Borno Emirate

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Shehu of Borno Palace
Borno Emirate
Borno Emirate is located in Nigeria
Borno Emirate
Borno Emirate
Location in Nigeria
Coordinates: 11°50′N 13°09′E / 11.833°N 13.150°E / 11.833; 13.150
Country Nigeria
StateBorno State
 • ShehuAbubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi of Borno

The Borno Emirate, or Borno Sultanate, is a traditional Nigerian state that was formed at the start of the 20th century. It is headed by the descendants of the rulers of the Bornu Empire, founded before 1000. The rulers have the title Shehu of Borno (var. Shehu of Bornu, Sultan of Borno/u). The traditional emirate of Borno maintains a ceremonial rule of the Kanuri people, based in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, but acknowledged by the 4 million Kanuri in neighbouring countries.[1]

The current ruling line, the al-Kanemi dynasty, dates to the accession of Muhammad al-Amin al-Kanemi in the early 19th century, displacing the Sayfawa dynasty which had ruled from around 1300.[2]


House of El-Kanemi
Nigerian royal dynasty
The Organa of 1339, quasi-heraldic flag of the rulers of the ancient Kanem empire
The Organa of 1439, quasi-heraldic flag of the rulers of Kanem's successor state, the Borno empire
Parent houseEl-Kanemi of Kukawa
Current regionNorth
FounderAbubakar Garbai El-Kanemi
Current headAbubakar ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi
  • Shehu of Borno
  • Shehu of Dikwa
  • Shehu of Damboa
  • Waziri of Borno
  • Waziri of Dikwa
  • Waziri of Damboa
  • Hakimi of Borno
  • Hakimi of Dikwa
  • Hakimi of Damboa
Style(s)Royal Highness
Folk Islam
Cadet branches
  • El-Kanemi of Maiduguri
  • El-Kanemi of Dikwa

The old Bornu Empire collapsed in 1893 when the Funj warlord Rabih Zubayr ibn Fadlallah seized power and transferred the capital to Dikwa.[3] When the French, then expanding in West Africa, defeated and killed Rabih they installed Shehu Sanda Kura, a member of the old Bornu dynasty, as the first Shehu of Borno in Dikwa in 1900. In 1901, he was succeeded by his brother, Umar Abubakar Garbai, the ancestor of the current Emirs of Borno. Based on a treaty between the French, Germans, and British, the old Bornu was split up and Dikwa became part of the German colony of Cameroon. The British invited Umar Abubakar Garbai to become ruler of the part falling to the British, and he moved in 1902 first to Monguno and later to Maiduguri. Later Dikwa was transferred to the newly created British Northern Nigeria Protectorate, resulting in two Shehus, the Shehu of Borno based at Maiduguri and the Shehu of Dikwa based at Dikwa.[4]


Rulers of the Borno Emirate since the beginning of the colonial period with the title of "Shehu":[4][5]

Start End Ruler
1902 1922 Umar Abubakar Garbai ibn Ibrahim
1922 1937 Sanda Kura (d. 1937)
1937 1967 Umar Ibn Muhammad also known as Sanda Kyarimi
1968 1974 Umar Ibn Abubakar Garbai (d. 1974)[2]
September 1974 February 2009 Mustapha Ibn Umar Kyari Amin El-Kanemi (b. 1924 d. 21 February 2009)[6]
February 2009 Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai (b. 13 May 1957)[2]

Local Government Areas in Borno Emirate[edit]

Borno Emirate covers fifteen Local Government Areas:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ al-Kanemi dynasty: Sultanate of Borno., accessed 2009-04-02
  2. ^ a b c Naija Pundit (6 March 2009). "The intrigues, power play behind the emergence of new Shehu of Borno". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  3. ^ "BORNO STATE: Historical Development". Online Nigeria. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  4. ^ a b Isa Umar Gusau and Sharafa Dauda (11 July 2010). "How Germany, Britain and France once shared, ruled Borno – Shehu of Dikwa". Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Traditional States of Nigeria". Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  6. ^ "Mustapha Amin El-Kanemi (1924–2009)". ThisDay. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  7. ^ Nigeria (2000). Nigeria: a people united, a future assured. Vol. 2, State Surveys (Millennium ed.). Abuja, Nigeria: Federal Ministry of Information. p. 106. ISBN 9780104089.