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Kaocen Ag Geda (1880–1919) (also known as Kaocen, Kaosen, Kawen) was a Tuareg noble and clan leader. Born in 1880 near wadi Tamazlaght Aïr (modern Niger), Kaocen from tribe of Ikazkazan berber, a subset of the Kel Owey confederation. He led the Kaocen revolt, a rebellion against French colonial rule of the area around the Aïr Mountains of northern Niger, during 1916-17. After the defeat of the revolt, Kaocen fled north; he was captured and hanged in 1919 by local forces in Mourzouk, Libya.


Born into the wuro's family tribe of Ikazkazan Tuareg in what is now ( Aïr) the north of Niger, his exact lineage is debated. His brother Mokhtar Kodogo was his second in command throughout his life, and survived only a year after his death, killed while leading a revolt amongst the Toubou Fula in the Sultanate of Damagaram.[citation needed]

Resistance to FrenchEdit

An adherent to the militantly anti-French Sanusiya Sufi religious order, Kaocen engaged in numerous, mostly unsuccessful battles against French forces from at least 1909. He raided French columns in what is today eastern Niger and western Chad. He participated in several raids in the Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti area, including the 1909 battle at Galakka. Under the direct orders of the Sanusiya leader, he commanded forces at Ennedi in 1910, only to be defeated by the French and forced to retreat to the border of Darfur. Returning first to Ounianga Kabir then the Fezzan (the center of Sanusiya power), Kaocen rallied both tribal subjects and other nomads (not all Tuareg) who were loyal to the Sanusiya.[citation needed]

There, in October 1914, the Sanusiya leadership declared a jihad against the French colonialists. In 1916, Kaocen's forces began attacking towns in the Aïr. With the aid of the Sultan of Agadez, Kaocen's forces placed the garrison under siege on 17 December 1916. They seized all the major towns of the Aïr, including Ingall, Assodé, and Aouderas, placing what is today northern Niger under rebel control for over three months.[citation needed]

Defeat and deathEdit

On 3 March 1917 a large French force dispatched from Zinder relieved the Agadez garrison, and Kaocen's forces retreated to Tibesti, conducting raids against the French and local towns until he was eventually driven north to the Fezzan. There he was captured and hanged in 1919 by local forces in Mourzouk hostile to the Sanusiya.


Today Kaocen is remembered by Tuareg nationalists as a hero, and his name is a popular given name in Tuareg communities. Memory of the revolt, and the killings in its wake, remain fresh in the minds of modern Tuareg. The episode is seen both as a part of a larger anti-colonial struggle, and amongst some as part of the post independence struggle for autonomy of the existing governments of Niger and its neighbors.[citation needed]

The Kaocen revolt can also be placed in a longer history of Tuareg conflict with ethnic Songhay and Hausa in the south central Sahara which goes back to at least the seizure of Agadez by the Songhay Empire in 1500 CE, or even the first migrations of Berber Tuaregs south into the Aïr in the 11th to 13th centuries CE. Conflicts have persisted since independence, with major Tuareg risings in Mali's Adrar des Ifoghas during 1963-64, the 1990s insurgencies in both Mali and Niger, and a renewed series of insurgencies beginning in the mid-2000s (see Second Tuareg Rebellion).[citation needed]


  • Samuel Decalo. Historical Dictionary of Niger. Scarecrow Press, London and New Jersey (1979). ISBN 0-8108-1229-0
  • Jolijn Geels. Niger. Bradt London and Globe Pequot New York (2006). ISBN 1-84162-152-8.
  • J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver. The Cambridge History of Africa. Cambridge University Press (1975), p199. ISBN