Usman Dan Fodio (1754-1817)

Usman Dan Fodio

Usman Dan Fodio, born in 1754 to a Torokawa parents, was the leader of the greatest Jihad in Nigeria and West Africa. He studied law, theology and philosophy in Agades under a man called Umar. The study of these subjects inspired him to accept the religion of Islam. Usman Dan Fodio migrated to Gobir after completing his school in Agades. In Gobir, paganism was mixed with Islam which really irritated and infuriated Usman Dan Fodio, and he began to preach Islam to the people. Overtime, his popularity grew in Gobir, and got to a stage when the King of Gobir, Rimfa, became jealous of Usman Dan Fodio and attempted to assassinate him. But luckily, he escaped the assassination attempt.
This did not stop him from preaching Islam and condemning the bad administration of King Rimfa. Yunfa, the son of Rimfa, succeeded him as the King of Gobir after his death. In 1798, Yunfa, who was once Usman Dan Fodio’s student, made another unsuccessful attempt on his life, and later banned Usman’s followers from wearing turbans and veils. In spite of all these impeding measures, Usman Dan Fodio’s followers continued to grow in large numbers. In 1803, Yunfa again tried to kill Usman Dan Fodio but failed. Usman escaped with his followers to the town of Gudu. He and his followers called the migration to Gudu `Hejira’. At Gudu, Usman Dan Fodio felt it is time to bring Yunfa and his people to justice and make them realize that their way of life does not correspond with Islam. Therefore he declared a Jihad (holy war) on the pagan kings. The Jihad declaration spread across the land and many people volunteered to join his `Army of Liberation‘. In 1804, he formally declared a holy war on the whole of Hausaland. The Jihad/war known as the Fulani Jihad or Sokoto Jihad ranged on till 1810 when the whole Hausaland was conquered and the Old Bornu Empire was brought to its knees.
Later in 1817, Usman Dan Fodio died after he had succeeded in uniting and merging all the former fourteen Hausa states into a single Fulani Empire.
Usman Dan Fodio remains one of the greatest figures in the history of Nigeria and West Africa.


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