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

Photo Sources: Wikiwand |

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.

The story Of Malik Amber would not have happened if not the Arab Slave trade. He would have lived his life to the full as an Ethiopian man without having to face the harsh ordeals of enslavement.

The Arab slave trade is the term used to describe the enslavement of Africans (especially North and East Africans) and other people of the world, in the Arab world and the Indian Ocean.

This trade-in people who end up in the Arab world and Indian ocean started around the medieval era up till the 20th century. Most of the Africans who were taking into slavery were captured in the interior and brought to the have markets to be bought.

It was through this system of slavery that Malik Amber joined hundreds of thousands of African men, women, and children, who matched across the hot desert into the Middle East, or carried on ships into India. His journey into slavery started over nearly nine centuries ago.

Malik Ambar was an Ethiopian man, who was enslaved in India and later to rose to the position of King. He is said to be the greatest Black man in the medieval history of India.

He was born around 1546 (although other accounts pinpoint his birth at 1548), in the Harar country, which is in present-day Ethiopia. He was called Shembu or Chapu by his family, whom he would later be torn away from for life. He was enslaved by the Arabs and later sold to another master in the port of Mocha in Southern Arabia, which is today Yemen. To get to Yemen, he was taking across the Red sea. Then he was later sold and taken to Bagdad.

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 which meant “administration and financial management.”

There have been various accounts of slavery, with some historians maintaining that the Arabs practiced chattel slavery, while others show full proof that the Arab slavery was no different from the Transatlantic slavery, in brutality and exploitation.

Malik Amber’s later masters must have practiced chattel slavery and so it was possible for Amber to rise by the side of his masters.

Kazi Hussein later died, and since Amber could not follow his master to the grace, he was again sold. This time around, he was sold to a master in India, just like many other Ethiopians 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. The prime minister was also of Ethiopian, who was formerly a slave and later gained his freedom. Ambar received diplomatic training, military strategy, and political organization training under Khan.

After 20 years of serving under Khan, Amber rose to become the highest-ranking Habashi soldier in the Ahmadnagar State. Thus was basically due to his intellectual and physical qualities.

Khan died in around 1594 (exact year not clear). After his death, Ambar gained his freedom and started to follow the footstep of his master and growing a small force of mercenaries, which numbers about 150 men by 1595. His mercenaries grew into a rebel army numbering thousands, and by 1600 he was a general of his own mercenary army.

Ambar was so successful in his battles that his army grew and number about 50,000 men by the year 1620. He had 40,000 Marathas (Hindu Warriors), and 10,000 of his fellow Africans who were called Habshi.

By that time, he was so powerful and influential that he had helped two princes ascend the Nizam throne. And on both occassions, he made himself the Rgenet Minister, with the infuence and power of a de facto ruler. He was names Malik, which meant “King.”

He led his army into battle against the Mughal Empire, which was then trying to conquer the South of India, and spread into Deccan. He defeated the armies of two great Mughal emperors, Jahangir and Akbar. His army and their tactics gave hope and morale to the many regions that were fighting the Mughal Empire.

Ambar continued to spread his influence and power to regions which were their neighbors. To the Western coast, there were sailors who had turned into rulers, and they were of African descent. The ruled Janjira Island. He formed an alliance with them, and they followed him into battle.

Their alliance, as well as the guerilla warfare tactics with which Amber’s army fought gave them an upper hand against the Mughals as they defended the Southern region of India for more than half of a century. The Mughals referred to Ambar as the “rebel of black fortune.”

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.

At around 1619, Ambar went on to create the city of Khadki, which is today known as Aurangabad. He fortified the city with various palaces. He built a world-class irrigation system and provided clean water for the city, which at that time was facing drought. He built the water channels all the way from the North to the south and provided water for his city all year round.

before his death in 1626, he had built a fortune and respect for himself and family. He married his daughter and son into other royal Indian families. He was succeeded by his son, and to date, his legend is celebrated by the people of Aurangabad.


The story of Malik Ambar is oen that should be taught in African schools. It goes a long way to show how Africans, even though they were sold into slavery, rose to become great men and women, and advanced the world around them through ingenuity and enterprise.

Black movie directors or entertainment companies should invest in such stories and see that it is told through the big screen of the world’s movie industries. Only that way will such stories reach a huge audience of African people, and be celebrated.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Global African History


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