Recovering Hausa lost Heritage and Civilisation
By Col. Dauda Gora (rtd)
Hausa land, history and people yearning for freedom.
Nigerians, 50 years old and above who attended Primary School in any part of what used to be Northern Nigeria, must have been taught during History lessons about the 7 Hausa States of Biram, Kano, Katsina, Daura, Gobir, Rano and Zaria as well as the 7 Banza Bakwai Kingdoms of Zamfara, Kebbi, Yauri, Gwari, Nupe, Kwararafa (Jukun) and Yoruba.
These Kingdoms were viable in virtually every aspect of human endeavour at that time. I should draw the readers attention to the meaning of the Hausa word ”Banza”. Banza, is a derogatory word which means worthless or anything that is of lower quality which clearly showed a marked distinction between the Hausa Bakwai and the Banza Bakwai Kingdoms.
There may have been the pastoral or nomadic Fulani as part of the population in these Kingdoms but not much if anything was recorded in this respect. The Fulani got a mention when migrants from the general area of the Futa Djalon foothills and the SeneGambia region in West Africa arrived Gobir not long before 1800.
Usman Dan Fodio who masqueraded as an Islamic teacher had issues with the leadership in Gobir, the reason he adduced being that a corrupt form of Islam was being practiced and he raised a band of followers that succeeded in violently overthrowing the leadership in Gobir under the guise of purifying Islam.
Instead of replacing the old leadership with indigenes of Gobir he appointed his own Fulani as the new leader and proceeded from there to wage what was erroneously called a Jihad or holy war. Wherever he put under, he appointed either his son or trusted Fulani as Emir thus silencing the Hausa who held power previously. He and his followers even conceived the dream of ditching the Quran in the Atlantic ocean meaning that their mission was to Islamize all the ethnic groups along their path up to the Atlantic Ocean.
Unluckily for them, they came face to face with the realities of gun powder along the general line of Agbede a village south of Auchi and the Kukuruku range of hills running westward. From there the jihadists advance southward was blunted as they were forced to withdraw backward. In other words, they beat a retreat.
As time went on, an advanced form of the Stockholm syndrome may have had its place as the indigenous Hausa began to see the Fulani occupiers and usurpers of their lands as friends and were content with the crumbs that fell from the Fulani dinner tables.
When Karl Marx described RELIGION as the opium of the masses we have to believe within the context of this short essay that he meant much more than the intoxicating effect of the drug. He may also have been referring to the blinding and numbing properties too, otherwise how and why did a foreign invader succeed so easily in steamrolling over all the Kingdoms in Hausa land in less than 2 years ?
It is very obvious that a local form of Fulani apartheid was at play here otherwise having taken over the Kingdoms under the guise of purifying Islam why did they usurp the political arrangement which existed prior?
In all of this the Hausa people must hold themselves to blame for having collapsed like a pack of cards and in many instances, without a single shot being fired?
Had they resisted the political coup against their leadership the story could have been different today but like sheep to the slaughter they were deceived and blindfolded into the make believe that Dan Fodio did come to purify and clean up Islam. Oh, how wrong they were and still are.
The consequences of that terrible blunder over two centuries ago is what Nigeria as a nation is still struggling to deal with.
To acquire legitimacy the Fulani came up with the coinage, Hausa-Fulani again to further blindfold the Hausa population. Everything that was good at that time went to the Fulani causing the Hausa to develop a sense of inferiority complex. Hausa women were taken and are still being forced into marriages by the invaders as the Emirate system took roots.
When eventually the British colonialists came around they found it very convenient not to undo the Emirate system as it served her mercantilist interests. This gave the Fulani the opportunity to further cement and concretize their political as well as social and economic agenda over the Hausa.
The Hausa, their culture, history and tradition began to recede into irrelevance as the invading Fulani easily foisted their own values, tradition and culture over all that remained of the Hausa Kingdoms.
It must be noted though that not all of the Hausa speaking population accepted Islam. Many rejected the faith preferring to continue with their traditional religion and culture. Those who rejected Islam were derogatorily called Maguzawa for the simple reason that they rejected Islam. These original Hausa speaking people still occupy large swaths of land in many States in the North, not limited to the old and now extinct Hausa Kingdoms.
As punishment for rejecting Islam the Hausa over the ages have been subjected to wholesale neglect and deprivation. Government policies and projects like Schools, Hospitals, Justice and Roads have been denied them. To date, the hybrid Fulani are still treating the Hausa as if they are the booty of war. Hausa young women are serialy kidnapped and forced into marriages against their will. They have no access to justice as any protestation with regard to forced marriages and land seizures are usually summarily dismissed in the courts.
The Hausa have suffered untold hardship under the terrible, rapacious and corrupt feudal system forcing many to find refuge under the comforting arms of the Christian faith. It is under this arrangement that development is beginning to filter through by way of Schools and Medical care.
Politically, care has been taken to ensuring that the Hausa can only vote but can hardly be voted for in their own land. The fate of the original Hausa speaking people of the old Hausa Kingdoms is not any different from that which the Red Indians suffered in what is now the United States of America except that in the United States steps are being taken to reach out and to rehabilitate the Red Indians.
Can similar steps be taken in today’s Nigeria for the Hausa?
Surely a Historical wrong can be righted so that the Hausa can recover their place in History. The blood letting that has been going on in Zamfara and other States in the northern fringes appears to be a continuation of the political jihad by other means. The current state of insecurity all over Nigeria but particularly in the Northern States would appear to be the last phase of the Fulani political jihad.
Whilst the hapless population in Southern Kaduna, the lower Plateau, Benue and other State were ongoing, the Presidency was not concerned but when a governor gave a quit notice to so-called Fulani herders illegally occupying a Forest Reserve in his State the Presidency was up in arms at the instance of Miyetti Allah pontificating that Fulani have the right to settle wherever they so wish within the territory of Nigeria.
Surely, the Fulani must be operating under a hybrid 1999 Constitution which is why they are flaunting themselves all over the place. The Nigeria Police is quick in arresting Sunday Igboho for being a threat to Fulani interest in Oyo State but the same Police have been so lethargic in arresting the Fulani terrorist jihadist responsible for mass murder in Zangon Kataf LGA. This is justice the Nigerian style.
Since Usman Dan Fodio’s foray into Hausaland early in the 19th Century life has never been the same for the Hausa speaking population then and even now. The social, political and economic conditions of the Hausa took a turn for the worse especially during the British colonialist enterprise and up to independence in 1960 when the Colonial masters handed Nigeria to the Fulani wholesale.
At independence, Nigeria held some beautiful promises of growth and progress but because those who inherited Nigeria after the British departure were inept in many ways, especially under Fulani hegemony the new nation very quickly became stunted.
The Fulani through the period of military dictatorship worked from below the surface to ensure that with the influence of their Emirs that the best of everything was reserved for them and their apologists. The Military either advertently or inadvertently simply became errand boys of the powerful Fulani Emirs. At every stage of State Creation the North had the preponderance of States in the so-called Federation. At the Federal level juicy appointments were reserved for Fulani people and so overtime, they have gotten to become very powerful in Nigeria while the Hausa whose lands had been taken over became onlookers.
Prompting this essay is an audio message by an extremely courageous Hausa speaking lady which has gone viral on Social Media in which she was lamenting the plight of the Hausa people even under the brutish Fulani ruling class.
That it is a woman and not a man who is taking up this fight against the injustice that is being meted to the Hausa people is simply wonderful. The lady in the audio has heaped all the blame for the plight of the Hausa on the occupying Fulani especially under the Buhari junta then and now. Usman Dan Fodio’s politically minded jihad may have gotten stunted in 1804 but clearly as current events are now evincing, the Fulani have not given up on continuing with that age long dream of completely taking over the whole territory called Nigeria. In this endeavour there appears a modern day Usman Dan Fodio in the president of the nation.
The strategy for achieving this grand objective has been throwing open our porous borders to imported Fulani jihadist terrorists from the Sahelian North of Africa many of who were mercenaries in Libya before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. These terrorist groups simply moved into Nigeria under the guise of being pastoralists or herders and have brought with them death and destruction of lives and property.
The Nigerian State watched the unfolding events probably with amusement. Because it is an Islamist agenda being executed, no counter action was taken. That a modern State in the 21st Century can still be making a case for nomadic Fulani and open grazing is as laughable as it is shameful.
I will continue referencing the Grazing Reserve and Ruga Bill in the National Assembly as the ploy the PMB regime had wanted to deploy for a subtle yet complete takeover of the entire territory called Nigeria.
Today, Fulani either as herders or terrorists are everywhere in the territory of Nigeria, flaunting themselves and the sophisticated arms being smuggled across the borders in the North.
What if one may ask, are Fulani herders doing in the forest areas, but particularly in the Reserves of Southern and Eastern Nigeria ?
By whose authority are the Fulani forcefully occupying lands across the nation without even consulting the local communities?
The present government has on purpose turned deaf ears to the highly incendiary and combustible language of Miyetyi Allah. From all available audio and video recordings as well as press briefings, Miyetti Allah qualifies as a terrorist organization.
While there is no secret as to it’s leadership, no action has been taken by the national security architecture to have them explain some of their utterances.
Many dissatisfied parts of this beleaguered nation are in ebullition and unless a more suitable political arrangement is agreed upon and soon, Nigeria as presently constituted may be living on borrowed time.
The current leadership can choose not to learn from history by dismissing what happened in the former USSR, former Yugoslavia, Indonesia and Ethiopia at her own peril.
If the Fulani, their sponsors and apologists continue to toy with the unity of this nation, they will soon find out too late that they have committed a terrible blunder.
Col. Dauda Gora (rtd) writes from Kaduna, North West Nigeria