Author: al-Sadi, Abd
Binding: Kindle Edition
Format: Kindle eBook
Release Date: 21-02-2015
Details: The “List of Princes of Songhai” is an excerpt from a 1900 French translation of the Tarikh al-Sudan or Tarikh es-Sudan (History of the Sudan). This was a historical chronicle written around 1655 in Arabic by a West African scholar named Abd al-Sadi (full name Abderrahman ben Abdallah ben ‘Imran ben ‘Amir es-Sadi). Al-Sadi was born in 1594 and probably died in the 1650s, sometime after 1655. During his lifetime al-Sadi worked as an administrator in the Arma-run state on the Niger Bend region in the modern-day Republic of Mali. He worked and lived in the city of Djenne, the Massina region, and the city of Timbuktu.
Shortly before al-Sadi’s birth, a Moroccan army crossed the Sahara desert and defeated the army of the Songhai Empire at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591. The once-powerful Songhai Empire, which had ruled much of the modern-day West African nations of Mali and Niger, was destroyed by this defeat. After their defeat, the Songhai leaders withdrew to their ancestral homeland east of the Niger Bend, where they continued to rule a much smaller kingdom.
Other areas that had formerly been ruled by the Songhai came under Moroccan rule. But the difficulty in communicating across the Sahara Desert led to the breakdown of direct Moroccan authority. Instead the Moroccan soldiers who had crossed the desert administered the Niger Bend region on their own. They intermarried with local women, giving rise to a ruling military caste called the Arma. The Arma-run state was the one that employed al-Sadi as a civil servant.
Today the Sudan refers to the Republic of the Sudan and South Sudan. Historically, however, Sudan referred to all of the lands immediately south of the Sahara Desert. The name “Sudan” comes from the Arabic name bilad al-Sudan, meaning “the land of the blacks”. Al-Sadi’s Tarikh al-Sudan describes the history of the Niger Bend region of West Africa, or modern-day Mali, rather than the history of the countries now cal
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