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Usman Dan Fodio & the Jihad of 1804

I always say the only Nigerian history I remember being taught in school were the stories of Oduduwa and Usman Dan Fodio. So I guess it’s nice to be able to use it today lol

In the 15th century, the Fulani came to Kano. The Hausa people living there had already converted to Islam under the reign of Muhammed Ramfu. However like many other ethnic groups in Nigeria, they were practicing the imported religion along side their traditional religion.

In the late 1800’s, a Fulani scholar and teacher named Usman Dan Fodio became increasingly popular. Aside from advocating for Islam to be practiced purely, he began advocating for self defence and citizens to be armed. This made him lose popularity among the Hausa rulers and led to a clash between Dan Fodio and his followers and the Hausa leadership. This conflict was the cause of Usman Dan Fodio's jihad. He and his followers began conquering firstly Sokoto and later as far East as Adamawa. This is why throughout the Emirate in Nigeria, the Fulani still rule today.

Everywhere Dan Fodio conquered he placed this black flag with Arabic writing. Today, the flag still flies on top of the Emir’s palace in Kano.

While in Kano, my Dad and I were privileged to visit the Emir's Palace and have a private audience with his highness, the Emir of Kano. I told him about the project I’m working on and asked some questions about Fulani and Hausa culture. One of which was the difference between Hausa and Fulani culture today. He said although they are different groups, the laws of the Jihad says that when you come to a place, you must assimilate with the people. So, the Fulani and Hausa people in some parts of Northern Nigeria have mixed so much that they are now basically one group.

There are different aspects they have taken from each culture. For example, the political style of rulership was from the Hausas. The Fulani didn’t have any sort of system like the Emirates prior to the Jihad. You can also see the integration of food, clothing and of course, the unity under Islam.

However, it is important to note that there are still groups in Nigeria that are culturally purely Fulani and groups that are culturally purely Hausa.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.


In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.


That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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