Home Region:  West Africa (Africa)

Kanem-Borno

G SC PT New WA  ni_bornu_emp

Preceding:
800 CE 1379 CE Kanem (cd_kanem)    [population migration]
Add one more here.

Succeeding:
No Polity found. Add one here.

No General Descriptions provided.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
33 P  
Original Name:
Kanem-Borno  
Capital:
Ngazargamu 1380 CE 1799 CE
Kukawa 1800 CE 1893 CE
Alternative Name:
Kanem-Bornu  
Bornu Empire  
Borno Empire  
Bornu  
Borno  
Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,571 CE ➜ 1,583 CE]  
Duration:
[1,380 CE ➜ 1,893 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Succeeding Entity:
British Empire  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration  
population migration  
Preceding Entity:
Preceding:   Kanem (cd_kanem)    [population migration]  
Degree of Centralization:
confederated state  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Saharan  
Afro-Asiatic  
Language:
Kanuri  
Kanembu  
Arabic  
Religion
Religious Tradition:
Islam  
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Polity Territory:
777,000 km2  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
5  
Religious Level:
[3 to 4]  
Military Level:
[4 to 5]  
Administrative Level:
[6 to 8]  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
inferred present  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Full Time Bureaucrat:
inferred present  
Law
Judge:
present  
Formal Legal Code:
present  
Court:
inferred present  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present  
Utilitarian Public Building:
present  
Transport Infrastructure
Port:
inferred present  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Trading Emporia:
present  
Special Purpose Site:
present  
Burial Site:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present  
Script:
present  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present  
Sacred Text:
present  
Religious Literature:
present  
Practical Literature:
present  
Lists Tables and Classification:
present  
History:
present  
Calendar:
inferred present  
Information / Money
Token:
present  
Paper Currency:
inferred absent  
Indigenous Coin:
present  
Foreign Coin:
present  
Store Of Wealth:
present  
Debt And Credit Structure:
present  
Information / Postal System
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Military use of Metals
Projectiles
Handheld weapons
Animals used in warfare
Armor
Naval technology
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Kanem-Borno (ni_bornu_emp) was in:
Home NGA: None

General Variables
Identity and Location

Original Name:
Kanem-Borno

“Conventional histories of the Western Sudan are dominated by great empires - Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Borno - but each was an agglomeration of polities, and each was surrounded by independent states.” [1]

[1]: Isichei, E. (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press: 223. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/Z4GK27CI/collection


Capital:
Ngazargamu
1380 CE 1799 CE

“It was from the ruins of the Kanem empire that a new empire emerged known as Kanem Borno with its capital at Ngazargamu.” [1] “The Borno dynasty had its capital in the city of Ngazargamu on the banks of the Yo River, near what is now the border between the modern states of Niger and Nigeria. More information about Mai Idris exists than for any other Borno ruler prior to the nineteenth century, due to the survival of Ibn Fartuwa’s panegyric chronicle for the first twelve years of Mai Idris’ reign.” [2] Birni Gazargamu seems to be an alternate spelling for Ngazargamu: “The state was governed by a group of individuals whom we shall call the ruling class, almost all of whom lived in the capital, Birni Gazargamu before the nineteenth century, and Kukawa during the nineteenth century.” [3]

[1]: ADEFUYE, A., & Adefuye, A. I. (1984). The Kanuri factor in Nigeria – Chad relations. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 12(3/4), 121–137: 122. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/3D2ZCZP4/collection

[2]: Cory, S. (2009). The Man Who Would Be Caliph: A Sixteenth-Century Sultan’s Bid for an African Empire. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 42(2), 179–200: 187. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/FCX99F3P/collection

[3]: Brenner, L. (1973). Sources of Constitutional Thought in Borno. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 7(1), 49–65: 51. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection

Capital:
Kukawa
1800 CE 1893 CE

“It was from the ruins of the Kanem empire that a new empire emerged known as Kanem Borno with its capital at Ngazargamu.” [1] “The Borno dynasty had its capital in the city of Ngazargamu on the banks of the Yo River, near what is now the border between the modern states of Niger and Nigeria. More information about Mai Idris exists than for any other Borno ruler prior to the nineteenth century, due to the survival of Ibn Fartuwa’s panegyric chronicle for the first twelve years of Mai Idris’ reign.” [2] Birni Gazargamu seems to be an alternate spelling for Ngazargamu: “The state was governed by a group of individuals whom we shall call the ruling class, almost all of whom lived in the capital, Birni Gazargamu before the nineteenth century, and Kukawa during the nineteenth century.” [3]

[1]: ADEFUYE, A., & Adefuye, A. I. (1984). The Kanuri factor in Nigeria – Chad relations. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 12(3/4), 121–137: 122. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/3D2ZCZP4/collection

[2]: Cory, S. (2009). The Man Who Would Be Caliph: A Sixteenth-Century Sultan’s Bid for an African Empire. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 42(2), 179–200: 187. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/FCX99F3P/collection

[3]: Brenner, L. (1973). Sources of Constitutional Thought in Borno. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 7(1), 49–65: 51. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection


Alternative Name:
Kanem-Bornu

Kanem and succeeding Bornu are often treated as one polity, but hyphenated names are used to refer to the Bornu period and the entire period.

Alternative Name:
Bornu Empire

Kanem and succeeding Bornu are often treated as one polity, but hyphenated names are used to refer to the Bornu period and the entire period.

Alternative Name:
Borno Empire

Kanem and succeeding Bornu are often treated as one polity, but hyphenated names are used to refer to the Bornu period and the entire period.

Alternative Name:
Bornu

Kanem and succeeding Bornu are often treated as one polity, but hyphenated names are used to refer to the Bornu period and the entire period.

Alternative Name:
Borno

Kanem and succeeding Bornu are often treated as one polity, but hyphenated names are used to refer to the Bornu period and the entire period.


Temporal Bounds
Peak Years:
[1,571 CE ➜ 1,583 CE]

The peak is identified as the reign of Mai Idris Aloma, but the end date of his reign doesn’t seem certain. “Like most of the pre-colonial empires in Africa, the fortunes of Kanem Borno fluctuated depending on the dynamism of its ruler. Kanem Borno is generally believed to have reached its height of glory during the reign of Mai Idris Aloma. But his successors could not match his ability, hence the empire began to decline.” [1] “The manuscript was called by Dr. Barth “A history of the first twelve years of the reign of Mai (king) Idris Alooma.” That is therefore probably the most suitable title for it. It embraces accounts of the various expeditions or wars undertaken by that monarch between the year 1571 when he ascended the throne, and about the year 1583, excluding his expeditions to Kanem, East of Lake Chad which were treated of in a subsequent work.” [2]

[1]: ADEFUYE, A., & Adefuye, A. I. (1984). THE KANURI FACTOR IN NIGERIA – CHAD RELATIONS. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 12(3/4), 121–137: 122. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/3D2ZCZP4/collection

[2]: Fartua, A. I. (2019). History of the First Twelve Years of the Reign of Mai Idris Alooma of Bornu (1571–1583). CRC Press: 1. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/HSU9ZCRC/collection


Duration:
[1,380 CE ➜ 1,893 CE]

Start date could be as early as eighth century if we include Kanem/treat it as Kanem-Bornu. “The empire of Kanem-Bornu finds its roots between Lake Chad and the Bahr el-Ghazal in the region of Kanem (modern-day Chad). It was based on the state of Kanem created around the 8th century and was ruled by the Duguwa, an aristocracy who chose a king among themselves.” [1] “European conquest at the end of the 19th century then divided Bornu between the German colony of Cameroon and the British colony of Nigeria.” [2]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 1. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


Political and Cultural Relations
Succeeding Entity:
British Empire

Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration

“Kanem was a state to the north-east of Lake Chad whose ruling dynasty, the Seyfawa, abandoned their homeland for ‘Kaga’, the clay plains of Borno, in the fourteenth century. Ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhai have long since disappeared, but Kanem’s successor state, Borno, survived until the beginning of colonial rule. The Seyfawa ruled until the early nineteenth century, one of the longest surviving dynasties in world history.” [1]

[1]: Isichei, E. (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press: 230. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/Z4GK27CI/collection

Relationship to Preceding Entity:
population migration

“Kanem was a state to the north-east of Lake Chad whose ruling dynasty, the Seyfawa, abandoned their homeland for ‘Kaga’, the clay plains of Borno, in the fourteenth century. Ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhai have long since disappeared, but Kanem’s successor state, Borno, survived until the beginning of colonial rule. The Seyfawa ruled until the early nineteenth century, one of the longest surviving dynasties in world history.” [1]

[1]: Isichei, E. (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press: 230. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/Z4GK27CI/collection


Preceding Entity:
Kanem [cd_kanem] ---> Kanem-Borno [ni_bornu_emp]

(Relationship): “Kanem was a state to the north-east of Lake Chad whose ruling dynasty, the Seyfawa, abandoned their homeland for ‘Kaga’, the clay plains of Borno, in the fourteenth century. Ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhai have long since disappeared, but Kanem’s successor state, Borno, survived until the beginning of colonial rule. The Seyfawa ruled until the early nineteenth century, one of the longest surviving dynasties in world history.” [1] , “Kanem was a state to the north-east of Lake Chad whose ruling dynasty, the Seyfawa, abandoned their homeland for ‘Kaga’, the clay plains of Borno, in the fourteenth century. Ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhai have long since disappeared, but Kanem’s successor state, Borno, survived until the beginning of colonial rule. The Seyfawa ruled until the early nineteenth century, one of the longest surviving dynasties in world history.” [1]
(Entity): “Kanem was a state to the north-east of Lake Chad whose ruling dynasty, the Seyfawa, abandoned their homeland for ‘Kaga’, the clay plains of Borno, in the fourteenth century.” [1]

[1]: Isichei, E. (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press: 230. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/Z4GK27CI/collection


Degree of Centralization:
confederated state

“Even though it is difficult to generalize the nature of political power for more than 1000 years of history, some features seem to have been present throughout the history of Bornu. The royal family was at the heart of the political system meaning that the head of the Sayfawa family was also the mai. It seems that to prevent wars of succession, the chiroma, generally the eldest son or the brother of the mai, was designated during the lifetime of the mai. Members of the royal family were also important office-holders. For example, the magira, the queen mother, held for a long time the highest number of fiefs in the kingdom while the first wife of the mai, the gumsu, was responsible for the palace duties with the three other wives of the mai (Cohen 1967). As a consequence, the stability of the empire was synonymous with the stability of the royal family. However, political power was not solely in the hands of the ruling family as members of the council were also in charge of political affairs. It appears that there were around twelve members in this council and that apart from the descendants of the close advisors of the first Sayfawas, their office was not hereditary. It would be difficult to attribute a specific role to each of the members of the council over the centuries but some office-holders seem to exert the same roles. For example, the mainin kenandi was the Islamic advisor of the mai whereas the kaigama was in charge of the armies of Kanem-Bornu. This highly structured political system could also be found in the territorial organization of the kingdom. Indeed, the empire of KanemBornu was organized territorially and divided into different administrative regions. For example, the galadima was supposed to be the viceroy of the Western part of the kingdom. He had his own capital at Nguru and when present in Birni Gazagarmo was a full member of the council (Alkali 1983). One of the striking features of the empire of Kanem-Bornu was its complex territorial organization which allowed it to survive for more than a millennium. Diplomatic correspondence and oral history confirm that the Kanem-Bornu Empire was an empire with different types of borders. Some of them may have been rather vague, such as those along the Saharan trade route, whereas others could have been precisely delimited, such as the borders south of Lake Chad with the Bagirmi or westwards with the Hausa states. Moreover, the core of Bornu and the newly conquered regions had sensibly different territorial structures. In metropolitan Bornu, a double fief system enabled the mais and later the shehus to levy taxes and troops in their empire. The first one was a personal fief where the fief-holder, the chima jilibe, owned a fief over people, the second one was territorial: here the fief-holder, the chima chidibe, was in charge of a specific territory. This system enabled the empire to control its sedentary population as well as incorporating its nomadic or semi-nomadic subjects such as the Shuwa Arabs. This administrative structure was present in metropolitan Bornu whereas the satellite regions were still administered by a local ruler. For example, the sultanate of Zinder was semiautonomous but still part of the Kanem-Bornu Empire until the middle of the 19th century.” [1]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


Language
Linguistic Family:
Saharan

WALS classification. “As a consequence, their Nilo-Saharan language, Kanuri, became the lingua franca of the empire.” [1]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 1–2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

Linguistic Family:
Afro-Asiatic

WALS classification. “As a consequence, their Nilo-Saharan language, Kanuri, became the lingua franca of the empire.” [1]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 1–2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


Language:
Kanuri

“As a consequence, their Nilo-Saharan language, Kanuri, became the lingua franca of the empire.” [1] “Generally the main objectives of all mahrams was to show appreciation by the sovereign and this was through bestowing special privileges to the person (or persons) to whom the mahram was addressed. In the case of Borno, one such group that appear to have benefitted most from this system is the ’(scholastic) class. The reason for their dominance is obvious. In the first place they constituted a literate, knowledgeable and articulate group in the society. Because of their skill, especially in Arabic, an international medium which was also the official language of Borno, as well as the Maghrib, they were Borno’s intellectual link with the Islamic World. As a highly mobile group, possessing their own peculiar network, the scholars were well informed about events in other Muslim lands. They also had close relations with the merchant class in the sense that the former’s itinerant journeys were often in the company of the latter.” [2] “The Bornu manuscripts discussed in the present article were first described by A. D. H. Bivar in his publication of 1960 ’A dated Kuran from Bornu’ (Bivar 1960). The author gave a short but very informative account of four early quranic manuscripts with interlinear vernacular glosses in Arabic/Ajamic script, which he examined during his travels to northern Nigeria in 1958-59. Among the most remarkable findings of Bivar’s investigation was the discovery of a date in one of the Qurans, and the identification of the vernacular language. Apart from the vernacular glosses, the dated manuscript, which was in the possession of Imam Ibrahim, Imam Juma Maiduguri (the head of the Muslim community of Maiduguri), carried an abridged Arabic commentary, the jami ahkam al-qur’an of al-Qurtubi, and a colophon with the date of completion of this commentary–1 Jumadi II, 1080 ah (26 October, ad 1669) (Bivar 1960: 203). The language of the glosses in all four Qurans was established as Kanembu, one of the dialects of Kanuri–a major Nilo-Saharan language spoken mainly in north-east Nigeria and the main language of ancient Bornu.” [3]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 1–2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: AMINU, M. (1981). THE PLACE OF MAHRAMS IN THE HISTORY OF KANEM-BORNO. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 10(4), 31–38: 33. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/5ERZU7K2/collection

[3]: Bondarev, Dmitry. “The Language of the Glosses in the Bornu Quranic Manuscripts.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 69, no. 1, 2006, pp. 113–40: 113. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/EK9MA3WU/collection

Language:
Kanembu

“As a consequence, their Nilo-Saharan language, Kanuri, became the lingua franca of the empire.” [1] “Generally the main objectives of all mahrams was to show appreciation by the sovereign and this was through bestowing special privileges to the person (or persons) to whom the mahram was addressed. In the case of Borno, one such group that appear to have benefitted most from this system is the ’(scholastic) class. The reason for their dominance is obvious. In the first place they constituted a literate, knowledgeable and articulate group in the society. Because of their skill, especially in Arabic, an international medium which was also the official language of Borno, as well as the Maghrib, they were Borno’s intellectual link with the Islamic World. As a highly mobile group, possessing their own peculiar network, the scholars were well informed about events in other Muslim lands. They also had close relations with the merchant class in the sense that the former’s itinerant journeys were often in the company of the latter.” [2] “The Bornu manuscripts discussed in the present article were first described by A. D. H. Bivar in his publication of 1960 ’A dated Kuran from Bornu’ (Bivar 1960). The author gave a short but very informative account of four early quranic manuscripts with interlinear vernacular glosses in Arabic/Ajamic script, which he examined during his travels to northern Nigeria in 1958-59. Among the most remarkable findings of Bivar’s investigation was the discovery of a date in one of the Qurans, and the identification of the vernacular language. Apart from the vernacular glosses, the dated manuscript, which was in the possession of Imam Ibrahim, Imam Juma Maiduguri (the head of the Muslim community of Maiduguri), carried an abridged Arabic commentary, the jami ahkam al-qur’an of al-Qurtubi, and a colophon with the date of completion of this commentary–1 Jumadi II, 1080 ah (26 October, ad 1669) (Bivar 1960: 203). The language of the glosses in all four Qurans was established as Kanembu, one of the dialects of Kanuri–a major Nilo-Saharan language spoken mainly in north-east Nigeria and the main language of ancient Bornu.” [3]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 1–2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: AMINU, M. (1981). THE PLACE OF MAHRAMS IN THE HISTORY OF KANEM-BORNO. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 10(4), 31–38: 33. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/5ERZU7K2/collection

[3]: Bondarev, Dmitry. “The Language of the Glosses in the Bornu Quranic Manuscripts.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 69, no. 1, 2006, pp. 113–40: 113. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/EK9MA3WU/collection

Language:
Arabic

“As a consequence, their Nilo-Saharan language, Kanuri, became the lingua franca of the empire.” [1] “Generally the main objectives of all mahrams was to show appreciation by the sovereign and this was through bestowing special privileges to the person (or persons) to whom the mahram was addressed. In the case of Borno, one such group that appear to have benefitted most from this system is the ’(scholastic) class. The reason for their dominance is obvious. In the first place they constituted a literate, knowledgeable and articulate group in the society. Because of their skill, especially in Arabic, an international medium which was also the official language of Borno, as well as the Maghrib, they were Borno’s intellectual link with the Islamic World. As a highly mobile group, possessing their own peculiar network, the scholars were well informed about events in other Muslim lands. They also had close relations with the merchant class in the sense that the former’s itinerant journeys were often in the company of the latter.” [2] “The Bornu manuscripts discussed in the present article were first described by A. D. H. Bivar in his publication of 1960 ’A dated Kuran from Bornu’ (Bivar 1960). The author gave a short but very informative account of four early quranic manuscripts with interlinear vernacular glosses in Arabic/Ajamic script, which he examined during his travels to northern Nigeria in 1958-59. Among the most remarkable findings of Bivar’s investigation was the discovery of a date in one of the Qurans, and the identification of the vernacular language. Apart from the vernacular glosses, the dated manuscript, which was in the possession of Imam Ibrahim, Imam Juma Maiduguri (the head of the Muslim community of Maiduguri), carried an abridged Arabic commentary, the jami ahkam al-qur’an of al-Qurtubi, and a colophon with the date of completion of this commentary–1 Jumadi II, 1080 ah (26 October, ad 1669) (Bivar 1960: 203). The language of the glosses in all four Qurans was established as Kanembu, one of the dialects of Kanuri–a major Nilo-Saharan language spoken mainly in north-east Nigeria and the main language of ancient Bornu.” [3]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 1–2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: AMINU, M. (1981). THE PLACE OF MAHRAMS IN THE HISTORY OF KANEM-BORNO. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 10(4), 31–38: 33. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/5ERZU7K2/collection

[3]: Bondarev, Dmitry. “The Language of the Glosses in the Bornu Quranic Manuscripts.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 69, no. 1, 2006, pp. 113–40: 113. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/EK9MA3WU/collection


Religion
Religious Tradition:
Islam

“Kanem rulers were among the first to be Islamized in sub-Saharan Africa in the 11th century. The empire of Kanem-Bornu became rapidly renowned for its Islamic culture with some of its mais undertaking the hajj and building mosques in the country (Barkindo 1985: 235). Islam had an important political role in Kanem-Bornu as the change of dynasty between the Duguwa and the Sayfawa in the 11th century seems to have been triggered by political and religious factors. Indeed, Hummay (r.1075–1080) became ruler of Kanem and founded the Sayfawa dynasty with the help of a pro-Islam faction in the Kanem court (Lange 1993: 265). Moreover, Islam had an influence on the expansionist policies of the state as the development of the kingdom could be justified by the conversion of non-Muslims. Islam also influenced the discourse of state-creation as rulers during this period claimed to be descended from a Yemenite ancestor, the 7th century figure Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan of Himyar (Smith 1983). Moreover, since the end of the 15th century, and maybe since an earlier date, the mai (the head of the empire) assumed the title of “caliph” (Lavers 1993: 257) and the Sayfawa throne was also supposed to be the degal lisalambe, the “cradle of Islam.” As a consequence, the mais used Islamic advisors and, in theory, their power could not exceed the prescriptions of the Sharia. This creation of a Muslim religious ancestry was a common practice through which trans-Saharan African empires could assert their religious and kinship ties with Arabia. As a Muslim empire, Kanem-Bornu was not radically different from other “Islamicate” polities in sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, whilst it was dominated by Islam, there were many pre-Islamic features that shaped political and cultural life. A perfect example of the importance of this pre-Islamic culture was the cult of an undefined sacred object, the mune, until its destruction by mai Dunama Dibbalemi (1203–1242).” [1] “The Kanuri people of Borno cannot separate their state and society from Islam, because throughout remembered history, the Borno state, society and the religion of Islam are each an aspect of the other. Islam had been a state religion in Borno’s precursor state of Kanem as far back as the early thirteenth century A.D., where more than a century earlier, a ruler of Kanem had already converted to Islam, and the religion was penetrating peacefully through foreign traders and itinerant scholars even much earlier. As state religion, Islam had thus come to not only overwhelm the way of life of the people but, in particular, the structure and functioning of the state, and the conduct of state affairs at all levels. From sources there is indeed evidence that these early rulers have taken the faith seriously. Smith for instance has confirmed that the next ruler since the conversion, Mai (King) Dunama, performed the holy pilgrimage to Mecca twice, with great pomp and was indeed drowned in the Red Sea on his way for the third time. Mai Biri who succeeded this holy pilgrim, is remembered in our sources as a faqih (a learned man) and the grandson of this faqih is recorded as a great mosquebuilder. Not only were these early rulers committed torch-bearers of Islam, but they had honoured the burgeoning body of Kanuri ulama (Muslim scholars) to whom they gave privileged positions in Court and/or fiefs in the country-side where they had settled with their pupils and dependants (malumri). Usually, such settlements and their inhabitants are free from taxation and other State dues (mahram). It can no doubt be contended that such a privileged and high profile position bestowed to ulama would itself provide for largescale conversion and proselytization among the people.” [2]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: Tijani, K. (1993). THE MUNE IN PRE-COLONIAL BORNO. Berichte Des Sonderforschungsbereichs, 268(2), 227–254: 228. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/2VQBX7DW/collection



Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Polity Territory:
777,000 km2

in squared kilometers. “This vast area over which the empire held sway coincided, to a considerable extent, with the boundaries of the Lake Chad basin, an area of more than 300,000 sq miles. Today, the areas that erstwhile constituted the kingdoms of Kanem and Borno are shared between the modern states of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroons. (Lavers, 1980).” [1]

[1]: Waziri, M., Kagu, A., & Monguno, A. K. (Eds.). (2009). Issues in the Geography of Borno State. AJ Publishers: 14. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/NU9US3UA/collection


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
5

Levels: 1) Large (walled) city; 2) City; 3) Large town; 4. Town; 5) Hamlet/ward. “If Ibn Fartua’s assertion that this method of procedure was entirely new, Mai Idris’s reign could have marked the transition from a city state (albeit with far flung trading and political connections) to a territorial state in the Borno area. Professor Cohen has suggested that the founding of the great high walled city of Gazargamu may have marked a major alteration of the political scene in the valley of the Yo river and beyond.” [1] “However this may be, by the late seventeenth century there were no easy fields for conquest within immediate range and Mai Idris Alooma looked out from Gazargamu on a political landscape studded with walled cities and stockaded towns that severely circumscribed the scope of raiding armies. In such circumstances, the discovery of a technique of starving such cities and towns into surrender would have been a valuable innovation indeed and what should be noted particularly about it was its persistent, enduring quality- the investment of adequate effort over a sufficient period of time to reduce the enemy to submission.” [2] “Households were grouped into political and administrative units, the smallest of which were wards or hamlets. Wards were grouped into villages or cities, these into districts (comprising non-contiguous administrative units), and the totality of districts formed the state. The state was governed by a group of individuals whom we shall call the ruling class, almost all of whom lived in the capital, Birni Gazargamu before the nineteenth century, and Kukawa during the nineteenth century. The ruling class comprised the king (Mai or Shehu), the royal family, free courtiers (both titled and non-titled), and the royal slaves.” [3]

[1]: GAVIN, R. J. (1979). Some Perspectives on Nigerian History. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 9(4), 15–38: 22. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BPED9ADF/collection

[2]: GAVIN, R. J. (1979). Some Perspectives on Nigerian History. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 9(4), 15–38: 22-23. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BPED9ADF/collection

[3]: Brenner, Louis. “SOURCES OF CONSTITUTIONAL THOUGHT IN BORNO.” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, vol. 7, no. 1, 1973, pp. 49–65: 51. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection


Religious Level:
[3 to 4]

levels. 1) Chief Imam; 2) Mainin kenandi (Islamic advisor to the mai; this may be the same as the chief Imam role); 3) Imams (inferred present from reference to a chief Imam); 4) Village headman/teacher (alim/calim). “The warlike exploits of this Mai Idris Katagarmabe were recorded by his chief Imam, Sheikh Masfarma or Masbarma, in a work still known as the Tarikh Masbarma, a work on which the writer of this history, the Imam ibn Fartua, obviously drew for information concerning events which took place prior to the time which was within the memory of himself or people still alive in his day.” [1] “Ordinarily, a mallemti settlement would consist of the mahram grantee, his extended family, and a number of people not directly associated with the calim or his activities, but who may have been originally living in the area or have taken up residence in the mallemti after its establishment. The calim took the dual responsibilities of a village head-man and a teacher. As the village headman, he settled disputes between contending parties be they from his immediate circle or from other residents of the mallemti. As the principal teacher, he imparted knowledge and counselled troubled souls, and depending upon the ’efficacy of his prayers’ would, in his capacity as a spiritual counsellor, command a large following in the whole district.” [2] “Even though it is difficult to generalize the nature of political power for more than 1000 years of history, some features seem to have been present throughout the history of Bornu. The royal family was at the heart of the political system meaning that the head of the Sayfawa family was also the mai. […] However, political power was not solely in the hands of the ruling family as members of the council were also in charge of political affairs. It appears that there were around twelve members in this council and that apart from the descendants of the close advisors of the first Sayfawas, their office was not hereditary. It would be difficult to attribute a specific role to each of the members of the council over the centuries but some office-holders seem to exert the same roles. For example, the mainin kenandi was the Islamic advisor of the mai whereas the kaigama was in charge of the armies of Kanem-Bornu.” [3]

[1]: Fartua, Ahmed Ibn. History of the First Twelve Years of the Reign of Mai Idris Alooma of Bornu (1571–1583). CRC Press, 2019: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/HSU9ZCRC/collection

[2]: Bobboyi, Hamidu. “RELATIONS OF THE BORNO ʿULAMĀʾ WITH THE SAYFAWA RULERS: THE ROLE OF THE MAḤRAMS.” Sudanic Africa, vol. 4, 1993, pp. 175–204: 200. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/JE5VQ8NI/collection

[3]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


Military Level:
[4 to 5]

Levels: 1) Kaigama (in charge of the armies of Kanem-Bornu); 2) Members of the court/chima kura (heads of vast households, which also operated as military units); 3) Ummal (officers); 4) Fursan (horsemen/warriors), which may be distinct from ordinary soldiers. “Even though it is difficult to generalize the nature of political power for more than 1000 years of history, some features seem to have been present throughout the history of Bornu. The royal family was at the heart of the political system meaning that the head of the Sayfawa family was also the mai. […] However, political power was not solely in the hands of the ruling family as members of the council were also in charge of political affairs. It appears that there were around twelve members in this council and that apart from the descendants of the close advisors of the first Sayfawas, their office was not hereditary. It would be difficult to attribute a specific role to each of the members of the council over the centuries but some office-holders seem to exert the same roles. For example, the mainin kenandi was the Islamic advisor of the mai whereas the kaigama was in charge of the armies of Kanem-Bornu.” [1] “Each member of the court was himself the head of a household, often vast in its dimensions. These households might include hundreds of slaves and clients, and they not only operated as military units in the Borno army, but also as the fundamental administrative cadres in the state government. In their capacities as administrators, members of the court were called chima kura, literally, big tax collector. Chima kura were responsible for the administration of their own districts, units of which were usually scattered geographically throughout the kingdom. They appointed slaves or clients as resident administrators for these smaller sub-units or fiefs, who were called chima gana (small tax collector).” [2] “The categories of officials which the inscriptio mentions are the umara (amirs), shurta (guards), hukama (governors), "ulama (scholars), ummal (officers), qudat (judges), wuzara (viziers), fursan (horsemen, warriors), ra’aya (subjects) and ma’shar al-muslimln (the generality of Muslims).” [3]

[1]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: Brenner, Louis. “SOURCES OF CONSTITUTIONAL THOUGHT IN BORNO.” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, vol. 7, no. 1, 1973, pp. 49–65: 52. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection

[3]: Bobboyi, H. (1993). RELATIONS OF THE BORNO ʿULAMĀʾ WITH THE SAYFAWA RULERS: THE ROLE OF THE MAḤRAMS. Sudanic Africa, 4, 175–204: 189–190. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/JE5VQ8NI/collection


Administrative Level:
[6 to 8]

Levels (not strictly hierarchical, but at least handling separate areas): 1) Mai/Shehu/Caliph (Sultan/King); 2) Royal family (several roles, so could be split into multiple levels eg 1 chiroma, eldest brother/son of the mai; 2 magira, queen mother; 3 gumsu, first wife, and three other wives of the mai); 3) Council (about twelve members); 4) Viceroys/district administrators/members of the court (eg galadima); 5) Fief-holders/regional administrators (eg chima jilibe, chima chidibe, chima gana); 6) Calim/alim (local chiefs/administrators). NB This doesn’t account for rulers of regions which are semi-autonomous, and may have their own administrative systems. “[TABLE 3 Administrative Structure: King. Chima kura: royal family; courtiers; royal slaves. Chima gana: clients and slaves of chima kura, resident in fiefs. Village chiefs. Household units of the talaka (common citizens).] Although this table adequately represents the administrative structure which obtained in the largest part of Borno territory, in actual fact the functioning of Borno administration was considerably more complex. There were numerous units within the state which for one reason or another fell outside the structure illustrated here. For example, there were semi-autonomous territories and ethnic groups which were directly responsible to the ruler; there were also territories tributary to Borno. In addition there were various families, clans, or villages which enjoyed privileged status.” [1] “Even though it is difficult to generalize the nature of political power for more than 1000 years of history, some features seem to have been present throughout the history of Bornu. The royal family was at the heart of the political system meaning that the head of the Sayfawa family was also the mai. It seems that to prevent wars of succession, the chiroma, generally the eldest son or the brother of the mai, was designated during the lifetime of the mai. Members of the royal family were also important office-holders. For example, the magira, the queen mother, held for a long time the highest number of fiefs in the kingdom while the first wife of the mai, the gumsu, was responsible for the palace duties with the three other wives of the mai (Cohen 1967). As a consequence, the stability of the empire was synonymous with the stability of the royal family. However, political power was not solely in the hands of the ruling family as members of the council were also in charge of political affairs. It appears that there were around twelve members in this council and that apart from the descendants of the close advisors of the first Sayfawas, their office was not hereditary. It would be difficult to attribute a specific role to each of the members of the council over the centuries but some office-holders seem to exert the same roles. For example, the mainin kenandi was the Islamic advisor of the mai whereas the kaigama was in charge of the armies of Kanem-Bornu. This highly structured political system could also be found in the territorial organization of the kingdom. Indeed, the empire of KanemBornu was organized territorially and divided into different administrative regions. For example, the galadima was supposed to be the viceroy of the Western part of the kingdom. He had his own capital at Nguru and when present in Birni Gazagarmo was a full member of the council (Alkali 1983). One of the striking features of the empire of Kanem-Bornu was its complex territorial organization which allowed it to survive for more than a millennium. Diplomatic correspondence and oral history confirm that the Kanem-Bornu Empire was an empire with different types of borders. Some of them may have been rather vague, such as those along the Saharan trade route, whereas others could have been precisely delimited, such as the borders south of Lake Chad with the Bagirmi or westwards with the Hausa states. Moreover, the core of Bornu and the newly conquered regions had sensibly different territorial structures. In metropolitan Bornu, a double fief system enabled the mais and later the shehus to levy taxes and troops in their empire. The first one was a personal fief where the fief-holder, the chima jilibe, owned a fief over people, the second one was territorial: here the fief-holder, the chima chidibe, was in charge of a specific territory. This system enabled the empire to control its sedentary population as well as incorporating its nomadic or semi-nomadic subjects such as the Shuwa Arabs. This administrative structure was present in metropolitan Bornu whereas the satellite regions were still administered by a local ruler. For example, the sultanate of Zinder was semiautonomous but still part of the KanemBornu Empire until the middle of the 19th century.” [2] “Moreover, since the end of the 15th century, and maybe since an earlier date, the mai (the head of the empire) assumed the title of “caliph” (Lavers 1993: 257) and the Sayfawa throne was also supposed to be the degal lisalambe, the “cradle of Islam.” As a consequence, the mais used Islamic advisors and, in theory, their power could not exceed the prescriptions of the Sharia. This creation of a Muslim religious ancestry was a common practice through which trans-Saharan African empires could assert their religious and kinship ties with Arabia.” [3] “The categories of officials which the inscriptio mentions are the umara (amirs), shurta (guards), hukama (governors), "ulama (scholars), ummal (officers), qudat (judges), wuzara (viziers), fursan (horsemen, warriors), ra’aya (subjects) and ma’shar al-muslimln (the generality of Muslims).” [4] “Each member of the court was himself the head of a household, often vast in its dimensions. These households might include hundreds of slaves and clients, and they not only operated as military units in the Borno army, but also as the fundamental administrative cadres in the state government. In their capacities as administrators, members of the court were called chima kura, literally, big tax collector. Chima kura were responsible for the administration of their own districts, units of which were usually scattered geographically throughout the kingdom. They appointed slaves or clients as resident administrators for these smaller sub-units or fiefs, who were called chima gana (small tax collector).” [5] “Ordinarily, a mallemti settlement would consist of the mahram grantee, his extended family, and a number of people not directly associated with the calim or his activities, but who may have been originally living in the area or have taken up residence in the mallemti after its establishment. The calim took the dual responsibilities of a village head-man and a teacher. As the village headman, he settled disputes between contending parties be they from his immediate circle or from other residents of the mallemti. As the principal teacher, he imparted knowledge and counselled troubled souls, and depending upon the ’efficacy of his prayers’ would, in his capacity as a spiritual counsellor, command a large following in the whole district.” [6]

[1]: Brenner, L. (1973). Sources of Constitutional Thought in Borno. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 7(1), 49–65: 52. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection

[2]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[3]: Hiribarren, V. (2016). Kanem-Bornu Empire. In N. Dalziel & J. M. MacKenzie (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (pp. 1–6). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[4]: Bobboyi, H. (1993). RELATIONS OF THE BORNO ʿULAMĀʾ WITH THE SAYFAWA RULERS: THE ROLE OF THE MAḤRAMS. Sudanic Africa, 4, 175–204: 189–190. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/JE5VQ8NI/collection

[5]: Brenner, Louis. “SOURCES OF CONSTITUTIONAL THOUGHT IN BORNO.” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, vol. 7, no. 1, 1973, pp. 49–65: 52. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection

[6]: Bobboyi, Hamidu. “RELATIONS OF THE BORNO ʿULAMĀʾ WITH THE SAYFAWA RULERS: THE ROLE OF THE MAḤRAMS.” Sudanic Africa, vol. 4, 1993, pp. 175–204: 200. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/JE5VQ8NI/collection


Professions
Professional Soldier:
present

Turkish mercenaries. “As the promised military aid of Sultan Murad III remained a mere pledge on paper, the question arises as to how Mai Idris obtained the services of Turks who served in his entourage (for which there are various pieces of contemporary evidence). An interesting passage in a contemporary Neapolitan source throws some light on this matter: the Turks were largely adventurers and soldiers of fortune who were recruited by the Kanuri king. Because of their better discipline and superior firepower, the possession of Turkish mercenaries must have tipped the military balance very decisively in Idris’s favour. One might guess that the opponents of the Kanuri rulers at this time had hand-weapons and bows and arrows, but few if any firearms, which must have been expensive and hard to obtain. Mai Idris’s use of firearms in some quantity preceded by more than a decade the Moroccan invasion of Songhay under the Spanish renegade Judar Pasha. On that occasion large numbers of muskets and some artillery were employed by the conquerors.” [1] There was a significant military force present, including cavalry, but it’s not clear whether these were full-time specialists. “The categories of officials which the inscriptio mentions are the umara (amirs), shurta (guards), hukama (governors), "ulama (scholars), ummal (officers), qudat (judges), wuzara (viziers), fursan (horsemen, warriors), ra’aya (subjects) and ma’shar al-muslimln (the generality of Muslims).” [2] “In 1866 at the time of Rohlfs’ visit, Shehu Umar, the son of the Shehu Laminu of Denham’s time, was two thirds through his long reign of 46 years. The two men got on very well, and in accordance with precedent Rohlfs was given a Muhammadan name, Idris. He gives us a careful description of Kuka, coinciding with and amplifying that of Barth. […] He went on to note that the military power, totalling 25-30,000 soldiers, was contributed on a feudal basis by the chiefs throughout the kingdom. About 1,000 foot and 1,000 horsemen were armed with flint guns and, surprisingly, there were 20 cannon of undetermined calibre which Rohlfs states were cast in Kuka.” [3]

[1]: Martin, B. G. (1969). Kanem, Bornu, and the Fazzan: Notes on the Political History of a Trade Route. The Journal of African History, 10(1), 15–27: 25-26. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/PFENZUSB/collection

[2]: Bobboyi, H. (1993). RELATIONS OF THE BORNO ʿULAMĀʾ WITH THE SAYFAWA RULERS: THE ROLE OF THE MAḤRAMS. Sudanic Africa, 4, 175–204: 189–190. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/JE5VQ8NI/collection

[3]: Ellison, R. E. (1959). Three Forgotten Explorers of the Latter Half of the 19th Century With Special Reference to Their Journeys to Bornu. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 1(4), 322–330: 323. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/R84SSEKK/collection


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Full Time Bureaucrat:
present

“From evidence at our disposal it is possible for us to conclude that it was, by and large, the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the early Borno rulers that enabled them to evolve not only a complex governmental machinery which came to be an object of imitation by later developing neighbouring states, but also the unique system of granting mahrams to its notables, especially scholars.” [1] “In their capacities as administrators, members of the court were called chima kura, literally, big tax collector. Chima kura were responsible for the administration of their own districts, units of which were usually scattered geographically throughout the kingdom. They appointed slaves or clients as resident administrators for these smaller sub-units or fiefs, who were called chima gana (small tax collector).” [2]

[1]: AMINU, M. (1981). THE PLACE OF MAHRAMS IN THE HISTORY OF KANEM-BORNO. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 10(4), 31–38: 33. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/5ERZU7K2/collection

[2]: Brenner, Louis. “SOURCES OF CONSTITUTIONAL THOUGHT IN BORNO.” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, vol. 7, no. 1, 1973, pp. 49–65: 52.https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BGCV72TB/collection


Law
Judge:
present

“Also, in the fourteenth century Al-Qalqashandi mentioned judges, magistrates and jurists, with reference to the king of Borno, Borno being located in the same vicinity as it is now, in north east Nigeria, although in those times Nigeria did not exist as a state.” [1] “The categories of officials which the inscriptio mentions are the umara (amirs), shurta (guards), hukama (governors), "ulama (scholars), ummal (officers), qudat (judges), wuzara (viziers), fursan (horsemen, warriors), ra’aya (subjects) and ma’shar al-muslimln (the generality of Muslims).” [2] “Also, in the fourteenth century Al-Qalqashandi mentioned judges, magistrates and jurists, with reference to the king of Borno, Borno being located in the same vicinity as it is now, in north east Nigeria, although in those times Nigeria did not exist as a state.” [1]

[1]: Dalgleish, D. (2005). Pre-Colonial Criminal Justice In West Africa: Eurocentric Thought Versus Africentric Evidence. African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies, 1(1), 55–69: 62. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/NKVJZI32/collection

[2]: Bobboyi, H. (1993). RELATIONS OF THE BORNO ʿULAMĀʾ WITH THE SAYFAWA RULERS: THE ROLE OF THE MAḤRAMS. Sudanic Africa, 4, 175–204: 189–190. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/JE5VQ8NI/collection


Formal Legal Code:
present

Some form of Sharia law seems to have been in place. “It is also necessary to understand precisely what we mean when we say that Borno has become an Islamic State as from the very date its precursor State of Kanem came to be converted to Islam in large scale, and on an on-going and increasing basis, indeed, up to the time of its termination by imperialist forces at the beginning of the twentieth century. First, the Islamic State differs from the secular State of western social science notion from both the point of view of its orientation as well also as the source of its authority and the role of responsibilities of its leaders and its citizens, vis-a-vis the modern secular nation state. Law in the Islamic State is not the product of human decision and action. Goals are not indeterminate and open-ended. The laws are revealed in the Book of Allah, the Qur’an and the Sunna (the practices and sayings of the 229 Prophet) and the goals are already pre-determined and set. All Muslims are equal before this law; and the ruler and the ruled are adjudged equally in all respects of their personal life and conduct, before their Creator, on the day of judgement. Thus, while the ruler can be adjudged and punished for lapses in his conduct of his office as well as of his life, private as well as public, the ruled is equally adjudged and punished in respect of his personal conduct, civil or criminal. Indeed, however, Muslim state craft so much recognized the power of the ruler over the ruled and in determining criminality and infraction that, whatever the fate of polity, it is the ruler and not the ruled that is blamed, as he carries vicarious responsibility. Imam Ahmad ibn Fartua, the chief Imam and chronicler of Mai Idris Alauma of Borno (1570 A.D.-1616 A.D.) meant exactly that, when he said: ... Every age has its great men, and extols each of them according to his faith and works. The crown of leadership is purity in justice ... ... Thus every people relies on imitation of its leaders. The leader goes before and the people follow him ... Most excellent is the fame of just deeds, and justice on the part of a king for one day is equal to service of God for sixty years ... ... A place where there is an evil Sultan is better than a place which has none.” [1]

[1]: Tijani, K. (1993). THE MUNE IN PRE-COLONIAL BORNO. Berichte Des Sonderforschungsbereichs, 268(2), 227–254: 228-229. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/2VQBX7DW/collection


Court:
present

“Also, in the fourteenth century Al-Qalqashandi mentioned judges, magistrates and jurists, with reference to the king of Borno, Borno being located in the same vicinity as it is now, in north east Nigeria, although in those times Nigeria did not exist as a state.” [1]

[1]: Dalgleish, D. (2005). Pre-Colonial Criminal Justice In West Africa: Eurocentric Thought Versus Africentric Evidence. African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies, 1(1), 55–69: 62. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/NKVJZI32/collection


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present

“It will be recalled that Kuka had been built by Shehu Laminu in 1814 and had been sacked and destroyed by Muhammed Sheriff, King of Wadai, in 1846. It had then been rebuilt by Shehu Umar in two sections; an Eastern town, which contained the houses of the Shehu and the court notables, and a Western town which was specially the trading area and contained the great Monday market, so vividly described by Barth.” [1]

[1]: Ellison, R. E. (1959). Three Forgotten Explorers of the Latter Half of the 19th Century With Special Reference to Their Journeys to Bornu. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 1(4), 322–330: 323. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/R84SSEKK/collection


Utilitarian Public Building:
present

Markets. “It will be recalled that Kuka had been built by Shehu Laminu in 1814 and had been sacked and destroyed by Muhammed Sheriff, King of Wadai, in 1846. It had then been rebuilt by Shehu Umar in two sections; an Eastern town, which contained the houses of the Shehu and the court notables, and a Western town which was specially the trading area and contained the great Monday market, so vividly described by Barth.” [1]

[1]: Ellison, R. E. (1959). Three Forgotten Explorers of the Latter Half of the 19th Century With Special Reference to Their Journeys to Bornu. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 1(4), 322–330: 323. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/R84SSEKK/collection


Transport Infrastructure
Port:
present

While the Kanem-Borno empire did not have a sea border, there were many rivers within the geographical area and some of the Mai (Sultans/rulars), especially Mai Idris Alooma, improved these river crossings to improve communications. “We hear also of how he replaced the small boats at ferry points with larger vessels thus obviating the long delays that had hampered the movement of his expeditionary forces at rivers.” [1]

[1]: GAVIN, R. J. (1979). Some Perspectives on Nigerian History. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 9(4), 15–38: 24. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/BPED9ADF/collection


Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present

“By the late fifteenth century, such Central Sudan towns as Katsina, Kano, and Birnin Gazargamu had become the centres of an expanding regional economy, whose most important sectors were the production of grain and other foodstuffs, livestock breeding, the mining of numerous salts, iron, tin, and other minerals, and the manufacture of textiles, leather goods, iron ware, and other commodities.” [1]

[1]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 565. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection


Trading Emporia:
present

“One partnership in the 1790s united a trader operating at Buna and Kong, in the middle Volta basin, with another at Katsina, and the latter even had commercial ties in Borno. This is one of the earliest known examples of a practice which appears to have been common among many nineteenth- century merchants in such places as Zinder and Kano. Finally, brokerage firms in Kano, which handled the sale of various salts, provided banking facilities for their clients. These firms, some of which are still in operation after at least two hundred years of business, stored cowries obtained through salt sales while their Borno clients travelled to neighbouring towns to purchase goods. These reserves provided the salt brokers (Hausa: fatoma) with the ability to guarantee short term credit in the transactions which they managed. In some instances, too, the firms extended goods on credit to distributors who sold salt in the streets and villages.” [1]

[1]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 582. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection


Special Purpose Site:
present

Burial sites, trading emporia, mines or quarries, other sites. “The distinctive characteristics of these southern Chad Basin polities are that then capitals were walled settlements and they also had extensive graveyards. Such townships included Kabe, Kala-Kafra, Maltam, Kala-Maloue, Logone-Birni, and Ngala. They buried their dead in jars and the grave goods that accompanied the burial of the elites included carnelian and glass beads and alloyed copper artifacts (Holl, 1996, p. 590).” [1] “One partnership in the 1790s united a trader operating at Buna and Kong, in the middle Volta basin, with another at Katsina, and the latter even had commercial ties in Borno. This is one of the earliest known examples of a practice which appears to have been common among many nineteenth- century merchants in such places as Zinder and Kano. Finally, brokerage firms in Kano, which handled the sale of various salts, provided banking facilities for their clients. These firms, some of which are still in operation after at least two hundred years of business, stored cowries obtained through salt sales while their Borno clients travelled to neighbouring towns to purchase goods. These reserves provided the salt brokers (Hausa: fatoma) with the ability to guarantee short term credit in the transactions which they managed. In some instances, too, the firms extended goods on credit to distributors who sold salt in the streets and villages.” [2] “By the late fifteenth century, such Central Sudan towns as Katsina, Kano, and Birnin Gazargamu had become the centres of an expanding regional economy, whose most important sectors were the production of grain and other foodstuffs, livestock breeding, the mining of numerous salts, iron, tin, and other minerals, and the manufacture of textiles, leather goods, iron ware, and other commodities.” [3]

[1]: Ogundiran, A. (2005). Four Millennia of Cultural History in Nigeria (ca. 2000 B.C.—A.D. 1900): Archaeological Perspectives. Journal of World Prehistory, 19(2), 133–168: 145. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/PK7F26DP/collection

[2]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 582. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection

[3]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 565. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection


Burial Site:
present

“The distinctive characteristics of these southern Chad Basin polities are that then capitals were walled settlements and they also had extensive graveyards. Such townships included Kabe, Kala-Kafra, Maltam, Kala-Maloue, Logone-Birni, and Ngala. They buried their dead in jars and the grave goods that accompanied the burial of the elites included carnelian and glass beads and alloyed copper artifacts (Holl, 1996, p. 590).” [1]

[1]: Ogundiran, A. (2005). Four Millennia of Cultural History in Nigeria (ca. 2000 B.C.—A.D. 1900): Archaeological Perspectives. Journal of World Prehistory, 19(2), 133–168: 145. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/PK7F26DP/collection


Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present

“One of the most famous episodes of Bornoan history was the correspondence between mai Idriss Alooma and the Ottoman Sultan Murad III during the 1570s, as Mai Idriss desired to renew an alliance with the Ottomans.” [1] “Furthermore, the practice of recording orally the names and genealogies of the kings of Kanem seems to have existed since the 9th century. The introduction of Islam and the Arabic script codified this tradition by making it possible to write down the names of the kings. This list or chronicle of kings, the diwan or girgam, was written from the 13th or 16th century until the19th and contained the names of 67 kings from the 9th to the 19th century. It constitutes one of the most important sources for the history of Kanem-Bornu and has been extensively used by historians of the empire. This is a rare type of document in sub-Saharan Africa, because of the lack of precise written sources but also because of the period that the document covered.” [2]

[1]: Hiribarren, Vincent. “Kanem-Bornu Empire.” The Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by Nigel Dalziel and John M MacKenzie, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2016, pp. 1–6: 2. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection

[2]: Hiribarren, Vincent. “Kanem-Bornu Empire.” The Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by Nigel Dalziel and John M MacKenzie, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2016, pp. 1–6: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


Script:
present

“’Then comes Borno on the banks of the River Negro (where there is a great lake, caused by the aforesaid river), a very great city having much commerce. It has its own king. .. In writing to foreign princes, they use the Arabic language, as I am informed by Signor Giovanni di Vesti, a most honourable person. Among the Turks, where he was the slave of a great count, he himself saw a letter which he [Mai of Bornu] wrote to the Bassa [Pasha] of Tripoli, with much eloquence and very great art. This prince is so powerful, that he has several times put into the field 100,000 men against the King of Cabi [Kebbi]. Because of his power, the Negroes deem him to be an emperor. They also have a great multitude of horses, which the Arabs bring in from their countries, selling them for at least 700 or 000 scudi each. These do not live for long, for when the sun enters the Sign of the Lion, many die each year from the extreme heat.. Many Turks go there to seek their fortunes, and also many Moors of Barbary, who are their learned men, and where, being very few, they are extremely well paid. This is the case amongst all of these Negroes who are Mahometans. And from there set out each year merchants who carry such quantities of the best Cordovan [leather] that it is accounted a great thing in the Fizzan [sic], and from where they return with infinite numbers of horses for their country, accompanying the caravans of Negro merchants.” [1] “That is another aspect of ’Arabic as the Latin of Africa’ - when Muslims who could write Arabic, used the script to write their own languages, just as the English, and other Europeans, used the Latin script to write their own languages. In West Africa, the first such writing now known was in the mid-seventeenth century, when a man of the state of Kanem, just north of Lake Chad, wrote comments on the Qur’an in the local language of Kanuri, at the sides of a copy of the Qur’an in its original Arabic language.” [2]

[1]: Martin, B. G. (1969). Kanem, Bornu, and the Fazzan: Notes on the Political History of a Trade Route. The Journal of African History, 10(1), 15–27: 25-26. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/PFENZUSB/collection

[2]: HUNWICK, JOHN O. “WEST AFRICA AND THE ARABIC LANGUAGE.” Sudanic Africa, vol. 15, 2004, pp. 133–44: 143. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/26533KM8/collection


Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present

Written Arabic was present. “In the case of Borno, one such group that appear to have benefitted most from this system is the ’(scholastic) class. The reason for their dominance is obvious. In the first place they constituted a literate, knowledgeable and articulate group in the society. Because of their skill, especially in Arabic, an international medium which was also the official language of Borno, as well as the Maghrib, they were Borno’s intellectual link with the Islamic World.” [1] Ajami script was also used to write Kenumu, a close linguistic relative of Kanuri: “The Bornu manuscripts discussed in the present article were first described by A. D. H. Bivar in his publication of 1960 ’A dated Kuran from Bornu’ (Bivar 1960). The author gave a short but very informative account of four early quranic manuscripts with interlinear vernacular glosses in Arabic/Ajamic script, which he examined during his travels to northern Nigeria in 1958-59. Among the most remarkable findings of Bivar’s investigation was the discovery of a date in one of the Qurans, and the identification of the vernacular language. Apart from the vernacular glosses, the dated manuscript, which was in the possession of Imam Ibrahim, Imam Juma Maiduguri (the head of the Muslim community of Maiduguri), carried an abridged Arabic commentary, the jami ahkam al-qur’an of al-Qurtubi, and a colophon with the date of completion of this commentary–1 Jumadi II, 1080 ah (26 October, ad 1669) (Bivar 1960: 203). The language of the glosses in all four Qurans was established as Kanembu, one of the dialects of Kanuri–a major Nilo-Saharan language spoken mainly in north-east Nigeria and the main language of ancient Bornu.” [2]

[1]: AMINU, M. (1981). THE PLACE OF MAHRAMS IN THE HISTORY OF KANEM-BORNO. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 10(4), 31–38: 33. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/5ERZU7K2/collection

[2]: Bondarev, Dmitry. “The Language of the Glosses in the Bornu Quranic Manuscripts.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 69, no. 1, 2006, pp. 113–40: 113. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/EK9MA3WU/collection


Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
present

“The last category is what I have termed "secular" writing, not because it is in any sense neutral towards the discourse of religion, but because the disciplines treated in this literature do not belong to the religious sciences of Islam. The disciplines concerned are the cognitive sciences, logic, and history. In the sciences, while there has been a little writing on mathematical calculation, especially as it relates to the horology (lilm al-mawaqit), and a few works of astronomy or astrology,26 there has been more interest in, and knowledge about, medicine. The earliest work in this category is a small work on the treatment of hemorrhoids by al-Tahir b. Ibrahim al-Fallati of Bornu (fl. 1745), a medical problem also discussed by Muhammad Bello, who wrote as well on the treatment of intestinal worms and on the use of senna as a purgative.” [1]

[1]: Hunwick, John. “The Arabic Literary Tradition of Nigeria.” Research in African Literatures, vol. 28, no. 3, 1997, pp. 210–23: 217. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XKK8AVBT/collection


Sacred Text:
present

The Qur’an and the Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad were present as an integral part of the practice of Islam in Kanem-Bornu. “Over all the centuries, writing on Islamic legal matters especially in fatwas (formal legal opinions) took place in Timbuktu, in Hausaland and in Bornu; and some writing was done, on interpretation of the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.” [1]

[1]: HUNWICK, JOHN O. “WEST AFRICA AND THE ARABIC LANGUAGE.” Sudanic Africa, vol. 15, 2004, pp. 133–44: 138. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/26533KM8/collection


Religious Literature:
present

“Over all the centuries, writing on Islamic legal matters especially in fatwas (formal legal opinions) took place in Timbuktu, in Hausaland and in Bornu; and some writing was done, on interpretation of the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.” [1] “The Bornu manuscripts discussed in the present article were first described by A. D. H. Bivar in his publication of 1960 ’A dated Kuran from Bornu’ (Bivar 1960). The author gave a short but very informative account of four early quranic manuscripts with interlinear vernacular glosses in Arabic/Ajamic script, which he examined during his travels to northern Nigeria in 1958-59. Among the most remarkable findings of Bivar’s investigation was the discovery of a date in one of the Qurans, and the identification of the vernacular language. Apart from the vernacular glosses, the dated manuscript, which was in the possession of Imam Ibrahim, Imam Juma Maiduguri (the head of the Muslim community of Maiduguri), carried an abridged Arabic commentary, the jami ahkam al-qur’an of al-Qurtubi, and a colophon with the date of completion of this commentary–1 Jumadi II, 1080 ah (26 October, ad 1669) (Bivar 1960: 203). The language of the glosses in all four Qurans was established as Kanembu, one of the dialects of Kanuri–a major Nilo-Saharan language spoken mainly in north-east Nigeria and the main language of ancient Bornu.” [2]

[1]: HUNWICK, JOHN O. “WEST AFRICA AND THE ARABIC LANGUAGE.” Sudanic Africa, vol. 15, 2004, pp. 133–44: 138. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/26533KM8/collection

[2]: Bondarev, Dmitry. “The Language of the Glosses in the Bornu Quranic Manuscripts.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 69, no. 1, 2006, pp. 113–40: 113. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/EK9MA3WU/collection


Practical Literature:
present

“The last category is what I have termed "secular" writing, not because it is in any sense neutral towards the discourse of religion, but because the disciplines treated in this literature do not belong to the religious sciences of Islam. The disciplines concerned are the cognitive sciences, logic, and history. In the sciences, while there has been a little writing on mathematical calculation, especially as it relates to the horology (lilm al-mawaqit), and a few works of astronomy or astrology,26 there has been more interest in, and knowledge about, medicine. The earliest work in this category is a small work on the treatment of hemorrhoids by al-Tahir b. Ibrahim al-Fallati of Bornu (fl. 1745), a medical problem also discussed by Muhammad Bello, who wrote as well on the treatment of intestinal worms and on the use of senna as a purgative.” [1]

[1]: Hunwick, John. “The Arabic Literary Tradition of Nigeria.” Research in African Literatures, vol. 28, no. 3, 1997, pp. 210–23: 217. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XKK8AVBT/collection


Lists Tables and Classification:
present

“Furthermore, the practice of recording orally the names and genealogies of the kings of Kanem seems to have existed since the 9th century. The introduction of Islam and the Arabic script codified this tradition by making it possible to write down the names of the kings. This list or chronicle of kings, the diwan or girgam, was written from the 13th or 16th century until the19th and contained the names of 67 kings from the 9th to the 19th century. It constitutes one of the most important sources for the history of Kanem-Bornu and has been extensively used by historians of the empire.” [1]

[1]: Hiribarren, Vincent. “Kanem-Bornu Empire.” The Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by Nigel Dalziel and John M MacKenzie, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2016: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


History:
present

“The warlike exploits of this Mai Idris Katagarmabe were recorded by his chief Imam, Sheikh Masfarma or Masbarma, in a work still known as the Tarikh Masbarma, a work on which the writer of this history, the Imam ibn Fartua, obviously drew for information concerning events which took place prior to the time which was within the memory of himself or people still alive in his day.” [1] “Furthermore, the practice of recording orally the names and genealogies of the kings of Kanem seems to have existed since the 9th century. The introduction of Islam and the Arabic script codified this tradition by making it possible to write down the names of the kings. This list or chronicle of kings, the diwan or girgam, was written from the 13th or 16th century until the19th and contained the names of 67 kings from the 9th to the 19th century. It constitutes one of the most important sources for the history of Kanem-Bornu and has been extensively used by historians of the empire.” [2]

[1]: Fartua, Ahmed Ibn. History of the First Twelve Years of the Reign of Mai Idris Alooma of Bornu (1571–1583). CRC Press, 2019: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/HSU9ZCRC/collection

[2]: Hiribarren, Vincent. “Kanem-Bornu Empire.” The Encyclopedia of Empire, edited by Nigel Dalziel and John M MacKenzie, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2016: 3. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/KNHK5ANQ/collection


Calendar:
present

Given the highly Islamicised nature of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, the adoption of the Islamic calendar is very likely. No clear reference was, however, found on its use in the scholarship.


Information / Money
Token:
present

Gabaga strips of cloth; cowries: “In Bornu, where cowries were introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century along with the Maria Theresa dollar, a different system of counting was in use. The unit of count was the rotl, an Arabic word meaning a pound weight; this unit is believed to have belonged to the copper coinage which was minted in Bornu in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The cowrie rotl consisted of 32 cowries, or four gabaga of eight cowries each (the gabaga was the local traditional currency unit, a strip of cloth, which had replaced the copper coinage in the nineteenth century). According to various writers, the 32-cowrie rotl had a nominal value of 33, the odd cowrie being set aside to help in the counting, as a sort of tally, or as a discount for the trouble of counting. Three rotl would thus make an approximate hundred. This looks very like an attempt to bring a system inherited from currency units which could be physically divided into halves and quarters into relation with the cowrie systems in use on the lower Niger, where strings of 66 and 100 were known. The relation between the rotl and the Maria Theresa dollar was never fixed; in Barth’s time it was subject to manipulation by powerful speculators, and ranged between 45 and 100 rotl to the dollar. Nachtigal put it at 120-130 to the dollar, and Monteil in the 1890s at 135-160. The actual counting of cowries in Bornu was done in groups of four, not in fives as elsewhere in northern West Africa; it is probable that this method of counting goes back to the small copper coins of Bornu.” [1] “In Bornu, where cowries were introduced as an act of state in the middle of the nineteenth century, the counting system is unique, having some affinities with both the northern and the southern systems. Apparently it derived, in part, from a pre-existing system of counting copper coinage. Bornu cowries were counted in groups of four, and in so-called ’rotl’ (pounds) of 32 cowries. The Ibo, on the lower Niger, also had a unique system of counting cowries, with a basic unit of six cowries which is not found elsewhere.” [2] “The earliest currency area of the cowrie which we can trace in West Africa was on the upper and middle Niger in the medieval period. The cowries came in by way of Sijilmasa, but the area in which they were current was apparently cut off from any other cowrie area; it would therefore seem that they must have been introduced deliberately, as an act of state, as in nineteenth-century Bornu, or by a well-organized group of merchants. […] By 1822, when Clapperton was there, cowries had reached Katagum, but not Bornu; we know that they were introduced into Bornu shortly before Barth’s visit there in 1850, but had not in his time reached Adamawa.” [3] “Of the different parts of the Central Sudan, only Borno and the area which came to be known as Adamawa did not belong to the cowrie-gold zone for several centuries before 1900; Borno participation began in I848, while Adamawa was drawn in at roughly the same time. Nevertheless, the Borno economy was an essential section of the larger Central Sudan economy long before this time. Indeed, the Hausa cities and Borno together formed a metropolitan region or series of central places from which much economic development radiated.” [4] “Cowrie imports continued on the Guinea Coast after i845, but the entrance of Borno into the cowrie zone in 1848, after several decades of government consideration of currency reform, reduced the inflationary influence on the Caliphate economy.35 Borno’s withdrawal of large quan- tities of shell from the Hausa country retarded the inflation but did not end it. The early i86os were a period of steep inflation, and the exchange rate doubled to 5,ooo K per silver coin.” [5]

[1]: Johnson, M. (1970). The Cowrie Currencies of West Africa. Part I. The Journal of African History, 11(1), 17–49: 42. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XZMB8INB/collection

[2]: Johnson, M. (1970). The Cowrie Currencies of West Africa. Part I. The Journal of African History, 11(1), 17–49: 37. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XZMB8INB/collection

[3]: Johnson, M. (1970). The Cowrie Currencies of West Africa. Part I. The Journal of African History, 11(1), 17–49: 32–33. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XZMB8INB/collection

[4]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 565. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection

[5]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 577. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection


Paper Currency:
absent

Scholarship mentions several other types of money, but nothing about paper currency.


Indigenous Coin:
present

Copper currency: “In Bornu, where cowries were introduced as an act of state in the middle of the nineteenth century, the counting system is unique, having some affinities with both the northern and the southern systems. Apparently it derived, in part, from a pre-existing system of counting copper coinage. Bornu cowries were counted in groups of four, and in so-called ’rotl’ (pounds) of 32 cowries. The Ibo, on the lower Niger, also had a unique system of counting cowries, with a basic unit of six cowries which is not found elsewhere.” [1] “In Bornu, where cowries were introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century along with the Maria Theresa dollar, a different system of counting was in use. The unit of count was the rotl, an Arabic word meaning a pound weight; this unit is believed to have belonged to the copper coinage which was minted in Bornu in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. […] The actual counting of cowries in Bornu was done in groups of four, not in fives as elsewhere in northern West Africa; it is probable that this method of counting goes back to the small copper coins of Bornu.” [2]

[1]: Johnson, M. (1970). The Cowrie Currencies of West Africa. Part I. The Journal of African History, 11(1), 17–49: 37. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XZMB8INB/collection

[2]: Johnson, M. (1970). The Cowrie Currencies of West Africa. Part I. The Journal of African History, 11(1), 17–49: 42. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XZMB8INB/collection


Foreign Coin:
present

Maria Theresa dollar: “In Bornu, where cowries were introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century along with the Maria Theresa dollar, a different system of counting was in use. The unit of count was the rotl, an Arabic word meaning a pound weight; this unit is believed to have belonged to the copper coinage which was minted in Bornu in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The cowrie rotl consisted of 32 cowries, or four gabaga of eight cowries each (the gabaga was the local traditional currency unit, a strip of cloth, which had replaced the copper coinage in the nineteenth century). According to various writers, the 32-cowrie rotl had a nominal value of 33, the odd cowrie being set aside to help in the counting, as a sort of tally, or as a discount for the trouble of counting. Three rotl would thus make an approximate hundred. This looks very like an attempt to bring a system inherited from currency units which could be physically divided into halves and quarters into relation with the cowrie systems in use on the lower Niger, where strings of 66 and 100 were known. The relation between the rotl and the Maria Theresa dollar was never fixed; in Barth’s time it was subject to manipulation by powerful speculators, and ranged between 45 and 100 rotl to the dollar. Nachtigal put it at 120-130 to the dollar, and Monteil in the I890s at 135-160. The actual counting of cowries in Bornu was done in groups of four, not in fives as elsewhere in northern West Africa; it is probable that this method of counting goes back to the small copper coins of Bornu.” [1]

[1]: Johnson, M. (1970). The Cowrie Currencies of West Africa. Part I. The Journal of African History, 11(1), 17–49: 42. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/XZMB8INB/collection


Store Of Wealth:
present

“One partnership in the 1790s united a trader operating at Buna and Kong, in the middle Volta basin, with another at Katsina, and the latter even had commercial ties in Borno. This is one of the earliest known examples of a practice which appears to have been common among many nineteenth- century merchants in such places as Zinder and Kano. Finally, brokerage firms in Kano, which handled the sale of various salts, provided banking facilities for their clients. These firms, some of which are still in operation after at least two hundred years of business, stored cowries obtained through salt sales while their Borno clients travelled to neighbouring towns to purchase goods.” [1]

[1]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 582. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection


Debt And Credit Structure:
present

“One partnership in the 1790s united a trader operating at Buna and Kong, in the middle Volta basin, with another at Katsina, and the latter even had commercial ties in Borno. This is one of the earliest known examples of a practice which appears to have been common among many nineteenth- century merchants in such places as Zinder and Kano. Finally, brokerage firms in Kano, which handled the sale of various salts, provided banking facilities for their clients. These firms, some of which are still in operation after at least two hundred years of business, stored cowries obtained through salt sales while their Borno clients travelled to neighbouring towns to purchase goods. These reserves provided the salt brokers (Hausa: fatoma) with the ability to guarantee short term credit in the transactions which they managed. In some instances, too, the firms extended goods on credit to distributors who sold salt in the streets and villages.” [1]

[1]: Lovejoy, P. E. (1974). Interregional Monetary Flows in the Precolonial Trade of Nigeria. The Journal of African History, 15(4), 563–585: 582. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/collections/GWWIKDDM/items/58ASG655/collection


Information / Postal System
Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Military use of Metals
Projectiles
Handheld weapons
Animals used in warfare
Armor
Naval technology

Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions