaap is hier precies ingetreden Sleep Sleep Sleep Sleep
(kwestie van niet te crossposten)

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Bericht  ClaudiaSenegal op di okt 28, 2008 6:14 pm

Dit is een reconstructie (uit 1998) van het Charter van Kurukan Fuga uit de dertiende eeuw dat handelt over de organisatie van de Mandinkagemeenschap (verspreid over het huidige Gambia, Senegal, Guinee-Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, Guinee, Liberia en Ivoorkust). Eeuwenoud maar vast nog grotendeels geldig (er staan wel wat tikfouten in).


The Charter of Kurukan Fuga, re-published here, is a version collected in Guinea at the end of a concerting regional workshop between traditional and modern communicators (Kankan: 3-12 March 1998). The traditionists are those who declined the text; then it has been transcribed and translated, with the help of Guinea linguists and under the supervision of Mr. Siriman Kouyaté – Magistrate and traditionist (his family is guardian of the Sosobala, in Niagasole, Guinea). Afterwards S. Kouyaté structured The Charter, without falsifying the essential
point, talking here about the modern juridical texts with a view to make it readable for contemporaries (the original text in Malinke is available on the digital data bank ARTO).


1. The Great Mande Society is divided into sixteen clans of quiver carriers, five clans of marabouts, four groups of “nyamakalas” and one group of slaves. Each one has a specific activity and role.

2. The “nyamakalas” have to devote themselves to tell the truth to the chiefs, to be their counsellors and to defend by the speech the established rulers and the order upon the whole territory.

3. The five clans of marabouts are our teachers and our educators in Islam. Everyone has to hold them in respect and consideration.

4. The society is divided into age groups. Belong to the some age-group the people (men or women) who are born during a period of three years in succession.

The members of the intermediary class between young and old people, should be invited to take part in taking important decisions concerning the society.

5. Every body has a right to life and to the preservation of its physical integrity. Accordingly, any attempt to deprive one’s fellow being of life is punished with death.

6. To win the battle of prosperity, the general system of supervision has been established in order to fight against laziness and idleness.

7. It has been established among the Mandenkas, the sanankunya (joking relationship) and the tanamannyonya (blood pact). Consequently any contention that occurs among these groups should not degenerate, the respect for one another being the rule.

Between brothers-in-low and sisters-in-law, between grandparents and grand-children, tolerance and rag should be the principle.

8. The Keïta’s family is nominated reigning family upon the empire.

9. The children’s education behoves the entire society. The paternal authority in consequence falls to everyone.

10. We should offer condolences mutually.

11. When your wife or your child runs away stop running after her/him in the neighbour’s house.

12. The succession being patrilineary, do never give up the power to a son when one of his fathers is still alive. Do never give up the power to a minor just because he has goods.

13. Do never offend the Nyaras.

14. Do never offend women, our mothers.

15. Do never beat a married woman before having her husband interfere unsuccessfully.

16. Women, apart from their everyday occupations, should be associated with all our managements.

17. Lies that have lived for 40 years should be considered like truths.

18. We should respect the law of primogeniture.

19. Any man has two parents-in-law: the parents of the girl we failed to have and the speech we deliver without any constraint. We have to hold them in respect and consideration.

20. Do not ill treat the slaves. We are the master of the slave but not of the bag he carries.

21. Do not follow up with your constant attentions the wives of the chief, of the neighbour, of the marabout, of the priest, of the friend and of the partner.

22. Vanity if the token of weakness and humility is the one of nobility.

23. Do never betray one another. Respect your word of honour.

24. In Mande do never wrong foreigners.

25. The ambassador does not risk anything in Mande.

26. The bull confided to your care should not lead the cattle-pen.

27. The young lady can get married early as she is pubescent.

28. The young man can get married from 20 years old.

29. The amount of the dowry is 3 bovines: one for the girl, two for her father and mother.

30. In Mande, the divorce is tolerated for one of the following reasons: the impotence of the husband, the madness of one of the spouses, the husband’s incapability of assuming the obligations due to the marriage. The divorce should occur out of the village.

31. We should help those who are in need.

32. There are five ways to acquire the property: the buying, the donation, the exchange, the work and the inheriting. Any other form without convincing testimony is doubtful.

33. Any object found without known owner becomes common property only after four years.

34. The fourth bringing forth of a heifer confided is the property of the guardian.

One egg out of four is the property of the guardian of the laying hen.

35. one bovine should be exchanged for four sheep or four goats.

36. To satisfy one’s hunger is not a robbery if you don’t take away anything in your bag or your pocket.

37. Fakombè is nominated chief of hunters.

38. Before setting fire to the bush, don’t look at the ground, rise your head in the direction of the top of the trees to see if they don’t bear fruits or flowers.

39. Domestic animals should be tied during cultivation moment and freed after the harvest. The dog, the cat, the duck and the poultry are not bound by the measure.

40. Respect the kinship, the marriage and the neighbourhood.

41. You can kill the enemy, but not humiliate him.

42. In big assemblies, be satisfied with your lawful representatives.

43. Balla Fassèkè Kouyaté is nominated big chief of ceremonies and main mediator in Mande. He is allowed to joke with all groups, in priority with the royal family.

44. All those who will transgress these rules will be punished. Everyone is bound to make effective their implementation.

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Re: Charter van Kurukan Fuga

Bericht  Jan op di okt 28, 2008 6:34 pm

In dat geval meteen ook het vervolg van het verhaal: de verklaring van dat alles door SIRIMAN KOUYATE (flink brokje lectuur maar erg boeiend, helaas alweer met veel tikfouten):

Prefatory notes

I - About the social the social organization:

The classification of the Mandingue society worth some explanation .The stratification

established by the Charter is nothing more nor less than the work division among the

different components of the society .This division far from being arbitrary ,has rather

institutionalized a state as a matter of fact in précising may be a bit more the roles and


The Charter has divided Mandingue society into two big categories: the free men and

the slaves.

A-The free men “horon “

They are subdivided into

1- Sixteen (16) clans of quiver carriers or “ton ta jon“: they are those who carry bows

and arrows. The warriors who should defend the territorial integrity of the Empire were

recruited in this group which is composed of the following clans: Traoré, Condé,

Camara, Kourouma, Kamissoko, Magassouba, Diawara, Sako, Fofana, Koita,

Dansouba, Diaby, Diallo, Diakitè, Sidibé, and Sangaré

2- Four (4) princely clans which are: Koulibaly, Douno or Soumano or Danhou or

Somono,Konaté and Keita .Even if the Keita were entrusted with the destiny the empire

,the other clans which have with them blood ties ,are considered as princely .

3- Five (5) clans of marabouts ,in charge of being the educators and the teachers in the

teaching of the new religion .They the Cissé ,Bérété ,Diané ,and Sylla ,or Koma .

4- Four (4) group of “nyamakala”: Literally, nyamakala means “who challenges all the

interdicts” “nyama” means maleficent occult power in Madingue language and “kala “

means in the present context wariness ,limits immunity ,antidote .the nyamakala those

who can challenge all the interdicts ,are divided like this :

a) ”jélis “: they are depositaries of the traditions –archives ,the master of the word ,the

counsellors of the kings ,the artists and the musicians .They have at their head the

kouyaté and the Diabaté .

In the course of time, the jéli became a kind of congregation which can be joined by

everyone who holds the rule in respect.

b) - Fina and Finè, other non musicians librettist specialized in the mediation .They are

especially the Camara.

- Numun fin, working the iron and its derivatives to make tools of any sorts .their wives

make pottery.

- Siaki, working precious metals, gold and silver to make jewels.

- Kule, working the wood to make arts articles: for example the sculptors.

The Numun or blacksmiths are essentially composed of the clan of the Kanté, Camara,

and Kourouma.

4 - Garanké: they are the masters of the leather and the weaving .The shoemakers and

weavers are within this group .Some of them specialized in the making of the harness

for horses and of the cushions, they are “sake “.

The Garanke are essentially the sylla .but other clans have joined them

As you can notice it ,several clans find themselves in more than one class .That is not

surprising when we know that as the ages go by particular events can overturn so many


These four groups of the nyamakala were much feared .They can not be reduced to

captivity; the other classes owed them circumspection, gifts subsistence’s.

As Amadou Hampaté BA said it in his book “Amkoullel,the foulani child “ (1992:522)

“each function corresponded to a specific initiatory way .To keep their pureness ,these

groups formed through the endogamy my and certain sexual interdicts closed hereditary

groups .Here ,there is not this notion of untouchability or of inferiority that certain people

now show towards them”.

The twenty –nine classes, of which I have just made a succinct description of the

activities, are the free men or “horon”

B-The slaves

Before the advent of the empire, the slavery as a trade has drained an important part of

the kinectic energies from the Mande .This practice is forbidden by the Soundiata, as

well as the conditions of the domestic slavery have been softened .There were two

categories of slaves:

1- Free men and women captured during wars and reduced in slavery, those who were

bought and who, because of that moved from one master to another: mina jon (caught


2- The offspring of the first ones, born in the master’s house could not sell them .Most of

them assimilated themselves in the end and took the patronymic of their masters: they

are the wossolo what literally means “of the house “

The wossolo could only be employed or freed; the master could not sell them .Most of

them assimilated themselves in the end and took the patronymic of their masters.

The statement 4, in dividing the society into age –groups, has brushed aside all the

prejudices associated to the conditions of the ones and the others .Actually, are they

quiver carriers princes, nyamakala ,marabouts or slaves ,all those who belong to the

same age- group should observe the same rules without sex distinction .

Together the discussed their problems, each one playing the role the society entrusted


The kangbès were the link class between the ancients who managed the city and the

teenagers who were the secular arms of it .They took part in the taking of big decisions

and then informed younger people.

The statement 6 has established a sort of general supervisors who, at a certain time of

the day, checked in all the families in order to catch the idle and lazy people and make

them take the way to the ancients council .This practice has contributed effectively to

the prosperity of the empire .

The “Sanankunya and the Tanamanyoya “or joking relationship which is the object in

the statement 6of the charter has been established among the Mandékas user friendly

relationships more or less strong according to the case, but which all contribute to the

culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence .The joking relationship, as Mr Raphael

N’Diaye names it so eloquent, was not an invention of the Kurukan Fuga, but the

charter has institutionalized it.

II. - Rights and duties.

At the statement 11, the respect neighbours owe to one another has been almost

considered sacred .Whatever can be the mistake made by one of the members of your

family, since the latter goes to find shelter in your neighbour‘s house, you don’t have

anymore the right to punish him/her for his mistake .You should abandon an erase from

your memory the offence made to you.

At the statement 13 we can read “Do never offend talented men “.They belongs to the

nyammakala; the djéli and the fina.

These masters of the word are the appointed mediators; any offence should not be

made towards them in the accomplishment of their activities which aim is nothing but

the extinguishing of conflicts and wars

At the statement 17, it is a kind of prescription the society puts to statements everybody

considers as true during a certain time and which cannot be denounced any more after

that period fixed as at 40years

The law of primogeniture is in the African societies an indefeasible right .We should owe

respect and obligations to someone older than we, whatever his /her social or his /her

wealth can be.

Within, the family, this right is so strongly rooted that a common saying state the

following:”We can be older than our father or our mother but never be older than our

elder brother”. Understand by father and mother the uncles and the aunts


The statement 21 reveals the adultery in general because in moving aside the wives of

the six groups mentioned in the text, there is no more wives to pay court to.

The statement 23 symbolizes the sense of honour and of the dignity, values dear to the

Mandeka. Stabbing an enemy, using shilly –shallying instead of taking a courageous

decision, not facing an occurrence, are considered as cowardice .It is better to refuse

,even if I should stand the consequences than accepting and betraying after .From

which main motto of the Almamy Samory Touré: “when the man refuses, he says no”

The statement 24 makes it an obligation for everyone not to wrong foreigners’ .This

articles is included in the charter in gratitude for the hospitality Soundiata keita himself

has been offered during his exile for seventeen years

So, the foreigners are like a king in Mande, he is tolerated, protected and defended

.Besides, it is said that the foreigners has big eyes but he can’t see. That‘s the reason

why certain mistakes he makes are not attributable to him .He is suppose to ignore.

The statement 25 attaches and immunity to the ambassador, who only passes on a

message of which he is not the author. He should not be punished .It is this notion we

find in the article 29 of the Vienna convention dated 8 April 1961 which protects the

diplomats against penal actions in the states they are accredited .By extension ,the

diplomatic premises profit by the notion of extraterritoriality therefore inviolable .

The statement 26 is a picture, a metaphor that protects the foreigner .The entrusted bull

is unfamiliar to the cattle pen .In entrusting him to lead the cattle pen, he can lead the

herd to the wrong place In the same way, the foreigner should not be appointed at the

functions of management of a locality but if so only after a long training time

The statement 40 deals with the foundation of the social relationships .so, three

peremptory reasons are considered ass being ablaze to motivate the divorce by the

request of one of the spouses:

- The importance of the husband;

- The madness of one of the spouse;

- The incapacity of the husband to assume the obligations due to the marriage

These obligations are: food dressing care taking, the conjugal duties and consideration

due to parents-in-law.

The Mandénkas considered that the divorce is a situation so serious so that it should be

pronounced far away from the city.

The statement 41 is not a formula inciting to the murder .It only means that if you should

kill your enemy, kill him but it is absolutely forbidden to you to humiliate him.

About goods

The statements 36 deals with the fact of being in need as it is stated on the penal rights

.In the context of the charter, are only concerned fruits pendent or picked, crops in the

field which can be eaten .We can eat as much as we can but we should not put some in

our bag or in our pocket otherwise it would be a robbery.

About the preservation of the nature:

The statement 38 draws the attention on the flowers and the fruits we can find on the

top of the trees. They should not be burnt.

Besides we should mention that bush fire were one of the infringements still punished

with the sentence of death being anxious to preserve the nature the way it is.

Final provisions:

The preponderant place acknowledge to Balla Fassaké Kouyaté and through him to all

talented men in the statement 43 ,is not fortuitous .It is understandable fundamentally

through the role he played in the big events the Mande wet through .Balla Fassaké

Kouyaté is the one who with courage and determination ,told Magan soundiata quite

plainly what other people thought deeply .

He was the one who, with the rights words and tune, succeeded to calm down the

Emperor in the difficult contexts, since life is not only made lucky days.

The secrets of the greatness of the Mande ha been their cohesion .This cohesion has

been kept in a large measure by men and women who, most of the time in the

anonymity, recalling the Mandènka the principles that funded the Mandingue nation.

The immunity of speech given to Balla Fassékè Kouyaté and to his descendents

enabled the successive generations of tradition guardians to play their role of

conciliators and mediators in the society .Even now, if the data have changed the

substrate still remains ,deeply rooted in the values of Mandingue civilization .


For all the statements of the charter, the expression, ”do, do not” are style clauses

which restore as faithfully as possible the mind of the authors of the text. But what is

expressed in the forty four statements is for and is imposed on all the inhabitants of the

Mande who are responsible for their implementation.

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