Mounted raiding parties from Wadai periodically
appeared in Dar al-Kuti to collect tribute and take slaves in the
Nduka and Banda lands adjacent to Kobur's realm.
Dar al-Kuti comprised of only fourteen villages
(perhaps counting only its large villages) and the land could be
crossed from east to west by foot in two days. Kobur's domain was
therefore quite small, and as a result he was careful to cultivate
cordial relations with the larger, more heavily populated Muslim
zones to the north, as well as with his non-Muslim Nduka neighbours.
Dar al-Kuti engaged in a limited degree of slave-trading, but intense
raiding had not yet begun during Kobur's reign. Dar al-Kuti and its
ruler were still in a very precarious position.
The greatest threat to Dar al-Kuti at this time came
from Rabih Fadlallah (circa 1842-1900), a Sudanese warlord and
slave-trader who was active in the north-eastern and central regions
of present day CAR between 1879 and 1890. Rabih's raiders enslaved
and sold many Banda people (who spoke an Adamawa-Ubangi language of
the Niger-Congo family), and also invaded Dar al-Kuti and Dar Rounga.
Seeking a local 'protégé' who was less religious
and less indebted to Wadai than Kobur, Rabih had Kobur deposed in a
coup d'état in 1890, and proclaimed Muhammad al-Sanusi to be the sultan
of Dar al-Kuti and Dar-Rounga with the titles of emir ('commander
or ruler') and sheikh (tribal elder, lord, Islamic scholar).
Al-Sanusi, born circa 1850 at Wadai, was
named after the Sanussiya brotherhood whose many desert lodges lay
along the trade route between Libya and northern Chad. When he was
very young Al-Sanusi moved to Châ to join his uncle Kobur who, after
being removed from power by Rabih in 1890, retained a formal position
as one of al-Sanusi's advisors for two years. Kobur had ten sons, some
of whom lived into the 1920s, and all of whom were respected
faqijs in Dar al-Kuti.
Rabih made every effort to solidify al-Sanusi's
power and transform him into a client. After annexing Dar Rounga
in 1890, the Sudanese warlord sought to expand his new client's
sphere of influence and to eliminate any challenge that may come
from Kobur's supporters.
During the next two decades, Dar al-Kuti became
an almost autonomous state with its own sphere of influence extending
over much of north-eastern CAR, an area about half the size of France.
However, Châ was attacked and destroyed by a Wadaian
army under Cherfeddine, the aguid of Wadai, in October 1894.
After this, al-Sanusi kept on the move for two years until he founded
a fortified settlement at Ndélé.
On 28 August 1897, al-Sanusi accepted a French
protectorate over Dar al-Kuti (see Traité de commerce et d'alliance
entre cheik Mohammed-es-Senoussi et la France –representé par
Although the convention was revised twice in order
to broaden French influence in the country, on 18 February 1903 and
again on 26 January 1908 (see Traité entre le sultan Senoussi et
la France completant le traité signé le 24 aôut 1897; Traité revisant
le traité passé le 18 février 1903, traité signé par le Capitaine
Mangin, representant le Lt-Colonel Largeau, et Mohamed-es-Senoussi),
Dar al-Kuti maintained self-rule until the death of al-Sanusi
himself on 12 January 1911 in Dar al-Kuti.
After this, the French took control of most of Dar
al-Kuti. Al-Sanusi's son, Kamoun, fled east after his father's death
to Ouanda-Djallé, where he resisted the French until 17 December 1912,
when Captain Souclier took Ouanda-Djallé and Kamoun sought refuge in
The name Dar al-Kuti was used thereafter for a colonial
administrative division which corresponded to the former sultanate. It
was used for the last time from 1937 to 1946 (Département du Dar
el-Kouti). Since 1946 the region has been renamed three times:
the Autonomous District of N'Délé (1946-1961), the Autonomous
Subprefecture of N'Délé (1961-1964), and the Prefecture of
Bamingui-Bangoran since 1964.