Located on the other side of the right bank of the Casamance river, near the department of Sédhiou, Sandiniéry has the reputation of being a land of refusal or a “rebel” village. It is one of the few localities that have not been defeated by French settlers. This feat, Sandiniéry owes it to her resistant marabout, Almamy Fodé Fossar Souané. Thanks to his “soldiers”, bees, he diverted the colonial army in February 1861. It suffered a stinging defeat at the Sandiniéry wharf.
By Samba Oumar FALL and Souleymane Diam SY (texts) and Ndèye Seyni SAMB (Photos)
Sandiniéry. In Dakar, this name refers to the famous street located at the Sandaga market, where Guinean nationals sell fruit. Where does this name come from ? To find out more, you have to go back in time, in history. Sandiniéry is a locality located in the commune of Karantaba, department of Sédiou. To reach this village, you have to cross the Casamance river, either by pirogue or by ferry from Sédhiou, so a distance of three kilometers.
On this Sunday August 22, 2022, the Sédhiou wharf is teeming with people. The bin having broken down for ages, the canoes took over. The rhythm of the shuttles is incessant. It takes a quarter of an hour to reach the other end. Bush taxi drivers and “Jakarta” motorcycle drivers watch for any arrival from passengers and other visitors to offer their services. In the heart of this village of Sédhiou, activities are going well. Next to the hard or straw houses, the women, seated in front of their stalls lined with a few vegetables and lots of fish, await customers. Sandiniéry bathes in a great calm which contrasts with its agitated history, its warrior past. Different ups and downs with the settlers have earned it the reputation of “rebel village”.
Fort Pinet Laprade and Sandiniéry are two major pages of the colonial past of Sédiou. The first site housed the colonist’s military arsenal, with three pieces of cannon facing the village to bomb and monitor the various movements of the enemy.
According to Amor Souané dit Dioutou, village chief, Sandiniéry was founded around 1800 by Baïnoucks, notably by the Sandi couple. The merger of the name of the husband (Sandi) and that of the woman (Niéry) gave Sandiniéry.
With the Islamization of Pakao, he said, Almamy Fodé Fossar Souané left Diannah Ba, a village located some fifty kilometers from Sédhiou, to settle in Sandiniéry. On the spot, the marabout invited the first inhabitants of the village, in particular the Baïnoucks who were pagans, to embrace the Muslim religion. The latter opposed him with a categorical niet. The scholar then started the battle for the spread of Islam. The Baïnoucks ended up abandoning the village to move elsewhere, said the village chief.
THE RIPOSTE OF THE ARMY OF THE BELLS
Sandiniéry is reputed to be “refusal village, rebel locality”. It would all have started from the famous battle between the colonial army and the warrior marabout Almamy Fossar Swan in February 1861. This stems, according to Massy Dabo, notable of the village, from the will of the colonists to “hunt” the marabout and Sounkar Yéri Camara, resistance fighter who had taken refuge in Sandiniéry. The latter opposed the settlement of the settlers in Sédhiou in 1854. Not having succeeded, he had ended up crossing the Casamance river to take refuge in Sandiniéry, near his uncle, Almamy Fodé Fossar Souané, because his mother was from this village. After forcing him into exile, the settlers wanted to pursue him at Sandiniéry. But, that was without counting with the determination of the Almamy. Confrontation was inevitable. It was the start of the war between settlers and natives.
Very mystical, Almamy Fodé Fossar Souané had already “secured” his fief, according to the village chief. From the Fort of Pinet Laprade in Sédhiou, the colonists started hostilities by dropping a bomb on Sandiniéry. Unfortunately, they had missed their target, according to Amor Souané. Their explosive device had landed seven kilometers behind the village which was mystically protected by Almamy Fodé Fossar Souane. Unable to locate the location of the locality with their tools of war, explains the village chief, the colonists decided to cross the Casamance river to do battle with the fighters of Sandiniéry and their chief, Almamy Fodé Fossar Souané. When they land, they will be attacked by a colony of bees, considered to be the “soldiers” of the warrior marabout. According to our interlocutors, the war did not last more than half an hour; the bees having succeeded in confusing the invaders. Sandiniéry did not capitulate.
Today, the baobab, a place of refuge for the “soldiers” of the Swimming Fossar Worry, attracts curiosity because of the mythical presence of bees in this tree. According to the natives, they are still present and ready to face any attempt to attack the village. These bees, informs the village chief, always play their role. They are, according to Amor Souané, the “protectors” of Sandiniéry, of the guardian angels. Since then, no incidents have been noted between them and the residents.
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The explosive device found in 1992 by the Army
Put in difficulty by the natives, the French soldiers fell back into the underground of the Fort, according to another version of the battle of Sandiniéry. An unequal weapon fighter, the warriors on the right bank, from Karantaba and Tanaff to support their comrades in Sandiniéry, in fine strategists, took the canoes, crossed the river and hid in the mangroves to try to reach Fort Pinet Laprade , explains another version. Defeated, the colonial army withdrew. It will be followed, according to Massy Dabo, by white traders who held trading posts at the Sandiniéry wharf. In addition, reveals the notable of the village, the explosive device, which the colonists had dropped and which weighs 15 tonnes, was finally found. It was unearthed in 1992 by the Senegalese Army in the forest, seven kilometers from the village.
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“Kélé Saaré” or the Peace Treaty
Defeated by the “soldiers” of the Swimming Almamy Fodé Fossar, the colonists were forced to withdraw and sign the cease-fire with Sandiniéry. This happened, says Mamadou Souané, great-grandson of Fodé Fossar Souané, who was also a city councilor at “Kélé Saaré”, where the Peace Treaty was signed. This place is about twenty meters to the right of the Sandiniéry boarding platform from Sédhiou. In the rainy season, access is almost impossible since the place is filled with water. From afar, we see mangroves that surround the part located at the borders of the Casamance river. According to the testimonies of the village notables, the Peace Treaty was initialed by the Circle Commander of Sédhiou and the marabout warlord, Almamy Fodé Fossar Souané. Since then, the settlers have left Sandiniéry in peace and have never set foot there again. Sandiniéry thus continues to live in peace with his bees, “the soldiers” of the Swimming-Born Almamy Fodé Fossar.
Sandiniéry victim of his isolation
Is Sandiniéry a victim of her warlike reputation ? You can’t say. In any case, the observation is that this locality with a glorious past has been running behind its opening up for a long time. This necessarily involves the erection of a bridge over the Casamance river and the bitumage of the Sandiniéry-Dioutoubou-Banghery and Sandiniéry-Karantaba-Barrage Aliou Souané lir routes.
Porte de entry of the provinces of Souna and Balmadou, Sandiniéry is the victim of its isolation. For a very long time, people have been demanding the erection of a bridge over the Casamance river between Sédhiou and Sandiniéry to open up this part of the region, in vain. Ibrahima Cissé dit Solo, former deputy mayor of Karantaba, believes that opening up the entire area requires the production of this work. The other priority remains, according to him, the bitumage of the Sandiniéry-Karantaba-Barrage Alioune Souané and Sandiniéry-Dioutoubou-Baghère roads.
During wintering, traffic on these axes is limited, the laterial tracks becoming almost impracticable. “If Sandiniéry, the gateway to the area, lacks everything, the other villages are suffocating,” he regrets. Regarding the construction of the Sandiniéry-Karantaba-Barrage Alioune Souane road, Mamadou Souané, municipal councilor, specifies that the contracting company has already installed its base and intends to start work after wintering. Good news, exclaims Mr. Cissé. As long as the project is not “diverted”, he fumed, skeptical.
In any case, this isolation means that the sale of many products on the country’s domestic markets remains an equation for several unknown persons for the peasants. A pitfall. The cross and the banner for producers. “Tyour traders do not hesitate to come to the area and offer vile prices for the purchase of products,” is sorry for Ibrahima Cissé. According to him, some even offer 3000 FCFa for a mangoer’s foot.
Solo also deplores the late arrival of seeds and the scarcity of agricultural equipment. “A dozen villages take turns in a single tractor in the area; this is unacceptable, “rejects the former deputy mayor of Karantaba, convinced that the poverty plaguing the area is linked to landlockedness. “We have land, but we cannot afford to cultivate it,” he insists. “That’s why today is day-to-day resourcefulness,” he regrets.
The health post loses his midwife
It was last year that Sandiniéry’s health box was transformed into a health post. This was possible thanks to the mobilization of village sons established abroad with their Spanish partners. The construction of the health post cost 80 million FCfa thanks to the Barcelona Cooperation. After three months of service, Sandiniéry’s midwife was reassigned to Thiès. People are vainly awaiting the arrival of another.
According to Mamadou Souané, municipal councilor of Karantaba, the patients are forced to fall back on the nurse-chief of post of Sandiniéry, failing to go to the health center of Sédhiou. “Since then, he has managed to assist women without difficulty,” he welcomes. Emergency cases are evacuated to Sédhiou, he said.
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Communalization, an old complaint of populations
Sandiniéry, a historic landmark in the Pakao region, wishes to be erected as a commune. This old complaint is not yet satisfied. However, in 2008, the authorities at the time, according to Oumar Souané, son of the village chief, had kept a firm promise to them in this direction. Unfortunately, Sandiniéry is still part of the commune of Karantaba with its estimated population of 5600 inhabitants. A real paradox, according to the inhabitants of this locality who have always expressed their administrative leadership in the past and asked that their wish be ratified.
Originally appeared in le Soleil (lesoleil.sn) by Salla Gueye