A brief history of Fulaadu & Kaabu

Kaabu was a large Manding state that dominated large part of the Senegambia, from Senegal in the north to Guinea-Bissau in the south, between the 13th and 19th centuries AD. Initially a province of the wider Mali Empire, it became independent after the empire’s disintegration in the late 16th century. Kaabu then flourished and came to dominate the trade and political life of the southern Senegambia until the mid-19th century, when a combination of internal revolts and external attacks would put an end to its rule.

These revolts were lead by a Fula leader by the name of Alfa Molo, who with the aid of the Futa Djallon rulers and other local allies sieged Kaabu’s most important towns, including its capital Kansala. Kansala’s fall, known locally as turuban (annihilation) took place in the 1860s and was followed by a period of turmoil, in which Alfa Molo eventually succeeded in grouping some of Kaabu’s old provinces into the new state of Fulaadu. This unification project was continued by his son Musa Molo after Alfa death in 1881. Musa’s reign, however, was turbulent: leadership disputes, encroaching European powers, and constant revolts eventually forced Musa to flee to The Gambia in 1903, marking the end of Fulaadu as a state. 

Both Kaabu and Fulaadu thus no longer exist, but they have left a deep imprint in the Senegambia, and their history still resonates strongly across the region. Despite this importance, their archaeology (that is, the material remains these states left) hadn’t been systematically studied until recently. This has now started to change, with multiple ongoing scientific projects tackling different parts and aspects of their history. Unfortunately, the information from these projects is sometimes difficult to access. The purpose of this website is to rectify this situation and make the information from past, present, and future archaeological projects freely and easily available to anybody interested in history and heritage of Kaabu and Fulaadu.