Prior to the conquest of what is today known as Nigeria by the British, the conquerors had been coming into the country as businessmen, missionaries, explorers, adventurers, spies and so on. They traversed all the nooks and cronies of our land with keen interest in knowing much about us and hence were very conversant with our history, weakness, strength, opportunity, threat, behaviour, intelligence and geography.
The missionaries regarded Hausa as the most potentially promising tribe in West Africa for the spread of Christianity because the information available to them from many European explorers and Sir George Goldie indicated that in intelligence, physiognomy, culture and literacy attainment, the Hausas were not only superior to the people of southern Nigeria but were above the Chinese and that Hausa civilisation could be compared with European civilisation.
This civilisation and intelligence superiority, it was thought, would make the Hausa easily understand the concept of such a ‘higher’ religion as Christianity, which many missionaries thought was beyond the comprehension of the supposedly inferior southern people. The missionaries’ efforts to convert Hausas were futile while the assumed inferior coastal region accepted Christianity.
The superiority of the Hausas not only over the southern people of Nigeria but even above the other tribes of northern Nigeria was not oblivious to the European visitors. They realised that other tribes of northern Nigeria were not developed enough to be potential buyers of their imported foreign goods, unlike the Hausas. It will be sometime before he develops a taste for Manchester cottons or Sheffield cutlery in any quantity. With the Hausa man, it was very different. His taste, not only for fine clothes and expensive luxuries, but for a 1,000 useful commodities, was highly developed already, and he needs no temptation to come forward as a purchaser (Captain C.W.J. Orr, R.A: 1911). In addition to the imperiousness of the Hausas, they are also the most accommodative tribe in Nigeria.
A brief note will suffice.
In 1425 a prominent Kanuri called Usman Kalnama came to Kano with his encourage and was warmly received by Sarkin Kano Dauda (1421-1437). Kalmana was harboured in Dorayi Babba and whenever Sarki Dauda was going on expedition, he would hand over the running of the affairs of the kingdom to him (Dr. Uba Adamu: 2007). Having tested the friendliness and the accommodativeness of the Hausas, Kalnama invited many of his Kanuri kinsmen to come and settle in Kano. Since then up to today several Kanuris have been settling in Kano and other Hausa states. According to the 1929 census, Kanuris were the third largest tribe in Kano, with a population of 171, 668 (7.059%) out of 2, 434, 627 (Bawa Adnan. (2020) Sheikh Dabon Dambazau.
The Hausas never treated the Kanuris with distain, but they rather held them in high esteem. Despite their traditional marks, which marked them as Kanuri, they are never denied admission into public schools, scholarship, employment into public service, marriage, jobs in private enterprises owned by the Hausas. They don’t face any discrimination whatsoever in Kano and the entire Hausa land. They are given important traditional titles to honour them and have a full sense of belonging like every Hausa citizen.
In Kano, prior to the Jihad of Danfodio in 1804, a Kanuri man was given the title of Dangwauron Duman Kano. His descendants include the industrialist Alhaji Sa’idu Adahama, Alhaji Uba Leader and so on. A Kanuri called Abubakar, who came to Kano during the Rabeh crisis in Borno, was appointed Dan’adala by the Emir of Kano, Alu Babba (1894 – 1903), and saddled with the responsibility of running the affairs of Tofa town. His son, Usman (Bashir Tofa’s father), was appointed Zannan Kano, in charge of land allocation by Emir Muhammadu Sunusi I (1953 – 1963). Another Kanuri, Alhaji Mustapha, was appointed Kachallan Kano and District Head of Fagge Local Government by the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero (1963 – 2014).
In Sokoto, a Kanuri, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, was appointed Marafan Sokoto. In Katsina, Malam Haruna, a Kanuri from Kananbakashe, was in 1907 appointed the prestigious title of Wazirin Katsina (Prime Minister) by Sarkin Katsina Dikko. His son, Alhaji Isa Kaita, was also nominated the Wazirin Katsina by Sarkin Usman Nagogo. The title holders of Sarkin Bai and Turaki of Katsina are also Kanuri by tribe. In Zazzau the southern part of Hausa land, Kanuris even produced some emirs of the kingdom, such as Sarkin Zazzau Isyaku, and several District Heads, such as Sarkin Kudan, and so on. In Zamfara State, a Kanuri, Alhaji Mahmuda Shinkafi, was elected governor of the state in 2007.
The Hausas refer to Kanuri as Barebari and this is not contempt but simply means people of Borno area or Kanuri of Borno who settled in Hausa land. The Hausas do not look down on Kanuri and therefore do not have any insulting word to refer to them, unlike Kanuri who use derogatory words such as Afuno to refer to the Hausa.
The Fulani came to Hausa land from Senegal in the year 1106 AD, according to Wazirin Sokoto Junaidu. Prof. Murray Last said the Fulani came to Hausa land in the 15th century. The Kano Chronicle stated that the Fulani came to Kano during the reign of Sarki Yaji (1349–1385). The Fulani were embraced by their host (Hausas); they were accommodated and integrated to the extent that a Fulani man no longer sees himself as a foreigner in Hausa land. The Hausa kings co-opted them into their Majalisa (Council Members), appointed them Alkalai (Judges), Imams, town Heads, revenue collectors, scribes and so on. In Kano the Hausa King, Alwali (1780 – 1807), appointed Malam Salihu (Fulani) Chief Judge, Dantunku from Yarimawa Fulani clan as Sarkin Fulanin Dambatta, another Fulani as Sarkin Fulanin Ja’idinawa in charge of Ja’en, and others.
In Katsina, Malam Muhammadu was appointed Sarkin Fulani in charge of Ingawa, Sarkin Sullubawa and so on. In Kabbi, Moijjo was appointed Ardo and a town was given to him to administer.
Misunderstanding between Fulani and Hausas started when Usman Danfodio began preaching against the Hausa rulers and this culminated into a war between Danfodio (Fulani) and Hausa kings, which resulted into the taking over of the mantle of leadership of the Hausa land by the Fulanis. The Hausas did not consider the war a Fulanis versus Hausas conflict, rather a mere civil war to sanitise the society and therefore had no grudges against the Fulani. Cordial coexistence of the Fulani and the Hausa continued unaverted.
Fulanis are elected into elective posts despite their second position in population in the Hausa states. According to the 1929 national census, the population of Fulani in Kano was 751, 851 while that of Hausa was 1,318, 076. The first elected governor of Kano State was a Fulani, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Rimi whose father was not even an indigene of Kano but of Katagum Emirate from Shira (Wahib Hussaini Sufi: 2022) . Subsequent governors of Kano such as Alhaji Abdu Dawakin Tofa, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Kwankwaso and Ganduje ya are all Fulanis. Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo was Nupe by tribe while Senator Shekarau is Babur by tribe from Borno State, his father came to Kano to work as a police man. An Igbo man, nicknamed Nshora, came to Kano and worked with the Royal Exchange Insurance. He married the daughter of Sarkin Kano Bayero and his son contested and won the election of the Federal House of Representatives in 2011.
While the Hausas do not have any word to refer to the Fulani to denigrate them, the Fulanis call Hausas Habe, in order to deprecate them.
A Yoruba man by tribe, Alhaji Yahaya Abdulkarim, whose parents came to Sokoto (Prof. Farouk Kperogi: 2021) was elected the governor of the state in 1991. Against the gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Yomie Edu in Yoruba land (Lagos), was de-campaigned and defeated in 1991 despite the overwhelming majority of his party in the state assembly and Local Government elections because his wife is a Hausa woman from Kano. Afenifere leaders said he would dance to the tunes of the northern oligarchy since his wife is a northerner.
In Katsina a Yoruba man by tribe, Haruna Sunusi, born in Funtua, represented the state as a Federal Permanent Secretary and nobody from the state protested or even considered it an issue. I don’t think a Hausa person born in Yoruba or Igbo land would be allowed to come to the Federal level through their quota to become an Assistant Director talk less of becoming a permanent secretary without a single protest.
The former Chief Judge of Kano, Justice Patricia, is a Tiv woman and the current one is an indigene of Bauchi, from Katagum Emirate. I don’t think a Hausa man would be employed as a magistrate in Benue talk less of appointing him the Chief Judge of the state.
In Benue State, an indigenous Idoma tribe is complaining of marginalisation by the majority Tiv tribe. An idoma cannot even be elected by Tiv to become the state’s governor. Had it been Hausas accommodative attitude has been emulated such phenomenon wouldn’t have occurred. In Kogi State there is issue between the majority Igala and the minority Ebira. In Borno State, the Babur tribe seriously complaint of how Kanuri disparage and marginalise them, while in Borno a Babur tribe would dare not to contest a gubernortorial election because the Kanuris would never support him, the same was elected in Kano twice as governor and senator on two occasions. When Shekarau became Governor of Kano state, over 60% of his Commissioners are settlers like him, whose fathers (not grandfathers) came to Kano. Nobody in Kano raised an eye brow. I heard from a reliable source that he facilitated the employment of several Babur from Borno and Kaduna states into the service of Kano Teachers Board at the detriment of the unemployed Kano youths through his senior brother, Dahiru Shekarau, whom he appointed the chief executive of the Board. While all their school certificates are from Borno or Kaduna, their indigeneship certificates would be changed to that of Nassarawa or Fagge Local Governments of Kano State. In Adamawa State, the minority tribes complaint on how the Fulani tribe decry and marginalise them.
The accommodative attitude of the Hausa person to even a fault, is a strength or a weakness is debatable. It has it’s own advantaged as it integrated various tribes into one family, speaking one language (Hausa), practicing same Hausa tradition and each tribe having a sense of belonging. This cohesion prevented inter-tribal conflicts as obtained in some areas such as Tiv and Jukun, Ife verses Modakeke, Berom versus Hausas in Plateau and so on.
The attitude of the Hausas of this generation towards their culture and tradition is horrendous. It is rancid that Hausa have now developed inferiority complex because of the lack of the knowledge of his history, who was he, where was he. It is dreadful that the Hausas are abandoning their culture and tradition to imitate the way of life of those that were moving naked irrespective of the gender some few years ago. It is nauseous to observe that the Hausas, despite their civilisation, literacy, knowledge and rich cultural heritage for over 500 years, abandoning their way of life to emulate those whose history of literacy and knowledge is not more than 100 years.
In recent times, particularly post-colonisation, the main culprits in the adulteration of Hausa culture are the ignorant Hausa residents of Yoruba land. They think they are more brainy than their brothers in the North and therefore look down on them and their culture. They introduced some Yoruba wedding cultures into Hausa as stated by Alhaji Tanko Yakasai (1924–date) in his biography. They adulterate the traditional Hausa zaman ajo and brought about Asobi (Anko). When they come to the North, they would be roaming about the streets in Yoruba attire to prove a point that they are different and superior to other Hausas and certainly they will impress the ignorant ones and the educated Hausas would look at them as those with inferiority complex and identity problem.
The Hausas are fast losing their culture because of mixing with other cultures, more especially from the southern part, and embracing of western education by them. It is now common to see a Hausa man dressed and behaving like someone from southern Nigeria or even like a European.
Culture, being an outlook of people, is the yardstick of what human beings used in distinguishing themselves. It is now fast disappearing and serious efforts is needed in order to save our culture from disappearing or adulterated.
Some scholars are of the opinion that culture is dynamic but still people are expected not to lose their good cultures because your culture is what makes you who you are.
One thing that is expected from Hausas and other ethnic groups is to appreciate, accept and respect their various distinct cultures without losing our own.
Some people are fond of degrading and mocking other cultures because they found them strange or taboo in their culture. This attitude needs to be sensitised and discouraged among our distinct ethnic group in order to have a harmonious and peaceful coexistence. As observed by Mallinowski: “Culture is partly human, partly spiritual and partly materialistic. In its humanistic aspect, culture consists of ideas, values, knowledge, philosophy, laws, morals and so on. In its spiritual aspect, it consists of system of beliefs and religious practice. In its materialistic aspect, it consists of artifacts and consumer goods, made by man as opposed to things found in nature. Culture is a distinguishing factor between man and man.”