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Jeremy Rich

political, military, and religious leader and first Caliph of the Sokoto Caliphate, was born in the town of Morona, now located in Niger, in 1780 or 1781. His father was the revolutionary Islamic cleric and leader Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817), and his mother was Hawwa bint Adam ibn Muhammad Agh. Bello received an advanced education in Islamic theology and law thanks to his father, and supported his father’s call for a strict adherence to orthodox Sunni interpretations of Islamic practices. Bello praised his father as a loving parent: “His face was relaxed and his manner gentle. He never tired of explaining and never became impatient if anyone failed to understand” (Boyd, 1989).

When Uthman Dan Fodio launched a series of holy wars against the nominally Islamic sultans of Hausa cities such as Kano in northern Nigeria and southern Niger Bello became an active lieutenant of his father ...


Dierk Lange

ruler of the Sefuwa dynasty (r. c. 1203–1242) in present-day Sudan, under whom the Kanem-Bornu empire reached its maximum size, owes his fame to military successes and to the implementation of radical Islamic reforms culminating in the destruction of the national Mune shrine.

Succeeding his father Salmama II, Mai Dunama II was the sixth ruler of the Sefuwa, who had come to power under Hume around 1068 CE He resided in Njimi the Muslim capital of Kanem and undertook extensive military campaigns by the extensive use of a Kanuri cavalry comprising allegedly 41 000 horses and Tuareg camel riders He thus extended the frontiers of Kanem in the north to Fezzan in the east to the Dajo of Dafur and in the west over most of Hausaland From a Kanuri base maghza at the northern end of Lake Chad he raided the Buduma but otherwise left the people of ...


Jonathon L. Earle

prominent chief and- historian of Buganda, was born in former Ssingo county, in central Uganda. His mother’s name was Nyakanzana, and his father Zakaria Ssensalire was an important Elephant clan (Njovu) leader and appointed chief by Kabaka (King) Muteesa I. At approximately the age of 12, Mukasa was placed by his father as a page (omugalagala) at the king’s palace, where his aunt was also one of the king’s many wives.

Mukasa s appointment to the royal palace coincided with Muteesa s early conversion to Islam As with other pages Mukasa studied Arabic and learned Islamic prayers and Qurʾanic texts by memory Not unlike his youthful colleagues Mukasa struggled to differentiate between Islamic and Christian teaching Reflecting on this perplexity Mukasa wrote I never knew at that time that there was any religious difference between the Arabs and Europeans Mukasa increasingly devoted his time and energy ...


Michael Mwenda Kithinji

Maasai prophet and paramount chief, was born in Ngousa near Mount Kilimanjaro, but his family migrated farther north when he was a child and settled in Namanga. He is also known as Lenana, an anglicized version of his first name. Olonana came from the prophetic Inkidongi lineage of the Ilaiser clan, and his father Mbatian was an Oloibon (great prophet). Olonana had many siblings, including half-brothers Senteu, Ngaroya, Endikita, Lasaloan, and Ngabwel. As a child, Olonana herded his family’s livestock and helped his mother in doing household chores. He also had the privilege of learning the intricacies of prophetic and magical practice from his father at an early age.

Olonana was initiated into adulthood in 1882, joining the Il Talala age-set. A definitive moment in Olonana’s life came in the 1890s when he inherited the mantle of the Oloibon following the death of his father. The Oloibon ...