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Momodou Posted - 25 Feb 2023 : 12:33:21
By Dembo Fatty

In order not to sound monotonous, I will skip introducing this larger than life figure in the person of Ngaling Sonko.

He made a name for himself but more prominently at Manda Fortress of the Sarahule. Earlier, Kaabu just like her parent Empire of Manding, needed to replenish the armoury and most important of all, was their cavalry division.

In both instances, the attempts led to two theatres of war. For Manding, it would lead to the killing of the King of Jollof and westward expansion of the Empire up to present day Chaaroye in Senegal.

In the case of Kaabu, a Sarahule fortress was raised to the ground which sent a seismic wave across the region setting in motion a religious fanaticism from both Futa Toro and Futa Jallon and in the mix were the Sarahule and Mandinka Mori to fulfil the ambitions of Omar Futi to create a Tijaniyya Caliphate. The stumbling block was the "animist" Empire of Kaabu sandwiched in between the two Futas.

When kaabu's team of 32 men charged with procuring horses mistakenly entered the Muslim fortress of the Sarahule at Manda, 30 of the 32 were slaughtered like chickens and the two spared were to run to kansala to deliver the bad news just the same way the king of Jollof massacred the emissaries of Manding and he too spared one of them in the person of Wulujarang Camara to deliver the bad news to Sundiata.

History always repeats itself but with a difference. The Sarahule must be quick study.

Kaabu would raise a punitive force against the Muslim fortress. Ngaling Sonko made a name for himself here by discharging his gun so frequently that he emptied a barrel of gunpowder. In the end, oral accounts would describe him as dark as charcoal due to smoke from his gun.

Success attracts enemies and Ngaling was no exception but it does not appear he was hungry for power. Besides, he was from a warrior clan (KORING) and was never a candidate for kingship which was carved out for the Nyancho clans of Sanneh and Manneh.

Ngaling was said to have insulted the whole of Kaabu by saying that he was the only man in the Empire and that the rest were simply wearing wrappers.

This angered many people but we must not forget that such bold and inflammatory statements have been uttered at different times by different people of the Empire.

In my opinion, such statements were meant to rally the people and raise a fighting force as each tries to out-compete the other on the fields of war. More or less, a General trying to boost the morale of his troops.

Well the enemy within did not take Ngaling's statements lightly and saw an opportunity to get him. Who better were suited for the plot than his own family. His brothers took it upon themselves to kill him as if they were the only people angered by by Ngaling's comments.

Ngaling had issues with his wife and in process of fixing the nuts and bolts, Ngaling was said to have been prepared for a compromise on condition that the wife would degrade her parents which was a none-starter.

In the process, the brothers raised a surprise force to execute their plan during an early morning raid.

They found Ngaling sitting outside on a raised platform in his compound. He did not resist his brothers and submitted himself to be slaughtered. His head was cutoff as a trophy.

Perhaps he saw no need to resist but also for fear of being labelled a coward in the wee hours before meeting death, he thought it better to face death in dignity than to be recorded in history as having trembled however small. The people of his generation celebrated violent death as a right of passage. Okonkwo, a character in Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart comes to mind. " When men were men".

Kaabu would fall as a result because the internal strife was such that many of her citizens wanted a regime change and the Battle of Kansala was welcomed by many and most of her States never raised a fighting force against the Jihadist forces marching towards Kansala. This is the reason why kansala fell and you struggle to hear of even a skirmish as the invading force advanced. Kaabu was headed by a drunkard who was on a suicide mission to achieve his dream of being the last king.

In passing, I would like to bring in a parallel here. When Sundiata was preparing himself for self exile, he told his half brother Dankaran Tuman three things:

1. That Manding will shake like water carried in a calabash but it will endure in the end.

2. No matter how good a nanny one is, will never make one the mother of the baby. In short, a caretaker government (Dankaran) will never be accepted by the people.

3. That if you kill your most fierce dogs because of someone else's dog, that person's dog will come to bite you.

Kaabu killed its fierce dog and that lay the ground for the invading Jihadist army to attack and resistance was no where to be organised.

Success breeds enemies and as you are on a path to success, be warned. People will try to bring you down. Whether you are seeking for office, knowledge or riches, remember the enemy within. Sometimes I ask if it is worth seeking importance because trust me, there will be many close to you hiding in the sharpest bends of life to choke life out of you.

The House Slave during slavery was always on the Master's side as a snitch against his fellows who tilled the fields.

If you are going through hell, move quickly before the devil knows you are there but once you pass through, be mindful of the enemy within.

Many empires fell because of the enemy within. Kaabu, unfortunately collapsed because of jealousy.

Have you wondered why celebrities, after achieving fame put on dark glasses not to be recognised? They mastered the art.

Have a great weekend and remember, Ngaling was killed by the cold hands of his brothers. They succeeded where his enemies failed.

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