History Of Some Ancient Empires
WHO ARE THE BULALA PEOPLE?
The Bulala or bilala, are Muslim people that live around Lake Fittri in the batha prefecture, in central Chad. The last Chadian census in 1993 stated that they numbered 136,629 persons. Their language Naba is divided in four dialects and is in the Nilo-Saharan group; it is shared by two of their neighbors, the Kuka and the Medogo. These three peoples are collectively known as Lisi and are believed to be descendants of main ethnic groups of Sultanate of Yoa.
They first appeared in the 14th century near Lake Fittri as a nomadic clan led by scions of the sayfawa dynasty. They were originally a political entity that came about as a result of fusion of kyari (zaghawa) and Ngizim.
Inhabitant of the fittri region settled east of the Kanem Empire’s power killing five of six of the Kanem’s mais (kings) between 1376 and 1400. At the end the Bulala conquered kanem and forced the kanem Mais to migrate to Bornu. As a result the Bulala put their hands on kanem founding in the 15th century and founded the Muslim sultanate of Yoa. But the kanem-Bornu empire counter-attacked a century later under Ali Gaji, and at the end kanem was retaken by Ali’s son after a great battle at Garin-Kiyala, forcing the Bulala to move east, where they were to remain menance for centuries to kanem-Bornu. It contained also to be a flourishing kingdom: the traveler leo-africana even thought that the bulala’s reign was richer than kanem-Bornu for its prosperous trade with Egypt. Their power survived in diminished form till colonialism, when they submitted to the French, in Chad republic.
WHO ARE THE ZAGHAWA PEOPLE?
The zaghawa (also spelled zakhawa) are on ethnic group of eastern Chad and western Sudan, including Darfur. The kanemite royal history, the girgam refers to the zaghawa people as the Duguwa. Today zaghawa refers to as the Beri, while the name “zaghawa” comes from the nearby Arab peoples and became better known. They have their own language, which is also called zaghawa, and the breed of sheep that they herd is called zaghawa by the Arabs. They are semi-nomadic and obtain much of their livelihood through herding cattle, camels and sheep and harvesting wild grains. It has been estimated that there are between 75,000 and 350,000 zaghawa.
While they are not very powerful in Sudan, they politically dominated Chad. President Idriss Deby and several former prime ministers of Chad are zaghawa, as well as many other members of the government. Thus the Chadian zaghawa are among the richest and influential people of Chad. The zaghawa have been among the tribes in Darfur who have been referred to as “African” even as other tribes that have fought with them are called “Arabs”.
THE SAYFAWA DYNASTY
Sayfawa dynasty or more properly sefuwa dynasty is the name of the kings (or Mai, as they called themselves) of kanem-Bornu empire, centered first in kanem in western Chad, and then after 1380, in Bornu (northeastern Nigeria). Theories on the origin of this dynasty vary. Many scholars assert that it may have been rooted in a tubu expansion or comprised an indigenous dynasty. Other theories have also been made. The German historian Dierk Lange has argued that the advent of the sayfawa dynasty came in the 11th century, when Hummy consolidated Islam in kanem. Lange adds that Hummay’s advent represented the ascent of a Berber dynasty over the previous Duguwa zaghawa one.
In the Islamic period, the sayfawa themselves claimed as their eponymous ancestor the late pre-Islamic Yemenite hero sayf Ibn Dhi Yazan, hence their amended name sayf-awa. This tradition was first mentioned by the Andalusian scholar Ibn said in the 13th century, and Lange believes it to be mainly the fruit of the presentation of an indigenous tradition by Muslim scholars who arrived to kanem from regions where Himyarite traditions were strong. Formerly must historian thought that the leaders of this new dynasty belonged to the indigenous kanembu. The dynasty is one of the longest living Africans, and lost their throne in 1846.