Four and a half centuries ago, in 1555, Amath Diegui Fall was born in Futa Toro the Fulani/Tukulor region of northern Senegal, the cradle of Islam in Senegambia and beyond. His mother was Djegui Ba, his father Pathe Fall, a descendant of the damel (king) of Kayor. Amath, called Amar in Kayor, was an erudite , devout Muslim who became known as Khaly (judge) Amar Fall. He founded the town of Pir.
Fall's erudition attracted students, teachers, and scholars from a vast area and in 1603, he founded the renowned Islamic school of Pir. Known as Serigne Pir, Khaly Amar Fall died in 1638. Historical figures such as Suleyman Bal and Abdel Kader Kane who blocked the slave trade on the Senegal River in the 18th century (see Servants of Allah and Fighting the Slave Trade) studied at Pir. Many Islamic reformists and later opponents of colonization were also students there and in 1870 the French burned down the school. But it was rebuilt and still exists.
I am a descendant of Khaly Amar Fall. Like him I highly value education, research, knowledge, writing and sharing what I have learned.
In 1555, a man named N. Mustel died in Rougemontiers, in Normandy, France. He was born in 1495. Contrary to Khaly Amar Fall, nothing is known about him, not even his first name. He came from a locality that had been invaded by the Danes in the 9th century. The red-headed and freckle-faced generations that followed him were farmers deeply rooted in Normandy. Many were illiterate and their knowledge was nature based.
I am a descendant of N. Mustel. Like those who preceded me in Normandy (and Burgundy) I have freckles and a passion for trees and wildlife, forests and little villages; and in New York, I live one block away for a hilly park, a river, and medieval cloisters.
No originality whatsoever. Who I am was already in the works 500 years ago. History, including family history, is fascinating.