The Hausa Kingdoms

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These are 14 cities located in the territory which corresponds to the current north-west of Nigeria and south of Niger. These different territories were populated by people with Hausa as their common language.

Birth of city-states

The birth of this joint power dates back to the 11th century AD. Originally, each state was founded by a grandson of Bayajidda. The latter had married Queen Daurama after killing the snake that terrorized his kingdom. After this marriage, he becomes the king, transforming in passing the matriarchal regime into patriarchy. With Daurama, he had a son named Bawogari. He had 6 boys. The 6 boys and their uncle Biram (son of Bayajida and the daughter of the ruler of Borno) took the head of the seven legitimate Hausa states which are known by the following names: Daura, Kano, Katsina, Zaria, Gobir, Rano and Hadeja. Bayajida, however, had another child with his mistress, the slave Bagwariya. Called Karbogari, the latter had seven children. These children, who were nicknamed the illegitimate seven, in turn founded seven states, the Banza or Bastard States. These are Kebbi, Zamfara, Gwari, Yauri, Borgu, Gurma and Yoruba. These states fiercely opposed the first seven without ever succeeding in obtaining their full autonomy.

Height of the Hausa kingdoms

The prosperity of the Hausa kingdoms was ensured by the cities of Kano and Katsina. The first relied on the caravan trade to show off its power. Its peak came at the end of the 15th century. For its part, Katsina, in addition to being an important center of commerce in the region, also became a highly respected center of Islamic studies. By a game of alliance, the Hausa kingdoms constituted at that time important slave markets. With much more traffic oriented towards the Arab world.

Already in the 9th century, through trans-Saharan trade, the Islamic religion took its first steps in the Hausa territories. North African companies thus came closer to companies established in the Sahelian region. It was first in Kanem-Bornou that Islam appeared before reaching the Hausa kingdoms. Increased trade had the effect of consolidating the religion in the Hausa city-states in the 15th century.

Decline of the Hausa kingdoms

Despite the strong implementation of Islam in Hausa countries, the regents of these kingdoms continued to practice animist cults, although the majority of the population was islamized. This religious divide between the people and their rulers caused an uprising of the Fulani people in 1804. At the head of the Fulani was the reformer Usman dan Fodio. The guerrilla warfare led by the latter against the Hausa states allowed the conquest of these states by the Sokoto Caliphate. The Fulani were aided in this by the sometimes longstanding rivalries between Hausa towns, internal conflicts between the elites of several city-states, and a generally discontented populace that had become impoverished while the Hausa commercial aristocracy grew rich. The Fulani therefore annexed the Hausa kingdoms by transforming them into emirates. These emirates will be ruled distinctly by two caliphates. The Sokoto Caliphate in the West Zone and the Gwandu Caliphate in the East Zone.

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