Wadai Empire

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Sultanate of Wadai

سلطنة وداي
1501–1912
Wadai and surrounding states in 1750.
Wadai and surrounding states in 1750.
CapitalOuara, 1635-1890 Abeche, 1890-1911
Common languagesArabic, Maban, Tunjur, Fur
GovernmentMonarchy
Kolak 
• 1603–1637
Abd al-Karim Al Abbasi
• 1902–1909
Dud Murra of Wadai
• 1909-1912
'Asil Kolak
Historical eraEarly Modern Period
• Established
1501
• Abd al-Karim overthrows the Tunjur King Daud
1635
• Disestablished
1912
• Wadai reconstituted under French suzerainty
1935
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Tunjur
Sultanate of Darfur
French Equatorial Africa
Today part of Central African Republic

 Chad

 Sudan
Part of a series on the
History of Chad
Insigne Tzadiae.svg
Flag of Chad.svg Chad portal

The Wadai Sultanate (Arabic: سلطنة ودايSaltanat Waday, French: royaume du Ouaddaï, Fur: Burgu or Birgu;[1] 1501–1912) was an African sultanate located to the east of Lake Chad in present-day Chad and the Central African Republic. It emerged in the seventeenth century under the leadership of the first sultan, Abd al-Karim, who overthrew the ruling Tunjur people of the area. It occupied land previously held by the Sultanate of Darfur (in present-day Sudan) to the northeast of the Kingdom of Baguirmi.

Origins[edit]

Prior to the 1630's, Wadai, also known as Burgu to the people of Darfur, was a pre-Islamic Tunjur kingdom, established around 1501.[2] The Arab migrants to the area which became Wadai claimed to be descendants of the Abbasid Caliphs, specifically from Salih ibn Abdallah ibn Abbas. Yame, an Abbasid leader, settled with Arab migrants in Debba, near the future capital of Ouara (Wara).[1]

In 1635, the Maba and other small groups in the region rallied to the Islamic banner of Abd al-Karim Al Abbasi, whome descendant from Abbasid nobel family, he led an invasion from the east and overthrew the ruling Tunjur group, who at the time was led by a king named Daud. Abd al-Karim was the son of Yame the Abbasid.[1] Abd al-Karim secured and centralized his power in the area by marrying the Tunjur King Daud's daughter, Meiram Aisa, and then forming other marriage pacts with local dynasties and tribes, such as the Mahamid and Beni Halba tribes. Abd al-Karim became the first Kolak or Sultan of a dynasty that lasted until the arrival of the French.

During much of the 18th century, the history of Wadai is marked by wars with the Sultanate of Darfur and in the early 1700's under the rule of Abd al-Karim's grandson, Ya'qub Arus (1681-1707), the country suffered terrible drought that lasted for several years.

Expansion[edit]

Wadai sultanate east of Lake Chad around 1890, from an American map

After 1804, during the reign of Muhammad Sabun (r. 1804 - c. 1815), the sultanate of Wadai began to expand its power as it profited considerably from its strategic position astride the trans-Saharan trade routes. A new trade route to the north was found, via Ennedi, Kufra and Jalu-Awjila to Benghazi, and Sabun outfitted royal caravans to take advantage of it. He began minting his own coinage and imported chain mail, firearms, and military advisers from North Africa. Sabun's successors were less able than he, and Darfur took advantage of a disputed political succession in 1838 to put its own candidate in power in Ouara, the capital of Wadai. This tactic backfired, however, when Darfur's choice, Muhammad Sharif, rejected Darfur's meddling and asserted his own authority. In doing so, he gained acceptance from Wadai's various factions and went on to become Wadai's ablest ruler.

Sharif conducted military campaigns as far west as Bornu and eventually established Wadai's hegemony over Baguirmi and kingdoms as far away as the Chari River. In Mecca, Sharif had met the founder of the Senussi Islamic brotherhood, a movement that was strong among the inhabitants of Cyrenaica (in present-day Libya) and that was to become a dominant political force and source of resistance to French colonization.

Decline[edit]

Last charge of the cavalry. Armed with spear, bow and sword, and accompanied by deafening music, Wadai's forces held to the old methods- mass cavalry charges followed by the infantry. These were insufficient against modern weapons.
View of Abéché, with buildings constructed by the last sultan of Wadai, 'Asil Kolak. Photo after French annexation, c.1918

Sultan Dud Murra of Wadai opposed French domination until being overcome on June 6, 1909, with the occupation of the capital Abéché by French troops where a puppet sultan was installed. Resistance continued until the last independent sultan, 'Asil Kolak, was captured in 1912 bringing the independence of the sultanate to an end.

The Wadai Sultanate was reconstituted under French suzerainty in 1935, with Muhammad Urada ibn Ibrahim becoming Kolak, or sultan. The sultanate continues under the suzerainty of the Republic of Chad and its current Kolak since 1977 is Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Urada.

It became part of the independent Republic of Chad on that country's independence in 1960. The Ouaddaï Region of modern Chad covers part of the area of the old kingdom. Its chief town is Abéché.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Nachtigal, G. (1971). Sahara and Sudan: Kawar, Bornu, Kanem, Borku, Enned. Sahara and Sudan. University of California Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-520-01789-4. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  2. ^ https://www.britannica.com/place/Wadai
  3. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/tdtoc.html

External links[edit]