Its genesis is a classical nomad-sedentary event. In the seventh century nomadic warriors subjugated stable farming communities and set themselves up as rulers. This initial consolidation of towns and villages grew increasingly cohesive with time. Taxes were levied, international relations were established and urban centers grew in importance.
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Its genesis is a classical nomad-sedentary event. In the seventh century nomadic warriors subjugated stable farming communities and set themselves up as rulers. This initial consolidation of towns and villages grew increasingly cohesive with time.
Taxes were levied, international relations were established and urban centers grew in importance. By the thirteenth century, the kingdom of Kanem was effectively an empire. It stretched from the Fezzan in modern day Libya all the way to Bornu in the south of lake Chad Nigeria. The economy was diverse and although many people mistakenly assert that it was based on slave trading, it was actually based on agriculture.
Rice, millet, salt, fish-products and much more was constantly circulating in large volumes into, out of and within this vast empire. In addition, the state exported perfume, wax, garments, cotton, kola nuts, ivory and ostrich feathers.
The trading partners were the Hausa city states, North Africans, and adjacent kingdoms. Natron was mined in the Air region and tariffs on imports and exports was an extremely important source of income for the state. Administratively, the empire was divided into twelve provinces, each with its provincial capital. The state religion was Islam but the monarchy still practiced a very typically African divine kingship. In the fourteenth century, the Bilala province rebelled.
This rebellion gained in momentum when it was joined by nomadic Arab warriors. In the meantime, the Kanem monarchy was experiencing a crisis of legitimacy. Countless princes were constantly competing for the throne, plotting and dethroning one another. This seriously weakened the empire and the Bilala troupes overwhelmed a capital already in chaos. This precipitated the great exodus of Kanem history. Huge masses of people from the metropolitan province of Kanem fled to the outlying province of Bornu.
Bornu was more fertile then Kanem, further from the belligerent Bilala and closer to important markets of Western Africa. Thus began the second kingdom, Kanem became Kanem-Bornu. In Kanem Bornu an impressive capital was built, Ngazargamu.
A time of reconsolidation occurred as the monarchy was put back in order. More wars ensued, this time against the indigenous Sao who lived in walled city states. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Kanem Bornu experienced its second apex. The empire became the most powerful in Africa. It stretched from the Hausa city states in the West to the Nile valley in the East. A part of the Nile valley, however was only held for a short amount of time, but Darfur in Sudan was solidly secured as a vassal state.
In the person of Idris Alaoma, the empire found a gem of a leader. Emperor Alaoma reformed the economy of the empire, established a common currency and regularized the commercial weighing scales. He modernized the national fleets to make rivers common and efficient modes of transportation of commodities. He criticized ancient Sudanic traditions that contradicted Islam such as divine kingship and imposed Islamic sharia in the court systems.
He was also a tireless warrior who expanded the reigns of the empire to the extreme. The seventeenth century was the second, and last, era of apogee in the history of Kanem Bornu. It was followed, in the eighteenth century, by a drought that lasted for over thirty years.
This practically broke the backbone of the economy and the military. This was coupled by constant Touareg raids on the important Northern fringes of the empire. This mining territory was eventually lost to these desert nomads. Moreover, the Ottoman empire had imposed a policy upon its Arab provinces in which trade with the Sudan was discouraged in an effort to promote Turkish products. Kanem Bornu thus found itself economically suffocated from the North, drained from the East, maimed by the Tuaregs in the mining North, exhausted by a 37 year drought and militarily challenged from within and without.
The most shattering blow however, came from the West. In , Usman Dan Fodio, a Sufi mystic, intellectual and religious leader, had started a revolution.
He had launched a social revolt which culminated in the invasion of Hausa land to eventually form the most powerful empire of 19th century Africa. Altogether, the Sokoto empire as it was known contained well over fifteen city states and approximately ten million inhabitants. Unlike all of the Hausa city states that swiftly succumbed to Dan Fodio, Kanem Bornu led a strong resistance, but despite its best efforts, half of the empire was conquered, and the capital sacked.
The emperor regained most of his land with the help of a cleric-warrior, but the glory that was Kanem Bornu was no more. Eventually, this cleric-warrior gained more power and dethroned the rightful king thus ending approximately one thousand years of rule from the Saifuwa dynasty. His descendents ruled what remained of Kanem and suffered many military setbacks from Wadai and Baguirmi. A Sudanese military leader by the name of Rabih invaded Kanem Bornu which was by then, just a weak remnant of a far more glorious and ancient self.
The last flame was extinguished by the French when they conquered Kanem-Bornu in the beginning of the twentieth century. The end. The nomadic hypothesis is now outdated. It has been been suggested by authors like Palmer, Urvoy, and A. In the German version you can find a summary of my views. Here I only corrected the first paragraph origin. At present I have unfortunatelly no time to do any more.
The preceding text was placed here by an anonymous editor on 13 November Does anyone recognize it? Any other opinions? I will however do my best to have the sources up within a month. Good day The current article is certainly better than the one pasted above, but is inaccurate with regard to the 19th c. Bornu was not in fact conquered by the Sokoto Caliphate nor was it incorportated into Wadai.
While severely weakened by wars with Sokoto Bornu remained independent until conquered by Rabih in I can guess the reasoning, but is there a link to the debate which established consensus? The division seems artificial is it based on modern nationalisms? What do you think? Articles for both Kanem Empire and Bornu Empire already exist. Content should be moved to these articles. Kanem-Bornu Empire is an artificial term used by historians.
This is mostly analogous case with artificial terms like Angevin Empire and Byzantine Empire , which have been created by historians. It would be reasonable to have a disambiguation page to link to the Kanem Empire and the Bornu Empire. This one should be the only article in existance.
I shall bring this issue of three separate articles for an articles for deletion proposition in the near future. Ceosad talk , 25 July UTC Ceosad I have suggested a MERGE in this direction, the article history of Kanem—Bornu Empire being the oldest, and its breadth of discussion of the topic includes continuity in both directions, i can do copy-editing and merge these articles over the next few days..
The Kanem-Bornu Empire
Rabih az-Zubayr By the end of the 14th century, internal struggles and external attacks had torn Kanem apart. Finally, around the Bulala forced Mai Umar b. During the first three-quarters of the 15th century, for example, fifteen Mais occupied the throne. Then, around Ali Gazi defeated his rivals and began the consolidation of Bornu. He built a fortified capital at Ngazargamu , to the west of Lake Chad in present-day Nigeria , the first permanent home a Sayfawa mai had enjoyed in a century. So successful was the Sayfawa rejuvenation that by the early 16th century Mai Idris Katakarmabe was able to defeat the Bulala and retake Njimi , the former capital.
The Kanem Empire