Pragmatism in the Age of Jihad
American Journal of Islam and Society
Without doubt, Gomez has made a great contribution to the understandingof Islam in Bundu. Although a few works have been published onIslam in West Africa, Gomez's work is a valuable addition. The authorbegins by locating Bundu on the map of West Africa and explaining thescope of his research and the sources upon which he relies. Gomez attributesthe success of Bundu as a state to its pragmatic policies, which, healleges, were predetermined by its founders. By pragmatism he means:a policy in
... ns:a policy in which the pursuit of commercial and agriculturaladvantage supersedes all other considerations, to the extent thatalliances and rivalries with both neighboring polities andEuropean powers are determined by economic expediency, andare subject to rapid and frequent realignment. (p. 2)Compliance with this policy implies that the foreign and domesticaffairs are not based on advancing the claims of Islam, but rather on promotingpeaceful coexistence among all groups, be they Muslim or non-Muslim, in Bundu.This book is designed for general readers. The author discusses majorissues in Bundu and Senegambia before the imposition of colonial rule andadministration. He analyzes critically the significant roles played by Almaamis(the imams) Malik Sy, Buba Malik, Maka Jiba, Amadi Gai, BokarSaada, and Mamadu Lamine and provides a clear explanation of the Bundustate's gradual development from the sixteenth century until 1902. He alsoshows the French administration's insidious politics of divide and rule in St.Louis, Bakel, and Senegal, which was designed to weaken Bundu by instigatingconflict between one imam and another and to control the trade inthis area (pp. 95-97). Throughout his analysis, Gomez reiterates cautiouslyhis thesis that Bundu's leaders were never interested in advancing Islam orestablishing a strong Islamic state. Rather, they were "essentially concernedwith preservation and commercial expansion of the state" (p. 99).Toward the end of the book, he deals more with the leadership ofBokar Saada, who reigned for a long time despite the lack of popular support. Bokar Saada was a leader forced on Bundu by French administrators ...