Niger History

By | May 6, 2021

The region of today’s state of Niger has an eventful history that goes back thousands of years. Joseph Ki-Zerbo, the African historian from Burkina Faso, has played an essential role in putting countries like Niger in the correct light of history and highlighting the significant history (“You Niger à la Volta” and “The History of Black Africa”).

Historical epochs

In the Neolithic about 10,000 – 4,000 years ago (cattle age) when the Sahara was still fertile, the area of today’s Niger was settled by hunters, gatherers and shepherds. Evidence of this era are the rock carvings from the Air Mountains and Djado, as well as the finds of stone tools and pottery along former lakes and rivers. Other finds by American researchers are the large burial site of Gobero (Gobero burial side) in what is now the Tenere Desert. The finds and research prove the existence of human cultures in the region with increasing accuracy. ” Kiffian”is the name given to the population that lived in this area from around 10,000 or 8000 to 6500 BC. But only 1000 years later this region was the habitat of the” Tenerians “(5500- around 2500 BC); they disappeared with the increasing drought.

In pre-colonial times, the area of today’s state of Niger formed neither a political nor a state unit, but belonged to one of the Sudanese empires.

In the 8th / 9th Century developed the Gaoreich. It was replaced by the medieval Mali Empire (late 13th to early 15th century). This was the largest West African empire, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Air Mountains. When Ibn Batutta toured the Mali Empire in 1352-53, he reported benevolently on the practice of Islam.

From 1200 the Kanem-Bornu Empire exercised its influence in the east of the country; it existed until 1840.

The Songha Empire was one of the largest African empires in history from the early 15th to the late 16th centuries. It was destroyed by Moroccan troops.

According to commit4fitness, in the 14th century, the so-called Haussa states emerged in the Haussa region of southern Niger and Nigeria.

Around the same time (mid-15th century) the Sultanate of Air was established. Agadez – also called the gateway to the “black” Sudan – owes its importance primarily to the Trans-Saharan trade (from the Mediterranean coast to the coast of West Africa) and was first a settlement of Arab merchants (the city of Agadez had around 30,000 at that time, now about 110,000 residents) who traded with the Songhai of Gao, the Haussa and the Kanembu. Agadez was an indispensable place of transshipment and supply for the caravans. The sultanate was once the size of Bavaria. The administration later passed to the Tuareg.

The Sultan of the Air – always a dark-skinned man – was never the chief leader of the various Tuareg groups, but primarily an arbitrator in internal disputes.

To date there have been over 50 sultans in Agadez, the term of office of the penultimate sultan alone being over 50 years – here a song of praise to the sultan; in December 2016 the 52nd Sultan was enthroned.

The construction of the mosque of Agadez has its origins in the 11th century, the current form dates back to the 15th century. The mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On his second trip to Africa (1850-55) Heinrich Barth was the first German scientist to reach Agadez, where a small Barth Museum was set up in his former home.

Islam in West Africa

As early as the 8th century, people in West Africa had contact with Islam, which first got there through traders. In the 11th-16th centuries, Islam became widespread in the ancient empires of West Africa (Gana, Mali, Kanem Bornu). From the middle of the 18th century, Islam gained strength in West Africa and experienced a renaissance under the Fulani scholar Sheik Osman Ibn Fodio. He waged so-called small “ holy wars”“(Ie the fight with arms – great holy war means that which every Muslim has to endure in daily life as an upright believing person before God) among others against the rulers of the Haussa empires and received a lot of support not only from the various groups of the Fulbe, but also by the Haussa farmers.

In the long run, no permanent power could be established on Nigerien soil. However, great empires formed in today’s Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon. Islam developed into an important religion in West Africa.

Colonialism in Niger

From 1890 the French expanded into the Niger territory; In 1900 Zinder was chosen as the headquarters of the colonial rulers in Niger. Under Kaocen, the French faced considerable resistance from the Tuareg until his capture and death (1919). In 1922 Niger became a French colony and in 1927 the headquarters moved to Niamey. France hoped to escape the influence of Nigeria and the Haussa groups and to expand the political power and economy of the Djerma / Songhai.

Only after World War II did the French begin to do something for the country’s economic development. Previously only the ‘cash crop’ peanut was introduced in order to facilitate the collection of taxes by selling it.

From 1946 Niger belonged to the “outre mer” territory. From November 10, 1946 to April 1951, Hamani Diori represented Niger in the French National Assembly. From January 2, 1956, he was a second time member of the National Assembly and became one of the deputy speakers of parliament. He was a co-founder of the Parti Progressiste Nigérien (PPN) party, which belonged to the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA) collection movement. In 1958 the current borders of Niger were drawn and the area was declared an autonomous republic of the French community. Hamani Diori became Prime Minister of Niger on December 14, 1958.

Colonialism in Niger