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Kukawa (previously Kuka) is a town and Local Government Area in the northeastern Nigerianmarker state of Bornomarker, close to Lake Chadmarker.

The town was founded in 1814 as capital of the Kanem-Bornu Empire by the Muslim scholar and warlord Muhammad al-Kanem after the fall of the previous capital, Ngazargamu, conquered in 1808 in the Fulani War. The town had great strategical importance, being the southern terminal of an important trans-Saharan trade route to Tripolimarker. The town was captured and sacked in 1893 by the Sudanesemarker warlord Rabih az-Zubayr, and then by the British in 1902.

Historically the city was much larger than today, with a population estimated by the British at 50,000-60,000 in the late nineteenth-century.

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