Senegal mourns death of Mouride brotherhood leader

Bara Falilou Mbacke
Image caption Bara Falilou Mbacke was the sixth caliph of the brotherhood

The spiritual leader of Senegal's richest and most powerful Muslim brotherhood, the Mourides, has died.

Bara Falilou Mbacke was the grandson of the sect's founder, and he died of natural causes at the age of 85.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend ceremonies in the holy city of Touba to mourn his death.

The Mourides have an influential role in Senegalese politics with many politicians seeking their endorsement during elections.

Falilou Mbacke was the sixth caliph and took over the group's leadership two years ago.

Peanuts and street hawkers

Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye announced his death on state radio on Thursday morning.

He called his passing a "very great loss for all the nation", AFP news agency reports.

President Abdoulaye Wade is a Mouride and is expected to attend the mourning ceremonies.

The late caliph will be succeeded by his 84-year-old cousin Cheikh Maty Leye Mbacke, also a grandson of the founder Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke.

He started the brotherhood in 1883 and it has gone on to become one of the biggest religious communities in Senegal.

The sect has a philosophy of working hard and self-help.

Many of the street traders in Paris, Rome and New York are Mourides - they save money, to help pay the fares of fellow disciples, who then repay the loan.

The Mourides also dominate the groundnut industry, which is one of Senegal's biggest sectors.

More on this story

Around the BBC