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Brief History of The Kanem-Bornu Empire

History of the Kanem Bornu Empire

Studying the history of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, one would discover and come to the conclusion that its people are peculiar to various startings, therefore, making their origin unclear.

There are diverse opinions on where the people of the Kanem-Bornu empire truly originated from. Although, in the midst of these uncertainties, one thing is clear which is that at its peak, the Kanem-Bornu empire existed as an area under Chad and Nigeria.

The empire was known to the Arabian geographers as the independent kingdom of Bornu until 1900. The dominance of the Kanem-Bornu empire is not limited to Chad and Nigeria but also included parts of southern Libya (Fezzan ) eastern Niger, northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon. Also, their early history is mainly known from the Royal chronicle discovered in 1851.

Fall of The Kanem-Bornu Empire

Aside from the penetration of Islam which came with North African traders, Berbers and Arabs later influenced the history of the Kanem-Bornu empire. Furthermore, In the late 14th century, various challenges had torn the people of Kanem apart. They battled with internal struggles and external attacks. In 1380, the Bulala people frustrated Mai Umar Idrismi to ostracize Njimi and move the Kanembu people to Bornu on the western edge of Lake Chad.

Kanem Bornu Empire

Again, in 1460, a fortified capital at Ngazargamu, to the west of Lake Chad was built, but in the early 16th century, Mai Idris Katakarmabe recaptured Njimi, the former capital.

After having control over both capitals, these made the sayfawa dynasty more powerful than ever. The two capitals were merged, but despite being merged, political authority still rested in Bornu. During the 17th century, the empire began to reprobate, and finally faded at the end of the 19th century.

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Cite this article as: Teslim Omipidan. (November 19, 2019). Brief History of The Kanem-Bornu Empire. OldNaija. Retrieved from

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