This Warrior Queen Fought The French & The Moors | Ndate Yalla Mbodj of the Waalo KingdomRead Now
In 1810, the Kingdom of Waalo was a vast and robust West African kingdom that existed near the lower Senegal River area, in present-day Senegal and Mauritania. The Waalo Kingdom was one of four Wolof Kingdoms, Cayor, Baol, and Jolof were the other three kingdoms. Brak Amar Fatim Borso Mbodj was the powerful king who ruled Waalo. His queen was Lingeer-Awo Fatim Yamar Khuri Yaye Mbodj. In the Waalo Kingdom, Brak was a title that meant king, Lingeer meant queen, and Lingeer-Awo meant the queen who was the king's first wife. Ndate Yalla was the youngest daughter of Brak Amar and Lingeer-Awo Fatim Yamar, they also produced an elder daughter named Ndjeumbeut Mbodj, who would later become Lingeer of Waalo. As young girls, Ndate Yalla and her sister learned how to rule a kingdom and were trained to fight with the Waalo army. When the men were away, the women were formidable opponents to any challengers. Like a number of other African nations, the Waalo women warriors were a part of their army. The women were seen as skilled and fierce. On one occasion in 1820, Brak Amar Fatim was away from his kingdom, a group of Moors attempted to invade Waalo, they were met and defeated by the women warriors of Waalo, led by Lingeer-Awo Fatim Yamar. Unfortunately, Brak Amar Fatim Borso Mbodj died in 1926. Shortly after defeating the Moors, the women warriors of Waalo were forced to fight the invading Moors again who returned with more soldiers. The number of soldiers the women were facing was too great and they were defeated. Before the defeat, Lingeer-Awo Fatim Yamar was able to escape with her two daughters.
The death of Brak Amar Fatim was significant for the Waalo Kingdom because he was known for resisting the Islamic faith and culture, he was also labeled as anti-Islamic for his rejection of Islam. Ndate Yalla married Brak Yerim Mbanyik Tigereleh Mbodj at the age of 16. Brak Yerim was her cousin, but the marriage occurred to maintain their family's dynasty. She later married the warrior and prince of Cayor Marosso Tassé Diop. Ndate Yalla would appoint Marosso Tasse as the commander of her army because of his immense skill as a warrior. Around the year 1846, Ndjeumbeut Mbodj was the Lingeer of Waalo until her death. Ndate Yalla was officially crowned Lingeer later in 1846. It didn’t take long for her to show her skill as a warrior, and intellect as a ruler. As Lingeer, Ndate Yalla enlarged the women warriors of Waalo, she would need the might because the French and the Moors would become her enemies. Lingeer Ndate Yalla had a disagreement with the French who occupied a French colony called Saint-Louis, over the taxing of the Soninke people as they passed through Waalo lands. The French accused Ndate Yalla of stealing a number of oxen as they taxed the Soninke. The French sent a letter to Ndate Yalla stating that if she doesn’t return the stolen oxen she would be treated as an enemy. Ndate Yalla did not appreciate being accused of stealing oxen and being threatened. Ndate Yalla reigned from 1846 to 1855, and from 1847 she was constantly at war against the French and the Moors of Trazar.
The Battle of Dioubouldy begin in 1855, Lingeer Ndate Yala and Marosso Tasse led the kingdom of Waalo against the French, who were determined to destroy the six main kingdoms of the Senegambia area, which included the four kingdoms of Waalo. Waalo was the first of the six Senegambian kingdoms to be attacked by the French, one because of its close proximity to Saint-Louis, and two, because it was led by a woman. The French saw Waalo as weak because Ndate ruled the kingdom. The warriors of Waalo were fierce and brave, they were outmanned and outgunned by the French but were still able to fight off the French for several months. Eventually, the French overwhelmed the Waalo warriors, men and women, fighting for their freedom. The kingdom was falling, but Marosso Tasse and his soldiers were still fighting the French. Ndate Yalla was able to escape with a few of her family members, upon her escape, she stated the following words to her soldiers: Today we are invaded by the conquerors. Our army is completely routed. The Tiedo of Waalo, valiant warriors though they are, have almost all fallen to the bullet of the enemy. The invader is stronger than we are, I know, but should we abandon Waalo to the hands of foreigners? The kingdom of Waalo had fallen, Ndate Yalla and Marosso Tasse were forced to relocate to the city of Cayor where they received protection from family members. The French threatened to invade the family if they did not surrender Ndate Yalla and her husband. The family refused the French and chose to protect their queen. Ndate Yalla died in 1860, she is remembered as one of the most powerful and legendary queens in the history of Waalo and the Senegambian region. She is highly revered and loved by her people. So much so that a statue of her was erected in the city of Dagana, Senegal. To Lingeer Ndate Yalla Mbodj, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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