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Cablegate: Senegal's Influential Mouride Leader Dies

VZCZCXRO2600
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #2437/01 0010003
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010003Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9807
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 002437

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS ECON KDEM KISL SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL'S INFLUENTIAL MOURIDE LEADER DIES

REF: DAKAR 1352

1. (SBU) Summary: The extremely influential leader of
the powerful Mouride brotherhood, Serigne Saliou
Mbacke, died on Friday evening after 17 years in
charge. He was 92 and the last surviving son of
Mouride founder Cheikh Amadou Bamba. He has been
succeeded as Khalife-General by his nephew Serigne
Bara Mbacke who at 82 is Bamba?s oldest surviving
grandson. End Summary

The End of an Era
-----------------
2. (SBU) With the death of Saliou Mbacke, the fifth
Khalife-General of the Mourides, Senegal has lost one
of its most influential and revered personalities. By
all accounts a humble man, Saliou Mbakce wielded
enormous influence in this conservative nation where
the Mouride brotherhood can count on an estimated 45
percent of the population being adherents. Part of
the mystique of Saliou Mbacke stemmed from the fact
that he was the last surviving son of Mouride founder
Cheikh Amadou Bamba and thus with the succession of
Bara Mbacke the era of the grandsons has begun.

3. (SBU) Upon hearing of Saliou Mbacke's death
President Abdoulaye Wade officially declared three
days of mourning and was one of the first to go to the
Mouride capital of Touba to offer his condolences to
the family. President Wade was often photographed
conferring with, but sitting physically below, Saliou
Mbacke and these oft printed images have been the
source of some angst amongst the Tidjane and other
religious groups who have felt that the President
favored the Mourides to the detriment of the group's
normally apolitical stance. Wade was accompanied to
Touba by a large delegation of senior government
officials, including ministers, and also by his son,
Karim, who in the past year has also been conspicuous
in paying his respects to the Khalife.

The New Grand-Father on the Block
---------------------------------
4. (SBU) Bara Mbacke is known to be genial, worldly
and out-going and will likely be a sharp contrast to
Saliou Mbacke who seldom left his home and, by the end
of his life, spoke in barely audible whispers
preferring to focus on agricultural issues rather than
dispensing religious or even political guidance. Bara
Mbacke is the son of Serigne Fallou Mbacke, second
Khalife-General of the Mourides. He has four wives,
twenty-plus children, speaks French, and even dabbled
in boxing when he was a young man. Bara Mbacke is
not a classical marabout, who are generally educated
in the pure Sufi model of meditation and who almost
never leave Senegal. While he studied the Koran in
Touba, he is well-traveled and has visited the U.S.
However, in order to create balance in the
brotherhood Bara has chosen to work closely with his
successor, Cheikh Maty Leye Mbacke, who will
complement him as he is a practitioner of the more
traditional meditative style of Sufism that is much
appreciated by Mourides disciples. (Note: Unlike
the Tidjanes, the Mourides succession is well
established and, from now on, will be based on Amadou
Bamba's current eldest grandson remaining next in
line. End note.)

5. (SBU) Bara brings a wealth of leadership
experience as at age 82, he has observed the
leadership styles of five previous Khalifes
(including his own father). Unlike Saliou, who tried
to accommodate everybody, but was isolated by the
influence of a considerable entourage, Bara is known
to be personally well-informed and directly open to
those who seek to confer with him. At the same time,
a younger brother of Bara told Embassy that he will
continue the works of his predecessor, especially his
projects to build roads and a sanitation system in
the city of Touba as well as his projects in
agriculture and youth education.

COMMENT
-------
6. (SBU) Saliou leaves behind an impressive legacy of
expanding the Mourides membership and influence in
Senegal and overseas via the vast network of
Senegalese Mourides traders. Saliou will also long be
admired for reinforcing the key Mourides tenets of
hard work, honesty, non-violence, and tolerance. Bara

DAKAR 00002437 002 OF 002


Mbacke has assumed not only the mantle of arguably
Senegal?s most important spiritual leader, but also
the head of an economic empire that ties together
millions of followers in networks of small and large
businesses, and likely receives hundreds of millions
of dollars in contributions from the faithful. Though
we don't expect the new Khalife-General to become
overtly political, his education and international
experience will come into play as politicians from
President Wade down seek to gain his favor.

PIAZZA

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