Adamawa Emirate

Adamawa Emirate
Part of the Fulani Empire
Adamawa Emirate in 1890 (upper right)
Capital Yola
Government Monarchy
   1809-1847 Modibo Adama
   Established 1809
   Disestablished 29 July 1903

The Adamawa Emirate (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 Western Chad and the Central African Republic. It was founded by Modibo Adama, 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. It was technically part of the Fulani Empire, and it had to pay a tribute to the leaders in Sokoto.

Early history

The Fula first settled the area in the 14th century.[1] 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.

The earliest Fulbe migrations into Adamawa was from Bornu country, but attempts by Kurt Strümpell, the German colonial administrator at Garoua (1906-1910), to reconstruct routes of migration from oral tradition, reveals that many Fulani entered Adamawa, through Hausaland, as well as the Benue valley. These migrations moved in groups belonging to the same clans or sub-ethnic groups, and the numbers varied considerably, depending on the motives for migration. Some moved for only short distances, while others did so, over very long distances within a few generations. The principal Fulani clans, that entered Adamawa, were the Mbewe or Beweji, Ngara'en or FeroBe, WollarBe, Yillaga, Ba'en, and Kiri'en. Each subgroup claims to have their own peculiar characteristics, but common to all Fulani, are their distinct physical features: fair skin color, aquiline noses, thin lips, straight hair, and their language Fulfulde, which marks them off from the mass of the Sudanic people around them.


Rulers of the Adamawa Emirate, who took the title "Baban-Lamido":[2]

Start End Ruler
1809 1847 Modibo Adama bi Ardo Hasana (b. c.1771 - d. 1848)
1847 Hamidu bi Adama Regent (d. c.1872)
1847 1872 Muhammadu Lawal bi Adama (b. c.1797 - d. 1872)
1872 1890 Umaru Sanda bi Adama (d. 1890)
1890 8 September 1901 Zubayru bi Adama (d. 1903)
8 September 1901 1909 Baba Ahmadu bi Adama (d. 1916)
1909 1910 Muhammad Yarima Iya bi Sanda
1910 23 August 1924 Muhammad Abba bi Baba Ahmadu (d. 1924)
1924 1928 Muhammad Bello "Mai Gari" bi Ahmadu "Boboa" (d. 1928)
1928 1946 Muhammad Mustafa bi Muhammad Abba (b. 1900 - d. 1946)
1946 June 1953 Yarima Ahmadu bi Muhammad Bello
26 July 1953 13 March 2010 Aliyu Mustafa bi Muhammad Mustafa (b. 1922 - d. 2010)
18 March 2010 Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa (b. 1944)[3]


  1. Canby, Courtlandt. The Encyclopedia of Historic Places. (New York: Facts of File Publicantions, 1984) p. 7
  2. "Traditional States of Nigeria". Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  3. Ibrahim Muhammad (20 June 2010). "Pomps, funfare as 12th Lamido Adamawa gets staff of office". Sunday Trust. Retrieved 2010-09-10.

Coordinates: 9°09′N 10°00′E / 9.150°N 10.000°E / 9.150; 10.000

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