The Fulani Jihads seemed to be really successful in terrorizing most of West Africa from 1700-1903. It seems as if they were the West African equivalent of the Vikings or Mongols.
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They weren’t Vikings or Mongols equivalent. “Viking” as a word implies raiding, the equivalent would be the Tuaregs. The Mongols were a Calvary based coalition formed & beholden initially at least to the singular authority of the Khan, the jihads were more decentralised & initially in Sokoto, primarily infantry-based.
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The jihadists, especially the more famous ones of the 19th-century, could be described as Bolsheviks. They latched onto existing feelings of grievance against the system, lent it ideological coherence & tried to engineer a revolutionary shift from the status-quo, with time, become like the very regimes they overthrew.

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Though, they were brought back to earth by their Economic limitations.
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Understanding the success of the Fulani Jihadists requires understanding the nature of warfare in the Central Sudan.
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They're Calvary States organised around a Birni, the capital city which functioned both as the Royal Court & a trading stop on the Trans-Saharan routes.The Sarki, Kings derived their authority from traditional law which situated them as the fount of legitimacy. Wars're either slave raids, sieges or clashes b/w Calvary.
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