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The Jihad in Kano was coordinated contrary to suggestions by some historians. The Sullubawa, Yolawa, Danejawa, Dambazawa and Modibawa carried out the Jihad battles in the Western parts of Kano where their settlements were located. While the Jobawa, Jullubawa (Gyanawa) and Yeligawa carried out the Jihad in Eastern Kano under the leadership of Mallam Bakatsine. This was planned after the receipt of Shaikh Dan Fodio's letter (Wathiqat ahl-al-Sudan) which was circulated allover the Central Sudan (Hausaland) but a specific copy was received by Kano Jihadists (Ado-Kurawa 1989).

It should be noted that the Shehu who started teaching at an early age of twenty had students and followers from many parts of Hausaland. His followership grew and he had three categories of students; those who attend and listen to his public preaching sessions, those who study various Islamic subjects under his tutelage and the core or the murids, who were the highest and were brought up to acquire spiritual training. Amongst those in this category according to Raud al-Jinan were Abdullahi, Bello and others including two from Kano Salihu Duttiwa who later became Alkalin Kano and his brother Abdullahi al-Kanawi author of Dawa’ir. As the Shehu became popular more students flocked to him to seek knowledge and blessings even before the outbreak of the Jihad. The number of followers also increased before the Hijra. There was also another method through which the Shehu used to call people, which was through karamat (miracle) and according to Zangi he has heard and narrated it from more than one person. Through it a person was woken up from sleep with a call that “Shehu is calling” you and it usually persists for a long time the sleeper usually woke up and found no one. He narrated that ‘Alim Sulaiman informed him that: “When our uncle Dikkoye visited the Shaikh he showed him the man who was calling him (Dikkoye) at night while he was asleep. This was the well-known Saint of Degel Muhammad Kwairanga” (Ado-Kurawa 1989: 21, Malumfashi 1973: 57 and for information on Dikkoye see Saidu 1979 and Dangambo 1980).  The Shehu instructed those who visited him to establish their communities and they obeyed this instruction the Jama’ah were established in many parts of Hausaland. They continued visiting the Shehu individually and in groups and the number of his followers increased leading to the composition of a poem quoted by Zangi: “One by one, we gathered; until we became strong; year by year we gathered” (Ado-Kurawa 1989: 21).

As people continued to flock to the Shehu from all parts of Hausaland, many from Kano also visited him and pledged allegiance. According to Zangi Mallam Abdurahman Goshi and his brother Mallam Jibril were the first to visit the Shehu and pledge allegiance and were followed by Mallam Jamo, Mallam Bakatsine, Mallam Danzabuwa, Mallam Dabo Danbazau, Mallam Dangabuwa and Mallam Usman Bahause and others followed them majority of whom were Fulani although some Hausas also visited the Shehu and pledged allegiance. Many of the other sources of history agreed with the list of these people as those who visited the Shehu and later they became the Jihad leaders and subsequently the Emirate leaders.

From Zangi’s account it seems the visit and pledge of allegiance came before the Shehu’s message, which was probably the Wathiqat ahl al-Sudan (translated by Bivar 1961). According to him Mallam Adamu and Ladan Goja brought this to Kano and handed it over to Mallam Dangabuwa. Those at the first meeting were Mallam Abdurrahman leader of the Ba’awa clan (popularly known as the Yolawa) (Idrissou 1979: 349 and 353), Mallam Bakatsine leader of the Jobawa clan (Gowers 1922: 11 and Shea), Jamo leader of the Sullubawa clan, Mallam Dabo leader of the Danbazawa clan, Mallam Danzabuwa leader of the Danejawa clan (Palmer 1928: 119) and Mallam Usman leader of the Hausas. It should be noted that the participation of Mallam Usman in the Jihad was informed by the interest of the non-Fulani people which led Gowers (1922:10) to observe that: “It was not in any sense a conquest of the Hausa race by the Fulani, indeed the Hausa adherents of Othman were probably as numerous as his Fulani followers”. It was at this meeting that they decided that the Hijra should be to Fagoje (Kwazazobon Yarkwando), which was thirty-eight miles (48 kilometers) west of Kano city. And the date fixed was the 16th of Jumada Awwal 1219 A.H (mid August 1804) (Last 1966).

Smith believes that Mallam Adamu mentioned by Zangi was the Lamido of Adamawa, Mallam Adamu (Hogben 1966: 229-238). One source of difference between Smith and Zangi was that Smith wrote that they met at Zuwa in Danzabuwa’s compound while Zangi reported that they met under the leadership of Mallam Dangabuwa. A Kano scholar read Zangi’s book to Smith[1] and they are some inconsistencies in his report as a result of this second hand reading. Smith also added that:

The council of leaders made up of Mallam Bakatsine, Mallam Jibir, Mallam Jamau, Mallam Yusuf Dan Zabuwa, Alkali Usman, Mallam Dabo Dambazau, and Mallam Dikkoye of Gyenawa, decided to send Mallam Dan Zabuwa to the Shehu for a flag to bless and authorize their jihad in Kano. It does not seem that Sulaimanu, the leading Mundubawa cleric, had any part in these councils, or perhaps in the entire jihad (Smith 1997: 189).

Smith’s evidence that Sulaiman was remained in Kano was the Wakar Bagauda translated by Hiskett (Smith 1997: 264n32). He also quoted Mallam Adamu Nama’aji as the source of information on the flag and that the leader of the battles was Jamo (Smith 1997: 263n31). Adamu Nama’aji’s book was based on oral tradition because he was not a participant neither did meet any of the participants. Smith and Zangi did not mention Sulaiman or the Mundibawa but Gowers mentioned the Mundubawa as the first in his list of the major Fulani clans at the time of the Jihad (Gowers 1922:10). Smith also added Dikkoye as one of the leaders who attended the meeting that planned the Jihad but Zangi (Dikkoye’s nephew) did not mention this. The assumption of this writer is that after Shehu had called Dikkoye he remained at Degel and Sokoto up to the Shehu’s death this was because of the role he (Dikkoye) played in the succession of Sarkin Musulmi Muhammad Bello[2].

From Zangi’s account the Jihad was coordinated and strategically planned by spreading the clans to different sectors of Kasar Kano while others (Gowers 1922: 11) suggested that it was uncoordinated and sporadic. The Sullubawa, Yolawa, Danejawa, Dambazawa and Modibawa carried out the Jihad battles in the Western parts of Kano where their settlements were located. While the Jobawa, Jullubawa (Gyanawa) and Yeligawa carried out the Jihad in Eastern Kano under the leadership of Mallam Bakatsine.

The first battle of the Jihad was fought at a settlement some where around Bebeji, which was under the jurisdiction of its Chief, near the predominately Sullubawa area of Kiru. It was Dandayya who might have been a member of the Yolawa clan, who shot the first arrow of the Jihad, which killed Bimma. Alwali Kutumbi, the King of Kano was informed of this encounter and the coincident death of the Chief of Bebeji, as a result of which he appointed Gyanako the son of the late Chief to succeed his father, on the condition that he must fight the Jama'a vigorously.

The western Jama'a, which included the Sullubawa engaged Alwali's forces under the leadership of Sarkin Bebeji Gyanako. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and even though Alwali's forces were more successful, his advisers blamed the lack of complete victory on the composition of his army and they suggested that well trained and experienced soldiers from the city should be dispatched to confront the Jama'a. Alwali accepted this advice and he appointed Barde Bakure to command the newly formed battalion but they were also defeated by the Jama'a who were becoming confident.

This defeat frightened Alwali Kutumbi. He therefore summoned his councillors and scholars. They advised him that he should send envoys to negotiate with the Jama'a and if there were unable to secure an agreement between the two parties, he should form a very large army composed of all the able bodied men of his Kingdom. Alwali accepted this advice and he appointed Mallam Dan Dhulni'ma, Zayan al-Arabi, Jakadan Kardewa and Mallam Hayu to negotiate a truce with the Jama'a. These people met the leaders of the Jama'a among whom, was Mallam Jammo Chief of the Sullubawa. And they were informed by the leaders of the Jama'a that before they accept Alwali's offer he must make the Hijra similar to the one they have made and after they have established Islamic Government in his Kingdom they shall return him to his palace and reappoint him as the legitimate Sarki under the authority of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio.

Sarki Alwali Kutumbi was about to accept these conditions just like Sarkin Zazzau Jatau but was discouraged by his councillors, the most outspoken of these councillors was the Chief Imam Abdulkadir. As a result of this Sarki Alwali decreed that able bodied men in his Kingdom including minorities such as Kanuris and Tauregs should be drafted into the Army, which shall be commanded Sarkin Dawaki Ali. Alwali instructed them to kill all males including babies and enslave all females but the leaders of the Jama'a should be chained and brought to him. This army was very large and it had many arms and ammunitions, which were carried by camels. The Jama'a were terrified at this development more especially as people stopped joining their camp. Both forces met at decisive battle known, as Yakin Daukar Girma and the Jama'a were victorious.

The victory of Yakin Daukar Girma boasted the morale of the Jama'a and it made prominent chiefs who were hitherto in Alwali's camp such as Dantunku to join the Jama'a. Several other battles were later fought and the Jama'a were successful in most of them. The most notable were the battles of Kabo, Masnawa, Gwodiya, Kofa, Kura and Karaye. Turmi who was the Chief of Kofa joined the Jama'a and was appointed the Chief of the strategic Town of Bebeji. Only a few of the local Fulani joined the Jama'a amongst one of them was Ardo Sabti, who was later martyred just before the battle of Karaye. Barde Bakure one of Alwali's bravest commanders was killed at the battle of Karaye.

At Gora before the decisive battle of Danyaya there was misunderstanding within the Jama'a. Mallam Jammo Chief of the Sullubawa suggested that they should move eastwards and join Mallam Bakatsine who has not yet liberated Gaya but Mallam Abdurrahman Chief of the Yolawa observed that if they concentrated all their strength in one area Sarki Alwali will defeat them with the help of Kings of Katsina and Damagaram. They later reached a consensus that they should remain in the west.

Sarki Alwali was later aided by the Sarkin Daura, this development frightened the Jama'ah and some of them suggested that they should move eastward and join Mallam Bakatsine whose command has just liberated the important town of Gaya but Mallam Jibril who was one of their most learned and upright scholars, admonished and advised them that they should remain and fight the decisive battle. At Danyaya the Jama'a defeated Sarki Alwali's forces in his presence. He was unable to leave the town untill after the intervention of the Jama'a's leaders who ordered that he should be allowed to leave since he has "experienced one of the great signs of Allah"[3]. Sarki Alwali returned to Kano and was deserted by most of his councillors.

Mallam Bakatsine did his Hijra in Wudil where the clans in the East had assembled. Sarkin Kano Alwali had earlier asked him about his position immediately after the commencement of the Jihad. Zangi reported that when the news of the outbreak of the Jihad reached Alwali while he was in Takai he quickly hastened up to Kano. And his way he passed by Mallam Bakatsine, which it seems he usually does, because Zangi stated that: “He used to pass by Mallam Bakatsine who used to pass by Alim Bakatsine who prays for him and he gives him gift but this time it was not possible he only stopped and made a sign to him (the royal greeting) and continued his journey” (Ado-Kurawa 1989:26). Gowers reported that Mallam Bakatsine claimed to be innocent of the Jihad. Mahadi (1982: 344-5) suggested that Mallam Bakatsine played double standard. The other leaders of the Jama’ah also enquired through Magajin Jobe and Kaoje and Mallam Bakatsine replied that: “I believe in the Hijra just like my brothers and I shall join them”.

After the Jama’ah leaders had received report from Magin Jobe and Kaoje they consulted and advised Mallam Bakatsine to enter Wudil and all the clans of the East that accepted the Shehu’s call assembled there. These clans included the Jallube who became popularly known as the Gyanawa who were led by Salihu Duttiwa and the Yaligawa led by another Salihu who was appointed Sarkin Dutse to replace Gujabu after its liberation. Gaya was also liberated by this batch of Jihadists. From Gaya they moved to Aujara, which they also liberated before moving to Taura, which was more difficult as a result of shortage of food and hunger and they had to move out to Kiyawa. There were also unable to liberate Katanga where they were weakened before moving to Wamdae, which they liberated. They later moved to the strategic town of Takai whose inhabitants deserted and they took it. This news reached at Sarkin Kano Alwali and he realized that he had lost all the sectors of his kingdom so he left Kano for Rano. The Jama’ah of the East then moved to Tomas where they merged with the Western branch.

The Jama'a's success at Danyaya gave them more confidence as a result of which they moved into Kasar Katsina and Kasar Daura were they helped Umar Dallaji and Mallam Ishaq respectively in their Jihad campaigns. They were forced to return to Kano because of severe hunger. They arrived at Tomas, which was their last camp before their triumphant entry into Kano. They chose Tomas as a base because of the availability of water. The Jama'a decided that they should restrict Sarki Alwali to Kano City. Therefore they sent an expedition under the command of Mallam Jibril, which raided Fage town on the outskirts of the City (Ado-Kurawa 1989).

At this point Sarki Alwali was a defeated King. The Jama'a of both east and west have completed their assignment and have camped at Tomas waiting for their final entry into Kano. He therefore sent a delegation to plead with the Jama'a which was made up of Mallam Kabara, Mallam Gabto, Dan Gwuranduma Sumailu, Mallam Jabbo al-Falati and Mallam Goja. Alwali pleaded that he was ready to accept all the conditions of the Jama'a and that he was ready to reach them even if it was on "foot". The Jama'a rejected this plea, because according them he was given that choice earlier but he refused and decided to fight them vigorously by forming a very large army, which they eventually defeated. They informed his Ambassadors that they shall takeover Kano on the 12th of Rabiu Awwal insha Allah.

Sarki Alwali left Kano city on the same night after the return of his representatives with the reply from the Jama'a. He stayed in Zaria for a year and later he returned to Rano where he was killed at Burumburum in an encounter with the Jama'a led by Mallam Bakatsine during the Emirship of Sulaiman Dan Aba Hama (Ado-Kurawa 1989).

[1] Personal communication with Professor Smith in 1988

[2] Personal communication with Mallam Garba Saidu


Fulani is a Hausa plural word with the singular Ba-Fillaci of the people who call themselves Fulbe (singular Pulo) in their own language of Fulfulde. In French, they are called “Peuls or Peulhs” while in Arabic they are known as Fellata with masculine singular Fellati and ferminine singular Fellatiyya (Hunwick 1966: 36-37). Torankawa (singular, Ba toranke) is the Hausa word (Hunwick 1966: 305 note 4) for all the Fulfulde speakers who originated from Futa Toro of Senegal and in Fulfulde they are called Toorobbe or Toorodbe (singular Tooroodo), Toucouleur in French (Klein 1968: 66) and Takrur in Arabic (Iliffe 1995: 72).  But they belong to different tribes and clans such as Ba’en, Jallube, Yirlaabe, Wolarbe and Ferrobe (Idrissou 1979: 340).  In fact some of them distinguish themselves as a separate entity distinct from other Fulbe thus they became identified as Toronkawa in Nigeria.

According to Wazirin Sakkwato Shaykh Junaidu who was the leading authority on Sokoto history during his time the ancestor of the Toronkawa was Rama son of Esau (refered to Isa in Junaid 1956) who was the son of the Prophet Ishaq (AS), the son of Prophet Ibrahim (AS). They moved from Sinai and settled at Toro in West Africa, where they got their name of Toronkawa (the people of Toro). Uqbat Ibn Naif the great Muslim Leader converted them to Islam and married Bajju Manga the daughter of their Chief. They gave birth to four sons, Deita, Woya, Roroba and Nasi. These were the ancestors of the Fulani and were the first to speak Fulfulde language, the language of most of the Toronkawa was Wakore. The Songay descended from Deita, Ba'awina and Wolorbe descended from Nasi, Forbe descended from Woya and Wolobe from Roroba. As these tribes multiplied they moved to Falgo and became distinct from the Toronkawa of Futa Toro (Junaid 1956: 7).

The Fulani from Falgo later attacked the Torankawa of Futa. The Chief of the Torankawa was killed while performing the Id Salat. The Fulani thus took over Futa but Mallam Ibrahim a scholar of Toranke origin who led a Jihad against their misrule later defeated and drove them out. After the death of Mallam Ibrahim, the Fulani returned and took over Futa and continued with their misrule and transgression. The Torankawa retaliated and defeated the Fulani who became divided into three groups. One group remained with the Torankawa at Futa Toro the second group returned to Falgo and the third group headed for Egypt in search of their Arab brothers. Because they believed their ancestor was Uqbatu Ibn Naif who was an Arab (Junaid 1956: 8).

Some of the Fulani reached Egypt while others amongst whom were the descendants of Yalalbe, Sissilbe, Walanbe, Gumborawa, Galankwa'en and the Fulani of Adamawa remained in the West Central Sudan under the leadership of Dunurundi. The remaining Fulani of Falgo again attacked the Torankawa and continued with their oppressive government. Mallam Sulaiman a leader of the Torankawa led a Jihad against the Fulani, who were defeated and he appointed Abdulkadir as the new Chief of the Torankawa (Junaid 1956: 8).

This Sakkwato legend agrees with the genealogists that ascribe a light skin ancestor to the Fulbe. Linguistic Science has demonstrated that the Fulfulde language is closer to the languages of other Negroid peoples than to Arabic and other Afro-Asiatic languages. And moreover there is hardly any Arabic source which reported Uqbah ibn Nafi`s sojourn in the Sudan. It has been documented that he championed Khalifah (Caliph) Mu`awiyya`s westward expansion of the Dar al-Islam (Hitti 1970). He built the fourth most important Islamic city after Makkah, Madina and Jerusalam and this city was named Qayrawan, in 49 AH (670 CE). The area was a forest before a Mosque and a palace were built which became the city and later the nucleus of Islamic influence in Ifriqiyya (Hitti 1970: 979, 261 and 213). The legendary General was said to have advanced from his military base in Qayrawan until he was stopped by the waves of Atlantic but his purported encounter with Bajju Manga has not been reported. He died a matyr in Biskar in modern Algeria in what, may have been an encounter with some Berbers. His grave has become a national monument of Algeria (Hitti 1970: 213).

Another problem for the Sakkwato legend is the report of Al-Bakri who was the first to write about Takrur. He has reported that it was “a town on the “Nile” (the Senegal), whose black inhabitants were idol worshippers. War Djabi (or War Ndiyay) son of Rabis was their first Chief who became a Muslim. He enjoined his people to accept Islam and he introduced the Shari’ah. He died in 432 AH (1040 – 1). Thus Takrur became “one of the earliest Sudanese kingdoms to embrace Islam”. Al-Idrisi who wrote one hundred years after Al-Bakri described the contemporary king of Takrur as just and firm ruler (Levtzion 1976: 129 and Newman 1995: 112-113 where it is stated that “Takrur is the first African polity south of the Sahara to embrace Islam”). Al-Bakri`s account contracdicts Sakkwato legend if Uqbah Ibn Nafi one of the earliest Muslim generals Ibn Hajar (1989: 492). Some sources documented him as a companion but Ibn Hajar differentiated the general who was al-Fahiry while the companion was al-Quraisy. He died in 62 AH (684 CE) al-Bakri did not report any contact between him and Takrur (Levtzion 1976: 129). Al-Bakri’s may be more authentic than the Sakkwato legend since he was a contemporary of War Ojabi (or War Ndyay) and he wrote his al-Masalik in 459 AH (1067 – 8) twenty-seven years after the later`s conversion to Islam.

Prior to the 19th century the Fulbe or Fulani were scattered all over Northern Nigeria. Their life style at that time was parallel to the present day Bororo, who are mostly nomads who do not mix (Fiditimi and Bameru 1991: 163). Politically their leadership was egalitarian, their community was governed by the elders and in some few cases by the ardo`en (chiefs). Their social system was based on partri-clans, which were genealogically wifegiving units. They were also racially conscious thus they encouraged group endogamy (teegal bandiriga) in which marriage to closest relative was most desirable (Vereecke 1986).

The Fulani distinguish themselves from other ethnic groups by specific distinguished personal virtues, which are collectively known as Pulaaku. There are several components of Pulaaku but Catherine Vareecke has listed ten of them namely semteende (shyness, reserve), munyal (patience, endurance), ngoru (bravey), marugo na`i (owning cattle), en`dam (kindness), ne`d`daku (dignity), ardungal (leadership), daraja (honour or prestige obtained through position) and ndottaku (honour acquired with age). And later when most of Fulbe became Muslims dina and juldamku (Islam and Islamic peity) were included in Pulaaku (Vereecke 1986: 93-106). The Hausa and Fulani who cannot speak Fulfulde call the virtues of the Fulani, Fulatanci.

The Fulani scholars first came to Kano during the reign of Sarkin Kano Yakubu (1452-63) CE (856 – 867 AH). The Kano Chronicle has reported that “in Yakubu`s time the Fulani came to Hausaland from Melle, bringing with them books on divinity and etymology”. The Hausa scholars were more conversant with books on Law and Hadith (traditions of the Prophet peace and blessings of Allah are upon him) (Palmer 1928: 110-111)[1]. Professor Hunwick has reported that they brought books on philogy and not etymology The exact time during which the Bororo came to Kasar Kano is hard to determine but it might have been earlier than the time of the arrival of the scholars. Before the jihad led by Shaykh Usman Dan Fodio there were many Fulani clans in Kasar Kano and most of their leaders were Islamic Scholars.

[1] Palmer  1929:110 – 111 but Hunwick, J.O. has reported that they brought books on philogy and not etymology.

The word Sullube that is the singular of the Sullubawa perhaps originated from Sisillo the ancestor of the Sullubawa and husband of Cippowo sister of Uthman Toroddo ancestor of Shehu Usman Danfodio (Ado-Kurawa 1989:45-49). This relationship made the Sullubawa to be regarded as cousins of the Toronkawa. The Sullubawa belong to the Wangarawa stock, they have Mandigo element in their ancestry and they are also related to the Mandika. They spoke Wakore before they became absorbed into the Fulani group, thus they lost their original language and adopted Fulfulde (Usman 1974: 168-169). Today most of the descendants of Ibrahim Dabo Dan Mahmud the first Sullube Sarki of Kano cannot speak Fulfude.

The Sullubawa were among the earliest Fulfude speaking clans who migrated from Futa Toro into Hausaland. By the middle of the twelfth century Hijra the Sullubawa had established their chiefdom at Zandam with the Sarkin Sullubawa as their tribal chief. They dispersed to various parts of Hausaland particularly the Sokoto-Rima area, Zazzau region, various parts of Kasar Katsina and the Kasar Kano. In Kano their main settlements were Kanwa, Kiru and Fagwalawa. The reasons for their migrations were not obvious but they must have been associated with increase in their number, political loyalties and probably the contention over the title of Sarkin Sullubawa (Ado-Kurawa 1989:45). It has been suggested that they migrated from Kasar Katsina to other parts of Hausaland in the eighteenth century in order to get away from the war between Gobir and Katsina. The Sullubawa were perhaps the most organised of all those considered to be Fulbe Siiri (settled Fulani), they had their communal leadership even before the Jihad. Katsina tried to use them against Gobir and the latter against Shehu Usman. A few supported Gobir while most of them supported Shehu Usman during the Jihad campaigns (Last 1977: 14-16).



Last Updated on Monday, 25 August 2008 14:53