Congo Free State

French Conquest of the Chad

A.) The Situation Preceding the Rebellion

The Arabised Sudanese RABAH ZOBEIR had conquered BORNU (1893), BAGIRMI (1894) and BORKU and established a Kingdom for himself in the southern Chad, capital DIKWA south of Lake Chad.
There were other states such as WADAI; the desert regions of the north, notoriously rebellious, were difficult to control by any force. In 1890, the French, British and Germans agreed to partition the Lake Chad Region - British Nigeria, German Kamerun, French Chad and Niger.

B.) The Cource of Events

French forces appeared first in the area in 1891. The Sultan of Bagirmi, whose capital Massenya had been raided by Rabeh in 1893, requested French protection in 1893 - but his kingdom was conquered by Rabeh before the French could come and protect it.
In 1900 three French columns, coming from the enegal, the Ivory Coast and Brazzaville, converged at Lake Chad. In April 1900 Rabah Zobeir was killed in the BATTLE OF KUSSERI fought against French forces commanded by LAMY, after whom the French administrative center in the Chad, FORT LAMY, was named. Rabah Zobeir's son and successor FADR ALLAH moved into the British sector of Bornu, outside of French range and requested British protection. Yet when he repeatedly crossed into French territory raiding on the French, a French column persecuted him into British territory and killed him at Gujba in 1901.
Wadai remained independent until 1909, resisted until 1913. The French fought the SENUSSI brotherhood in northern Chad until 1919.

C.) Legacy

Chad as an administrative unit frequently was reorganized - as Oubangi-Chari-Chad, as French Equatorial Africa. The country combined a Muslim, Arabised population element in the north and a partially Muslim, partially animistic negro element in the south, which caused tensions even after independence (1960). Chad had become a FRANCOPHONE nation.

Spelling Alternatives
Rabah Zobeir
Rabih, Rabeh
Baghirmi, Baguirmi
Bornou, Borno
Ouadai, Ouaddai

The Fulani Empire of Sokoto, Chapter 22 : A Year of Disasters, by H.A.S. Johnston, detailed, on Rabeh and Fadr Allah
Article Chad from
A Short History of the Kanem-Borno Empire, by Detlef Gronenborn
DOCUMENTS Combats au Kanem (1901), from Arisitum

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 17th 2004

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