Friday, April 15, 2011

History lesson: The Funj Sultanate

One of Sudan’s greatest kingdoms was born when the Funj, an ethnic group from South Sudan was forced to flee a rivaling ethnic group, the Shilluk.

Their destination was Sennarwhere they established the Funj Sultanate of Sennar , also known as the Blue Sultanate. They single-handedly ruled this area of Sudan for a number of centuries until their fateful collapse in 1821.
In the 15th century, the arrival of Amara Dunqas and his subjects put the Funj on the map. Dunqas defeated Abdallah, the ruler of the empire previously situated in Sennar.

At the time of its establishment, the sultanate practiced Animism and Christianity. In 1523, Islam became the religion of the monarchy, however, some aspects of previous religions and beliefs were incorporated into the newly-adopted religion.
As the kingdom grew stronger and expanded its control to Gezira, Southern Kordofan and other regions, it became a direct threat to the growing Ottoman influence in the region and the neighboring state of Ethiopia. Until the 1810s, the kingdom was home to the largest army in East Africa, stationed at garrisons and ready to fight the surrounding enemies. Clashes with the Shilluks continued until an unlikely agreement was forged as an attempt to unite against the Dinka, the largest Southern Sudanese tribe.

The kingdom started declining in the 17th century as sultans fought over power. In 1821, Sennar was incorporated into Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and this was the final end of the Funj Sultanate.

Badi V11 was the last ruler of the kingdom. He couldn’t resist the Ottomans, as the kingdom was already too weak to fight off foreign invaders.....

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