Murides

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= example of the network form of Phyles, characterized by a powerful work ethic based not on accumulation, but on community recognition.


Discussion

David de Ugarte:

"A particularly interesting example is that of the Muridi or Murides, a Wolof-speaking transnational community with more than two million members spread out through a dozen countries, based on small trade and the textile industry.

All of us who have spent our holidays in Europe in recent years have occasionally come across them. These were those new peddlers who could be found on European beaches and opened bazaars and small shops selling typical African fabrics, clothes and products. The Muridiyya or Muride was originally a Sufi brotherhood founded by Ahmadou Bamba, a Marabout who preached pacifism and the doctrine of sanctification through work in Senegal in 1883. As opposed to the Sufi tradition of modesty through begging, working on the community lands plays a central role in the Muridi path of spiritual perfection. Hence the Murides were often called móódu-móódu (peanut-peanut), as they worked in the harvesting and processing of peanuts for export.

In 1912, the Murides started to settle in the grazing lands outside the Wolof country, in Fula10 areas only nominally under the control of the French colonial government. The Talibes, followers of the Marabout, were given food and lodging during the rainy seasons. After ten years, they were entitled to ownership of a land plot, due to which Muridi communities provided the basis for the urbanisation and Wolofisation of Senegal.

When in the seventies the international price of peanuts dropped and production fell, the Muridi economy came to depend on trade. By then, the Muride had already spread to the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Chad, and had reached the Maghreb. In the nineties, the Muridi trading networks reached South Africa and Southern Europe. A significant portion of the community being already transnational, Muridi institutions mutate and develop a new form, content and structure for the daïras, the traditional Koranic schools which constitute the centre of everyday life for Sufi brotherhoods in West Africa. Daïras have become, in the diaspora, communities in which housing, work, savings and resources are shared, constituting an economic unit for shelter and empowerment. Daïras accumulate and generate capital through no-interest credit systems based on established immigrants with a good economic position. Their start-up and functioning do not require a centralised planning. Every Muridi has the duty to give shelter, work, and tools to any brother who comes to him. Then,

- the newcomer takes the lowest rung in the guild structure, from which he will be able to prosper thanks to his work and dedication to the brotherhood. There is a similarity between the initiation rite into adulthood and the migration process. In the first stage, the móodu-móodu is a daxar (a tamarind, in Wolof), who undergoes economic hardship, clandestineness, and socioeconomic exploitation: an apprenticeship in living outside his community of origin in an unfavourable environment. Having passed these tests, he earns the status of goulou, an established immigrant with the knowledge and means for moving and being a reference for other immigrants: that is, an adult man (Fall, 1998:29). This is the level of Muridi entrepreneurs, who deal mostly in international import-export trade between their places of residence (Spain, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the United States) and Senegal. Some of them include in the names of their companies the word "Touba," the sacred city where Amadou Bamba, the founder of the brotherhood, is buried.

The Marabout thus becomes a keeper of the network, among whose functions is taking care of the movement of goods and of the generation of business flows and opportunities among the different Muridi nodes.

The Muridi network was gradually transformed. From the rigorous hierarchical and decentralised model, with the Caliph at the apex, the model has become one of distributed relations between nodes which still retains that internal hierarchical model – which apparently is what generates most doubts among its youngest members.

These internal transformations are also reflected in the identitarian aspect of the model. The Muridi imaginary has gradually mutated from the ethnic Wolof imaginary, through the (national) Senegalese imaginary, to finally rely upon its own history and features within the universalistic view of the Muslim Umma.

The European and American daïras, completely different from those in Senegal, feel less and less identified with the conservative reality of their Senegalese counterparts, and yet the latter constitute the main source of income of the former, due to which no significant breaks seem probable. The Murides change and will change more from the periphery towards the centre, that is, from guild to phyle." (http://deugarte.com/gomi/phyles.pdf)


Source of the quote: Rafael Crespo, “Los ‘móodu-móodu’ y su impacto en la sociedad de origen”, en Empresariado étnico en España, CIDOB, Barcelona, 2007.


Source

URL = http://deugarte.com/gomi/phyles.pdf