Tribes of The Gambia: Serahule

The Serahules (Serahuli o Sarahule) is one of the ethnic groups of The Gambia. They are sometimes referred to as Soninke. Today, they are dispersed in Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia and some other West African countries. They are one of the oldest ethnic groups in West Africa and form a minority in the countries they are found in.
There are many narratives attached to the origin of Serahule. However, because of their name Soninke, which means followers of Sunni, many believe the Serahuli came from the ancient Gha-na Empire. In fact, it is said that Soninke are the ancestors of the Serahules. The Serahule inhabit-ed the ancient Ghana empire until the Almoravids attacked it in 777 A.D. The war led to severe famine, and many people began to disperse and run to other parts of Western Sudan.
Typical Sarehule men were merchants at that time. They would travel from state to state to trade goods in other to earn money. They bartered goods like golds, hides and beeswax for European goods like blue bafts, guns, beads and gun powder. They later traded these goods for salt, slaves, locally woven clothes and leather with traders in Bundu Senegal, The Gambia or wherever they could make a profit. As trading enhanced their wealth, the Sarehule merchants gained the reputa-tion of being rich, and to date, Serahules are regarded as wealthy people in The Gambia.
In the 1800s, large numbers of Sarehules migrated to The Gambia to search for work. Most of them were employed for cutting timber. Some were employed in the colony of Bathurst as pedlars and retail merchants. They were also renowned weavers who used both English and native yarn to produce the materials. They obtained different colours of dye from various plants. They were also skilled leather workers that produced saddles, satchels, shoes and boots for people.
Their women were skilled potters who produced items like jars, incense pots and bowls. They also cultivated rice, coos and corn for their consumption.
In The Gambia, Serahules are mainly found in the Upper River Region. However, some can be found in MacCarthy Island (Janjanbureh) and some parts of the North Bank Region, where they settle in villages, pursuing their trading activities as Juulas (traders).

Today Serahules are among the leading entrepreneurs in The Gambia, and the majority are Muslims.

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