|Sokoto Caliphate||Hausa Kingdoms|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Usman dan Fodio||Sarkin Gobir Yunfa|
The Fulani War of 1804–1808, also known as the Fulani Jihad or Jihad of Usman dan Fodio, was a military contest in present-day Nigeria and Cameroon. The war begun when Usman dan Fodio, a prominent Islamic scholar and teacher, was exiled from Gobir by the king Yunfa, one of his former students. Usman dan Fodio assembled a Fulani army to lead in jihad against the Hausa kingdoms of the north. The forces of Usman dan Fodio slowly took over more and more of the Hausa kingdoms capturing Gobir in 1808 and executing Yunfa. The war resulted in the creation of the Sokoto Caliphate, headed by Usman dan Fodio, which became one of the largest states in Africa in the 1800s and inspired similar jihads in Western Africa.
The Kanem-Bornu Empire had been in decline in the area from the mid-1700s. The result was the rise of a number of independent Hausa kingdoms throughout the region. Two prominent Hausa kingdoms which rose up were Gobir and Zamfara. However, warfare between the Hausa states and with other states were constant for the latter 1700s resulting in a harsh system of conscription and taxation. The Fulani, a largely pastoral people were often the victims of Hausa taxation, land control, and other discriminatory practices.
Lead up to war
Usman dan Fodio, born in 1751, joined a growing number of traveling Islamic scholars through the Hausa kingdoms in the 1770s and became quite popular in the 1790s. Originally, dan Fodio's preaching received the support of the leadership of Gobir; however, as his influence increased and as he began to advocate for self-defense arming by his followers, his favor with the leadership decreased. Sarkin Gobir Nafata, the king of Gobir, placed a series of restrictions on dan Fodio's preaching. In 1801, Sarkin Gobir Yunfa, a former pupil of dan Fodio, replaced Nafata as king of Gobir. However, Yunfa increased the restrictions on dan Fodio and exiled him from Gobir for the village of Degel. A crisis developed later in 1803 when Yunfa attacked and captured many of the followers of a group associated with dan Fodio. Yunfa then marched the prisoners through Degel enraging many of the dan Fodio's followers who attacked the army and freed the prisoners. Yunfa gave dan Fodio the option of exile before destroying Degel which led to the large-scale hijra of dan Fodio's community to Gudu. So many people went with dan Fodio throughout the state that on Feb. 21, 1804, Yunfa declared war on dan Fodio and threatened punishment to anyone joining him. As a response, dan Fodio was declared the Amir al-Mu'minin, commander of the faithful, by his community denouncing their allegiance to Gobir.
There were several minor skirmishes between forces until the forces met at the Battle of Tsuntua. Although Yunfa was victorious and dan Fodio lost a number of men, the battle did not diminish his force and he quickly responded by capturing the village of Matankari which resulted in a major battle between the forces of Yunfa and those of dan Fodio: the battle of Tafkin Kwatto. Although outnumbered, dan Fodio's troops were able to prevent Yunfa from advancing on Gunu and thus convince larger numbers of people to join his forces.
In 1805, the forces of dan Fodio, the jihadists, captured the Hausa kingdom of Kebbi. By 1807, the states of Katsina, Daura, and the important kingdom of Kano had all been taken over by the jihadists. In 1808, the jihadists were able to capture Gobir and Yunfa was slain in the battle.
The capture of Gobir was significant in refocusing the effort of the war from one limited to a wider regional struggle. Other battles continued against a number of Hausa kingdoms and the Sokoto Caliphate expanded over the next two years. The last major expansion of the jihadists was the toppling of the Sayfawa dynasty in 1846.
Founding of the Sokoto Caliphate
Muhammed Bello, the son of Usman dan Fodio, transformed the semi-permanent camp of Sokoto into a city in 1809, during the Fulani war. Usman ruled from Sokoto as the religious leader of the Fulani jihad states from that point until 1815 when he retired from administrative duties. The structure formed for the Caliphate involved the appointment of various Emirs to govern the various states of the empire. These were often individuals who had fought in the Fulani wars.
The success of the jihad inspired a number of later West African jihadists, including Massina Empire founder Seku Amadu, Toucouleur Empire founder Umar Tall, Wassoulou Empire founder Samori Ture, and Adamawa Emirate founder Modibo Adama.
The Sokoto Caliphate remains in existence to this day; although since British conquest of the Caliphate in 1903, the political authority has diminished and only spiritual authority remains.
- Maishanu, Hamza Muhammad; Isa Muhammad Maishanu (1999). "The Jihad and the Formation of the Sokoto Caliphate". Islamic Studies 38 (1): 119–131.
- Chafe, Kabiru Sulaiman (1994). "Challenges to the Hegemony of the Sokoto Caliphate: A Preliminary Examination". Paideuma 40: 99–109.
- Boyd, Jean (1986). Mahdi Adamu, ed. Pastoralists of the West African Savanna. Manchester, UK: International African Institute.