Hi All. There is a bit of a long story here, but I could do with knowing what the word “Wakili” means. I believe it is Bambara.

I think it probably means “brave one”, or something like that - but given that I speak no Bambara whatsoever, I really can’t be sure at all! Any information would be appreciated, in English or in French.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Ben! Welcome to the Forum :slight_smile:

I’ve never heard the word “wakili” and there are no instances of it (or possible variants such as waakili) in the reference dictionaries that I checked. It also doesn’t appear at all in Bambara Reference Corpus.

If you provide some context or where you think you are hearing it or reading it, perhaps someone can help identify the word. Or maybe as you said, it’s not Bambara or Manding at all.

Thank you Coleman.

I looked into this a bit further, and the word “Wakili” does at least seem to occur in a couple of African languages, namely Hausa and Swahili. In both cases it seems to mean agent/representative; in Swahili only it also seems to specifically mean lawyer.

In both cases, the origin can be found in the Arabic word “Wakil”. To quote Wikipedia:

In [Islamic law], a wakīl (وكيل), in older literature vakeel, is a deputy, delegate or agent who acts on behalf of a principal. It can refer to an attorney, a diplomat or the custodian of a mosque or [religious order].

Wakīl is also one of the [names of God in Islam], meaning “dependable”, and is used as a personal name, a short form of Abdul Wakil, meaning “servant of the dependable”.
(End quote).

Digging further still, a French Wikipedia article on Lamidats refers to the term Wakili. Apparently, a Lamidat is a sort of muslim structure of governance in northern Cameroon; without elaborating too much, at some point in the hierarchy, six local people of importance get involved, namely “l’imam, le wakili, le kaïgama, le galdima, le sarkifaada et le sarkisaanou.” The language of reference her would be Peul. (Fula, right? I’m more used to French terms…).

My initial conclusion would be that there is a word, Wakil, in Arabic, that has diffused into various African tongues via Islam with slight differences in meaning clustered around dependability, representation and guardianship. Ultimately though I am guessing - and the context doesn’t help. I lend a hand to a charity that has this name, and the charity deals with unaccompanied minors in France. Some of the kids suggested the name originally; they would have come from a variety of countries, most likely Guinea/Gambia/Senegal/Cameroon/Mali/Ivory Coast… so who knows?!

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I spoke to a couple of people I know and the feeling is that, as far as the charity in question is concerned, “Wakili” comes from Peul (Fula) and means “he who is brave”. Et voilà!

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Thanks for the update. It sounds like it could be Fula/Fulani via Arabic based off your previous post!