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Supplanted Kanem Empire in 1380 AD
Main Cities: Mdaga; Ngazargamu Time: 1380-1893 AD
Language: Kanuri; Kanembu
Personage: Hu (Hawwa); Idris Alooma
Related Country: Chad;
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I have included only a few items concerning the history of this kingdom. A good source for more details can be
found on Wikipedia or in history books.
Following a long period of internal dissension, the powerful Sayfawa Dynasty was driven from
Kanem and back to a nomadic life. In 1380 AD
established a Sayfawa-dominated state of Bornu, which essentially was a continuation
of their Kanem Empire. The intermarried Kanembu and Bornu people became known as the Kanuri,
centered near Lake Chad
and along the Chari River.
They also were proficient in making clay figures.
King Ali Dunamami defeated various opponents to consolidate his fledgling empire and constructed
a capital at Ngazargamu.
King Ali Gaji (1455-1497 AD) crushed Bulala foes and seized control of the former
Kanem capital of N'jimi. Bornu reached its peak
during the reign of Idris Alooma (1571-1603 AD). He introduced the use of armored cavalry, camelry,
scorched earth tactics and walled military camps. He also hired musketeer mercenaries from
North Africa and the Ottoman Empire.
Alooma constructed mosques and made a hajj to the Kabaa
in Mecca. He expanded trade
networks, constructed roads around Lake Chad, and promoted security within his empire. Successor kings
apparently did little more than make pilgrimages to Mecca.
During the 18th century, severe droughts caused famines in Bornu. The kingdom expanded into Hausa
territory (modern northern Nigeria). By 1750 AD
the empire was in decline. From the west,
Fulani invaders captured territory and seized Ngazargamu in
1808 AD. A military commander and Muslim scholar, Muhammad al-Amin al_Kanemi,
became the first non-Sayfawa ruler in 800 years and ended the Fulani threat. He built a new capital at
Kukawa (Borno State) in 1814 AD.
His successors failed to strengthen the empire. In 1893 AD, a slave trader named Rabih az-Zubayr led
an army from east Sudan and briefly conquered Bornu.
British and French
forces soon after defeated Rabih and divided Bornu territory between their respective nations.