Sayfawa dynasty

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Part of a series on the
History of Northern Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
The farthest extent of the medieval Kanem-Bornu state.

Sayfawa dynasty, Sefouwa, Sefawa, or Sefuwa dynasty is the name of the Muslim kings (or mai, as they called themselves) of the Kanem–Bornu Empire,[1] centered first in Kanem in western Chad, and then, after 1380, in Borno (today north-eastern Nigeria).

The dynasty was rooted in the Tubu expansion by the Kanembu.[2]

"The legendary eponymous ancestor of the Saifawa, as the Maghumi are called, only became in Muslim times Saif, the 'lion of Yaman.'[3]:9 The pre-Muslim dynasty is known as the Duguwa Dynasty.[1]:26

Sayfawa-Humewa kings in Kanem[edit]

The chronology of the Sefuwa concerns the rule of the Sayfawa dynasty first over Kanem, then over Kanem-Bornu and finally, since c. 1380, over Bornu alone. The chronology of kings has been ascertained from dynastic records of the Sefuwa on the basis of lengths of reign for the successive kings (mai), found in the Girgam. African historians presently use several conflicting chronologies for the history of Kanem-Bornu. Below a list of the main kings of the Empire with the conflicting chronologies is provided.

Name of the king (mai) Barth 1857[4][5] Palmer 1936[6][3] Urvoy 1941[7][1]
(12) Hume 1086–1097 1086–1097 1085–1097
(17) Dunama Dibbalemi 1221–1259/60 1221–1259 1210–1224
(47) Ali Gajideni 1472–1504 1476–1503 1473–1507
(48) Idris Katakarmabe 1505–1526 1503–1526 1507–1529
(53) Idris Alauma 1572–1603 1570-1602/3 1580–1617

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Urvoy, Y. (1949). Historie De L'Empire Du Bronu (Memoires De L'Institut Francais D'Afrique Noire, No. 7 ed.). Paris: Librairie Larose. pp. 26, 35, 52, 56–57, 73, 75.
  2. ^ US Country Studies: Chad
  3. ^ a b Palmer, Richmond (1936). The Bornu Sahara and Sudan. London: John Murray. pp. 90–95.
  4. ^ Barth, Travels, II, 15-25, 581-602.
  5. ^ Barth, Henry (1890). Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa. London: Ward, Lock, and Co. p. 361. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  6. ^ Palmer, Bornu, 112-268.
  7. ^ Urvoy "Chronologie", 27-31.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Palmer, Herbert Richmond (1936). Bornu Sahara and Sudan. London.
  • 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.

External links[edit]