Sayfawa dynasty or more properly Sefuwa dynasty is the name of the kings (or mai, as they called themselves) of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, centered first in Kanem in western Chad, and then, after 1380, in Borno (today north-eastern Nigeria).
Theories on the origins of this dynasty vary. Many scholars assert that it may have been rooted in a Tubu expansion or comprised an indigenous dynasty. Other theories have also been made. The German historian Dierk Lange has argued that the advent of the Sayfawa dynasty came in the 11th century, when Hummay consolidated Islam in Kanem. Lange adds that Hummay's advent represented the ascent of a Berber dynasty over the previous Duguwa. The Duguwa is a sub-Kanembu/Kanuri clan currently living in the regions of South Kanem and Massakory in Chad, and the region of Maiduguri in Nigeria. The latter means the region or the city of Mai Dugu in Kanembou/Kanouri language. Thus, the sub-clan exists even today and is considered to be part of the Mayi royal clan and does not have anything to do with Zaghawa as mentioned here. You can contact Mr. Hssan Ahamt, the owner of the "Alimentation la Tchadienne" in N'Djamena who is a member of the sub-clan kanembu Dugua.
In the Islamic period the Sayfawa themselves claimed as their eponymous ancestor the late pre-Islamic Yemenite hero Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan, hence their amended name Sayf-awa. This tradition was first mentioned by the Andalusian scholar Ibn Said in the 13th century, and Lange believes it to be mainly the fruit of the reinterpretation of an indigenous tradition by Muslim scholars who arrived to Kanem from regions where Himyarite traditions were strong. Formerly most historians thought, that the leaders of this new dynasty belonged to the indigenous Kanembu.
The first ten kings present in the list are difficult to date and to identify. Scholars are divided on this topic. Some researches tried to link them with the Ancient Middle East, in a diffusionist point of view. These researches tried to relate the founding of Kanem with immigrants from the collapsing Assyrian Empire, claiming descent from Sef (1)/Sargon of Akkad, hence their name Sef-uwa. Being highly controversial, this hypothesis must not be considered as definitive. It is therefore probable that the first kings of this dynasty are legendary and cannot be equated with any historical characters.
The dynasty, one of Africa's longest living, lost the throne in 1846.
Table of Sefuwa-Duguwa kings in Kanem
|Name of the king||Earlier dating ||Historical name and dating, regarding the diffusionist hypothesis ||Hypothetical historical identity|
|(1) Sef||c. 700||Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279)||Founder of the Akkadian Empire|
|(2) Ibrahim||c. 740||Abraham||Legendary Israelite patriarch|
|(3) Dugu||c. 785||Hammurabi (1792-1750)||Founder of the Amorite Empire|
|(4) Fune||c. 835||Pûl/Tiglath-pileser III (744-727)||Founder of Neo-Assyrian Empire|
|(5) Arsu||c. 893||Rusâ/Ursâ I (730-713)||6th Urartian king|
|(6) Katur||c. 942||Kutir-Nahhunte (1185-1155)||85th Elamite king|
|(7) Buyuma||c. 961||Bunuma-Addu (c. 1770)||1st king of Nihrija/Nairi|
|(8) Bulu||c. 1019||Nabopolassar (626-605)||1st Neo-Babylonian king|
|(9) Arku||c. 1035||Assur-uballit II (612-609)||Last king of Assyria|
|(10) Shu||c. 1077||Sammuramat (810-807)||Regent during the infancy of Adad-nirari III (810-783)|
|Kak.r.ah||.||.||Local king c. 870 CE|
|(11) Abd al-Jalil/Selma||c. 1081||First Duguwa king (1064-1068)||First Muslim ruler of Kanem|
Sayfawa-Humewa kings in Kanem
|Hume or Hummay||1068–1080|
|Dunama I ibn Hummay||1080–1133|
|Bir I or Biri I||1133–1160|
|Abdallah I or Bikorom or Dala I||1160–1176|
|Salmama I or Abd al-Jalil||1176–1203|
|Dunama II Dabbalemi||1203–1242|
|Biri I or Kashim Biri||1270–1290|
|Idris I Nigalemi||1335–1359|
|Abu Bakr Liyatu||1375–1376|
|Umar I or Umar ibn Idris||1376–1381|
Sayfawa kings in Bornu
|Uthman III Kaliwama||1415-1415|
|Abdallah III Dakumuni||1417-1425|
|Ahmad Dunama IV||1434-1438|
|Ghazi or Ghaji||1439-1444|
|Ali Gazi or Ali Ghajideni||1455-1487|
|Muhammad V Aminami||1509-1538|
|Ali II of Bornu||1538-1539|
|Dunama V Ngumarsmma||1539-1557|
|Dala or Abd Allah||1557-1564|
|Aissa Kili N'guirmamaramama||(legendary)|
|Idris III Alauma or Idris Alooma||1564-1596|
|Muhammed VI Bukalmarami||1596-1612|
|Ibrahim III of Bornu||1612-1619|
|Idris IV of Bornu||1677-1696|
|Muhammad VII of Bornu||1729-1744|
|Dunama VIII Gana||1744-1447|
|Dunama IX Lefiami||1808-1816|
|Ibrahim IV of Bornu||1820-1846|
|Ali V Dalatumi||1846|
- Levtzion, "The Sahara and the Sudan", 682-683; Lange, "Kingdoms", 238-265.
- US Country Studies: Chad
- See the article on Kanem-Bornu Empire
- Urvoy, Empire, 26.
- Lange: Founding of Kanem, 13-16.
- Levtzion/Hopkins, Corpus, 21.
- Dates calculated on the basis of Lange, Diwan, 65-77; id., Kingdoms, 552.
- Dates calculated on the basis of Lange, Diwan, 77-94; id., Kingdoms, 552.
- From now on dates follow Lange, Diwan, 80-94.
- Barkindo, Bawuro (1985). "The early states of the Central Sudan", in: J. Ajayi and M. Crowder (eds.), The History of West Africa, vol. I, 3rd ed. Harlow, 225-254.
- Barth, Heinrich (1858). "Chronological table, containing a list of the Sefuwa", in: Travel and Discoveries in North and Central Africa. Vol. II, New York, 581-602.
- Lange, Dierk (1977). Le Dīwān des sultans du Kanem-Bornu. Wiesbaden (has a different chronology from the one given above).
- ---- (1984). "The kingdoms and peoples of Chad", in: D. T. Niane (ed.), General History of Africa, vol. IV, UNESCO, London 1984, 238-265.
- ---- (2004): Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa, Dettelbach.
- ---- (2011): The Founding of Kanem by Assyrian Refugees ca. 600 BCE: Documentary, Linguistic, and Archaeological Evidence, Boston, Working Papers in African Studies N° 265.
- Lavers, John (1993). "Adventures in the chronology of the states of the Chad Basin". In: D. Barreteau and C. v. Graffenried (eds.), Datations et chronologies dans le Bassin du Lac Chad, Paris, 255-267.
- Levtzion, Nehemia (1978):"The Saharan and the Sudan from the Arab conquest of the Maghrib to the rise of the Almoravids", in: J. D. Fage (ed.), The Cambridge History of Africa, vol. II, Cambridge 1978, pp. 637-684.
- Nehemia Levtzion und John Hopkins (1981): Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History, Cambridge.
- Smith, Abdullahi (1971). The early states of the Central Sudan, in: J. Ajayi and M. Crowder (Hg.), History of West Africa. Vol. I, 1. Ausg., London, 158-183.
- Stewart, John (1989). African States and Rulers: An encyclopedia of Native, Colonial and Independent States and Rulers Past and Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 395 Pages. ISBN 0-89950-390-X.
- Urvoy, Yves (1941). "Chronologie du Bornou", Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 11, 21-31.