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Jewish presence in the Sahara and Sudan…

Jewish presence in the Sahara and Sudan in the Middle Ages: perceptions and realities
by Idrissa Bâ.
On the traces of a Jewish diaspora in Africa in the Middle Ages
The establishment of Semitic populations in North Africa and the northern Sahara dates back to ancient times. Some Jewish communities even belong to the First Temple. United in the face of Roman oppression, Jews and Berbers operate a tactical rapprochement that inscribes their resistance
in the long term and facilitates important cultural transfers. From the ninth to the fourteenth century, the role of Jews in trans-Saharan trade was limited to the northward redistribution of Sudanese products. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, their involvement in this trade is intense and direct, before Askya Mohammed breaks a dynamic that will not recover until the eighteenth century. Thus, we find, at different times, Jewish communities or Jewish traders, in the Sahara Mauritanian
and the West African Sahel, particularly in the Niger Loop. Trade helping,
the cultural transfers are fruitful, leading the historian to detect in the question of the Semitic origins, the Jewishness or Judaisation of Saharan or Sudanese peoples an important part of the reappropriation of Biblical myths and of attachment to Islam, by a rewriting Of the history.

Idrissa Bâ
University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, History

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