Title: Origin of Shafa (Viu Kithla); an interview with Shajo Mshelia by Simfa L. Wakawa (typescript, 1974)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099265/00001
 Material Information
Title: Origin of Shafa (Viu Kithla); an interview with Shajo Mshelia by Simfa L. Wakawa (typescript, 1974)
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Wakawa, Simfa L.
Cohen, Ronald ( Compiler )
Publication Date: June 11, 1974
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099265
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Special and Area Studies Collections
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


Interview with Shajo Mshelia
Date: June 11, 1974
Place: His house at Shaffa, nobody present.

When I first inquired from Shajo who is aged about 90 who his father

or grandfather used to tell him first came and settled at Shaffa he went on

straight to say that the founders of the present Shaffa the town that lies

15 miles on the Biu-Little Gombi road was Shuwa. When I asked him to tell

how he believed they were Shuwa he clearly said over and over again that they

were Shuwa; from then he went on to narrate the story of the origin of the

founders of the village.

He said they were originally Shuwa fronHMadagali (a town that lies t6wards

the Nigeria-Cameroon border). That was the furthest he could remember they

came from. From Madagali these people continued on with migration. Then all

of a sudden he again thought and said that they were Shuwa from Fort Lamy from

where they migrated to Gwagu and that it was their grandfather who came to

Madagali. From Madagali the migratory trend continued and their next place

of settlement was Gaya Kilba (though I do not know the exact location of this

place I believe it must be between Little Gombi and Mubi, the stronghold of

the Kilba area). From this Gaya Kilba these people still moved further

and later settled at Ngulde or otherwise called Undla (Ngulde is east of Biu

and Askira, a distance of about 40 miles). Then from Ngulde to Mandaragarau.

There wasn't any significant event Shajo could remember all during this

period of migration except that by then their clan was Mshelbwala and not Mshelia

as they are at present in Shaffa. For this change in clan name we shall know

later. For the moment the story breaks and he starts narrating to me the story of

what was happening in the present site of Shaffa at the time those who came to

find it later were in the course of migration.

Shaffa originallywas inhabited before the founders came. Legend has it

that it belonged to the lan of Malgwi. These Malgwis were from Pelathabu

( L ( ^ C 6 'u ^ "/ ,- 4 llt q
'~ ~ 2 04>-T 4?^f -ztj7 r^ U^^{^ / ^


(Pelathabu is a village situated northeast of Shaffa about 3 miles off-road.

This is the Pelathabu that later came to name a strong significance when there

was a big confrontation between Pabir and Bura and it had to be fortified with

a strong stone wall. It was there that the Pabir were butchered as the Bura

who at first sided with them turned against them and the Pabir were massacred

N.B. See research work conducted on Tiraku last August).

To come back to the story again, the original people that occupied Shaffa

were the Malgwi from Pelathlabu. That these Malgwi were in control of Shaffa

was not enough. They too occupied Sasuwa (a small village south of Shaffa

with a distance of about 1 miles away from Shaffa. However it is separated

by a big valley and they still remain different villages with Shaffa to date).

The very Malgwi again occupied Whumusu (the bush between Tiraku and Shaffa

now used as farmlands).

While the original founders of Shaffa still live at Mandaragarau a man

from among them used to come to sell salt to the Malgwi at Shaffa in a market

called Wakidanga Si this meaning 'who asked you to come?' According to

Shajo this was the market later called Dlima and thus the origifi of the present

market at Shaffa. Through this man's trade with previously named Malgwi who

were then residing at Shaffa he made friends with them and from the Sasuwa

Malgwi i.e. the Malgwi living 1 miles away from Shaffa he married their

daughter whom he took to Mandaragarau. To him and this lady a boy was born and

named Shola. This Shola whom we shall come across later is believed to be the

founder of the present Shaffa.

Interview continued June 15, 1974

As Shola whem-we-l-eft--l-ate* -as the son born by a trader from Mandaragarau

who married from a Malgwi clanj-g&rew he became influential even among the Pabir

of Mandaragarau. Shola was therefore eventually made a Galadima by Yamtara-

walla, a position he usurped from a Pabir. From henceforth, instead of being


called Galadima as the Pabirs used to call the title he was called Pukuma

ie. Pukuma Shola.

Here the story breaks to reappear later. What Shajo narrated from here

was a war between Virahyel and Yamtarawalla. According to him Virahyel came to attack

Yamtarawalla. These Virahyel people had their chieftaincy and were believed

to be the original founders of present Biu chieftaincy. At that time the rulers

of Mangaragarau were called Kuhyi Dakil. Shajo however failed to give me the

meaning of Dakil.

The war was fought. But despite the fact that Pukuma Shola was residing at

Mandaragarau, instead of siding with Yamtarawalla took side with Virahyel against

Mandaragarau. In the course of the war it was even believed that Pukuma Shola

killed a Pabir boy. Mandaragarau won the war and drove Virahyel away. At the

end of the war Pukuma Shola had to fee and take refuge with their friends at Shaffa.

However, Pukuma Shola, when he came to Shaffa, Shaffa was not unoccupied as

said earlier; for then the Malgwi were occupying Whumusu, Shaffa and Sasuwa,

all within the distance of about 1 miles from each other. So instead of stay-

ing at Shaffa Pukuma Shola resided at Sasuwa instead. No reason was given for


While at Sasuwa Pukuma Shola married a lady from a village called Yimana.

Yimana is a village about three miles southeast of Sasuwa and about 1 miles

south of Tiraku. This lady was called Mahirwa. Together with the lady they

settled at Sasuwa.

Again as I continued the talk on the origin of Shaffa with Shajo we started

from where we stopped, i.e. at the point where Pukuma Shola married a wife,

Wahirwa (Mahirwa?), and established himself at Sasuwa. At this time, according

to Shajo, history took a different turn. Pukuma Shola gave birth to seven

children and as all these children began to grow the Malgwi at Sasuwa, being

few in number, started to fear the dominating influence of this refugee, Pukuma

Shola. Thus, instead of confronting Pukuma Shola left Sasuwa for him and went


to settle in Pelathlabu. (Pelathlabu is the much talked-about place with

strongly walled surroundings where one of the greatest battles between Bura

and Pabir took place, ending with the mass slaughter of Pabir who were tricked

by some Bura promise of siding with them.)

Back to the story, it was not just the Malgwi at Sasuwa alone that left

Sasuwa for Pelathlabu but together with the Malgwi at Shaffa and Whumusu left

and found the settlement at Pelathlabu, thus leaving Whumusu and Shaffa vacant.

(Whumusu still remains vacant to the present day.

Pukuma Shola at Sasuwa finding Shaffa to be presently unoccupied preferred Shaffa

to Sasuwa. Thus, instead of Sasuwa, left Shaffa and settled there instead. Thus

Pukuma Shola was siad to be the original founder of Shaffa from whom his grandsons

continued to be the Bilama of Shaffa to this day.

Original Size and Layout of Shafa

Interview with Buba Briam, present Village Head
Date: June 17, 1973 (74?)
Place: His house at Shaffa

With the establishment of Shaffa as narrated by Shajo, Buba Briam said

that when Pukuma Shola came he first settled in the area, where the present

village head himself has his hut. He came together with his seven children

who were then adults and married.

From here Buba Briam diverts from the layout of the village and again

went on to describe the coming of Pukuma Shola. In this he disagreed with

Shajo that Pukuma Shola came peacefully because Shaffa was evacuated as Shajo

said. According to the legendary story of Buba Briam it was believed that

he, Pukuma Shola, flew from Sasuwa and landed at Shafa, a distance of about 1

miles. It was then that his seven children joined him and thus Shafa became

a village.

From here I paused to ask him how the word 'Shafa' actually came about,

especially when 'Shaffa' refers to a particular kind of tree with a sort of


ash color. However, according to Buba Briam, there was nothing spectacular

about the name and just as I asked the commonest tree from around where

Shola Pukuma landed was shafa, and from henceforth the name of the village

was called Shafa.

Coming back to the layout, according to Buba Briam, Shafa originated

with a single zara. Indeed, according to him, there was no other zara before

colonial rule. It was only a zara and it remained so until colonial rule.

This zara called Shafa from which the name of the now rapidly-growing village

comes from originally had eight compounds, one compound belonging to Shola

Pukuma with the other seven belonging to his seven children.

Like all Bura villages tiksha was planted around each compound. Though

the compounds were closely built for security reasons i.e. for the distance(?)

of each other against external enemy, there was enough land in between every

compound to allow every individual to have enough tiksha for the household.

Thus from henceforth right through to the colonial period tiksha continued

to be planted in between compounds to this day, except that now with the new

road compounds lining up along the new roads are too compacted to allow any

field for the planting of tiksha except these behind.

During its originality with one zara Shafa obtained its water supply

from only one stream that lay close by. This stream to this day is popularly

known as the Kunar. However, now there are several wells dug all over, and

with the emergence of several other zara each zara at least has a well dug for

them.by the local authority or the government. But with the general fall of

water table due to the effect of drought in the northern states, neither the

stream (Kunar) nor the wells provided tend to be catering for the supply of

enough water for the growing village. Thus at times there were long lines

along the water wells. (people wait for water)

/ ~JL

The Village Headship and Its History

Interview with Shajo
Date: 19, June 1974 \j
Place: His house at Shaffa V

Shajo told me that the first village head of Shafa was Pukuma Shola

tho founder of the village has been repeated over and over earlier. From

henceforth each successor village head was the son of the previous one, so

much so that successorship to the village head of Shaffa remained within the

same clan. The only slight obstruction is the present village head who is

the half-brother of the former. This was according to Shajo because he per-

sonally has been away from Shafa for long and besides when he came his com-

pound was not in a central position. Thus he found it quite inconvenient to

be village head while he resides almost in the suburb.

The village heads of Shafa from beginning to present in order were:

1) Pukuma Shola
2) Yawatufa
3) Yabwala Tapci
4) Yadadi
5) Bila dzo
6) Kwambali Jiva
7) Shajo
8) Adamu
9) Buba Briam

Thus, according to Shajo, from its origin to the present day these were
all the village heads that reigned Shaffa.

My Comment

Shajo being a brilliant man seemed to know a lot, including names and
,A f orders of events as good but it might not be possible that these could have

been the only village heads that ever lived in Shafa from its origin to the

present day, especially when Shaffa has been an old town which might have

from beginning settled at least a thousand years ago. Besides the problem

I confronted while interviewing him was that he really proved intelligent

but he was conscious of his memory that he never wanted a question to pass

unanswered, especially when he wanted to prove that his predecessors have

been famous.
Simfa -

Interview with Shajo continued:

I went on to ask Shajo about achievements of each successor village

head. Here Shajo concentrated much more on the said original founder,

Pukuma Shola, and all he said were repeated facts.

Pukuma Shola

He was the orighal founder of the village Shafa. He came from Mandara-

garau where he was said to have been given the title of Pukuma by Yamtarawalla.

However, in the battle that took place between Yamtarawalla and Virahyel

Pukuma Shola sided with Virahyel and therefore had to flee to Sasuwa near

Shafa. At Sasuwa because of his nature which appears a legendary story here

the original occupiers of this village had to flee the village for him and

thence he found himself settled at Shaffa. Here sources differ as to how he came

to Shaflt. While Shajo believed he came normally like any other immigrant Buba

Briam believed he jumped a distance of 1 miles and landed at Shafa, together

with his seven children who founded Shafa.

His achievements were not so vivid with the exception that according to Shajo

he was the first Bura to have been given a title by Yamtarawalla and that was

the title of Pukuma. When I asked whether he did fight any war, Shajo denied

any knowledge of Pukuma Shola having fought any war. And as for his relations

with the surrounding villages, Shajo believed it was because the remaining

villages feared him. Besides, population then was low, he said, and so no one

was ready for any wars.

The other village head the informant picked upon which was known to have

been famous was Yakadi. Shajo said that Yakadi was made Thefur and was

known to have fought many wars. However, Shajo could not remember a particular

war he fought.


As to the other village heads and their achievements Shajo could not

remember much until we came to the time of Biladzo who was his father; how-

ever we shall come to that later.

As for the titles used for village heads earlier, there wasn't any

special title as such. What was commonly used was 'Walir Di'. This means

the elder of the village or the head of the village. However, these were

used side by side with the title Bilama. Since from when the title Bilama

came to be used, Shajo could not tell. All he suspected was that the word

Bilama was corrupted from Kanuri of which he could not account for since he

does not speak Kanuri.

However, with the coming of British administration the title of Lawan

came into being. At first it was thought that Lawan would substitute for a

village head but this never occurred, especially in Shafa where the Lawanship

belonged to a different clan from the village headship. Thus in Shaffa the

origin of Lawanship existed side by side with the village headship.

Shafa Origin Clanship and Change

Shajo, while narrating to me the history of the original people that

later came to find Shafa, had an interesting bit I wish to report under the

title of Clan Change.

According to him the original founders of Shafa, including Shajo himself,

who is their descendant, were not originally of the Mshelia clan as they are

known today. They were originally Malgwi as far back as they could remember.

However, during their course of migrations several things did happen which

made the clan name change.

When these people moved from Madagali through Gaya Kilba to Ngulder
first settled
their clan was unknown. However, at Pelathlabu theyAunder a 'Bwala' tree

(this is a common tree around here which I do not exactly know its name in

English. However, the tree is associated with much devilish sort of things,

e.g. it should be used as firewood by some clans as it is believed its

saball' (sort of haptu) would catch the user or his children. 'Sabal' is

a disease that originates as a result of misuse of things one's god did not


Back to the story. When these people settled under this tree they

started to be called with the name of the tree, bwala, and thus they

became Mshelbwala. 'Mshel' in Bura simply refers to something like prince

i.e. 'Prince of Bwala'. Thus the original founders of Shafa moved from

Pelathlabu to Mandaragarau under the clan name of Mshelbwala. However,

again the clan name was to change to Mshelia. This also happened when,

according to Shajo, Yamtarawalla made Shola the founder of Shafa to be

Pukuma. When he was made Pukuma Yamtarawalla gave him a 'muful'; 'muful'

is a tool similar to a hammer used for beating red hot iron into a shape of

any implement needed whether it be arrow, hoe, shovel, etc.

Thus, with this muful given to Pukuma Shola it was a sign that he was

to be a blacksmith. Therefore when Pukuma Shola left Mandaragirau to Sasuwa

then finally Shafa he was a blacksmith yet was Mshelbwala. Therefore it was

thought how could a clan of blacksmith be identified as Mshelbwala. He

should rather be called Mshelia instead. Thus from henceforth Mshelbwala

was changed to Shelia and thus the present founders of Shafa were identified

as of the Mshelia clan instead of Malgwi or Mshelbwala.

'Lia' in Bura simply means metal or iron rod. Thus since the clan was

specially known for their skill in smithing metal they were called Mshelia

i.e. 'Prince of Metal'.

Ward History

Interview with M. Yarkawa Wakawa
Date: June 19, 1974
Place: His house at Shafa.

As has been said by others interviewed earlier Shafa remained a homo-

genous, compact village up to colonial rule. Thus in talking of another

ward at Shafa it is difficult to tell. Rather it is easier to talk of the

coming of another clan apart from the Mshelia who were original founders


rather than a ward. In this case I have chosen the Wakawa clan which

features among the most prominent group living at Shafa to date.

Before the coming of the Wakawa clan several other clans did come

but there was none that emerged significant. Most came in the form of

not more than one or two persons who were mostly exiled due to some mis-

demeanors within their own clan and village. Such as the coming of Batanca Shikinga

who came to Shaa from Bifigui. It was said that Batanca Shikinga murdered some-

body at BOingui and for his own security had to take refuge at Shafa. Then

the village head was Yakadi who gave him shelter within his own house. This

Batanca Shikinga was still of another Mshelia clan and his descendants are

still to be found in Shafa. However they have no blood relationship with the

sons of Yakadi who housed him.

After these examples of the clans that came before the Wakawa but did

not feature prominently we now shift to the coming of the Wakawa clan to


The Wakawa clan was the compact single clan that lives at Tiraku,a

distance of about 2 miles east of Shafa (see research work on Tiraku con-

ducted August 1973). The Wakawa traced their origin only as far backward

as Buratai, later Kulandi and then finally Tiraku said to have been found by

two hunting brothers, Biladunwja and Magaji Yoksa.

However, after settling at Tiraku some of the Wakawa finding Tiraku

enclosed among mountains with thick forest, preferred an open bush. These

therefore migrated to Bamji) il now a ward about a mile away from Shafa on

Garkida road. The cotton market there now serves as the boundary between

the former two villages.

With the coming of the colonial rule Yakadi was the then village head

of Shafa. At the same (time?) at Bamji3pil among the Wakawa clan from

Tiraku Garkida Bata Ngadlama was the village head. At Biu it was the emir

Kuthyi Ali Dogo.

Thus the British colonial government in their bid to extend Pabir hegemony


and to bring the Bura under effective administration sought to appoint a

Lawan at Shafa. To follow the normal British policy of finding a strong

indigenous leader, then give him governmental powers to rule the rest of

his people, the British found Yakadi, the village head of Shaffa, a strong

leader and therefore decided to crown him the Lawan of Shafa and its en-

virons. However, at this time the relationship between the Bum and the

Pabir overlords at Biu was not cordial. As a result nobody was ready to serve

for the Pabir as the Lawan; thus even Yakadi turned the offer down.

Comment by Simfa Wakawa

Here M. "rkawa had the story different when I asked him to give me

an example of the sort of relationship between Bura and Pabir existing then

that made it so strained, so much so that no Bura was ready to act as an agent of

the Pabir government. M. Yarkawa being a man from Tiraku went back to Tiraku

to narrate to me an incident that happened between Tiraku and the emir at

Biu. This was a quarrel over cattle.

It was said that one Fulani man by name Yambiti went to Biu and stole

a herd of cattle belonging to the emir at Biu. By then the Pabir were not

in contact at Tiraku so the emir as claimed could not pursue this Fulani man

to Tiraku. What happened was the emir sent message to Tiraku asking the

people to capture Yambiti for him. The emir, not even caring a bit about

his cattle wanted only to deal with Yambiti and in compensation Tiraku people

could take the cattle as a reward for bringing Yambiti to Biu for the emir.

However, the people finding the Pabir not on good terms, refused to serve the

emir's requests. However, the emir never) sent a force to crush Tiraku.

My Comment

I believe this story about Tiraku could not come under colonial rule and

must have been much earlier. The fact that the emir did not send force to

crush Tiraku showed clearly Tiraku then was not under Pabir overlodship.


Therefore the story must be a pre-1900 history. Thus it shows clearly

that even before colonial rule the Bura and the Pabir did not like each

other. This culminates with the fact that no Bura was ready to serve for

the Pabir as Lawan of Shafa.

Simfa -

Interview about the coming of the Wakawa Clan to Shafa (continued)

Back to where the story diverged to the relationship between Shafa

and Biu, we take off from where Yakadi refused to be Lawan of Shaffa. Over

the reason of bad relationship between Shafa and Biu, Shajo disagreed with

M. Yarkawa and said that the reason why Yakadi refused to be Lawan for Biu was

that he had no son to succeed him and therefore feared to accept a post that

his son would not succeed and therefore decided to seek for his friend of

the Wakawa clan in Bamjikil in person of Yerima Bata Ngadlama to accept

the post. However though interviewed at different times in different places

M. Yarkawa disagreed strongly with Shajo, saying that Shajo was trying to

establish the fact that their clan gave out the post to the Wakawa clan else

nobody then was in good relationship with Biu, and that even Yerima Bata

was not interested when asked to be Lawan and in fact escaped into Demna

where he was later called and convinced or rather forced according to M.

Yarkawa under the threat of imprisonment to accept the Lawanship at Shafa

under the emirship of Ali Dogo. Hereto Shajo gave the reason of Yerima

Bata's refusal of the position of Lawan as due to his bad personal relation-

ship between him and the Pabir. This was because it was said that Yerima

Bata himself had one of his sons killed by Pabir (I presume during the

patrols of Elder). Besides Yerima Bata was once imprisoned for two years

because he was found in possession or actually sold a slave. Such and

other related events showed Yerima Bata was not ready to serve under the



However, back to M. Yarkawa's interview. In the long run Yerima Bata

was brought for (to?) Demna to be made Lawan and turbanned by emissaries

of Ali Dogo at Bamjikil', a mile away from Shafa.

My Comment

Finding the differences between Shajo and M. Yarkawa very interesting

on the appointment of the first Lawan at Shafa, I broke off the interview

with M. Yarkawa and went back to M. Shajo to interview him further on how

the first Lawan of Shafa was appointed. But for the meantime we shall

come back to how the Wakawa came to Shafa. For the coming of this clan to

Shafa was through the Lawanship.

Simfa -

How the First Lawan of Shafa Was Appointed

Interview with Shajo
Place: His house at Shafa
Date: June 22, 1974

Shajo went back to the titles his descendants held since they found

Shafa. Pukuma Shola was the first Pukuma of Shafa to be succeeded by his

son after his death, Dzarma Nzika. After Nzika's death Kadafur Butu

succeeded as Pukuma to be followed by Birma Madu. Yakadi was the last

of the Pukumas of Shafa and it was during his time that the Europeans and

the Pabir came and sought somebody to be Lawan of Shafa. They found Yakadi

not only dynamic but the Pukuma and a successive son of the original

founders of Shafa. They therefore asked him to be Lawan.

This message was sent to Yakadi by Kuhyi, Ali Dogo. At the same

time the message had an alternative that if Yakadi should refuse the

Lawanship Yabdali, a man from Kunar, should be appointed. However, Yakadi

said it was an honor by the chief so he could not refuse. Thus he accepted

to be Lawan.

He bough a goat from a woman named Mapindar and slaughtered it to the

messenger who was sent by the emir. This messenger was Chapolla Karam.


Besides the goat Yakadi took six 'buls' (the traditional Bura gown) and

six kuntu and gave it to Chapolla Karam to take it to the emir as a sign

of thanks. Then Garkida Bata, the refugee from Bilngui who was given

shelter by Yakadi too, gave the messenger one bul and 2 kuntu as a sign

of help to Yakadi. Thus making a total of eight kuntu and seven buls taken

to the emir, Ali Dogo, as a sign of Yakadi's gratitude to the emir Ali

Dogo for appointing him as Lawan.

That very evening after the messenger left Yakadi called Dakwiyama

Hyeladi, one of the refugees from Bilngui,to call Dakwiyama Madu, his

brother, to come and inform him that the emir had honored him but he had

no son so let his brother Dakwiyama Madu accept the post of Lawan, but

Dakwiyama Madu refused. So Yakadi sent his messenger again to Bamjilcil

to call Njakau Bata Ngadlama, a man of the Wakawa clan, to come. He

came and Yakadki asked him this time as friend to accept the honor
bestowed (?)
endaued(?) on him since he had no son. But Njakau Bata Ngadlama refused

giving reason that his brother, Whida, was killed by Pabir and he, Njakau

himself once bought a slave and he was jailed by Pabir so he wouldn't

accept any post from a Pabir. But Yakadi refused to accept the reason

that he would make peace between him and the Pabir. Njakau agreed and

was asked to go home and come back the following morning and did as he

was told.

When Njakau Bata Ngadlama came back the following morning Yakadi

called Kwananga, Dakwiyama, Hyeladi, Garkida Bata and together they

went to their haptu at Kunar where Njakau Bata Ngadlama was made to swear

by the haptu that he was given the Lawanship by Yakadi and that it was not

originally theirs (his clan's); that if any of Yakadi's grandsons were to

desire the post they should be given it.

This was where M. Yarkawa strongly disagreed saying that Shajo was


saying this because he wanted to make it as if their clan Mshelia gave the

Lawanship to the Wakawa. M. Yarkawa disagreed and said that the emir gave

Njakau Bata the Lawanship directly.

However, back to Shajo's story. Yakadi took Njakau Bata Ngadlama to the

emir in Biu and told him Njakau was his son whom he chose to be the Lawan

instead of himself. Then they came back to Shafa and the emir sent his men

which includes Chapola Karam, Ya ali Gwagwa, Ya ali Butal, Burashika Pokta

to turban Njakau Bata Ngadlama as the first Lawan of Shafa, and in Yakadi's

house at Shafa Njakau Bata Ngadlama was turbanned Lawan of Shafa, thus

changing his name to Yerima Bata Ngadlama.

During Kuhyi Madu's time, according to Shajo, the Mshelia clan of Shafa

wanted the Lawanship back as was promised then earlier. Kuhyi Madu promised

them and Shajo himself gave the sum of six pounds (M6) = N12 to the emir

through Badi Hiranta, a messenger who himself gave it through Galadima

Salvia, the ex-district head of Kwajaffa (but then not a district head yet),

to give to the emir as a guarantee that they would later get it back. But

to his deposition in (?) nobody talked about the case again and the Lawan-

ship remained in the hands of the Wakawas to date.

The successive Lawans of Shafa were:

1) Yerima Bata Ngadlama
2) Bilama Handa
3) Yerima Kadabu
4) Lawan Yangam
5) Lawan Abwari

The Coming of the Wakawa Clan to Shafa

Interview with M. Yarkawa continued

Yerima Bata of the Wakawa clan became Lawan at Bamjikil. However Bamjikil

remained a small village compared to Shafa; and it was the desire of Biu to

bring Yerima Bata to Shafa. However at the time Yerima Bata was Lawan and

was needed to come to Shafa in a bigger settlement to be Lawan he committed


an offense which made him flee to Demna. This was because he married

somebody's wife; and it was the custom that once one marries another's

wife one must be in a strong position to defend himself or the woman could

be recaptured. Yerima Bata, finding Bamjikil a small settlement, fled to

Demna. Thus with him went the Lawan of Shafa to Demna temporarily.

It was not until after a year that he came back to Bamjikil and still

continued as Lawan. This time Biu persisted on the demand of his removal

to Shafa. A house was built for him at Shafa and Lawan Bata reluctantly

accepted the shift to Shafa. With him began the coming of the Wakawa to


Finding themselves in the upper hierarchy in Shafa the Wakawa at Bamjikil

followed and now there are many of the Wakawa clan residing at Shafa.

Unlike other villages Shafa remained a cosmopolitan village with several

clans and there was therefore no particular ward belonging to a particular

clan as seen elsewhere, clans mixed up within one ward typical of a modern


Titles and Offices

Interview with Buba Briam
Place: His house at Shafa
Date: June 24, 1974

Besides those already mentioned there tends not to be any significant titles

among the Bura,so said Bura Briam. However, when I pressed harder on him to

tell me any that he could remember he scratched hard and mentioned to me some,


Kadalar Mtaku Kadala means leader or commander; mtaku means bush. Thus

Kadalar Mtaku means commander of the bush which, in literary terms, means

the hunt leader. His duties are clear; he is in charge of a particular bush

and it is his duty to announce when this particular bush he in charge of

should be hunted. Such announcement is made over the market places. He

carries a particular sort of plant with him in the market (this is the leaf


from the shafa tree). When he is seen it is known that a particular bush is

to be hunted. Then anybody could ask him which bush is going to be hunted

and on what day. By so doing, by the time people leave the market all sur-

rounding villages should know roughly when a particular bush would be hunted

and when the time comes all surrounding villages would converge on that bush.

His reward for his duty is that any animal killed in this particular

hunt, he would have a specified portion given to him out of it. If it be

an animal he usually gets the shoulder; if it be a fowl he gets one leg. If

it's a tiny animal like rabbit, then he may not get anything.

Nca Milim (ncha) This is a religious title. Nca means eye or eye of,

milim meaning God. Thus, nca milim means eye of the God Le. watchman of the

God or the man in charge of the God. In most cases as I see at present it

is usually the village head or the Bilama who both combines this religious

post and his secular post as leader of his village. But Buba Briam in his

own case insisted that nca milim was different in those days, that this man

was neither a village head nor did he represent the village head but repre-

(' sented only the milim. )His duties were numerous. He is the man who takes care

of the God. He gives the God sacrifice whenever necessary. He would not

drink beer without sprinkling it on the milim. He would announce to the

people what the God was believed to have told him or in most cases when the

milim was angry with the people. This could be shown through numerous deaths,

plague, drought etc. In this case he would suggest the remedy to the people.

Usually such remedy ends in the form of sacrificing goats and chickens.

Sometimes if it be a witch among the people who was eating others' children

the solution could end by drinking the juice of a particular type of plant

called hira. He who was the witch, after drinking that juice, would instantly

die. He who was not would vomit it out and no harm would affect him. Thus in

all cases this nca milim supervises them.

Ncir Di (nchir) Ncir again means eye; di meaning ground, i.e. eye of

. 'J

k V X


the ground. This man's duty was to plant first; when the rains come then

the others follow. Again this role now is carried out by the village head.

He did not need to announce; all he did was when he reckoned one of the early

rains was heavy enough he goes out early morning and starts plaiting; after

he is seen then everyone follows the same suit.

Mwala Miwa Mwala means woman or wife; miwa, I could not get exactly

what this means. However, mwala miwa usually refers to the last wife to be

married within a particular household. Such wife is usually the most loved.

Thus in most cases this wife shared the husband's secret much more than any

other wife. She cooks his best meals for him. The husband spends much of

his time in her hut.

Mwala Wala Mwala again means woman or wife; wala means big or elder.

Thus mwala wala refers to the first wife to be married. This woman, though

not so much loved as the mwala miwa by the husband, earns a great deal of

respect from outsiders and the rest of the wives within the household.

Relations to Other Places

Interview with Shajo
Place: His house at Shafa
Date: July 3,1974

Relations with Tiraku

Tiraku being close to Shafa (a distance of 2miles) has much to do

with Shafa. However, relations with Tiraku were not favorable. Such problems

like hunting grounds, marrying of another's wife was constant at the scene.

Such that they were constantly at wars. Such war is known as the 'dlira'.

This dlira is an organized raiding whereby one village plots how to go and

inflict a lot of damages including killing, looting and burning of the other's

house but would not occupy any other's villages but return to their own. The

intention was to teach the other village a lesson as a result of a particular

action they did which must have annoyed the other.


I r/


Thus the relationship between Tiraku and in Shafa was in this form

of one raiding the other. The main cause of such tension was usually over

women. For it was the custom in those days that one can marry another's

wife whenever he felt like through the numerous marriage ways. For example

he can elope another's wife without any legal divorce. One can capture

another's wife if he was strong enough; sometimes with the help of friends

and kinsmen. Thus in Shafa as in all Buraland then there was actually

nothing like legal divorce. This was the cause of constant wars between

individuals, clans and usually villages.

One such relationship that did exist between Tiraku and Shafa over

such issues for example was narrated very well to me by Shajo who actually

took part in one of these raids.

Somebody from the Mshelia clan at Shafa by name Yankwar seduced a

man's wife from Tiraku. The man was Kabura who still lives. It did not

take long before Chadi Dawa, another fellow from the very Mshelia at Shafa,

to again seduce another's wife at Tiraku. Such(repeate- acts could not

be tolerated by Tiraku, who saw Shafa looking down upon Tiraku's power.

What Tiraku did was to have a showdown with Shafa and teach them a lesson

to stop further acts of intolerance.

Tiraku immediately prepared to raid Shafa. Horns were sounded; every-

one gathered in front of the village head's house at Tiraku with arrows

and bows. They were given directives to raid Shafa, (?) it and burn a few

huts. Thus unexpectedly warriors converged on Shafa without any hesitation.

However, Tiraku's effort to defeat Shafa failed. Biladzo who was later

to be the Bilama of Shafa shot Kabura Dalta. According to Shajo, the shot

was to have twelve wouAds. I asked how it actually happened that one shot

was to have twelve wounds. Shajo described it that as the arrow hit Kabura

he shook one side and the arrow hit another. He did this over and over until

the arrow had made twelve wounds before it finally stayed in one place. I


further asked him why this happened. He said that the arrow was so powerful

that it could not just stick to one place.

My Comment

As Kabura was still alive I had the opportunity to go down to Tiraku

where I asked Kabura whether this was true that he was once shot at one

place and he had twelve wounds. Kabura denied it flatly and in fact even

showed me the fading part of the scar the arrow actually made on his thigh.

This therefore, as I concluded of Shajo, is the normal way people paint

(elaborate) their own history in a glorified way and thus exaggerate their

position and power over others.

Simfa -

Interview continued

AApart from the shooting of Kabura, by name Diycima, was again shot by

Biladzo at the time of the raid; another still, Kadafur from Tiraku, was

again shot. Tiraku became frightened and thus ran away. Thus even though

Shafa was taken by surprise they were able to defend their position. From

then on Tiraku never attempted to raid Shafa again.

Relations with Biu

Interview with Herma Pindar
Date: July 3, 1974

According to Herma Pindar, Shafa was before the colonial rule a bigger

village than what it became in the early part of the coming of the white man.

When there was no road everybody was living at peace with Biu but immediately

the roads were built people coming from Biu started harassing them (the people

at Shafa) and thus nobody was interested in staying near the roads again.

According to him people would come and anything they see, be it a ram or a

good zana mat fencing one's house they would order one to catch or remove it

for them and send it to Biu. As a result of these so many people emigrated

from Shafa to areas that were not easily accessible by Biu.


When I contacted Shajo later whether it was true that so many people

actually fled Shafa as a result of Pabir harassment else it was a bigger

settlement than what it used to be, he denied that and said it was quite

untrue. Shafa had since long existed as a small settlement and has grown

large now as a result of road communication and at no time did anybody leave

Shafa because of their relationship with Biu.

In fact, when I asked him of their relationship with Biu before the

coming of the white man he simplyysaid there was nothing at all.) At no

time did Shafa even have any war with Biu; neither was there anything

between them as trade or any official link. The first time Shafa had any

link with Biu was when Yakadi, the then village head (Bilama) of Shafa was

asked to be Lawan which he turned down.

However, Shajo told me that if I want to know any link between the

area and Biu I should go eastwards to Tiraku where he had heard a lot of

police patrols. There a man, Genu Gana, was shot by a white man while try-

ing to run away from the village as the colonial troops arrived. A woman,

Matagi Yarami, who died just last February was captured and she was made

to cook for the army who camped for a week while everybody left the village

for them. Not only that but she was raped.

My Comment

As I happen to come from Tiraku I could confirm both stories which

were told to me right from childhood since Genu Gana, the one who was shot,

was my uncle. The story had it that when by the time the army arritd Tiraku

was informed by Shafa secretly and message was passed round whereby each

household took as much property as possibly since the ones left behind could

be looted. They then disappeared and hid in the Ngima rocks which were

about 2 miles away. However, the man, Genu Gana, failed to escape quickly

until he actually saw the force coming. Then he started running away. Stories

had it that he was about three miles away on the Yimana hillside but that

the gun was magnetic and it drew him near and at one shot he was killed.


As to Matagi Yarami's case, I confirmed it with her when she was still alive

in August last year during my field work. She actually told me that she was

not captured as such but that women were not actually fought so they used

to come back to secretly gather supplies for their people hiding and it

was then that she was caught and made to cook for the army and said that

she was actually made their wife for their week's stay.

At the end of it all then the army and those that follow them to loot

had enough to carry, they burn some houses and then retreated. It was then

that the people could return and resettle.

Relationship with Pelathlabu

Interview with Herma Pindar
Place: His house at Shafa
Date: July 3

Pelathlabu was one of the towns where the original founders of Shafa

once settled on their migratory trend. However, unlike other places where

they settled, like Gaya Kilba, Madagali or Mandaragarau where they have

lost all sorts of contact, Shafa still retained a close relationship with

Pelathlabu. This might be due to distance especially where all the others

were far away and Pelathlabu is close. Thus at Pelathlabu there remained

a haptu which must at least be contacted through sacrifice of a goat annually.

As a mark of this Pelathlabu people and Shafa people remained in close

relationship. Thus earlier Shafa and Pelathlabu people would not fight but

must always be friendly. However that now no longer exists.


Organization of religion (shrines)

Interview with Shajo
Date: July 4, 1974

Religion or the worship of haptu during the pre-colonial days ranges

from the smallest haptu belonging to the nyarmbwa to the biggest haptu i.e.

the milim which protects the whole village in all sorts of activities.


Thus in some cases their organization did differ. For example, at the

head of the nyarmbwa haptu is the nyarmbwa elder, and in his case the haptu

is usually kept in his own compound for safe keeping. However, besides

himself, any other elder or person in the nyarmbwa could contact the haptu

without going through the nyarmbwa elder, especially when a particular

person felt he had committed a secret crime which he wouldn't like anybody

to know, including his elders. Such a fellow could secretly contact the

haptu/and pledge his loyalty or seek forgiveness on his own and such acts

could be forgiven.

However, this is not so with the milim. In the case of the milim the

village head or the Bilama acts as the chief pr est of the haptu. Thus

the Bilama plays the double role of both the secular head and the religious

head. In the case of the milim(nobody could contact the milim but must go

through him. Besides, he has the full power of contacting the milim on

his wish on behalf of matters affecting the whole village, his clan or

his household. Sometimes he contacts the milim on request by a council

of elders on matters affecting the village on which the village head

overlooked or not interested in doing so on his own.

e.g. If a plague strikes the village or a whitchcraft the village head

might have a hand in it or his relative might be suspected of causing it

and he may feel reluctant in taking himself or his relative to haptu when

he knew they are guilty. In this case the elders which act as council

could make him do so against his wish.

Youth Organizations

Interview with Shajo continued

ten's Youth Organizations

There were no distinct men's youth organizations with titles as such

but this did not mean that men's youth organizations did not exist. Such

men's youth organizations were therefore manifested through organizations like



Kachia (the circumcision period) 'Bila'(herding or working after the

sheep, the goats or in some cases the cattle.

In the case of the 'Kachia' boys ranging from the age of about six

to twelve usually belonging to one zara only in the case of a big village,

but in Shafa before colonial rule since it was only one village, boys of

this age all over the village were gathered and circumcised at the same

time. During the time of circumcision the first to be circumcised be-

comes the chief of the group (Kuhyi) the second the Herma or assistant,

the third Chapola and so on to the last who was called the Gakimbal. Thus

everybody has his role in the group.

After the circumcision these boys were secluded from the society. In

most cases they live in a hiding in a bush nearby where they should not

see girls at all. Food is taken to them at the place. They would how-

ever arrive at home after supper and group in a hut reserved for them in

one of the compounds in the village where they spend the night and leave

for their hideout very early again in the morning before anybody woke up

from bed.

What went on among the boys therefore was a sort of independent

government. The first to be circumcised i.e. the chief of the group gives

orders and commands his own free will. Such orders must always be obeyed.

Others with subsequent ranks also give orders at their own discretion.

The Cakimbal, the last to be circumcised, carried out everybody's orders

and was more or less a slave to the group.

Such orders could easily be seen during the eating hours. At eating

time every mother send some food to the camp. No boy is allowed to eat his

own mother's food until order is given by the 'chief'. When all the food

is brought the 'chief' gives order for the best dishes to be selected for

himself or in some cases he did the selection himself. After he has done

that the other that followed did the same until it comes to the Cakimbal who


who took the worst dish. Besides taking the worst dish all the boys

were usually expected to finish their food else no food should be thrown

away. Thus if there remains some food in any other's dish he takes it

to the Cakimbal to finish it up for him despite the fact that the Cakimbal

may be satisfied.

These boys therefore continued their practise of governemtn until

every boy's wound was healed. On the last day a ceremony is held for them

with everybody in the village, elders, boys and girls, all present to give

them presents, to have feast with them, and then as they pass out they join

the rank of men in the village, who could now marry and sit with elders


'Bila' (to6 look after the herd)

'Bila' unlike the 'Kachia' was not an organized youth group as such

but when many children meet together herding usually their sheep and goats

several activities did show themselves which appeared as if it was a youth


Thus when at least six or more boys (sometimes girls did take part in

working after the sheep and goats) meet in a nearby bush they formed what

educationists do call the gang age. Such boys are usually destructive.

They would look after the other's sheep for him and send him to go and

steal some maize cobs and bring to them so that they could roast them

and eat them as a group. These herd boys usually have a lot of secret in

between themselves. For example, one goat may eat up somebody's crops

and these boys would not disclose whose goats or sheep ate the crops so

that he could not be victimized. Where no boy could be traced all the

herd boys could be contacted and they deny it.

Despite all these cooperation this did not mean that these boys did

not fight among themselves. There was always the occasional show of strength.

The strongest acts as the boss for he was feared. Thus there was no equality


among themselves.

Such activities like searching for wild fruits, hunting for birds

and grasshoppers was the constant practise of the boys. Sometimes they did

this as group activities and collections were divided equally or according

to strength.

Organizations (continued)

Interview with M. Yarkawa,cont'd.

Women's Youth Organizations

Women's organizations, unlike the young men's, was much more restricted

to the household. Such women's youth organizations clearly reflect in what

is called 'mbwa hadla'. 'Mbwa' means hut, house or room. 'Hadla' means to

grind. 'Mbwa hadla' means the house for grinding or the room for grinding.

Grinding in this case applies to grinding the guinea corn. However the

meaning does not clearly show here until we actually discuss what happens

in the 'mbwa hadla'.

Like the Kachia where young men varying from ages six to twelve were

grouped together, here girls of about eleven to eighteen'%are grouped to-

gether to sleep in the same hut and return to their parents the following

morning. In this case, if a zara or ward is big enough all the girls in

that ward meet and chose any compound where there is space or empty room.

The leader of the girls contacts the owner of the compound and the girls'

own parents that they would like to sleep in mbwa hadla at so-and-so's house.

Usually no mother refused. What followed was these girls choose a day when

they should make their 'bur'. Bur is a grinding stone. In this case it is

a stone used for grinding the guinea corn. These burs (buras) were usually

planted inside the compound where they are to spend nights. These burs are

planted in earth stuck together in lines. Sometimes there could be up to

20 or more burs stuck together, then known as 'burkau', each girl having her




What followed after the 'burkau' is ready was the opening of the

day they were to start sleeping at the particular compound and the be-

ginning of the use of the 'burkau'. Each girl on the fixed day brought

her own food that evening (after supper usually after 7:00 P.M.) and they

as a group ate the food and thus the 'mbwa hadla' was declared open. From

then on each girl brought her own bed to the hut and henceforth starts

coming each night after supper and returns to her compound early morning

as she woke from bed.

Thus this 'mbwa hadla' becomes an attraction center for the youth

from the village and surrounding village. Such young men would gather

around at almost the same time with the girls daily and a lot of playing

and all sorts of dances or 'grinding dances' go on every night until about

midnight when the men disperse and the girls go to bed. The 'grinding

dances' are grindings following the rhythm of music supplied by the gulum,

the yagandi or the tsintza. Young men who know how to play any of the

instruments come at their own will or on demand by the girls and each night

there is always somebody supplying music for the 'rhythmic grinding' which

is believed made the girls grind more corn than without music.

After each girl has finished grinding the guinea corn she brought

from home the boys and girls would sometimes go out at open fields in front

of the compound and organize some dances, either at the rhythm of songs

they would sing themselves or at the rhythm of any of the musical instru-

ments available.

The girls like the boys also sometimes organize themselves into gang

groups. While every elder is asleep usually after 10:00 P.M. or thereabouts

and when the moonshine is bright they would go out to the groundnuts fields

and steal some groundnuts usually belonging to persons they don't like and

would come and boil them and eat them up in the night. And even if there

was public outcry against it by the owner in the morning, no girl would


disclose it else be expelled from the 'mbwa hadla'.

My Comment

The mbwa hadla as I saw it had many advantages. In Bura custom

young men who want to marry find it difficult to step the compound of the

parents of the girl he wants and ask her hand in marriage for the parents

are not supposed to know this. It should at the initial stage remain a

secret between the boy and the girl until officially disclosed to the

parents of the girl by the parents of the boy. Thus in the mbwa hadla

where most of the girls chose husbands from the numerous young men that

hang around each night, there was no shyness or fear of either the girl

or the boy of the parents knowing his moves before official disclosure.

As for the mothers, the girls leaving their huts, for them was a relief

from congestion. Besides together with her mates she grinds a lot of corn

for them for the day's meals, else if at home a rude or lazy girl could

refuse to grind enough corn for a day's meal.

For the girls, they find freedom of free movement with boys of their

own choice without the parents knowledge. Besides they learn a lot from

copying other more skilled or brilliant girls. Surprisingly enough, to the

age of eighteen these girls mostly remained virgins despite staying in the

company of young men at their own will.

Judging by the age at which these girls gather at 'mbwa hadla' i.e.

ranging from puberty to full maturity, I believe it was designed to get the

girls away from their parents in the night, especially when the girl was

supposed to share a hut with the woman, and when the man needs the woman

must come to the woman's hut. However, the idea of mbwa hadla has almost

died out and girls now get their huts similar to boys who usually have

theirs within the same compound.

Women's Organizations continued

'Pala' means to exchange. In this case 'pala' among young women


was when a girl goes to another girl and arranged or make timetable of farming,

usually in the wet season. They would arrange when they go to one's farm and

farm for her parents in a group. The following day they go to the others'

farm. This usually includes two to about five girls in agroup. Thus each

day in turn they farm to either of them. The idea was that they get a big piece

of land hoed at once and while in a group they too enjoy their own conversation

instead of that of their mother. Thus in the wet season hardly would girls go

to farm only with parents. Rather, girls of the same age group would go to

farm together on separate piece of farm or if on the same farm, with their

mother, would stay at different sections of the farm.

Hunting Organizations

Interview with Shajo
Place: His house
Date: July 4, 1974

There are generally two types of hunting organizations i.e. the annual

hunting organization and the daltuwar. While an annual hunting is a hunt usually

organized to hunt in the bushes around, daltuwar is meant for a long distance


According to Shajo, there is nothing different about the annual hunting

organization. What happened was that all the inhabited usually unfarmed bushes

in between villages were divided up with various names, like Kimbim, Ngima,

Humusu, Ngozi etc. Such bushes long ago, according to Shajo, were having thick

forests and a lot of animals lived there. Such bush under a different name

is farmed at a particular time, usually on different dates so as to get many

people to attend a particular dance.

What followed was that on the particular day a particular area was going

to be hunted some shafa leaves with some grass, i.e. grasses used for the

minting(?) of zara mat was tied in a small bundle carried in the hand. This

bundle was carried all about the market places around. This bundle is to


indicate that there is going to be an organized hunt somewhere. What

followed was that once a person is seen with this bundle at a market place

he is approached and asked which particular hunt (kidla) was going to be

conducted. He who carried the bundle willingly tells everybody that asked

and of course the date for it.

Ownership of such hunting areas were usually on lineage bases i.e. a

person usually from the original founder of a particular village owns a parti-

cular land or hunting place around the village and it was his sole right to

name or decide when the hunt should take place. After him his son or brother

or any next elderly person in the family takes over the organization of this

hunting area.

On the hunting day usually at about 10 A.M. everybody from all surrounding

villages prepared. The time iz of course never announced since everybody

just knew from past experiences. What followed was that surrounding villages

converged on the bush and there was random walls all about the place with

bows and arrows in hand and dogs that could smell wild animals and run at

their hills until they were caught. There were shouts of "Ka mda bara" i.e.

repeatedly "Let everybody search for any animal." When the time for going home

comes there were shouts of "A wurki" i.e. "Let's go home."

If an animal was discovered and was being chased by men and dogs there

were alarms raised all over the place for everybody to be attentive and know

where it ran to and therefore ran after it as it approaches or shout at it,

or attract the attention of one's dogs to it.

If an animal is caught there were fixed ways on which it should be divided,

e.g. if a dog catches the animal the owner of the dog owns it; however some

parts of the meat must be shared with those that came to get it first from the

dog and the 'owner' of the bush, e.g. the owner of the bush gets one leg, the

first to arrive at the scene gets another, and the second and the third gets

the ribs shared out among them according to their order of arrival. If it


has been shot with an arrow the owner owns the animal while as the parts

above were shared out in the same manner. Thus all in all the owner of the

animal gets half the meat while the rest is shared out according to their

order of assistance. If it be a fowl one leg is given to the first arrival

when the fowl was caught whether it be by a man or a dog.

At home when the meat is brought at least a leg is cut to smaller pieces

and given out to all the men in the village, usually one per family i.e. for

the head of the family. The remaining meat which is now not more than 1/3 of

the animal captured is put at the family saball' sabal is a family haptu

which must be pleased else it will take revenge against offenders by striking

at them or their descendants through plague, disease or otherwise.

The following morning the meat is taken out of the sabal and eaten by

the family of him,who killed the animal. If the animal was caught by a dog

the meat need not be taken to the sabal. After the eating of the animal the

head and legs are usually left until after four days or thereabout. This

portion is specially reserved for the friends of the killer of the animal.

This applies mostly to young men alone. For the head they invite friends

on a fixed day to come and eat the head. These young men together with the

one who killed the animal gathered (usually not up to ten in number) each

brought an arrow or two or presently sometimes money to give to the killer as-

present for his manliness in killing an animal, or for his good shooting.

Here again let us go back to the young man who for example has killed

his first animal in a hunt. The same procedure followed in sharing out the

meat except that for him there is something i.e. getting a fost mother. In

Shafa, like in all of the surrounding villages, a boy or a girl gets a mother

from her family besides his/her real mother. This acts as his/her mother in

case the mother dies. The same applies in getting a father besides the real

father. Such mother or father is usually gotten out of one's elder brothers

or sisters. Thus, for the boy the mother or the father could be gotten with


use of his first animal killed in a hunt, i.e. before the family eats their

share a portion of the meat, usually the upper part of the thigh is given to

him/her who is nominated as the mother or the father which they usually accept.

If a boy failed to kill an animal before his mother or father died he slaughters

a goat at the father or mother's funeral ('kun tua') and gives out the relevant

portion of the meat for either of the parents. For a girl, she usually gives a

portion of her dowry to get either of the parents.


There is not much difference between the organization of the daltuwar

and any other annual hunt except that for the daltuwar it was usually a long

distance hunt, not close to any village. People usually spend a night out on

their way to and back from the daltuwar hunt.

Again here in the daltuwar, unlike the general annual hunt, the daltuwar

is more organized. People line up on opposite ends of the bush to be hunted,

sometimes about ten miles away from each other. The line of people could be

a mile long or more. At one end the people shout and start approaching those

coming opposite the people at the other end so as to push any available animals

towards the other line. While one file of hunters shout and bush(push?) the

other file of hunters opposite lay flat on their bellies and wait for any

possible approaching of running game.

Now it is the turn of those that lay flat on their stomachs to shout and

approach closer; the others opposite now lay flat. This continues vice versa

until the two files of hunters opposite each other were at close distance with

all possible animals trapped. When they were close enough animal that run

either side was trapped and killed, and so the catch in the daltuwar was

usually much more than in any annual hunt.

The same process of sharing the meat followed as in any other hunt, so

that in the daltuwar because of the number of catch virtually nobody arrived

at home without any meat in his skin bag.


My Comment

The daltuwar has now faded out completely to an extent that I hear

only stories about it else I was not born when it started to die out. However

the annual hunts which are simply known as 'kidla' are still going on except

that it is not as vigorous as it was about ten or fifteen years back. It is

also fast fading out especially with the government or local authority dis-

couraging it with the getting of permission before any bush is hunted.

The hunt was a source of many quarrels since it was difficult to detect at

times whose dog first caught a particular animal with sometimes many claimants.

Even arrows were disputed if two or more shot the same animal. Besides, there

were so many pretenders led by strong men to claim animals not shot by them

or caught by their animal.

Other Organizations

Mbal Kaki Kaki Mbal=beer; kaki=per compound. Thus hbal kaki' refers to

beer brewed in each compound or brewed per compound. This is done when the

rains fail to come or there is shortage of rain after the fields have been


This is a religious organization. When there is shortage of rain the

village head announces a week before time that each compound is to brew beer to

appease God. Everybody responds and beer is brewed. On the day the beer is

to be drunk nobody was to go out farming. Thus people from surrounding vill-

ages were invited and they come to take part in the drinking of the beer.

On the drinking day some part of the beer is first spilled over the haptu

nyarmbwa usually planted on the center of the compound, or just spilled on

the gate of the house for the gods before anybody could drink it. After this

is done then anybody that wishes to drink could come and drink of the beer

freely. Young men go from place to place in search of more tasty beer.

At the end of the day the pot in which the beer is brewed is taken out of


the compound and left in front of the gate until it rains, before the pot is

taken inside the compound.

Similar to the Mbal Kkki Kaki is the Jangul Kaki Kaki. Jangul is kind

of food that is mixture of guinea corn, maize, beans and groundnuts boiled

together. Similar to Mbal Kaki Kaki the village head announces that Jangul

Kaki Kaki should be prepared. This is done on the appointed (day) and nobody

goes out to hoe. The jangul this time is not boiled inside the compound but

outside in front of the gate. Just as the mbal kaki, it would not be eaten

until some portion is first scattered in front of the compound with words

asking God to send rain. After the portion belonging to God is scattered, then

the rest could be eaten. After it is eaten the pot in which it is boiled is

not taken inside the compound until the rains first beat it outside.

My Comment

Surprisingly enough today the Mbal Kaki is being drunk in Tiraku while

I write about it. One thing I observed was that both Muslims, Christians

and traditionalists all did boil it according to the order of the village head.

While the traditionalists brewed both beer and cooked jangul the Muslims and

Christians boiled only the jangul. The only difference is, as I observed, that

the Christians and the Muslims did not scatter a few pieces to God but went

right away to it. When I asked them whether it was not against their religion

they objected and said it "was not, it was 'sadaka' Le.alms and any God would

support it." However, they all have the same belief whether it be Muslim,

Christian or traditionalist that the rains would follow soon after the 'Jangul

Kaki' or the 'Mbal Kaki Kaki'.

Pelathlabu continued from p.15, typed p.4.

Pelathlabu is a village about 3 miles away from Shafa. It lies north-

east of Shafa and is not situated on the main road. Oral story had it that

this village was once the scene of a bloody battle between Bura and Pabir.

The cause of the war however could not be told to me clearly for it appeared


people were much more interested about the organization than anything else.

The organization went like this; that the war was between all Pabir and

East Bura from about Sakwa then to Garkida. The battlefield was to be Tiraku.

Kida, though being Bura, pretended to be on the side of Pabir but secretly

sent word to the Bura that when the battle gets hot they will turn on the side

of the Bura and start massacring the Pabir. Their identity was that they

would tie white loin cloth (gabaka) around their waist and so Bura persons

would not attack them and they too would be pretending to attack the Bura

though they wouldn't do it seriously.

Meanwhile, the Bura prepared, built a stone wall around Pelathlabu with

seven gates. The wall is still clearly seen today. In each of the gates ditches

were dug so as not to allow Pabir horses to cross and enter the wall and if they

did attempt would fall into the ditch. Thus just as planned at the time of the

battle, when it got hot the Pabir succeeded in entering the wall. Just as they

were about to start massacring the Bura the Bura from Kida who were on the side

of the Pabir turned against them and took side with the Bura. Thus the battle

ended in a bloody massacre of all the Pabir that found their way into the wall

and thus the battle ended with Pabir defeat with the rest that did not gain

entrance into the wall fleeing.

Some people believed that it was the result of that battle that so many

Bura clans emigrated to Garkida in the Adamauwa province. They give example

with the Malgwi found in Garkida as excapees from that battle.

My Comment

The time of this battle I cannot calculate. I can't even know whether

it was during colonial rule or before, especially when the cause remained

remote to me. However, the battle was actually fought, for the stone wall

that surrounds Pelathlabu still stands. Besides, all over the East Bura people

all talk of this war well and in fact it has even become a saying "like the

battle of Pelathlabu" among the Eastern Buras, or another saying still "to


pretend like Kida people." However, whether the battle was actually fought

as it was being narrated I cannot tell. However, I believe there must have been an

exaggeration especially the fact that the whole Bura took part in this particular


Shafa Fires

No interview conducted. My own narration as I heard from the general public.

Shafa from November 1973 to April 1974 saw a lot of house burnings said

to have been caused by a 'Jang'.

'Jang' is an invisible living super being that has the power to do good

or bad depending on his own free will or on how pleased he felt with his

master. The jang could be bought of inherited; when bought it could be first

bought hidden in a yarn of thread. Its form at this time is called 'pelma'

and it is actually the 'pelma' that represents the jang which emerges from it


The 'pelma' are two smelted irons joined together. They are about the size

of the thumb or slightly bigger and each have a hollow in the middle. Thus when

these pelma are sold to one it means the jang has been sold. Though never seen

the jang is even imagined to be like a man but a man that could be about half

a mile tall. The jang is however very foolish and at the owner's command

would do whatever the owner likes. For example, the owner could command him

to bring certain riches and he would do it without hesitation. The owner could

command him to play music and he would do it without any hesitation. As a

result of this during the pre-colonial days there existed a lot of these 'jangs'

and people were all willing to buy.

However there existed two kinds of jang, one good and the other bad. The

good one is the kind that could bring wealth, entertain people with songs and

music and be fed only on vegetables. The bad one however could still bring

riches but the reward for his riches is expensive. Such reward varies from

one's son to a daughter, that is one who owns the 'jang'. If the owner of the


jang refused to surrender either of these the jang could eat up the owner

himself and thus go wild or uncontrolled, with the case of such jang nobody would wish

to buy it and if the owner discovered he has bought an evil jang he would secretly

sell it to a stranger who does not know about it or if the jang becomes too diffi-

cult to sell he secretly puts it in yarn or roll of woven yarn (gabaka) and takes

it and secretly leaves it in the bush and disappears. He who takes that yarn or

gabaka with the 'pelma' inside the jang follows him directly and so it continues.

It was this kind of jang that was sold to (Adamu Thlama at Shafa. The story

about Adamu Thlama's jang went like this:

Adamu Thlama of the Hshelia clan of Shafa lived in Kilba for two years.

Kilba though a tribe is always referred to as area by the people here just as

we say Buraland. The exact town among the Kilba where the man lived I do not

know, but it is believed the Kilba have a lot of 'jang'. In fact, much more

jang than the Bura even in those days.

After Adamu Thlama had worked among the Kilba for two years it was believed

he bought the 'jang' there. Finally after two years he came back home ,to Shafa

and built his house among his people, the original founders of Shafa, the

Mshelia. For two years when Adamu Thlama settled nothing happened until Nov-

ember last year when the 'jang' appeared visible to everyone through the burning

of houses.

Here one other aspect of the jang is that if there is no relationship the

jang would neither harm one nor do anything in his favor; thus one has nothing

to do with the jang if one is not related to the owner.

According to public opinion, Adamu Thlama's jang was said to have demanded

his daughter or son but Adamu Thlama refused to comply and so the jang went wild

and started by burning his own house. However, Adamu Thlama resisted giving

him any of his sons. And even if Adamu Thlama, for example, has given him one

of his relatives' sons the jang would not accept. Indeed it is believed the

jang usually starts by asking the best of the owner's sons and subsequently


continued until it goes up to the next of kin's sons.

Thus in Shafa, when he refused to comply after burning his house the jang

started on his other relatives' sons. This jang became notorious by December

in Shafa that more than thirty houses a4l belonging to the original Mshelias of

Shafa with the exception of three compounds, and this was believed to have been

a mistake.

By February all those related to Adamu Thlama were so frightened that

they in fact don't even sleep in their houses for fear they would catch fire

in the night. They went as far as to pack out their property and keep it in

others compounds not related to them. At this time everybody suspected Adamu

Thlama but because of fear of the present legal cases everybody feared to ap-

proach Adamu Thlama for fear of being persecuted and the law may not believe

this aspect of tradition.

However, when the burning became rampant the elderly relatives couldn't

help it but came to contact Adamu Thlama to get rid of this jang in case he had

it. Though Adamu Thlama denied acquiring any jang people observed his steps

and it was believed he had been going to medicine men all over the place. The

elders of the Mshelia clan sent one to medicine men to confirm whether Adamu

Thlama owned the jang. All the medicine men contacted confirmed it., Stories

also circulated that he, Adamu Thlama, has been advised by the medicine men

on how to get rid of the jang. The method people believed was to throw it

in a hole in one baobab tree just outside his compound. However, Adamu Thlama

never did. As tension mounted Adamu Thlama and his family was said to have

diisc~oe.ed(?) for at least four days with their whereabouts not known. At this

time people thought he has gone on self-exile. However, after four days he

returned again and Adamu Thlama threatened that he would sue anybody to court

who should again talk to him about possessing a jang or even talk about it.

After that nobody dared talk to him but he remained an isolated man to date.

The burning however continued. People who re-thatched their houses found


their houses re-burned again so much so that today there remained several

houses in Shafa unroofed for fear it would be burned again after roofing.

However, by April ending or early May the burning has stopped and Adamu Thlama

still lives in Shafa today.

He was later suspected to have gone to Kilba where he bought the jang

or possibly to a medicine man who could advise him on what to do with the

jang. Others even came to the conclusion that he was advised to throw the

'pelma' the signs of the jang into a hole in a baobab tree behind his house.


Interview *ith Bilama Bukar
Place: His house at Viu Kithla
Date: 6th July 1974

When I asked Bilama Bukar the present village head of Viu Kithla their

origin and their migratory trend, what he immediately told me was that they

were formerly from the Bata tribe. From where he didn't seem to know but I

suppose it must be from the Bata tribe that now lives in Sardauna province.

When I insisted on knowing where they settled first before finally finding

the village Viu Kithla he immediately jumped to the story of Yamtarawalla,

that Viu Kithla is so old a village that nobody can remember how old it is.

For example, Yamtarawalla came to Viu Kithla and found people already settled there and

it was the descendants of those people that still live here now. Then he went on

to say that when Yamtarawalla found them he made friends with them and in fact

nothing had gone wrong between them and Yamtarawalla. Afterwards they lived as

friends not as conquerors and the conquered.

The man then continued to narrate the story haphazardly that Yamtarawalla

was from Mecca and that he had a son known as Dirawala and that it was the

Dirawala that sank into the ground here in Viu Kithla that lead to later suc-

cessive emirs of Biu to be buried here similar to the sinking of Yamtarawalla

at Mandaragarau.


When I asked further to describe what he meant by the emir 'sinking'

Bilama Bukar said that earlier emirs did not die as they do at the moment.

What happened was that when such a great emir felt that he had reigned enough

and decided to give up his office for his chosen son (such son was usually

chosen by the emir himself) he dressed up, saddled his horse, put a bowl by

his side and climbs the horse. What happened was that he decided, either

at the rhythm of music sung by himself or weeping he started to sink. The

bowl by his side was used to cover the place after he has sunk into the

ground. This was how Yamtarawalla died in Mandaragarau and Dirawala in Viu


However, according to Bilama Bukar, as weaker emirs started to reign they

no longer could sink but must die as ordinary men before they gave up their

title and buried before a son succeeded.

The original tribe which first came to the village of which Bilama Bukar

was one is the Zoaka. Since then there has been only one other nyarmbwa that

did come to the village and this is the Mshelthila. The Mshelthila remained

a family to this day. The Mshelthila later took part in the village organi-

zations and thus act as chapola to the original Zoaka founders of Viu Kithla.

Original Size and Layout of the Village

The original zara of the village where the village head (Bilama) lives

now is known as Barwi. It occupies a central position with the other zaras,

Kir Gar, Kogu Ngalim being north of it those closely linked. About a mile

away is what looked like a ward but they classify it as a village i.e. Gur

who has their Bilama and their Bilama was given more power than the Bilama

here at Viu Kithla. However these people were said to have come recently and

settled at Gur from Kida. (See diagram next page.)




P,^ ^f-.TO

1. All in between are tiksha being planted.
2. The Mandaragarau emirs are no longer buried here and it is difficult to
identify their graves.



The Village Headship and Its History

The village Viu Kithla was said to have been found before Yamtarawalla.

As a result it is not easy to remember exact names and the chronology of

their reign i.e. the (?) of the village headship (Bilama). However Bilama

Bukar could remember the last seven successive rulers including himself and

all such rulers according to him were sons of the former rulers. Thus each

Bilama is a son of the former Bilama. As a result of this, according to

Bilama Bukar, since the origin of the village the very Zoaka nyarmbwa that

found it has been in power. There was no interruption whatsoever.

The seven Bilamas which we could not exactly date roughly when they

ruled were:

1) Galadima Ngozi
2) Dalta Haman
3) Dalta Dawi
4) Yagursha
5) Ya Bata
6) Bilama Bayeir
7) Bilama Bukar who continues as the present ruler and the
narrator of the story.

My Comment

Bilama Bukar appeared to be weak at remembering that I found it difficult

to actually get what I wanted directly from him. When I ask him one thing

he would mix up with another. For example, when I asked him if there was any

outstanding leader among the last village heads he could remember and gave

me their names he went on straight to Yamtarawalla's story again that they

were friends which appeared irrelevant, especially when Yamtarawalla must

have lived long before those people.

Ward History

Interview with Bilama Bukar
Place: His house Viu Kithla
Date: July 8,1974
Present: Ibrahim and Isa

When I again came to Viu Kithla finding that Bilama Bukar had a short

memory I invited Ibrahim and Isa; together we sat at the Bilama's house.


Ibrahim, being of the Mshelthila clan, was the one I actually wanted to


When I asked of any other clan living in Viu Kithla apart from the

Zoaka there was only the Thlila. At the moment the Thlila occupy only

three compounds. Their origin was distorted; however they could only say

that they came from the Bura area. Which particular part of Bur area they

could not exactly locate. However they later came to the conclusion that

somehow they must have been related to the Mshelthlila that now live in the

Lawal Valley around Garkida. Thus, according to Ibrahim, they all call

themselves together with the Mshelthlila found around Garkida as Darsha.

Darsha usually applies to distant uncle or thereabout. Though insig-

nificant in the village the Mshelthlila however play an important role in

the village organization and leadership. For example, if the Bilama of

the village who is of the Zoaka clan claims to be the ruler then the

Mshelthlila clan becomes the chapola. Indeed Bilama Bukar told me that the

Mshelthlila clan is the chapola to him. Chapola according to the Viu Kithla

description as I gather refers to an assistant, an assistant however who

could not become a Bilama or a village head in absence of the real Bilama.

Their role remained permanently that of an assistant.

Unlike the Bilama who is chosen by popular vote, the chapola was

succeeded by the eldest in the family of the Mshelthlila clan. The selec-

tion of the Bilama however was by a council of the Zoaka elders as narrated

earlier. Once a Bilama died one of his elderly sons is elected by the council

of elders one to succeed him and be Bilama of Viu Kithla. Such elected

Bilama is presented to the emir at Biu who approved of him and from hence-

forth he carries out the role of the Bilama. That of the chapola however

need not be approved by the emir; the Bilama simply approves of it.


Titles and Offices

Interview with Bilama Bukar
Place: His house at Viu Kithla
Date: July 9, 1974
Present: Ibrahim and Isa

When I asked Bilama Bukar as to the sorts of offices others hold in the
village besides him he in fact denied flatly that there was none beside him.

It was Ibrahim that told me of the existence of Mdir Hyenta and Kuhyir Dakwi.

Mdir Hyenta = messenger. At times the job of the mdir hyenta i.e. the

messenger was carried out by the chapola. This chapola was the emigrant family

of Thlila who came to settle with the original Zoaka of Viu Kithla. His

functions were numerous. It includes the carrying out of all the orders of

the village head or the Bilama. Such orders mostly were to go on errands

to send messages to the various people the village head needed to consult. For

example at the death of an emir or chief such a messenger would go forth and

back at least five times between Biu and Viu Kithla on the negotiations of

the burial bills etc.

The messenger, or rather the mdir hyenta is usually not elected; he is

succeeded by the eldest of the family of the Thlila after the death of the

medir hyenta. However successorship to this one is not as rigid as that of

the Bilama. This meanings it did not necessarily follow the established

system whereby a son succeeds his father. In this case any most elderly and

reasonable fellow in the family of the mdir hyenta directly takes over the job.

Kuhyir Dakwi This translated would mean chief of the youth or rather

youth leader. This is not a very important title as such. However this goes

back to the village organization. In this case where the youth want their

interest solved among themselves without the consent of elders they met and

chose among themselves their leader. This according to Ibrahim goes back to

the pre-colonial days though it is still existing now with weaker strength


The use of such youth organization and the young leader vary from settling


or urging quarrels with other nearby villages to marriage settlements. Such

solving of village marriages include negotiations to solve the problems of

two young men that might clash over one girl. In such case the 'kuhyir Dakwi' or

the youth leader could advise one to leave the girl without precipitating any

quarrel if it should be known by the elders. Or in case of other villages, the

'kuhyir dakwi' could urge the young men in his village to attack the other

village in a show of strength or leave them in case of fear of being beaten.

In such places such quarrels might be picked up over girls or in hunting areas

where elders would not be around, the 'kuhyir dakwi' plays a dynamic role. In

most cases his words are final.

The election of the 'kuhyir dakwi', unlike that of the mdir hyenta or

the messenger whereby within a family one succeeds the other is not so with

the 'kuhyir dakwi'. In the case of the 'kuhyir dakwi' election is purely on a

democratic method, for any eligible man or rather young man in the village

that could command the respect of any other young men was usually elected.

There was no political back door behind it since he who could be elected

usually must possess certain qualities like strength, commanding personality

so as to make him be obeyed.

Mdir Sika = guard. Mdir Sika or a guardman was one of the most important

offices held in Viu Kithla at one time. However now his job has faded out and

is taken over by the Bilama.

This guard's job was to look after the emir's graves. Because Biu emirs,

going back as far as Dirwala, were buried at Viu Kithla, there was the need

for a guard man to look after the grave. This guard man however worked in

close association with the Bilama or the village head. His duty was to look

after the graves of the Biu emirs buried there. Because of this his compound

was built very close to the emirs' graves almost encircling them. He made

sure the graves were well protected and collected royalties from visitors to

the graves. Such visits range from tours to persons who have personal problems


and wanted to present them to the spirits of the emirs who, it is believed, would

solve anybody's individual problem. Thus the guardman charges or rather at

your own will as it was acclaimed since there was no fixed charge, one must

give out something before permission was granted to see the graves. This

money for usually as presently the charge was in cash, is shared between

the village head and the guard. Because of this the appointment of the guard

was usually done by the village head (Bilama). This was necessarily so as to

coordinate his function with that of the Bilama.

The guard therefore was a man usually from the Bilama's family who could

not be a Bilama. Thus usually the brother of the Bilama keeps guard over the

emir's tomb.

My Comment

This payment of fares before one could see the grave was experienced

by me. I visited the place twice to conduct this interview and twice I had

to pay a naira each to be allowed to see the tombs. However, I was not asked to

pay one naira as charges each time I did go but instead I was asked to bring

whatever I had so as to lead me to see the grave else nobody could see it

without giving anything as I did, I was taken there; shoes removed at a dis-

tance of about twenty yards away, peeped inside and saw five tombs surrounded

by a zana mat. At seeing the tomb I was asked to present my problems to them

if I had any. When I answered I had no problem to present the one who took me

was surprised at my foolishness I suppose for paying to see the grave only

without presenting my problems. The question of the tombs and burials and

the necessary rituals we shall come to later.

Relations to Other Places

Interview with Bilama Bukar
Place: His house at Viu Kithla
Date: July 9, 1974
Present: Ibrahim and Isa

According to Bilama Bukar, because Viu Kithla has since its existence


been a peaceful town there was actually no case of war he could report on.

Indeed the relationship between Viu Kithla and other villages he could talk

of was only that between Viu Kithla and Mandaragarau and theirs was due to emir-

ship and the coming of Yamtarawalla.

According to Bilama Bukar he was told by his grandfathers Yamtarawalla

once came and settled in Viu Kithla and this he continued emphasizing that it

was not because Yamtarawalla defeated Viu Kithla in war but it was only due to

the mutual friendship that did exist between him and Viu Kithla that Viu Kithla

allowed him to settle on the basis of friendship.

Because this relationship between Viu Kithla and Yamtarawalla, one of

Yamtarawalla's sons, Dirawala, was to settle in Viu Kithla permanently, thus

establishing a line of reign from Viu Kithla. Thus according to Bilama Bukar

Biu chieftaincy originated from Viu Kithla. Thus Viu Kithla according to him

to date still maintained one line of succession in the Biu ;emirship to date.
To support his argument Bilama Bukar asked me to go and see the sight of

the graves of the emirs of Mandaragarau which I willingly did. They were

indeed lying near each other with that of the emirs of Biu.

This line of emirship of Biu that came through Viu Kithla was according

to Bilama Bukar first in Viu Kithla where Dirawala was the originator. From

Viu Kithla the emirship later shifted to Gur. This is one Gur about a mile

from Viu Kithla. After Gur then the emirship finally got to Biu. Thus, accord-

ing to Bilama Bukar Gur was elevated above Viu Kithla which he didn't appear

to feel nice about it. He went on to say that originally Viu Kithla was the

biggest village in the locality but subsequently with the elevation of Gur,

Gur now acts as the headquarters of all villages around including Viu Kithla.

Thus to date even the Bilama in Gur is higher than that of Viu Kithla, while

as before Viu Kithla was serving as the headquarters of Bam, Kubala and Hyera.


Burial of Emirs

Interview with Bilama Bukar
Place: His house at Viu Kithla
Date: July 9, 1974
Present: Ibrahim and Isa

First When Emir Elected

Before going into the detail of the burial of emirs which takes place

in Viu Kithla let us have a flashback and see what happens in Viu Kithla

first at the installation of a new emir of Biu.

Once the emir succeeding has been selected at Biu before his turbanning

he first comes to Viu Kithla to carry out some rituals. Such was the taking

of bath in the River Tsurakumi. River Tsurakumi is a stream that flows just

nearby to Viu Kithla. This taking of bath of the emir did not go free. The

1emir has to pay Viu Kithla a fare which usually exceeds 1100. When the emir

comes for the bath in this stream he did not just come and go back one day but

usually for at least three days. According to Bilama Bukar, Ali Dogo for

example when he came to Viu Kithla for this ritual took seven days stay in

Viu Kithla. Mandala Madu took three days.

When they come for this ritual they did not usually sleep in a house. A

shelter is made for them inside the Bilama's compound where they spend the

relevant number of days for the bath. After the bath then the succeeding emir

goes back to Biu to be turbanned emir of Biu.

All through the time of the bath people in Viu Kithla had not much to do

with the emir. They did not even escort the ceremonial escorts back to Biu

because they claimed they did appoint the emir. Only people who came with

the emir from Biu carry out all sorts of necessary royalties.

At Death of an Emir interview continued
P.T.O. for sketch of emirs tombs.




My Comment

When I asked if I could be permitted to see the tombs of the emirs

Bilama Bukar said I could, provided I give any amount I wish to according to the

customs of the custodians of the tombs. I did, and together with the Bilama

we went, removed our shoes as part of the normal respect.

What I saw was that except for five tombs encircled in a zana mat the

rest that he showed me were uncared for; grass covered such and they could

hardle be identified as graves, not even graves of the ordinary person. How-

ever near these were the five specially kept tombs. These are encircled in a

zana mat neatly tied with no gate to enter. I had to peep through the holes

of the mat to see them. Inside were the five tombs not cemented. They

looked like tiny granaries well covered with thatched grass. In between these

were well-hoed place and kept very neatly.

After I have seen this the custodian of the tomb now represented by the Bilama

asked me to progress and let my problems (be) known to the spirits of the emirs if

I had any. I answered I only asked to see them but I had nothing behind.

As we started going away Bilama Bukar too showed me the tombs of the

(magiras and the kwatams all lying near those of the emirs.. The magira is the

oldest wife of the emir while the kwatam is his beloved wife. These too tend

to be disappearing and don't look like graves.

Within a distance of about fifty yards was hhe old grave site\of the

emirs of Mandaragarau. This now appeared like a complete bush and except for

one who had a prior knowledge of it they may not be recognized as graves at all.

Burial Procedures

Interview with Bilama Bukar continued

When a particular emir is reported dead at Biu a messenger is first

sent to Viu Kithla to inform them that an emir is dead. Such messenger brings

with him about the sum of 12 as a fee for informing Viu Kithla about the

death of the emir. At the same time the messenger who was normally sent on

a fully-dressed horse would have his horse seized and he returned to Biu on



Before the digging of the grave started seven cows are slaughtered. This
the people in Viu Kithla were solely in charge of the meat. Here too is where

the role of the Thlila clan in Viu Kithla became important. He gets a gets

a matiram. A matiram is a gown similar to 'bul' but bigger, handwoven but

indeed better woven than 'bul'. This matiram was given to the Thlila clan

because of the recognition of their role as the chapola of Viu Kithla.

The next group that were entitled to anything were the people who keep

watch over the tombs or rather, the custodians of the tombs. Before there

used to be about three persons in charge but now they are no longer there

and their role seemed to be assumed by the Bilama. These people earlier

used to get a 'bul' each. The Bilama too was not left out of these royalties.

He too gets a 'matiram'.

After paying all these royalties the corpse of the emir is carried on

a locally made stretcher from Biu in a file of long escorts on horseback.

As they arrive in Viu Kithla there is a spot of about half a mile away from

the village where the bearers from Biu were not allowed to enter Viu Kithla

carrying the corpse themselves. Instead, people from Viu Kithla would go

and get the corpse and together with the people in Biu come to the graveside.

At the graveside, according to Bilama Bukar, there was no other unnecessary

rituals. The corpse is straight away buried like any other ordinary person.

When I asked if the emir is laid on his side with the face facing the east

(sunrise direction) as is the practise with other ordinary persons he agreed

it was so.

Other similar burials to that of the emir was that of the kwatam and the

magira. Only that theirs was to a lesser degree. The burial of the kwatam

however takes place either at Kogu or in Viu Kithla.

If a kwatam is to be buried for example the messenger who comes to report

the death gives about Ll instead of the L2 in the case of the emir. Unlike


the emir's messenger whose horse is seized this one isn't.

For the magira the messenger brings about I1 to report the death which was the

same as kwatam. However, expenses in all other cases which is the same as

kwatam are met by the emir.

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