Fadlallah (c. 1845-1900), Rabah

21 January, 2009
Debos Marielle

A famous slave trader of Sudanese origin (he was born at Halfaya near Khartoum), Rabah, also known by the name of Rabeh or Râbih (one who gains, or makes a profit, in Arabic), was probably a slave in his youth. He started his military career in the army of the Sudanese slave trader Zubair Rahma Mansur al-Abbasi (also known as Zubayr, Zuber, Ziber or Zobeir). Rabah participated as commander in the conquest of Darfur by Zubair in 1873. After Zubair’s imprisonment in Cairo, Rabah took charge of the remaining forces. His troops, grouped in ‘banners’, plundered and captured slaves in regions that today form the south of Chad and the north of Central Africa. His raids had a major demographic impact on the areas affected. The captives often served as privates, following the example of numerous Sara from the region of Moyen Chari (Chad). While Rabah’s politics were not guided by religion, he made act of allegiance to Mahdism in 1888. Rabah took control of Bornu in 1893, proclaimed himself maï (king), and founded a new capital south of Lake Chad: Dikwa. He was planning to conquer the empire of Ouaddai when his advance was halted by the French. The latter engaged in several battles before defeating his supporters at Kousseri in 1900.

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Debos Marielle, Fadlallah (c. 1845-1900), Rabah , Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 21 January, 2009, accessed 17/05/2021, http://bo-k2s.sciences-po.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/fadlallah-c-1845-1900-rabah, ISSN 1961-9898
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