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David Robinson

West African ruler, scholar, teacher, and Sufi leader, was born in the late eighteenth century (the birth dates of 1794 and 1797 are frequently mentioned) near Podor in the western part of the middle valley of the Senegal River. His mother tongue was Pulaar, or Fulfulde, as he belonged to the Fulbe ethnic group, which played an important role in the Islamization of the Western and Central Sudan, the “belt” or region often called the Sahel today. ʿUmar grew up as the son of a minor scholar of the intellectual torodbe class, which had recently come to power as the Almamate of Futa Toro. The Almamate, or imamate, was one of the Islamic “revolutions” that mark the history of the Western and Central Sudan of West Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and that have been considered crucial in the spread of Islam in the region.

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