War, Disease, Famine, Destruction, 1883–1893
The alliance between the Egyptian colonial state, on the one hand, and the traditional pastoral leaders and the Islamic new religious, on the other, further destabilized pastoralist society by breeding widespread discontent and, ultimately, precipitating an extremely violent civil war in the 1880s. During the war, continued violence became the only viable economic strategy. The leaders of the various militias used the conflict to gain access to external sources of arms, ammunition, provisions, and money primarily by building new relationships with the European officials that were seeking to establish their colonial presence in the region. In turn, these militias became conduits for ensuring that dependents were taken care of during the war. This unstable war economy collapsed into a devastating famine after the 1887 introduction of rinderpest, a deadly cattle disease previously unknown in the region. The epizootic and famine led to the complete collapse of pastoralist society.