Tami Mshelia December 1973
Interview with Heman Wapasana
I was born a iizha in Kilba land and was brought to Garkida as a small baby on
the back, just a few months old. I am a $ura man, not Kilba. It happened that I
was born at hizha because my parents went to settle there, though he died here in
Garkida. At that t;ie they went to Kilba, they were already living in Garkida,
but decided to go off (just normal wandering) and later came back. My parents are
both bura of Garkida. 'They were both born in Garkida.
Father's name is Fiama Tarfa, Mother's name is Mangawa Kwatam.
I am now over 80 years. I cannot remember my father's first house, but when
t^ ___ _^--"----- ---
he came he lived in Kunjugu. When he came from hizha, he lived in a friends
house before he built his house. Building houses was very cheap and it doesn't take
more than three months. There was alot of building material cornstalkk, grass and
I am the youngest in my father's house (last born). Due to old age of my parents,
they didn't born any more children after me. My father was having four wives. My
mother was his first wife.
My father was just a farmer. He did not specialize in any other job apart from
the usual cotton weaving that men do. Today you find many odd jobs done by people
who are specialized in it, but in those days everyone was strong and could do it
_--- ca"'-t ~+ wcrmev mIm.
himself. . 000
Actually I did not know my father because he died when I was only a year old.
He died not only because of sickness but also because he was old. The person I
know as my father is Birma Garga.
Immediately after the death of my father, my mother was married to Binma
Garga. At that time he wasn't the Birma, he was just an ordinary Tarfa man. He
married my mother not because he is a brother to my father, he isn't, it just so
happened that he was interested in her and also he is a Tarfa man. Usually when a
man dies, his relatives marry his wives.
So it is that I grew up to find myself in Birma Garga's family. He had many
other wives and children. My mother had two girls by him. I can't quite
remember much about my childhood from the age of one to four. We just used to stay
at home and play with other small children. We sleep in our mother's hut at this
At the age of five, I started herding goats. We had alot of goats, sheep and
some horse. Usually in a household every woman has her goats, and also the head of
the house had his. Males have mostly sheep with a few goats. Not all the women have
goats, only those who are well off. That is their parent have alot. A husband
doesn't give his wives goats to keep. She brings it from her father's house when she
has settled down, usually aft.-r two years in her husband's house. She asks for a
female goat, she keeps this and it woiadd produce many for her. If a woman wants
to keep goats and her parents can't give her any, she goes to the market and buys
some. Goats were very cheap, abo-it the cost of a chicken today.
In our house, I was the only one that herd our goat. At that time the village
was surrounded with thick forest, the big hill (Fwahar hill) was thickly covered
with trees. There were leopards and many other wild animals. Hyena were so many you
would think they were village dogs. It was very dangerous, to go o-ut of the village
alone. They have to go in a large, group. In the evenings, the hyena's roam the
village and they enter houses. They crash through gates and try to enter where the
goats are kept.
The women have their goats inside their bedrooms withle the husband has his
in the middle of the house.
The goats have a small compartment cut off to one side of the room, built of
mud. They are not just left to roam in the room. The room is usually crowded since
she has her small children inside with her.
Mats for Children
O Grinding Stone
They sleep in the middle of the room on mats, these mats are packed off and
stacked to one side in the morning. In the room she has big clay pots in which
she has her guinea corn powder, dried okra, beans, clothes, there are no boxes
so pots are used. To one side she has her grinding stone. Also she has calabashes
with foodstuff inside them. Then she has basket with guinea corn in them.
The reason for goats being kept inside rooms is because of the hyenas. They are
fearless at night, but they do not attack people, only animals.
In a house that there no male children boys the girls go herding the
Some women in a compound may have goats, but no one to rear them for her,
In that case she has to tie them at home andbeg other children to cut grass for
her. But this is very rare.
A boy is responsible for all the goats in his compound. In the morning
about 8 o'clock the boy closes the main gate of the compound.
A house hld has the big surrounding wall of cornstalk termed the compound, and
in this compound are the houses. The houses being one for each woman. The
husband having his.
Everyone having goats would open their goat's room and all would be collected
by the boy, or boys if they many in the household. If there are horses,- there were
some in mine they are brought out also.
Horses have their stables inside the compound also. They can be left out in
the compound during the dry season, but are kept in during the rainy season.
The boy then owns to the gate and opens it, standing outside to control the
goats scattering about.
A Zara (ward) may have up to ten or more houses. The boys in that Zara have
their own herding grounding, their own herding king this usually not a chosen person,
instead it is one of these boastful bullies that force themsleves as kings, and is
meekly accepted by the rest due to fear. They have a throne built of stones for
this king. The village is surrounded by hills and stones are no problem. They
have a special part of the river where they take their goats for drinking water.
iaras do not share these things, and they are the main causes of fights between
There is a special waiting place meeting place for a Zara. That is when
everyone is ready with his household herd, he comes to t is special meeting place
usually a tree and waits with his herd under this tree until the rest come. The goats
graze and number to hundreds with the boys holding their food on their heads
and whips in hands.
When all the boys have arrived, the march on to their herding ground.
On one of such occasion, it so happened that I was the first to come out with
my goats and was waiting for the rest under our waiting tree.
Usually goats are very stubborn, especially in the mornings, when they are very
hungry. 6o it was that I found myself very busy keeping mine at one place. They
would wander o f this way and that when you are after them the rest still standing
go off in the other direction. Well, when the rest of the boys came, also with our
king, he forced me to take charge of the goats. This boy was a real tyrant and
bully. He does nothing the minute he comes out of his house. He force us to do all
Immediately he came on that day, he started his bully on me. I told him I
was already tired from controlling my own goats. He whipped me once, twice,
and I told him to please stop it. He then said I must go and control the.whole herd.
I told him I won't., In the end we had a fight. He wasn't real strong. I gave a
real beating. You might think the rest of the boys would help their king. 1io, they
clapping their hands and wer proud of me. That is so because all of them were fed
up of him. Everyone thanked me and from that time on he never bullied me in particular.
Anyway, he was still our king.
Usually the grazing grounds are not very far from our homes. We usually carry
our food to the grazing ground with us. This food is the remaining food from
the previous day's In Buraland, when cooking, a woman cooks more than the family
can eat in case a visitor comes unexpectedly. This habit brings about the idea of
leaving some food for the children to eat in the afternoon when the parents are
away on farm work. The name for this food left over is "Machikle." It is boiled
in the pot used for the new food cooked Machikle is guinea corn food which is left
over from the prewous evenings dinner. Every woman has a pot, "Turn Buli" Tum
means pot and buli is what is inside it. Inside this pot is placed the boiled machikle
and water is poured over it. It gets sour after some days. This is "African Fanta"
or thirst quencher. That is, when a visitor comes around, he is not given just
plain water but water mixed with this bull water. People like the sour taste of it.
Not all Bulls are good,most have worms in them fly larva. It is supposed to be
changed frequently. This pot is where Machikle is stored. When children are
hungry, they rush to Turn buli and take out machikle. They put it in water and drink
We thus proceed to the grazing grounds when everyone is ready. Not all of us
come with food. Some go back to get theirs in the afternoon when we are to have our
The goats graze till about two or twelve in the afternoon. We sit in the shade
of a tree in our grazing field, and take turn in bringing back goats that have gone
far. The king just sit down on his throne doing nothing. We might tell stories
or sing songs. Usually some may even sleep on the ground. When the goats are
full, we take them to drink water and bring them back. They lie down and chew the
curd under the trees. Then at this time everybody brings his food to the king who
tastes the ones that look pleasing to h s eyes, usually the ones with meat or fish.
When he has chosen the best we take the rest and gather round a dish at a time.
No washing of hands or prayers.
The goats woult start eating some more grass after some time and at four we
drive them to our waiting place. The goats are separated and everyone takes his
h me. We do nothing else at this age apart from running errands.
In the Birma's house we were many. We had slaves. These were bought with money.
I don't really know much about the financial deal of these slaves, nor where they
came from. But we were treated equally the same. In the real sense they weren't
slaves because we eat together. They did not have to work more than we do nor
were they guarded. (They were in every sense like free citizens.) Anyway, one thing
was that they cannot get married. This is because no girl would marry someone
said to be a slave. But the ones that we were in the same house with were small
ones. Not up to the age of marriage. In the compound, we boys were, Abu, Chemwasu,
Cnegubal, Tura and one of the slaves I remember well is Kida Madu. We did our things
together. The Birma had four wives. I cannot remember his compound clearly because
I spent only eighteen years in that compound and then he died.
When I was about ten years old, I left herding goats. By this time, there
were other children behind- me to do this job. I then started to go to the Birma's
farm. We had many farms. There were five big farms for guinea corn and we had
catton'farms. oAll of us the boys and the slaves were the ones that farm them.
When I was about thirteen years old, some Europeans came to our house. These
Europeans had Pabirs with them and also policemen. They came to Garkida and lodged
on the empty fields near the Hawal :river.
They were asking the Birma to give them escorts to a village which they named as
But no one was willing to be an escort. My father tried hard to get the
escorts. The Europeans also asked for food which was collected to them be every
Zara. Guinea corn powder and goats were contributed and sent to them.
They waited for some days but they did not get any escorts. My father could not
force anyone against his will to escort them. Thep one day he went to other villages
outside Garkida to find escorts. The Europeans came early in the morning and asked
for him but he was not back. 'hey later came back many times and each time they wee
told that he was not yet back. Then they grew suspicious that maybe he had ran
away. In the evening my father came back and told them that he could not find
escorts for them. They kept quiet and decided to leave Garkida.
They packed up and crossed the river then kept their loads and started to come
back again. They came straight to our house and set it afire. They burnt some of
the other houses in the -irma's Zara.
When the people saw this, they packed their wives and children and ran away.
But my house hold did not go away. They built a crude sleeping place from matted
grass "tutu" and luckily it was during the dry season.
The damage was really very great, our guinea corn was all burnt and our property
wal all burnt. Even animals died and nothing was left. But we were able to recover
after sone time. The people could not fight the Europeans because we were afraid
of the guns and also we have heard that they burn villages when you do not please
When I was about seventeen (N.B. writer, he can't quite remember which occurred
first, whether it was the burning of their house or the Fulani fight. That is, one
took place when he was thirteen and the 6~her when he was about seventeen).
There came a fight between the Fulanis. The Fulanis wanted to take over Garkida.
Joro Myel was taken by Joro Gwala and later Myel died. All the Tarfa men went to
the fight and two Fulanis died with one severely wounded. Policemen and Europeans
came to settle it. They built some sort of enclosure of tutu and all of us were
told to go into it, they said that the Europeans wanted totell us something.
When we went in, they caught in my;-family only Abu. Two people were shot when they
tried to excape.
All the Targa clan went into hiding after this out my family still stayed.
It wasn't long after this that the Birnna got sick and died. My mother was
very old by now, but she went and stay with her mother's brother Bzarima who was
a tarfa man. I went and lived with her.
Some of the Birma's children had already got married by now and his wives were
all old. They went and lived with other relatives.
It was at Dzarma's house that I got matured and started to think of women.
I stayed there for two years and then married a wife. This girl Iyasindaya
was married once, but her husband died so she got married to me. I immediately
married her. I went and lived in a house of my own near the fwahar hill. That
is I built my own home. I had my first born Berta still in that home. I later
left that house and built a bigger one, which is the house I am presently still
My best freind was then Pwasi Haman and he is still my friend todiy. I
believe right here in Garkida we two are the oldest among the males. Whatever
it was I wanted to do, we did it together.
I then next married another wife Asura. She was still a girl when 1 married
her. She too had a baby girl soon after Iyasindaya. We named her Mwala Mshina.
Altogether I married eight wives, but most of them left me and now I have only
four. (N.B. writer: He is very sick and finds it very difficult to elaborate on
the marriages and the births of his children. He would prefer to nave out the
wives with a little detail and then his children).
After Asura I next married Kwapchi. This woman later left me for another man.
Usually it is not a fight that brings about the separation, but just that our
women being very free, they have affairs with other men they like and later they
go for him and leave their husband.
Then there was Fatim. Her first husband died and she later married another mai
who she deserted tbd married me. But she could not give birth.so I left her and now
she is married to another man and she has given birth to some children for him.
Next I married a Kilba girl called Mdaliya. She gave birth to a baby girl,
Kwapla. But Kwapla got sick at the age of eleven. Mental sickness and she was
taken to a hospital in Yola where she died. Her mother Midahiya then left me and
went to her peoples
I married next Awa but she is a barren woman and up to today she hasn't given
birth to a child. But she is still with me.
I then married Gana and she has given birth to three children. She is still
I married lastly Magira who has given birth to three children and is still with
A hi L 6
I have at home only four wives, Asura, Awa, Gana and Magira. My children who
are still with me at home are: lIwajim, Ali, Jumamai, Salvia and Mathla.
Bata my first born is working at Sos. Dawi and Chebri are both working at
Kopaya is married. Mwala Mshina is also married with children. Bata
her junior brother is at Kafunchan working.
Bauchi is working at Azare and Adiuu is a student at Zaria.
Mwajim, Ali and Jummai are still here at home in primary school.
Pindar is married and Salvia, Mathla are still here at home in school.
About six years ago I got poisoned. Now I am almost a cripple with terrible
waist aches. Since when I was poisoned, I have never used a how. It was done by
some unknown enemy who did not want to see me as a successful. I have never had
clashes on women with someone nor have done anyone some wrong to deserve such
The poisoning was not in form of food or drink, but it is the type that is thrown
on the reed where you are likely to cross. Even if other people cross, it would
do them nothing, because it was your name that was called when it was being prepared.
I do drink beer and I have many friends with whom I drink with, but I don't
think that has anything to do with it.
At first when it happened, I could not even bend down in the toilet. After
some treatment in the hospital I got a bit better, but it can never be cured. I have
since then been receiving medicine and would die in my chair without doing any normal
Though I do not farm, my remaining four wives are very active and have big
farms. Also my children who are working outside send me nomey regularly.
My only worry is that most of my children are going out to school secondary
school and it never seem to end, also, when they finish they do not come here home
to work but stay out there and they hardly ever come home. I am a lonely man and
I need them round me at least to have a chat with them.
Since I cannot farm, I do alot of weaving and rope making.
(N.B. writer: Though this man has experienced much, recently he has had some
sort .of sickness and cannot give any more than t is. Thus it is much more a skeletal life
history like the former ones I did)
Informant: Gwandi Gaba 75 years old
My birth name is Mwada This name was given to me when I was born as a twin,
the other oeing a girl was called Thlama. These are the names for twins in Buraland,
Mwada can represent both a boy or a girl, so it is with Thlama. 'hat is, two twin
girls would bear Mwada and Thlama. Two twin boys would still bear Mwada and Thlama.
There are two very similar hills side by side some 10 miles away from Garkida that
bear these names Mwada and Thlama. That is not the origin for these names. They do
not have any special meaning.
If newly born twins are given other names apart from Mwada and Thlama, they get
sick and one may even die. They are given real names only when they are big. Oftimes
twins bear these names up to old age.
In my case, my second name.- Gwandi was given to me when I was about 15 years
old. This when Thlama twin sister died. My name was changed so that I would
not die also. Usually when one of the twins die, the other follows. When Thlama
died, I used to see with spiritual eyes. That is I could see into the future or hidden.
I used to predict the death of people. I predicted that of my mother and father and
it took place exactly as I said. People warned me to stop doing it because it
wasn't good. The spirit of Thlama used to come to me always. I see her as I see
people physically. We wou-d sit and talk normally as I do to everyone else. It's
only me that see her, so that we would go back to where we came from. 6he says in
her 'world' we have a lot of cattle and children with food. tut I always refuse to
follow her. I would reply her that I hcve enough here on earth. I would always dream
of her and she disturbs me very much.
My parents then took me to a witch doctor who closed my spititual eyes. The
way they do their things is all queer, mostly talking or rat er blabbering of
some words. Witch doctors were paid with "Kuntu" and beer. They may ask for other
items like a white cock or a black goat, depending on what the sickness is.
After the treatment from this witchdoctor I never saw anything or dream of
My Grandfather, Headima Mafa father's father was a witchdoctor. He was
quite a good one. He is a Kilba man. His hometown is at Udzum. He cures all sort
of sickness snake bites, poisons, stomach aches or chest and waist pains. There
was once a wat at;:Hiza another Kilbo village and he was called upon to lead
in the war, after which he was made the Hedima a rank little lower than the
chief. But some of his friends poisoned his family Another witch doctor
stronger thc.n him and he ran away from Hiza to his hometown Udzum. His wives
were Bura women not from Garkida. Most of the villages around Garkida are Bura
and they are not different from those in Garkida verbally in speech and culture.
My father was born and brought up at Udzum. He did not inherit my grandfather's
art in witchcraft, but he could cure snake bites. My grandfather could disappear amidst
people when he falls into trouble, like in a war, he would face the enemies and then
disappear again. One of his wives Yatina once decided to find out how he
disappears, so she waited in the house with him while the other women had ran away
because of enemies. When the enemies arrived, Granny shot a few and disappeared,
but Yatina was not able to escape, her head was cut off, the head was running round
while the trunk continued to move about.
My father married his first wife still at Udzum. While they were there, they
had six children but all died. A fight broke out at Udzum fight over a woman Some
one in my father's c.an had an aftair with someone's wife and it started a fight.
My father went into hiding at Hinhgn a village 3 miles from Garkida. whilee he was
in hiding, he came to Pellachirama another village on the other opposite bank of
Hawsal to Ga. kida. Here he met and married my mother. They went back together to
My father had six children with his first wife, all of them.were boys.
This first woman Mangili was a witch. In Bura witches are said to have two
stomachs, one for eating normal food and the other spiritual meat. That is, since it
is said that a person has been eaten by a witch, but his body is still there, the
spiritual meat is regarded as the one eaten by the witch.
Well, this woman was responsible for the death of all her children. Not that it
was known at that time the deaths were occurring.
When ever she gives birth to a child, and it grows up to crawling stage, the
child dies. So it went on up to when I was born. 'hat is, even though she had nine
children in all, the other three were after me.
My mother Gitau had already had a husband before she married my father. Her
first marriage was satisfactory as she wanted so she left her first husband. That is she
did not like the man, but she was pregnant with his child. 'he left his house pregnant
with his child, this first child is my senior sister Miwasa Pindar. She grew up
in my father's house as his daughter.
I and Thlama were the next children born to my father aft ,r the six born to him by
After my birth, my father and his family went to Galandiwa this is a village
about 10 miles from Garkida still in duraland. He had a relative there who wanted to
live with him. This relative's name is Headima Ali.
My father went with, his first wife Mangili, my mother, Pindar, I and Thlama and
his father's last wife that is my grandfather's widow.
In Buraland it is customary for a child to 'marry' his father's wife that is if a
man is married and has a young wife with babies, if he dies, his eldest son or any of
his sons would look after this woman with children. Not all people like it, but they
are forced, especially if the woman has little babies. Not that he has to h.ve sex
with her but it his responsibility to bring up the children and also to provide for her.
Usually if the lady is fertile, the person has sex with her and brings forth children.
This children are his. The ones left by his father are his half brothers. QO'5 Ar'
------- ""~_ - \ ^ f RVP ^-^jQYD~ iRrP
When taking such a wife the man doesn't pay a dowry and the only ceremony is that
the man is to bring a calabashful of guinea corn powder, one goat, and two chickens.
These he gives to the woman who in turn gives a goats thigh to her mother with some of
the guinea corn powder, and the goat's chest to her father.
In Buraland, everybody has a father and a mother even if your real parents are no
more alive. duringg the burial of your father it is usually with a goat you take
the goats neck and kidneys and give it to any of your father's relative that you would like
to be your new father. It must be a relative. If it is your mother that has just
(, l t 0, CeM- ^-^y )
died, you would choose one of her relatives by giving her the goat's thigh and some guinea
Thus my father 'married' his father's wife wnio had small babies with her two small
boys who are my father's half brothers. He did not have sex with this woman, le just
kept her because of the children. /J- fll P f-44
So he took us to Galaniliwa to this relative of his Hedima Ali. Wihen we went to
live with Hedima, he had only a little property, but he was to get rich after our
arrival due to an incident that happened between him and my grandfathers wid-w.
Usually, in the night some 'stars' used to fall down. 'hese are the shiny
objects that use to run across the sky and fall down or die off still in the sky before
reaching down (N.B. writer: I guess this man means the small remains of space debris
that one attracted due to the gravity of earth and while passing through the atmosphere,
friction between this stone and air causes it to burn and when people see it, they think
it is a star falling down.).
Well, one of these stars I don't really know the shape or size or what it is
made of fell in Hedima's farm. Not that people saw when it fell, but after some
days, some small boys saw a shiny, luminous object and went to check what it was. When
they went near it, the object stopped shining. But it starts immediately they are
gone. Galandiwa is a village belonging to Gwahi people. These people speak a different
language from aura, but basically their culture is similar to that of dura. Well,
according to this people, when such things happen, and you the owner of the farm wants
to see the object, you should take a cock and cut it's neck at that spot where the luminous
object seemed to be appearing.
Hedima then did as was advised by the witchdoctor such things are reported to
witch doctors first because it is regarded as an evil thing or rather it is beyond
ordinary human knowledge and power to know what such things are. That is one of the
reasons that witchdoctors are regarded more than kings, because the local people in
Buraland and those near it like the Gwali are governed by superstitions occurimg
everyday. And it is only a witchdoctor that can predict or explain such things even the
whole faith of a village can sometimes depend on it's witchdoctor. Like in the case of
an epidemic or lack of rainfall, it is the witchdoctor that decides on the approach
as to how to stop it, usually some sacrifice to some spirit not always gods of rain
or god of iron (N.B. writer: asked if to any god) but usually they do refer it
When the cock was killed, at thi.t spot tuey picked up what was believed to be the
star. It was some sort of stone which I myself can't describe since I didn't see it.
Hedima was advised to throw it into a widow's hut or else he would meet with some
misfortune. The misfortune being in the form of his house burnt down or his relative
dying without real cause (N.B. see page for Bura treatment of this star incident).
The widow can be any woman without husband around. It doesn't have to be a relAive,
but Hedima chose to throw it into my grandfather's widow's hut the woman my father
married from the remains of my granny's home. Not that the witchdoctor chose which
widow, but just any that he finds convenient. If he dows that, the widow would die
and he would become a rich man.
His house was not where we were living t.;.at is, my family had a separate fome
from his. He threw the stone in my father's wife's hut and she died aft r some small
Actually all this was not known to the public, but die to gossipping and from
what elders leak out to friends, it becomes a general thing known to all.
Since no one can prove or prosecute him, my father could not say much about it. But
he got annoyed and we packed back to our former home at Hinhg.
When we came back, my mother gave birth to Kwatam, a female baby. This is
our last born on my mother's side.
We were the only children in the compound I, Thlama and Kwatam. Mangili
had no children because she had eatmn them up. She got two more boys and ate them,
making eight children. The ninth child she gave birth to was a girl.
My father then decided to see a witchdoctor to spare this girl's life. He had a talk
with Mangili first. He said, "Mangili, seeing that we have had so many children but
are not successful in bringing them up, and now God blessing us with a girl, I think
it would be wise if we get a witchdoctor to see who among the two of us is bringing
this bad luck." Mangili agreed with him and he went and brought a witch doctor. The
witch doctor then took the small girl and dug a hohe in the middle of our compound.
He took some sort of medicine, (N.B. He can't remember what the medicine is made of)
and rub..ed it on the girls body. He washed her body over the small hole he had dug.
Next he covered it with a stone and put some clay over it. He then called my father and
said to him, "Climb over this hole and hold the girl in your hand. You shall swear
that if you are the one that brings evil to your children, their lives be avenged of
you." My father did as he was told. Next was Mangili's turn. She did as my father did.
The effect did not co-le immediately. People had already suspected that it was
Mangili that ate up the children. Ohe was actually a very bad woman. Ohe used to cause
a lot of trouble in our house. Always quarrelling with my mother. Whenevermy mother
gets pregnant, Mangili would come to her in the day time, and start rough play on her.
She would climb my mother's back as you ride donkeys. Ohe wold push her about until
my mother have a miscarriage. My father would beat her and warn her to stop this evil ways
of hers but she wouldn't listen.
Always when my mother miscarries, it is found that she has twins. That is it is
the same children that always come back to her. She had about 5 miscarriages,
and all were twins.
When Mangili's girl was about 2 years old, the child got sick and died. Immediately
Mangili began to suffer from imaginary burns. he would shout out that she is being
burnt and wouldrun to the big pot where water is kept glamm' and pour water
over herself. Ohe would come and beg my father to get the witchdoctor to break the
power of that medicine done two years ago. My father would always give her the reply
that it has already been done and cannot be undone. Alsoihhat he doesn't care even if
she dies because she is an evil woman. If it is the two of them that are bad, he too
would soon die after her. ,he died alone.
My father was left with only one wife then. And he had only me, Thlama and
Kwatam as his living children. He then married two more wives at Hinhg.
When I was about the age of five I used to herd out goats. It was only my father
that had goats. His wives had only chickens. He started with a male and a female goat
which he bought in the market. The goats multiplied and we had about thirty of them
by the time I started herding them. Before then, I used to cut grass for them and they
were tied at home.
At Hinhg te did not used to have much children wars in herding as in other
villages. Instead we quarrel among ourselves. Usually what starts the quarrels is
bringing back the straying goats to shed. We had a king for herding and we built
him a large throne and placed sheep's skin for him on top of this throne. He decides on
our programmes and settles our quarrels. He is the one that chooses who is to go and bring
back the goats or who is to go and bring water for us to drink.
Someti !es he would tell one of us something to do, and if a boy refuse to do it, the
king orders the boy to be beaten. There is no any special beater, any of us can beat
him up. Mostly it is lashing done b, the king himself. Though we quarrelled eve3day,
in the end we always forget it. We never hold anger against anyone for long.
In my house we had a horse also. 'his also my father bought when it was young a
female one. She gave birth to many young ones. In buraland, smajl horses are not
usually bought in market. vhen you need one, you go to someone with a female horse
and pay about half the price of a big horse, and make an agreement that when she gives
birth you would come and claim it. The owner would then keep the young one for you. Prize
for a horse is about 18 Kuntu.
Our horse had six births, after the sixth one, we sold it and kept the sixth young
one because the mother was too old. I was a very good rider.
At first my sister Thlama used to come with when herding goats, later, at the age of
about nine she stayed at home. There were no other boys in the house to heap me and the
goats were rather too much for me. thoughtt we used to combine our goats when we are out
with the other children, I suffered among them, because I would alwyas have to go and
turn back my straying goats. That is, since I had many goats, and when the king tell,
some other boy to go and base the goats from someones farm and .he refuses, I would
have to go and do it if it is my goat or else the owner of the farm would a.cuse me of
leaving my goat to enter his farm.
I was getting fed up of herding when my father brought my uncle's goats to be
looked after for him. My uncle had goats but no one to look after them so he brought
it to oir house so that I can take them along with ours. I told my father I can't look
after all of them but he did not listen. 6o in the morning I just left the goats in
their rooms and cut some grass for them and went to farm with him. ,1hat was when I started
farming. My uncles goats were returned to him and I continued cutting grass for the
goats at home. I would go to the farm with my father in the morning and in the evening
I would go and cut grass for the goats.
I never went to farm for my mother. It was a shame for a boy of eight years to
stay near his mother always. It is only the girls that stay with mothers that is, a boy
doesn't stay in the kitchen area or in his mother's bedroom at all. He plays with
other boys outside and he sleeps in some room built for boys. 1he girls when about the
age of ten do not sleep in their mother's room but in the other small enclosure where
guinea corn is ground (MBwa hadla) or called grinding room. It is in this room that
things as food stuff are stored.
But a boy can go and help his mother on farm if she is sick. It is the girls
that carry water from the river. A boy doesn't do that. ihey go to the river to
take their bath, no bathrooms at home. Our father goes and has his in the river also.
Usually where the women carry water from is quite different to that whera the
men have their bath. We had some sort of local soap made from ashes with some
slippery juice from plants. There were no factory made soap. 'he sponge we had
grew locally. The boys were not much worried about the decorations as the girls.
The girls rub some oil mixed with red earth "Msha" on their bodies. The boys
put it only on their heads. Doth girls and boys had plaited hair.
In the evenings, when food had been prepared, boys are not given any. They eat only
that that has been left over by their father. In our house, all the women cook
at the same time. Each woman would bring hers to my father, her daughter carries it to
him, or she herself does that if she hasn't any daughter. The boys stay in the miadle
of the compound, in my case I was the only one I said before that my father married
his father's widow beca.ise she had children, bat they died two of their, at Hinhg,
when we came back from Galandiw, due to some sickness which I don't know. 4hen the father
has finished, usually he tries all of them, eating only a little bit, he calls the boys
and they pack off the food. 'he girls eat in the same dish with their mother.
San d I n3 5>W-
At the age of about eleven, some relative of my father died, and his children came
to live with us. Usually when a man dies, his children that are over five years especially
boys, go to .his relatives. The girls stay with their mother. If the children are very
young aoout three years old, the mother either lives in his relatives house or marries
one of his relatives the man's relatives.
Well, these boys took over the care taking of the goats. They were two.
I went on farming for my father.
We had a big farm and most of it was for guinea corn. Only a little bit for
groundnuts. We grew a little bit of cotton this my father usus for weaving.
Every man over thirty weaves in his spare time especially in the dry season when there is
Our crops are stored in granneries. These grainneries are built by the women, It
has some stones under to lift it of the ground. It is made of clay mixed with much
grass. The top has a round disc made of
clay which can be removed. It has a
grass roof to stop rain washing off the
clay it is made of. The body is also :V
grass covered. Every women has her i
own grainnery, things like beans, dried
leaves for soup "shaptang" In Bura Land, their main solp is leaves, these are dried
bean leaves mainly. In the dry season there are no gardens, and not much oil is used.
They did not know of palm oil. But they had other types of oil, e.g., pigs oil, corn
oil, and there is some sort of tree that has oil in it's pod. Grainneries for small
items are small while those for corn are big. These are built in the dry season when farm
work has been done over with.
The wealth of a man is counted in how many grannieries he has filled with corn. A
wealthy man should have at least three big grainneries.
Men are the ones that build the rooms. The rooms are not made of mud as today's.
Before rooms are built of wood placed side by side in a cycle and covered on the outside
with neated grass (Tutu) guinea grass and mud is placed thinly outside. All this
is done in the dry season Rainy season for farm and dry season for house work. The
roof is made of grass which the boys cut. The very tough and strong boys are those that
cut and carry large bundles of grass. The fence is made of corn stalk. When a man
has finished cutting the corn, boys go and bring the corn stalk for fencing. Fences are
changed every one or two years.
Therefore, when I was about eleven to fifteen, my main work was farming in the
rainy season and cutting roofing grass, collecting cornstalk, rope making and
helping in making repairs on the house in the dry season.
When I and Thlama were about the age of fifteen, the village was swept through by
some terrible sickness.) (Cold) Almost everybody caught this cold. Nearly half the
Q~ii I ---------- -
village died. vvhen you came into the village you would find some of tuie houses deserted,
with no owner, all of them dead. We did not know what brought this. whether it was
caused by some evil spirit we could not tell. Sacrifices and prayers were made to out
SHoptu. Every house had their hoptu. If a house has been wippd out, some sort of special
grass usu is kept the gate of this house. 'his is to show that it has been
abandoned or norone lives there anymore. No one would like to live in such house
due to fear of spirit. Usually the house stays like this and it break down after many
Years and then a farm is started on it the houses are amongst maize, red guinea corn,
and garden farms then if a new comer comes otner dura people from neighboring
villages which is desentigsating due to lack of growth of that village or the people
seeing that it is far from market centres, schools, hospital or such anemities -
Sthese sort of people build their houses on such place. Not that they choose it specially
because a house has been there once, it is just that tnis place is favourable that
was why the first owners chose that site.
In my own house, all of us had the cold, but unfortunately, my dear sister Thlawa
could not stand up to it and died. She was the only one that uied in my house. Twins
do not have a special burial. They are buried just as any other small child is
buried. It was at this age that I was named Macher Gwandi. This is just a local name
with no any special meaning to it. I was not called by the name ifwada anymore (See page I/
for twin acts).
It was at the age of eighteen that I first experienced a Pabir raid. This was
during the time of George. He was a European and was referred to as Government George.
These Pabir were only found in Biu. That was their only village. All the re.t
were Bura villages but these small population of Biu Pabir were terrible and they were
feared and hated by the Bura as you do a snake.
As my parents used to say, when they come to a village, they would take all
food they can find. They would ask for chickens. Sometimes it is their "Kuhyi"
- king that sends them. But sometimes they come without the kings permission and
would say that it was he who sent them. they always come for tax. In those days, we
did not have a bura king, you only have village elders or a village head. One of the
tax collections I witnessed was during the time of King Ali they had no emirs or Ajias
at that time. It was Ali's son that started with the title of Ajia. The Pabir came
and they lodged under some trees near my fathers house.
They entered housed and started to ask for tax. The tax was paid in bundles of
Kuntu. There was no fixed amount, they just collected as much as they could squeeze
out of a house. You could pay in guinea corn. But in this case, they came to my house.
I was sitting by my father when they entered. They asked my father for the tax and he
gave them nine bundles of Kuntu. They said it wasn't enough and that he should bring
out his horse also. My father said if they want the horse, they should bring back the
Kuntu.he had given them. 'hey refused saying that he should bring the horse and he would
get back the Kuntu. In other houses, they had collected all they could and were packing
out guinea corn from grainneries. Usually they force their way into the houses and place
two shillings by the grainnery saying they hdd bought it off. 'hey struggle among
themselves trying to but off as many grainneries as they could. The cost of the corn
in a grainnery is much more than two shillings in fact the two shillings is just for
jest sake and not for payment. People can do nothing against them. aura were not used
to such leness and moreover the Pabir reported to the European any resistance put up by
any village. They used to come with guns sometimes and we had never in our life seen a
stick bring out fire with a big bang. When a village proves tough, it is burnt down.
If a man kills, he was hanged. It wasn't the Europeans that do the hanging themselves
but the Pabir. 1hey had as their supporter the European.
I have seen with my own eyes a man being hanged. This man had killed another bura
--* ----- --
fellow who was having an affair with his wife. The fellow killed wast"carried home
by relatives who went and reported the case to the Europeans and they caught this man
and hanged him on a tree. Sometimes a man is shot down instead of hanging. 'hen such
things take place, the Pabir wou]d say to us that have we seen this and a shiver would
run through us. No of us dared to face them.
Well, in this caje, when they were asking my father for his horse, he made a signal
to me that I should go away. He was sitting down with his bow and arrow. The Pabir
bought off our grainneries but my father kicked off their money and pushed them out. He
said if they wanted his corn they would have to kill him first. He thus stopped them from
packing out our guineacorn. While they were still outside, I went in and untied our
horse. We had only one entrance usually some houses have two so that one can be
used as back escape in ti-.e of emergency In our case I loosened some of the cornstalk
from the back fence and took our house away.
The Pabir had horses and they chased me, but being a good rider they did not
get to me.-1 I went to another village and stayed there for two days before I returned
When I came back, I found that people were deciding to ran away from the village
because there was no food. My family still had food and my father hadn't been hurt.
The elders advised the people that it was unwise to go away since in the bush there
was no food, let them wait till next year when they have hidden some food in the bush a
and when the Pabir come they can then run away. They agreed and stayed. But some had
to go away to live with relives who still had food in other villages.
When we harvested our crops again,(we stored it in holes in the bush. hen
the Pabir came and the people of hinhg ran to a deserted village in the bush. We used
our corns then in the bush. 'hose in Garkida ran hwana land.
Not hhat all of us ran to the smae place. My family in particular went to Pellamera.
This was a village which has been deserted, we found only two people there, Maina Barka
and Lausha. hey too were refuges of last years Pabir raid on other villages.
They found no one in Pellamerra.
When we all decided to leave hinhg, we just deserted it, with other families
going to when they think best suitable. Some people followed Garkida villagers to
Hwana land, while some people from Garkida came to Pellamerra.
We had no donkeys and there were lo special proters (In those.days no one
specializes in any job for payment except the witchdoctors, and in their case it is
natural gift). Well having no donkeys, we had to carry our loads on our heads. The
women carried their babies on their backs, their calabashes with some food and necessary
things in them on their heads. My father carried his kuntu, cotton and other men
property. I was the one that rode on our house. We had our goats. There were ober
families with us and they had their things along also.
We had rest at Thila. 'his is a village on the other bakk of river Haiwal opposite
Garkida (In buraland, the women are not treated as European women who won't allow their
women any hardship. In our case, a woman shares the same hardship as the man but she
has the same respect for her man if not more that the European woman for her man. The
African-bura man does not care whether his wife is tired, if she is, she just sits down
and takes her rest while he goes on slowly. He doesn't care about where she sleeps comfort
as long as it is not with another man).
Thus when we were going to Pellamera, my father was ahead with other male travellers
while my mother was with the other women.
After the rest at Thila we want on to our destination Pellamera. When we lodged
at Thila we just entered any house and usually they will recieve people. 'hey cooked
for us and some of them came to Pellamera.
At Pellamera we lodged that evening at Maing's house and Laushi's. We set out to
start building rooms for our self the next day. First we built crude huts of grass "tutu."
(matted guinea grass) so that we could live in them before we build stronger ones.
I helped my father build a comound with houses each for the women. He had a room
for himself. I did not have a room (In buraland, the boys have to watch over their
horse at night, and also horses eat day and night so the boys should feed him, so
boys usually sleep in the horse room. The room is built very big so that the horse
doesn't come into contact with the boys. (This is not strange since the women have
goats inside their rooms)
After we had finished with the buildings, we resumed normal life. bince it was
dry season, there wasn't much to be done. The goats are left to roam on their own.
It is on-y in the rainy season that goats reared. 'ut I had to go and look for grass
for the horse. Horses are not left unguarded becauod people might cut their tails or
steal them away. Horses were a sign of wealth and also they were a great help.
When rainy season came, we started farm work. No one gave enyone any permission
to farm any farm, you just choose any suitable place and farm you farm. I help my father.
We cleared the former faris farmed by the villages (people that deserted Pellamera).
After that we went and helped his wives make their farms.
The women built grainneries while we were building the house. Into these we
stored our crops.
The women use their crops first (that is, we used their corn until it finish then
my fathers grainnery would be opened and the wo-en would take out equal amount all of
them, usually two basketful each.
Not all the women have their guinea corn used up. "ut due to jealousy my father-
would still give them. ihen a household has used up the whole of it's food before the
next harvesting season, the women start to trade for same guinea corn. Usually the
exchange a goat for some guinea corn or some other crop is used in purchasing the
guinea corn. At it's worst, they sell their ornaments. In such cases, relatives help
them with some food. There werj no beggars, everybody does some work to provide food
I was nineteen years old when I started to think of having a wife. I courted a
girl whose parents were from Thila. This girl had two different husbands already. The
first husband was her real husband, but she did not like him. She then had .an affair
with the second husband and she ran away (eloped) with him to hwana land. This husband
paid her dowry to the first husband. It wasn't paid to her parents because they had no
business in it after receiving their's from the first husband. Later she had a quarrel
and left this second man and came to live with her parents. I ,"
I already have a "claimed wife" (matched marriage when the boy and girl were still
very small). This wife was not of age yet, but I wanted to start A family. This
claimed wife of mine was claimed for me when I was about nine years old. My father saw
that my sister Thlama was developing rapidly and he thought it bad if she should have
a husband before me, so it was that he claimed this other girl Mwajim for me. She was
from hinhg also.
This girl was courting is Kwamtim. My father knew nothing about it. I mentioned
it on the day that I and the girl and her mother had settled out talk. I just brought her
(it is your friends that go and catch her on her way to the river or to get firewood
in the bush). My father then paid the dowry to the second husband.
I then had a room of my own, so we used to slepp in it with my wife Kwamtim. It
was the same year that I st rted my own farm also. It was the same farm we farmed
together with Kwamtim. She did not have her own farm. When she cooks food, she gives
my father first before mine. She was treated like the other women.
(N.B. Writer questioned deeply against his will to find out why he did not think
it bad to have as his first wife a woman who seem obviously to have a bad character
since she has divorced two husbands)
Personally I did not mind having her because it was I liked her very much and
moreover she was still very young (seventeen) and did not stay long in any of the other
house (not up to a year in any). I wasn't afraid she would do the same to me because if
she does I can just go and marry another woman.
I lived with her for two years quite happily, but to our disappointment we could not
have a child. My parents thought it bad on Kwatim's side and my father advised me to
divorce her and marry another woman. My claimed wife Mwajim was just getting to marriage
age (seventeen). I did not give up hope of Kwamtim getting a child. We tried many
I then married Meajim (the method of marriage is different for Kwatim and Mlwajim.
Kwamtim's was that the dowry was paid in bulk to her second husband where as in Mwajim's
case, the dowry was paid to her parents little at a time and this involves some ceremony
towards her parents). (N.B. Writer: refer to my former work on wedding and marriage
ceremony in Mziwi Clan which is the same iu all clans in buraland).
The visit we had been paying the witchdoctor's was successful, and Kwamtim and
Mwajim got pregnant at the same time.
Kwamtim gave birth to a bab,, boy. Awajim had a miscarriage. Kwamtim's boy was
At this time my father decided I should have my own part of the compound alone.
At first when I married Mwajim, I had a-room for her and I left Kwamtim's room to
Mwajim's room where we slept together. I sometimes though leave Mwajim's room and
sleep with Kwamtim. but when the two of them were pregnant, I built a room for my
slef (N.B. Writer: Notice how a family cycle is going on, fathers home was small,
increased more wives came, increased father for son's room, increased father for
son's wives, now son cut's himself out, father's house getting smaller.).
When my father said I should have my own side of the compound, it wasn't that there
was a quarrel, it was just that he thought it better if I and my two wives have a section
for ourselves. A cross fence was then built between my area and his.
It was when I had these two wives that my mother died. She got sick and combined
witn old age and lack of proper medicine she died.
(Before then, my junior sitter Kwatam had already got a husband. She married a
man from Garkida called Suwang). (Even if I had known anything about her courtship by
this man Suwang, it was none of my business to interfere that is, it wasn't usual for
boy to tell his sister who she should marry or who she shouldn't, only if the match
is obviously very bad, like if the man is popularly known as oad, then does he say
anything, but it was rare for any such thing to bring about any disagreement from a
brother to his sister's marriage.)
Actually, marriage was important only on one side that is a man has to widen his
clan and also to continue his generation. thereforee marriage was not for happy living,
beauty of the girl though beautiful women get men clashing on each other or any other
symbol,ut to get children. That is why divorce is not regarded bad in our area, the
evil of divorce being that there was no love between you and the wife. In buraland,
most marriages are rather of admiration of body structure which shows that a woman would
give birth, rather than of ove. Love doesn't really come into it since gqrls do not
mix with boys to have ti.e to understand and l..ve one rather than the other.
(N.B. writer: Love is a deep likeness to one you understand, in other words, it is
character that people love and not the body. well, in buraland, boys do not meet the girls
often o -get to know their character, but they just marry a girl who they see far away
or just once in a while and look beautiful with prospect of a child).
That is why polygamy is encouraged in the old bura people. To have many children.
And also divorces are frequent because love of the body doesn't stand hateness of
character. That is, even if a man marries a beautiful woman and finds later that her
character is bad, he just divorces her.
My wife Mwajim was taken away (this was before I properly married her) by another
tv) ex Ac"&Lc^^t ^ ".- "' 31
man against her will. His frineds just came and seized her on her way to the river.
This man had admired her for long and wanted her as a wife. Her parents did not agree
and also she herself did not agree so his dowry was not accepted and he had to give her
Well, when my mother died, Kwatam's husband, Suwang, was responsible for most of
the ceremony like he was the one to bring the stone to cover the tomb entrance. This
is because he was her daughter's husband. (N.B. writer: refer to my former work
on burial of old women in buraland.)
Among the bura, there is something known as "finishing the cry of you mother,
or fat aer." Well, the main finishing of the cry for my mother was Suwang's duty.
My father would finish the cry of his wife with his friends. Usually finishing a cry
takes the form of a drink of beer and eating a goat with friends. I finished mine also
with some friends.
All this time, I was still farming the same farm with my two wives. Mwajim got
pregnant three times but miscarried all. Kwamltim also miscarried twide.
Mwajim then gave birth to a baby boy Anjikwi. My father was having only two wives
at this time. I too was having two wives. My father had other children in the house
apart from those who were from his half brother's. He had Mafa, a boy, Sida and
Bilari both girls from his wife Yangasa. Also his other second remaining wife which
was his last wife had Bata, Kobathli, both girls and Abagana a boy. She had other
three (N.B. writer: this woman is still alive and very sick at the moment and she doesn't
want to mention their naines). Any way, these other three were not really very big when
they died, all died from sickness except one of them a girl of fifteen who was eaten up
by witches. When this girl was still alive, she and her sister used to come to school
at Garkida and when crossing the river, they fish in it. Well, when going home and if they
meet people on the way, some look into the grils dish that is, they wanted some of the
fish, but the girls were ignorant and did not realize it so they never gave anybody some
of the fish and it is regarded for children not offer things to elders. That is they
should always give some of what they have to the weak old ones or they are regarded as
bad mannered children. Well, some wicked people witches took her spirit away and
When she died, a witch doctor was consulted and he gave the mother some sort of
herb "Kurum" which points out which witches have killed the girl.
The herb was placed on the girls heart between her breast and she was buried, but
the next day, four people died. These people were the witches that had killed her.
By this time, the missionaries had arrived and there were no more Pabir raids.
When the missionaries came, I wasn't married by then and I had wanted to enter school
though I was older than the age required, but my father did not agree, it was said that
the missionaries caught people in Garkida and ate them up (it was just common fear by
Well, since there were no more raids, people in the far villages in the bush started
to migrate to the bigger villages. Thus Pellamera began to shrink in size. There
weren't anymore families coming to it. My sister's husband Suwang who had his house in
Garkida invited my father to come with his family to come and live with him in Garkida.
My fatter accepted the invitation and all of us in his family went to Garkida. We did
not live in Suwang's house but built a crude hut where we lodged in while we were
building new rooms for ourselves. My father built his compJund while I built mine.
We were now just side by side and no more joined as we were at Pellamara.
When rainy season came, I went *nd helped my father start a new farm. After we
had finished, I made one for myself to make a new farm, you just search for good land
and cut down the bush an it and plant your crops there. You don't have to ask anybody
for permission by them.
After I had made mine I helped the women to make farms for themselves each. My
farm was bigger than theirs and whereas mine was mainly guinea corn, they mixed theirs
with beans, cucumbers, and okra. Their groundnut was more than mine. But I had cotton
farm whereas they did not have one.
Whenever one of ttiem is sick, I would go and help her on the farm. but if both are
strong, I leave them alone to do as they please on their farms. Apart from sickness,
I help any of them that obviously needs help on her farm. The two boys Wanadzo and
Anjikwi were attending school. I had my own goats as my father did.
When we had stayed in Garkida for auout three years, my father got sick and died.
There was a hospital by them but it's activities were not yet convincing to us so we did
not take him to the hospital when he fell sick. Usually it was his whole body that was
disturbing him. Sickness of the old.
When he died I was responsible for his death ceremony and not Suwang. In buraland,
the woman has her daughter to look after her and the man has his son to look after him.
Jell, since a girl has nothing much her husband is responsible.
(N.B. writer: The ceremony was exactly as described in my first work.)
His house was burnt down after the things in it were taken out. I don't really
know why they burn down a dead man's house but maybe it's because it would bring sad
memories to his wives and children if it is left untouched.
When we came from Pellamera, i'afa my half brother was already married and had his
house, so he too built his house alson mine and my father's. There was another relative
also that came with us from Pellamera to Garkida. This man is the son of my father's
sister. That is my father is his un ce. This man had his house near ours.
There were two wives my father left /Yangasa who was the mother to Bata, Kobathli
and Abagana with Yangasa who was the mother to Miafa, already married, Sida and Bilari.
mAf I told Mafa to'marry'the first Yangasa, mother to Bata so that I could "marry"
^- ---- --
his mother this was so that if he had wanted to have the "marriage" as a sexful marriage
and not just a guardian marriage. tut he refused, and to me it did not matter which he
took since none was my mother and moreover I wasn't interested in a sexful marriage with
my father's wife. Mafa then "married" nis mother and I "married" the other woman.
I married a third wife Dalipa. This I married without claiming first that is I
married her, even though not as someone's wife, she was matured when I courted her (N.B.
writer: the marriage was like the others I did in myr former work on marriage in buraland
apart from the claiming part).
By this time, Mwajim my second wife had given birth to two girls, Nkwalaku and
I was then having three real wives with my father's widow and seven children in the
My first wife Kwamtim got sick and died. ie did not know the cause. I cried like
a little baby over her body. I did not care whether people were looking at me or not.
I really felt her death more than I did my parents. Anyway, it wasn't in bura custom
that a man shouldn't cry over his wife's death, and even if was, I would still have cried
because she was really a good woman.
I was responsible for her death ceremony. Her on-y son Wamadza used to sleep
in my own room then.
Not up to a year iMwajim got sick and died also. I was responsible for her death
ceremony. There was a hut and I allowed the two girls Nkwalaku and Kubili to have it
as their room. ihey cooked their own food. I did not allow them to live with
any of the remaining two women in my compound. I just did not like it. The four of them -
Wanandza, Anjikwi, Nkwalaku and Kubili used to farm with me and I give them the food stuff
they need. They were all attending school. j i
I then claimed a young girl of thirteen for a wife. I lived for some years just like
any other man that is just farming and doing odd jobs in the dry season.
There was no market at Pellamera, it was too small to have a market. Hinbng
was bigger than it and we never had a market there, up to today there is no market
at Hinhg. Only large villages had market. At ta-at time the markets were at Biu,
Garkida, Mamaina and one at Hwanaland. We even used to go to Bornau Maiduguria for
marketing our goods.
There was a time when I had wanted to go to "aamaina MJarket to sell some guinea
corn this was when I was still at Pellamera and seeing that it was very far I don't
know the distance but it was obviously more than twenty miles. To carry the guinea
corn on my head was out of the question, it was too heavy for me. ^nd more over it was
so hot you could hardly bear to walk bare footed. My head was as if it was being
roasted. I asked one of my friends to help me with his donkey which he had bought from
Maiduguri, but he refused saying they were very tired after the journey they had had
from Maiduguri. I then decided to carry only a little guinea corn and sell it to buy
donkeys so that I can come and carry the rest of my guinea corn to the markey. The
money I needed was for my coming marriage to Yangasa the girl I had claimed.
I sold the guinea corn and bought a donkey. 'y this time, my wife Dalipa had
given birth to a baby girl, Wufu.
I then married Yangasa. ut to my disappointment this girl was very trouble some
and bad mannered. Mainly this was because she started to think I was an old hag
compared to her age, but I was still very strong and didn't really appear very old.
She got pregnant and she became restless in the compound. I used to beat her.
She would abuse me all the time. I egen once took out a knife trying to kill her, but
seeing that i was still a strong man and wo .ld face inuch punishment and judgement from
people that is if I were old, I would have been regarded as too old to think or
reason out, but as a man in his prime I should not follow my anger to its end. So
I left her alone.
She did not give birth to this baby in my house. ohe had been chasing other men -
was having an affair with other men. She married one of them and they ran away to Hwana
land. In buraland, eloped couples usually run to far away villages where tracing them
out would be very difficult.
Before then, Mafa and the other relative living near me had died so I migrated from
my house near the fwahar hill to the Gunjugu "Zara" just the first house in that Zara.
Mafa's mother had died earlier and his brother was married also his two sisters. The
same of the relative, his family had disintegrated and he died of sickness. I did not
leave that area because of their death, but because I was the only one there. The other
neighbours had moved nearer to the center of Garkida. My house being alone was easy for
thieves, chickens were caught from my house in the day time when we had gone to the
farm. Someti ;es even guinea corn from the grainneries are taken by the thieves.
When I started to build the house in uunjugu, I did not have to make new roofs.
I brought down the roofs from furahar to the new house.
When Yangasa got married to this other man, I went to claim my dowry at Kwajaffa
because that land was under Kwajaffa rule. When she gave birth to the baby, a boy she
named Bukar, they said I should go and claim my child, but I refused and told them that
they can keep him and when he is big enough they can bring him to me, or if he die they
should bring his corpse to me for burial.
I then spent the dowry, but after a few months, she rejected that man and came back
to me saying she wants to marry me again. I told her to go back to the man she ran
away with. Her parents and some elders begged me to take her back, so I had to. 'ut I
hadn't any money to pay back the dowry.
The donkey I bought to use for selling guinea corn in order to obtain her first dowry
had given birth to many more donkeys which I've been selling out to people, now there
were three of them. I then sold them to obtain the dowry for her again. I sold also
some of my goats and some guinea corn and paid the dowry to the husband she ran away
with to Hwanaland.
My son Wamamdza got married and went to Saminaka as a cook. He did not succeed with
his schooling. Anjikwi also did not succeed but he went to a driving school and is a
driver with the missionaries here in Garkida.
We stayed peacefully with Yangasa for about six months when she started to have
affair with other men outside again. She was pregnanted by someone, but had an abortion
and was nearly killed during the process. The women here have different herbs given
to them by witch doctors for abortion.
I did not mind tllis attitude she was adopting again and we had a baby boy Bata. Next
we had a bab girl Mangawa, and Yangasa got terrible both as a mother and a wife. She
was very troublesome and had affairs outside like a harlot.
She later left me and married another man here in Garkida. I asked for my dowry
and it was paid to me. Actually she took me to court and asked for divorce which I agreed
to. Now I have no business with her. H3r three children are here with me in my house.
The eldest, Bukar, is in primary seven.
I am now too old to have more children so Mangawa is my last born.
When 3uwang died, my sisters husband, she went and lived with one of his sons, Kofur
Mwada. She had only two girls Mwajim and Mbadzi who are both married, but she could
not go and live with them. Ohe has to do or rather live where it suited the Mziwi
Mshelia the clan for Suwang her husband.
At Kofur's home, she did not like it very much and moreover Kofur did not
care where she lived or how she was living. ihe then asked if she could come and live with
me which they agreed.
When she came, I built a room for her and a kitchen, partially separating her from
my own compound. he has got very bad eyesight. Now she has eyelenses, and I too need
some, but mine is due to old age and a little bit of sickness.
In my house now I have my father's widow Yangasa without children all grown up
and married, My third wife Dalipa without children but grandchild only daughter married,
and my sister with the three children my fourth wife Yangasa left.
; a p lk o LVjood
^ \ ^ (\ Ooy^^
When Yangasa was still with me, she was living in the room I am now and I was in the
cham. But now the cham is empty.
Bukar and Bata sleep in my room. Apart from one grandchild that stays with her Wufu's
son I have with me Wanadza's son. he left his parents at Sanunaka to come and school
here in Garkida. Not that there was no school there but school at home is easier and
the method here at home is better because students pass into secondary schools easily
than they do when they school outside.
I used to have big farms, but now since I am old, I farm only the small area where
my former house was near the fwahar hill. I get only about three bundles of guinea
corn. My wife Dalipa has her own farm. his amount of guinea gorn is quite small normally
a man gets about sixty to seventy bundles. dut my sons provide me with little bit of
money to buy guineacorn in the market. My father's widow Yangasa is a blind woman
now. Ohe does not farm or do any work apart fom cooking her meals. Her children sends
her money and also she gets outside help.
About my religion, since when I was small I was an idol worshipper. this was
because there was no any other religion and also that was what our forefather's were. There
were fulani moslems but we did not understand their religion nor did they tell us.
The idol I have in my house belongs to my grandfather. He got it from the main hoptu
in Garkida the haptu for hunting at the foot of fwahar hill. Haptu Wajafa he took
only a small piece of the broke pieces of the main haptu and made his own with. I don't
know the details of how his haptu was made, but it is regarded anf feared by others since
he was a witchdoctor.
'This main Haptu Wajafa was found there where it was and hunter's fond that when
they consult that haptu, it blesses them and they catch alot of game. When they came from
hunting the hunters usually collect the horns of the game they've caught at this haptu aid
burn it there.
I myself had gone to this haptu during the days when used to go hunting and I
was blessed with many game. I don't know why the horns are burnt there. Usually when
consulting the haptu just kneel down in front of it and beg it to bless you with game and
Well, when my grandfather died, my father packed his haptu the haptu is not famous,
that is, it is not known widely for any purpose. When my father died also, I claimed the
Haptu's do not need any continuous prayer or ceremony like the christian's or moslems.
3ut just once a ear depending on its strength. Most haptu's have ceremonies yearly,
but some are twice a year.
My own is yearly. "~hen I was small, the ceremony involved the .whole family. That
is, when food and meat sacrifice for haptu and is known at haptu food,- has been
cooked, we the children get our share in it. Ihe women in the compound get some of the
food also. Now it is only me and my sister that eat the haptu food. Ohe cooks it for
us. 'y wife does not eat it because she is a christian.
In the olden days, a woman does not have to worship her husbands haptu. She has
to respect it that is she shows fear of it but she can have her own haptu inside her
room. 'his is very common in ouraland and in some case when the woman's haptu is
tough, it is the husband that respects her own.
I do not really think there is any gain or faith in worshipping of haptu, but it
is a real thing. That is I don't have faith in it, but I believe and fear it. Four
years ago I decided to stop worshipping my haptu. 'y then it was in my former house near
the fwahar hil.. I joined christianity and was attending the church regularly. I
used to enjoy their worship and the sermons. But whenever I go to the church, in the
evenings I have visions, and nightmares. I see lions trying to devour me, snakes, vultures,
hyenas and see myself in flames or in deep black oceans. iilso I used to get sick. ny
Sunday I go to church I have such nightmares but when I don't go I don't have them.
I know that the church is better and I really want to continue but the haptu won't
leave me alone. I would now go on worshipping it actually what I do is just observing
the yearly ceremony, and any year that i do not get a chicken I simply leave the ceremony
until the next year. When jump a year nothing happens (N.B. writer: the ceremony is
like I wrote on haptu ceremony in my former work).
When I die, my haptu would either be thrown away taken back to Wajafa or
buried with me. I am the last in my family who would worship haptu. My children
have grown up in the time when haptus are no more worshipped, I am not stopping them
from worshipping haptu, but they themsleves realize that it is useless and foolish.
None of them is interested in it now.
I do not really have a lot of friends now. I used to have friends with me when I
was still strong and used to go to drinking houses. I still do drink but not always
due to difficulty of money.
I started drinking when I was born. Beer was the first I tasted when I was born.
It is the custom that when twins are born, a boy is given beer to drink as his
first food before he is breast fed. Uirls are not given some. actually I do not know
why it is so, butaybeitis the sign of malehood. VH A : /A 7 -g X/, A
Now I am am resigned man.5 have no more interest in things apar from a drink with
old friends an. a little chatting with my grandchildren. do not feel I've left any
thing undone in my life which I should have done nor do I regret anything). L am only
a sick man now but not a sad man. I still feel strong, though but I don'tthink
I would be able to do anymore farming as from next season because my eyesight is decreasing
Talking of wars, I do not really like wars. "hen ever there was a war like
the Kilba wars I just used to hate it very much, anyway, I was still very small by
then and was not invloved the war itself.
We did not used to have Christmas or many other holidays and ceremonies as we do
today. The ceremonies are not village wide and their are no fixed ones which are done
repeatedly. We do have a way of counting our months. "re start the counting days when
we see a new moon and it ends when the moon disappears. "Fe did have twelve months
in year, but our fifth monti would not coincide with today fifth month because in our
case we start co nting not at the same time as they e.g. we cut _,uinea corn in the eighth
month which is in November.
We did have seven days in a week. Since there was no Christianity, we did not really
observe Sundays. Anyone that goes to farm on this two days has his hoes seized,
and given back after seven days.
(N.B. writer: This is all he has to give about himslef and those that involve
(N.B. writer: this small part is explained by a bystander, friend to Macher's
There are two types of twins in buraland. One is Marama twin this twins have thin
longish faces and they are called iiarama twins because towards a village called ^arama,
there are two thin twin rocks and is regarded as the abode of twins.
The other type of twin is the Gabn twin these have round concentrated faces and
this name is given to them because in Gabn have such f:ces.
Before a woman gives birth to twins, she usually sees the sign of it, though
some women might not know it. In my case, I've given birth to eight sets of double twins
and two single twins. The twins usually try and choose a patient woman who would not
mind whatever they do to her. "hen choosing they would do it in such ways:
(N.B. writer: She is going to describe her experiences)
"hen I got married, I used to go to farm with my husband. He is a single twin and
so was his father (N.B. writer: single twin means a person who is believed to be a twin
but is born alone and normally may show the behaviour of a twin).
Whenever I come back from the farm, I would see my calabashes scattered about the room -
in buraland there were no metal dishes, only calabashes which a woman collects in a
bigger calabash, about thirty of them she has. Also we had iiud dishes, like clay
pots without the top half.
I would just exclaim that, "oh my, who on earth has done such to my calabashes," and
I would pack them up withjuit shouting.
Next day when I come back again from the farm, I would find my grinding stone broom
scattered in the room. I would just keep quiet and sweep it out and ,et a new one.
(N.B. writer: In those days, guinea corn being the only food in buraland and there 1ing
-.--- ..,----- -
no grinding machines, every woman had a grinding stone on which she grinds her corn ans
also other things like groundnut for porridge and pepper. 1he stone is elevated on mud
raisedhigh, and the ground powder goes into a pot sunk into the raised mud.-)
Then I got pregnant and I gave birth to a set of twins, two of them. I performed
the twin duties (N.B. writer: refer to my work on twins).
These twins were both boys, but from the start they showed they were not going to stay.
Usually most twins just like to go about, they come to this woman and then they die and
then go to another woman.
I took them to a witch doctor and he told me that these are grown ups who have come
away from their family just to suffer me. 'hey have women and children and wealth but
they came just for a walk into our world. I told him about the calabashes and he said
that they were the ones that did it. If I had shouted ans cursed, they wouldn't have
cone to me, they would say I wouldn't treat them properly when they are born, so they
would go away. Usuallywhen they are testing your character, they stay between the
roof of your room and the wall.
Well, the two of them died after some days.
The next set came in a stranger way. When I and my husband are going to our farm,
we would come across snakes. Not only one but sometimes about seven before we reach
the farm. None of them harm us. When we are in the farm we would meet scorpions under
every earthful of hoe we dig up. My husbandd would cock his head and say that he heard
someone calling him. He would curse someone I do not know I've said he is a single
twin. He then told me that this is an act by twins. When I find untolerable we go home.
And on our way back we would meet snakes again. his went on through out the
rainy season. And at the end I got pregnant.
I gave birth to twins again. They got sick and we went to a witch doctor who
told us that they are not ready to stay.
Ily husband came and started shouting at them. He accused them of punishing me.
He said "You grown ups, with your houses and children, why do you come to innocent
people like us. You better go away, we don't like you." But this was to be a bad
lick for him, because when he went to farm with his fkineds usually when a man is making
a new farm he buys beer and asks his friends to come and help him. 'hat is they make a
new farm for him. And it is on such new farms that milli is pla nted (N.B. writer:
remember that all witchdoctors use this v.ry much and also performing the twin duties
this has to be used. It cannot be planted on old farms because it doesn't do properly).
Well, when they had finished and my husband was coming back home he became blind at
once. ne had to be dragged home. "hen he came home he spoke to the twins. He begged
them and with the help of a witchdoctor, the twins restored his sight still on the
same day. But they died within a week.
Usually when you want your twins to die you just shout at them alwyas. J2ake banging
noises at them. When you come back from the farm you drop you hoes with a bang near them,/
All t is would show them that you don't like them and they would get sick and die.
Or else when they are born and you don't perform the twin duties, their people
from the spiritual land would vome and say to them, "have they received you happily, where
are the things that they have given you? ome let us go away." 'hen the twins would
die. But if you had performed the twin duty, they would show off their things and their
people spiritual would say yes, they are good people and the twins wolld not die.
I did have other twins but all died. I had single twins also.
My sister here has six single twins (N.B. writer: She also would describe hers).
My first born is a single twin girl. I know she is a twin because I had a vision-of
two girls always before I gave birth to her. And when the was born she had a peculiar
mark on her body. his mark must have been made on her by her former parents when she
died. Usually when twins die at a young age, some mark is done an them, and when they
are born again, they appear with the mark on their body and they won't die again. Apart
from this mark my daughter showed signs of twin acts, whcih is usually stinging people
with scorpions. They bring the scorpions from their ears.
The next two were boys both. Usually you would see that they won t like each other
very much. All of them have a mark on their body.
he -ost peculiar among the six are my last two, a boy and a girl. Before I gave
birth to them, my son being a single twin could see with spiritual eyes and he would
always say "Mother, do not accept them. Here they are. Don't take them, oh Look
you've taken one of theg, I told you not to take them: and I got pregnant. 'hat is,
the twins were waiting under my roof and my son saw them. But only one got into my
womb. The last one is a girl. I always had visions of her before she was born. Ohe
was like a fulani woman in my visions. Sometimes she wo.ild just stand by the road
side with a wrapper over her head. I would chase her away, but she would always follow
me. I got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl with a mark on her stomach. When she
was at the age of two years up to seven she used to put her wrapper on her head as I
saw her do in my visions.
(N.B. writer: I asked them that have they ever asked these children why they are
troublesome or why did they punish their former mother by dying and then to be born again.
She said she had and the children appeared ignorant of all this. "hey just deny it and
say it is all nonsense.)
End of Macher's Interview