Dendi Kingdom

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Dendi Kingdom

Capital Lulama
Languages Songhai
Religion Islam
Government Monarchy
 -  1591-1598 Askia Nuh I
 -  1887-1901 Askia Malla
 -  Established 1591
 -  Conquered by the French 1901

The Dendi Kingdom (1591–1901) was a West African state in modern-day Niger founded by the Songhai people after the collapse of their empire Songhai.

Rise and fall of Gao[edit]

Since the middle of the 8th century AD, the Songhai people had dwelled in eastern Mali at the trading city of Gao. The region surrounding the kingdom came under the influence of Sundiata's Mali Empire after 1275. However, it was not completely brought under the empire's control until its 1324 conquest by General Sagha Mandjan.

In 1464, Gao regained its independence thanks to the bumbling of the Mali Empire and began seizing lands for itself. The new Songhai Empire began a campaign of conquest and eventual conversion under the Askiya dynasty. They finally vanquished their old overlords in 1546 capturing and destroying the Mali capital of Niani. But the Songhai's quick emergence in West Africa would be followed by a quick decline. A defeat at the Battle of Tondibi against invading Saadi forces armed with guns resulted in the end of the empire.[1][2] The Askiya dynasty fled the city of Gao as the Saadi approached and resettled in their native Dendi region of Niger.


The Askiya dynasty reorganized itself under a new king called Nuhu. This second (or third depending on when one starts counting) Songhai Empire established its new capital at Lulami. It soon began fighting to establish itself in the region and restore Songhai prestige.

Continued Presence in Mali[edit]

Little record exists between 1591 and the early 18th century reign of Hanga for the Dendi Kingdom. What is apparent is that the kingdom maintained a preoccupation with regaining or at least undermining Saadi rule in eastern Mali. If the Songhai Empire was truly over, no one had told the Askiyas. In 1609, the Malian city of Djenné revolted against the Saadi pashas (governors) with Dendi mid. The Saadi were eventually able to regain the city, but with a lack of support from the homeland they soon abandoned the area leaving it to Tuareg and Fulbe nomads.

Further Saadi Conflict[edit]

In 1612, Askiya al-Amin came to power in Dendi. His short reign of six years was followed by the long and tyrannical rule of Askiya Dawud. Dawud killed many people during his reign including relatives and members of the military. His brother, Isma'il, fled to Timbuktu and sought Saadi support to overthrow al-Amin. Isma'il returned in to Dendi and deposed his brother in 1639. Upon attempting to send the foreign army back, he was deposed and replaced by an askiya the pasha's felt would be easier to deal with. This ruler was eventually removed by the Songhai people.

Final Downfall[edit]

Dendi staggered on for the next two and a half centuries witnessing increasingly unstable reigns, coups and counter-coups. When France entered the region, Dendi was in no shape for battle. In 1901, the French deposed the last askiya of the Dendi ending Songhai's control of either Mali or Niger until independence.

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