The Sokoto Caliphate was founded by an Islamic teacher Uthman Dan Fodio in the
year 1804 who later became the first Sultan of Sokoto (Sarkin Muksulmi –
Commander of the Faithful). Although he refused a titular name, leaders after him
called themselves the “Sultan of Sokoto”.

The Sokoto Caliphate was a western African empire that became a part of the Northern
Nigeria in Late 90s. dan Fodio who lived in the Hausa city state of Gobir initiated a Jihad
after he and his followers were banished from the city. From exile, he called for a Holy
war (Jihad) against the Gobir leaders and other Hausa states.


The Jihad affected the course of history through out the Savanah and resulted in the creation of Islamic states in Senegal, Mali and Chad. At this time, Dan Fodio’s empire was at it peak and there were no turning backs as it already influenced regions around it including Northern Cameroon. Those were the glorious days of the ever flourishing Caliphate.

After the death of Dan Fodio in 1817, Muhammed Bello his son took over the eastern
empire while his brother Abdullahi was the titular ruler of the western empire; but
Bello was seen as the next Sultan of the Caliphate.


The Europeans had been focusing on the region for colonial expansion for much of the
last part of the 19th century. A French explorer visited the caliphate in 1891 and noted
that it was at war with the Emir of Argungu, defeating it in the next year.
However, following the Berlin Conference; the British had already expanded to
Southern Nigeria and by 1902, it was planning to march into the Sokoto Caliphate. The
then British General, Fedrick Lugard used many Emirs in the South and Central Sokoto
as rivalries to prevent defense as he worked toward the capital.

Muhammadu Attahiru (Successor) waged a quick defense on the British, but then; they
were at the harsh receiving end as the British came out with great rivalry.
On March 13, 1904 at the Grand Market square, the last Vizier of the Sokoto Caliphate
officially surrendered and conceded to British rule. Fedrick Lugard abolished the
Caliphate, but retained the title “Sultan” as a symbolic position in the newly
established and organized Northern Nigeria Protectorate.

Silva Okpara for

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