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African Kingdoms

East Africa


Hamaj Regents of the Funj Sultanate of Sinnar
AD 1762 - 1805

The Hamaj were formed of an African clan that was located in the Nubian-speaking north-east of what is now Sudan. By the eighteenth century the country that had once been Christian Nubia was well along its transformation into Islamicised Sudan, but no one power ruled the entire country. During the sixteenth century several regional kingdoms had sprung up, and the Hamaj formed a small territorial holding of their own from which they came into conflict with the Funj sultanate, which was a major power in an otherwise fractured country.

In 1762, a military strongman of the Hamaj named Muhammad Abu Likaylik launched a coup which overthrew the ruling Funj sultan, Badi IV. Under the control of this military 'regent', the monarchy was reduced to little more than a puppet, despite launching several attempts to dispose of the Hamaj regents. This infighting severely weakened the sultanate, encouraging its neighbours to attack it, and it contributed to the general destabilisation of Sudan as a whole. In the end the sultanate was destroyed by an invasion by Egypt, but the Hamaj regents had already been disposed of in 1805.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Sudan Handbook, by Derek A Welsby, from The Cambridge History of Africa: From c.1790-c.1870, and from the Encyclopaedia of African History: Volume 1 A-G.)

1762 - 1775/6

Muhammad Abu Likayik

'Regent' and military power behind the puppet Funj throne.

1775 - 1776

During his lifetime, Muhammad Abu Likayik had administered the Funj sultanate very well, but following his death there is factional in-fighting amongst his successors and rebellions by the Funj sultans, which hastens the sultanate's decline.

Blue and White Niles
The Blue and White Niles converge just north of Khartoum, but while the land further north is fertile near the river, it is much more arid away from it, in the hard north-east

1775/6 - 1780

Badi walad Rajab

Second Funj regent.

1780 - 1786/7

Rajab wad Muhammad

Third Funj regent.


From this point onwards, the Dar Fur sultans strike eastwards into Sinnar's territory in order to impose their rule at the expense both of Funj and Musabba'at.

1787 - 1788

The Hamaj 'regent' of the Funj sultanate, Rajab wad Muhammad, is defeated at the Battle of Taras by Sultan Adlan II, although it appears not to change the situation whereby the sultanate is governed from behind the throne. In fact, such is the poor state of the sultanate's political and military organisation by this time, it is sent into a permanent decline.

1786/7 - 1798

Nasir wad Muhammad

Fourth Funj regent.

1798 - 1804

Idris wad Abu Likayik or Muhammad

Fifth Funj regent.

1798 - 1804

Adlan wad Abu Likayik or Muhammad

Co-'regent'. Became sole 'regent' in 1804.

1798 - 1804

Muhammad wad Rajab



Sinnar is already exhibiting the signs of internal weakness that begin to attract attention from Egypt in the north. The urbanised fragments of the old agrarian realm have lapsed into a state of interminable civil war. Such is the state of Funj, many dissidents welcome the invasion from Egypt when it comes.

Warrior from Sinnar
A painting of a warrior from the sultanate of Sinnar, purportedly completed in the nineteenth century, within living memory of the sultanate's existence

1804 - 1805

Adlan wad Abu Likayik

Funj 'regent' and former co-regent (1798-1804). Killed in 1821.


Badi VI is restored as the true ruler of the Funj sultanate, removing the last of the 'regents' from power. However, the region has long been declining under the pressure of the 'regency' and various attempts by the sultans to overthrow them, and is in no condition to repel an invasion by Ismail, son of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, which conquers the country in 1820-1821. Adlan wad Abu Likayik is one of those killed by the invading forces. Colonial Sudan is ruled by Egyptian governors.

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