Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 November 2009
All Jola communities without exception are the product of centuries, if not millennia, of social transformation (Linares 1971). However, the inhabitants of the Kajamutay region north of the Casamance River seem to have experienced change in particularly disruptive and discontinuous ways. From the sixteenth to the end of the nineteenth centuries, Kujamaat social relations were largely subverted by their own territorial expansion, and by threats from slave raiders, European traders and zealous religious clerics. At first, the violent attacks of their neighbors seem to have had little effect on Kujamaat political and economic relations. For these incursions were too infrequent and disorganized to have caused lasting damage. But they did open up the area to the eventual penetration of ideological forces of an entirely different nature and scale from what had gone on before. Features of Islam as a universalistic religion, elements of European colonial government and African State formations, aspects of the world economy, were eventually to transform the political economy of the Kajamutay.
Much has already been written in general about conversion to Islam; and even more about the penetration of capitalist relations of production into the African countryside. But there is still a glaring need to explore the contradictory effects that these processes have had on particular social and economic developments. In the Kajamutay, in some periods and some areas, new ideologies and economic forces worked in mutually reinforcing ways, whereas in other periods, and in other areas, they did not, eventually leading to major contradictions in the social fabric.