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Elizabeth Heath

Rabih al-Zubayr was born in Sudan, probably near Khartoum, though the details of his early life are uncertain. Some believe that he was originally a slave freed by his master, Zubayr Rahma Mansur, while others think he was born free and joined the Turkic-Egyptian army before working for Zubayr, the largest slave-trader in southern Sudan. He joined Zubayr’s company in 1850 and had become a competent military leader by 1875, when the British declared slavery illegal.

When the British forcibly shut down Zubayr s operations four years later Rabih gathered what was left of Zubayr s slave army and established a raiding stronghold in the Azande region to the west During the 1880s Rabih and his army attacked and pillaged groups such as the Banda and Sara In the early 1890s Rabih defeated a French expedition and conquered the Bagirmi state in present day Chad from which he staged ...