BURA FIELD PROJECT
AREA OF STUDY: WAKAWA CLAN TIRAKU VILLAGE
East Bura District
Wakawa Simfa Lawan
Table of Contents
Topic and Ethnographic Descript.
1. Geographical and family descript.
2. Occuption farming and livestock
3. Dur and Nyarmbwa
General Interview Topics
Origin and separation of Dur (Wakawa)
Relationship of one Clan to another
Leadership of Dur
Relationship between Dur and Nyarmbwa and their organization
Geneological Relations cont'd.
(Genealogical Table see p. 376)
Modern Religion cont'd.
Competition between Religions
Traditional Dress Pattersn and Facial Marks
Traditional I stallation Ceremony of Chief
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TIRAKU EAST BURA DISTRICT BIU DIVISION
Tiraku is situated 14 miles on the Biu Little Gombe road, a distance
of 1/2 mile to a mile and a half off the main road. However, it has a zara
on the main road known as Shindifu. This zara contains mainly emigrants from
the real Tiraku who settled there due to road communication.
The village Tiraku is situated in a deep valley surrounded wholly by
hills which makes it difficult to be accessible by a motor road. The land
is not flat due to the hills around it; it is broken into by several valleys.
It is these valleys that make a cleancut boundary of the zara. There is a
main river which runs from east to west. This river passes right round the
village, with the nearest compound about 440 yards away. The river hasn't
much significance as it only overflows during the rainy season leaving behind
water pools in the dry season. Children go to swim in these pools. Cattle
during the dry season goe along the river valley to eat herbs. It is also the
same river that supplies water but it does not produce very many fish and fish-
ing on the river is rare.
All round Tiraku there are several other village like Gwallam, Yimana,
Subwang,and Tiraku acts as a nucleus of these villages. It is here that
missionaries located a primary school in 1959 whereby children from the rest
of the villages could trek to and fro school daily.
The village is divided up into 6 zara. These zara are mostly named after
the geographical appearance of the area. These are:
1. Tiraku where the first settler in the village first settled. It is from
this that the entire village obtains her name. This is on the center of the
village. It is from this zara that the Bilama (village head) comes from. Thus
it acts as the headquarters of the entire village. The Bilama's children are
legally his assistants. Thus during his absence they can act on his behalf.
Everybody in this zara is Wakawa.
2. Diangrang (gently undulating plain). The people in this zara are also
111 Wakawa but the Wakawa clan here are different from the Wakawa clan in
Tiraku. These Wakawa clan are immigrants said to have come from Nbwakva, a
village along the Hawul River towards Lokoja. They have no relationship
however with the Wakawa clan in Tiraku. Their coming to settle with them
is purely a coincidence.
3. Guruktuku (deep flat land). These are also all Wakawa of the same dur
with the one in Tiraku. However, they were founded together with Tiraku.
Oral History has it that the founders of the village Tiraku were two brothers.
The senior one first settled in the present zara Tiraku and the junior one
in the present Guruktuku.
4. Bingim (flat upward area). These are again all of the Wakawa clan but
due to distant relationship they cannot occupy the post of the village head.
However they cannot intermarry.
5. Bubal Whada (literally translated as groundnut field). This is a place
occupied by a different clan known as Lemba. This is an immigrant and has
no relationship with the Wakawa. The Lemba clan can marry any of the other
Wakawa clans. These people are a minority and occupy only 3 compounds.
6. Shindifu. This is the new settlement on the major road. It derives its
name from a stream called Shindifu. This Shindifu is haptu known all over
Bura land because its water cures all sorts of diseases.
The small compound (ki) usually comprises a man and a wife or two wives
and some children. In this compound the husband occupied a hut for himself.
Each wife has a hut and a 'kitchen' (this is not known kitchen as such but
mbwa hadla grinding hut.) It is here that the grinding stone for guinea
corn is implanted firmly to the wall of the hut. At the same time it is here
that most of the cooking takes place especially during the wet season, for in
the dry season most of the cooking is done outside.
The small compound is usually occupied by one person, either a widow
(kughung) or an old man who can't remarry again (gwara). This term commonly
applies to any bachelor. In this case where an old woman occupies a compound
of her own her child or the nearest of kin takes charge of mending or rebuilding
the hut for her. When it is an old man the same applies. In such instance
the man or the woman who lives all alone in his compound is more or less useless
for in some cases they can't even farm to feed themselves and therefore must
be fed by the nearest of kin responsible. / ,
The large compound (ki) comprises at least 4 to 6 wives and several
children plus the husband. There are usually a lot of animals and chickens.
Number of granaries (bi) are not specified. Each wife can have up to 6 or more
granaries (bi) both big and small. The husband also has several of his. The
husband becomes responsible for the animal stalls. Usually women do not
keep animals except chickens, except in rare cases. If they do it is the
responsibility of the husband to feed them. This often minimizes the women's
ownership of such animals.
The children usually sleep in the same hut with their mothers to school
age. At school age children belonging to different mothers and even adopted
ones are brought together in a single hut ; until they marry they can share
a hut. In this case adopted children are inclusive. There is no discrimina-
tion. The husband is free to bring in any child from his relative and so is
a wife. These children are mostly brought in for help. When a husband lacks
a male child to help him cut grass for the animals he 'borrows' one from any
relative. When a woman needs a daughter to help her bring water from the
I stream or cook she brings one from any of her realtives that has excess. Thus
there nota single compound without this type of 'borrowed' children
except in rare cases. When such child reaches certain age, for a girl when
Sshe is about puberty age she is returned to her parents and another can be
NB. I described these as borrowed children because they are actually not
adopted children. The correct term for them is 'Buda'. However, the term
'buda' is now misused and can even apply to one's own children or servant.
As for the adopted children, this usually happens when they lost their
mother and the nearest of kin takes over their mothership. There is no differ-
ence between this and the actual mother except in the case where the woman is
wicked but this is a rare case.
Relationship within the Compound
The head of the compound is a single man i.e. 'husband' (sala ki).
Everybody else in the compound hangs loosely around the (sala ki). The wives
are his and he has the right to dismiss them whenever he no longer tolerates
any and claim his dowry back. The wife also has the right to divorce the
husband and pay him his dowry back whenever she cannot stay with him any
longer. Thus their staying together is all a matter of mutual agreement.
Ownership of property is strictly an individual affair, not a family affair.
The woman has the right to own as much as possible despite the fact that the
husband remains poor. When it happens that a wife owns much more than a
husband and the rest of the women it does not lead to a happy home. For in
this case the rich one often raises herself to a superior position in the
compound which brings about petty jealousies with the other women or even the
husband. When the husband owns much more then he can control the center of
the family and the wives become much more dependent on him.
Relationship between the wives therefore is that of cordial friendship.
They are not relatives and therefore have nothing to do with each other except
for the fact that they share a common husband. Thus the wives for good living
remain friendly to each other. But in most cases petty jealousy creeps up and
this sometimes leads to open hostility.
In the relationship between husband and wives there is an interesting
thing to note. In some cases there is a wife known as "Miwa" i.e. most-loved
wife. This happens when a man has three or more wives. He usually loves the
younger one more and gives her special privileges. It is she that prepares the
special dish for him at random when required. It is she that spends more time
with the husband than others.
The children belong to both the father and the mother, not any other wife
in the family. During babyhood and early childhood the children are more under
the control of their mother but as soon as they are grown up enough to be of help
to father while mending the fence of feeding the sheep and goats their command
is taken over by the father. The father has all right over the children even
if there is a divorce.
Comment: I have centered my above description on typical Tiraku compound i.e.
I happen to come from one of these compounds which has not much been polluted
by either Islam or Christianity for the father does not belong to any religion.
Even those who have adopted one religion or the other still practise most of
these things and the relationship does not change much i.e. syncretism is the
case, for even among the Muslims whereby no man is supposed to be dependent
on the wife does not happen for here if a man is poor whether he be a Muslim
or a Christian loses control of his family and often the situation is chaotic.
The Compound (see p. 5, typed p.2)
The compounds are mostly made of round huts. The form of the compound
itself is circular and linked with fence made of cornstalks. All the huts
are thatched with grass and mud walls. He who owns a four-cornered building
is considered modern. Withint the compound the position of the huts sometimes
follow e.g. the women's huts are located far inside while the husband and
normally the children's (buda) huts are located near the gate for security
and social reasons, i.e. to stop the hyena from entering and catching the
goat or in order not to mingle so much with women. For a man retains his
manliness when he little has something to do with the women. Thus he chats
only with men of his own age group.
Everybody in the village, man and woman, is a farmer. If at all they have
any other occupation then it is a part-time job like petty trading, or building
of the huts during the dry season, hunting, and sometimes fishing. Each
farmer has an average of about an acre to two acres of land. The whole land
that surrounds the compounds are farm plots. There are other farm plots around
the river valleys and even the hillsides. Each man has his own farm plot and so
has each woman. Thus within a compound a wife may have up to 4 farm plots of
about half an acre each.
On these farms guinea corn is the main crop for it is the daily food
of the people. Thus up to 1 out of the 2 acres of land is allocated to
guinea corn. However together with the guinea corn is grown okra both for
cash produce and home consumption. The same applies to beans, cucumber, and
even groundnuts at times grown together with the guinea corn.
Cotton and groundnuts are the most widely grown cash products. These
therefore could be allocated half an acre each. The money realized is used
for school children's fees, hospital fees, tax and clothing. In some cases
where ploughs are used up to 6 or more acres of cotton and groundnuts are
ploughed. But such farmers are generally richer than the average farmer.
Other things grown include pepper, beniseed. There are several other
farmers who have garden orchards. In these orchards are grown mangoes, bananas,
sugarcane, guava, lemons and several other fruit products. These are not
considered as subsistence crops but rather petty cash products.
All the men who own houses keep either sheep, goats or both. These range
between the number of from 3 up to 50. Some women do keep sheep and goats but
these are rare and even when they do they are left under auspices of the
husbands and thus appear to be the men's. As for chickens, all do keep them
whether it be men or women.
There are four herds (bri) of cattle in the entire village. Each herd
has a number of from 30 up to 70 head of cattle. These cattle however do not
all belong to the herd controllers. For if a man has 1 to 5 cattle or even
more it is not enough to make a herd so he keeps it in another's 'bri' (herd).
Thus a man who owns a herd of cattle may in the actual sense sometimes not own
more than ten head of cattle. In some cases however he may have more than 30.
SThe herds of cattle except oneare inherited from their grandfathers. Thus
instead of a bri (herd of cattle belonging to one man it may belong to a l,
family instead, except in the case of the one man who raised his bri all by
himself. In his case if he dies it again becomes a family property.
Except in few cases, people don't normally give their cattle to the
Fulani for fear of them disappearing with, except in one or two cases. All
others keep their few head of cattle in the local 'bri' around instead of
giving it to the Fulani (Bororo).
) Work on the farm is done by all since everyone has his or her own farm
plot Le. husband and wives each have separate plot; everybody works on his
own farm unless disabled or too old to farm. While male children up to
school age work with their father on the farm, female children work with the
( mother on her farm. It is not however uncommon to see many man requesting
the whole family to work for him on his farm on a particular day he chooses.
SThis could be once a month or fortnightly. This is done in form of 'dlara'
(help) given to the husband as a head of the household.
In rare cases are laborers employed to work on the farm. To any native
of the village, to work as alaborer on the other's farm is as a general
matter of fact losing his own dignity. Some women, however, do work on
another's farm as a laborer but this happens usually after she has weedediher
farm. There is one tribe along the Hawul Valley around Ganda who comes and
works as seasonal laborers at times. These are the Whona tribe. These people
work for a short time i.e. about a month and would go back home.
In general, everyone strives to work all by himself or herself without
any others help.
Dur and Nyarmbwa
There are five dur in the village:
1. The first dur are the original Wakawa, the founders of the village.
2. The immigrant Wakawa. It is difficult to trace out what brought
the migration of this Wakawa clan from Mbakva to Triaku. All that could be
traced was that it was a long time ago that they came and the reason given to
me was only that it happened as only a coincidence that one Wakawa group joined
3. Balami is another dur in Triaku. This comprises only of one family.
This came here because h4y mother carried hyrtaway while young and he grew
up among the Wakawa clan and built his compound here.
4. Mibwala this is another dur who trace their relationship to
Yamtarawalla. As a result, to this day the grandfather still goes to Mandara-
gara to pay homage to Yamtarawalla. These comprise several compounds.
5. Lemba this is again an immigrant dur who now adds up to only
Despite these number of dur all still lay claim to Tiraku as their village,
6ince all have at least lived long enough so that their first grandfather who
had settled in the village can hardly be traced.
All the nyarmbwa are the same with the dur except in the case of the original
Wakawa who founded the village. In this case there are two nyarmbwa. It is said
that two brothers found the village: 1) Magaji Yoksa, and 2) Biladuniya. These
two brothers settled in different zara. Due to long stay these two brothers came
to be two different nyarmbwa.
The Biladuniya nyarmbwa which was the elder brother's nyarmbwa keeps the
titular headof the village. It is they that look after the milim i.e. Mintar
Tiraku named after one hardwood tree that looks lik Iroko' This since then
(( ~i/ the Bilama has been coming from the Biladuniya nyarm bwa to this day. Apart
ex o c from the central milim there are however haptu that belong to each of these two0(^e~y )
Bj J nyarmbwa. Thus a person from Biladuniya nyarmbwa has nothing to do with the
/Ui,/t haptu belonging to a person from Magaji Yoksa nyarmbwa. Being from the same
dur they cannot intermarry nor can one from one ny'armbwa inherit a wife (mwala
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cifa) from another nyarmbwa. This is because their relationship is still close
i.e. belonging to same dur does not permit intermarriage. Neither does being
in same dur permit inheritance. For inheritance it is only being in same
nyarmbwa that permits it.
Interview withlapu Chamwasu Aged 65
Place: In his house
Time: 12:30 3:00 Pm.
Date: June 24, 1973
Present: Garba Yaulama Aged 55
Where Yamtarawalla first originated is not clear to him. All he knows about
Yamtarawalla is kow he came to their own haptu. Legendary story connected with
Yamtarawalla was that Yamtarawalla had seven children. Where he lived was not first
known. But one day because of his supernatural powers decided to boil stones
and make them edible. He put the stones in a pot and set it on fire. He asked
the eldest son to check and taste whether the stones were boiled and soft enough
for eating or not. This was done by the first son who discovered that the stones
were as hard as when they were first set on fire. After some time he asked the
second eldest son to do the same. This son did but the stones were as hard as
ever. This was done by all his sons but when the last born (Gaji) son did he
found the stones as soft as boiled egg and even began to eat.
This frightened Yamtarawalla who was so powerful but all of a sudden had
discovered that his last son was more powerful than himself. He therefore de-
cided to leave his origin to a certain place called Mbikahyel somewhere around
the present Mandaragaru. He told his sons that he would go to Mbikahyel and
in case he didn't come back they should go and check up for him there. After
some time these children went since he did not come home. But by the time these
children arrived at Mbikahyel they discovered that Yamtarawalla had sunk himself
on his horse right into the earth, leaving only his head outside.
On seeing the children he asked them to cover the head with a bowl. The
children did as he commanded but went and reported it to the then chief in
Mandaragarau. On his coming the chief first slaughtered a cow for Yamtara-
walla. From then it became their haptu. The chief however, fearful of the
sight, asked the children to surround Yamtarawalla's head with a zana mat,
leaving no outlet on it. While surrounding it, however, the younger son
should be inside so that he should be encircled. This was done. The idea was
to destroy this powerful son all at once.
After the son was surrounded the chief asked the children to set fire
on the zana, thereby destroying the son. Here there was a disagreement on the
report. For Garba Youlama argued that no fire was set but that the son dug
under the zana through the ground and was later seen outside. However, both
believe this son was not destroyed as planned by the chief. From henceforth
to this day that bowl that covered Yamtarawalla still remains and he there-
fore consequently becomes haptu curing all sorts of diseases. Anybody disturbed
with any type of disease goes there and slaughters a goat on the graveyard and
is normally cured. Yamtarawalla is belieed to be one powerful enough who can
communicate through talking with God. Thus through him one is cured as he
communicates with God.
The report is quite factual by a man who himself claims Yamtarawalla to
be their haptu. This Purpu himself has gone seven times, each time with a
goat to slaughter. However, because he cannot recollect much he can only remember
the part that concerns him i.e. the haptu part but not the origin and person-
ality of the man himself. When asked whether Yamtarawalla is Pabir or Bura the
man strongly denied that he is neither, that Yamtarawalla is a direct descendant
of the Kanuri.\
Interview with my father Lawan Dlawal Aged 65
Date: June 24, 1973
Time: 7:00 10:30 P.M.
Those Present: Wives Magenu, 60; Ya Passkur, 50; Kuna Nggwazi, 55; Shinku
The Bura tribe is a tribe who descended from the east according to them.
The Bura tribe came a long way off through Askira Ngulde and down to the
Hawal River right from Garkida side up to the Marama side. Due to their
differences they call the Bura from Sakwa District towards Marama Bura Ramta
i.e. North Bura. They don't even consider those towards Kwaya Tera as pure
Bura but that ones around here i.e. Kwajaffa District Bura Pela who are more
To them, when Bura people first came they wondered whether they were
called Bura at all. For the name Bura is connected with some small red
p ants which live not so much in mounds as in warm buildings, and that because
they were peaceful another tribe that comes from the same east came and
\ \ found them settled and started attacking them. Because they didn't know the
name of this tribe who however speak similar language with them, but this
tribe is hostile, they associate it with another insect that lives on leaves.
And that any disturbance that occurs to these ants they would sting. These
ants are the Pabir, thereby subsequently calling these two different tribes
with these two different names of ants the peaceful one the Bura and the
hostile one the Pabir.
As to the origin of Bura, they were never clear. When I asked them
many more questions they found me odd because they believe even their grand-
fathers could not tell them how much more of themselves. However, the fact
that they came from the east makes hem try to associate Bura as a descendant
of the present Kanuri.
As to how the name came to be applied to Bura is purely from a legend
about the Pabir and Bura relationship. Because the Pabir together with the
white man during the conquest with British government of the Bura area
oppressed them. These people gave them the credit of being powerful and link
it with the Pabir ant that lives on trees. Because they were subdued they
linked themselves with the small red ants that live in buildings and are
Here one wife, Magenu, argued the husband that after all the Bura were
not weak, neither were they peaceful, for there is one Bura called Bura Msha
which were courageous and hostile. These Bura Msha were known for constant
raiding and during the Pabir/colonial government wars of subduing the Bura.
Besides, the name Pabir and Bura applied long before the coming of the British.
Interview with my father and wives continue as an after dinner talk.
Dur is a two-way term. One meaning of it can apply to a whole tribe e.g.
Durir Bura (Bura tribe). Another can be Durir Yeru i.e. our clan. However,
the more obvious and widely used meaning of Dur is the clan. For within the
$A/, community if a quarrel should be picked up one would immediately come to the
* aid of their Dur. In the pre-government days i.e. the period before the
colonial government this problem of Dur had brought about a Gonstant warfare.
SFor if one from a Dur marry from another's Dur these two Dur became at enmity
With each other. Worse of all was that if one from another Dur should commit
a murder in another it must be revenged with murder of anyone belonging to
These Dur therefore have nothing in common with each other except that they
belong to one tribe. Intermarriage is freely allowed. One can do any harmful
anything to the other without damaging his reputation within his Dur. '
Why there are so many clans is a problem to answer, for as the Dur becomes
bigger in size people tend to trace themselves to a common ancestor and thereby
after a long period of time become a different Dur. Here in Tiraku for example
there are two different Wakawa yet they are not of the same Dur and can marry
Sometimes also distance and migration plays part in splitting Dur. For example,
what might be called Ndahi around Marama is traced to have been the same Wakawa
around Tiraku. Thus originally Wakawa and Ndahi were the same Dur but due to
the extent of the Dur and due to migration this Dur broke into two, thus
forming Wakawa and Ndahi. This example can apply to so many other Dur,e.g.
in Marama area still there is another Dur called Wakirwa instead of Wakawa.
This is only a variation in language. In other areas Bwala is known as Mibwala
but all means the same thing. With time therefore such continues to split,
thereby forming so many Dur. Dur is therefore supposed to be people with
common birth (blood) relationship. But as the Dur grew more in number or as
their subjects migrate to a distant land they cannot again trace their blood
relationship and therefore become different Dur.
Membership to the clan is purely on hereditary basis. A Wakawa man
giving birth to a Wakawa son, the son automatically belongs to a Wakawa Dur
and he carries this name Wakawa which is the distinguishing factor between one
Dur and another. This Wakawa or Mshelia or Balami, etc., are supposed to be
'Thlimfwala' i.e. name for praising one, belonging to a particular clan. Thus
they automatically become names of the clan and thus lay a clear demarcation
between one clan and another.
The hereditary membership to the clan is only on the paternal line. The
maternal line has no significance in the formulation of a clan. Thus a son
does not bear the clan names of his mother but father only. A daughter does
not claim the clan name of a mother but again the father only. In this case
however all daughters belonging to a particular clan have a common female clan
name. Thus each clan normally has a female clan name for their daughters (not
wives) and sons, e.g. a daughter of any Wakawd man automatically bears the name
Zoaka hich is a female Wakawa clan name. For the male clan Mshelia4 the
daughter becomes Kwatamdia for male Balami the daughter becomes Jauni This
continues so. However there are some clans whose male and female bears the
same clan name e.g. the Lemba, the Wudiri ie. whether it be man or woman they
are all called Lemba or Wudiri clan.
In almost all Bura land farming is the general occupation. But unlike the
Mshelia clan who obtained their clan name Mshelia due to their being famous
blacksmiths the Wakawa clan is not famous for any particular skill. Neither
could he remember any association with any animal said to be sacred. However,
some nyarmbwa don't eat particular snakes like python because it is said to
be their protector. Or should not at all kill the snake because one of their
relatives would die. Thus several examples passed have occurred whereby a
python lives in one's house but it is harmless. It can of course catch the
chickens or eat their eggs at times but it should not be killed. Once a mis-
take has been committed whereby it is killed something evil occurs in that
house like the death of a young man or even the owner of the house.
Cases too could be remembered whereby a crocodile has been known to live
under the granaries and eat the chickens or their eggs but it could not be
touched because of the fear of some evil happening.
The said crocodile or snake that should not be eaten is not universal
to the Dur; it only happens in particular nyarmbwa who have common haptu.
If these things are tampered with the fear is not that it is the crocodile or
python that strikes one to death but it is the haptu which belongs to the whole
nyarmbwa. To this day the Balami nyarmbwa here would not eat water lizard or
one big black snake that has poisonous saliva if it spits in one's eye, which
often lives in the house for the fear of disappointing their haptu.
In a certain village, Hyera, some 3 miles away from Tiraku which is my
area of study, young women would not eat chicken until they are married and
begin eating chicken after they have given birth. This is not because chicken
is a sacred animal. I only come to the conclusion that chicken was only ideal
meat given to women after birth;as a result chicken was regarded as a special
diet if not only for the ruling class then women who have labored in giving
birth. In another village around here girls would not eat fresh fish until
after birth. This again has nothing sacred about it.
I am giving these examples in order to see the non-universality between
such customs and the lack of concrete reason for such practises. Thus is
would be a mistake to say all such cases are due to some sacredness. I however
don't deny the fact that some are like the python or the crocodile. But even
this varies with nyarmbwa.
Claimant of Dur
Interview with Wakshama Mwada Aged 55
Date: June 25, 1973
Time: 7:00 8:15 A.M.
Present: Ali Tapci, 35; M. Haman, 31; Bello Mwajim, 28.
Within the Wakawa clan it is not possible even for another Wakawa clan
to claim the clanship of the first Wakawa clan (for as previously explained
there are two Wakawa clans here but they have no relationship with each other).
However, in the past there was a camouflage of clans. But this was done under
protectionist policy i.e. a clan who feels inferior and not strong enough to
protect themselves from the constant raids of those days might seek alliance
with another clan. Such clan must be due to their number i.e. too small,
else if they are many it is not possible. But even then when it occurs that
a clan has actually aligned itself to another it is not claiming the other's
clan because he cannot change his thlimfwala ,(surname). There have been cases
where a slave claimed the surname of his master but this was only for recogni-
tion within the society; else he still remains part of wherever he comes from by the
use of their surname.
Thus the change of a clan takes place in form of a diffusion of substance
ie. it is not clear when one can see he has changed his clan. Two brothers
belong to the same clan but as reproduction continues their grand grand children
(kaka) came to trace their descendants only to their grandfather until such a
time that these could marry; then they become two different clans. Thus one can
never change his clan until he can no longer have the hint that they have blood
relationship with the other.
It is not possible either to adopt another's clan. Thus an adopted
child retains his clanship.
What I gather from this speaker is that it is not possible to change a
clan (Dur) whatsoever. Nevertheless clans or Dur do break but this is not
intentional. It happens when such people can no longer trace their origin.
Origin of the Wakawa Dur and the Village Tiraku
Interview with Kabura in his compound Aged 75, oldest man in the village
Date: June 25, 1973
Time: 2:00 4:35 P.M.
Present: Dindima, aged 40
The Wakawa clan said to have founded the village Tiraku came from the
north. Kabura believed they are direct descendants of the Kanuri. When they
first came from the north they settled in the present Buratai. From Buratai
they moved to Balbaya. From Balbaya they settled in Kulandi. It was from
Kulandi that two brothers who were hunters left Kulandi. In the process of
their hunting they came to the present Tiraku and decided to settle as it
provided a good jungle for hunting. These two brothers are Magaji Yoksa and
Biladuniya. Each settled in a zara for himself.
After considerable time both Magaji Yoksa and Biladuniya decided to go back
to Kulandi to meet their relatives. When they went back to Kulandi they de-
cided to bring along with them back to Tiraku the rest of their people. It
was when they came back to Tiraku with their people that they never again
moved to any other place. To this day it is the descendants of these two people
who were brothers that constituted the bulk of the population of this village.
Other clans were all emigrants who took refuge with the original Wakawa founders
Apart from Kabura, almost every old man I contacted could tell the same
of the founding of Tiraku and the Wakawa clan in particular. It is difficult
to date these settlements in chronological order but due to the age of the
man Kabura himself (aged about 75) he told me that it was not only his father
that told him these stories but that it was his grandfather. Due to this I
could date the founding of the village as far back as at least 500 years ago.
The Founding of the Dur cont'd Interview with Kabura
The split into nyarmbwa is not a conspicuous thing. One just came to
find himself in a nyarmbwa when he can no longer trace his relationship with
\ the original nyarmbwa.
Kabura continues with an example about the Wakawa clan division.
Originally the two brothers who found the village Tiraku were obviously of
the same nyarmbwa by the fact that they were brothers but bit by bit came to
find their descendants belong to two different nyarmbwa. Thus, as children
and grand children of one brother trace their relationship to Magaji Yoksa, the
other trace theirs to Biladuniya. Thus Magaji Yoksa and Biladuniya became
two different grandfathers. From their descendants of Magaji Yoksa have their
different haptu while the descendants of Biladuniya have their different haptu.
When this happens then they become two different nyarmbwa. None can inherit
the otherA property after death. This inheritance has special reference for
wife i.e. Here when one dies a brother inherits his wife. Thus taken over
the dead's wife to be his. If there is no brother then the nearest of kin
does so. Else if the wife should refuse, then when she marries another man
outside the nyarmbwa compensation of what property she was engaged with must
be refunded. Thus two different nyarmbwa can neither inherit the other's wife
nor can they share a common haptu said to have belonged to any other's nyarmbwa.
This haptu) is not the general haptu (the milim) but this is haptu specifically
for one nyarmbwa. When such happens between one Dur they are said to belong
to different nyarmbwa. Thus they are no more of the same nyarmbwa. However,
these two different nyarmbwa are still of the same Dur and therefore they
cannot intermarry. Only two people of two different Dur have the right to
marry each other.
Of the Wakawa clan that settled in Tiraku now, since their settlement
have two distinct nyarmbwa. There are of course what we may call sub-nyarmbwa.
In this case ifone should die and completely lack one to take over his wife
from their closest nyarmbwa, the one from the sub-nyarmbwa has the right of
claimant. Thus these sub-nyarmbwa are about to bedivisions into a complete
nyarmbwa of their own but it does not just happen over night and would still
take at least a generation or more to happen.
Though Kabura said that there are only 2 nyarmbwa so far among the original
Wakawa clan, others believe there are many more. A woman passerby, while Kabura
explained the division of nyarmbwa to me, arguesjthat there are at least 6
different nyarmbwawithin the Wakawa. Thus her argument was that it was not
only inheriting one's wife or having common haptu that makes one in the same
nyarmbwa but that a family is a nyarmbwa. Meaning brothers, half-brothers
and their children who closely live together make up one nyarmbwa.
Separation of Nyarmbwa cont'd.
Apart from the genetical separation of nyarmbwa as explained above, there
is another separation of nyarmbwa which is forceful. In the olden days, during
the days of Kabura, they lived in constant warfare similar to raids. These
raids occurred between one Dur and another. What brought about these constant
raids were mostly one from one Dur marrying from another's wife. This is
enough for the Dur to wage war against the other who has married their wife.
In such raids which were well organized with war commanders known as 'katsala'
one Dur with bows and arrows would raid the other village and lay ambush in
order to kill any handsome man usually from the nyarmbwa who had committed the
crime of marrying the other's wife. When such killing occurs the idea is always
to revenge for their lost son. This is popularly known as 'sukur'. In this
the clan who has lost a son decides to take revenge by killing another young
man from the enemy's side. After each has killed a son the 'sukur' is paid
then all is over, nobody would attack the other again.
Thus, wihin the Dur when a particular nyarmbwa is known to be the con-
stant cause of such warfare and that the person killed is not normally from
that nyarmbwa but another, the nyarmbwa who has constantly been suffering
the loss of a son decides to cut their relationship with the one who has been
engineering the trouble. Thus they did what is called 'fau haptu' i.e.
swear before the haptu that they are no more of the same nyarmbwa. This leads
to the split of one nyarmbwa into two. Sometimes the cause may be due to
marriage problems. No two people from the same clan can marry each other.
When it occurs but despite all warning the marriage is not stopped, then the
two nyarmbwa concerned did the 'fau haptu', by cutting their relationship and
the marriage remains legal ft
When I asked Kabura of the 'pu haptu' he instead told me that the fau
haptu' is the correct term. This is when one nyarmbwa decides to separate into
two because problems as above that occur between them. Such problems cannot
happen between one nyarmbwa and therefore the only solution is to separate the
nyarmbwa into two. However, one very closely knit nyarmbwa cannot be separated
into two. This separation usually occurs when the relationship between the
nyarmbwa is about to become distant. This is what I earlier termed sub-nyarmbwa.
Thus within the nyarmbwa it is easier to use the 'fau haptu' to separate them.
If it is a carelessness of a marriage occurrence between one homogenous
nyarmbwa the marriage must be stopped by all forces as no young man can escape
the elders threat of refusing gtoeat themarriage kolanut etc., which is a sign
that he does not support the marriage.
Kabura explained 'pu haptu' to me to be wickedness of some women over
their children. He said that this is done when some particular children be-
longing to particular woman are so mischevious and would bring about the
destruction of the Dur. Dirt from their body is removed and put into the
haptu so that they get destroyed in the raids or become some useless children,
thereby eliminating their havoc on the Dur. However, this is never done by
men but always women.
My mother, aged about 60, also explained to me that 'pu haptu' is done when
sweet beer, i.e. when the malt is added to beer to make alcohol but it has not
yet reacted to change to alcohol, is poured into the haptu, which are usually
some pots to make one's father's dead spirit drink of the beer about to be pre-
pared before he himself drinks of it. When I asked her of the 'fau haptu' she
explained it similar to Kabura.
Kabura however, being himself an old man, had himself been taking part in
the raids about the recapturing of their wives married to another clan. At
one time he was shot with an arrow but he did not die. He even showed me the
scar left behind by the arrow.
When asked about the detailed separation of Dur, Kabura only said that nobody
wished to separate their Dur apart from the above; all he has to say was that
the separation of Dur just happens,like a miracle.
Relationship of Dur Wakawa and Other Clans Around
Interview with Lawan Dlawal Age 65
Date: June 25, 1973
Time: 7:30 9:30 P.M.
Present: Wives Magenu Boni, 60; Ya Paskur, 50; Kuna Ngozi, 55; Shinku Mwajim,45.
Within the village Tiraku as stated earlier there are about five clans:
two Wakawa clans, one original and the other emigrants; Mibwala clan; Lemba clan
and Balami clan. The originaltWakawa clan is the dominating clan and has been
so since the foundation of the village. The others were immigrants and were
given hostages. Because of these immigrant clans being minority clans they have
to be peaceful to the Wakawa clan so as to avoid what may lead to trouble
within the village. It is therefore not possible for people living in the
same village though they belong to different clans to wage war against each
other. Therefore the atmosphere within the village has always been that of
They would try by all means to avoid those things that would lead to war
in between the clans living together. Thus, even a divorced wife belonging
to one clan would not be married by another living in the same village. For
by doing such i.e. marrying a wife belonging to the other clan is an insult
to the one who has divorced the wife or whom the wife has divorced. It does
V J not matter which is which, a wife is a wife and should not be married by a
friend. 6/ nly a foe ti4at marries the others wife./ Thus if one clan
t others ----wife.
should wage a war against another clan in a different village the nearby clan
should only act as a peacemaker. It is not their war and by the mere fact that
they live in the same village would not make them part of the deal except as
e.g. Once the original Wakawa clan has shot somebody from Mshelia clan
living in Yimana. The Mshelia fellow shot was done due to a quarrel picked
up while hunting near Tiraku. The immigrant Wakawa clan who were not concerned
6 intervened as a peacemaker. This was when the dying fellow was going to be
abandoned on the hunting area because nobody belonging to the clan who shot
k the fellow dared convey him to Yimana i.e. to the Mshelia clan as the death
/ would be revenged on him. It was therefore the duty of the immigrant Wakawa
to convey the corpse to their village since they were not concerned with the
murder. Thus even the revenge that was to follow was not just to fall on
anyone else from the other clans living together but must be on anyone belonging
to the clan of the killer, Thus, no matter what trouble falls on one clan, the
other is never required for help. If they are defeated it is their affair and
not anyone else's clan.
It is therefore not possible to ask another clan to help the other
during war for the fear of this sukur which was a revenge on anybody belonging
to a clan of a killer. Because of this 'sukur' it is very rare for two major Dur to
live together. One must always eliminate the other as the village belongs to them.
Due to this almost each village has one clan each. This is for protectionist
eason. Thus it is very difficult for one to leave his clan and go and build
his house with another clan in another village, unless of course as a refuge
when expelled by his tribe as a habitual criminal. Such habitual criminal
occurs when one constantly chases another's wife from the same clan or kills
another from the same clan or in one way or the other is a shame to the clan.
Thus, because of the homogeneity of the clan and the fact that each clan
normally occupies a village all alonA by themselves enmityship is always with
a village which is normally considered a clan.
The enemies of the Wakawa clan here have always been the nearby clans
of Subwang village, i.e. the Mshelia and the Yimana village the Gwayeri. With
the Mshelia group in particular women have always been the cause of their
quarrels. With the Gwayeri clan it is over the stealing of their goats. For
these people would descend the hill a little and collect a herd of the Wakawa
goats and escape with to their village. This has always made the two clans at
Because the Wakawa clan were hunters they were famous in their use of
bows and arrows during the wars. Each warrior arms himself with 'kwaja'
collection of arrows hanged at the back and bos and goes to the other for raid.
aa (quiver) string from vein of an animal
or skin of an animal
rope for hanging at the back of Bow
wide senate handle
for preventing N,
The 'Parto' is similar to the one used by police to prevent their faces from
stone throws i.e. held in the left and used to prevent attack on the face. The
ones used during these warfares were made of hardened skin of cows.
Another implement used is the 'mwasu' i.e. spear
This could be used instead of
bows and arrows for thrusting into
One particular war is of significance to the Wakawa clan. This is when
the clan waged war against a village Tirkalau after the murder of their son
by a Tirkalau man. The whole clan went at about 4:00 A.M. to Tirkalau, each
armed with the necessary implements. First they set fire on the village and
as the people ran out people were shot with arrows. By the end of the raid
3 people in Tirkalau were killed. Things were therefore not peaceful unless
the Tirkalau people revenge for the other two who were not murdered as a revenge
to the one Wakawa killed. Thus anywhere a Wakawa man is seen he could be mur-
dered in place of the extra Tirkalau man killed.
Back within the Wakawa clan people would not sleep in their compounds
singly for fear of night raids. The only solution therefore was for the whole
Wakawa clan concerned to sleep in one place. Thus a big fire is built each
night where the whole people would gather and sleep until daybreak. Women are
not concerned and therefore could not be attacked. This continued within the
Wakawa clan for at least two weeks until at last some two Wakawa people were
ambushed and killed in a nearby village while cutting grass for their goats.
From then the revenge (sukur) has been paid and everybody dispersed to his
own compound. Thereby a Wakawa man or a Tirkalau man can travel to the other's
village easily without fear of being revenged upon.
After each sukur the two warring clans do not need to come together and
make peace. Each clan knows when a fellow death has been revenged and thereby
I peace has been established. One looking at such revenge may see them meaningless
but it was just like the law of Moses, an eye for an eye; here it is a man
for a man and not a weak or bad man but if possible the aim is always at the
gpod man in the particular nyarmbwa who has committed the offense of murdering
Leadership of Dur
Interview with Carkida Bilama Aged 70 the present Bilama
Date: June 26, 1973
Time: 8:00AM-12:00 PM
Place: Tiraku in his groundnut field
Present: His son, Mwajim C. Wakawa
Leadership of the Dur has been existing with the founding of the village.
The first village head (Bilama) was Biladuniya, one of the two brothers who
first founded the village. This Biladuniya was the eldest and he automatically
became the first leader of the village. From there one cannot remember the last
succeeding leader. They can only remember as far back as the last succeeding
village heads in order of succession. These were: Ya Bantsar, Yokdi, Rulaudzum,
Njura and Carkida Bilama himself. Besides the village head there is no other
titleholder of great significance except that of his assistant. Even the
assistant was not chosen in the name of assistant but as one who should help
him remove the feathers off a chicken when slaughtered for the milim. He
is therefore called after his job, "Mdir ntsu Mtika." The village head
(Bilama) when chosen is both the village head, the clan head and even the
However, this does not mean that he rules or rather reigns all along by
himself but must rule through consultation with other elders who duly control
their nyarmbwa through their unceasing advice which must be obeyed. Such
elders in these nyarmbwa were not chosen titular head of the nyarmbwa but
act by the virtue of their age and experience. For any new problem they
would recall similar problems solved by their predecessors or even swear in
the name of their predecessors that such and such is the correct solution and
no one else dare dispute his grandfather ot the dead. Thus the position of the
Bilama remains as chief in consul, one who is the head but cannot execute any
policy without the approval of the elders. Once a problem occurs in the
village he would send message to all the young men and elders of the village
to gather in front of his house and decide which action to take. Though present
are also the young men they cannot talk while elders talk. Thus their presence
is only for approval or disapproval of the speech of elders.
Once an elder has talked he only needs their murmuring approval or dis-
approval. A young man who should talk in front of his elders or even if he
has got sense has disobeyed the elders. Thus, after the village consul(council)
if the solution needs the duty of one man it is entrusted into the hands of the
Bilama to carry it out. Or, if it needs a young man the Bilama sends his
son to do it for him on his behalf.
The election of the Bilama is by popular support as vividly remembered
about 18 years ago when the present Bilama himself was being elected, the whole
village elders gathered. It is necessary for the whole village to gather
because when elected he is Bilama for the whole village, not for one Dur, or
for one nyarmbwa but the whole village.
In the gathering in his election for example an old bachelor older than
himself was first suggested that he should leave his one(own?) hut and go
and join the widow of the lateNjura, thus making him responsible. But most
of the group of elders disapproved. They disapproval was on the basis that
it was true Yankar was the eldest man who descended directly i.e. half-brother
fr/of the late Bilama, but Yahkar has become a hopeless drunkard and did not
/ deserve such leadership. The vote was neither by secret ballot nor the raising
of hand \but by murmur of approval or disapproval. Next in the election was
S*suggested another more elderly man than Carkida Bilama himself. This was
Dzakwara. Here again there was a disagreement. While some believed he was
Very kind ma who could do the job well, others disagreed that his kindness
wa sa sign of weakness; that he was too weak to get the command of anybody
Then, the third suggestion. Carkida himself met no strong disapproval and he
won the day as Bilama of Tiraku from then to the present day. After he was
Chosen he rose and thanked the people that had entrusted him with such a heavy
/ job and in the name of the Mintar Tirakul (name of the village milim) he would
accomplish his job. /t A-/' "
Somebody who would help him remove the feathers of a chicken in front of
.- the milim as he was called was sought for. Here there was no difficulty. Ya
Gurjam was suggested and approved without any difficulty. From then till now
L / these two remained in their posts. For in the case of Ya Gurjam anybody who
wants to appease the milim or beg him for anything could come through him and
he could go directly even without seeing Carkida. Thus his position was that
of (an assistant
The Bilama himself for the last 18 years would at least slaughter a goat
for the milim annually out of his own initiative to .appease the milim besides the
different peoples that would come through him with chickens and goats to beg
the milim for him.
When asked how he is head of the Dur, the nyarmbwa and the milim at the '
same time he answered he is not head of anybody; it is the milim i.e. Mintar
Tiraku who is the head of everybody. He was elected to serve the Mintar who
guides anybody. He has no command of his own; his commands are those of the_
The milim was founded by his great grandfather, Biladuniya, and therefore
succession to its headship was that of inheritance. As a result his nyarmbwa
by virtue that they must succeed as the protector of the shrine continued to
be the dominating Dur.
Garkida Bilama by the fact that he was elected(as protector of the milim
automatically becomes the Bilama. His title of the Bilama gives im the honor
of the Dur and he becomes the clan head. But in the real sense e was being
chosen as head of the milim. Thus the fact that he i head of the milim gives
him the political head of the people. Here therefore the political and spiritual
leadership are inseparable since the milim guides the everyday life of the people
e.g. during wars, against evil, external attack, etc. The milim is therefore
neither for a clan nor a nyarmbwa but everyone that lives in the village. Even
people who live in nearby villages do take sanctuary with the milim and would
come to the Bilama to help them beg the milim to protect them.
Interview with Carkida Bilama cont'd. Leadership of Dur
There has never been anything existing as such whereby the Bilama has first
night privileges over a newly wedded bride. When a new wife is brought into
the village she stays for 2 nights or 3 with her nearest of kin that has been
married into the village before her. This must be a woman. This was done and
is still done because women are shy to come directly from their village to
bridegrooms' chamber. Even when she arrives at the bridegroom's chamber she
will not even have any contact with the bridegroom himself until after at least
Before this time girls of her own age mates from the village are brought
whereby they eat, go to the stream to bring water together and sleep together.
This is to keep her away from loneliness. Thus no one else has privileges over
her except the husband and even the husband cannot have her the first night
until the bridesmaids were gone which takes over two weeks what more of an
old village head (?).
Dur Heads ( i j/
The previous Dur heads as could be remembered were the last five: Yabantsar,
Yokdi, Kulandzum, Njura and the present Carkida Bilama. All these heads belong
to one nyarmbwa and that is the Biladuniya nyarmbwa who founded the village.
Since then there cannot be any change of nyarmbwa for succession. For in the
case of Carkida Bilama for example, he was elected-. but in the case of Njura
there was no formal election as such. For when Kulandzum died they were of
the same father and he was the eldest survival so there was no need of a cousul
(council) to elect him although some few elders just approved of his being Bilama
for formalities sake. In such case there could not be any disapproval and most
did not attend the meeting as it was unnecessary.
All the succeeding Bilamas have either been brothers, half-brothers,
brother to a father or at distant of the same family. There was therefore no
possibility of the leadership diverting to another nyarmbwa.
As far as the nyarmbwa are concerned, so far there have only been two within
the Wakawa according to Carkida Bilama. There is one nyarmbwa of Biladuniya whom
he is the head by virtue of his being the Bilama. The other is the nyarmbwa of
the other founder of the village which was the brother of Biladuniya. This is the
Magaji Yoksa nyarmbwa. It is from this nyarmbwa that the Bilama's assistant came
i.e. the one who was chosen to help him remove feathers of chickens.when slaughtered
to the milim.
In these nyarmbwa there have never existed any titular heads. Leadership
did not need any election. Once there is an elder) he directly assumes the
leadershW of the nyarmbwa after the preceding one died. However, if he is not
a responsible man the next to him takes over the responsibility. They did not
need to have council before this is sorted out as the position is well laid out.
Such elder over nyarmbwa has power 9o settle disputes especially when it is
family disputes. If it involves another family he did not need to ask anybody;
he directly initiates his move by approaching the other nyarmbwa concerned and
sort it out with their elders. The elders advise and solve the problem of land
disputes which are often of farm lands. They call one who has beaten up his wife
to settle the case for them. Or if a woman is being maltreated by her husband
she has the right to walk over to the nyarmbwa elder who could warn the young
They have right to advise over external affairs as to which persons the
young men of the nyarmbwa should move with and which they should not, which
Dur is good enough so that their wives couoO be married to their young men and
which are not. If women from particular (?) are lazy or produce only female
children or a jealous or quarrelsome wives, the young men would be advised by
the nyarmbwa head not to Cay-rom so-and-so clan; instead such particular
person is good and young men should strive to marry from his family.
All these are the duties of the nyarmbwa elders. Usually the nyarmbwa elder
may not only be one person but several. However, within the nyarmbwa eldest
keeps the nyarmbwa haptu. Thus each nyarmbwa apart from the milim belonging to
the whole village has their own haptu. This is looked afterby _the eldest in
the nyarmbwa most of the time. Such haptu cannot be interfered with by any other
nyarmbwa, only that particular nyarmbwa.
The origin of such nyarmbwa haptu are from zhu haptu. Tus when a particular
haptu proves to be good and the nyarmbwa decided to take sanctuary or get it as
their guardian. A small piece of the milim is removed and carried to their
compound. Here other pots are built which are normally in the symbol of the
haptu and well covered on the center of the compound. Beer is always spilled
over it before drinking and it becomes the quardian of the nyarmbwa.
If one from that nyarmbwa should steal, especially a family property,
whereby he is suspected yet he refuses to admit, all the nyarmbwa would collect
in front of such haptu and swear by it that they have stolen nothing. If he who
has stolen something should swear by it himself or his children or even grand-
children, at least something will happen to any of them if not to himself at
least his children. The nyarmbwa haptu would strike them and a disease known
as saball' which is the effect of the haptu on the wrongdoer, his children or
even his children. The only cure is to go back to the haptu i.e.'pshi haptu,'
i.e. beg and plead the haptu at one time somebody has (dween?) illegally by it.
Thereby it would release the victim.
There are various types of haptu, i.e. haptu which belong to nyarmbwa,
haptu which belongs to a compound and haptu which belongs to village which I
often referred to as milim, and haptu which is general and can cure anybody.
However, we shall come to these later.
I have mentioned this haptur nyarmbwa because of the organization within
the nyarmbwa. Thus, unlike the Dur or village organization which was on
spiritual basis and based on election, the nyarmbwa organization is not based
on election yet strong and solve petty problems to save the nyarmbwa of public
disgrace or shame in front of other's nyarmbwa. For everybody acclaims his Dur
to be at least superior to the other in conduct and manliness at the same time.
The Haptur nyarmbwa is not so much a protector as the milim or the village
haptu but this haptur nyarmbwa acts as solution to social evils.
I could remember when once I had killed an animal during one of the organized
group hunting during holiday. It was first placed on the haptur nyarmbwa until
the following morning before (being) eaten and distribution of a piece to everybody to
show the haptur nyarmbwa what type of manliness I am i.e. it is a pride for the
haptu to produce young men who are good hunters.
Relationship of Dur and Nyarmbwa and Their Organization
Interview with Mangili Gana Aged 70, oldest woman in the village
Place: In her compound
Date: June 27, 1973
Time: 8:00 11:15 A.M.
Dur and Nyarmbwa are two distinct things here. Dur can be one nyarmbwa or
a collection of several nyarmbwa while nyarmbwa is a collection of several
families or one family. While Dur trace their relationship to two or more
persons and come under the same bond due to blood relationship through the
paternal line, nyarmbwa only trace their relationship to a common grandfather
again through the paternal line. However, unlike Dur it is not obvious for
one of paternal blood relationship to belong to the same nyarmbwa. Differences
between Dur are quite distinct, like one free to marry from any other Dur
apart from his own provided his mother has no blood relationship with the
particular lady he wished to marry. For nyarmbwa it is easy to separate as
it widens while a Dur can be quite big yet remains one Dur.
Within Tiraku the Wakawa clan settlement occupies all the zara. The
fact that the village was originally founded by them made them unquestioned
to build their house in any zara. However, even within the zara where one
would find several houses belonging to a Wakawa Dur, these houses are grouped
together in family or nyarmbwa divisions. Thus, where the Biladuniya nyarmbwa
lived is a concentration only of people belonging to that nyarmbwa. The same
applies to the Magaji Yoksa nyarmbwa, the other founder of the village. However,
this does not rule out the fact that other families or people belonging to
these two nyarmbwa had their houses in the other zara. In the six zara in
Tiraku, Tiraku itself the original zara, Guruktuku, Bingim are all wholly
occupied by the Wakawa Dur. While settlers in Guruktuku are all of one nyarmbwa
except one, settlers in Tiraku too are all of another Wakawa nyarmbwa. Shindifu
by the roadside is a new creation and it is this zara alone that comprises all
other nyarmbwa irrespective of their Dur.
Diangrang is the zara founded by the immigrant Wakawa clan. Thus all
the immigrant Wakawa clan live in Dlangrang except two who live with the
Tiraku people. However, some two from the original Wakawa clan live in Diangrang.
These two still do so because their father lived here.
Figures given per zara for people who did not live among their nyarmbwa
are as follows: Tiraku 2; Guruktuku 1; Bingim nil' Dlangrang 2;
Shindifu mixed. Thus, apart from Shindifu it is rare for people to live
outside their nyarmbwa units. The same statistics apply to the Dur since all
those people who live outside their nyarmbwa area and live with another nyarmbwa
are all of different Dur with the nyarmbwa they are living.
The original founders of Tiraku were the original Wakawa. All the other
Dur including the immigrant Wakawa, Mibwala, Lemba are all strangers to the
village. Although in the case of immigrant Wakawa, for example, none of them could
even remember or even have been told by their grandfathers who first left their
former place, Mbwakva, and came and settled at Tiraku. All they could trace
from their history was that they were originally from Mbwakva and they could
remember as far back as four generations ago yet have not reached could not
trace who first settled in the village. Nevertheless, with this their long
history they are still regarded as strangers since when they first came they
found people already settled in the village and have no right to claim titular
head for anything in the village. They can however be consulted in decision-
making through their elders. These therefore can never be absorbed into the
Most of them now in one way or the other have relationship which occurred
mostly through intermarriage. It is now very rare to find one from the original
Wakawa and the immigrant Wakawa who has no family connections. Their relationship
therefore is mostly through the maternal line. However, intermarriage continues
almost annually to the present day.
To this day due to strong nyarmbwa or Dur organizations there are still
petty family, nyarmbwa or Dur quarrels. However, because of the fear of the law
they do not come out into the open. But it is not uncommon to overhear such prides
as the immigrant Wakawa clan has produced the most educated people in the village,
or in the Mibwala clan we have got so-and-so lorry owners or car owners, or our
nyarmbwa are not lazy people and therefore don't buy corn during the rainy
season, instead sell to others, or even our girls are married to important men,
yours are prostitutes, etc. etc.
Due to the strong link people have to their nyarmbwa such petty rivalries
still exist although they do in the hidden.
Milim or Haptu
Interview with Kabura ref. p. 46, typed p. 17.
Place: In his compound
Date: July 3, 1973
Time: 2 6 P.M.
Present: Wife Miti Kidfa
The history of the founding of the milim (haptu), called Mintar Tiraku,
is of great significance. When the village was founded by the two hunters,
Biladuniya and Magaji Yoksa, the next thing founded by them was their protector,
the Mintar Tiraku, i.e. the milim. The milim neither belongs to Dur nor to
nyarmbwa but protects everybody that lives in the village. However it is looked
after by the finding Dur.
Because of the significance of the milim it is always founded in a nearby
village because this varies from village to village. It can therefore never be
transferred into one's compound as other haptu are.
In Tiraku legend has it that when the two brothers went out hunting, in
the course of their hunting shot at a tree (this is a hardwood tree like iroko
known as 'minta'). Here there were several arguments as to the effect of the
shooting of the tree by the arrow. It was said that Biladuniya shot at the tree
twice but in each case the arrow failed to penetrate into the tree. One version
of the story had it that when the tree was shot nothing happened but by the
time Magaji Yoksa came the following morning to inspect the arrow he discovered
that the tree itself had removed the arrow and placed it on the ground by it.
But Kabura himself persistently refused both stories and said that according to
his grandfather, when Magaji Yoksa came the following morning the arrow was
still planted to the tree but that the tree was bleeding instead of the juice
With this, however, the tree became supernatural and some ots representing
gods were made and placed by its side, thereby it has become a milim guiding the
village from whatever they do. Thereon, every village head hat came to be both
became a village head and the protector of the haptu. It is he that would
V: slaughter a goat each year to the haptu. It is he that would be contacted by
) individuals who want their problems to be solved by the haptu. Apart from himself and
his assistant nobody else dare go in front of the milim on his own and beg the
milim. It is only he that would approach the milim for one clapping his hands
and reciting proverbs after proverbs begging the milim to do one thing or the
This milim is situated not more than half a mile away from the village.
Apart from this milim there are several other haptu that vary.
This haptur nyarmbwa is a haptu belonging only to one nyarmbwa alone. It
affects nobody outside the nyarmbwa who owns it and nobody else would approach it
for anything except those who belong to that nyarmbwa. Its origin i interesting.
t originates from the main milim.) A person from a particular nyarmbwa
decided to zhu milim that does not belong to their nyarmbwa alone. By zhu
haptu a fellow goes to the main haptu and proclaims to the haptu that he seeks
its protection for their nyarmbwa. Zhu generally means e.g. when two boys of
the same age group start quarreling or playing among themselves which involves
physical beating, the boy who does not want to be beaten runs to an elderly
person and says that he has come for zhu, thereby taking (s sanctuary with him.
If the boy chasing him should come he would dare not beat him again since he
has taken cover with an elder or if he still did the idea is that the elder
would protect him.
So goes the zhu haptu. When a person does so for a haptu he does so for
his nyarmbwa and not for himself algne\ What is done is that the fellow
pa4 i, cek6 i'c /'n^'/e
breaks the haptu,usually a small piece of it and brings it home whereby more
pots are built with the substance of the milim inside it. This haptu thus
belongs to the nyarmbwa and no more the same with the general milim. It has now
become a nyarmbwa haptu.
A boy slaughtering an animal for the first time in hunting must bring the
bush animal before the haptu before distributing and eating by anybody. A
suspected theif would be brought before the haptu and swear with it that he has
done nothing. If he swears falsely the haptu will attack him, his children
or even grandchildren. But the effect must be visible.
The disease that attacks one who has sworn falsely with the haptu or whose
father has done so is a sabal. This sabal is normally a skin disease that
attacks the leg of children and continues to do so at least seasonally without
any cure. The only cure is to go back to the haptu and confess the past guilt
or tie certain bone wrapped in cotton around the leg or the neck as a cure
The eldest from the nyarmbwa looks after this haptu. It does not need
any election in this case to look after the haptu. Unlike the milim, the
haptur nyarmbwa is stationed inside the elder's house and it is his duty to
look after it.
Presently, the number of haptu are diminishing as more and more young men are
refusing to take over the responsibility of their father by looking after the
haptur nyarmbwa. Some are left to rot. Or as some accept the new religion of
Jesus or Muhammad they abandon these haptu. It is even doubtful if the next
generation may continue to take care of the various haptu.
Another type of haptu still is the Haptur Ki. This is a haptu belonging
to one man and his family alone. This haptu is inherited from a grandfather
to a father to a son and so on. It is planted on the center of the compound
and spilled with beer each time beer is prepared before anybody should drink
There are various others who are neither milim nor haptu nyarmbwa nor that
of Ki. For example, within the village Tiraku is the Shindifu Stream. This
Shindifu Stream is known all over Bura land for curing some diseases, in parti-
cular various sorts of stomach problems. Thus somebody can travel as far as
from Garkida or Kwaya Tera to come and get water from the stream which would
be carried to the sick one and prepare some taboos which would cure him.
As for this Shindifu there is no owner. The person that comes does not
need to consult a prophet of the stream. He brings along with him his presents
for the river, usually in form of beniseed, groundnuts, beans or even cotton.
These things are thrown by the river seeds after long recitations before
getting the water of the stream. Sometimes a chicken is brought and released
to the river unslaughtered. Anyone that comes across the chicken can catch at
There is one specific valley to which is neither haptu nor milim. In this
valley long ago two people comingifrom opposite directions met and fought and one
of the fellows was killed. This valley therefore is declared 'Mahala' whereby
two people coming from different directions should never meet. If one sees the
other coming from another direction he shouts for him to halt until he passes
or he stops himself until the other passes. But no two people should meet in
There are several such places. (This word 'Mahala' is a peculiar word
which has no English meaning. When something is mahala it means it is sacri-
legious and should not be done by anybody e.g. eating a particular fruit can be
mahala and nobody questions it but no one dare attempt to eat that fruit again.)
There is one other great haptu milim situated about a mile from Tiraku.
This milim is controlled and belonged to another village, Gwalam, just as
Mintar Tiraku belongs to Tiraku alone. However, others could go to its
prophet outside the village to get their problems solved. This milim must
always be approached naked. Thus, one would remove all his clothes as the
day he was born and start clapping on his knees and long recitations of his
problems. After he has finished he again releases a black chicken only a
completely black chicken is acceptable and thereby leaves the chicken for
any passerby to catch.
This milim or haptu exists almost everywhere. There are both great, famous
ones and minor ones. Some great ones have their power surpassing their
village. They become so well known that people travel for up to to miles
away to come and get their problems cleared by him. Such great milim around
this place are Macar Yankurama, Ngima and Shindifu which has no prophet.
Thus these milim exist in almost everybody life. Even those who have accepted
the new religion of the Christians or Islam still fear the power of these
milim and no wonder a lot of them would still secretly maintain close link
with these haptus as have helped their grandfathers.
Almost everywhere around here one finds some trees connected with haptu
and goats are secretly slaughtered under them, or even some crossroads i.e.
path junctions where feathers or roots are boiled and thrown across the road
or eggshells. All these have something to do with the milim or haptu to
cure one thing or the other. d/a
Independent of the milim are the 'eha', the witch doctors. These also
go from place to place to help make women pregnant, to cure evil spirits and
cure people of some diseases incurable by the white man's medicine. These also
play a great role in the life of the people. These 'eha' however do not derive
their power from the milim or haptu. Theirpower usually originates in form
of revelations thereby they start practising medicine. They are capable
of performing some miracles and people believe them.
Although all these still exist now less and less people pay attention to
them openly; however majority of the people are still half-scared about their
power and cannot ignore them completely. Thus even those who have gone deep
into the white man's religion still half-believe these haptu. With time it may
disappear but it will take a long time indeed.
Coming of Modern Religions
Interview with Kuyi Audu
Place: At his house
Date: July 18, 1973
Time: 7:30 A.M.
The village Tiraku now has all sorts of religions within it. Besides the
indigenous traditional religion of worshipping haptu we have both Islam and
Christianity. These are new religions and with their coming most young men
adopted either of them. While the middle-aged men are able to adopt Christianity
easier and earlier the younger generation of teens adopted Christianity much
faster. Some few elderly people still remain unchanged and keep to the haptu
inherited by their grandfathers. Others like Lawan Dlawal who is an elderly
person of over 60 years tend to be in a sort of what we call ethist(atheist?).
He neither embraced Islam nor Christianity and he does not so much have
attachment to the haptu either. With the coming of the two new religions he
lost hope in the haptu but he did not believe in the new faiths either. There
are several of his type.
Of the elderly people who have embraced either of the new religions they
still have in mind the power of theapt and it is not uncommon when in trouble
to secretly contact t e existing milims. Others rather sort out the Bible and
Quaranic(Koranic?) teachings good to life but cannot practise the others like
the Christian not marrying more than one wife. Except the very young men, no
middle-aged man would be happy to see himself approaching old age without a
second wife. Thus constant violations of the church rule occur.
The population of the village now is about 700 in al-l. Of this number
there are about 400 Christians. Of the Christian community not more than 50
will be above 30 years old. Of this number 50, about 30 or more would not
keep the church doctrine of marrying not more than one wife. Thus the majority
mixes tradition with the Christian religion.
Kuhyi Audu himself being one of such people argued strongly that it is
unbelievable that Christianity came and found him with 3 wives, it would there-
fore be very unfair for the Christian to ask him to divorce some of the wives.
If it is so he believed Christianity has done worse than good. Thus nobody
now in the church could actually query him for having more than one wife.
Of the estimated population of 700, about 250 are Muslims. All these
Muslims except their children and wives vary within the age of 35-50. These
people have become so closely linked that if one should do one thing or the
other which appeared unlslamic their society would not so much tolerate him
as others. Some of their children, especially when they -had to attend the
only missionary primary school in the village, turned Christians. As a result
a lot of them if not through negotiation did not at first want to send their
children to school. Indeed, the mission schools have done a lot to their reli-
gion by turning their children from Muslims to Christians.
Out of the total population only about 50 peopel still adhere to the tradi-
tional religion of haptu. These people are all well advanced in years. All of
them 60 and above. These people still try to keep to the old religion but even
to them they found difficulty due to confrontation with the two new religions.
The miracles their gods used to perform became effectless(ineffective?) in front
of the new group of people who have accepted the two new religions. As a result
even some of them tend to be half-scared about the power of the god, so that
they don't often have much attachment to the gods.as before. An incident that
before could not pass without consultation with haptu now passes unnoticed.
Thus their coming to seek the aid of the haptu is becoming less and less in
number as years pass by. Even great miliips like the River Shindifu are
fast fading in their power, so that they are now becoming ineffective to a
majority of the people.
I have treated these religions as a village affair rather than clan
or nyarmbwa affair because they are universal all over the village. Apart
from the haptu the two new religions were neither nyarmbwa nor clan affair
but an affair that applies to everybody similarly.
Interview on the coming of the new religions cont'd. on p. 125, typed p. 42.
Genealogical Relations of the Village Heads in Tiraku. Ref. see p.70, typed p.25.
Village Heads Assistants
4i ^^^t--~ If---^^'L < ^-tW
The fact that the village heads and their assistants are normally elected,
there are a lot of irregularities, which means that a son may not necessarily
succeed a father. What is important is to make sure that the village head
and his assistant remain in the same family circle.
e.g. In the election of Carkida Bilama the present village head, Yankwar,
the most elderly man and the closest to the last village head, deserves the
post. But since the elders were of the opinion that Yankwar is a drunkard and
may not be responsible it was agreed that the next important and closest in
kin should be, and so Carkida was elected. Surprisingly Ya Gurjam from the
Biladuniya nyarmbwa was again chosen as an assistant after the nyarmbwa has
ceased to be in possession of any title since time immemorial.
Cont'd from p. 121, typed p. 41.
The Coming of Christianity
Some few years before there was any convert of the Christian missions in
Tiraku Christianity was heard of in other areas like Garkida, a distance of
21 miles away, Marama 10 miles and Shaffa which is just in the vicinity, a
distance of only about 2 miles away. Thus the coming of Christianity was not
a surprise to anybody.
How it all started was plain. After the Christian missions had established
their station in Garkida in 1923 only stories were being told of them in Tiraku.
The story was not so much about their religion, rather the color of the white
men, how they dress and that one cannot differentiate the male from the female.
Later these Christian missions i.e. the Church of the Brethren Mission (C.B.M.)
from the United States of American shifted and established another missionary
center in Marama, still the same type of story continued. Finally, these mission-
aries found a station in Shaffa in 1941. Here the people were in close touch with
The surprises of their white body were actually seen and believed. Their
Their behavior is peculiar, the fact that they use bicycles and even jeeps
was wonderful. At first people did not see them much as human beings, rather
as animals and people could not understand. Thus anywhere they moved mass of
people would rally around them to look at them. Thus people did not rally round
them so much for their preaching but the surprises they give.
The missionaries through this advantage got their way through interpreters
and won several converts. These converts became friends. They would be given
salts and even petty cash like 3 pence monthly and so on to attract people.
They were taight to dress better and even given second-hand clothing from these
With this attitude more people were bound to join the group. As more and
more people joined and more and more of the whites learned to speak the local
Bura dialect a school was established at Garkida to train Bible instructors.
It was through the product of this school that Tiraku got her first Bible
teacher and a little church. This was in person of Mallam Ali Gwawa who now
still lives in Garkida.
The standard of the school was not so bad. Apart from the Bible the pupils
learn arithmetic and writing and reading in the Bura language so that they
graduate as primary four leavers.
With the help of Mrs. Bqldwin in Garkida the Bible and the hymn books
were translated into Bura for the use of the village Bible teachers. With the
establishment of churches in almost every village around the area the churches
became schools and the teachers village teachers at the same time.
Every morning children varying from about age 7 to 15 are collected and given
lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic in vernacular. To attract these
children they were given about Id per month or some salt for their parents or
otherwise. They were given pencils and exercise books in which to write. This
program goes on in almost every village. Pamphlets and some few books were
published to give first-hand reading and writing. When more and more children
flog(?) these schools they are automatically Christians since the main idea behind
the school was to teach Christianity. As more join too by the 1950's the
children have to pay fees of 3d a month and buy their exercise books at the cost
of 3d instead of being given these freely.
Instead of primary one to four in Garkida a middle school was established;
the same was later done in Marama. Shaffa was raised from standard 1 4.
The idea is to absorb the pupils from the C.R.I.'s (Christian Religion Instruc-
tion Schools). Thus the pupils from the villages sit entrance examination to
Class II at Shaffa since they were considered as Standard I. In Shaffa they
complete Classes I IV and then sit exams to the middle school at Garkida.
The dropout from Standard 4 becomes C.R.I. teachers in the villages.
Later middle school was changed to senior primary school and a senior
primary school was established in Shaffa in 1961. Thus, the pupils from Tiraku
need not go to Garkida for the middle school again. Nevertheless they still
continue with the C.R.I. and sit exams for the Class II to IV in Shaffa. They
would again sit exams for the Classes 5 7 still in Shaffa.
In 1960 Tiraku got her full primary school Classes I IV, later 5 7.
The C.R.I. system was abolished and children are recruited directly from
Classes I IV again. We would still (have?) exams to enable us to go to the
senior primary school. It was not until 1969 that children start primary 1 7
without exams. With this Tiraku progressed in Christianity.
However, Christianity attracted more of the young men; the older men see
Christianity as only belonging to the youth. The old man cannot imagine himself
going to church every Sunday to sit with women and then sing songs. They see
this a child's attitude. Christianity to this remains dominant in Tiraku with
mostly the young men embracing it.
The Coming of Islam Interview with Kuhyi Audu cont'd. Time: 8:00-9:30 P.M.
The coming of Islam was much earlier than Christianity in Tiraku. Islam
came through some two 'Bororo' (cow Fulani). These were some two nomadic Fulani
called Buba Nugum and Hamidu. These two settled in Kuhyi Audu's place and
continued practising their religion without preaching it. They would fast
when it is time for fasting. At first people started to tease them but they
people did not change their attitude. They continued praying when it is time
When the people realized these people meant business a few of the Tiraku
indigenes started copying them. At first they copied those parts they found
conducive to their living. It was mainly the more elderly people ranging
from middle age to old age that copy them. These people found the religion
easier to copy because it does not su much criticize their society as Christianity
did. It did not ask them to marry only one wife; neither did it at first ask
them to throw away their idols as the Christians did. Rather, they assimilated
their haptu into Islam.
Thus Christianity is looked at by Muslims as religion of youth i.e. those
who could change and adopt European ways while Islam left them unchanged and
therefore left them manly.
Unfortunately, Islam could not spread to a bigger group because of the
means the Christians employed in spreading Christianity, i.e. through the school
system. Thus, to this day Islam remained dormant because of the attitude of
the young men towards it. This is because of the influence of the missionary
schools. Since almost every young boy attends this school they all become
Christians even though they may be the children of the Muslims. This attitude
has on many occasions led the Muslim parents to refuse their children from
To be cont'd. Islam Christian conflict. p.t.o.
Competition between Religions
Interview with Muhammadu Mwada Aged 65
Date: July 15, 1973
Time: 7:00 9:00 A.M.
Place: In his house
Present: Wives and children
Muhammadu Mwada believed that Christianity did not come as a result of the
presence of Islam. Christianity entirely came as a different religion not to
oppose but to convert pagans as the indigenous religious people were called
to the Christian religion.
When Christianity came it found Islam. However, Islam was not then well
established in Tiraku. They segregate against tradition and those people that
practice the religion seriously were looked upon as aliens among their own
kinsmen. When Christianity arrived it established her own church not as a
challenge to Islam. However with the putting into practice of the Christian
faith by some converts reality they were bound to come into disagreement with
Nevertheless Muhammadu believed there was no open hostility to each other.
However he strongly believed that their was a lot of competition to see which
religion converts the greatest majority of the population. This competition
occurs through sermons in the mosque or the church. The preacher, for example,
would strongly cite example of Muslim achievement vis-a-vis Christian achieve-
ment, either through tithes or even farm lands. The Christian therefore is
expected to give as much as his Muslim counterpart or even more. The same applies
to the Muslim.
This sort of competition therefore is rampant and varies from behavior of
the individual, the group as one religion, the community as a whole, and the
practical effort shown in the religion. This sort of competition had made the
two religious groups to appear distinct from each other. Thus by seeing a
Muslim through his dress or walks of life one can automatically classify him
as a Muslim without prior knowledge or vice-versa.
However, these differences are now fading as more and more people are not as keen
1 on the religion as before. Some things that could have been strongly criticized
by the church long ago are no more being so now. Such things include marrying
more than one wife, drinking, etc. Not that they are supported but criticisms
become less and less. The Muslims no more oppose the wearing of ong hair or
Western type of clothes as before.
The other field of competition is the school. Even before the coming of
the Christians there were Muslim schools existing. However, these were private
in nature. Children are sent to learned mallams even outside the village Tiraku.
But with the establishment of the mission school, less and less Muslim children
attend these Quaranic schools. Instead they too attend the Christian Mission
School together with the Christian children. This is a victory for the Christian
missionaries since they were able to use their influence in these schools to
convert these children to Christianity at young age. Thus inmostcasesthese
children become Christianss hiletheiir fathers remain Muslims. This is the
main failure of Islam in the village. For as more and more children attend the
primary school and more and more of them who were born Muslims turned to be
Christians, Islam was only left to the older group and Christianity became in
The Muslims realizing this resorted to stopping their children from attend-
ing the only missionary primary school but their efforts were a failure since
the children may grow and remain unskilled and thus fall behind their agemates.
(With the takeover of the Christian voluntary schools by the local authority
things might change but at the meantime the Muslims still remain cheated and
seem to have accepted the defeat.
As for the indigenous traditional religion, i.e. the haptu or the spirits
of ancestors, Muhammadu condemned it outrightly that neither Islam nor Christianity
supported any of their practises. But when he looked at it closely he still
believed that people did not completely throw away the indigenous religion.
He took the example with himself and said that although he is now a Muslim,
that does not mean he no longer believed in his dead father's spirits. He still
believes they guide and would swear by the father's spirit.
When I asked him what changes have taken place since the coming of Islam or
Christianity and its resultant effects on the Bura indigenous religion, he
V/ answered that it is obvious. Asking as to how many haptu are left now and how
many people believe them he gave an example with my father Lawan that now he
is not a Muslim nor is he a Christian, yet we cannot see he follows the tradi-
tional religion for he neither worships haptu. He just-lives without a religion
for his belief in the miralces of the haptu are fast f.a4i.. Muhammadu feared
that with the end of their generation no doubt haptu would die out.
He cited an example with the great milim Minar Tiraku which is the shrine
that controls the spirit of the village and is looked after by the village head.
He asked the question which of his sons now would maintain the shrine after him
since all of them have become Christians. Would one of them throw away the
new religion and take up to his father's footsteps again? This is a dilemma,
which even the Bilama himself faces and has no solution to it.
The haptu which were once great have now lost their power and even their
priests appear to do so only in order to maintain and please their dead fathers'
spirits who have established the milim else they themselves half-believed in the
power of these shrines, so Muhammadu said.
Muhammadu believed that it may not necessarily be due to the wide acceptance
of these two new religions that things turned out to be so but it is more due
to what he described as 'civilization'. For it is not only those who could
read and write that have now abandoned the old religion and adopted the new,
but he criticized those who have been to towns as worse.
Pre-Colonial Traditional Dress
Interview with Magenu Boni Aged 65
Time: 7:30 10:00 P.M.
Present: Shinku Mwajim, 55; Ya Paskur, 60.
One thing emphasized when I first asked about the past traditional dress
pattern was that Bura people have never gone at one time since time immemorial
naked. Thus according to them, Bura originated with their own indigenous type
of dress. However, it couldn't bereally called clothes compared to the modern
The pre-colonial traditional dress patterns include:.
Bengtang is a piece of cloth similar to the triangular bandage. How-
ever, this bengtang is handwoven and sewn using hand looms.
The two ends are tied at the back waist while the apex is carried between the
two thighs and tucked into the knot of the two ends at the back.
Kudzur is the similar of bengtang to women. However, Kudzur is similar
only when women fold it and tie it; then it appears like bengtang, else it is
just a piece of cloth handwoven. Normally about 6 inches wide and up to a yard
When tying it around the waist the women fold the two ends between the thighs
and tuck it in at the back just like the bengtang. While the bengtang
normally remains in the color of the clothes the kudzur is usually black and
white which later develops into what is today called japta. This japta is
an old women's wrapper handwoven but in black and white. These days it is
no more in constant use; rather it is much used for burial ie.when an elderly
woman dies she is wrapped up in the hapta which is used as shroud before
Pizha is one of the most important dress in the life of the Bura person..
Pizha is also one of the most ancient dress. Together with the kudzur pizha
is used for carrying the woman's baby comfortably at her back. This pizha is
made out of the skin of any animal. It is used for tying the baby at the
back;while the lower tail is tied round the upper ends are tied round the
neck and this locally-made leather hangs the baby comfortably at the back.
Together with the pizha is the damblam. This damblam is a bowl with strings
tied to two opposite ends. The bowl is used for covering the baby's head
as a protective measure for the baby both against rain and any bump.
Danchiki is a later traditional pattern. This is a development similar
to the modern type of shirt. Howevever these danchiki developed long before
the colonial rule. This danchiki is a handwoven shirt. The shirt is sleeve-
front view (sleeveless)
Together with the danchiki is wando, a corrupted Hausa word for knickers.
The knickers again are similar to the modern knickers but instead of using
buttons it uses string tied round the waist instead.
Surprisingly enough all these are pre-colonial developments. When I
inquired if at all Bura people have been known to go naked at one time or the
other there was a strong emphasis that since Bura people have been known to
exist with their own type of clothes and have never at one time or the other
gone naked in their lifetime, who taught them how to weave clothes is a magic to
them all and nobody could explain.
Bul is a later development of traditional dress. This is similar to the
modern gown (gari) but remained handwoven. This bul could be in japta form
(black and white) or completely white. This is used by men only just as the
danchiki and wando are. The bul is worn only by elderly people.
Jambi is a development from the women's traditional scene. This jambi is
when the wrapper has grown to a full-size wrapper, no more 6 ins. wide about
four (gabaka) sewn together. This gabaka is the piece of cloth when woven
from the loom and is not yet attached or sewn into cloth. The jambi was
normally black in color. Now the hapta which is back and white in color is
quite modern and can complete the textile productions.
The changes involved in the traditional dresses were mostly due to foreign
influence. As more and more people came into contact with at first the colonial
masters, then later the missionaries they tended to throw away the clothes they
have and were usually given some wornout clothes by their masters. These people
look dignified and can even command in the public as servants of white men.
However, such number of people was insignificant. The revolution came when schools
opened about 1923 with the coming of the missionaries. School children were
given school uniforms and more and more people began to wear up-to-date clothes.
They thus threw away the old clothes which made them appear half-naked. The
revolution came into full swing when contact was open with towns.
I mean, when young men began to desert their families and ran to towns in
search of whitecollar jobs. These young men came back with fantastic stories
about the towns, together with modern type of clothes and they became the star
of the village. Thereby more and more young men began to follow suit. This
time they did not only come home with their own impressive shirt and trousers
but also bought some for their little ones at home and even their fathers.
From then on modern or Western type of clothes began to spread. Businessmen
began to erupt and could bring such clothes from the towns. Thus even those
who cannot go to towns to buy their clothes could buy them from the local traders.
Subsequently therefore such clothes replaced the indigenous clothes. How-
ever, even among the literate group the danchiki, the bul still remain common
and it may take long to disappear completely as some prefer them than the
textile-made. The bul still remains the burial shroud for men while the japta
still remains the burial shroud for women. The japta is still not uncommon
either and she too like the bul may never disappear completely.
Interview with Magenu Boni cont'd. Date: July 28, 1973
To the Bura the showing of the head or the haircut is a modern thing. The
hair was normally left long and uncut. Instead, hairdo was done for both men
and women. Thus both men and women have the same hairstyle, e.g.
The fatfata is the name of this type of hairstyle which is done by both men
and women. When the style is done it is usually ointed(anointed?) with msha.
This msha again is a popular ointment in Bura. It is oil usually from shea
butter tree or groundnuts and colored red with either red earth or red color
obtained from stinking water, i.e. when the water is about to evaporate some
red substance is left behind used for coloring the oil red.
The msha is used not only for hair but even the body or bowls were colored
red with it.
front view side view
The zakwantama is the name of this hairstyle. It is also done by both men
and women. In this case instead of the hair laid out flat in ridges from front
to back as for fatfata the hair is raised and can be built in one stain,two
stains or occasionally even three stains.
There are special hairdos for muzumaka *hunters). In this case the ridges
are done from one ear to the other. In this case it may not be complete ridges
as such. In some cases only half the hair on the head may be coiled.
Hunter's special type
Changes in Hairstyle
The changes involved in hair style is similar to the changes involved in
traditional dress patterns. In this case it is as a result of contact with
others and the influence of the Christian and Islamic religions on the people.
Instead of letting the hair long the Muslims advised them to shave it.
According to Muslim rights, when performing the ablution water must touch the
actual head. Thus all converts to the Islamic faith must shave their hair with
razor blade. By then there was no razor blade so people had to use perku which
was similar to the modern pen knife but locally made.
The Christians, too, condemned the long hair as shabby and therefore it
should be barked or cut low instead. Contact with others did not allow them
either since with the long hair they were insulted as pagans.
At first the cutting of the hair low or the shaving was not wholly accepted.
Instead, what is known as jimwa erupted. This is when some shaving like a path
is done on the head and what is left are circular hairs i.e. jimwa.
Cc) shaved gaps
It was not until the coming of the missionaries that barbering or cutting
the hair low is known. Subsequently with the discovery of razor blades shaving
the hair off completely became common. Thus even now while the older people
shave their hair off completely the younger men cut their hair low.
Tribal or Clan Marks
Tribal or clan marks are a common feature of the Bura people. However if
at all they carry symbolic meanings it is not known.
Exact copy of my mother's facial marks:
Bonelang just a sound word i.e. as if a single rod falls and makes noise
Datigwani well-skilled decoration i.e. dati to decorate, gwani well-
Myacha mouth of the eye, i.e. mya mouth, nca eye.
Myabdikum mouth for eating meat, ie. mya mouth, kum meat
Exact copy of Shinku Mwajim's i.e. my father's wife:
Labelling is not given because she could not remember their names.
Whether it be facial, stomach or even the hole through the nose have
changed. Some have ceased altogether, e.g. The stomach design and the practise
of making a hole in the nose and putting in a ring has all stopped. Instead
trinkets are used in the ears. Asked what brought about the changes I was
only told that it is 'civilization' that has made them so.
As for the facial marks, they have not died out completely. Instead
they have been remodeled into fewer marks, e.g.
S, (facial marks
It is common to see young women with only two marks on each side of the cheek.
I emphasize 'women' because young men rarely have it. As for the men, facial
marks are therefore fast dying out.
There are also a lot of other young women with three marks on each side
of the mouth. However, this as I speculate may be a corruption from the Fulani
Interview with Kabura Dathla Age 80
Date: July 31, 1973
Time: 11:00 A.M. 1:30 P.M.
Place: At his house
According to Kabura as far back as could be remembered there have existed
only two types of marriage. There is the legal type of marriage which includes
the wooing of the girl and winning her over. In this type the young man who
wants a wife goes to the wife and introduces himself. Later through tactful
and bashful means he lets her know that he proposes her marriage. This continues
to this day. However there is a difference in the process from here before
the colonial rule and now. In those days after the lady had accepted the propo-
sal she accepts from the man what is known as lia ausa. This is a ring which
the lady puts round her wrist as a sign of acceptance.
From henceforth a stage is reached whereby the parents of the man go to
inform the parents of the lady. However, they will not go empty-handed. They
need to go with some gourds of beer for the people to drink. Later it comes to
the engagement which includes jabi some beads around the waist, more beer,
at least 7 gourds, 8 kuntu these are big round woven yarns before they are
stitched into cloth. Finally, a goat which represents the present kolanuts.
This goat is slaughtered and divided to all sorts of people in bits.
From then on the engagement is accepted and the bridegroom is free to get
his bride as his wife. Nevertheless the gift of beer and continuous appeasement
to the relatives of the bride does not cease.
This nka kuhyi is a type of marriage. Nka Kuhyi could be literally translated
as to capture in the type of emir's way.
In this marriage a young man who wants a particular lady for a wife, whether
she be somebody's wife or a free lady, only needs the help of three or more
friends to capture the lady for him. These friends wait for an opportune time
most of the time while the lady is coming back from the market or so. These
friends immediately grab her and carry her to the husband by force amidst yelling.
When carried to the husband then she is hidden and reports sent to her parents
that their daughter has been married. After that then the necessary marriage
procedures are carried out. If not, the lady could be recaptured by her parents
or former husband.
Zhu is a word in Bura meaning to claim and look after. It is a sort of
informal ownership. This is again another type of marriage, zhu mwala meaning
informal ownership of a wife. In this case it starts right at birth.
At birth a man claims the baby if it is a baby girl, usually for his son
or himself. In this case at birth he throws in some green leaves where the
newly-born baby and the mother are, usually in their hut. This is a sign that
the baby girl will grow and be his son's wife. However, he does not just
leave the parents of the girl like that. He continues looking after them
through greetings or some gifts, when the lady is grown up to maturity. He
need not woo the girl again nor does his son whom the lady is betrothed to
need woo the lady. When the time is ripe all necessary marriage regulations
are carried out.
Changes Involved in the Marriage
All those I have described are more of pre-colonial marriages though a
trace of some are still left.
If now a young man needs a girl he woos the girl himself. Instead of the
lia ausa given as a sign of marriage proposal acceptance she is now given a
ring. However the ring is often compensated in cash instead. In the engagement
that follows more clothes and articles are given;for example four pairs of each
necessary article is nowadays commonly bought for the wedding: 4 wrappers of
the lady's choice, 4 underwears, 4 headties, 4 brassieres, etc., down to soap,
shoes, watch etc. In some cases it is compensated in cash, which ranges from
N120 to over R300. This engagement however is not complete. Other cash needs
be paid for the mother and for the father for taking their daughter which gives
them aid away. For the engagement materials are for lady alone.
Then, the lausa followed. This is some sort of a period of honeymoon whereby
the bridegroom brings the bride to his compound for a short time. Then she goes
back to her parents where she prepares to leave them finally to settle with the
husband. In this case her parents equip her with enough articles which she
finally carries to the husband's compound and beings her new life .
With the Christian marriage it has changed. Right after the engagement
a date is fixed for the wedding and after the wedding the bridegroom goes
directly to the husbands.
In Islam after the engagement just the Christian there is not much more;
the bridegroom only collects his wife and after the period of the honeymoon
settles with him permanently.
This is again another type of marriage. In this case when a man and a
woman loves each other they decide between themselves and elope. Even if
the lady be married before. The former husband then is compensated all he has
spent on her.
This however has died out with the establishment of colonial rule; the law
became strongly against it as it caused a strong strife between people. The
punishment for it became harsh and it died out completely.
Interview with Muhammadu Mwada
Date: August 1, 1973
Place: In his house (Tiraku)
The Bura people like any other tribe have their own type of traditional
ceremonies. Here we shall concentrate on the main ones and these have to do
with marriages and death since there is not much on birth.
Ceremonies Connected with Marriages
In the indigenous Bura tribe when one marries some traditional ceremonies
are performed before the woman joins the husband in his home and settles together,
When a young man sees a lady Jhe wishes to marry he first woos her. On the
girl's acceptance of marriage proposal she receives from the man lia ausa. This
is a ring to be worn round the wrist. Then follows the introduction of the husband-
to-be to the parents of the wife-to-be. This is exclusively a parental affair.
However time has changed things now; instead of the lady receiving lia ausa she
receives some set articles like 2 pairs of wrappers, shoes, headties and neck-
laces and cash amounting to about N6. This varies.
The parents of the boy go to the parents of the lady and introduce them-
selves and their son. From now henceforth they fix a date for the engagement.
The engagement includes a lot of articles totalling up to N300 or over, de-
pending on the parents or the quality of their daughter. After the engege-
ment she legally becomes a wife and the husband is free to go and spend nights
with her at her parents' house.
A date is now fixed for her to go and stay at the husbands for at least
a fortnight for the period called lausa. This lausa is when the wife for the
first time enters the husband's house she is not allowed to stay alone and six
or even more maids stay with her for the total period. At this time all the
young men from the village or even nearby villages would gather and shorten
their night there with the young ladies. Music like gulhm is supplied. This
gullum is a musical entertainment supplied indoors and usually played only in
the night to even dawn. It is in resemblance of a lyre. Instead of calling
the period lausa some people even call it bathla gullum, which literally trans-
lated means the dance of the gullum.
However, the gullum is not followed by dance as such but grinding on stones
done by the bride and the bridesmaids. The grinding follows the rhythm of the
gullum. This continues for about a fortnight during the period the bride is
expected to be shy and together with the bridesmaids would not eat meat or fish
but feed only on vegetables. They should not eat in the public and in fact close
their doors to eat in order not to be seen. The bride is not even expected to
eat much. They should grind the guinea corn tirelessly and feel every waterpot
in the compounds at all times. The bride because sf shyness could not stand
to face any of the relatives of the husband, especially the elderly ones. Thus
her head must be fully covered at their appearance and could not even talk in
answer to their greeting but kneel down fully covered with wrapper. This is the
quality of a good wife during the period. For in no case should she disregard
any of these actions. If she does she becomes the talk of the village.
After the two weeks period food is cooked in large quantity, the soup
usually kubathlu which is soup cooked wholly out of beans and very little okra
added to it. This food is divided to all the compounds in the village. Men
and women. The children would all gather there and eat their meals there. This
closes the program.
The wife then goes back to her parents and spends some time. Close to the
beginning of the wet season again the wife would be collected and brought back
to the husband's. During this time there is not much program. The reason is
that she should be there to prepare for her final settlement at the husband's
house. This, her coming, is to get enough firewood and store it when she comes
back finally and to plant her groundnuts which is considered the cash crop she
would sell when she comes and use the cash for her needs. After this she goes
back to her parents.
The husband at the same time together with young men numbering up to twenty
or more would go and hoe for her mother for a day. They would again go back and
harvest her guinea corn for her.
How that the wife is at her parents she prepares for her final coming to
settle with the husband. Her preparation includes collecting enough dishes,
flour, stools used as seats, sometimes even bed and a little meat to start her
own cooking with. When these are ready then she is escorted to the husband
where she settles down in her own hut as mistress forever.
Ceremonies Connected with Death
Ceremonies connected with death vary a little. For with young death there
is not much except yelling and crying. With babies there is not even much
yelling except possibly the mother alone. The very little baby is usually
buried wrapped up in cotton linen.
Here I shall discuss the ceremonies related to death of an aged person.
When an old man dies a lot follows besides the crying of some affected
relatives. The whole village would gather. While the men would be at the
graveyard digging the grave the young women would be dancing at home where the
corpse lies. At the graveyard the digging of the grave is accompanied by music.
The digging follows the rhythm of the music supplied by drum. The drum is
carved out of wood and the inside made hollow. The two ends covered with goat
skins. Another musical instrument, the tsinza, supplies the rhythm base for the
drum. Thus tsinza is made out of special wood like ebony and a well-cut part
of a bowl attached to 6 horns of a cow. At the end of the horn are spiders
nest glued to let in air pass through small hole made in it. The strings are
made out of veins of animal.
After the grave is dug the men came home and join the women at home. The
corpose is washed, his head shaved except his beard. He is wrapped up in his
shroud, completely covered excetp his beard if he be a man, and his legs.
After he is wrapped up then a special music is played while everybody dance
around the corpse as it is laid outside in the compound. This dance is known
as bathla tua, i.e. the drce for mourning. After this another special music
is played with the corpse still lying in the same position. Two or more people
dig with hoes at the rhythm of the music and guinea mixed with other seeds is
split(spilled?) in the crowd. This is to demonstrate for his farming activities.
If he be a hunter people carry horns on their head and pretend to be animals
and dance for a special music known as bathla kum literally translated as
dance of the meat. All this is done with the corpse in the presence of every-
body. The idea is that if the dead is a witch it is expected to have swollen
up and everybody would confirm it. Witch (muta) is one that eats up another
without being seen. It changes into sparking red light and goes about in night
in search of victims. One that is eaten up becomes sick and dies after a short
After the various dances then the corpse is put on a stretcher, stomach
upwards, tied with yarn and carried suspended in between many men. Before the
carrying there is another ceremony to demonstrate his manliness if he be a man.
This his son or nearest of kin would jump and run backwards and forwards
vigorously with spear or knife and bow and arrow in hand. He would pretend to
cut up people and would shoot the arrow at a far distance. He would jump on
the roof of the dead man where the corpse-is lying and come out through the
door. All this accompanied by music to show his manliness. This is known as
All throughout while the relatives cry there are some people known as mjir
sardzi. These are people who supply jokes. These are people who are supposed to
be relatives of the clan of the dead but very distant relatives, normally about
the 5th grandson. They would imitate the relatives while they cry; women would
even dress in men's clothes and display actions of the dead man.
After all these ceremonies at home the dead is carried on a stretcher
facing upwards, accompanied by music, songs and dances as he is being carried
finally to his grave. Sometimes the bearers would halt and dance around joined
by all others. This would be done amidst joy until the stretcher made out of
cornstalk gets old. Finally it is carried to the grave. Another fil ncabwi is
repeated. The women disperse and the men are left to buiy it. He is buried
with the shroud always facing the sun. The sympathizers would then go and
greet the families of the dead.
Then follows 3 days of bukci tua this is when all the village stop work
and come from morning to evening to sit with relatives of the dead. If he has
guinea corn or groundnuts beer would be prepared and while the men continue
drinking beer the women continue cooking and eating. After 3 days they disperse.
A day is.fixed 3 months, 2 months, some weeks or even 6 months after for kuri tua
i.e. the closing or end of the funeral ceremonies.
-.On that day his married daughters, if any, and their husbands would come
with a goat each. Other relatives or even friends could bring a goat each or
chickens according to their position. All these would be slaughtered on the
day of the muritua and cooked, eaten up or carried home. After the great feast
the elderly relative hold council and share out his qasets, mostly for his sons,
if any. Wives are shared out to elderly brothers or nearest of kin. Children
are shared out to guardians. They would normally go and live with the various
families and the compound destroyed. If the women are very old and prefer
living there as widows their responsibility is taken over by others.
Thus ends and the man is forgotten.
Kachia (Circumcision) and Ceremonies Related to It.
Kazhia or circumcision in Tiraku is done mostly during the rainy season.
Children of the same age group normally circumcise together. At the time of the
circumcision the first child to be circumcised gets the honorary title of a chief,
the second birma, to the last which is cakimbal. These posts are important for
after the circumsicion the children are no longer allowed to live with their
parents. They would gather in one hut in one of the circumcised boys' fathers'
until the wound is healed. During this period the children are not allowed at
home. Thus at dawn they would leave the compound and settle in a camp in nearby
bush, usually a hidden area. They would not report back until it is dark.
The idea is that they should be isolated from women. Thus no woman dare
go to the camp. It is there that the titles gained at the time of circumcision
comes to operation. For the 'chief' could order and command any in the group.
He could even beat up one without any retaliation. The cakimbal, the last to
be circumcised suffers. He has to mop up all the remnants of food uneaten
whether he likes it or not. He is ordered to do this and do that.
The whole group would sing songs in the camp, sing songs while on their
way to and from their camp. The songs include insult to those still uncir-
cumcised,\rging them to go and do so.
Towards the end of the camping period they would go and thla laku literally
meaning to raid. In this they would go and settle along a particular path
w rer-ey expect many to be ttavaleing, usually on market days. They will
lay a bedsheet on the path with a stick made of ora stalk across it and any
passerby would be asked to drop anything helshe likes for the boys. The boys
would shout at him or at her "zwal kuhyi akwa laku* i.e."the chief's stick is
across the way and you dare not pass without a gift. If you do you will be
embraced or even disgraced." This continues for 3 or 4 market days. After this
then the initiation i.e. the day they would disperse and go back to their
parents and be accepted as adults.
On that day they would be dressed gorgeously. Chickens would be slaughtered
in quantity. Men and women would go to the camp,eat with them, and bring them
a lot of gifts. In the olden days thise gifts included mostly octton linen
but later it included cash and clothes. From then they could go back to their
homes and be accepted as adults. They could go back home and sit with the big
However, all have died out now. Most children are born in hospitals
and could be circumcised a week after instead of the age 9 or even more. Even
those children that are not born in hospitals are individually circumcised in
their homes and need no age group to camp outside. The main contributing factor
for this is school. As more and more children started attending schools it is
difficult to have time to collect them all at one place at the same time. Be-
sides how the desire for material things has become so great in the individual's
life that p people care more and more for material benefit than anything else.
Thus people are becoming much more materialistic and independent and have less
link with neighbors and even relatives at times.
As far as nyarmbwa title is known there was no such thing in Tiraku before
the colonial rule and even now. There were however elders but these were not
chosen elders; they became elders for age reasons, i.e. by the fact they have
lived long and in Tiraku among the Wakawa any elder has supremacy over the
younger. His word is law and the young need to obey him. Thus the elders
normally act as consul(counsel?). They would settle disputes like farm dis-
putes, family disputes, maternal problems and even some misdemeanors. He who
is an eloquent speaker among the elders normally convinces the others who nod
their heads in approval or disapproval. Once a particular issue is approved
or disapproved by the elders those concerned need to obey it. If they don't
obey it despite the advice of the elders it is believed that the elders,
especially one's mother or father has power to dehumanize him/her :(i.e. shuwamta)
Thus a boy or girl who has been pronounced dehumanized becomes uselsss in front
of the public. This is the punishment of him who disregard the elders' advice
and he becomes the talk of the town. If he is a boy nobody would allow him
his daughter to marry and if a girl, can never get a husband.
Now things have changed slightly. With the colonial government village
heads known as Bilama were created and ward heads known as Miangwa corruption
from Hausa word mai ugwa owner of a ward was created. These people help
the Lawan or the tax collectors in collecting taxes. In those days in settling
minor disputes but with the military government that function has stopped.
However, in no case were they paid, they did these duties and are still doing
them out of the prestige of being elders.
The respect for elders as also deteriorated slightly. It is not uncommon
o now to see young men refusing elders advice and going free, especially with
the school-age young men claiming to know more than their fathers and thus
disregard their words of advice. The elders have therefore been forced to
Shrink to the position of ignorant men.) Instead of their being listened to they
listen to their children who have been to school and places beyond their scope.
These children bring fantastic stories and claim to have known the world; thus
the elder would rather listen to him than advise him.
Installation Ceremonies of Chief
The fact that the Wakawa clan or the village Tiraku have never had a
chief, there is no special burial. The burial of the clan elders are not special
either. For their burial is similar to any.
For burial ceremony see "Ceremonies Connected with Death, p. 182, typed p.61.
Professor's Questions Answered
(typed p. 4)
f pp. 4. The two Wakawa clan, nyarmbwa cannot intermarry because they are not
separate dur. Universally all over Buraland only people of separate dur could
marry. If people of the same dur should happen to marry no matter how distant
their relationship is, it can only be without the consent of their parents;
in other words they elope and leave the area or there should be pu haptu or
ndiga whereby their relationship is cut by the means of pu haptu. In the case
of this Wakawa, though they are different clans still belong to the same dur
and therefore can't intermarry.
j. pp. 13 (typed p. 6) When I talk of one not belonging to any religion I mean
in the modern sense, what the Europeans may call ethic ie.due to the coming of
Islam and Christianity my father, for example, found the power of his haptu
usurped or effectless due to the presence of the new religion. As a result he
does not so much believe or worship the haptu as before; neither did he find
his place in Islam or Christianity. Thus he lives more or less like one without
pp. 18, (typed p. 7,8) Bri (Herd of Cattle)
Bri or herd of cattle, which I described, is collection of cattle fenced
with thorns. To gather cattle to farm bri is a difficult task and may not be
done in one's lifetime. Therefore a bri is usually formed after a long period
of time i.e. a father may be able to have up to seven cattle, but this is not
enough for a bri; he may need about 12 more to start a small bri of about 20
cattle. Thus he dies without fulfilling his ambition of having a bri. He may
die leaving three children behind but they would not share the seven cattle.
Each tries on his own to get more cattle to form a bri. This time the children
may succeed in having five head of cattle; each together with their father's
they may form a bri. This bri therefore becomes a family property rather than
one man's. Thus after the death of the three children their sons may divide
the bri since family relationship has gone further apart. Nevertheless, the
j A bri remains intact with each knowing his number of cattle there but does not
W/ vr y-7 ~
I ,Q take them out of the bri. Tre y even friends may bring in their cattle into
Thus, the bri may not actually be one's own property but it is more or less
like the modern company whereby several may have shares in it.) Thus in a bri there
may be up to ten or more people with a cattle. But the establishment of the bri,
unlike a company, traces back to a family rather than people coming together
with their cows to farm one.
pp. 21, (typed p. 8) According to Purpu Camwasu who is the eldest of the Mibwala
clan now living in Tiraku, Yamtarawalla is their haptu., This is because
according to him just his surname 'Mibwala' is so was Yamtarawalla. He said
that Yamtarawalla had the surname of Bwala, thus there was relationship between
him and Yamtarawalla which becomes their haptu.
This is true due to the wide established belief that Yamtarawalla was of
Bura father and Kanuri mother.I Therefore if Yamtarawalla was of Bura father
he must have Thlimfwala (surname) which is Bwala according to Purpu Camwasu
A. pp. 33, (typed p. 13) This is because these marriages are mostly not legal
marriages, like sau mwala or nka kuhyi, whereby another's wife could be married
without his consent. Ref: see nka kuhyi, pp. 168(typed p. 57; and sau mwala,
pp. 173,(typed p. 59).
The Wakawa around Marama are called Ndahi. This is because according
to legend during the famines which affected the Bura land, often referred to
as 'muvar dimin' i.e.'the year of dimin'. This dimin are some juicy honey-like
substance that forms on guinea corn due to effects of some insects and hinders
the guinea corn from production. This happened about the year 1900 10 1
dated making with father's age who explained it to me. Thus during that famine
the Wakawa were good at making a paste of earth into something like porridge
and eat it. Thus the word 'Ndahi' literally means to make a porridge of
earth. Thus instead of these people being called Wakawa they were called
Ndahi as a nickname. Thereby over a length of time their surname changed from
Wakawa to Ndahi instead. Nevertheless they can alternately be referred to as
Wakawa or Ndahi.
The Wakawi in Tiraku however have some sort of another subsidiary surname
'Kaliakura' This is important because it is supposed to be a Kanuri word and
must have been picked up from their origin or migration. However I still need
to find out the meaning of the term Kaliakura from a Kanuri speaker.