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George Michael La Rue

sultan of the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur from 1785 to 1801, was born to Sultan Ahmad Bukr and an unknown woman. The youngest of four sons of Ahmad Bukr who ruled Darfur, many thought him a weak choice. He became a very successful monarch, after overcoming internal opposition. During his reign Darfur’s system of sultanic estates (hakuras) flourished, and the sultanate became Egypt’s main supplier of trans-Saharan goods, including ivory, ostrich feathers, and slaves.

After a series of wars and intrigues involving internal factions, the rival Musabbaʾat dynasty in Kordofan, and Wadai, sultan Muhammad Tayrab ibn Ahmad Bukr made peace with Wadai to the west and successfully invaded Kordofan. This war took the Fur armies far from home (reputedly to the Nile), and the sultan was forced to turn back in 1786 By the time the army reached Bara the sultan was dying and the succession ...

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Richard A. Bradshaw

a Bandia paramount chief (or “sultan”) of the Nzakara kingdom, a precolonial polity spanning the Mbali River in the southeastern region of what is now the Central African Republic. Named Kpangba at birth, he adopted the name Bangassou (“blazing sun”). According to Nzakara oral history, his father was Mbali/Bali (Mbari/Bari) “the gazelle,” son of Gwendi (or Boendi) “the taciturn,” son of Beringa “the drunkard,” son of Dunga “the quarrelsome,” son of Gobenge, son of Pobdi, son of Bwanda “the healer,” son of Agungu, son of Pongiet, son of Bongumu. These ancestors of Bangassou were members of the Bandia clan who left their Ngbandi homeland on the Ubangi River and conquered the Nzakara people.

The Bandia rulers participated in the growing slave trade of the nineteenth century and incorporated women and children into their polity thus prospering while nearby peoples in stateless societies were raided by slave traders The Nzakara often ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

After his father, Sayyid Sa’id ibn Sultan, died in 1856, Barghash tried to usurp the throne from his older brother, Majid ibn Sa’id. His attempt failed, however, and Barghash was exiled to Bombay. He returned to Zanzibar two years later and ascended the throne peacefully after his brother’s death in 1870.

In 1872 a hurricane destroyed Zanzibar s navy and many of the island s valuable clove and coconut plantations In order to recover from this disaster Barghash allied himself with British forces in the region and signed antislavery treaties in exchange for funding and military equipment This support enabled Barghash to consolidate his hold on the coastal mainland By the late 1870s the tariffs and tributes he collected from mainland possessions substantially increased his revenue and compensated for the loss of the slave trade Although his power never extended far inland agreements with Arab Swahili traders ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Muhammad Bello was born in Gobir, in what is now Niger. He helped his father, Usuman dan Fodio, overthrow the Hausa states and build the powerful Sokoto Caliphate, which ruled over the northern half of present-day Nigeria. In the early nineteenth century Bello’s father, a Fulani Muslim religious leader, called on the rulers of the Hausa states to abandon their corrupt ways. He organized a popular movement among the Fulani and among Hausa peasants and merchants, advocating a purer form of Islam and the application of the Shari’a, or Islamic law. Usuman first tried peaceful means, but his peaceful movement only provoked repression from the Hausa rulers. In 1804 Usuman and his followers called for a jihad, or holy war, to overthrow resistant rulers. Among those who led the military campaign was Usuman’s 23-year-old son, Muhammad Bello A capable military leader and administrator Bello was crucial ...

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George Michael La Rue

sultan of the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur from 1801 to 1838, was born about 1787 to his father Sultan ʿAbd al-Rahman, and his mother Umm Buza, described as a slave-concubine from the Beigo ethnic group. Sultan ʿAbd al-Rahman chose his son Muhammad al-Fadl as his successor and arranged with Muhammad Kurra, a powerful eunuch at court, to ensure a smooth succession. When ʿAbd al-Rahman died in 1801, Muhammad al-Fadl was about 14 and still living in the royal household. Muhammad Kurra out-maneuvered the rival candidates by passing the trappings of power, including the sultanic seal, to Muhammad al-Fadl and presented him as the new sultan. Under Kurra’s three-year regency, the awlad al-salatin the rival sons of earlier sultans strongly opposed the new ruler and regent After a major battle Kurra executed sixty of them near al Fashir Soon resentment of his harsh rule led to a new ...

Article

Neil McHugh

Sudanese noblewoman and member of the Funj royal house, was probably born in or near Sinnar, capital of the kingdom. Her mother was a princess, by virtue of which Nasra was accorded the title sultana along with sitt (“Lady”); and her father, Muhammad ʿAdlan, was a prominent Hamaj aristocrat, military commander, and grandson of the famous strongman Muhammad Abu Likaylik. She survived the conquest of the Funj state by the Turkish rulers of Egypt (1821) and emerged as the preeminent figure of the old elite under Egyptian colonial administration.

Nasra was still young during the last decade of the Funj kingdom when her father dominated the scene as military leader and power broker He was assassinated days before the invading Egyptian forces entered Sinnar The early years of the Turkiyya as the colonial rule by Ottoman Egypt was known were marked by harsh demands rebellion fierce repression and a massive ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

ruler of Dar al-Kuti, a Muslim state in what is now northeastern Central African Republic (CAR), was born in Wadai. Al-Sanusi was the son of Abu Bakr and a descendant of Umar Jugultum, who reputedly founded Dar al-Kuti in c. 1830. Umar, in turn, was the son of Aden Burgomanda, the mbang (ruler) of Baguirmi. Al-Sanussi’s mother was the daughter of Salih, a sultan (c. 1850–c. 1870) of Dar Runga. Al-Sanusi was named in honor of the Islamic Sanusiya brotherhood. While still young, he want sent to Sha, the capital of Dar al-Kuti, to live with his father’s brother Muhammad Kobur, a merchant leader of the Muslim community in the region.

Dar al Kuti was threatened in the 1880s by the slave raider Rabih a lieutenant of Zubayr Pasha who ruled the Bahr el Ghazal in southern Sudan Rabih raided into Dar al Kuti and attempted to draw Kobur ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

ruler of Oman and the East African colonies of Zanzibar and its East African mainland dependencies, was born on 5 June 1790. He was the son of the Omani ruler Sultan bin Ahmad, who died in 1804. Sayyid and his older brother Salim were expected to share power, but their cousin Bedr bin Seif seized the throne almost immediately after Ahmad’s death. When Bedr was assassinated on 31 July 1806, perhaps with Sayyid’s knowledge, court notables backed the return of the young man to head the Omani empire. Selim soon acceded to his younger brother’s authority.

Until 1815 Sayyid was too preoccupied with eliminating rivals and consolidating his hold over Oman to concern himself much with Oman s East African territories but he soon became more interested in these colonies for several reasons First the British government had begun to pressure Sayyid to ban the lucrative ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Born in Oman, Sayyid Sa’Īd ibn Sultan became the first Omani sultan to formalize control of the East African coastal islands; he began traveling to Zanzibar in the early eighteenth century. Recognizing Zanzibar’s strategic location for commerce between African, European, and American merchants, Sa’Īd took control of the island and surrounding trade routes, including the Indian Ocean slave trade. Sa’Īd hired traders to bring from the interior caravans of slaves and goods such as ivory and cloth, which he then sold to merchants from Europe. The wealth he accumulated enabled Sa’Īd to extend his empire over the coastal region of modern-day Tanzania. There he allocated part of the revenue from the customs duties and taxes imposed on the local traders to local chiefs of the Swahili People.

During the 1820s however European powers particularly the British and Germans stepped up efforts to abolish the profitable Indian Ocean slave trade Threatening ...

Article

Virginia Luling

leader of the Geledi clan in southern Somalia, was the son of Sultan Mahmud Ibrahim of the Gobroon lineage. The Gobroon dynasty, whose role had originally been that of Islamic sheikhs or men of religion, had already begun to take on political leadership, as their assumption of the title “Sultan” indicated, but it was Yusuf who led the Geledi to become the dominating power in southern Somalia in the mid-nineteenth century. His authority rested on a combination of political and military ability with a reputation for religious baraka and knowledge of divination and mystical arts.

At this time the Somali coast was nominally under the rule of the Omani Sultans of Zanzibari but this did not extend inland The Geledi constituted a small city state whose prosperity rested on farming and trade Their settlement the town now called Afgoye Afgooye although then simply Geledi was located at the point where ...