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The 2nd Edition
An Introduction by
Robin Walker

Study Guide

africa5.jpg50 Greatest Africans - Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio & Prophetess Kimpa Vita


49. Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio of Sokoto (ruled 1804-1817 AD)
Founder of the Sokoto Caliphate in northern Nigeria

The northern Nigerian city of Gobir itself faced a powerful threat from the Fulanis. Austere and fanatical in their religion, they no longer tolerated the laxness and growing corruption of the Hausa rulers. In 1804 they revolted against these regimes declaring jihad on the rulers. William Winwood Reade, author of The Martyrdom of Man, gave an account of the relevant facts: "Othman [sic] Dan Fodio, the Black Prophet … went out of Mecca, his soul burning with zeal. He determined to reform the Sudan [i.e. that part of Africa] … Dan Fodio sent letters to the great kings of Timbuktu, Haoussa [sic], and Bornu [sic], commanding them to reform their own lives and those of their subjects, or he would chastise them in the name of God … Dan Fodio united the Fulah [i.e. Fulani] tribes into an army which he inspired with his own spirit. Thirsting for plunder and paradise, the Fulahs swept over the Sudan; they marched into battle with shouts of frenzied joy, singing hymns and waving their green flags on which texts of the Koran were embroidered in letters of gold."

Many ordinary Hausas joined the Fulani campaigns. They empathised with the Fulani attack on the luxury, injustice, and high taxation associated with the Hausa Sarkunas (i.e. kings - plural). Moreover, the government officials were not above confiscating livestock and other goods of ordinary people. Nor were they above capturing young women to serve in the harem.

In 1812 the Shehu (meaning 'teacher'), Uthman Dan Fodio triumphed over the Hausa kings. Ruling from Gobir, he changed the name of the city to Sokoto. The empire he built became the Sokoto Caliphate. Establishing a centralised government, he began a stability in the region that ultimately created an economic boom. Hausaland had seen nothing like it since the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Kano cotton, for example, clothed half of West Africa. Furthermore, the Shehu and his descendants were scholars of impressive intellects. Dr Davidson wrote that: "To Uthman, his brother Abdullah and his son Muhammad Bello are attributed some 258 books and essays on a variety of theoretical and practical subjects".
All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE




50. Prophetess Kimpa Vita of Kongo (lived 1682-1706)
Kongolese founder of Black Liberation Theology

Towards the end of the seventeenth century AD, both the combined states of Ndongo and Matamba, and also Kongo, fell victim to European predator activities where "executions, treachery, robbery, and violence became the order of the day." Even under these trying circumstances, a great woman emerged. Kimpa Vita also called Dona Beatriz continued the resistance against the Portuguese slave traders. She was a Kongolese aristocrat born in 1682. By 1704 she began to get national recognition as a prophetess. Though a Christian, she led an interpretation of Christian doctrine that her opponents called the Antonian Heresy. This theology created a national religion in Kongo that owed little to the Church of Rome. Vita preached that (1) Kongo was the Holy Land described in the Bible; (2) The Kongolese capital, Mbanza Kongo, is the real site of Bethlehem; (3) Christ and all the other saints were Black; (4) Heaven was for Africans only; and (5) The White church was the anti-Christ. Thus, she called on Africans not to listen to White missionaries. Her political programme was to find the new king of Kongo who would lead the next golden age of Kongo civilisation. Unfortunately, it was not to be. She was eventually captured and executed by the Portuguese in 1706.
All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE



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Creation date : 18/04/2006 @ 17:39
Last update : 28/07/2014 @ 16:47
Category : 50 Greatest Africans


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African Rulers
50 Greatest Africans

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