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“Our delight is for the amir of the English”: A Bornoan history of the First World War (North-Eastern Nigeria)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe First World War from Tripoli to Addis Ababa (1911-1924)


King's Authors


On 18 November 1914, Abubakar Garbai, the Shehu of Borno, sent a letter to Frederick Lugard, the Governor General of Nigeria, announcing that the Bornoans would fight alongside the British despite the fact that they were fighting against the Ottomans. This article uses the letter sent by Shehu Garbai to analyse the global, trans-Saharan and trans-Sahelian layers of conflicts in the Lake Chad region at the beginning of the First World War. This document is a perfect illustration of the pragmatic alliance formed by the British colonial officers and the elite of Borno (Nigeria) to defeat the German troops in Northern Cameroon. This article concludes that it is impossible to write the history of the First World War in central Africa without understanding the long term and localised conflicts in the Lake Chad area.

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