V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > G. Africa, 1795–1917 > 3. Regions
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1776)
3. Regions
a. Sudanic West and Central Africa
The career of Usuman dan Fodio (b. 1754) began in the late 18th century, when he traveled throughout the Hausa kingdom of Gobir as an itinerant Muslim teacher. He attracted many followers, among whom were newly won converts as well as Hausa farmers and Fulani pastoralists who nursed grievances against the entrenched Hausa leadership. In 1804, dan Fodio withdrew his allegiance to the Hausa ruler and launched a major jihad. Following the model of the Prophet, Usuman dan Fodio led his followers on a hijra, a flight from unbelief, to a rural outpost on the border of Gobir. At first the jihad was designed merely to protect the Islamic community that had grown up around dan Fodio, and was restricted to Gobir, Kebbi, and Zamfara. Later it developed into a war of conquest, spilling over into Kano, Zaria, Nupe, and Borno. Dan Fodio's success in spreading Islam constituted one of the most important Muslim revival movements of the 19th century.  1
Sheik Muhammad b. Amin b. Muhammad al-Kanami came to power by leading a resistance movement against Usuman dan Fodio's forces in Borno. In a series of important letters, al-Kanami challenged the legality of the jihad against Borno, since Borno was also a Muslim polity. Although Borno lost some of its western provinces to the Sokoto Caliphate, Sheik Muhammad al-Kanami's efforts eventually led to a rejuvenation of Borno's political institutions and a revival of Islam. After having turned back the jihad, al-Kanami gained an enormous following and ousted the ruling Borno dynasty in favor of his own.  2
Following the success of his jihad, Usuman dan Fodio established the Sokoto Caliphate, a powerful Muslim empire.  3
1810 or 1818
Seku Ahmadu, also known as Ahmadu Lobbo, a former student of Usuman dan Fodio, opposed the mixture of traditional beliefs and Islam so commonly tolerated among West African leaders. In either 1810 or 1818 (the exact date is uncertain), he led a jihad against the Muslim chiefs in Masina; later the jihad expanded to include the Bambara. Seku Ahmadu established an austere Muslim empire ruled from the newly built city of Hamdallahi.  4
Following dan Fodio's death, his son, Muhammad Bello, succeeded. Bello ruled from 1817 to 1837, during which time the caliphate's power was consolidated. Fulani loyalists under nominal allegiance to dan Fodio and Bello then launched successive military campaigns to expand the state's borders. The walled city of Sokoto became the capital of the eastern half of dan Fodio's empire. Ribats, fortified posts, were erected in newly conquered territory. The Sokoto Caliphate became one of the most dynamic political, religious, and economic regions in Africa. Part of its prosperity came from the relocation of captured slaves to the core areas of Hausaland, where they contributed to agricultural, craft, trading, and herding activities. Indigo-dyed Hausa cloth fed demand as far west as Senegal and deep into the Saharan desert. Under the Sokoto Caliphate, Arabic became the language of diplomacy, and the aristocracy developed distinctive vernacular poetry. Each year, the Sokoto Caliphate launched new military campaigns to expand the empire or to reclaim territory lost to rebellion.  5
Having returned from the pilgrimage, where he was introduced into the Tijanyyia brotherhood and became the Tijanyyia leader of West Africa, al-hajj Umar Tal (b. 1794) launched a jihad. In 1848, Umar Tal, originally from Futa Toro, established an Islamic state in Duinguiray. In 1852–53, he launched a jihad against the Bambara of Kaarta; by 1854, he had established control over the Bambara and Malinke societies of the upper Niger and Senegal basins. Facing increasing pressure from French colonial expansion along the Senegal River Valley, in 1860 he launched a jihad against the Segu Bambara. By 1862, Umar Tal had conquered Masina and established a large empire. At its peak, the Umarian Empire stretched from the lower Senegal in the west to Timbuktu in the east, and from Guemou in the north to Duinguiray in the south. Unlike earlier jihads, that of Umar Tal occurred during the French conquest of West Africa. The Umarian Empire was not stable and suffered from endemic resistance and civil wars.  6
The French built a fort at Medine to fight against al-hajj Umar.  7
N'Diambour, Sinn, and Salum submitted to the French.  8
French control over Senegal was expanded.  9
Al-hajj Umar conquered Masina and occupied Hamdallahi in 1862. During the conquest of Masina, the empire was under the leadership of the original Seku Ahmadu's grandson, who shared his grandfather's name. Umar was killed shortly thereafter during widespread revolts against the Umarian conquest.  10
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.