Julius Pindar Mura N. Sheliu Shaff a
The Shaffa Burnings (See Notes by Mwajim)
Interviewed Mwajim and Julius Pindar Mura 22/4/74. Latter is an Bshelia of the
Shaffa group who was most affected by the fires. When the fires first broke out in
November (21 or 22), the first interpretation by a full older brother was that the
Haptu of the Nyarmbwa was angry with the people, or that the man whose house was
burnt had enemies, or that he (victim) should have been going to the Milim (Julian now admits
cult of Milim is extremely active and his father is one of the priests they only
just finished sacrifices in order to find out or allow people to plant first crops
(tiksle?). However when other houses also burned then their theories did seem not
to fit possibly Haptu was angry at everyone (all Mshelia). In early Jan., the 3
Mshelia elders (3 elders were asked by the union Mai Ungwa of Mshebi to go. There are
2 Mai Ungwa in Shaffa. All male adult Mshelia's met (with permission of Lowan). Mai
Ungwa said these 2 should go and people said take this other elder man he is
respected) = heads of 3 Nyarmbwa = (only they can give final permission for house
sites only within the town the town is for Mshelia, they are owners of the land -
the owners even though Wakawa is Lowan) went to a village to past Biu on Gombe road
to see a medicine man (Deha). He told them it is one of you (Mshelia's) who is
responsible. It is that man who came here only a few days: ago dressed in such and
such a way, etc. They recognized one of their own members who is a very rebellious
uncooperative person (he has one son of 22 years an elderly man 45 50). He
had left town with one wife in 1972 to go to Muhi returned one year later. Now it
is believed (and medicine man Deha helped here) that he purchased a JANG from someone
in Muhi. He is said to have promised Jan, many things in return for its favors and has
not been a-le to deliver ;,Jang is taking their things itself the owner tells J.
you can get it if you go to so and so's house etc. JANG is therefore out of control.
Medicine man gave elders antidote to put near Jang's owners house.
The elders came back to Shaffa and accused the man (there was a meeting of Mshelia
and one of the elders accused the man. Man denied it) and said they were going to put
the medicine in a Boobab tree near the man's house at the meeting. Man said "Never I"
I will fight, physically anyone who tries this. So they didn't put up the antidote. Had
they done so and even if fires continued man would be considered innocent and one
of them (thi gp.) again. (Was the medicine of an ordeal? variety. Why did he refuse??)
i.e. JANG could go on but man (supposedly) would be ok exonerated??
Fires still go on, money *^k or tO, disappeared quite often (PC people now are
imagining effects, I think). In April they asked the Lowan for another public meeting
only of Mshelia's. The Lowan agreed (informed before but not claimed by him) to chair
this meeting (=first Mshelia sub-clan affected = their business or what why no one
else). He opened the meeting and then it was turned over to Mai Nywa eldest head of
leading Mshelia leneage who asked (at meeting elders really announced their idea and
asked the Mshelia's for help) people to contribute money 2/- 3/- 5/- etc. to bring
the big malam from Shani Molan Buhar Kobo (=Kobo town). Everyone contributed EXCEPT
the man (Mshelia) who is said to have purchased the JANG he would not cooperate.
We well get news soon of what happened when Mallan came.
-------------------- PC Notes and interpretation----------- -----------------------
Lowan chaired the meeting because he is the official person who represents
authority and "you can't have meetings without his consent". On the other hand it
was a descent group organization PC this is NS because it shows that in response to a
crisis descent gp comes int6 operation and it is clan here not lineage 3 lineages
(=nyarmbwa). Including the suspected villain. He seems to be somewhat anti-social.
He always disagrees, stays more on his uwn than "he should" according to local norms
and his going to Muhi indicates an attempt to get away for a while from lineage and
clan pressures (=conformity, solidarity, etc.?). However he left family took only
one wife. He is said to be a poor farmer, but has some successful garden. He has also
gone into trade with some money (rumored* 800) and rumoured to come from his brother.
Although Br were given a Wabawa or VH (Bulloma later Lowan) the village still
accepts the idea that Shaffa is an Mshelia place. Thus although Lowan collects taxes
etc., giving out of land use rights involves Lowan, but an Mshelia elder must be
involved since Mshelia are the 'owners of the land'. They founded the village.
Questions? 1. Was original medicine an ordeal?
2. Why was no other gp invited to the meeting to 'discuss' bringing
This far in big Mollam? (hui)
in his 3. rExactly how did Wahawa's get the VH ship?
h. Who is considered 'real' head of village?
5. Does Lowan go to Mulim? Do the elders?
Met Brtius Sawa at party and spoke of the Bura "problem" (He also said that Ubahim
Biu had "tricked" them by not taking Bura complaints to Mardugrui other 1970 meeting in Biu).
He is very incensed about Garga and has threatened them back because Garga says he
will "finish" the Bura nationalists. Sowa feels there should be separate states looks
life Lardin Galar then of course Bura will dominate and he will be big man church
will also be ok.
All this is in Paul Giza BS thesis
Only adult males at meeting no boys it is a man's business. Elders say things
anyone can speak.
They say send a letter to NBU for to come and help them.
When Lugard visited ares, only Shaffa Mahelia were there and they were at Tiraher.
Elder was asked to give them = white men as a guide he was Yehidi (Msheba). He was
fined of Bahu cruelty and :. appointed Wobawa in his place but asked the Wobawa to
give it back if good came of it. Wobawa agreed. But Wobawa kept it.
Bwola, Mbahi, Mshilwaksha, other Shaffa clans with burned houses.
Divorce nolika to break
A man came to Shaffa from some other place last year (1973)1. It is rumoured that he
had a JANG, that used to burn his house yearly. People say there is a Kwoli JANG. It
is a JANG without honour you can't respect it. It throws stones at people but you can't
feel it. No honour no social relations to control him.
He came before Nov. around Oct and Nov. before the burning. His house is far from
Mshelia gp he was not suspect (Kwbhi).
NOTE Shaffa used to have a stone wall
In Shaffa proper Mshelia are 'owners of the land of town' head of Mshelia ward
Mai Ungwa must c -nsent to anyone being given a house site. Farm land is open to everyone
without recourse to Lowan unless some one has used it before then you go to that
person for permission.*
The men went to a Deha = traditional divines although there is some disagreement
in to whether he should be called Deha or Mallam. he can foretell the future.
***Note almost all major decisions were made at a Council of all adult male Mshelia
of the town. People do not just rubber stamp. things Leader wished (in January) to
send 2 elders to the Deha but those at the meeting said they should take the third man
who was also an elder and who was wise. These men were not simply Nyarmbwa heads they
were widely respected primary criteria.
Another meeting was held (Lowan informed-) of Mshelia after the elders returned
from Biu area. They told everyone what the diagnosis is and he then pointed to the old
man and accused hi 1 of being the culprit and said he must "take" the medicine Man denied
it outright and would not cooperate.
Modern "Bura" nationalist see Bura or a "Tribe" .needs representation
29/4/74 Paul? The young Bura who had dinner with us in Biu and had an
affair with the young Indian girl came in to see me today about his
1. He feels local people (Bura) are quite satisfied roads and
boreholes are being constructed and general response of his friends
and relatives is that the money they spend in taxes is being put
back into development.
2. He attended very large dance festival etc. in Maroma area in
Dec 1973 many people from all over came easily as big as would have
come to Biu for Bura Cultural Society in 1972. People feel free to
travel, to express themselves and pr actice their culture indeed this
is all they really know but LA officials were worried not about the
festival in 1972 but about the speeches by outside people which
might have enflamed locals and led to violence outside people
simply leave while local ones have to deal with such problems.
3. Garga showed much "Macho" (PC) in sending a letter saying
"you are finished" to Homza Nganziwa (ABC) and Bitrir Sawa (ABA).
They appealed to head of state and matter came to Mura Usuman (Gov NE)
who was angry because they had gone round him implying dissatisfaction
with his authority. PV Garga probably sick and tired of excessive
Bura nationalism but he went too far.
Paul Jerk Biu "intellectuals" really causing all the trouble -
they speak of 'fundamental human rights' but local Bura are doing fine -
rights respected, etc. PC I sense missions being this new state! =
Lardin Galos. Paul notes that the Garga thing has however spread some
fear locally. Everyone know of one versoin or another of the Garga letter.
When students don't return for holidays relatives wonder if they are
safe 11 because of the threats of Garga = Pobir.