Reasons For The Success Of Fulani Conquest
1. Lack of unity among the Hausa kings who were in the habit of quarreling and warring one against the other. Gobir was at war with katsina in the 1750s, while Zamfara and Kano fought for supremacy in the 1760s. The feeling of animosity and jealousy which these wars engendered between states made it difficult for them to cooperate and combine effectively to resist the Fulani menace. It was this lack of Unity rather than the military weakness of the Hausa states that was responsible for Fulani victory.
2. Usuman and his Fulani followers adpoted the strategy of isolating the various Hausa states and conquering them one after the other. Usuman did this by appointing flag bearers whom he instructed to carry out the jihad in their respective areas. As a result most of Hausa states were engaged in the jihad almost at the same time, and this made combined action against the Fulani jihadists difficult.
3. By commanding each flag bearer to make himself emir in his territory in the event of a successful jihad, Usuman provided a strong incentive for the successful prosecution of the war. There is no doubt that the quest for power became a powerful motive force among the leaders of the jihad.
4. This is another factor that is often missed is the point that the nomadic Fulani who formed the bulk of the Fulani armies,were better militarily organized than most of the Hausa communities or states. This was because in the course of their migration, they were often exposed to frequent attacks by local Hausa kings and the Tuareg.
Naturally they organized their encampments on defensive basis with strong and well equipped militia to defend men and cattle in times of attack.
Again, their light cavalry was superior to the heavy Hausa cavalry both for attack and defense. It was this military experience which the cattle Fulani called into play when they responded to Usuman’s call for a holy war.
Closely connected with Fulani military superiority is the organizing ability of the leaders of the jihad – Usuman, his son Muhammed Bello and his brother Abdullahi. The credit for the strategy of isolating the Hausa states and thus preventing their combined action goes to Usuman himself. But the credit for the actual prosecution of the war on the battle field goes to Muhammed Bello and Abdullahi.
5. Social factors also played an important role in the Fulani victory over the Hausa states.
In the first place, it has been pointed out above that following Yunfa, king of Gobir’s warning to the Hausa rulers about the growing Fulani danger,those rulers launched a general persecution of the Fulani in their respective states states. This resulted in a general Fulani rising which plunged the whole of Hausa land into a state of war. The Fulani were thus fighting for self preservation and avenging a racial grievance. In the second place, the Hausa kings could not count on the support of their peasant subjects whom they had alienated by their oppressive taxation and arbitrary government. The peasant population or “talakawa” naturally rallied to the support of Usuman, who had been condemning these cruel practices, for they looked on him as their deliverer.
Finally, it should be realized that the intellectual and religious factor was important for the success of the jihad.
Usuma through his preaching and his many books fired his followers with a fanaticism and determination which was generally responsible for the success of the holy war. Muhammad Bello and Abdullahi continue the tradition of intellectual and religious appeal to their followers through their many books and pamphlets. It can there fore be said that military, social, intellectual and religious factors combined to make Fulani success in the jihad possible.
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