The Kanem Boeno Empire was situated around the Lake Chad region and beyond. The territory of the Empire covered some part of the present day Nigeria, Chad and Cameroun. It existed from around the 9th to the 19th century. It is believed to be one of the greatest organized and long lasting political entity in the Africa.
Mai Idris Alooma
Mai Idris Alooma who reigned during the second phase of the Kanuri Empire can regarded as the greatest king under the Empire. Alooma who was the son of a Bulala princess came to the throne at a difficult period in the history of the Kanem-Borno Empire.
Borno Empire before the coming of Alooma was faced with strong famine and hardship. There were also uprisings and revolts from some un-Islamic non-Kanuri ethnic minorities controlled under the Empire structure. Notable among them were the Gizim and the Sao people. Another problem was the disorganization in the administration of Borno Empire controlled by the Saifawa dynasty. The administration of the army was in disarray bringing to the fore front great problem of insecurity. The result of this was the unchecked external attacks on the Empire. The highest of these external attacks was the one carried out by the Bulala who were responsible for the fall of the first kanuri Empire.
Achievements of Mai Idris Alooma.
Some major achievements of Mai Idris Alooma were:
1) To create internal stability, Alooma went after the internal challenges against the Empire. The revolts and uprisings from the Gizim and the Sao were brutally dealt with by Alooma. His forces killed a very large number of the people of Gizim and Sao. Some of them were sold into slavery in exchange for horses, arms and essential goods with the Arabs. This treatment led to the reduction of internal revolts in his kingdom.
2) He went ahead to reform the Empire’s army. Knowing that the major problem of insecurity in the Empire was led by the disorganization in the army, he went into extensive reorganization. In doing this, he re-equipped the Empire’s army. He introduced new and effective weapons for the army. He is believed to be the first king to introduce the use of guns into the Kanem- Borno Empire. He imported large number musket from the Northern part of Africa, Arab and the Ottoman Empire. Mercenaries were also invited to come and train his army on the use of these new weapons. He as well introduced refined war strategies for successful military activities. His army was made up of shock troop, traditional cavaliers, camel cavalry force, fortification forces used mainly for defense and intelligent unit mainly made uo of female slaves.
3) With this strong army, Alooma went into the extensive expansion of the Empire. In the northern part of his Empire, Alooma clashed with the Tuaregs, th Teda whom he defeated. The defeat of these strategic people increased his control of commercial relationship within the region and the Northern part of Africa (the Maghreb). He conquered and dominated most Hausa city states making some of them tributary states of Borno Empire. One of his greatest military successes was the defeat of the Bulala. He stated on a soft note with the Bulala because they are his mother’s people but clashed with them over disagreement based on his expansionist activities. His desire to annex some territories created issue with the Bulala. He defeated the Bulala thereby removing their influence over Borno Empire.
4) His influence was felt in Arab land, Europe and even the Far East. He established and maintained diplomatic and commercial relationship with countries of the Maghreb and some Arab kingdoms.
5) Alooma restructured the political structure of the Empire. The restructuring was carried out based on Islamic principles. Based on his strong Islamic values, he introduced a strong Islamic theocratic structure in the Empire. Justice systems were structured according to the values of Islam headed by a Quadi.
6) He built new mosques in the Empire to encourage the practice of Islam. He strongly encouraged the practice of Islam by his subjects.
7) Due to relative stability the economy of the Empire strived under Alooma. Commercial activities were handled without many distractions from forces wishing to control businesses.