11th to 13th Centuries

Profound changes came about in the Sahara and West Africa as a result of the Murābi movement.  These will be summarized at the end of this chapter, after presenting the Arab writings which describe the aftermath of the Murābis.


[Al-Idrīsī, Nuzhat al-mushtāq, 3:1, p. 232:] The people of the town of Aghmāt are of the Hawwāra Berber tribe.. They are very wealthy merchants who go to the land of the Sūdān with numbers of camels bearing immense sums in red and coloured copper and garments and woollen cloth and turbans and waist-wrappers and different kinds of beads of glass and mother-of-pearl and precious stones and various kinds of spices and perfumes and tools of worked iron..  During the days of the Mulaththamūn [Murābits] none were richer or in easier circumstances than they.. But now the Masāmida have done away with most of their wealth and spoilt the bounty of God which was in their hands.  They are, nevertheless, opulent, well-off and rich and have a pride and arrogance from which they do not deviate.


[Az-Zuhrī, al-Jaghrāfiyya, #313:] The town of Sijilmāsa is in the land of as-Sūs... From this land Sūs sugar is exported to Ifrīqiya, the Maghrib, al-Andalus, and the lands of Byzantium (Rūm) and Western Europe (Afranj). They also export indigo, alum and brass. From this region too come the imports of the desert such as male and female slaves and cabqar, which in their language means “gold”.  Caravans go from here to the land of the Ganāwa, Ghāna, Ethiopia, Kawkaw, Zāfūn and Amīma.  They come from Tāfilālat and Sijilmāsa, and return there with their spoils and goods, such as male and female slaves, gold, ivory, ebony and elephant tusks and leather sacks, lamt shields and other things.

Nūl & Āzukkī

[Al-Idrīsī, Nuzhat al-mushtāq, 3:1, p. 224:] The town of Nūl is three days from the ocean and 13 stages from Sijilmāsa.  Nūl is a large town, well populated, on a river which comes to it from the east.  Tribes of the Lamtūna and the Lamta live along this river...

[p. 225:] The town of Āzukkī is in the country of the Masūfa and the Lamta. This is the first halting place in the desert.  From there to Sijilmāsa is 13 stages and to Nūl 7 stages.  Āzukkī is not a large town, but has a sedentary population..  Whoever wants to go to the countries of Silā, Takrūr and Ghāna in the land of the Sūdān cannot avoid this town.


[Al-Idrīsī, 3:2, p. 311:] From Barqa to the town of Awjila in the desert is 10 stages..  [p. 312:] The town of Awjila is small but populous.  Its residents carry on much trade to supply their own needs and those of the nomad Arabs.  The town is situated on the edge of the desert and is surrounded by many palms, the produce of which is consumed by the inhabitants.  From there one may go to many of the lands of the Sūdān, such as the land of Kawār and the land of Kawkaw.  Awjila stands at the road-head of the route, and there are many travellers both coming and going...

From Awjila to the town of Zāla is 10 stages west..  From Zāla too one may go to the land of the Sūdān. From here to the town of Zawīla is 10 days.

Awlīl, Silā and Takrūr

[Kitāb al-istibsār, 217:] The nearest Islamic country to the Sūdān is the land of Judāla.  The Sūdānic city nearest to it is Sanghāna, a big town on the Nīl.  It is a 6 days journey away from Judāla.  These are two towns on the banks of the Egyptian Nīl. They have far reaching jurisdiction, with settlements and villages reaching to the Atlantic.

Near the town of Sanghāna on the Nīl is the town of Takrūr.  They were, like all the other Sūdānic people, Maji and worshippers of dakākīr (their name for idols) until Wazjāy ibn-Yāsīn [= Wārjābī] became their ruler and forced them by the sword to accept Islam. He made war on the Sūdānic people until they became Muslims.  That was in the year 1043-4.

[Al-Idrīsī, Nuzhat al-mushtāq, 1:1, p. 17:] The Island of Awlīl is in the ocean near the coast.  It has a famous salt deposit, the only one known in the lands of the Sūdān. From it salt is exported to all the lands of the Sūdān.  Boats come to this island, are loaded with salt, then go a day’s run to the mouth of the Nīl [Senegal].  From there they go to Silā, Takrūr, Barīsā, Ghāna, the other towns of Wanqāra, Kūgha and all the lands of the Sūdān.  Most of [the traders] have no fixed home except on the Nīl itself or one of its tributaries...

[p. 18:] From the island of Awlīl to Silā is 16 stages.  Silā is on the north bank of the Nīl.  It is an important town, a gathering place for the Sūdān with thriving trade, and its people are brave.  It is a province of the Takrūr king, who is very powerful. He has slaves and soldiers, strength, firmness and widely acclaimed justice.  His country is secure and at peace.  His place of residence and home town is Takrūr, on the south side of the Nīl, two days away from Silā by the Nīl or by land.  Takrūr is bigger than Silā, with a bigger market.  People from the western Maghrib come there with wool, copper and beads, and export from there gold and slaves...

[pp. 18-19:] From the towns of Silā and Takrūr to Sijilmāsa is 40 days by caravan travel.  The nearest town to them in the Lamtūna Sahara is Azuqqī, 25 stages away.. From Awlīl to Sijilmāsa is about 40 caravan stages.

[Al-Qazwīnī, cAjā’ib al-makhlūkāt, 26:] Takrūr is a large and famous city in the land of Sūdān.  The jurist cAlī al-Janānī al-Maghribī said, “I saw it and it is a large city without walls.  Its people include Muslims and unbelievers, but its kingship belongs to the Muslims. Its people are naked, both men and women, except for the Muslim notables who wear shirts twenty cubits long, whose trains are carried by servants who attend them.  The unbelieving women cover themselves in front with carnelian beads which they string on threads and hang upon themselves. The poorer women use beads of bone.

[Ibn-Sacīd, Bast al-ard, 24:] The first town of Takrūr you meet on the west side of the Nīl is Qalanbū, a famous river port.  At the time of cUbayd al-Bakrī it belonged to the unbelievers, but in our time ...   There is no town on the banks of the Nīl in Takrūr country which has not been penetrated by Islam.  They all belong to the sultan of Takrūr.  The capital, which straddles both sides of the Nīl, is called Takrūr, which gives the people their name.  Yet they belong to a tribe called Maqzāra;1 some of them are sedentary and live in towns, while another section is nomadic.  Their territory is mostly on the north side of the Nīl, with only a little on the south, where most of the land belongs to the Lamlam.  These are uncivilized unbelievers who are cannibals. Takrūr is located at 17o longitude and 13o30' latitude.  Its ruler captures slaves from among the Lamlam.  The Lamlam are food-gatherers and in books are said to have a town which is more like a village, called Muwīh.  There they have their shrine for dakākīr, that is, idols.  It is located on the Atlantic coast at 6o latitude.

[Comment:] Takrūr lies along the Senegal river in the present region of Futa Toro, and is the ancestral country of the Tukolor and the Fulani (who speak the same language).  First described by al-Bakrī, it is (apart from the doubtful case of Gao) the earliest recorded state with a Muslim ruler in West Africa.  King Wārjābī, according to al-Bakrī, imposed Islam on his people and spread a militant Islam to Silā, threatening even Ghāna.  Al-Bakrī and the Kitāb al-istibsār may have exaggerated the extent of Takrūr’s islamization if we are to believe al-Qazwīnī that only the nobles were Muslim.

None of the sources tell us the motive of Wārjābī’s conversion.  It could have been to enhance his trading relationship with the Arabs and Berbers, and at the same time to gain immunity from attack from the Sanhāja who, as Ibn-abī-Zarc makes clear, were attacking and subjecting non-Muslim West African states well before the Murābit movement.  At the heart of the matter was a struggle of Takrūr, Silā and Ghāna for control over the trade in gold coming from Bambuk.  Competition became more intense in the early 11th century because the fields were near depleted and the supply was dwindling.  The Bure and Akan gold fields were opened only later by the Malinke.2  If the Murābits wanted to intervene in Sudanese politics they would find it more convenient to do so by alignments with one state against another rather than by direct military intervention.  Al-Bakrī says that Labbī, son of Wārjābī, helped Yayā ibn-cUmar fight the rebellious Judāla in 1056.  It would be very natural for the Murābits, then, to help Takrūr and Silā to put pressure on their chief rival, Ghāna.


[Al-Idrīsī, Nuzhat al-mushtāq, 1:1, p. 19:] From the town of Takrūr to the town of Barīsā on the Nīl to the east is 12 stages. Barīsā is a small town without walls, except that it is an important village whose inhabitants are itinerant traders.  They are subject to the king of Takrūr.

[Ibn-Sacīd, Bast al-ard, 24:] Barīsā is one of better known towns of Takrūr.  If the sultan of Takrūr becomes weak, the ruler of Barīsā rules independently. Travellers crowd to it, as it is the last town of Takrūr, on the north bank of the Nīl at 22o longitude and 13o30' latitude.  Most Sūdān people in Takrūr and elsewhere wear leather or, if someone is distinguished, dyed leather.   Those who mix with white men and have a special status adopt their woolen or cotton clothing, which is imported.  Their food is mostly various kinds of maize, either as fufu or roasted.  Bread is not one of their foods, except as a luxury with the kings who imitate the manners of the whites.  Their horses are short and cannot race.  Their weapons are spears of ebony, which is abundant along the Nīl; they also use it for firewood.  They also have bows and arrows made of shakrī reed, with which they also make their strings. The plant with which they poison their weapons is abundant along the banks of their Nīl.  At their homes there is a kind of cotton tree.  They do not build with stones or baked brick, except for the king or the wealthy and distinguished people he permits to do so. Those who live outside the towns go naked, but the Muslims among them cover their sexual parts with bones or skin, but the unbelievers to not cover themselves at all.

Malal & Lamlam land

[Al-Idrīsī, Nuzhat al-mushtāq, 1:1, p. 19:] About 10 days south of Barīsā is the land of Lamlam.  The people of Barīsā, Silā, Takrūr and Ghāna raid Lamlam country and capture its inhabitants, carrying them off to their own land.  There they sell them to merchants who come there and export them to other countries.  In all Lamlam land there are only two small towns like villages.  One of them is called Malal and the other Daw, about 4 days apart.  The people, according to reports from that region, are Jews, but have been overcome by unbelief and ignorance. All over Lamlam land, when a boy reaches puberty, his face and temples are branded with fire to identify them. Their country and all their settlements are in a valley stretching along the Nīl.

South of Lamlam land there is no known civilization.   Lamlam land borders on the east with the land of Maqzāra, the west with the land of Wanqāra, and on the north with the land of Ghāna, and on the south with uninhabited land.  Their language does not resemble that of Maqzāra or of Ghāna.

From Barīsā, just mentioned, going east to Ghāna takes 12 days.  It is half way from Ghāna to Silā and Takrūr. From Barīsā to Awdaghust is 12 stages, going north...

[1:2, p. 22:] Malal is a small town or large village without walls, built on a hill of red earth whose sides are hard to scale.  The people take refuge there when attacked by the other Sūdān. They drink from a bubbling stream coming from a mountain south of the town, whose water is brackish, not sweet.

West of Malal, along the spring from which they drink as far as it empties into the Nīl, are many Sūdān peoples who are naked and do not wear anything at all.  They marry without dowers or contracts and are most prolific.  They own camels and goats on whose milk they live, and eat fish they catch and sun-dried camel meat.  The people of neighbouring lands constantly capture them by various strategies and carry them off to their own land and sell them in quantity to merchants. Every year a great number are sent to the western Maghrib... (Nuzhat al-mushtāq, Dozy 4-6)


[Az-Zuhrī, Al-jaghrāfiyya, #314:] Caravans travel to the lands of Ganāwa, Ghāna, Habasha, Kawkaw, Zāfūr and Amīma, coming from Tāfilālat and Sijilmāsa.  They return with their spoils, such as slaves, servants, gold dust, ivory, ebony, elephant teeth, leather sacks and shields etc.

[#316:] The town of Ghāna is eight days from the great ocean in the west.  It is the capital of Ganāwa.3  Caravans come to it from as-Sūs al-Aqā and the Maghrib.  Its people were holding onto their traditional unbelief until the year 1076 when Yahyā ibn-abī-Bakr, the amīr of the Masūfa, made his appearance. They became Muslim, and good Muslims at that, in the time of the Lamtūna.  Today they are Muslims and have scholars, lawyers and Qur’ān readers and have become expert in these fields.  Some of their chief leaders have come to al-Andalus.  They have travelled to Mecca, made the pilgrimage and visited Medina and returned to their land to spend much money on jihād.

[Al-Idrīsī, 1:2, pp. 22-24:] From the town of Malal to the great town of Ghāna is about 12 stages through sand and powdery land without water. Ghāna is two towns on both banks of the fresh-water sea.  It is the largest of the Sūdān lands in extent and population, and the most widely engaged in trade.  Prosperous merchants come there from all the surrounding countries and from the other countries of the western Maghrib.  Its people are Muslim, and its king is said to be a descendant of Sālih ibn-cAbdallāh ibn-al-Hasan ibn-al-Hasan ibn-cAlī ibn-abī-Tālib.  The Friday preaching is done in his own name, even though he is under obedience to the cAbbāsid commander of the faithful.  He has a palace on the bank of the Nīl which is very solidly built and well designed.  His rooms are decorated with different kinds of carvings and paintings and glass windows.  It was built in 1116...

The people of the western Maghrib are sure without any doubt that the king has in his palace a brick of gold weighing 30 rals in one piece, made by God that way without being cast in fire or shaped by an instrument. A hole was drilled into it so as to hang it on the king’s horse.  This is one of the wonders that no on else has or is allowed to have, and which he prides himself on before the other kings of the Sūdān.

The king is most just.  An example of his nearness to the people and his justice towards them is his having a corps of officers who ride to his palace every morning, each one beating a drum over his head.   When they reach the gate of the king’s palace they are quiet.  As they are all assembled before him, the king gets on his horse and rides at their head through the streets all around the town.  Anyone who has a complaint of injustice or other problem blocks his way and does not leave until his complaint is judged.  Then the king returns to his palace and his officers disperse.  After the casr prayer, when the afternoon heat is past, he gets on his horse again and goes out surrounded by his soldiers.  This time no one can come near him or reach him. His custom of riding twice a day is well known, because of his dispensing justice that way.

His clothing consists of a silk wrapper or a cape, trousers and sharqī sandals.  He rides on horses and has fine ornaments and complete suits which are carried before him on his feast days.  He has many banners and one flag.  Elephants, giraffes and various wild animals found in the Sūdān country march before him.

The people of Ghāna have solidly built boat for fishing and travelling on the Nīl and crossing between the two towns.  Their dress is a wrapper, loin cloth or a mantle, as each cares to put on.

On the west Ghāna borders the land of Maqzāra, on the east Wanqāra, on the north the Sahara, which extends from the land of the Sūdān to that of the Berbers, and on the south the land of the unbelieving Lamlam and other tribes.

[Kitāb al-istibsār, 111] Right now, July-August 1190, The Muwahhid doctrine and guidance stretches across the Sahara from Tripoli to the towns of Ghāna and Kawkaw.

[219-220] Ghāna it is said to be the name given to its kings, but the coutnry is called Awkār.  I came upon a letter from its king to Yūsuf ibn-Tashfīn, beginning, “To the amīr of Aghmāt: Ghāna says...” This is an indication of how the name is used.

[Ash-Sharīshī, Sharh al-Maqāmāt al-Harīriyya, I, 130] Ghāna is a Sūdānic country where traders end their journey after passing through Sijilmāsa.  From Sijilmāsa to Ghāna takes three months, but from Ghāna to Sijilmāsa a month and a half or less. The reason for this is that the caravans equip themselves for the journey there from Sijilmāsa with goods and loads which are sold in Ghāna for gold.  Anyone who journeys there with 30 camels comes back with three camels or two: one for him to ride on, and a second for water because of the dry stretch on the way.   More than one merchant has told me that it takes 16 days to cross the dry stretch; during this time they see no water except what is on the backs of their camels. The money they get from the loads of the 30 camels can be put in one travelling-bag so that, being lightly loaded, they can double their pace.

Ghāna is the town of the kingdom of Sūdān.  Islam has spread among its people and there are schools there. Many merchants from the Maghrib are there.  They come to trade and find a comfortable life, security and plenty of articles of trade.  They buy there slaves for concubinage and stay with the amīr, where they receive the highest hospitality along with their slave girls.  God has endowed these with laudable characteristics, both physical and moral, more than can be desired: smooth bodies, clear black skins, beautiful eyes, proportionate noses, white teeth and fragrant smell.

Ibn-ar-Rūmī described one of them as follows...  But as for the superiority of black over white girls he said: “Blackness has certain advantages; reality has its merits and demerits.  Blackness does not detract from the black, but whites sometimes suffer from skin disease.”  Although this verse and those of the other poets cited attempt to show how good black girls are, they are really excuses and rationalizations for pretending that something ugly is beautiful.  In fact it is universally agreed that the white are superior.

[Al-Maqqarī, Nafh a-tīb, 3:105:] In his Rihla[As-Sarakshī] says of Abū-Rabīc ibn-cAbdallāh, son of the Amīr-al-mu’minīn cAbdalmu’min ibn-cAlī, who was then Governor of Sijilmāsa and its provinces... Here is his answer to a letter of the king of Sūdān in Ghāna complaining of his restrictions on traders there: “We treat you well as neighbours. Even though we differ in religion, we agree on an acceptable conduct.  We are used to treating our subjects kindly, and it is certain that kings must practice justice in running a good government.  Only evil and ignorant people practice oppression.  We have heard of the arrest of indigent traders and their being prevented from carrying on their business.  If traders frequent a country it prospers and becomes more populous. If we wanted, we could arrest people from your country who come here, but we do not think that is the right thing to do.  We do not want to condemn a practice and then do it ourselves. Peace!”

[3:107:] The jurist Abū-cAbdallāh Muhammad al-Qasilānī told me: “I visited Abū-r-Rabīc in his palace in Sijilmāsa and piled on skins before him were heads of Khārijites who were robbing travellers between Sijilmāsa and Ghāna.  To the beat of an ebony stick he was tapping, he recited the following verse: “The heads of your enemies are not a strange answer, if the letter you send them is a sword.”

[Ibn-Sacīd, Bast al-ard, 26:] The city of Ghāna covers both banks of the Nīl at 29o longitude and 10o15' latitude. There lives the sultan of the land of Ghāna, and he is a descendant of al-Hasan ibn-cAlī.  He has a big nugget of gold which he uses to tie his horse; for this reason he holds himself above the other kings of Sūdān. He often makes jihad against the unbelievers, and his house is known for that.  [Note that, not being Muslim, the Ghāna kings would simply be waging war on fellow unbelievers.]

[Ibn-Khaldūn, Kitāb al-cibar wa-dīwān al-mubtada’ wa-l-khabar fī ayyām al-carab wa-l-cajam wa-l-Barbar, VI, 412:] When Ifrīqiya conquered the Maghrib, traders went there and discovered how great were the kings of Ghāna.  They ruled as far as the Atlantic in the west and were the greatest people with the most powerful king.  Their capital, Ghāna, which is two cities on the two sides of the Nīl, was one of the largest and most populous in the world, as reported by the author of the book Roger, and the author of al-Masālik wa-l-mamālik. The neighbours of Ghāna on the east, as chroniclers assert, were another people known as ūū or Sūsū and beyond them another people known as Mālī, and beyond them another known as Kawkaw or Kāghū, then beyond them another known as Takrūr.  I learned from shaykh cUthmān, the faqīh of the people of Ghāna and one of their chief men, and the most learned, religious, and celebrated of them, whom I met when he came to Egypt in 1394 while making the hajj with his family, that they call the Takrūr “Zaghāy, and the Mālī “Ankāriya”. Later the authority of the people of Ghāna waned and their prestige declined as that of the veiled people, their neighbours on the north next to the land of the Berbers, grew.  These extended their domination over the Sūdān, overran their defenses and land, imposed tribute (itāwāt) and jizya, and converted many of them to Islam. Then the authority of the rulers of Ghāna dwindled away and they were overcome by the Sūsū, a neighbouring people of the Sūdān, who subjugated and absorbed them.

[Comment:] Al-Bakrī’s description of Ghāna has been corroborated by the investigation of French archaeologists, particularly R. Mauny.4  They found at Kumbi Saleh remains of a town that covered about three square kilometres. Among the ruins of once rich stone villas they found scissors, glass weights for gold and pottery from North Africa.  Many stones with Arabic inscriptions were found, along with the foundations of a large mosque.  A carbon-14 test on some charcoal gave a date of around 1210, showing that the town continued to prosper after the region came under Murābi control.  This likely was the Muslim merchant town mentioned by al-Bakrī.

Ruins of two nearby towns, which had no buildings in stone, have been proposed as the site of the royal town of Ghāna.  Eclipsed in splendour and importance by the merchants’ town, it could have been destroyed by a Takrūr-Murābit alliance.  Yet the earliest sources do not say that the Murābits ever attacked and conquered Ghāna,5 but that it turned Muslim “when Yahyā ibn-abī-Bakr made his appearance in 1076" (az-Zuhrī).  It is not unlikely, however, that a Takrūr-Murābit threat precipitated the conversion of Ghāna’s rulers to Islam.  Once Ghāna was Muslim, according to az-Zuhrī, it was able to obtain help from the Murābits in their struggle against Tādmakka [See below].

Ghāna’s neighbours

[Az-Zuhrī, Al-jaghrafiyya, #337:] Ghāna exports Saharan slaves. That is because the people of Ghāna impose taxes on the Berbers and on the Amīma and take their people, as they did in the days when they were unbelievers.  The Amīma are a Ganāwa tribe  living on the sores of the ocean in the west.  They follow the laws of the Magi religion.  Because of their unbelief no one goes there or buys anything from them.   They wear sheep skins and have plenty of honey.  They live in the desert, constructing only tents of desert grass. The people of Ghāna raid them every year, sometimes winning and sometimes losing.  These people have no metal, but fight only with ebony clubs. So the Ghāna people defeat them, using swords and spears.  A slave from among them can run faster than a wild horse.

[#338:] Fifteen days away from Ghāna are two towns, the one called Naslā and the other Tādimakka; they are nine days away from each other.  The people of these towns became Muslim seven years after the people of Ghāna.  There were many wars and conflicts between them and Ghāna until the people of Ghāna called upon the Murābits to help defeat them...

[#339:] The Berbers follow the Christian [variant “pagan”] religion. The people of Naslā and Tādimakka attack them and capture those they can.  These people live in the middle of the Sahara, away from its edges and hights... They are clever and strong and be captured only by cunning, deception and tricks.  By force and by war no one can overcome them.  They have facial marks to distinguish them from the Ganāwa.  No one trades with them; they dress in skins.  If it were not for the black wind that reduced their population, they would have blocked the trade routes because of their number... This wind comes once only in sixty years or more.

[#340:] About twenty farsakhs to the east of Ghāna is the town of Qarāfūn [variant “Zāfūn”].   This is the nearest of the desert towns to Wāraqlān and Sijilmāsa.  Between these two towns the Murābits live.  These people became Muslim when those of Wāraqlān did so. in the time of Hishām ibn-cAbdalmalik (724-743).  They followed a way contrary to Sharīca, but moved to correct Islam when the people of Ghana, Tādimakka and Qarāfūn became Muslim. They are attached to the town of Ghāna because it is their capital and the seat of their kingdom.

[#341:] The people of Qarāfūn take captives from the people of Amīma, a Ganāwa tribe living in the eastern part of the desert between Qarāfūn and Kawkaw near the Nīl of Egypt.  They are people who profess Judaism.  One can go there from Kawkaw or Wāraqlān.  They are the poorest of the Ganāwa.  They read the Torah.  Silk and saffron and manufactured goods and tar are imported to them from the Maghrib and al-Andalus and the desert...

Wanqāra /Wangara, Mali

[Al-Idrīsī, 1:2, pp. 24-26:] From the town of Ghāna to the border of the land of Wanqāra is 8 days.   Wanqāra land is the country we mentioned that has so much good gold, and is an island 300 miles long and 150 miles wide, surrounded by the Nīl on every side throughout the year.  In the month of August, which is very hot, the Nīl overflows and floods this island or most of it for its regular period and then begins to recede.  As it goes down, all those in the Sūdān country return in droves to that island in search of gold.  They search as long as the Nīl is receding, each one finding a small or large amount of gold as God gives him, no one being disappointed.  When the Nīl is back to its normal level, they sell their gold, trading with each other.  The people of Wāraqlān and the western Maghrib buy most of it and export it to the mints in their own countries, making it into dīnārs which they use as currency.  This takes place every year, and it’s the greatest source of income for the Sūdān, on which they all, small and great, rely.

In the land of Wanqāra there are populous towns and famous forts. Its people are rich, having much gold and imported goods from the ends of the earth...

Among the towns of Wanqāra is Tīraqqā, which is large and full of people, but it has no walls or enclosure.  It is subject to the king of Ghāna, in whose name the khutba is delivered and to whom they go for court cases.  Tīraqqā is 6 days away from Ghāna by the Nīl.

From Tīraqqā to the town of Madāsa is 6 days...  From Madāsa to the town of Saghmāra is 6 stages...  From Saghmāra to the town of Samaqanda is 8 days. Samaqanda is a beautiful town on the bank of the sweet-water sea.  From there to the town of Gharbīl is 9 days.  Gharbīl is 6 days south of Saghmāra...

The town of Ghiyāra is 11 stages south of Gharbīl.  Ghiyāra is on the bank of the Nīl, surrounded by a moat. It has a large population, noted for their bravery and knowledge.  They raid Lamlam country, capturing the people and bringing them to sell to the merchants of Ghāna.  From Ghiyāra to Lamlam country is 13 stages.   The people of Ghiyāra ride thorough-bred camels, carry water and ride by night, arriving in the daytime to grab booty and return to their own town with the Lamlam captives that God enables them to take.  From Ghiyāra to Ghāna is 11 stages.  There is little water in Ghiyāra.

All these lands we have mentioned are under obedient to the king of Ghāna.  They pay taxes to him and he is responsible for their protection...


[Al-Idrīsī, 1:3, p. 27:] The town of Kūgha is on the north bank of the sweet-watered sea, from which its people drink.  It is a province of Wanqāra, but some Sūdān regard it as belonging to Kanem.  It is a populous town, without walls, and has many trade and manufactured goods which are their currency to buy what they need.  The women of this town are reputed for sorcery.  They are said to be expert, famous and proficient in it. Samqanda is 10 days to the west of Kūgha, while Ghāna is about a month and a half away..  Kawkaw is 20 stages to the north of Kūgha through Baghāma country...


[Al-Idrīsī, 1:3, p. 28:] The town of Kawkaw is large and famous throughout the Sūdān countries.  It is on the bank of a river coming from the north and passing through it, from which its people drink.  Many Sūdān people say that Kawkaw is on the bank of a gulf, while other say it is on a river that flows into the Nīl.  The true opinion is that this river runs past Kawkaw  many days’ distance further, then becomes sinks into the sand and powdery soil of the Sahara, just as the Euphrates in Iraq gets lost in the marshes.

The king of Kawkaw is an independent king and the khutba is preached in his name.  He has many servants and a large retinue, officers, soldiers, excellent dress and beautiful ornaments.  His men ride horses and camels and are brave and formidable to neighbouring peoples. The common people of Kawkaw wear skins over their sexual parts, while the merchants wear shirts and mantles with turbans around their heads and golden ornaments.  The nobles and eminent persons wear wrappers.  They mix with the merchants and sit with them, sharing in their business by way of capital loans for mutual profit6..

[Ibn-Sacīd, Bast al-ard, 26-27:]  To the east likes the land of Kawkaw, taken from the name of its capital.  The king is an unbelieving Sūdānese.  The ignorance of Kawkaw is proverbial, contrasting with the Muslims of Ghāna to the west and the Muslims of Kanem to the east.  The town of Kawkaw is on the east side of the river named after it at 44o longitude and 10o15' latitude... The Kawkaw people live on both sides of the river.  They go naked and are uncivilized.

[Comment:] We have seen the importance of Gao even in the time of al-Yacqūbī (889).  Al-Muhallabī (990) and al-Bakrī describe a diluted Islam in the king’s court and among the people, which can be attributed to the present of a Berber Muslim trading settlement mentioned by al-Bakrī (1060).  Ibn-Sacīd, who may have been mistaken, makes Gao a pagan kingdom. Even in 1553 Ibn-Battūta was a guest of Muhammad al-Fīlālī, “the imam of the mosque of the whites”, perhaps an oasis of pure Islam in a city of mixed practice.7

The much later Ta’rīkh as-Sūdān by cAbdarrahmān as-Sacdī (1596-1655) lists 14 pagan kings of Gao before Za Kosoy, who “became Muslim voluntarily, without being forced; that was in 1010". He was followed by 17 more kings of the Za dynasty who did not have Muslim names, then by the Sonni king, cAlī Kolon (1464-92), the predecessor of the Askiyas.8  In the appendix of Ta’rīkh al-Fattāsh by Ibn-al-Mukhtār (1665) it is stated that “the people of Gao became Muslim between 1079 and 1082", and that this was long before the reign of Za Kosoy.9  Ibn-al-Mukhtār may be closer to the truth, because the earliest of the tombstones of the Muslim kings of Gao marks one Abū-cAbdallāh Muhammad who died in 1100.  He is said to be the son of another cAbdallāh, which would indicate that the kings of Gao became Muslim about the middle of the 11th century, although the court had some cultural trappings of Islam long before.10  It is argued that Murābit Berbers took over the Gao kingship towards the end of the 11th century, accounting for the Muslim names on the tombstones.11

[128 As-Sacdī –Ta’rīkh as-Sūdān, 3-4; cf. Ta’rīkh al-Fattāsh 332:] This is a list of the kings of Songhay: (1) Zā Alayaman, (2) Zā Zakoi, (3) Zā Takoi [Takay], (4) Zā Akoi [Mata-Kay], (5) Zā Kū, (6) Zā cAlī-Fay, (7) Zā Biyu-Kumoy, (8) Zā Biyu, (9) Zā-Kuroy, (10) Zā Yama-Karaway, (11) Zā Yama, (12) Zā Yama-Danka-Kibacu, (13) Zā Kukuray, (14), Zā Kinkin.  All these fourteen kings died in religious ignorance; none of them believed in God and his Messenger.

[TF: (1) al-Yaman, (2) Wacay, (3) Kayan, (4) Takay, (5) Mata-Kay, (6) Māli Biyay, (7) Biyay-Kīma, (8) Bay, (9) Kiray, (10) Yama-Kalaway, (11) Yama-Dombo, (12) Yama Dianā, (13) Diatakurī, (14) Kushi Muslim]

The first king to become Muslim was (15) Zā Kusoy.  He was dubbed “Muslim Dam” in the local language, which means that he became a Muslim willingly and without compulsion.  That took place in the hijra year 400 (1009-1010).

Then came: (16) Zā Kusoy-Dāriya, (17) Zā Han-Kuz-Wanku-Dam, (18), Zā Biyu-Kī-Kīma,12 (19) Zā Nintāsanay, (20) Zā Biyu-Kayna-Kinba, (21) Zā Kayna-Shanyunbu, (22) Zā Tib, (23) Zā Yama-Dād, (24) Zā Fādazu, (25) Zā cAlī-Kuru, (26) Zā Bīr-Fuluku, (27) Zā Yasiboy, (28) Zā Dūru, (29) Zā Zenku-Bāru, (30) Zā Bisi-Bāru, (31) Zā Badā.

[TF: (15) Kushi-Dāriyā, (16) Hunabunwā-Kudam, (17) Yama-Kishi, (18) Baray, (19) Bibay-Kaynā, (20) Simanbaw, (21) Fanda-Diyarwa, (22) Yama-Dā’a, (23) Arkur-Diwa, (24) Baray, (25) Yassi-Bucu, (26) Bāru, (27) Dūru, (28) Bishi-Bāru]

Then came the first Sunni, (1) cAlī Kulun.  He is the one who broke the yoke of Mali rule over Songhay—God help him for that.  After him came his brother (2) Salman Nāri.  The two were sons of Zā Yasiboy.  Then came: (3) Sunni Ibrāhīm Kabay, (4) Sunni cUthmān Kanafa, (5) Sunni Bār-Kayna-Ankabī, (6) Sunni Mūsā, (7) Sunni Bakr Zanku, (8) Sunni Bakr Dala-Buyunbu, (9) Sunni Mār-Kiray, (10) Sunni Muammad Dācu, (11) Sunni Muammad Kūkiyā, (12) Sunni Muammad Fāri, (13) Sunni Karbīfu, (14) Sunni Mār-Fay-Kuli-Jimu, (15) Sunni Mār-Arkana, (16) Sunni Mār Arandan, (17) Sunni Sulaymān Dāma, (18) Sunni cAlī, (19) Sunni Bāru, whose name was Bakr Dācu.  After him came Askiya al-ājj Muammad.

Kanem and the central Sūdān

[Al-Idrīsī, 1:3, p. 29-30:] Kawkaw is a month and a half from Ghāna, and 14 stages from Tamalma in the east.  Tamalma is a small but central town in the land of Kawār, with many people, but no walls, ruled by a man rules who is rebel to any outside authority. It is on a small hill, but one which is secure because of steep sides all around.  It has date palms and livestock, but its people are naked and wretched.  Their drinking water comes from deep wells.   They have a mine of low quality alum which they sell in Kawār, where the merchants mix it with good alum and sell it all over.

From Tamalma to the town of Mānān in the land of Kanem is 12 stages. Mānān is a small town with no industry and little commerce.  They keep camels and goats.  It is 8 days from Mānān to the town of Anjīmī, which is also in Kanem territory. Anjīmī is a very small town with few people of low condition.   To the east they border on the Nūba.  The Nīl is 3 days south of Anjīmī.  Its people drink from wells.

The town of Zaghāwa is 6 days from Anjīmī.  Zaghāwa is a central town with a large population.  Around it are many Zaghāwa camel owners who are in the transport business.  The people have little trade and their industry is for their own needs.  They drink water from wells and eat sorghum, dried camel meat and fish.  They also have plenty of milk.  They cover themselves with died skins, and are the mangiest of the Sūdān.

Zaghāwa is 8 stages away from Mānān, where their amīr and governor lives.  Most of his men are naked archers.

From Mānān it is 13 stages to the town of Tājuwa, the capital of the Tājuwa people who are Magi, not believing in anything.  Their land borders on that of the Nūba... [2:3, p. 119] The Tājuwa people are very numerous and possess many camels.  There is much pasture land in their country, and they are nomads who do not settle in one place.  All their neighbours raid them and use various tricks to capture them. They have only two towns, Tājuwa and Samna.

[Kitāb al-istibsār, 146:] Zawīla is a great and very ancient city in the desert.  It is near the land of Kanem, whose Sūdānese people became Muslim after 1106.  It is a gathering place for caravans and slaves are brought there.  From there they are brought to Ifrīqiya and other countries.

[Ibn-Sacīd, Bast al-ard, (first clime) 27-29:] From Lake Kūrī flows the Nīl of Egypt, the Nīl of Maqdishū and the Nīl of Ghāna... Ibn-Fāima says, “I have never seen anyone who has seen its southern shore. It is navigated only by the Kanem people and their neighbours whom we met on the northern shore.  All around it are savage unbelieving Sūdānese who are cannibals.  The ones we know live on the north side, such as the Badī people, whose capital bears the same name.  It is located at the source of the Ghāna Nīl, and they control the surrounding area.  To the west are the Jābī people, who file their teeth.  If any of them die, they throw the body to their neighbours for them to eat; their neighbours do likewise for them...

East of the town of Badī, apart from the Muslim Kanem, is the town of Jāja, which is the capital of an independent kingdom, having cities and towns, but now it is under the power of Kanem.  It is a fertile land full of every good thing... East of the town, as you turn to the lake, is al-Maghzā, which is the Sultan of Kanem’s manufacturing centre.  From there he often uses his fleet to raid the land of the unbelievers that border this lake, attacking their boats, killing and enslaving...

In line with the lake shore is Mātān, one of the better known towns of Kanem... Southeast of it is Jīmī, the capital of Kanem... There lives the Sultan of Kanem who is famous for jihad and good works, Muammadī, a descendant of Sayf ibn-Dhī-Yazan.  Mātān was the capital of the territory of unbelievers before they became Muslim. His great-great-great-grandfather became Muslim at the hand of Islamic scholars in Kanem.13  This ruler has authority over the sultanate of Tājuwa, the kingdom of Kawār and the kingdom of Fazzān.  God has strengthened him, multiplied his descendants and his army.  His clothes are imported from Tunis, while he keeps Islamic scholars around him...

East of the Maqawris mountains, which separate the Kanem mountains from Kawkaw is the territory of Kanem and their Berber followers, who became Muslim at the hands of Ibn-Habal the Sultan of Kanem.  They are his slaves; he makes raids with them and uses their camels, which are plenty in those parts.

Towards Mātān is the territory of the Zaghāwa, most of whom are Muslim, paying allegiance to al-Kānemī.  North of Mātān and the Kanem territory is the land of the Akawwār... They are Muslims owing allegiance to al-Kānemī.

[30:] Tājuwa (or “Tājuwwa”) is the capital of the Zaghāwa... Its people became Muslims and came under obedience to al-Kānemī.  South of it is the town of Zaghāwa... The Tājuwa and the Zaghāwa are one people, but the kingship and superiority of looks and morals belong to the Tājuwa.  They are unbelievers and do not accept the authority of al-Kānemī, while they are used to the desert and the mountains.  Ibn-Fāima says that the kings of Kānem and of Tājuwa fled from their capitals on the Nīl because of the mosquitos which are plentiful along the Nīl and very harmful to men and horses...

[48-49 (second clime):] In the same latitude with Awdaghust is Zāfūn, which belongs to the unbelieving Sūdānese.  Their king is highly respected among the Sūdānese kings...

The Kawār are Muslim Sūdānese, whose capital is also called Kawār. It presently pays allegiance to the sultan of Kanem... The people have adopted the culture of white men in weary wool and cotton capes...

North of the Maqawris mountains, which stretch from west to east, is the land of the Barkāmī.  These are prosperous Sūdānese who live in valleys withing the mountains and have palm trees, water and gardens.  Those of them who live near Kanem are Muslims; those who live near Nubia are Christians, and those who live near Zaghāwa are idolaters...

Within the hills and valleys of the west end of the Lūniyā mountains is the town of Tādmakka, which is well known to travellers and geographers. The people are Muslim Berbers who go often for trading in the land of Sūdān and are subject to Kanem...14

[61 (third clime):] Ghadāmis... is a group of fortified hamlets on the main route to the land of Kanem.  East of it is Waddān, islands of palm trees and water... To the east of Waddān is the country of Fazzān, which consists also of islands of palm trees and water but has more towns and settled places than Waddān.  All these places are now under the sway of the king of Kanem. The capital of Fazzān is Zawīla.

[At-Tijānī, Rila, p. 111:] Qarāqūsh had another son who soon became distinguished.  He was courageous, generous and very good looking.  People loved to look at him and hear about him.  The caliph al-Mustansir enrolled him among his troops and put him in charge of a section of them.  Then he contemplated rebellion, wishing to follow the example of his father so she fled with a group of companions to the land of Waddān where his father had been killed.  He set that land on fire.  Then the king of Kanem sent men who killed him and relieved that land of the trouble he caused.  They brought his head back to Kanem where it was paraded around.  That was in the year 1258.

[Al-cUmarī, Masālik al-abār fī mamālik al-amsār, 46/4, 30-32:] Kanem is Muslim and independent.  Its capital, very far away from Māli, is called Jīmī.  The kingdom extends from a town near Egypt called Zalā and goes to a town called Kākā, three months distance away.  Their soldiers wear lithām over their faces. In spite of his miserable power and poor country, he is incredibly proud.  His head is in the cloud of the sky, while his army is weak and small. He stays in seclusion, and no one sees him except on the two feast days, in the morning and at the casr prayer.   During the rest of the year no one, not even an amīr, may talk to him, except through a curtain...

The first person to preach Islam among them was al-Hādī al-cUthmānī, who claimed to be a descendant of cUthmān ibn-cAffān.  Power then passed to the Yazīniyyīn of the Banū-Dhī-Yazan.  There was justice in their land, and they followed the madhhab of the imām Mālik.  They are simple in their dress and strict in religion.  They built in Fustāt in Egypt a school of the Mālikī madhhab, and visitors from Kanem stay there.

[Al-Qalqashandī, Subh al-ashcā fī sanāca al-inshā’, 8:116-8:] A letter to king at-Tāhir Abū-Sacīd Barqūq, which arrived in 1391/92... from king Abū-cAmr cUthmān, son of Idrīs al-Hājj... We have sent you our messenger, the son of my paternal uncle, named Idrīs ibn-Muhammad, because of the disaster that we and our kings have suffered.  The Judhdhām and other Arabs abducted some of our free women, children, weak men, relatives and other Muslims.  Some of these Arabs are unbelieving apostates.  They attacked Muslims and killed many of them over a quarrel that broke out between us and our enemies.  Because of that quarrel they killed our king, cUmar ibn-Idrīs, Martyr; he was our brother, son of our father Idrīs al-Hājj, son of Ibrāhīm al-Hājj.  We are sons of Sayf ibn-dhī-Yazan, the father of our tribe, a Qurayshī Arab, as we have ascertained from our elders.

These Arabs have ruined our whole land, the land of Borno, as it is until now.  They abducted Muslims who are our free men and neighbours and sold them to traders from Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, keeping some of them as their own slaves.  God has put the government of Egypt in your hands, from the Mediterranean to Aswān, where our people have been taken as merchandise. Send messengers to your whole land, to your amīrs, wazīrs, judges, governors, learned men and market supervisors; let them look out and search for our people.  If you find them, take them from their captors and interrogate them. If they say we are free Muslims, believe them without thinking that they are lying.  If you find out their identity, let them return to their liberty and their Islam...

[Comment:] Kanem, as first mentioned by al-Yacqūbī (889), was inhabited by the Zaghāwa.  Al-Muhallabī’s description of their worship of the king shows that government was very important, leading us to look for a strong economic incentive that needed protection and control.  This was the supply of slaves to Zawīla and North Africa.

Al-Bakrī refers to the Kanem people as “pagan Sūdān” whom scarcely anyone reaches, but the Kitāb al-istibsār (c. 1135) shows that it was the capital of the slave trade for the Central Sūdān, having embraced Islam “some time after 1106".  Al-Idrīsī (1154) implies that they are still pagans, saying that his men are “naked archers” who raid their neighbours, the Tājuwa, for slaves.  Ibn-Sacīd (c. 1275) says that the fourth grandfather of the reigning king was the first Muslim ruler of Kanem.  That would put his conversion towards the beginning of the 12th century.  By the time Ibn-Sacīd wrote, Kanem had islamized and incorporated Tājuwa and other kingdoms who cooperated in grand scale slave raiding on their pagan neighbours to the south.

The original Zaghāwa dynasty was later replaced by the Kanembu Sayf dynasty who, according to one legend, had their origins in Yemen.15  Ume Jilmi (1085-97), according to the Borno Mahram,16  was the first Mai (king) of Kanem to become a Muslim, probably through the presence of a foreign Muslim community and his contacts with North Africa.  He died while on pilgrimage to Mecca.  The capital of the kingdom at this time was Njimi. The next Mai, Dunama I (1097-1152), made the ajj twice and on the third time was drowned in the Red Sea.  His son Mai Biri I (1150-76) is said to have been a weak character; for executing some thieves instead of cutting off their hands according to the Sharīca his mother imprisoned him.  The mother of the Mai bore the title “Magira” and had great power in the kingdom, showing the strength of African traditions such as matriarchy.  A tradition that the king is something more than a human mortal, moreover, obliged the king to remain hidden from public view, a custom observed also in Benin. Biri’s grandson, Mai cAbdaljalīl (1193-1210), bore the nickname Selma, meaning “black”, an indication of the racial assimilation of the dynasty if the legend of white ancestry is true.  Mai Dunama II Dibbalemi (1221-59) extended Kanem authority over Fezzān, did much to promote Islam and established a hostel in Cairo for Kanemi students.  He also established diplomatic relations with al-Muntair, the afid ruler of Tunis, and sent him the present of a giraffe.  At the time of his son Mai Kashem Biri (1278-98) two Fulani teachers of Islam are said to have come from Mali.

As Islam developed among the elite during the two centuries following Mai Ume Jilmi, Kanem political power also grew.  The expansion of the Kanem state resembled that of Ethiopia.   Neighbouring peoples were first subjugated, then assimilated by the adoption of the Kanuri language, Islam and loyalty to the Mai.  Ethnic and religious assimilation, however, affected the rural people least, and many areas were under some kind of indirect rule or were independent tributary states.

By the end of the 13th century the empire included Kanem itself east of Lake Chad, Borno west of Lake Chad and north of the river Yobe as far west as Geidam, and the Kawar region (of the Tubu people) to the north, including the salt sources of Bilma and Jado.  Kanem’s power was also felt in the north over most of Fezzān, including Murzūq and even Wadan in Tripolitania, and in the west over a good part of Hausaland.  Southwest of Lake Chad, Kanem’s influence went as far as the plateau, and southeast as far as the Shari river and marshes.  To the east the Gaoga people (around Lake Fitri) were a barrier.  Leo Africanus at the beginning of the 16th century said that these people practised Christianity.  He added that the founder of the dynasty of Mandar (Marwa area of Cameroon, later absorbed by Borno) was Christian.  The source of this Christianity would have to have been Nubia.

A sign of the technical advance of the Kanem empire are the ruins of buildings built in brick form the 13th to the 17th centuries.  The use of baked brick stems from Nubia, and brick ruins are also found in Baghirmi, Wadai and Dārfūr, all between Kanem and Nubia.

General effect of the Murābit movement

The Murābit movement, as seen in Chapter 8, had both a religious and a socio-economic foundation.  On the economic side the Sanhāja wished to regain control of the trans-Saharan trade routes, so that they might profit from the tolls, guide service and protection they could provide.  On the religious side they were inspired by the Sunnī Mālikī school of Qayrawān, which struggled stubbornly against the Fātimid Shīcism established in Tunisia, and against the Ibādī Khārijism which dominated Saharan Islam up to the 11th century.  The combination of an economic motive and the distinguishing religious ideology of Mālikism enabled the Sanhāja to forge a unity among themselves which never existed before.  This unification, and the process of hijra and jihād by which it was accomplished, consciously imitated the hijra and jihād of Muhammad in his unification of the Arabs.

Once Sanhāja unity was effected, the Murābits were able to regain control of the Saharan trade routes and also impose Mālikī Sunnism wherever their rule extended.  This meant the elimination of Ibādism in most of the western Sahara and West Africa. Sunnī Muslims were also less tolerant than Khārijites of African traditional religion, and would more willingly enter alliances and engage in jihāds under the guise of combatting paganism.

The military activity of the Murābits did not disrupt trade, but rather assured a powerful protection for it, enabling Ghāna to become more prosperous than ever, as al-Idrīsī and others confirm.  The growth in grade is due also to greater demand for gold at this time on the part of the competing Umayyads of Spain and Fātimids of Tunisia.  Gold had been the mainstay of trans-Saharan trade in West Africa up to the time of al-Bakrī.  Yet by the middle of the next century the exports of Gao and Ghāna, according to az-Zuhrī, consisted first of all of slaves.  Al-Idrīsī also states that the people of Ghāna, Takrūr and Silā raided the country of the Malinke Lamlam and sold them as slaves to merchants from the Maghrib.  The introduction of the slave trade and the importation of large horses from North Africa to carry out slave raids opened a new economic and social phase for West Africa. In the cities of the new empires Muslims in flowing robes would pile up wealth from the sale of the much despised “naked pagans” and glory in the superiority of Islamic civilization.

Slave trade, however did not displace gold trade entirely.  With the near exhaustion of the Bambuk gold fields, Ghāna’s days were numbered.  The Susu, a pagan group of Soninke, overran Ghāna under the leadership of Sumanguru and set up a weak successor state.

Meanwhile, the Malinke had discovered deep inside their own territory the Bure fields, which were eight times as productive as the Bambuk ones.17  The Malinke were determined to exploit this advantage in their own Mali empire.

«— Chapter 8

The Spread of Islam
Through North to West Africa

Chapter 10 —»

1Correction of Mafzāra; cf. LH p. 400, note 8.

2Cf. N. Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali, (London: Methuen, 1973), pp. 44, 154-156.

3Also “Jinawa”, “Kināwa”; it comes from a Berber word for “the Black”, and gave rise to the English word “Guinea”.  Cf. Cuoq, p. 119, n. 1; LH: “Ganāwa”, p. 447.

4Cf. Raymond Mauny, “Etat actuel de la question de Ghana”, BIFAN, 13 (1951), 463-475); Paul Thomassey & R. Mauny, “Campagne de fouilles a Koumbi Saleh”, BIFAN, 18 (1956), 117-140.

5Cf. David Conrad & H. Fisher, “The conquest that never was: Ghana and the Almoravids, 1076", History in Africa, 9 (1982), 21-59; 10 (1983), 53-78.

6Muqāraa.  Cf. J. Kenny, The Risāla of cAbdallāh ibn-abī-Zayd al-Qayrawānī, n. 34.09 & 34.25.

7Tuhfat an-nuzzār, LH 300.

8Sacdī, as- Ta’rīkh as-Sūdān, chapter 1, ed. O. Houdas (Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1964).

9Cf. Ibn-al-Mukhtār Ta’rīkh al-fattāsh, ed. O. Houdas & M. Delafosse (Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1964), appendix 2, p. 333; on authorship cf. N. Levtzion, “A seventeenth-century chronicle by Ibn-al-Mukhtār: a critical study of Ta’rīkh al-fattāsh”, BSOAS, 34:3 (1971), 571-93.

10Cf. J. Sauvaget, “Les épitaphes royales de Gao”, BIFAN 12 (1950), 419-429; M.-M. Viré, “Note sur trois épitaphes royales de Gao”, BIFAN 20 (1958), 368-376; P.F. Farias de Moraes “Du nouveau sur les stčles de Gao: les épitaphes du prince Yāmā Kūrī et du roi F.n.da (XIIIe s.)”, BIFAN 36 (1974), 511-524.

11Cf. John Hunwick, “Gao and the Almoravids a hypothesis,” in B. Swartz and R. Dumett, West African cultural dynamics: archaeological and historical perspectives (The Hague, 1979), 413-430; Sharīca in Songhay (O.U.P., 1985), p. 10; “Gao and the Almoravids revisited: ethnicity, political change and the limits of interpretation,” J.A.H. 35 (1994), 251-273.  See the variant views of Dierk Lange, “Les rois de Gao-Sané et les Almoravides,” J.A.H. 32 (1991), 251-275, and “From Mande to Songhay: towards a political and ethnic history of medieval Gao,” J.A.H. 35 (1994), 275-306.

12Dierk Lange argues that this ruler should be identified with the “Yāmā ibn-Kimā” on the Gao tombstone inscription, who ruled from January 1100 to 18 April 1120 —in “Medieval Gao,” J.A.H., 35 (1994), 275-301.

13This would be around 1100; cf. LH, p. 401, note 23.

14Ibn-Sacīd may be confusing Tādmakka with Takaddā; only the latter would have been subject to Kanem.  Cf. LH, p. 402, note 41.

15For various hypotheses on the identity of the Zaghāwa and their relationship to the Kanembu, see N. Levtzion in the Cambridge history of Africa, vol. 2, pp. 680 ff., and H.J. Fisher, ibid., vol. 3, pp. 287 ff.

16Note that the dates given for the kings’ reigns are not at all certain. The ones given here are those calculated by Y. Urvoy, Histoire.

17Cf. N. Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali, p. 156.