Collaboration with HopelessPandora Yauri Zamfara Kebbi and Gwari Gobir, Katsina and Zaria Fulani-KontagoraDaura Fulani-Wodaabe Fulani-Fula Hausa-Kano Kanuri
Nupe Jukun Ngas IgalaSOUTHEAST NIGERIA
MIDDLE BELT NIGERIA
Miscellaneous and HistoryTribes side by side
Blood of the Kingdoms story featuring all the charactersGovernment historySokoto CaliphateIjaw-Itsekiri ConflictsEnd of the Aro ConfederacyFamous Individuals and Groups
Queen NzingaReligious Matters
EkwensuAnyanwu and AgbalaAhia and MenriMaps
West Africa in 1050 CE by upvoteanthologyWest Africa in 1100 CE by upvoteanthology
Disclaimer: Most people have heard of the name: Kanem-Bornu Empire. What most outside of Chad and Libya are not often told is that the Empire had two periods dominated by two different tribes, the Kanembu Era and the later Bornu Era, named after the two tribes. Thus the first period is called the Kanem Empire and the later period is called the Bornu Empire. The legacy of the Kanem-Bornu empire can be found in the Kanuri tribe which is the result of the fusion of the two tribes. This style of story telling like the other will be done in the context of Hetalia. If you enjoy these hetalia presentations I encourage you to find the real tales of these tribes and kingdoms.
Both Kanembu and Bornu are extremely old tribes that lived in the Chad basin since 2000 BCE. Evidence for this comes from trade logs from the middle Kingdom period (2000-1650 BCE). Egypt stated that during periods of low agricultural yields they would engage in payments to Kanembu and Bornu as well as other tribes in order to purchase adequate food to feed the people. Kanem and Bornu's trade relationship with the North African tribes and nations continued to grow despite staying agricultural and pastoral for some time. This was due to Kanem and Bornu finding a trans-saharan trade route that was in the opposite direction from the one Tuareg used that usually cut through West Africa. This allowed them access to the Kush, Nubian, East African as well as contact with Middle Eastern kingdoms to some extent through trade.
The second confirmation of the age comes from records from two kingdoms, Carthage around 700 BCE and Garamantes in 400 BCE. The relationship with these two kingdoms remained the same and Kanem and Bornu show up in trade logs in Ptolemaic Egpyt, Roman Egypt and even later Arabic Egypt well into the 6th century CE.
As Northern Africa slowly became more Islamic Kanem and Bornu both found themselves in a delicate situation. The local Berber subgroup in their area was willing to commit raids and capture slaves unless the captured were Muslim as that was forbidden to do. Thus in order to continue trading and for the sake of safety Kanem and Bornu converted to Islam around the 11th century CE.
While the record shows the recognized formation of the Kingdom occuring in 700CE, Kanem's own recorded history is far older than that and reaches as far back as 80 CE. Kanem's records coincide with the writings of the astronomer Ptolemy and the Garamantian ruler. The corroborated event shows that Kanem, Bornu and another tribe called Sao all lived under the purview of a kingdom called Agisymba who brought a lot of trade with the Roman Empire and would often sell Rhinos, Lions and elephants to Rome for use in their colliseum. Towards the 4th century AD Rome was entering a changed period after Emperor Diocletian's reforms started to show the hallmarks of proto-serfdom in an attempt to clean up Rome's long standing economic problems caused by the acts of Emperor Caracalla. This changed the economic relationship between Rome and Agisymba drastically as the flow of traders decreased which caused Agisymba's influence in the area to wane. The situation allowed Kanem and Bornu to overthrow Agisymba thanks to Emperor Constantine and the christianization of the Roman Empire. This conversion extended to the Kingdoms of Aksum and Kush which interrupted trade due to Agisymba not being Christian. Seizing the opportunity Agisymba lost his power in the region and Kanem, Bornu and Sao were independent. However Kanem and Bornu realizes that the two of them had a mutually beneficial relationship, and though Kanem would take the lead in empire building, Bornu would always be at her side.
While Bornu was a strong tribe to have at her side for her Kingdom to for, she would need more influential and powerful tribes. The tribe with the greatest influence across East, Central and Northern Africa were the Zaghawa tribes. In this case Zaghawa-Dugu was the closest of the various Zaghawa groups and Kanem thought he would be perfect. Zaghawa-Dugu had a huge power base behind him and she offered him an alliance. Zaghawa-Dugu agreed on the condition that his tribe become the noble class and let one of his people be a king. Kanem agreed, after all a Zaghawa King would allow for authenticity. Thus Kanembu crowned Sef I of the Kanem Kingdom. The ruling class of Zaghawas were renamed when Sef's son Dugu took the throne and called themselves the Duguwas and Zaghawa-Dugu became Duguwa. The kingdom through the Duguwa connections managed to expand rapidly, incorporating many tribes into the Kanem Empire, but there was one major source of opposition, Sao.
Sao had started his Kingdom a century earlier and had the same ambitions as Kanembu and inteneded to control the entire Chad and Sudan region on his own and saw the Kanembu/Bornu/Duguwa alliance as a major threat to his power base. With his son Kotoko he planned to be as powerful as the Aksum Empire and begin a great dynasty, but all the major powers of the Byzantine and Arab Kingdoms were focusing on the Kanem Empire. Sao was the descendant of the ancient Hykos, a Greco-Egyptian-Nubian mix of people. Sao and Kotoko declared war on the Kanem Empire in 921 and throughout the centuries the two powers would continue to be rivals up until 1380.
The religious dynamics in the region began to change as Christianity's dominance in politics was overtaken by Islam and another tribe that was part of the Kanem Empire wanted a shoot at ruling by Kanem's side. Supported by the growing Islamic kingdoms in the area Toubou-Say, himself part of the greater Toubou family of tribes converted to Islam and organized a power coup against Duguwa in 1086 and cast him down from his power base. He still allowed Duguwa and his people to be part of the noble family but never again would Duguwa stay at the top of the alliance. Toubou-Say convinced Kanem that it would be in her best interests for politics and trade to convert to Islam. She did and thus Islam became the official religion of the empire. Kanem then crowned Hume I as the new Mai of the shared Empire. The rivalry between Duguwa and Toubou-Say, now called Sayfawa would continue through both the Kanem and Bornu empires. Sayfawa's call the right one was Kanem found herself becoming the academic center of the Chad region, thanks to the gifts and rich trade brought on by the Arab kingdoms. Kanem then convinced Bornu to convert and tried to make sure Bornu's life was at a high standard, which caused Bornu and many of the other tribes under Kanem and Sayfawa to stay loyal while Duguwa would be the only one planning for revenge.
In 1203 at the height of the Kanem Empire's economic power Kanembu came upon an idea. She built a gigantic embassy for Tunisia and a large hostel that was to be used by those that needed a rest during the journey to Mecca. This attracted a lot of Islamic powers that helped fund the project which allowed for tons of trade to come to her Empire. With this wealth Kanembu decided to finance an army and planned to take care of Sao once and for all. Fielding a great army she slowly started to conquer most of Sao's own territory. Most flocked to her banner when she declared the invasions as a Jihad with the intent of destroying the Mune, the artifact and symbol of the gods that were once worshipped in the Chad region. Believing that the people in the Chad region had been fully converted to Islam by now she thought there would not be much opposition to her destroying the Mune, but this would have repercussions later on when she made Sao flee and destroyed the Mune. This especially shocked the tribe Bilala who, while Muslim, respected the old faiths and while under Kanembu's rule he would plan revenge by conspiring with Duguwa to weaken Kanembu's empire as a result of this action.
After this victory Kanembu and Bornu decided to have a son together, which they would name Kanuri. Kanembu and Bornu were happy but didn't forsee that the consequences of the Mune's destruction would cause such a major uprising in the Chad region. At the height of her power the Kanem Empire now controlled almost all of Chad, parts of Sudan, upper Nigeria and large swathes of Cameroon and Niger. Her only opposition on the Nigerian front was Hausa-Kano which was proving an annoying point of resistance. But things took a turn for the worse in 1342.
Sao had been funded by Duguwa and Bilala and now launched a major invasion to retake his territory from the Kanem Empire. Sayfawa tried to assauge Kanembu's concerns and rode out to meet Sao and Kotoke in combat. Sayfawa was defeated by Sao and from 1342 to 1352 Sao's campaign allowed him to regain all of his land and with Duguwa weakening the international politics and Bilala reminding everyone of the destruction of the Mune many of the tribes except for Bornu and Kanuri started turning their backs on Kanembu. Kanembu fought off Sao but by then she was too weak. In 1372 Bilala declared his intent to Kanembu and the two fought till 1380 and she was struck down by Bilala who declared that her Empire was now his and would be renamed the Sultanate of Yao. Bornu then absconded with the broken Kanembu and their son Kanuri and retreated to his territory where he would take over the reigns of empire building from her.
From now on Kanembu would serve at Bornu's side in an equal partnership, Sayfawa would still take the noble route but in the era of the Bornu Empire they managed to eventually retake the territory of the former Kanem Empire and faced their greatest pre-colonial challenge, Fulani-Fula.......................To be continued in Bornu's story.
P.S: There is more, but that is part of Bornu's Empire. The sequel to this history will continue in Bornu's Empire.