This page describes the history of Dikwa, Borno State, Nigeria. Part of the kingdom of Borno in the nineteenth century, this relatively small town became the capital of Rabih (1893-1900) when this Sudanese warlord invaded the Lake Chad area. It subsequently became part of the German protectorate of Kamerun (1902-1916) and, after the First World War, was officially a League of Nations Mandate and United Nations Trusteeship (Northern Cameroons) and was administered by the United Kingdom (1923-1961). The town is now in Nigeria.

I took this photograph of Rabih's fort in July 2010. The fort was built by Rabih to defend his capital and hosts a museum on the history of Rabih and the Emirate of Dikwa.

photo dikwa fort
The fort of Dikwa in 2010

The document below was found by Gerhard Müller-Kosack in the National Archives of Kaduna, Nigeria. This is a letter of protection (Schutzbrief) given by the German colonisers to the newly appointed Emir of Dikwa, Schehu Sanda in 1903. As in many parts of Africa, the European invaders tried to rule their newly-conquered territories with the help of local rulers such as Schehu Sanda. By choosing a member of the nineteenth-century Kanemi dynasty of Borno, the Germans clearly tried to acquire a certain form of legitimacy in the Lake Chad area. Not surprinsingly, the British made exactly the same choice by keeping a member of the Kamemi dynasty on the throne of Borno.

letter of protection to the Shehu of Dikwa
Letter of protection given by the Germans to Schehu Sanda in 1903

This first map is a representation of the League of Nations Mandate and United Nations Trusteeship of Southern and Northern Cameroons.

map southern and northern cameroons
Southern and Northern Cameroons (1923-1961)

This second map shows the localisation of Dikwa Emirate within Northern Cameroons.

map dikwa emirate in northern cameroons
Dikwa Emirate (1923-1961)


If you want to download the bibliography, you can use Zotero.

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