Lawan Jafaru Tahir, PhD
Department of history and International Studies
Yobe State University, Damaturu


Mamman Mohammed
Department of History and Strategic Studies
Federal University, Dutsin-Ma
Katsina State

There are many literatures written in relation to the history of Bilad Al-Sudan (Africa South of the Sahara), But most of the works have concentrated on the study of precolonial state formation, consolidation, socio-economic and political development. Those that emphasized on the role of warriors’ and their contributions to the formation, protection and expansion of the state are very scanty or comprehensively not academically documented. However, the study of the role of precolonial warriors has become of paramount importance as their contributions were what really defined the existence of those empires and kingdoms. This paper specifically deals with the role of warrior’s political leaders in Kanem-Borno empire. It is fundamental to note as buttressed in the paper, that almost all the precolonial political gladiators of this empire had been engaged in one war after the other considering the volatile nature of the period under discussion. Few examples of some political leaders among the Saifawa and El-kanemi dynasty has been discussed. Warriors like Hume Jilme (the founder of the Saifawa dynasty), Dunoma Diballemi, Idris Katakarmabe, Ali Ghaji, Idris Alooma and Muhammad Elkanemi to mention a few. The research also highlights on some major factors that facilitated the constant internal and external conflicts that bedeviled the empire for more 500 years. The study also revealed the relevance and importance of precolonial political warriors and the need for further research by historians of modern time in order to unveiled one of the most fascinating achievements of African political leaders in the historical contex.
Keywords: Warriors, Sayfawa Dynasty, Precolonial, Borno


The Saifawa dynasty of Borno was known to had been the longest surviving dynasty in Africa South of the Sahara. To some historians, it was considered the longest in Africa with the exception of Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia. The beginning of the empire since around 11th century which lasted between 1085-1893 had been faced with series of wars and battles to enable the royalty consolidate its authority in far eastern lake chad. Kanem, which is popularly known, traced its origin from Mai Hume Jilme, an Arabian adventurer who was said to have founded the empire. What is tentatively known is the consolidation of both first and later second Kanuri empire from the 8th century AD onward and lasted as the independent kingdom of Bornu (the Bornu Empire) a period of almost 1000yrs
The Kanem Empire (c. 700–1380) can be found in the present day countries of Chad, Nigeria and Libya. During its political peak, it subsumed an area covering not only most of Chad but also parts of southern Libya (Fezzan) and eastern (Niger) northeastern Nigeria and northern (Cameroun). The Bornu Empire (1380s–1893) was a state in what is now northeastern Nigeria, in time becoming even larger than Kanem, incorporating areas that are today parts of Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
The early history of the empire is mainly known from the Royal Chronicle, or Girgam, discovered in 1851 by the German traveler Heinrich Bath. Remnant successor regimes of the empire, in form of Borno Emirate and Dikwa Emirate were established around 1900 and still exist today as traditional states within Nigeria.
This paper attempts to buttress the role of military warriors in the struggle of this empire to become politically consolidated and expanded at the time most of the states in western and central Sudan were in conflicts with each other in order to have greater influence in terms of

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