Between 1883 and 1893 the various Islamic states in the region of Bornu, particularly Bagirmi and Ouaddaï, were taken by the Sudanese leader Rabih az-Zubayr. Establishing a capital at Dikwa, to the south of Lake Chad, Rabih looked towards the Fulani empire.
In the 1890s France was seeking to create a sphere of influence over the interior of West Africa. In 1898 a column of French troops headed north from the Congo causing Rabih to give up his attempted conquest of the Fulani and head south to face the European incursion. The two forces met at Fort-Foureau (Kousseri) on the Logone River and the French won an overwhelming victory – Rahib was killed.
The French re-established the traditional sultanate of the Kanembu dynasty, and created a protectorate over Chad. However it took until the outbreak of World War I to pacify the region. The protectorate became part of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa) in 1910, although it didn't achieve colonial status until 1920.
The Aouzou Strip was to be ceded to Italy (then the colonial masters of Libya) but this was never ratified by the French Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly). (It was still used as a pretext for Libya annexing the region in 1973.) During World War II, Chad supported the Free French against the Vichy government and Axis forces. As part of the political changes in post war France, Chad became a territoires d'outre-mer (overseas territory) of the French Republic in 1946.
A degree of autonomy was extended to Chad by France under the constitutional law of 1957, and on 28 November 1958 Chad was declared an autonomous republic within the French Community. Complete independence was achieved on 11 August 1960.