After the collapse of the first Karnem-Borno empire, the Kanuri people migrated to the west of Lake Chad and established the second Kanem-Borno empire around 700-800AD.
The establishment of the second Kanem Empire came following the expulsion of the Mai Umar ibn Idris (1384-88) out of kanem by the Bulala due to constant rivalry and war. This forced the Mai to transfer his capital to west of Lake Chad where he and his followers Settled.
After the death of Mai Idris came Mai Ali Ghaji (1472-1504). Ali Ghaji was the known Mai of the kingdom that restored peace to the dynasty. And as such is seen as the real founder of the second Kanem-Borno Empire.
Ali Ghaji built a new capital at Ngazargamu, reformed the government and put to an end the crisis of power tussle that had hitherto rocked the kingdom.
He equally enforced the strict observance of Islamic practices, succeeded in raising a strong royal army with which he maintained peace in the kingdom and fought the BulaLa to a standstill.
Mai Idris Katakarmabi (1504-26): Ali Ghaji was succeeded by his son, Idris Katakarmabi. Idris followed up his father’s victory against the Bulal and recaptured Njimi, the ancestral capital of Kanem.
Thus Njimi became a tributary state to second Borno Empire. After the reign of Idris came to his son Mai Mohammed.
Mai Idris Alooma (1571-1603): The reign of Idris Alooma could be regarded as the “Golden Age” in the annals of the political history of the Kanem-Borno kingdom.
Idris Alooma was the most successful mais, in that, within his period of rulership, Kanem-Borno attained the highest echelon in their history. Some of his achievements are outlined below:
- His reign saw to the great territorial expansion and unification of the kingdom
- He also established diplomatic relations with Tripoli from where he imported firearms used to subdue their rivals.
- His reign also experienced remarkable growth in trade
- He promoted Islamic worship, encouraged pilgrimage to Mecca and built a house in Cairo for Borno Muslims. Thus, he made Islam the state religion of his empire.