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African DominionA New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa$
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Michael A. Gomez

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196824

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196824.001.0001

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The Sunni and the Scholars: A Tale of Revenge

The Sunni and the Scholars: A Tale of Revenge

(p.193) Chapter Nine The Sunni and the Scholars: A Tale of Revenge
African Dominion

Michael A. Gomez

Princeton University Press

This chapter highlights the antagonisms between Timbuktu's scholarly community and Sunni ʻAlī. The chroniclers characterize the tensions with sweeping generalizations, but the sunni's relationship with the scholars was in fact more complicated than straightforward, with some in persecuted families willing to broker an accommodation with the ruler. In the end, however, the sunni seriously miscalculated in alienating such a powerful coalition of the learned and the moneyed. The chapter then illustrates how Sunni ʻAlī sought to balance his fear of opposition in Timbuktu with his need for alliances by which he could rule the city. He would embark upon a strategy of attacking one community of scholars associated with his political nemesis, while embracing an alternative group of more neutral elites. Other important aspects of early imperial Songhay are visible during Sunni ʻAlī's tenure. These include the origins and interconnections of Timbuktu's powerful Muḥammad Aqīt and Anda ag-Muḥammad families; the emergence of the oft-overlooked Mori Koyra, a scholarly community with a major role in the unfolding of Songhay history; and the ways in which servile formations impacted Songhay policy and military operations.

Keywords:   Timbuktu, scholarly community, Sunni ʻAlī, imperial Songhay, Mori Koyra, Songhay policy, Songhay military operations, Muḥammad Aqīt, Anda ag-Muḥammad

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