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History: Rise and Fall of the Adamawa Emirate Convertir en PDF Version imprimable Suggérer par mail
Dernière mise à jour : ( 04-10-2007 )

Ecrit par Saajo Bah, le 04-10-2007 07:22

Pages vues : 29442    

Publié dans : Nguurndam Fulɓe, Histoire

Index de l'article
History: Rise and Fall of the Adamawa Emirate
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Rise and Fall of the Adamawa Emirate 

By Rainer Chr. Hennig (translated introduction to thesis, 1993)

The ancient Emirate of Adamawa was a part of the Sokoto Caliphate, the politically dominant empire of the Central Sudan in the 19th century. Adamawa was known as "The wild east" of the Caliphate, were Fulbe settlers occupied the vast highlands of Northern Cameroon and provided slaves for the empire from the neighboring areas. 
   Read the first article of a series about the fascinating history of Adamawa based on first hand sources. Here, the rise and fall of the autonomous Emirate is described. Later on, we'll publish articles about the colonization, colonial administration and Cameroonian administration of the ancient Emirate, who's institutions still to some degree are alive.
Related items
Medieval Sudan; history of the empires of Ghana, Mali, Songhai and Haussaland
In Internet
The Ethnologue Database is a catalogue of languages. In their Cameroon page, you'll find a list of almost all the peoples mentioned in the text.
Before we step into the world of ancient Adamawa, there is some need to present the protagonists of this history. Most important, the Fulbe (or Fulani, Peul, Ful, Fula, Pulla, etc.), the people politically dominant of the region of Adamawa in the 19th and 20th century. The so-called Kirdi were their local political opponents. Kirdi is not the name of one people, but rather a collective term (originally disparaging) of non-Muslims, used as a name of the peoples living in Adamawa before the Fulbe-invasion.
The Fulbe
The Adamawa-Fulbe call themselves Pullo (sing.) and Fulbe (plural), but are called a variety of names, Fulani (which originally is a Haussa-term) being most common in English.
   The Fulbe as a people and their history have been subject to quite a few imaginative theories proposed by Europeans, mainly due to their relatively bright skin. Many theories pinpointed them as a people related to the North African Berber. This theory was sustained by the fact that they originated in the area which is now Senegal. The language of the Fulbe (Fulfulde), however, is part of the Niger-Congo family, not Afro Asian, such as the Berber. More concisely, Fulfulde belongs to the Atlantic, Senegambian group of Niger-Congo languages, further documenting their origins being the Senegal. Nowadays, the biggest concentrations of Fulbe are in the ancient Fulbe empires, such as Adamawa (Cameroon/Nigeria) and Futa Jallon (Guinea), but also in the modern states of Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, the Chad and Sudan.
   They originally were a nomadic people of herders, herding still being an important feature in Fulbe societies all over the Sudan, from Senegal to the Chad. Nowadays, most are semi nomadic or sedentary (so-called town-Fulbe, to which I will refer to as the Fulbe from now on). A minority, which is constantly becoming fewer, is still nomadic. These are the Bororo, or bush-Fulbe. Common for all these groups is their organization in clans. This clan structure was essential to a nomadic people as an additional form of social and identical structure parallel  to the family lineage. It was that basic to the Fulbe, however, that they sticked to it also after the sedentarisation - such as their special relationship to the cattle as a source to wealth, power and prestige. The clans which were to play an important role in Adamawa, were the great clans of Wollarbe and Yilliga and the smaller clan of Ba.
   One assumes that nomadic Fulbe started leave the Senegal-area looking for new pastures and water for their herds around the year 1000. Following the next four-five centuries, they had spread over the most of the Sudan-zone west of Lake Chad. The oldest written sources mentioning the Fulbe in the Baghirmi empire (southeast of Lake Chad) are dated to the 16th century. Most probably, the Fulbe were welcomed by local ruler, as they brought with them cattle and constituted a market for agricultural products. The groups of nomadic Fulbe had to pay a tribute in cattle to the local ruler, thus recognizing his authority. With time, a group of sedentary Fulbe began to emerge. These often distinguished themselves as educated Muslims and were highly appreciated by the local rulers for their services as civil servants, teachers and legal advisers.
   It is assumed that the Fulbe came into contact with Islam already before their emigration from Senegal. Conversion to Islam was especially widespread amongst the sedentary Fulbe, while the Bororo (nomadic Fulbe) were less receptive to Islam. Amongst the Bororo, Islam never created profound changes of mentality, but laid as a thin shell above the traditional cultural heritage, and this is pretty much how the situation remains today in the small remaining societies of Bororos. The sedentary Fulbe in Haussaland, however, were strongly influenced by the Muslim Haussa, and got in touch with the Sufi orders of Islam. In the only nominally Muslim Haussa-states, the relation of the masses to Islam was more a formal than representing a real understanding of the religion. Islam was Africanized, insipid by Sufism and Maraboutism. This was also the situation for the majority of the Fulbe.

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