Muhammadu Attahiru I

Muhammadu Attahiru I
Sultan of Sokoto
Reign October 13, 1902-March 15, 1903
Predecessor Abderrahman dan Abi Bakar
Successor Muhammadu Attahiru II
Died August 1903 (1903-09)
Father Ahmadu Atiku

Muhammadu Attahiru I (died 1903) was the twelfth Sultan of the Sokoto Caliphate from October 1902 until March 15, 1903. He was the last independent Sultan of Sokoto before the Caliphate was taken over by the British.[1]

Reign as Sultan

Attahiru I came to the throne upon the death of Abderrahman dan Abi Bakar in October 1902 while the British forces had already taken over parts of the Sokoto Caliphate. During the last year of Abderrahman's reign, British General Frederick Lugard had been able to use rivalries between the emirs in the south with the Sokoto Caliphate to prevent a coherent defense against British troops.[2] A British led force was quickly approaching the city of Sokoto with clear intentions to take it over.[3] Attahiru I organized a quick defense of the city and decided to fight the advancing British army outside of the city of Sokoto. This battle ended quickly in favor of the British with superior firepower causing high casualties on the side of Attahiru I.[3]

Attahiru I and many followers fled the city of Sokoto on what Attahiru I described as a hijra to prepare for the coming of the Mahdi. The British moved into the largely depopulated Sokoto and appointed Muhammadu Attahiru II the new Caliph.[3] Lugard essentially abolished the Caliph and retained the title Sultan as a symbolic position in the newly organized Northern Nigeria Protectorate.[1]

Attahiru I begun traveling through the rural regions of the Sokoto Caliphate pursued by the British gathering supporters for his movement. The British and emirs working with the British were shocked at the large number of people who joined Attahiru and his force grew to thousands.[3][4] Marching through Zamfara and Kano, the British became increasingly concerned with the force. The British attacked the rebels in the Battle of Burmi, near present day Bauchi, in 1903 and Attahiru I was amongst those killed.[1] His son, Muhammad Bello bin Attahiru or Mai Wurno continued leading the remaining survivors and eventually settled in Sudan, where many of the descendents still live today.[5]


  1. 1 2 3 Falola, Toyin (2009). Historical Dictionary of Nigeria. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.
  2. The Cambridge History of Africa: 1870-1905. London: Cambridge University Press. 1985. p. 276.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Falola, Toyin (2009). Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
  4. Paden, John (1973). Religion and Political Culture in Kano. Berkeley, A: University of California Press.
  5. Sikanga, Ahmad Alawad (1995). Slaves into Workers: Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan. Austin, Tx: University of Texas Press.
Preceded by
Abderrahman dan Abi Bakar
12th Sokoto Caliph
Succeeded by
Muhammadu Attahiru II
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