Author Topic: Senegal's Religious Leader Dies at 92; Millions Expected to Visit Grave  (Read 2426 times)

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Senegal's religious leader dead at 92
SADIBOU MARONE AP News Dec 29, 2007 19:42 EST

Serigne Saliou Mbacke, Senegal's spiritual leader whose image was ever-present in the homes of his millions of followers, has died. He was 92. Four million people — a nearly third of the West African country's population — were expected to make a pilgrimage to Mbacke's grave over the weekend, said national police chief Assane Ndoye. Mbacke was the leader of the Mourides, the most powerful Muslim brotherhood in Senegal. He died Friday and was buried Saturday. Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade called for a three-day national period of mourning, with flags flown at half-mast.

Although Senegal is a secular country, the majority of its democratically elected rulers have had to seek the endorsement of Mbacke. His image is always on the dashboards of bush taxis and in the homes of his millions of followers. Among Mbacke's achievements was the transformation the holy center of Touba from a rural outpost into a city that now has a population of one million. Touba was founded by Mbacke's father, who died in 1927, and has often been described as a state within a state. Inside the city limits, visitors cannot drink, smoke or dance. It now has a 5,000-student university and a mosque whose loudspeakers now broadcast the call to prayer over a 7-mile radius. In previous years, Touba has also served as a hub for arms trafficking, but Mbacke was credited with trying to crack down on illicit activity, including drug smuggling and money laundering. The Mourides is one of several brotherhoods in Senegal, centered around allegiance to the teachings of its founder and his scions and a particular interpretation of the Koran. The Mourides have became wealthy based on Mbacke's investments in agriculture, particularly in peanuts. Mbacke had been the last surviving son of Touba's founder. The new khalif is one of the founder's grandsons.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately