Map Showing Positions of Places of Importance
Once a Village
Age: About 75 years
Buratai at his residence
Origin of the Village
The Informant started by saying that he does not know the real origin of the village
but that, he knows that they were not originally here. They came from the far
east and first settled in an area now west of the present village site.
That place the settled in first was a place which was very good for water
supply but the fault with it was that, it was in a bad defense position for
there were many wars.
Here, they did not stay for a long time. They went to a lery high hill in
order that they could be free from attacks of the Fulani and Kanuri.
The name of their next settlement was Dzaku. The wor'd-Dzaku in Bura language
means "Done with intention." (The Informant does not kiow why the name was given
to that place, but I, the Interviewer, think that they gave that name because they
had an intention for going there, and that intention was to be free from attacks
The head of the village, then, was someone whom the informant can't remember.
All the same, he was a very wise and a good leader. He lead the village to the
new village on top of the hill and also to many vicotries over their attackers.
They could easily defeat attackers because they, being on a high hill could
just even roll down stones and rocks onto the enemies who would be far below the
They really enjoyed that hill but the problem was, there was no water on top
of the hill, especially during the dry season and they would have to go down to the
valley to get water supply as well as wood.
For some two years, there had been war and they thought that, everything was
alright and that wars were over. So that they decided to move down to the valley
side where the stream supplied them with good water for them and for their animals.
They did not settle close to the hill, they went to a place they called Bukur
(see map on page 1).
Here in Bukur, is a stream called Wachimbara. This stream was cleaner than
that by Dzaku Hill (see map page 1). Here as well were plenty of farmlands.
Some years later, came some raiders. The took the village of Bukur by
surprise and threatened to destroy the village if they did not give out their
belongings. To this command, they had to give in and so those Fulani raiders
went away with many properties including horses. No one was taken away as a
After that raid, they moved away to go and settle in another place. This
time, their village head was a man called Kuthli Shitra. It was during his time
the Fulanis came and raided them in Bukur.
He asked them to go and stay on a place still close to a stream not in the
valley of the stream. They went and settled in Diwamza, which was just about two
and a half miles from Bukur on the southern side.
When they were in Diwamza, the son of Shitra, Wamza, became the village head.
Some years later, he died and his som Mamai took over from him. Mamai wanted
to have a village called after his name and with the fact that they had an idea of
building a wall around their village, he moved them down to a new place on a flat
land and with a plenty of water supply. He named the place after himself 'Dimamai.'
Now it is called Kufi Buratai.
The place was very good for farming. To stay there however, they had to build
the wall to protect them from attacks. The Idea of building the wall came from the
southeast, from a village called Gur.
Gur was a very strong village. They had a very strong wall and a strong army.
Most of their wars were vic-tories, on their side.
Mamai then, having got the idea of building the wall, moved down to this
Kufi Buratai and settled.
Het ook his ward heads and his advisor (Hyedim) and they went to the site
first. They performed the usual formalities of starting a new village.
In those days, to start a new village, the village head to be, and some
elderly people would have to go to the site with an animal, say a chicken or a
sheep and slaughter it and let the whole free blood flow out onto the soil. The
meat of the animal will be roasted and then given to people to eat on the spot.
This meat is called (Sadaka), 'alms'.
The main purpose of this offering is to make all the bad spirits who had been
dwelling in that place to leave. The village would also be very strong and
would not easily fall to raiders on any attackers.
In doing this, a sheep, especially a ram, would be sued if the village should
very strong and prosperous.
In case of small village with small number of people settling, cnicken could
be used. The chicken could be of any colour but black.
Goats were not used for such purposes. It was the belief that goats were not
good animals and that even their blood would not make the evil spirits go instead,
the evil spirits would stay and as well, the misfortunes that used to follow goats
would be turned over to the village.
When this had been donw, the village all transferred and went to this Dimama (Kufi
This place was the place they lived in for a long time. After Mamai, many
other village heads reigned there. riere also, they had the strong mud wall which
resisted many attacks.
Some years later, they were conquered by Mandaragraw. Years later, the white
man came. When they came, they were given shelter outside the village. They looked
so different and strange and so were not allowed into the wall.
They went(the whites), on to Biu and some years later came and forced the people
to build road. The road first passed just by Kufi Buratai and later it was taken
higher to, theexisting site near Buratai.
When the road was taken here, no one wanted to go and live by it. Matadla (a
white man), asked them to come out but many of them refusedcome out. The Emir of
Biu came later and forced them out.' The Emir, was Kuthli Dogo Ali. He forced all
the ward heads to be beaten up and some elders. The ward heads then were Ya'adama,
Yatapci, and Mari Biya.
After the beating, everyone was afraid and so they were made to leave
immediately to the present Buratai.
The ruling family is from a family called Yakeki. The village heads come
from this family. Now they are about half of the whole of 3uratai. Some of them
went away to live in other places. Some went to Buni and someto Kamunya.
When they came to this place, they settled according to how they were in Kufi
Buratai. Each ward head was still the ward head after the resettlement, and
his people built their houses around their respective wardheads.
So to start this new Buratai, were three wards and the village head was almost
in the middle of the settlement.
That is how Buratai came to its present position. Now, however, there are
four wards, these wards came to be four some years later. It was after the people
of Kufi Buratai came that some other group from Titibu, some two miles east of
These people who formed the fourth ward had no definite clan as they are called
They are people who came from areas of Biu:-very long time ago. These people left
Biu area during the times of Yamtarawalla. The group started from that side lead
by a man called Yayamta. This man was a man who was very hungry for power. He
wanted to by a 3ulama or a Thyerma.
He started a village of his own. He started a village called Dora. He lived
in Dora for some years, i.e. until Yamtarawalla came with his men and he, Yamtarawalla
gave the post of Bulama to another person, (one of his men) gnd removed him, Yayamta.
This was before the white man came and it was the time when everyone feared Yamtarawalla
and his men.
When Yayamta saw that he could not do anything but to give out the post, re
decided to go away with his family to start a new village where he could be a village
a village head or Julama.
He therefore came to Kufi Buratai but he did not ask to go and live with the
people of Kufi Buratai because, he knew that to go and live there meant that he
would be a common man not a ruler as such.
He then started his own village by Kufi Buratai, at a distance of about half
a mile away. here, he had his own village, and he named it Titibu. There he was
the Bulama and was under the village head of Kufi Buratai. It was the village
head of Kufi who got that place for him and was also the person who slaughtered the
animal for the new village of Titibu.
It was after many that the whites came and Buratai was moved out of the walled
village to the new site. When that was done, the people of Titibu, did not enjoy
staying there alone so they went to the new site of Buratai after sometime.
When they came to this village of Buratai. By then it was Yayamta's son
who was on the throne of Bulamaship.
In Buratai, they lived with their own area. The Bulama who was with them in Titibu
went with them and he was the Bulama or wardhead there too.
This then makes the village to have four wards.
In the Kufi Buratai are now found people called Dlil or Dlila. They are who
speak Margi and Kanuri languages, mixed. They cannot speak Bura language (Pabir).
These people came when the original people of the village were leaving for the
new site. They came from the east and most of them are now just farmers and some
hunters, blacksmiths, etc.
When they came, they met many people there but later they left for Buratai. They
did not follow them but stayed behind.
Some years later, about 30 years ago, some of them, started coming out to
live in the new Buratai.
"Apart from these people, there are otherpeople who qre also living in Buratai
presently. These include Chibok, Fulani, Kanuri, Ibo and Karekar2.
Of these groups, the Kanuri came first. They came still in the days fo Yamtarawalla
and lived in Kufi with them, some came later.
Some of the Kanuri people who settle with them were those that lest their jobs
because wars were no more and it was that they were warriors before.
The Chibok came in the same manner, the same with the Fulani. Some of the Fulani
came as herdsmen. Those that came with that duty, stayed away from the main village.'
All these groups of people are now to be found in the eastern side of the vil3gge.
The Ibos too are found in the eastern side of the village. These Ibos were here
before the Nigerian Civil war and when the war was over, they came back and they
were given their houses and compounds back. They, of course, came from the former
Eastern Region of Nigeria.
On other sides, other parts of the village, are now found people frcm other parts
of the Biu Division. These people are the last group to come here. Almost all of
the came, the build their compounds anywhere in the village. No specific area is
used by them but their compounds are not found in the middle of the village, they
build them on the outside.
Original Size and Lay-Out of the Village
The present size and lay-out of the new Buratai is seen as that on page 8.
This was not existing in the pre-colonial period anyway. So to talk about the layout
and size in that period, one would have to talk about that of Kufi Buratai (Dimamai).
This village Kufi Buratai was existing long before the coming of the white men.
It was built during those days of many wars with Fulani and the Kanuri people.
Because of the wars, everyone had his house inside the wall which was all the built
around the village.
The village was a very large one. MIny people lived in it and in fact there were
more people in the Kufi Buratai than half the people in the present Buratai.
The informant said that there were about 80 families who did not follow the
village head to the new site just at the time they were forced out. With that
reduction, there were still many more people who went with him. Of course, those
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VH Village Head
Settled Area XVH
Deposed Village Head
who did not go with him went to other places and some remained behind.
According to the informant, there were half of a thousand people who went
to wars. In those days, every male would go to war if he had reached the age of being
a man,i.e. around the age of 20 years.
Across the village, from one side of the wall to the other, it would measure
almost two kilometres.
The location of this village is some 3 miles from Buratai on the eastern side
and Buratai of course is 23 miles from Biu on the Biu Damaturu road.
The location can best be seen on the map diagram on page 1h2.
In the village wer- three wards. The wards (Zara) of the village were all
very large but there is no idea of how big each Zara was. The Zara belonging to
the people called "Yakeki" was the largest and it was the nearest, this side.
Because of the limited area, the Zara, in this village, were very close
together. In fact the boundary between two Zara may be on a foot path. So the
whole village was just packed in the wall expanded from the middle outwards from
The households too were very close to each other. They were built almost
one next to the other.
In the village, no farming was done except for some vegetables as "Ngabi" and
When the question of whether the people used to plant "Tiksha" (corn) inside
the wall, the informant said that "The whole of this land, no. village ever grew as
much this tyoe of corn, as Buratai only now that the world is no more good that Buratai
He meant by saying that the 'world is not good' that the soil is no more good
and there is no more enough rain because now there is too much of sin.
iHe- ,aid that the plenty "Tiksha" was all planted outside the wall and it was
planted all the way around it. The soil was never exhausted and so every year there
was a high yield.
The other type of corn 'Pilpil' (a corn which ripens in the eight moon of the
rainy season December) was planted away from the village. Usually at a distance
of about one mile or so. Everybody had his own farm except for small children who
farmed on their father's or mother's farms.
Now, in the Kufi Buratai, there are found farms all over the place except for
the area now occupied b-. Dlil (Dlila) and Kanuri. These people are not having
their compounds as orderly as that of the old time Kufi Buratai. Now finds tiksha
planted between the compounds. Outside the wall also are found farms.
In the present Buratai, the people do not plant "Tiksha" in the village. They
plant..it only on the outside of the village.
According this informant, the people of Kufi Buratai used to get their water
from the stream. The stream was used by the whole dllage.
He, the informant, said that the part used for water for man was a kind of a
pool. It was not part of the stream but only in the valley of the stream.
There was a big pool-like area within the wall too where the people used for
water (see map on page 11).
Village Headship and its History
The village, Buratai, as was made mention of before started in a place
almost three miles east of the present site. The pre-colonial village heads were
only in the first village site and those villages they lived in before that time.
Those who were the village heads before they came to the village of Euratai
Kufi, werj Shitra and Wamza.
Wamza, was the son of Shitra. he was the person who made a village and named
it after himself Diwamza. They did not stay for many years in this village Pecause
of constant raids and attacks on them.
:Vhen he died, his son Mamai went and started a new village and named it after
himself Dimamai. This was the time they became ver; friendly with a village called
Gur and they got the idea of building a wall around their village. he wall was
I ~- =
existing settlement area
-.. Possible ward boundary
very strong and they felt secure in it so they did not go away to look for a new
After Mamai died, his son Kadala Dianga took his place.
This man Dianga was not as wise as his father was. ie was all the time giving
no time for his counselor to advise him.
He did not stay long in his ruling. He died of a sickness. He had no big
enough a son to replace. Moreover he was not too liked by the public so his brother
Midala Jakwa replaced him. The replacement was of course the choice of the village
elders and the wardheads.
After him, his son Midala Haman want in.
After Midala Haman, Thyedima Yamta became the head.
After him, Thyedima Diyawhi became the ruler. It was during the days of this
man that Buratai was forced out of their walled village to settle on the roadside.
He live for some years and then died. After his death, the authority in Biu said
that no village head would be appointed but instead, they would have a man who would
be the ruler of both Buratai and some other villages like Mirnga and others around
there. This appointment was of course done by the white men who were in Biu. 'he
title of this new appointed was."Ajiya" District Head.
The district head had many villages under him.
In Buratai itself, there was no more village head. The post was almost silent
thought someone was still there as a leader. This was the say of the villagers
themselves, not the people of Biu, though..
The name of the Ajiya was Garga Asura. He was the sole authority over the whole
of the area from Mirnga to as far as beyone Kamunya.
He could not stay there for a long time. tHe was there for only about 9 years.
The last two years of his stay were years when so many guinea worms (Tishi). These
years were really very terrible. These worms were so .nany in drinking water, on
the farms, and every other wet place.
The District Head especially, Garga Asura, was really gotten by the disease.
Kada\B Midala Satwa
Th dew^ D'jau*M (tw Borfaai)
N(5mht s &a(5 A(r(a iA bo(,ht Ja m
-to bX 4ft f(ula, | w at i- a v ilaqgNad
bu* a dstric head O0* aM& lant OR-f ft
Tashkalia (iu appfnk tf o be vily Ihzad.
Mi6das Pra (aw V)
(pr~emn '\\ la3 headL)
l8080 Wah)w\ 0t1ky Cfriatedy)
He then, decided, to move away to another village, so he went off to Mirnga,
for that was the next big village along the main road.
With him, many people with their families, went away to various villages. Some
went away to Biu, some to Biu, and other places.
Many people did not stay behind and so, from Biu, was sent Tashkalma, to be
the leader. That was because, the authority in -Biu did not want anybody from
the village, on the village origins, to be the village head.
Tashkalma, was very harsh on the people. He beat people on small offenses and
would all the time be demanding for provisions from them.
This, the villagers did not like very much so they were always reporting hin. to
Biu and Mirnga. They also protested that they did not like him to rule them.
Tashkalma was then removed and taken back to Biu where he was made the director
Buratai was asked to choose their own head so they put in Midala Asura, the son
on Thyedima Digawhi.
This man, Asura, thought he could rule with authority as those who were sent
from Biu to rule. He did not rule as a member of the village or as an origin, and
it was the rule that nay village head who offended people up to ten times during his
reign, he would be removed. 'hose to remove him were the Bulama (Ward heads), and
the Wakil or Hyedim (Village hecds advisor). The kinds of offenses include:
getting someones property by force, or anything of that kind.
This village head in particular was one who would take anything from anybody for
his own use on to send it to Biu as a gift to the Smir. Sometimes, he would just gP
to any house, if he finds any beautiful horse he would take it for himself or send
it to Biu.
After having done such a thing for some time, he was removed by the elders and
the Wakil. Kuthli Meli was put in his stead.
Meli was the brother to Diyawhi the father or Midala Asura (see diagram page 13).
After Meli, was Jakwa Zara, his son. Zara reigned for some few y.ars then died
and Birma Mamza went into his place. Birma Mamza went in at the age of about 28.
He ruled until he was very old.
After his death, his son Bulama Midala went in. Lawan Malum Kuluku took over
from his father Bu]ama Midala. Malum Kuluku stayed in for many years until some
years ago, about a decade, when he was removed and was replaced by Lawan Isa.
Malum Kuluku is still living now and had his house just behind that one
of Lawan Isa (see diagram page 8)' It is marked XVH on the diagram.
(Here, the informant does not want to give the full reasons for his removal
from office. He just said that he was removed becuase of the fact that he, the X
Lawan, was not very faithful to his people)
The removal was advocated by the villagers themselves. It was approved by the
District Head in Mirnga and then by the authority in Biu.
Lawan Isa, who, in now the village head, is not a direct relative of the
deposed Lawan. Their relation traces as far back as to the time Garga Asura
was in that village. Lawan Isa, is the great grandson of Midala Asura, who was at
one time the Lawan and of course he was the last Lawan in his family apart from
Lawan Isa who is in now.
In fact, during the choosing of the Lawan, there was a kind of a misunderstanding
between the brother of Lawan kialum Kuluku and the ward heads who were responsible
for the choosing.
So that's the village headship and its history.
About the titles for the village head, long ago it was "Thyerma", in the pre-
colonial days. It was later, during the days of white man's ruling, given the name
Sometimes, in the olden days, it was referred to as "Kuthli". Kuthli was just
a word for leader or head. A village head in those days could be referred to and called
Kuthli, i.e. someone like Meli, was called and addressed as Kuthli Meli.
The office however was not called as Kuthli. When referring to the office, one
would still pay, Thyerman or Lawan, in those days.
The changes of the village headship from one lineage to the other can be seen
on the diagram on page 13. The reasons for the changes had been given earlier.
9/7/74 9-Noon Ward History Same Informant
There are a total of four wards in this village (see diagram on page 8).
Of the four wards, three of them were started at the same time in the new Buratai.
These three were wards which transferred from Kufi Buratai to this new site. The people
of each ward transferred with their respective wardheads along with the village head,
and came to the new site.
The history of the movements of these wards from one village to the other is
therefore the smae with that of the village as a whole.
The fourth ward, had a little different history of settlement. ,
Of the three wards which came all the way from the Kufi Buratai, the one that
has most of the village heads clan is the ward called "Wachimbara". See page 8.
This ward has mostly got the people who are given the name Yakeki. These
people are the majority clan group in the village. They are found not only in
Wachimbara Ward, but also in other wards.
The ward head's post is filled not by family lineage but by election, but it
follows mostly that the people used to appoint the son or brother of the former
ward head (Bulama).
One of the earliest ward heads, was Yakeki Dianga. This was by the time
they were still in Kufi Buratai. This man was very popular with them and it followed
that even the ward was referred to by his name.
This history of the wards however, do not go far back. That is because, so
many times, the post had been given to other families.
The person who had died some years back was Yadumarya. When he died, election
was held by the elders of the ward and the chosen one was given to the village
head and so he was crowned the ward head. That person is 3adawi, who is now ruling.
Badawizis not related to Yadumarya.
The reason why this post could be filled by any responsible person was, that
the work of the person was just to be as a messenger of the village head to
people in that particular ward. He was someone who reported cases to the village
head. If the village head wanted to convey any message to his people, he would
just give it through the Bulama ward head.
If there were to be any visitor to the village, the village head will send
him, tie visitor, to the Wakil of the village, who would in turn call any Bulama
and tell him to get a place for the visitor to sleep in.
The next ward of consideration is Bukur. This ward is that just on the western
side of Wachirubara.
This ward also came from Kufi Buratai. When coming to the new site of the
village, the village head came with his people too.
Their heads as far back as could be remembered were: Ajuya Pokla, who, when
he died, his son Yamta Ajiya, took his place.
After, Yanta Ajiya, a person from a different family altogether took his
place, that was Mamadu Mari.
This maria, Mamadu Mari is now the ward head. He was elected into the post and
is of different background (family). Though he too came with rest of the people
from the old Buratai.
The next ward is Zara Kwasuku. This was named after the market. The village
market is found in this ward.
This was also was a transfer from Kufi Buratai to this place. The ward
head now is Katsala Maman. He succeeded his fathers brother.
In this Zara Ward, are mostly found the people who were still of the Zara
when they were in the old Buratai. They are the group referred to as Yadawi.
They got the name Yadawi because they mostly came from the group of people who
started or who came from the Nyarmbwa (lineage) of the man called Yadawi.
Another lineage of people found in the village are the Yayamta. Yayamta
was also a ward head in the old Buratai.
Joka, was another clan or group of people who also got their identity
from the man called Joko, who was at one time a ward head in Kufi iuratai.
The fourth ward, as was talked about on pages 5 and 6, a completely different
people who started from Biu area, settled ih Dora, then Titibu, and lastly
came to Buratai.
The headship here started with leader of the group, Yayamta. When he was
deprived of the post then he went off to start Titibu where his sons reigned for
some years until Buratai came out to the new site and even here his lineage had
been becoming the ward head.
The last Ward head (Bulama), was Yakwadiya whose son is now the ward head.
The name of the son is Bala.
There are therefore four wards in all. The general method for choosing a ward
head in those days was just b the fact that the elders nominate and the village head
Titles and Offices
Apart from the village head Thyerma, and the ward head Bulama, there were
othe. title and offices held by various people of the village. These included:
(a) Hyedim the chief advisor of the village head or it may be what is now
termed as the right hand man.
(b) Barde the head warrior. He was sometimes also referred to as Katsalar
(c), Katsala Head of the young men.
(d) Magira Head of women
(e) Tida Kwaja the man who head a small number of young men. Usually in a
ward there would be two or three Tida Kwaja.
(f) Marmbwa Pi.- similar role to Tida Kwaja but only that this one is a woman
who headed young ladies of an area of a ward.
(A) The Hyedim this was the person who stayed always by the village head.
His house was usually very close to that of the village head.
The Hyedim, as it was called and addressed in the pre-colonial days, was
someone appointed by the ingoing village head. That is, the Hyedim was someone
who was appointed by the village head only. When the village h3ad who appointed
a Hyedim is out of his post either dead or removed from office, the Hyedim automatically
looses his office after some tiie, i.e. when a new village head had been put in and
that village head appoints a new Hyedim.-
The former Hyedim, could be appointed for the second time.
These days, the name is no more Hyedim, it had been changed to Wakil. The
Wakil who is presently in office had been therenow with two village heads. He had
served with Lawan Malam Euluku and is now serving with Lawan Isa.
(B) Barde: The Barde or Katsalar Mpa, was the one who headed the people
who went to wars.
When a 3arde was killed in a war or just died and that he needed to be replaced
the choosing was done by the whole of the men of the village.
It was done by the whole village in a sense that they must agree with the person
appointed by the village head before he could be one.
The night a new person; had' been put into this office, would be a big day
of dancing, where young men and women would.dance together and he, the new Barde,
would be seated on an elevated seat with Village head and watch the dance.
The Barde should be someone who is very bbrave and strong.. Whenever he leads
a war and he succeeds, the village would organize a dance for him and his men the
soldiers of the village.
In a case where he captured many slaves and brought them to the village head,
the village head would normally give him, as a present, one or two slaves. Sometimes,
the gift would be in the form of horses,.
(C) Katsala: Sometimes referred to as 'Kuthli Dakwi'. This man was something
like the social secretaries of these days.
He was somebody responsible for organizing all social activities in the village.
Things like dances and community work was 'all organized by him.
For example, when one does not have large enough a farm for himself and his
family, he would appeal to the Katsala and the Katsala tell all the young men of
All the young men and the women would go out to the farm of this man and
cultivate for him some more planting field. Of course before this time the man
who wanted the field would prepare for the working people some plenty of food and drink
The women, lead by the Mariga would be praising and cheering the men as they
The replacement of such a person was done by the young ones of the village.
They would choose h im and give him to the village head who would obviously
approve him for the office.
.The night he is chosen, would be a big day for the young men. There would
be a very big dance, where both the young men and ladies would dance their bodies
The Kuthi Dakwi or Katsala, was the one who took the young ones of the village
to other villages for dances.
(D) Magira: This was usually a grown up, married woman. She headed all the
women of the village.
Whenever there was to be a dance or a community work, as going to work for
someone on a farm, she must be informed so as to make the ladies ready.
In most cases she would be one who could sing well so much so that during such
occasions as dancing, she would lead in the singing of the ladies.
When the office becomes vacant, another lady would be chosen by the ladies
of the village. To make all formalities fulfilled, the chosen one would be handed
on to the village head, who would confirm her for the post.
,A big dance would be organized to honour her on the day she is made the Magira.
So in short, the Magira and the Katsala or Kuthi Dakwi were the two people
who controlled the social activities as well as the youths of the whole village.
(E) Tida Kwaja: This post was not so important as the above for the role of
this man was effective only on ward level or only a part of the ward. His main work
would not be this but just as a side activity which is done out of interest.
He is one who the young men of a part of a ward, or the whole of the young
men in a ward chooses to be as their advisor or instructor.
This man may not necessarily be a relative of any of the young men.
To choose him, does not take any ceremonious activity. It is just, the teenage
group who decide on anyone whom they feel would help them best in their problems.
They would get two or three people among them and these people would go and tell
him that the yoang ones wanted him to be their instructor.
At this request, he would be very happy and be very ready to accept it.
His main work would be to talk to the boys when they are going wrong.
When small boys are circumsized, they would stay in his house throughout the
pe2iodthey have- the wound. The period they are in his house, they would be working
for him. Such works, would be something like cutting grass for him or making
ropes for him too.
The man, during this period, would be the one to be washing their wound for
them. He would, also see that all food brought to them is eaten up by them.
It was customary that when one was circumsized, he must have a whole chicken
cooked for himself and only a part of it would be removed and given to the head
man. The rest of the chicken the circumsized person must eat up the rest of the
When everybody's wound had been healed, this man would go and tell the village
head about the fact that these children had been circumsized and would now need to
be identified with men of the village and not boys of the village.
A day would be set for them to be honoured and for them to be declared as men
and not.more boys.
On that day, all of them would save off their heads and wear a very clean shirt
and march to the square in front of ,the village heads house. The rest of the village
would come to the square and the ladies and the ward heads. lWhen all have come,
the village head would give his speech and give blessings to each child by placing
his hands on the childs shiny shaved head.
After every child had been blessed, time woald be made for donations and gifts.
Everybody who had some gift, he would take it and place it on the place provided fcr
such a thing.
These gifts would be collected by the person who had been taking care of them
since. The village head also would get some part of the gifts for himself.
This is the other office of the village where young men are controlled.
Young women however, had a woman they call 'Marmbwa'.
This Marmbwa gives advice to the teenage women of a part of a ward. These
women who sleep in her house would be helping her carr,, water or grind or even in the '
When any of the ladies were to get married, she would go. to the marriage ceremony
as a special guest.
Before this time, she should have been given a large portion of the engagement
gift from the girl. In return, the Magira would-give her some gifts as she goes to
Replacement of this office was also done by the girls themselves.. They would
choose the woman they wanted and the elder women of the town would confirm her.
The village head usually would not give any objection to the woman chosen.
She would be crowned with a big ceremonious dance. In this dance, she would
have a special seat and would be dressed in some very rich dress.
During her installation ceremony, young men and women woald be invited from
other places to come and make a display of their own kind of a dance.
In the case of this village people came from Kidlir.
-They, the people from Kidlir would spend the night in Kufi Buratai and leave
the next morning.
There were other titles as the head hunter 'Kuthli Muzumaku'. This man
should be someone who is an expert at magical performances. He could disappear and
reappear at any time. He should be someone who knows a lot about poisons for use
on arrows and at the same time knows those medicines that will cure anyone shot with
His duty was announcing hunting days and places and leading the villagers to
Any meat gotten during any hunting, he must be given a portion of it. The
usual-part given to him was the part called 'Pathahu' i.e. one of the front,limbs.
Relations to other Places
In the precolonial period, every village existed on its own. and there were very
small relations between ore village and the others.
This village however were in good terms with Kidlir. These two villages did
many things in common.
Things like dances and wrestling were done by both villages and sometimes one
village would go to the other village and spend a whole night or two.
When they were there, the host village would provide them with lodging and feeding.
Those days of course, there was no guest house, so the visitors were given accommodation
in the houses of their friends.
The dances were done in the evenings, from, say, three o'clock going right
through the night.
During such dances, two people of the opposite sex from the two villages
may come to lave each other. In such a case, it may even lead to marriage. So
in short, there was intermarriage between the two villages.
Another activity they took part both, was market. Their market days were
different, so people from one village used to visit the other villages market.
In this case, they would not spend the night in the village.
:-During big hunting games, these two villages took part too. Sometimes people
of the two villages would go ouLt hunting, b themselves.
Another village they to have relation with was Gur. Their relationship was
very faint, though, because of the fact that the village was very far from them.
Once in a long period of time, the people of either villages would pay a market
visit to the other village. This visit would be only if there was a silence of war.
In the pre colonial days, the people here w3re having no much relationship to
Biu and Mandaragirau. This little relationship came after the time Mandaragirau
defeated them in a war. They used to take gifts to the village head in Madaragirau,
that was because, the warhorn, belonging to Kufi Buratai would take some slaves
to the Emir who was there. During that time the slaves, were taken as gifts to the
At installations and burial ceremonies, they must be present to witness it.
They would bring with them gifts of slaves and horses and some clothes.
The installations were done in Biu and part of the ceremony were done in Rogu.
Whenever there to be any installation, the Emir to be, must go to Kogu to greet the
person called 'Kwatam' who stays in Kogu. 'Kwatam' is a woman who stays in Kogu
and is usually an elderly woman who, a kind of, be the one to confirm the appointment
of an Emir.
When the Emir is taken to Kogu, he stays with Kwatam there for three days.
During these three days he would be away from all people.
After the third day, he would come and meet the people who had been waiting for
him outside somewhere in the village.
From here, the Emir would be taken to a pool which is very close to the village e
and would be taken to the center of the pool and be bathed. After the bathing, he
would be taken to Biu for a dancing festival. During this dancing period, every village
head would be bringing his gift to the &mir.
That was how they used to give gifts to the Emir in Biu.
As for Mandaragirau, there had been no real such a close relationship as that
of Biu;,. This was because, there had been no time when they were really under Mandaragirau's
As for receiving gifts from other places, this village had been receiving
gifts only from Kidlir because Kidlir was their best friends.
These gifts werj sent to them during ties of installations of village heads
or any Katsala.
Another king of gift, was that given to the District Head (Ajiya) when he
was still in Buratai.
This particular Village, Buratai, had not had any wall but the old Buratai
called Kufi Buratai or Dimamai, had had a wall.
(As it is seen today, the remains of the wall still can be seen. It now looks
more like a ridge of red earth. In some areas, it is still as high as a metre
or so. The wall is a large one and has the shape of the diagram on page 11)
According to the informant, the wall was made of mud all the way through. The
clay was nixed, when it was wet, with grass and .straw. The clay was dug from a large
ditch which goes all the way round tie village.
The walls were so high that any body standing on one side could not see
anything but the sky on the other side.
The building of the wall was done by everybody in the village. The village
head and the Barde would be the ones to tell them what they were to do.
The women carry water from the river (stream) to the building site. The men
mould the clay and also build the wall. Everybody would have somet ing to do
except if the person is sick.
During the process of the building, at a certain stage of the height of the
wall, they would insert into the wet wall some rounded long stones. These stones
would be in the wall until the wall had dried up. When it had dried, these stones
would be pulled out so that the space left behind by the stones make a hole through
the wall. These holes were used for shooting through from the inside during wars.
The outside of the wall was made very smooth so that no one could ever climb,
onto it from that side. The inside however had grooves where it made it possible
for one to climb on and view the outside.
The wall had a total of three gates. One in the south towards Biu and Kidlir.
A second one was in the east called Nyafur Rahi, and the third one in the north
called Nyafur Barn. All these gates had similar characteristics. They were guarded
in the same way.
To each gate wer3 two housed just near to it. One on each side. These two houses,
were occupied by one who looked after the gate. These two people who had their houses
very close to the gates always made sure that the gates were closed i.e. at night.
There were no special enteries to the gates, somet ing like a house inclosing
it or anything of that type. There were gate doors. The doors would be closed
by anybody who came in last in the day. The rule was that everyone should be in by
sunset. After that time, the door would be shut and nobody would be allowed in or
out. When it was closed, it would not be opened until sunrise the next day.
During the day, nobody would be by the gate to check at those coming in or
out, so anybody could go in at anytime during the day.
When there was a break down on one side of the wall, the whole village would go
to do the repairing. There would be division of labour as it was when it was being
The wall was only around the village. Around it also on the outside, was a
very large ditch which adds to the total height of the wall, i.e. anybody outside
would not see anything on the inside. It would be even more difficult when one went
close to the wall because by going near to the wall means going into the d-.tch.
The ditch was very deep.. The depth depended on some areas. You -now, in areas where
there had been many repairs, the ditch would grow deeper because the soil for the
building was gotten from ditches.
(From the description given by the informant, I think that the wall would
look something like the faidag diagram. This, of course, was the look of it
in the old times.)
iAs.was mentioned before, the idea of the building of the wall was brought from
those people in the south eastern part from the village. Those were people of
Gur and Kidlir. These two villages had their walls built earlier than this village.
ditc --' j
..... ^ .. I,,, -.^ ^ -
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.The main reason for the building of the wall is as that they needed to be
protected from the attacks of the Fulani and the Kanuri.
In this part of Biu, there were many wars in the pre-colonial days. Those
wars were mostly between the people of the village and those of the Kanuri and the
The term Mbwarmi was the mane given to the Fulani wars. The Fulani people
were people who could fight well with their swift horses. All they did was to
come to a village and take them by surprise. -They would remove from the village
horses, slaves, and other types of belongings.
The people of this village, Buratai, were people who only defended themselves.
They never went to war in order to get booty or to get a wife or slaves.
As for full scale war involving many people, this was done by the people of
this village but it was all for protection or defense.
At the first sign of an approaching raider, the people would try to be read to
either crash and chase a way the enemies before they reach the village.
Outside the villa e, on tne eastern side, was a large boabob tree. That tree
used to announce to them the coming of any enemy.
It had the name Kogu Dlimber.
This tree would sound trumpets and drums, whenever raiders were coming around.
If anybody coming by or standing by that tree and hears the sound made by it,
he would go and tell the villagehead or the Barde.
Everybody in the village would be sounded of it by beating a large drum, called
Dlimbor or by blowing a horn. For those who are outside the wall, there would be
horns being blown outside and on top of the wall so as to inform them.
Every male being who is big enough to use a bow and arrow would dress up
ready for the war.
Just inside the wall, on the eastern gate was what is called in Bura 'Kumba'
(This is a soft earthen place, the soil mostly made up of ashes and house sweepings)
In this 'Kumba' was a certain big horn called 'Timbul Mu'. This horn was a
kind of a charm which helped them somehow in wars.
Whenever such situations occur, the villagers would go to the place where the
horn was and beat the ground over it for some time. It would push out itself.
Efter some words from the Barde, the horn would go back into the ground.
By doing these things, they would be very confident for they would know that no
one would defeat them.
It really happened so, that no enemy ever defeated them when they had this
horn planted by their gate. It was the saying that, if that horn was there and
raider (Dlira) were to come to the village, even if it were only small children who
were at home only, the enemies will not be able to go into the wall by any means
through any gate.
For example, at one time, the 2ulani people came from Mbwarmni to raid the
village. After it was heard from the tree that they were coming, the peerformances to
the horn was done.
When the Fulani came, they were not able-to push in. Many of them were killed
by the villagers shooting through the small holes to the outside.
When the Fulani started to run away, they were pursued and many of them were
captured as slaves.
Their horses were also taken to the village.
The horses and slaves were of course given over to the village head who gave
some to the Barde. Those slaves would be serving the whole village. They would
be cutting grass for the horses and carrying water too; When there was any repairs
to be done on the walls, they would do it.
The people of Mandaragirau heard of the strength of those people of Buratai so
they sent some spies to go and find out what their sources of their was.
The people sent from Mandaragirau came to Kufi Buratai one afternoon. When
they came, they found that there were no.people at. home, they had all gone out to
cultivate a farm for one of the villagers. In those days, anybody could ask the
the villagers to go and work for him, and of course everyone who was well would go
and help him.
At home therefore were left only small children.
They asked of where the village head's -iouse was and they were shown. They
told the people who were at home then that, they had come to the village on a
special mission. The Mshel (son of a Chief) of Mandaragirau had sent them there to
tell the Kwatam (Daughter of a Chief) of Buratai, that he would like to marry her,
was the message they brought from home.
To this message, the mother of the girl did not give any objection. The
Mandaragirau people then asked if they could see the lady for some time. It was agreed
and so they went outside the home.
When they were outside, they gave her some gifts through the small girl who used
to follow her where ever she went.
When the small girl gave her the gifts, she was very grateful to them. The gift
comprised of Tirkudi (four of them), Tirkudi was a very costly type of a wrappa
or sheet of cloth used by women of those days. They also gave her a costly ring
and a necklace.
Then, they brought her closer to them and they started by saying, "It is said
that your father and his men are very strong at war. It is true?"
"Yes," said the Kwatam.
"Since we want to marry you, we need to know how they used to do to be so strong
or the secret they have of being so strong. Youknow, we want to marry you so we
would not have any war with you."
She then took them to the spot where there was the horn hidden in the soil. She
told them all about it and its power. They thanked her and then went away to Mandaragirau.
After about a week, they came back to the village. Again they found that eveiy
body was out. This time, they did not go to Kwatam anymore. They just went
straight to the place where the horn was.
They started to beat the ground there and the horn came out. They dug the
remaining part out and saddled their horses and off, they went to Mandaragirau with
The people of the village, did not know that their Timbul horn had been
After some months, the men of Mandaragirau got prepared and came for a war
The tree Kogu outside the village gave the wa-ning as usual and every body
went in and started to prepare.
The Mandaragirau men came very close but still the men of the village did
not care very much for they thought the Timbul was still there.
They went to the place where the horn used to lie and beat the ground several
times but it never appeared. They dug the place, and it wasn't there. They were
greatly shocked. The fear even made them to lose the battle.
The Mandaragirau men got many of them as slaves and went away with many
(The people from Mandaragirau were the men of Yamtarawalla, as one of the
men of the village Buratai said. He said that Yamtarawalla was in
Mandaragirau and so he sent his men to Buratai)
After that defeat, Buratai always feared Mandaragirau.* Also, they feared
other people because without the horn they could not do anything good in the
The worst thing was, they could not do anything to recover their stolen
The horn was later taken away from Mandaragirau to Biu Kithla. So as well,
the Emir also went to Biu Kithla.
From the time the horn was removed to Biu Kithla, Mandaragirau .started to be
under Biu Kithla. Buratai also used to pay tribute to Biu Kithla.
-Some years later the Fulani (Pilasar) of Mbwarmi came to a village called Gufa
at night and raided it completely. They killed so many people and burned down
some of their houses and went away.with their horses and some slaves.
In fact, that was how the people of Mbwarmi used to attack, i.e. at night and
by surprise. They did such attacks for several villages of the far south like
Mandaragirau. The nearest to them was Buratai, and so they planned to come to raid
The people of Buratai heard this plan beforehand. They did not know what to
do for they did not have their horn with them. They knew, too, that they would he
no match to Mwarmi without it around.
To be free from this, they sent some gift to the Chief of Mbwarmi. Their chief's
name was Malim Zoi and their war leader was Aji Gambo.
When Zoi got the gifts, i.e. three strong slaves and three strong male horses,
he asked Aji Gambo of who brought that gift and he was told that it was the
people of Buratai. Aji Gambo went on to explain to him that they brought the gift .
to him because they, the people of Buratai, had heard of what he had done to the
other villages, so they brought that -to him so that he, Zoi, would spare them.
Zoi told them to return home and work in peace for there would be nothing to
(By this time Buratai, was rnder Biu for Yamtarawalla had gone to Biu and so
had extended his Empire all the way to them. When he, Yamtarawala, died,
his sons continued to rule and so their powers extended all the way to Buratai too.)
The people of Buratai feared that the Emir in Biu would be angry if he were to
hear what they did to Mbwarmi. So they took one slave and one female horse to him.
The Emir then was Kuthli Gorga.
Kuthli Garga was very angry because how on earth could people in his land take
such a thing to another land. It would mean that the people of Buratai had given,
the land to Pilasar (Fulani).
He refused this present and put the people who took the things to him in jail.
To release those men, the village head of Buratai had to take some more
slaves'and horses to him and also to ask for forgiveness from the Emir.
In the wars of those days, many slaves were usually caught. The slaves would
be for the village head and some would be given to the Barde.
To feed them the owner .would just give tnem guinea corn and they would know
what to do with it. To house them also would be the duth of the owner.
The weapons used for war were:: Bows and arrows, knifes, spears, sticks, roof
tops, and metal stick. Their uses had been explained earlier (Kamunya).
They used many horses. The Fulani and Kanuri used horses and also dane guns.
Apart from the kinds of arrows described earlier, the-e were many others
used. The ones used for long range shooting, are, in addition to those mentioned
Two types of
The organizations of the village in the pre-colonial days we e not really
well-defined and so they had no names given to them. In most cases, the titles of
their leaders had no special name.
At that time, in the villages, all youths, for example, cooperated well with
each other and worked in groups which made their movements look like an organization.
The youth had their leader called Kuthli Dakwi. This man, as was talked
about earlier, was someone who conducted almost all the social programs of the
village. He was the one to inform all the young men and women of the village about
About membership, every yoing man, who had been circumsixed had become man enough
to join the rest of the group to all activities. For example, to go out to other
villages for a dance, the people to go must be all people who had been in the man's
As for the leadership, any young man without any physical defect could be the
'Kuthli Dakwi' or 'Katsala Oakwi.'
They, the leaders, were elected by the young men themselves. They would not
go hold and formal meeting for such an election. It would just be that people
would be talking of someone they liked all over the village. When the day of the
election comes, only the young men would meet and by voting shown by the rising of
the hand, they would elect the person they wanted. When he had been elected, there
would be a big dancing party for him.
Their main activity was the dance. They danced in the village itself, i.e.
in dry seasons only. They also used to go out to other villages to go and display
their kind of dance. As well that other village would come to this village
to display their own too.
-When there was to be any community work, the Katsala Dakwi, would be the one to
For example, organizing people to go and do some help to somebody in the village.
This would be helping somebody to cultivate his farm or to cut down his guinea
Since the defeat of this village by the Mandaragirau people, the organization
had not been so strong anymore. They never went to display their dance to other
village anymore. The community help works were not done anymore.
Such community helps are now done on family levels. The people of a family
may decide to go and work for the family of their uncle or any other close 'relative.
This relative however would come to do some work in repayment.
Among the women, there was no rial organization. They had however a leader who
directed them in some activities, as dances and community works. Her title was
Magira. This title still exists today.
Her election was done by the ladies of the village, as was talked of earlier.
Among the young ladies, there was something like their head, i.e. in small
sections of the village as was described earlier. This small area head was called
She gave advice to the girls and also the girls sleep in her house until they
In this case, it was the young ladies of an area of tne village who chose their
In those days, when a lady reached a certain age, about 12 years, she would
sleep with her mother, or in her mother's room any more. She should go out and
sleep with her equals in age. In this case, then, she would. join the girls of
that section of the ward so that they would sleep all in one room. That room had the
name 'Mbwar Pi.'
Every evening, they would go to that house and spend it chatting and she, the
Marmbwa, would be giving the tales and stories. The ladies also would be shelling
groundnuts or spinning cotton for her.
Being their Marmbwa, whe would on-their respective marriage days, give them
large gifts. Such gifts would include rings, and wrappers.
If any of these ladies were to get married, she, the Marmbwa would be the
one to inspect the engagement gifts from the Bridegroom. The items included:
'Zhabi Kusil,' a cloth used by women when they have just got married; 'Jabla'
another type of cloth, mostly made of white finely neated material; and four
'kuntu' (Kuntu is a big roll of woven cloth). There would also be given riggs
for finger and wrist. There should also be given necklesses.
For the parents of the girl, would be given 3 Bul (a gown made of black material).
For the day of the real engagement, the family of the lady would prepare a
lot of beer. The Marmbwa would also give her help in preparing this drink.
The drink would be drunk by those ladies that used to sleep. in the same
room with the lady who is going to marry. Young men would also be invited. After
the drinking, that girl would be confirmed wife to that person the engagement
was done for.
When that-girl had gotten married, and had given birth to her first child,
she would invit the Marmbwa to the making ceremony.
This programme was wholly conducted by women. The activities start with,
the parents slaughtering a ram over the place where the Mahihi ( a place where the
of the new born baby was buried) of child was. The whole of the blood would be
drained there. After that, the child would be bathed in warm water while standing
on a stone ofer the Mahihi.
There would be nJ loud .announcement of the name by anybody. The only thing to
be done was, a woman would just go by the small child and tell him in a small voide
that "they say your name is Madu" or anything like that.
The meat of the ram will be roasted and many small children would be called
and eat it.
The Marmbwa of the lady who gave the birth, would give her a gift and also to
The women would be given some kind of a drink prepared of locmst bean seed.
They would drink that for some time and would later depart. So in short, the whole
programme was conducted by women.
The person who suggests the name was the father, for the first born and the mother
for the second born and for the third, it would be the man again. It would go
Hunting organization was not having a real leader in that sense.
The person who led the group was the person called 'Kuthlir Muzumaku' (the head
Hunter). This man really did not act as the other heads by calling for meeting or
being infront of the group in hunting.
He would just be the person to suggest the days of hunting for the village.
Efter being agreed, the day would be announced in the market place.
The head hunter was usually the best hunter in the village. He was someone
who could aim and would never miss. He was one believed to have a lot of magical
experiences. He could disappear, reappear, turn himself into different things as
into animals or into stone or into an anthill.
He was one that could not be cut by a knife. He should be someone who knew a
lot about arrows and poisons so that if any of his men had been shot, he would know
how to treat him.
Daltuhur was a large and wide area organized hunting. It involved many villages.
The announcement of the Daltuhur was usually done in market places. Village
all around that area would come out the day of the hunting. They would all take part
in it and any animal caught in such a hunt belonged to the person who caught it.
He would however give part of it to the head hunter of his village and also to
the village head.
If any one had been shot in such a hunting, the person who was shot would be
fed and taken care of by the shooter until he had been healed. If there was any fight
in such a hunting game, it would or might end up in killings, as was explained earlier.
Ahlg'iramta. This was not practiced here so they have no idea about it.
The history and culture of the two places, Buratai and Kumunya are all the
way through the same almost.
From the talks of the two groups of people from both villages, and from what
had been seen of the Kufi Buratai (Dimamai), it is. concluded by me that really,
both villages came from this old village.
In the old village itself, the people there now cannot speak Bura language
but their language is more like Chibock and Margi in tonation. The here mostly
In a part of the village also are found the people called home Fulanis.
These are Fulani, who have come to dwell with their families in one place. The both
look after their cattle and also farm.
Those people now term Dlila or Klil, who occupy the Kufi Buratai came after
the people of the village had left place.-and come to the new site. Some of the
Dlil came just at the time they were leaving for the new site.
They came from the east and were long ago part of the people who came because
there was not enough food in their land. (This was not given by them but someone
in Buratai) According to them, they came in search for a good farmland.
I was talking to an old man in Biu one day and he told me that the name
Buratai was given to them by the Bura people in the south.
Long ago, during the pre-colonial days, there was a famine all over the world,
as he said, and food was in shortage all over.
The condition became so bad in that area that .the people had nothing to eat.
They were cooking leaves and plenty of meat. The other problem, was that there was
no guinea corn to grind and to cook. The people would then go and dig the homes of
red ants and black ants who usually carried away grains into their holes. Deep into
the holes they used to collect the gRains.
The men of this village then used to dig to remove the grains from the ant's
holes. In removing, they brought the grain out with soil and sand, When grinding
the corn, they would not remove the soil so when they ground it, it would be more
like clay than corn.
They used to cook such a thi.ng. The word for cooking in Bura language is
'ta' and the word for clay is 'hi'.
So the people from the-southern area of Bura named them 'Bura Ta Hi' with
many years passing, the nalie came to be Buratahi and these days it is called
So that's how it got its name.