Idea #650 – Taking a shower at the sacred El Hadj Omar spring in Senegal
El Hadj Omar, whose real name is Omar Saidou Tall, was born between 1794 and 1797 in Alwar, near Guede in the Podor department. Omar Saidou Tall belongs to the precious lineage of the Tooroodo and as such was initiated early in the Koranic culture. He receives solid religious instruction from his family and learns Arabic. He completed his training with trips to the Moors of the Brotherhood of Qadriya in Tagant and Walata. At 23, El Hadj Omar undertakes the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The trip lasts thirteen years. In Dinguiraye, he prepares jihad; he gains a reputation of saint and gathers many disciples who will form the cadres of his army. His army, equipped with European small arms received from British traffickers of Sierra Leone, attacks several Malinke regions from 1850. It occupies without difficulty the territories of Mandingo and Bambouk (1853), then attacks the Massassi Bambaras whose he takes the capital Nioro (1854). In 1856, he annexed the Bambara kingdom of Kaarta and severely repressed the revolts. Struggling against the French colonial army, he built a tata – a fortification – in Koniakary; in April 1857, he declared war against the kingdom of Khasso and besieged the fort of Medina, which will be liberated by the troops of Louis Faidherbe on July 18, 1857.
El Hadj Oumar governs his States like a theocracy, assisted by a council including some great marabouts, some of his brothers and fellow pilgrims; between 1842 and 1858, Hams was king of Senegal. The Koranic law is the fundamental principle of the government. The epic of El Hadj Oumar is at the same time a wide oral diffusion among Fulani populations, especially in Senegal and Mali, and becomes a founding myth of the Islamization of West Africa, the epic presenting El Hadj Oumar as a messiah announcing the great Muslim Sheikhs of the region for the following decades.
According to local legend, El Hadj Oumar Tall reappeared in Djembering, Casamance, after his disappearance in the cliffs of Bandiagara. Tapping his foot, he would have made a source of pure water to quench his thirst. This spring, located today near a sacred animist wood, is a place of pilgrimage, with a small mosque. Pilgrims drink water from the spring, then take a shower with the water collected in a bucket, for their wishes to come true.
Where is it ?
El Hadji Omar sacred spring, Djenbering, Casamance, Sénégal