Beautiful Hausa woman dancer at an Islamic festival,Kano,Nigeria.

Beautiful Hausa woman dancer at an Islamic festival,Kano,Nigeria.

Beautiful Hausa woman dancer at an Islamic festival,Kano,Nigeria. Many other Hausas subscribe to the view that they had a common Arab ancestor whose descendants founded the Hausa city-states. According to this, the King of Baghdad's son, Bayajidda or Abuyazidu, quarrelled with his father, left Baghdad and ended up in the state of Daura (directly north of Kano in present day northern Nigeria).
Origin myths among the Hausa claim that their founder, the exiled prince Bayajidda, came from the east in an effort to escape his father. He eventually came to Gaya, where he employed some blacksmiths to fashion a knife for him. With his knife he proceeded to Daura where he freed the people from the oppressive nature of a sacred snake who guarded their well and prevented them from getting water six days out of the week. The queen of Daura gave herself in marriage to Bayajidda to show her appreciation. Bayajidda and his wife had a son, Bawo, who married and in turn had six sons who then became rulers of Kano, Zazzau (Zaria), Gobir, Katsina, Rano and Daura; a seventh state Biram is added to the list. These are the Hausa Bakwai, the seven Hausa states.
There is also an extension to this story, which can be seen as a way of explaining a number of other states, which fell under Hausa influence, while retaining some of their own customs. This story tells of Bawo having a further seven sons by his concubine. These became rulers of the Banza Bakwai, or seven 'illegitimate' Hausa states: Zamfara, Kebbik, Nupe, Gwari, Yauri, Yoruba and Kororofa.

However, there is a general consensus that Hausa city-states were founded some time between the end of the 900 BC and the beginning of the 13th century. It is thought they emerged out of a number of small communities, typically surrounded by stockades, enclosing not only houses but also agricultural lands.
Eventually these various communities grouped together to form larger groups, which in turn acquired the size and status of city-states. The custom of creating a fortified surrounding wall was maintained. These city walls can still be seen today.
From the different available texts of the legend the Daura palace version is the most reliable, though certain other accounts offer important complements. Two episodes have to be distinguished: a great migration from Mesopotamia and Philistine having only nominal leaders and a movement of fleeing troops led by a scion of the royal house of Bagdad. It is suggested that historically the first corresponds to the flight of members of various communities of deportees established in the western provinces of the Assyrian empire and more particularly in settlements close the Egyptian border to sub-Saharan Africa. The second, by contrast, is supposed to reflect the movement of retreat of the remaining Assyrian army from the devastated capital of Niniveh to Harran. Apparently Bayajidda himself represents the last king of Assyria who was crowned in Harran in 612 and disappeared from history in 609 BCA.
Furthermore, the legend corresponds to a foundation charter of Hausa society insofar as it suggests a distinction between two categories of states, the seven Hausa and the seven Banza states. From the Daura palace version of the legend and from its cult-dramatic re-enactment during the yearly state festivals it appears that this differentiation also applies to the internal dualism between a Hausa and a Maguzawa or Azna section of society. In all likelihood these two sections of the Hausa-speaking world are the result of an overlapping of the African rural culture by the ancient Near Eastern immigrants. While the immigrants constituted the Hausa or urban and dynastic section of the social order, the indigenous peasants were associated on the basis of their clan organisation as Azna into the new dualistic society.

BY: Kweku Darko Ankrah

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