Adamawa Emirate
Adamawa Emirate (right) in the orbit of the Sokoto Caliphate .
Adamawa Emirate (right) in the orbit of the Sokoto Caliphate .
StatusPart of the Sokoto Caliphate
CapitalGurin (1809-1831)
Ribadu (1831-1839)
Jobaliyo (1839-1841)
Yola (1841)
• 1809–1847
Modibo Adama
• Established
• Disestablished
29 July 1903
• Total
40,000 sq mi (100,000 km2)[1]

The Adamawa Emirate (Fula: Lamorde Adamaawa 𞤤𞤢𞤥𞤮𞤪𞤣𞤫 𞤢𞤣𞤢𞤥𞤢𞥄𞤱𞤢; Arabic: إمارة أداماوة; German: Adamaua; French: Adamaoua) is a traditional state located in Fombina, an area which now roughly corresponds to areas of Adamawa State and Taraba state in Nigeria, and previously also in the three northern provinces of Cameroon (Far North, North, and Adamawa), including minor Parts of Chad and the Central African Republic. The name Adamawa derives from its founder Modibbo Adama, and the suffix 'wa' is appended in the Hausa language to signify the collective identity of 'people of' that place.[2]

Modibo Adama was a commander of Sheikh Usman dan Fodio, the man who began the Fulani jihad in 1809. The capital was moved several times until it settled in Yola, Nigeria on the banks of the Benue River in Nigeria around 1841. At the time of Adama's death his realm encompassed parts of modern Nigeria and much of north Cameroon. Much like the other emirates in the Sokoto Caliphate, Adamawa enjoyed considerable autonomy but it had to pay a tribute to the Sultan in Sokoto.

The nineteenth century Adamawa emirate lay south of Lake Chad, and east of Hausaland, within latitudes 6° and 11° North, and longitudes 10° and 14° East. The external limits are hard to fix in exact terms, because it is difficult to distinguish between people who the Fulani subjected to their rule, and those whom they simply raided for slaves, without establishing any form of administrative links. According to some estimates, by the late 19th century, slaves constituted about 50% of the population of the Fulɓe-ruled Adamawa Emirate, where they were referred to as jeyaɓe (singular jeyado). Based on the region subjected to Fulani rule, the emirate stretched from areas south of the Adamawa plateau near Tibati, in the South, to the Diamare, in the north, from the slopes of the Bamenda-Adamawa-Mandara Highlands in the west, to Baya, Laka, Mundang and Musgum country in the east. Early British administrators reporting from Yola, put the surface area of Adamawa at between 35,000 and 40,000 square miles or between 90,650 and 103,600 square kilometers. As a result of European treaties in 1893 and 1894, parts of the Emirate can today be found in Chad, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Cameroon, which retained about three-quarter of the total area of the emirate.

The altitude of much of the country lies at around 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level. The Adamawa plateau itself however, called the Lesdi Hossere by the Fulbe, rises to a general elevation of 4,000 ft (1,200 m), and forms the watershed, from which streams of water drain into the Benue river system, as well as into the inland basin of Lake Chad. Great altitudes of between 5,000 and 7,000 ft or between 1,525 and 2,150 meters above sea level are found, towards the western border region of the emirate with other regions of Nigeria and Cameroon, these are sections of the Cameroon-Bamenda-Adamawa-Mandara highland range which have record heights of about 13,350 ft (4,070 m) above sea level near the coast and steadily decreases northwards, to just around 4,000 ft (1,200 m) near Yola, the emirate's capital city. North of Yola, these range of highlands is continued by the Mandara Mountains at over 6,000 ft (1,800 m), before finally tapering out around Balma, into the lake chad basin. The southern regions of the emirate is characterized by thin forest of broad leaved savannah woodland or orchard vegetation type. The country becomes more and more of open grasslands towards the north. The vegetation was a strong inducement to Fulani settlement in Adamawa, and during the jihad, it offered no serious obstacle to the extension of military power based on cavalry.


Early History

The earliest reference of Fulbe around the area of the Adamawa region was in the Kanem-Bornu empire when they came as envoys of the emperor of Mali during the 13th-century. A century later, more Fulbe migrated to Hausaland especially to Kano during the reign of Yakubu. These Fulani settlers brought many books on Islamic thought and Law from Mali. Some others continued further east to Bornu and settled there. There was a steady flow of Fulbe immigrants to this region and by the 16th-century there were considerable number of them in Hausaland, Bornu, Bagirmi and among the Jukun in Kwararafa.[3][4]

Fulbe Under Bornu

The Fulbe became known for their learning and understanding of Islam. The Bornu king, Mai Dunama ibn Hajj Ali (1476-1503), gave official recognition to their contribution to the muslim community in Bornu. He conferred upon an Ardo (Fulani chief) and removed the requirement for him and all the Fulbe he led to pay taxes. All the subsequent Mais (or kings) of Bornu honoured this arrangement throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It was not unusual to find the Bornu kings going to war on other groups to protect the Fulbe from raids during this period. This Fulbe, in turn, continued teaching and joining the army to fight for Bornu. At the turn of the 18th-century however, perhaps due to their political ambition, Fulani people lost the support of the Bornu aristocracy. Mai Hamdan ibn Dunama failed to honour the tax agreement and the Fulbe were openly harrassed in the kingdom. Due to this and other factors like famine and the general decline of the Kanem-Bornu empire, many Fulbe decided to find new homes elsewhere which led to many to migrate to Hausaland and the Adamawa region.[4]

A Hausa man from Yola (1902)
A Hausa man from Yola (1902)


By 1901, the emirates of Bida, Ilorin, Agaye, Lapai and Kontagora had fallen to the British through the Royal Niger Company. The aristocracy of Adamawa were held intense debates on whether to resist the British or submit when they eventually invade the emirate as the military might of the Royal Niger Company was much greater. The party who preferred to resist eventually won the debate. This party was led by the Lamido, Zubairu bin Adama. The other party included the Hamman Joda (the Qadi), Bobbo Ahmadu (the Lamido's younger brother) and Yerima Iyabeno (the Lamido's nephew). Lamido Zubairu's insistence on resistance was influenced by his hatred for the europeans who divided and plan to further divide his emirate. By 1901, the Germans had already taken his sub-emirate Tibati and had been making moves towards taking the sub-emirates of Ngoundere and Bamnyo. His strong respect for the Sokoto Caliphate and its ideals also influenced his decision to resist.[5] In a letter to Sultan Abdurrahman announcing the fall of Yola to the British, Lamido Zubairu pledged:

I will not be two-faced, on your side and on the side of the Christians too. My allegiance is to you, to God and the Prophet, and after you to the Imam Mahdi. There is no surrender to the unbeliever even after the fall of the strongholds.[6]

The British deployed 22 European officers and NCOs and 365 mercenaries, 275-mm guns and 4 Maxim guns, led by Colonel T.N.L. Morland for the occupation of Yola on 2nd September 1901. They travelled using steamboats on the lake Njuwa and were anchored near a baobob tree locally called Bokki Hampeto. Colonel Morland sent a Shuwa Arab resident of Yola to send a letter to the Lamido containing their terms. The messenger came back three minutes later with the message that Lamido Zubayru refused to receive the letter. Upon receiving this message, Morland moved his troops closer to the town and then sent his messenger once again to the Lamido with threat that if his letter is refused again he would take steps to compel him to open it. Before the return of his messager, people riding on horses came out of the town to block the British. The messenger returned once again failing to deliver the letter to Lamido Zubairu as he was sent back and was told by the Lamido to warn Morland to retreat. More horsemen streamed out of the town to confront Morland and his forces. Morland calculated that it would be to their advantage to allow the people of Yola to attack first in the open. He felt it was much better than fighting in the narrow streets of Yola. He waited for the first attack from 10am to 1pm "after much shouting and exhorting from their mallams". Despite the battle starting, Morland ordered his men to "reserve our fire till the leaders were within 200 yards" before he have the order for the maxim guns to be fired. After this attack, Morland's forces went on the offensive. They advanced through the town till they reached the Lamido's palace and friday mosque which were heavily defended. Morland himself was wounded by an arrow. After this battle, the casualties Morland's forces suffered were 2 men killed and 37 wounded while the Yola forces suffered 50 men killed and 150 wounded.

Arrival of French Lieutenant, Antoine Mizon to Yola (1894)
Arrival of French Lieutenant, Antoine Mizon to Yola (1894)

The morning after, the British forces blew up the palace's visitors chambers and other "important looking buildings" in the town of Yola. Morland also heard rumors that Lamido Zubayru, who escaped with his life, fled to Gurin, forty miles east of Yola. Acting Commisoner Wallace with Colonel Morland, by steamboat, quickly travelled to Gurin in pursuit of the Lamido. With them were 8 European officers and NCOs, 150 mercenaries and 2 maxim guns. After jouneying on the river Benue, river Faro and river Heso for 26 hours, they arrived in Gurin only to be told that Emir was never there. They turned back towards Yola without any encounter. They later got information that Zubaryu was in Ribadu, fourteen miles behind them. Wallace turned back to Yola to appoint a new "Lamido" while Morland and his forces marched towards Ribadu only to find out Lamido Zubayru was had also not been there. Morland spent the night in Ribadu. On the morning of September 7th, Colonel Morland shelled the town of Ribadu before returning to Yola.[7]

Chronology of Events

1300–1350: Fulani arrive in Kanem empire as envoys of Emperor of Mali

1452–1463: More Fulbe enter Hausaland and Kanem-Bornu with Islamic books.

1700s: Different Fulani groups enter Adamawa looking for pasturage for cattle

1770: Modibo Adama is born probably at Beltunde

1808: Adama sent to Uthman dan Fodio to enquire on jihad

March 1809: Uthman dan Fodio gives Adama flag and appoints him leader of the jihad in Fombina

1810–1811: Adama leads jihad in Mandara

1818: Hamman Sambo leads jihad to the South and founds Tibati

1831: Modibbo Adama moves capital to Ribadu from Gurin

1835–1837: Njobdi establishes Fulani rule in Ngaoundere

1841: Modibbo Adama moves capital to Yola

1842: Hamman Sambo receives flag from Atiku, Sultan of Sokoto, making Tibati independent of Adamawa

1842–1843: Hamman Sambo returns flag to Sultan of Sokoto and renews his loyalty to Modibbo Adama. Tibati rejoins Adamawa

February 1847: Modibbo Adama passes and Lauwal becomes Lamido of Adamawa

1872: Lamido Lauwal passes and Sanda becomes Lamido of Adamawa

1883: National African Company (later renamed Royal Niger Company) granted permission to trade and build factories in Yola by Lamido Sanda

1889: The British Commissioner, Claude MacDonald, visits Yola and Lamido Sanda refuses to see him

September 1890: Lamido Sanda passes and Zubayru becomes Lamido of Adamawa

1891: Lamido Zubayru sends spys to report on the Royal Niger Company in Nupeland

1893–1893: Lamido Zubayru war against Hayatu, great grandson of Uthman dan Fodio

7th September 1893: Lamido Zubayru summoned German, British and French representatives to resolve conflicts among them.

October 1893: Rabih az-Zubayr conquers Bornu Empire

January 1898: German invasion of Southern Adamawa

April 1901: Rabih is killed by Shehu Sanda Kura and his son, Fadl-Allah, flees to Adamawa

2nd September 1901: British invasion of Yola

10th September: Bobbo Ahmadu is installed as first Lamido of Adamawa under British protectorate[8]

Sub-emirates of Fombina

Adamawa was a large and linguistically heterogenous emirate with over 42 sub-emirates a few of which were fairly autonomous. Some of its major sub-emirates include: Cheboa, Tibati, Ngaundere, Bamnyo, Malabu, Rai-Bubam, Song, Zummo, Gola, Holma Pakorgel, Marwa, Bogo, Kobotshi, Laro, Belel, Daware, Mayo-Farang, Sorau, Madagali, Gider, Michika, Moda, Mubi, Uba, Mindif, Binder, Ribadu, Ribemi, Kalfu, Be, Demsa, Vokna Tola, Agorma, Pette, Wuro Mayo-Najarendi, Mbere and Balala.[9]


Rulers of the Adamawa Emirate, who took the title "Baban-Lamido":[10]

Start End Ruler
1809 1847 Moddibo Adama bin Ardo Hasana (b. c.1771 - d. 1848)
1847 Hamidu bin Adama Regent (d. c.1872)
1847 1872 Muhammadu Lawal bin Adama (b. c.1797 - d. 1872)
1872 1890 Umaru Sanda bin Adama (d. 1890)
1890 8 September 1901 Zubayru bin Adama (d. 1903)
8 September 1901 1909 Bobbo Ahmadu bin Adama (d. 1916)
1909 1910 Muhammad Yarima Iya bin Sanda
1910 23 August 1924 Muhammad Abba bin Baba Ahmadu (d. 1924)
1924 1928 Muhammad Bello "Mai Gari" bin Ahmadu "Boboa" (d. 1928)
1928 1946 Muhammad Mustafa bin Muhammad Abba (b. 1900 - d. 1946)
1946 June 1953 Yarima Ahmadu bin Muhammad Bello
26 July 1953 13 March 2010 Aliyu Mustafa bin Muhammad Mustafa (b. 1922 - d. 2010)
18 March 2010 Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa (b. 1944)[11]

Adamawa Royal Family

Family of Adamawa Emirate
Modibo Adama

r. 1809–1847
Muhammadu Lawal
bin Adama

r. 1847–1872
bin Adama

Umaru Sanda
bin Adama

r. 1872–1890
bin Adama

r. 1890–1901
Bobbo Ahmadu
bin Adama

r. 1901–1909
bin Hamidu

Muhammad Yarima
bin Sanda

r. 1909–1910
Muhammad Abba
bin Bobbo Ahmadu

r. 1910–1924
Muhammad Bello
bin Boboa

r. 1924– 1928
Muhammad Mustafa
bin Muhammad Abba

r. 1928–1946
Yarima Ahmadu
bin Muhammad Bello

r. 1946–1953
Aliyu Mustafa
bin Muhammad Mustafa

r. 1953–2010
Muhammadu Barkindo
Aliyu Musdafa

r. 2010–present


  1. ^ Tukur, Mahmud Modibbo (2016). British Colonisation of Northern Nigeria, 1897-1914: A Reinterpretation of Colonial Sources. Amalion Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-2-35926-046-5.
  2. ^ Njeuma, Martin Zachary (1969). THE RISE AND FALL OF FULANI RULE IN ADAMAWA 1809 - 1901 (PDF). University of London. p. 17.
  3. ^ Canby, Courtlandt. The Encyclopedia of Historic Places. (New York: Facts of File Publicantions, 1984) p. 7
  4. ^ a b Njeuma, Martin Zachary (1969). THE RISE AND FALL OF FULANI RULE IN ADAMAWA 1809 - 1901 (PDF). University of London. pp. 20–33.
  5. ^ Tukur, Mahmud Modibbo (2016-08-15). British Colonisation of Northern Nigeria, 1897-1914: A Reinterpretation of Colonial Sources. Amalion Publishing. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-2-35926-048-9.
  6. ^ Tukur, Mahmud Modibbo (2016-08-15). British Colonisation of Northern Nigeria, 1897-1914: A Reinterpretation of Colonial Sources. Amalion Publishing. p. 403. ISBN 978-2-35926-048-9.
  7. ^ Tukur, Mahmud Modibbo (2016-08-15). British Colonisation of Northern Nigeria, 1897-1914: A Reinterpretation of Colonial Sources. Amalion Publishing. pp. 47–49. ISBN 978-2-35926-048-9.
  8. ^ Njeuma, Martin Zachary (1969). THE RISE AND FALL OF FULANI RULE IN ADAMAWA 1809 - 1901 (PDF). University of London. p. 514.
  9. ^ Tukur, Mahmud Modibbo (2016). British Colonisation of Northern Nigeria, 1897-1914: A Reinterpretation of Colonial Sources. Amalion Publishing. p. 428. ISBN 978-2-35926-046-5.
  10. ^ "Traditional States of Nigeria". Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  11. ^ Ibrahim Muhammad (20 June 2010). "Pomps, funfare as 12th Lamido Adamawa gets staff of office". Sunday Trust. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
9°13′48″N 12°27′36″E / 9.23000°N 12.46000°E / 9.23000; 12.46000