Liberty Writers Africa

The Ethiopian Slave Who Became King In India [Malik Ambar]

Over the course of human history, Black people have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they can dominate in various aspects of life. The life and achievements of Malik Ambar is an inspirational story for every Black person alive. It simply states/shows that we have the power within us to rise from our current state of oppression by the Caucasian world.

Malik Ambar, an Ethiopian, enslaved in India, later to rose to the position of King. He is the greatest Black man in the medieval history of his country.

Born around 1546, in the Harar country, present-day Ethiopia, he was called Shembu or Chapu. He was enslaved by the Arabs, extradited to Yemen and later on to Baghdad.

Luckily he didn’t undergo castration like other black men who were in captivity just like he was. He was rather put under the custody of a nobleman called Kazi Hussein who would later take a liking to him because of his intelligence, ability to reflect, knowledge of several languages and memorization. This made him teach Chapu, who was later given a Muslim name; Ambar—administration and financial management.

Ambar was 22 when Kazi Hussein died, and was again sold, this time to India, and like many other Ethiopian Blacks who were known as Habashi.  This time he was put under the custody of Chengiz Khan, the then Prime minister of Ahmadnagar State in Southern India; he was also of Ethiopian descent. Ambar received military training under Khan, and soon rose to become the highest-ranking Habashi soldier in the Ahmadnagar State due to his intellectual and physical qualities.

Chengiz Khan died, and Ambar raised skilled mercenaries, selling his services to the states of Southern India. At the time, the Mughals had taken over Northern India and were constantly fighting to infiltrate the South, but Ambar and his men, withstood them and defended the region, they did it so efficiently that his influence grew to that of a king and he was given the title Malik, which means king. In no time, he had attracted young men, who joined his army as he had become a major figure of resistance against the Mughal’s army. 

Malik and his entire army were integrated into the Ahmadnagar army in 1595, only to have the whole capital besieged by the Mughals. Malik was able to escape with his men and later returned to defeat the Mughals again. Leveraging on the succession conflicts that arose, Ambar enforced himself as the king. He married his daughter off to a distant probable heir to a throne, who was only a pawn, and placed a powerless 3-year-old prince on the throne, with his shrewdness and power, he arose as the unopposed competent ruler of the state of Ahmadnagar.

Malik Ambar, soon founded a new capital which he called Khadki, presently known as Aurangabad. He fortified the city with gates and raised magnificent structures. Providing an advanced water supply system for Khadki that was faced with issues of drought, turned out one of his most lauded projects as he achieved it within 15 months and at minimal cost amidst uncertainties by building water channels all the way from the water reserves in the far North, through to the South. This system provided water year-round.

Malik Ambar, through his contact with Europeans, accrued weapons and had modern munitions with which he continually defeated the Mughals. By the end of his life, he had 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 Habashi inclusive. 

In 1626, he passed on aged 80 and was succeeded by his son. His fame exceeded the Southern and central India, and he is today still celebrated in Aurangabad, however racist Indian historiographers have refused to acknowledge this great African legend.

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