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The Jihad And The Establishment Of The Fulbe Emirate Of Muri


    The Jihad And The Establishment

    Of The Fulbe Emirate Of Muri


    The 1804 Jihad spearheaded by Sheikh Uthman bn Fudi (1754-1817)

    paved way for the revitalization and spread of Islam in the then Central

    Sudan. Among the causes of the Jihad was the socio-economic and

    political unbecoming that had rocked the Hausaland which made the

    people agitate for a reformation and thus, Sheikh Uthman became the

    only answer. In 1812, its waves struck hard on the socio-economic and

    political life of the Muri area which led to the establishment of Muri

    emirate by Hamma Ruwa in 1817. With this development, the sociopolitical

    and economic life of the people of the area like Jukun, Chomo,

    Jenjo, Wurkun, Mumuye, Bandawa, Kunini, Yandan, was transformed

    among others. Therefore, this paper looks into the socio-economic and

    political impact of the Fulbe-Kiri settlement and Jihad campaigns in the

    Middle-Benue valley which led to the establishment of a theocratic state

    called the Muri emirate though it was initially a vassal state under

    Gombe Emirate. It also examines the extent to which the establishment

    of the Muri Emirate brought tremendous development to the area like

    the establishment of unity among the different ethnic groups,

    introduction of Islam and Islamic education to wipe out illiteracy, the

    development of the peoples' economy, provision of security for

    peaceful co-existence, the promotion of intercultural relations among



    In 1804 the Sokoto Jihad was fought especially in the Hausaland

    under the leadership of Sheikh Uthman bn Fudi (1754-1817). To further

    spread the Jihad to other areas, the Sheikh distributed flags to his


    students and associates as a sign of authority to also execute a Jihad in

    their respective areas. The same flag was later given to Hamma Ruwa in

    1812 (1817-1833) and thus, launched his Jihad in the Muri area, a

    condition that paved way for the establishment of the Muri Emirate in

    1817. With this development, there was a serious advancement in the

    socio-economic and political life of the people of the area.

    The Fulbe-Kiri and their Migration to the Muri Area

    The Fulani though they prefer to be called 'Fulbe' (singular,

    Pullo) have been classified into clans1. To the Bare-Bari they are known

    as Fellata, and to the Mandingoes they are called by their preferred name

    (Fulbe). Most Fulbe clans are named after residential areas, the persons

    they intermingled with,their location, and so on. For instance, while the

    Fulbe-Kiri are named after the area they occupied called Kiri, located

    around the Fombina axis, the Fulbe in the far north called Waila'en were

    named after the northern part of the present day Nigeria. Others being;

    Dauranko'en (named after Daura), Yarima'en (named after a Borno

    prince), to mention, but just a few.

    It is important to note that the epoch that served as the beginning of

    the Fulbe cultural transformation was in the 11th century when they

    embraced Islam as a religion2. The Fulbe who adopted Islam were called

    'Torobbe'. They forgo their pastoral life, settled in towns, mixed with

    other Muslims, and, together with Berber and Arab clerics, formed

    revered circles of scholarship. The Fulbe nomads who did not throw

    away pastoralism also accepted Islam but the depth of their Islamic

    knowledge was low compared to the settled ones and so also their

    adherence to the do's and don'ts of Islam as a religion. Besides, the

    settlement of most Fulbe clans further paved way for the transformation

    of their culture which includes mode of dressing, language, ethics and

    ethos, Pulaku itself, among other things. As at the time of the Sokoto

    Jihad, the Fulbe could basically be classified into three groups viz.

    nomads (Fulbe Na'i), semi-nomads and the settled Fulbe (Fulbe S re)3.

    Scholars put forward theories about the origin of the Fulbe like

    C.K. Meek who is of the view that:

    The traditional first chief of the Fulani was Ilo Falagui, son of

    Ham, and there is much to be said for the theory of the

    Hamitic origin of this people. The physical resemblance

    between the purer Fulani and representations of the proto-

    Egyptians is remarkable4.

    Muller on linguistic grounds classifies the Fulbe with the Naba

    of the Upper Nile. Other writers believe that there is a strong relation

    between the Fulbe and the Phoenicians especially as regards their

    lighter skin and physique, and to most Fulbe scholars, it is believed that

    they were the descendants of one of the Prophet's companions

    (p.b.u.h), UqbahbnNafi5. However, there is no clear cut fact on the

    origin of the Fulbe. This is also the view of Kirk-Green due to the

    availability of so many theories in relation to the real origin of Fulbe

    where he argues that:

    The remarkable Fulani race has given rise to much scholarly

    controversy as their origin, on which no definite theory has yet

    been proved. One claim is that they are of the same Polynesian

    stock that colonized Madagascar; another connects them with

    the Zingari or gipsies of Europe and traces both races back to a

    common Indian origin; while a third imaginatively relates

    them to the Huksos or shepherd kings who were expelled

    from Egypt about the year 1630 B.C. There is still more

    fantastic hypothesis, ranging from a connexion between them

    and the lost Roman Legionaries to the ascription to the Fulani

    of the original colonization of Canada! Certain it is that the

    lighter skin, thin lips, narrow nose, long straight hair, and

    generally refined facial features of the Fulani indicate a non-

    Negroid descent6.

    However, various factors may contribute immeasurably to the

    migration of a given people, but aversion of danger was the reason why

    the Fulbe-Kiri migrated. It was said that the Kanakuru kings in Shelleng

    made it compulsory for the Kiri to pay tributes in bulls and to submit to

    a royal custom which gave the Kanakuru kings and princes the right to

    cohabitate with any bride that was married within their territory before

    she even did so with her husband. The immediate cause that set the cat

    among the pigeons was when a Pullo (a Fulani man) stabbed a

    Kanakuru prince to death as he wanted to have a sex with his bride.

    With that incidence, it became clear to the Fulbe-Kiri that the best thing

    they could do to avert attacks from the Kanakuru kings was to migrate

    after all peace talks were proven abortive. From there, they split into

    four migratory groups the first being under Hammadu who moved

    ahead and later established a settlement at Tibati, the second under

    Ngura settled at Mayo –Balwa in the present day Adamawa, the third.


    Nadir A. Nasidi

    The National Secretary, Youth Liberation Front


    [email protected]

    The Jihad And The Establishment

    Of The Fulbe Emirate Of Muri