1850s Correspondence of Ndate Yalla Mbodj to the French Governor of Senegal

Queen Ndate Yalla Mbodj
Queen Ndate Yalla Mbodj

I would like to share with you letters from Ndate Yalla Mbodj, the last Lingeer (Queen) of the Waalo, addressed to the French Governor of Senegal in the 1850s. These are treasures from history, and I thought it very interesting to translate them from French to English. Reading these letters, one can see the duplicity of the French who would take lands from the Waalo people without asking, and will treat the people of the Waalo with great disdain. These are from the National archives of Senegal. For the French version, visit: Seneweb.


National Archives of Senegal 13 G 91

Correspondence of the Kings of the Waalo

Letter number 85 received by the governor

of Saint Louis on May 23rd, 1851


Ndatte Yalla to Mr. the Governor,

The goal of this letter is to let you know that the island of Boyo* belongs to me, from my grandfather down to me today. There is nobody who can claim that that country belongs to them; it belongs to me only. I did not sell this country to anybody. I did not entrust it to anybody, nor to any white person. The people to whom I entrusted my land have to right to do anything to it, I will have nothing to say. Nobody can take this land without their authorization; to prove to you that this letter comes from me, when the dispute had been settled in Lampsar, you went back to the fort. There I came to see you with my husband, you were accompanied by Mr. Alsace and de Bamar, you told me that you wanted to see me alone to talk, I told you that there was only my husband and brother present.

You also asked me who was the King of the Waalo today. I replied that the King of the Waalo was me. If this is true, and this letter comes from me, I desire that no one should take possession of my territory.

The island of Boyo is located in Mauritania, 15 km north of Saint-Louis in Senegal. It houses the village of N’Diago. It is the cradle of the Boye family of Saint-Louis.

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