WEEK 5: THE SECOND KANEM – BORNU EMPIRE (1470-1848)
During the reign of Mai Daud (1366-1376), the Bulala attacks ways intensified. As a result, Daud was driven from the Kanem capital, Njimi and finally killed by the Bulala.
Then, towards the end of the 14th century, Mai Umar Ibn Idris (1384-1388) was driven out of Kanem by the Bulala, and so transferred his capital to the rich pastoral country of Bornu, west of Lake Chad. Many of his people who were still semi-nomadic followed him to found the second Kanuri empire of Bornu.
But the new state of Bornu was troubled by hostile tribes and civil strife arising from quarrels among the members of the royal family. It was nearly a century before the Sef dynasty could re-establish itself in power in Bornu.
The man who restored power and stability to the dynasty was Ali Ghaji (1472-1504). He was the true founder of the second Kanuri Empire of Bornu. He built a new capital at Ngazargamu. He reformed the government, reducing the excessive powers of the high officers of state whose struggle for power had caused the troubles of the state.
In this way, he put an end to the civil wars. He enforced the strict observance of Islamic practices such as reading the Koran and marrying only four wives.
With his efficient government, the Bornu kingdom regained the power which Kanem had lost as a result of the Bulala conquest.
During the era of the son of Ali Ghaji – Mai Idris Katakarmabi (1504-1526), Bornu defeated Bulala and recaptured the old capital of Kanem – Njimi. Kanem became a province of the Bornu empire.
DECLINE OF THE SECOND KANEM BORNU EMPIRE
After the era of Mai Idris Alooma, the second Kanuri Empire appears to have fallen into the hands of incompetent and weak successors. Consequently, Bornu began a long period of two centuries of slow decline.
- Firstly, there appears to have been a deterioration of the military machine following the long period of peace which prevailed for most of the 17th century. The army fell into decline as a result of inactivity. Mai Ahmed led an expedition against the Mandara, he lost most of his army.
- Secondly, forty years after Alooma, during the reign of Mai Ali, the state began to weaken under attacks from the Tuaregs from the North and the Kwararafa of the Jukun Kingdom in the South. These attacks upset trade and Agriculture and famines were frequent in Bornu.
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Bornu was so weak that it fell an easy prey to the armies of Usman Danfodio’s Jihad, who drove Mai Ahmed into exile. Mohammed El-Kanemi later regained the independence of Bornu from the Fulani Jihadist.
Discuss the contributions of Mai Idris Alooma to Bornu.
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