Dunama Dabbalemi

Dunama Dabbalemi, of the Sayfawa dynasty, was the mai (king) of the Kanem Empire, in present-day Chad, from 1203 to 1243. A fervent Muslim, Dabbalemi initiated diplomatic exchanges with sultans in North Africa and apparently arranged for the establishment of a special hostel in Cairo to facilitate pilgrimages to Mecca. In particular the historian Ibn Khaldun, who remembers him as "King of Kanem and Lord of Bornu", reports a Kanem embassy in 1257 to Tunisia. During his reign, he declared jihad against the surrounding tribes and initiated an extended period of conquest, allegingly arriving to have under his command a cavalry 40.000 strong. After consolidating their territory around Lake Chad the Fezzan region (in present-day Libya) fell under Kanem's authority, and the empire's influence extended westward to Kano (in present-day Nigeria), eastward to Ouaddaï, and southward to the Adamawa grasslands (in present-day Cameroon). Through his wars he captured many slaves that he sold to the North African traders as the main item of the trans-Saharan trade.


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