List of Old Men
The Genealogical Diagram is found on pp. 116 and 117,
typed pp. 38a and 38b.
I advise anyone reading these informations to read that
done by Midala before reading the rest. It is just because I have
described most of the traditional dress patterns and musical instru-
ments in this section.
Tsahuyam is a village west of Marama in Biu Division. It is sited on
an upland between rivers with a rounded mountain ( Gyima ) on its western
side. Presently, it has a small number of compounds as a result of transfer
of some people. In the past it was populated to the size of what a village
The village is divided into four sections (zara, singular; zaraire, plural).
As shown in the diagram over page (1) is known as Zarar Adamu. This man, Adamu,
has a cattle that is the main reason why he made his settlement outside the
village so that the animals may not bring any inconvenience to other people.
The place is also slopey and higher than the rest with good drainage which is
an ideal place for cattle settment (ciba). (2) On the diagram is know as
Zara Inuwa. This is the central part of the village where traditional distances
(dances?) are held under the big tree indicated.
Zara (3) is known as Zarar Midala. Here I just want to point out that it
was populated in the past but now only few compounds remain. Zara (4) is Zarar
Lawan. It's here that the ward head lives.
Surrounding the village are shrubs and few trees where the women gather
firewood. The two rivers (Mariya and Shaha Mariya (Mariya branch) are seasonal
but there are reservoir all along their course.
PLAN OF TSAHUYAM
I. 7 *^Yet^^-i~
The above diagrams (1), (2), (3) are the small, medium and large plan
of compounds respectively. Shisha as indicated in the diagrams are piles of
wood done by women, usually in front of their houses. The granaries are storing
guinea corn and groundnuts. The groundnuts granaries are usually made smaller
proportionally to the quantity. There is something about the large compound
that the house of the master is usually at the center. One thing I want to
point out about the fence is that I have shown it as a circle while in actual
sense some are eliptical and few are in square form.
The farm plots are in small patches which are on an average of two acres.
They have irregular shapes and are scattered all around the village. The soil
is brown with lots of stones which are made into terraces. For one thing there
is no law as to how farmlands are to be shared among farmers. Once someone
wants to clear a farmland he only has to bear in mind that he does not do it
close to a farm without the consent of the owner. There is one practice which
also brings problem when looking for a new farmland, and that is fallow. People
do leave their farms without cultivation for several years and if it happens that
someone else clears it for farming it will result into quarreling.
One person can have three or more patches of frmland not necessarily at
one place. On one patch of farmland several crops are planted. You can find
on a farm guinea corn, millet, groundnuts, beans, cucumber, etc., which are
locally found in this area. In lowland areas where fertile alluvial soil is
present rice, cassava and cocoyam are mostly planted. Pepper also is planted
around anthills and under large trees which are allowed to stand on the farm.
Cotton, another cash crop beside groundnuts is planted on a large scale on farm-
lands around the village and also within the village around compounds.
Greater proportion of all farmlands are given to guinea corn as a subsistence
crop, followed by groundnuts and cotton as cash crops. The rest of the crops
are grown on small guqntities for local use.
Other activities of the people beside farming is that they do keep live-
stock. Almost all men who are heads of families do keep sheep and chickens while
the women keep goats and chickens also.
There is one person who is having ciba (herd) as mentioned in the descrip-
tion but some of the men in the village have one or two cows which are either
with the man or with the Fulanis or other Bura people with ciba. Bura people
who have ciba do have their children as herders or at times they give to
Fulanis for herding and care.
The work on the farm is shared as follows:
The young and matured men do most of the clearing of new farmland though
women do take part but on small scale. Laborers are at times hired to clear
the land and also to weed. During harvesting of the carn the men are ones
who do the cutting of the stalks with a wide fun-like(funnel-like?) hoe while
the women help cutting the corn ears., Cassava is only grown by men while there
are no other distinctions in growing other crops beside those mentioned, be-
tween women and men both young and matured.
Tsahuyam consisted of a homogeneous group of people who were of one Dur
(Mshelia) in the past. Dur means clan as in the context. Other meanings as
(kind, type, tribe).. Durayeri means plural of Dur. But at the moment there
are two Duraine(Durayeri?) in the village. These are Mshelia who are the found-
ing group, and Yidawi who came later. Each of these Dur are of one nyarmbwa.
(Nyarmbwa means lineage as in the context. Other meanings, as door).
The Bulama (ward head) happens to be from the Mshelia group since in the
past to this day. There is a practice in Bura area that the first man who
settles at a place will not be the Bulama but will have a title as Thidima
while the person who came after him will be the Bulama. The first man who settled
at Tsahuyam was Yawulaka who died of smallpox still that year so his brother
by name Yakwi came and settled. He was then made Bulama and to this day
Tsahuyam is called Tsahuyam Yakwi after his name.
When we consider the question of shrine (milim, haptu etc.) in the village
we must first of all categorize them into two before dealing with those who
are responsible for them. First, shrines which are outside around the village
in form of trees and stones. This category is for the general use of the people,
not necessarily belonging to that village (Tsahuyam). The person responsible
for this category is Yabukar. He is the grandchild of Yakwi (the founder of
Tsahuyam), and so it is a sort of inheritance. He is the one in position to
know the secrets about these shrines. The second category is those shrines
kept in households. There is only one kept with Yabukar which is for the general
use of this nyarmbwa (it is called Haptu Nyarmbwa). In the olden days any ma-
* tured person could have his or her/milim but with the increased disbelief in
these idols only few old people are still in position (possession?) of them
Here is a brief story of Yamtarawalla.
It was believed that Yamtarawalla was a brother to the chief of Yerwa
who one time left his brother and came to Biu Area. He made his settlement
at a place around Mandaragraw northeast of Biu. He was a huge man I suppose
because the story went on to say that at one time he cut a bundle of thatch
which he could not pass with it between two mountains (Mount Goram and Mount
Ghishi). He was just able to take part of it home. The rest was left between
the mountains where lots of thatch are found this day.
Later on in life he performed a miracle by being the first to cook stones.
One day as he was preparing a roof with his children he put a pot full of white
stones on fire. He sent each of his children (except one) to check if the
stones were cooked but each time they came reporting that it wasn't even boil-
ing. He then asked the remaining child to go and check. He went and came
eating the stones like cooked eggs, which made Yamtarawalla'annoyed to see
his child of his equal.-', The child by name Marimita who left his father's
house to Asikina still that occasion.
Following this incident his wife one day heard him (Yamtarawalla) singing
which was strange enough to her.. She asked one of her children to go and see
what his father was doing, He rushed back to his mother and ported that his father
was sinking into the ground. She said it was rubbish because she has never heard
such, and so she asked him to go and observe carefully again. The boy reported
the same thing and she decided to go and see for herself. She was just able to
see his head so she quickly took a blade and cut his hair that was left out.
The hair was then the symbol of kingship and so her child became the first
king of that area.
Interview: 25/6/73 From: 7:35 8:45 A.M.
This information is taken from Mr. Katsalla Mshelia. He was born around
1907 and got married when he was matured. He is physically tall and white
beard. He is a farmer. The interview was carried out when he was working on
his farm. There were many other people around but they did not take part in
The Origin of Bura From his observations of migration of people from
northeast to southeastward he guessed that Bura might have originated close
to the Kanuris. Secondly, he has neard from his grandparents that Bura ori-
ginated from places like Yawi, Kwagu. When I asked him as to how Bura came
to have this name he said he doesn't know. L
Dur He said dur means clan as in the context and other meanings as type, y
kind. When he was asked why there are so many clans he said this was caused
basically due to war. When it happened that somebody from a group of related
people committed a crime that would result to revenge, the rest of the people
in fear of the revenge would declare openly that they are no longer related.
That person would either stay and wait for the revenge or move to another land
out of reach of his enemy, where he would decide any clan for himself. Secondly,
when the population of Bura started increasing more clans are created. There
is no other method of getting membership in this clan than to be born from
This clan (Mshelia) is so vast covering almost all Buraland and so the
special occupations, skills and supernatural powers depends on each locality.
This nyarmbwa is specially known for their association with the Lake Tilla in
Kwaya Bura. The man told me that our ancestors were present when the lake basin
was dry, and the true story of how the lake came to existence is as follows:
He said the lake basin was a fine place for cultivation of such crops as
sweet potatoes, ntatwa (sweet hard crop produced under ground). It happened
one day that there were girls harvesting ntalwa in this place when an old woman
came around. She asked them to give her the ntalwa but only one girl with her
sister did respond. She then called the two girls aside and told them that when
they hear of violent strong wind they should not move but when they hear of weak
wind they should move quickly out of the depression. A strong wind came and all
the girls ran out of depression except the two sisters. But when the weak wind
came the two sisters moved out quickly while the rest laughed at them as being
foolish. Unfortunately, they didn't laugh enough before they found themselves
swalled in a body of water. It was then believed that the girls who were covered
by water changed into the crocodiles which existed in the lake.
That was why the people who belonged to this clan (in particular this nyarm-
bwa) don't eat crocodiles. Some thirty years back the crocodiles used to go to
peoples' houses to lay eggs because nobody kills them. It was believed that the
lake was used for curing leprosy, blindness and other diseases. People do come
all over the area, even people from other tribes e.g. Ngui, to be cured in the
lake, but when they come an elderly man from this clan must be the one to immerse
them in the water.
There was a heated argument about this lake between this clan aid Nggada
clan. They also claimed the ownership of it because they live around the lake
so it was divided into half between them.
The people of our clan were also famous warriors and it has been the main
reason for their migrations from one place to another. They used lali and affa
(bow and arrow respectively) during wars. They are also good farmers. The
last important thing is that they are well known for hakdza that is, the
practice of giving medicine to those who are sick, and to be able to tell them
what has happened in the past, and also to prescribe medicines for them against
things to come. In connection with this they have zol jang (a special rod be-
lieved to be given to them by God). This rod is used for asking God to send
down rain whenever there is drought during the wet season. It is also used in
burial of those who died of leprosy and lightning. No other person from another
clan can claim this clan except slaves, which is applicable to all clans. The
children of the slaves could be brought up in the adopted clan.
(?) When asked about the possible changes in the clan he said clan never changes
in its real sense but nyarmbwa do change with passing time. He illustrated it by
saying that to brothers of the same father and mother can develop into two nyarmbwa
but of the same clan. Take for example Sunkira and Asgu as the two brothers. The
descendants of Sunkira will have a closer relationship than to the descendants of
This clan was originated at Kwagu around Biu. Ie mentioned two men who were
our great ancestors. They were Yamani Wachikwa and Yawulaka. They were close
relatives of the Pabir, in particular the Emir so to this effect they were cared
for when in trouble. At one time the Emir told them to stay outside the village
so that their children may not be taken and sold into slavery. They later went
and settled at Hyema where their number multiplied. Trouble then started. One
of them by name (Chikda) got married to Minta Hwavi from other clans around.
Another man from their group pregnanted somebody's wife. Those people immedi-
ately started running after Chikda's wife and making fun of him during dances.
As a result of this Chikda shot one of them and escaped. The whole clan then
excaped during the night. Yamari Wachikma and his group went to Kwaya Bura,
another group to Piti and the rest to Kwamba.
Yakwi then left Piti and settled in present Tsahuyam. Later on some of those
from Kwaya Bura, Piti, and Kwamba came to Tsahuyam when they saw the place was
good. Other groups went to Tanga Raghi and to other places.
Informant: Katsalla Mshelia 3/7/73 From: 7:55 9:15 A.M.
The interview was carried out at the gate of his compound in the morning.
There were quite a number of people who were with us who interfered with our
discussions at times. Mallam Wandzama Dili was with us for the last half of
the period we spent and has contributed some points.
The relationship of our clan to other clans in the area has entirely changed
since the feeling of enmity with some of the clans have died out. At the moment
our clan is friendly with all the clans and we have the same social structure
and cultural practices. This clan is friendly with Gworom because they do
practice Hakdza. The friendship was initiated when they married our daughter
so that her children were brought up in our Dur. They learned the secrets of
our Dur, particularly Hakdza with Zol Jang. Hena also is friendly to our clan
because our people married their daughter and in addition to this they have Zol
There were two clans: Mbaya and Amaza who were our enemies in the past
but now we are at good terms. Mbaya as has been mentioned in the previous dis-
cussions, our enmity was initiated at Hyema because of one lady (Minta Hwavi).
Chikda engaged her and was later pregnanted by somebody from the Mbaya clan. In
those days it was an insult for somebody to pregnant your wife and at the same
time they were mocking him. During one great dance he shot one of them with
arrow who later died. This was the whole cause of the migration of our clan
from Hyema. Several other killings followed from both clans.- And that of the
Amaza Nggada was that they killed two of our people.
When our clan went to war they never asked any other clans for help because
they were good warriors. But they do collaborate with Kwari at times when they
go out raiding.
The present Dur head is Musa Kadala who is the oldest man in the clan.
There are also elders who constitute a number of old people who are approximately
of the same age but less than the Dur head. They did not do anything special in
the past. They were just farmers while few of them were hunters. Now their function
to the clan is that they act as advisors and also they are the ones who know
perfectly the secrets of our haptu and milim.
He told me that long ago our clan used to hold the title of Kachala (one
who leads during (wars?) similar to the commanding officer in the Army). These
people get their office as Kachala by being skillful during wars, and in addition
to know a wider geographical background of the area so that he can lead them thrQtgh
the right route to their enemies. The Dur head obtained his office just after
those who are older than he are dead. They do not perform special ceremonies
for putting in the office. He is being respected in the clan and people do take
advice from him. At times he may be the one to take care of the milim (Kudlagir)
or Haptu Nyarmbwa. His rights do not very much exceed those of a common person
in the clan.
The informant condemned the question of the Dur head's first night privileges
over brides at weddings long ago. He emphasized that such thing has never been
practiced in our society and he has never heard of it.
In this clan we have four nyarmbwas: Nyarmbwa Mangili, that is those at
Kwamba; Nyarmbwa Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi, that is those at Tsahuyam; Nyarmbwa
Ya sokta, that is those at Piti and Ngasam; and lastly Nyarmbwa Tilla.
The following list are the predecessors of the nyarmbwa heads:
1) Kwamba Kwarki, Salmawa, Sulki Yamta and Yamangili.
2) Tsahuyam Yakwi, Shtlim, Sulki, Miduku, Lawan Pagu.
3) Piti Sokta, Yadola and Kidapchara.
He stated that all settlements in the past were organized according to their
nyarmbwas. This is the main reason why the different nyarmbwas in our clan are
in separate villages. But things are changing now that settlement no longer
follows that order. They settle among other people while they keep their identity
and no other people can be absorbed into the clan.
The clan haptu and milim are Haptu Nyarmbwa and Kudlagri respectively.
Haptu Nyarmbwa This is a representation of milims which belong to our
ancestors and it can affect anybody in the clan if they don't take care of it
properly. It is the most important thing that bound the clan together because
they can differentiate themselves from other clans by considering Haptu Nyarmbwa.
They can also consult it when somebody is suffering from chest pain. The person
responsible for keeping it used to put kusa into it yearly and they do sacrifice
to it at certain intervals of years. Now the person responsible for it is Yabukar
Mshelia Tsahuyam. He is the grandchild of Yakwi, the founder of Tsahuyam. It
was handed to him because he is one of the old men left who knows how to take
care of it. His predecessors were Yakwi, Kisawa, Shalim and Miduku Samba. They
all belong to the same lineage with him.
Kudlagir This he said is a milim inherited from our great ancestor, Yamari
Wahikma. When asked how it came to exist he said he doesn't know. All he knows
about Kudlagir is that it is very helpful. It could help those who are in lack
of wives to get married. It is also interesting to know that it could help people
to be successful in their business. He made mention of hunters and students who
consult this milim so they could be successful in their undertakings.
He also made mention of other milims and haptus which are consulted by
members of the clan. Haptu Marama is one example. It is so famous just like the
Kudlagir. It is found in a mountain called Mount Morama. There are people who
are directors to strangers who want to consult it. He stated that if you visit
that place you will see plenty of things. Most of these things are working tools;
for example, hoes from farmers, arrows from hunters, pencils and books from stu-
dents and so on. The reason why they produce such tools to the haptu is that
they want the gods to help them in that particular occupation which involves the
tools. Other haptus are kept in the house individually while some of the milims
are groups of trees and stones outside the village which anybody can consult.
The predecessors of Musa Kadala, the person who keeps our Kudlagir at the
moment are: M Angili, Kwarki, Liawa Dika. They were also from the same lineage
The present religious denomination of the Dur and nyarmbwa is Islam. He
stated that Islam was introduced in his area some sixty years back. Initially
it was only at Piti and Kwaya Bura but they later on visited other villages
preaching that people should become Muslims. And it was through the introduction
of Islam that people started to practice circumcision for the first time in history
of this area. It was easily accepted by many people of our clan since it came
through members of our clan at Piti. They put into practice all that was required
of a Muslim. They pray daily and fast once a year. Their wives are kept at
home and they would not allow visitors in their homes except their close rela-
tives. They also practice the system of giving their daughters in marriage to
other Muslims without dowry.
There were mallams among the Muslims who go about preaching from village
to village. They built several mosques in various villages where the mallams
conduct the prayers. They usually pay visits to their Muslim brothers in other
From his observations he said the changes that have occurred in Islam are
so great. First they don't often visit their Muslim brothers as they have been
doing in the past. Most of them found that they need their wives to help them
on farms so as a result the question of purdah was stopped. To sum it all, their
practices of some of the Muslim ideologies and their attitude of discriminating
(against?) non-Muslims were stopped after they have tried it but without success.
S The spread of Islam in the past was so fast and often a whole village may be con-
S' verted but now it seems to be static. Not many mallams now go about preaching
1 ~i and we at times only hear of few people who are converted to Muslims and on the
other hand few of them do change to Christianity.
The informant stated that he was present when the missionaries first came.
He stated that it was about 32 years since they introduced Christianity. They
settled at Marama and often they would go out on horses to preach in the nearby
villages. There were few Bura people who could understand English and so they
played a vital role in translating English into Bura during preaching. Not long
after that they invited people to attend classes at Marama. When the people have
learned to read and write and could understand a little of English the work of
missionaries in spreading Christianity became easier because the people could
respond more as they hear it from people of their own tongue. He emphasized that
there was never a time tnat religious conflict was recorded in the history of
this area. There was total freedom of religion in this area so that in a family
you can find Muslims and Christians happily living together. There was no
restriction whatsoever on any of the religions found in this area.
1/7/73 The interview was started by 7:40 A.M. and ended by 8:45 A.M. The
interview was held in the house of the informant, Katsalla Zantimi. We have
Adamu Joko with us during the interview. He contributed very much to our
discussion; in fact, he was the one who answered most of the questions. Even
the questions answered by the informant were treated briefly because he was in
a hurry to go for a drink (mbal) beer.
The informant mentioned several of the traditional dress patterns for both
sexes. He said men used to put on dile which was a well-prepared animal skin.
Additional description of it can be checked on page 71, typed page 59. Secondly
he mentioned that men used to wear biangtang for covering their private parts.
Biangtang was usually made of cotton for boys and that made of skins were for
men. The description of biangtang also can be found on page 72, typed p.$T
He went on to talk of their (babe) shoes which he said were made of skins. The
skins used were those of cows and other big animals. Additional description
and diagram of babe (shoe) is found on page 73, typed page d4. When he treated
the traditional marks, his information was exactly like those described on
page 74, typed pageS-6. He also mentioned that the tradition marks for women
were the same with those of the men. The marks do not have specific meanings
but just to make their faces more attractive. And therefore nobody would stay
without a mark on his face. And in fact it was true because we can still see
relfections of it on the few old people left in the Dur.
The men as well as the women used to plait their hair. If a person happened
to have less hair on his head then he had to buy some from other people or use
black coths. He also told me the names of two parts which will be indicated
on the diagram. After plaiting the hair they used to rub animal fats and msha
(red earth) on it.
Diagram showing the shape.
covering the ear)
He mentioned several changed in the men's dress patterns which he said were
due to the coming of the white people. He admitted that he cannot be able to tell
me exactly some of the changes. He said men have been wearing leathered cloths
for quite a long time before they invented the method of weaving cotton. Even
after the invention of cotton cloths(es?) some did not stop using leathered
cloths. The first cotton shirt that men started putting on was danchiki. A
brief description of it is on page 78, typed page S- and up to now we still see
people wearing it. When better clothes like bul, gowon were produced. Just
after this point the informant went on telling me the history of Bura and Pabir
relationship. He told me of the ill-treatment given to our people by the Pabirs
which I did not record.
The description of women's pre-colonial dress patterns is a bit different
from that of the men. Women did not use skins for their clothes except for their
shoes. It can there be assumed that they might have been using leaves for
covering their private parts before they started using cotton cloth. The in-
formant mentioned only two cotton cloths used by women in the past. One was
japta which was a cotton cloth made into strips of black and white. It was as
big as a blanket. The second dress was pishiku. It was just like japta but
it has loose ends. The informant concluded that it is difficult for somebody to
describe the modern dress patterns for both sexes. For the traditional marks
we see that not many people still do it. And men have totally refused to plait
their hair. These changes are due partly because of social changes ;and partly
because of men's
The past and present ways in which members of the Dur obtain wives.
In the past members of the Dur obtained wives by zhu mwala. That was the
system of courting the girl while she was still small. The first thing that a
man could do was to take two jabi and banjiwi to the girl when she was still
small. In addition to this he could take two huntu to her parents as sur zhu
mwala. The descriptions of jabi, banji and kuntu are found on pp. 73, 73, 83
respectively, typed pp. 56, 56, 62.
The man would also pay four kuntu as sur wul kutaki and two kuntu as sur
wul kuta mbwa and ten kuntu as mbal tida. These payments are all for per
parents. After this, what was required of the man was to satisfy the girl. In
connection with this he would be required to bring twelve jabi, twelve ausar
wilatsi, twelve ausar shahu, linduwa and midlir for the girl. Now he has com-
pleted all that was required of him except to bring two more kuntu as sur yu
mwala. That was to ask her parents that he would like to go with her. Finally,
he would just nka mwala. That was to send his friends and relatives to bring
the girl by force to his house.
The next even following this is Luksa. Luksa was a customary ceremony
carried out after marriage in Bura area. During the Luksa there would be plenty
of mbal for people to drink which would take up to three days. The first day of the
Luksa was called ninim. That day only young men and girls would be gathered to
enjoy themselves with music. The second day was called yir sambal. That was the
real day of the Luksa on which many people would be gathered. On that day the
bridegroom would slaughter animals for people to eat. People would also give him
gifts of material things like corn, cotton, kuntu, bean etc. There would be
music in the evening for girls to grind corn.
The third day of the Luksa was called vir buchishifa. There would be less
people left to finish with the remaining mbal and there would still be music.
The musical instrument played during the Luksa was gulam and tsintza. But people
soon discovered that this system of forceful marriage was the main reason for
some of the broken homes so parents allowed their daughters to choose husbands
for themselves. Another change which followed was right after the introduction
of money. They started using money in paying dowries for brides. First,when
a man wanted to marry a certain girl he would talk to her. If she did agree
then the man would give her (160/-) f1. as sur dlu kusar. At the moment they
have increased sur dlu jusar to N16. In addition to this the man will give the
girl N4 sur wadi (meaning betroth), cloths and women's adornment. He will also
buy kola nuts for the girl to distribute to her friends and relatives.
After this then the man will pay the dowry. He will give N25 to her par-
ents as sur pila ka tida ka mi ma (these are Bura words meaning, telling the
father and mother). The father will have a share of N15 while the mother will
have the rest of it. The next thing that the bridegroom will do it to
mbwanyaka (engage). It will also cost him a lot of money. He will buy clothes
like shirts, headties, shoes, earrings, necklaces. He will also buy about 600
kola nuts to be presented on the engagement day. When this is satisfied then
he will go for registration from the authority which will cost him N1.45,
N.75 for the district head, N.5 for the village head (Lawan) and N.2 for the
ward head (Bulama in Bura language).
Now the girl is confirmed as his wife and so anybody else who runs after
her will be liable to punishment. Cordial relationship between the bridegroom
and her parents continues and he will at times ask his friends to go and work
on their farms. In the past music was usually played during such workings
on the farm but now they don't do it.
The bridegroom will then send some people to bring the girl for him.
When the girl has stayed with him for some weeks then he will invite people
for his Luksa. He will also invite musicians who will start to play around
4:30 P.M. and it will continue in the night. In the past the main thing for
refreshment at such occasions was mbal (beer) but now we have porridge cooked
rice and food.
On this day the bridggroom will also slaughter four goats and a sheep for
people to eat, and the way the people will show him their happiness is to give
him gifts which will at times total over N40 cash. Others, especially those
who are closely related to him will give him clothes for his wife. It can be head-
ties, shirts, zanni or shoes. After Luksa, if the bridegroom has satisfied her
parents properly she will stay with him permanently.
The informant mentioned that the changes in the way of getting wives have
changed because of social adjustment to Western type and the introduction of money.
The informant however left after he finished with this question. So Adamu
Joro took over from here and we discussed the rest of the questions. Adamu
mentioned two major ceremonies practiced by this Dur. They are Luksa and Kurituwa.
He said that we have already discussed Luksa in the above discussion (p. 133,
typed p. 18) and so he can only tell of how they have changed. First there is
change in the number of musical instruments played at such occasions now from
those played in the past. In the past they had only gulum and tsintza while now
we have in addition to this ganga (drum) and yakadi (a two-stringed instrument
played with fingers). In the past they have mbal as the major thing for re-
freshment but now we have in addition porridge and cooked rice. Another major
change is that in the past they had only the traditional way of Luksa but now
with the introduction of religions we have got various other ways.
Secondly, we discussed kurituwa which is a Bura word meaning funeral. In
the past when an old person was dead they used to have grand dance after his burial.
Again on the 15th daywafter his burial people would be gathered for the kurituwa.
On that day there would be plenty of mbal (beer) for people to drink and those
who married his daughters would slaughter goats for people to eat. Those of the
family of the dead person invite musicians to play for people. They would be
dancing throughout that day and on the following day his wives would be declared
married to some of his relatives. The present ways of kurituwa are many.
Those who still hold to the traditional way as described above still do it
in that way. But because of the introduction of religions, those people who
have accepted either Christianity or Islam do not dance during kurituwa. In
addition to ganga (drum) and tsintza (xylophone) another musical instrument which
they call hubutu is played. It is a pot which they place its mouth against
the stomach when playing it. It makes a very nice sound and the musician also
When I asked him about the titles we have in the dur he was unable to men-
tion one. But since I know of Bulama as a title to our ward head I asked him.
He told me that the Bulama of a village should always be a man because they
don't have confidence in women to rule. They respect him highly in the village.
He said ward head is obtained as an inheritance. His responsibilities are
connected to the village. He is the first person to plant tiksha in the village.
Tiksha is a name of a certain red corn planted mostly around compounds. It is
harvested earlier than the white corn just at the right time when last year's
corn is finishing and so most people plant it for its advantage as described
The Bulama also acts as a representative from the village to the authority.
He attends meetings called by the district head or the village head. He is re-
sponsible for warning people of anything going wrong in the village. And in
addition he is responsible for solving problems in the village and if it happens
to be difficult he will report it to the village head or the district head. In
the past the ward head had no salary but he receives some things from the people
which I can term as ward head benefits. These gifts were in form of mbal (beer)
or meat which were usually given to him on occasions like Luksa or kurituwa.
They called such gifts as mbalir di and kumir di. The underlined word is
Bura statement meaning meat for the village. The ward head does take care of
the village milim which can be just a group of trees outside the village.
Whenever there is something wrong in the village he will consult it and
make sacrifices to it. During the last two years the Native Authority has
recognized the importance of the ward head and he was given allowances proportional
to taxable people in the village.
The next thing we discussed is the titles connected to the household in
the Dur. He mentioned four titles connected to the household; namely, Salaki,
Mwala Wala, Mwala Miwa and Mwala Gaji.
Salaki is a title applied to the husband. He is responsible for building
the houses and making the fence. He has the highest power in the family and so
his words are mostly respected in the family. He is the one who gives permission
to any member of the family who wants to pay a visit to people. He is also
responsible for warning members of his family of anything which could affect
them. He takes care of them particularly when a member of his family is sick.
He can also help towards their feeding and clothing. The responsibilities of
Salaki are both the same for Salaki of a large family and Salaki of a small
The next three titles which we discussed are only applicable to large
families. Here I mean families with at least two wives. The titles are all for
the women in the family. First is the Mwala Wala. She is the first woman
married in the family and she is next in authority to the husband. She can also
solve problems in the family as well as give them warning. She takes the report
of everything going on in the family to the husband. She is also responsible
for informing other members of the family of any work that they are going to do
for the husband.
The next title is Mwala Miwa. She can be any of the wives in the family.
She is the most-loved woman in the family because of her character. She speaks
sweet words to the husband and always obedient to him. She does cook a lot of
nice things for the husband. For this reason other wives would hate her and so
her closest person in the family is the husband.
The third title is Mwala Gaji. She is the last woman married in the family.
She is responsible for cooking food for the husband when he comes home on journeys.
All other women consider themselves senior to her so that they take advantage of
sending, asking her to do something for them. So we see that the administration
in a family is a form of a government with Salaki as the head and those who follow
in authority. The above discussions of titles are the same for both the
traditional and for the present.
Adamu Joro was just able to tell me briefly of the installation of
Bulama and chief. Bulama he said is not obtained on merit but as an inheri-
tance. When the Bulama (ward head is dead his eldest son will succeed him.
After the death of the ward head the elders of the village and the village
head will hand over his stuff(staff?) to this eldest son. He will then decide
for himself a particular day on which he will invite people to dance for him.
On such occasions he will have to cook plenty of mbal and slaughter animals
for people to eat. That is all required of him and he will take over all the
responsibilities of his father. When a ward head dies there is one thing special
about his burial but all other activities involved are the same with an ordinary
In the grave usually dead bodies are laid on the mat but in the case of
(the ward head, his body is laid on the floor of the grave without a mat.) The
people believe that when they put mat under the ward head it will cover their
spirits which will result in more people dying in the village. This type of
burial of ward head is the same for both traditional and at the moment.
Next we discussed the installation of a chief. Here Adamu Joro pointed out
That he knows a littlelof the traditional installation of the Emir of Biu. In
the past, he said, when the chief was sick they don't give him medicine because
they believe that he was god himself. Also, nobody goes to greet him. His door
would always be closed and the only way that people could know that he was still
Alive was to tie a string on his leg and pass it through the door. The people
at times would come and pull it and when they feel somebody was pulling it back
it means he was still alive. When the chief was dead then somebody out of his
family would inherit the throne.
Before the installation he would go and take bath in Tsirakumi, a special
river. The blacksmiths were responsible for giving him bath in this water. At
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the riverside they would scatter benniseed and at the same time say certain words.
A stone would come out of the river where the chief would stand. According to
the custom they would beat him before giving him the bath and in return he would
beat them after the bath. When they returned home he would give them clothes
and he would be turbanned. After this everything of his father belongs to him.
It could be slaves, material things and his wives. He would then take over his
father's responsibilities and he was free to introduce his own ways of ruling.
When the chief was sick nobody takes care of him, as described above. But
when they found that he was dead, then they would open the door and take out
his body for burial. His burial would be quite different from that of an ordinary
person. In the grave they would place him as somebody sitting on a chair. His
buttocks would be placed on a metal stool and all parts of his body would be
supported with metal forks. The grave also would be filled with charcoal so
'/ that his body could always be in that position. It should be pointed out that
the grave of the chief would always be in a special place.
Here Adamu Joro was unable to carry on with the discussion because he
doesn't know the present way of installation of the chief or the burial.
First the problems which I encountered. I live in a different village and
on several occasions when I visited Tsahuyam I never meet the informants. Even
if I meet them at times they were in a hurry that we had to rush through the
interview. Secondly, some of the informants do not elaborate enough on most
of the topics. I also noticed after the interview that their ideas are similar.
The informant is Badawi Mshelia. He is the younger brother of Midala Kumirmta,
one of the informants. He is just a little above 50 years of age. He has a
large family with his compound isolated outside the village. His present
occupation is farming. The interview was carried out in his compound specially
on the topic of Ndigar Nyarmbwa (that is, the way the clan was segmented into
He first informed me that the Mshelia clan covers two groups of people He
pointed out that when you meet two people both having Mshelia as their clan
it does not mean that they are related. The two groups of Mshelia are the
Mshelia KingngaL and \Mshelia Lasama'\
Mshelia Kingngal is the group of people who are blacksmiths and according
to him they originated differently from Mshelia Lasama. Mshelia Lasama is also
a group of people who are associated with Hadzi as described in the previous
discussions. (This is the one I have been treating in this book.)
According to him the nucleus of our people (Mshelia Lasama) was situated
at Tilla just by the Lake Tilla side. These people lived long ago before
Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi as described in the previous discussions. He
described them as people of his ambition and war liking. It happened one time
when they were highly populated that many of their members were dying.. They
did not know the cause of it and they also found that the medicines they pre-
scribe were not always effective. There were three brothers who were well known
for Hadzi in the clan. Hadzi is the act of prescribing medicine to people and
also to be to tell them the necessary precautions of any coming danger. Two
of them who happened to be older than the other decided to go to the mountain
just by the lakeside where they thought they could find the mta (death). They
believed that mta (death) lies in a hole in the mountain, so that if they could
only block the mouth then people would stop dying. They took with them
thuvur hakdzi which was a bag where medicines and other things associated with
hakdzi were kept.
They went all around the mountain but they did not find anything. Later
on they met their younger brother who asked them what they were looking (for).
They refused to tell him at first because they thought he was too small to know
such thing. But when he heard of what they were looking he did not waste time
in showing it to them. This act then created fear in them and so they gave
him the thuvur hakdzi to finish the job for them. They didn't know whether he
had closed the hole or left it still open. It had also created in them the
fear of him even when they were back home. Throughout their lives together
they were also jealous of the power which he possessed so all the time they
were not on good terms with him. It so happened that his children were very
tough, creating conflicts between them and other clans around. (One thing I
forgot to mention above is that the informant doesn't know their names.)
One of the elder brothers and his group decided to go and have their
settlements at Ngasam while the other and his group went to Kwamba, leaving
their younger brother still at Tilla. This is how the clan was segmented into
nyarmbwas. Long after the segmentation were Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi born at
Tilla. They later lived at Hyema until a time when they had conflict with the
Mbaya people. Yakwi and his group settled at Tsahuyam while Yamari Wachikma
settled at Tilla. The descendants of Yamari Wachikma later on joined those at
Tsahuyam and a branch from those at Ngasam came and found Piti. All these seg-
ments are now regarded as separate nyarmbwas.
One thing is that we still feel that we are all related because we originated
from the same ancestors. We have not been marying from these nyarmbwas but
recently as the clan has increased in population some of us are marrying from
other nyarmbwas. This is the only practical Ndiga according to the informant
cannot marry still feel related
later on may begin to marry
only rare cases as yet
(Continued from notes, page 19)
25/6/73 From: 8:55 to 10:00 A.M.
This information is taken from Yabukar, the grandchild of Yakwi, the founder of
Tsahuyam and he is in better position to know the secrets concerning the village.
He is married with three wives and eleven children. He is a farmer and has
greater proportion of his farm given to food crops.
Yabukar stated that Bura originated close to the Kanuris but due to wars
and famine had made them to migrate to their present position. He said typical
Bura were considered to be those in the southeastern of Biu but with the increase
in population now Bura covers a vast land.
Bura actually is the name of insects smaller than termites but they are very
(courageous and dangerous. They are plentiful and whenever they go out in search
A/" of food they make sure that they are inline like soldiers. Anything that happens
to be in their direction, be it river, road, compound, etc., they must cross it
even if it will result in half of them dying. It is exaggerated that they do
cross even fire. It if happens that a compound falls in their direction it means
all living things in that compound will suffer greatly. This people (Bura)
were great warriors during tribal conflicts and other encounters in the past
so they were attributed the name Bura.
Clan (Dur), he said, are group of people who share common relations and
they happened to originate from the same ancestors. From our discussions, he
mentioned that the fragmentation of Bura into many clans is due basically to the
increase in population and also conflicts in the past bind people into smaller
He said that there are three most important things that our clan is well
known for. (1) They were famous warriors, (2) they are good farmers, and
(3) lastly, they do hakdza. He went on to tell me in detail that any child born
in this clan should be able to prescribe medicine (herbalist). He talked of
Lake Tilla which belong to our clan. The lake was filled during the presence
of our people.
It happened one day when there were girls harvesting their crops in
ntalwa in the depression, that an old woman came around. She asked them to give
her a little of ntalwa but only a young girl and her sister did giver her. When
she was going away she warned the two sisters that when they hear a violent wind
they should not move but when a weak wind comes they should rush out quickly. A
violent wind came and all the girls ran out of the depression except the two
sisters. Later on a weak wind came and only the two sisters ran while the rest
were immediately swallowed up in a body of water. They were believed to have
changed into the crocodiles found in the lake,'which as a result the people of
Your clan don't eat crocodiles to this day.
In the past they do observe yearly sacrifice at the lakeside and people
do often come to them to be immersed in the lake so that they could be cured of
their diseases e.g. leprosy, blindness etc.
Another very important thing in connection with hakdzi is zol jang, (a rod
given to them by God). He went on to tell me the story of how this was given
to them. He said at one time our people happened to be in Lasa area (we are
at times called-Lasama' instead of Mshelia) where they used to go about playing
Tsintza (xylophone). One day one of them found it difficult to pass with his
tsintza between certain two mountains but when he raised up his rod God allowed
him to pass, leaving his tsintza behind. He kept the rod inside his house but
one morning he found that it had disappeared while brand new one was in its place.
& At any time the rod is raised up the lightning will strike somebody. It is only
used during prayer for rain, and burial of old people in the clan, and those who
die of leprosy or lightning. A newly born baby in the past would have his own
/ \ rod, a symbol of being Lasama.
He said other clans have got\zol jang also. Gwarom has got one because they
) married our daughter and Hena have got their own independently, and so we share in
the activities that involves zol jang.
No other person can claim this clan except slaves) which is applicable to
all other clans. Nobody can change his clan except in case of slaves where they
have no choice but to take to their master's clan. The slaves who joined the
clan in the past have their children brought up in this adopted clan while
presently nobody joins the clan.
The history of this Dur from the time of its founding to the present time.
They lived around Biu closely related to the Emir. The Emir had always given
them protection during dlira (raiding) by the Pabirs. They were later told to
stay outside Biu so that their children might not be taken into slavery. The
place where they settled outside Biu was called Hyema. They were there until a
time when enmity developed between them and Mbaya people.-
Somebody from the Mbaya clan pregnanted Chikda's wife and to make worse they
made him a subject of laughter in the village. The turning point came when they
had a great dance in the village in which Chikda shot one of their members with
an arrow. Before the Mbaya people could get to revenge our people have left Hyema.
It was this incident that had led to our Dur to break into several nyarmbwas.
Yakwi and his family went to Piti and finally settled at Tsahuyam as the founder.
Yamari Wachikma and his family went to Tilla. Yamangili and his family went to
Kwamba and one other nyarmbwa went to Ngasam while the rest went and settled
in the nearby villages. Some of those at Tilla later joined those at Tsahuyam.
From that time to this day the already-existing nyarmbwaire (segments) did not
split up. All the nyarmbwaire of the clan still have cordial relationship
though they are in different villages and so they do not marry one another. This
is so because they still belong to the same haptu nyarmbwa.
The clan split up into nyarmbwaire at Hyema long ago as already mentioned in
the above discussion. It happened because of the conflict between them and Mbaya.
When they were leaving the village (Hyema) they went in groups according to
their families to places of settlement where each developed into nyarmbwa.
Informant is Yabukar Mshelia. The interview was started by 9:25 and ended by
10:30 A.M. It was carried out on his farm where nobody was with us.
Now our clan is at good terms with all other clans in the area, though
it was a different story in the past. He told me that in the past Hena and
Gwaram were our best friends. Our people used to marry from this clans and
they have learned our practices. They have learned to hakdza and both of them
possessed zol jang. There was cordial friendship between us that we treat one
another as brothers.
While the most well-known enemy of our clan was Mbaya.i They do not allow
our people to marry their daughter, neither would our people. It was initiated
when our forefathers were still at Hyema over one lady by name Mimta Huvi. She
was a wife of Chikda who belonged to our clan. She was then pregnanted by a man
of Mbaya clan which resulted into friction between the two clans. Chikda, the husband,
killed one of their members which caused their migration from Hyema to their
present settlements. Several other killings followed on either side which increased
the tension between them untJl the colonial masters came to power. Now everything
has been forgotten and we don't have ill feelings against one another. We can
marry their daughter and they can marry our daughter, which has broken the
barrier between us.
When our clan went to war there was no time they ever asked other people to
help them. But they used to collaborate with Kwari people at times when they
went out raiding. They were well-known warriors which they considered as nature's
gift. When they went to war they usually perform sacrifices to their idols so
that they could be protected.
The present head of the Dur is Musa Kadala and his helpers are the elders.
They have not done anything special in the past. At the moment he said they act
like advisors to the clan. If iey see anybody misbehaving in our clan it's their
duty to warm him. He explained that their work is not limited to that but it
includes solving family problems. The Dur head obtained his office not on merit
but by being the oldest person in the clan. His duties are just as the elders
mentioned above but in addition to that he is responsible for keeping our milim
(kudlagir). He hasn't got any right or privileges more than an ordinary person
in the clan; therefore, the question of first-night privileges over brides at
weddings long ago does not arise.
The informant said the possible title held by somebody from our clan was
Birma. This was a title given to Yamari Wachikma long ago by the Emir of Biu.
He was a skillful hunter and so he was chosen to act as the king of hunters. His
successor was Kisawa from Kwamba who was also a famous hunter. His duty was to
inform people of a hunting day in which all people were to turn out. They would
only bring with them a big stick and nothing else; even their dogs would not
follow them. They would be close together bounding a large bush where animals
were available. All of them would aim at coming to center of the land they have
enclosed, where they would be catching the animals with hands or killing them
with sticks they have. During such hunting (it is called dalti-hur), one of
the front legs of each animal killed would be given to the Birma, who would also
take some of it to those who have chosen him.
There are four nyarmbwaire in the clan: Nyarmbwar Yamangili, Nyarmbwar
Yakwi and Yamari Wachikma, Nyarmbwa Yasokta, and Nyarmbwa Tilla. The following
list are the previous Dur heads with their respective nyarmbwa.
(1) Yakwi and Yamari Wachikma
Chikda, Liawa, Salki Yamta, Miduku Samba, KwatikarYamta and Audu Tapci.
(2) Nyarmbwa Yamangili
Birma Kisawa, Yamarngaran, Salmawa, Kwatikar Thlama, Kachala Kwarkwar and
(3) Nyarmbwa Yasokta
Yadola, Kidapchara, Yasakta, Miduku Samba, Machar Hadlu, Chikda Bukar and
He said that he has no idea because he is not familiar with them.
The informant mentioned several of the clan haptu and milim. We have got
Pila Wala, Juli, Kudlagir, Minta Whada and Haptu Nyarmbwa and out of these he
emphasized that the last three are the most important ones to the clan. He just
spoke very little about Juli which he said is with our Bulama, Lawan Pagus
and Pila Wala is at Tanga.
Kudlagir, he said, is kept with our head of the Dur, Musa Kadala. His pre-
decessors were Yamari Wachikma, Yamangili, Birma Kisawa, Shalim and Salmawa.
Not all of them were of the same lineage with him; they just happened to be the
right people for keeping it. He stated that the requirements of Kudlagir are
just yearly service of putting kusa into during the sixth moon (October), for
intervals of two years, while in the third they will perform a sacrifice to it
with a goat. Individuals in the clan also who want Kudlagir to help them in
his problem must sacrifice to it either with goat or chicken. It could be either
he finds it difficult to marry or just that he wants it to help him to be
successful in his business.
He went on to tell me how Kudlagir came to existence. Once in a certain
village there was one woman with her daughter. They had their farm on a certain
mountain but they always got poor harvest. One day the woman was talking to
herself that if she could get good harvest then she would sacrifice to the
stones and trees which was later called Kudlagir. That year she had a good
harvest and in addition to that she succeeded in everything she did. She pro-
duced more children but one thing she forgot; she did not carry out her promise
to the stones and trees.
One day her elder daughter became sick and died and she was informed by
some villagers that they met strangers outside the village who told them that
they have removed the breast of the dead girl because her mother did not carry
out her promise. She immediately carried out her promise and many other people
consulted it and they were always successful. He stated that our great grand-
father was the one who consulted it because he was afraid that his children
might be taken away into slavery. At the moment all the people of our clan
worship it except those who have accepted Islam and Christianity.
He also talked of Haptu Nyarmbwa which is with him at the moment. He said
it has another name as Madamya. It is actually milim which was handed to us
by our ancestors and it is only helpful for curing chest pain. His predecessors
were Yakwi, Yangkwarmpa, Saki and Miduku Samba. His duty is just to scatter
mighil (beniseed) around it at times and also to pu kusa (pour in sweet liquid
made out of yiest(yeast?) yearly during the 6th moon (October). Anybody in the
clan who is suffering from chest pain could come to him at any time so that he
can inform it (this type of information to haptu is called Tulta). This Haptu
Nyarmbwa is only useful to those of our clan only, because other clans have got
He also talked of Minta Whada, that it is just a group of trees and stones
outside the village. He also pointed out that it is consulted not only by people
of our clan but also people from other clans. He didn't mention who is respon-
sible for it. He stated that there are no changes in the haptus and none has
The interview was started by 7:05 and ended by 8:15 A.M.
The informant is Yabukar Mshelia. The interview took place at his house. Those
who are of his family were around but they did not interfere with our discussion.
He mentioned that the dominating religion of the Dur is Islam. He went on
talking of how Islam was introduced in this area. He said that he cannot tell
exactly how long Islam has been here since there was no method of recording the
years as we do now. In any case he said it came when he was a young man not yet
married. At first it took a simple way that anybody who was circumcised was
automatically a Muslim. He said Islam came through the Hausas and was first
introduced at Kwaya Bura and Piti in this area. Later on there were mariams
among the Muslims who go out preaching. They convinced many people and pointed
out that circumcision al e does not make anybody Muslim but must obey what was
written in the Quaran (Koran?). He then mentioned a few of such qualities of a
A Muslim should ray daily and fast once a year. He should have nothing to
do with the traditional religion. He should not drink bal (beer). The Muslims
at that time considered themselves quite different from other people and so
they started discriminating (against) people. They would not eat in the same
dish with people who were not Muslims. They practiced purdah, and wouldn't
allow people to enter their compounds. They do also practice of giving alms to the
disabled people and children. In that case they were considered as being generous.
They also consider it a crime for their daughter to marry somebody who is not a
Muslim and(the number of their wives should always be even.
He stated that we can clearly see the changes in Islam by observing the
practices of the Muslims. They have stopped discriminating against people and
could allow their daughters to marry anybody of their choice. Some of them he
said have even gone back to idol worship privately, which they left when they
accepted Islam. Many of the Muslims now drink mbal (beer). He mentioned that the
spread of Islam is no longer in progress in this area because the Muslims do not
go out preaching as in the past. They don't often pay visits to their Muslim
brothers as they have been doing in the past. He also mentioned the main reason
why most of the people of the Dur are Muslims. When it was introduced in this
area it was our people at Piti'who first accepted it and so when they visit
some of the people of the Dur they talk to them about it. Now most of the
children who come from Muslim homes in the Durthave gone to school are Christians.
Christianity came to this area after Islam was introduced but in the same
way the informant cannot remember the exact year. He said they heard of it first
that it was introduced at Garkida by the white people. It was then introduced
at Marama by Mr. Heckman, a white man. The informant said that there was a day
that he visited the white man but he found that what the white man was doing
was strange to him so he did not go again. The white man invited people for
classes and within a short time there were Bura people who could write and read.
Mr. Heckman then started sending out people to preach in the nearby villages
like Durkwa, Ndiragina, Bilatum, Kidang.
At first some people were reluctant to accept Christianity because they think
that only lazy people can have time to listen when they come preaching. But
they soon realized that those who attend classes irere better off'because they
put on food clothes; and there was dispensary for their health.; The people saw
that the Christians were always happy so in one way or the other they were attracted
to it. Year after year the number of Christians was increasing going side by
side with Islam until the entire Bura area was covered with it.
He said that the changes which have occurred in Christianity are quite
S many, First of all, the way they celebrate Christmas nowadays is quite different
I from the past. In the past they do perform drama which has a meaning of the
birth of Jesus but now they only preach. In addition to this there are a number
of Christians who afe married to two wives which contradicts the Christian
practices in the past. According to him, there was never a time when there was
conflict between Christians and Muslims, though Muslims used to embarass Christians
because of their practices. Generally there is freedom of religion in this area
and so individuals judge for themselves which religion to accept.
When the informant was treating the pre-colonial traditional dress pattern
for both sexes he first considered males' dress. He mentioned that our an-
cestors wore biantang (see p. 72, typed p.dS4 for the description of biangtaig).
Usually young boys used to have their biangtang made of cotton while those of
men were made of leather. It was used for coverhig their private parts only.
The dresses they used for covering their body are blasrt made of cotton and dile
(p. 71, typed p.41). The shoes they used to put on were made of leather as
described on p. 73, typed p..-? The hair of the people was plaited and a
red earth which they call Msha was added to it but he did not tell the shape
of the head after it has been plaited. In addition to the above-mentioned
things a man can put on ausar wila tsi (p. 76, typed p.-67) and lia gergera.
Lia gergera is just like the ausar wila tsi but the difference comes in
that it is grooved all round as shown in the diagram.
The traditional marks he mentioned are the same with that on p. 74, typed
p.J' but in addition he told me of one called nvuwanvuwa (Kanuri, Kanuri is
the definition of this name). Here I have indicated it on the diagram.
He also made mention of weapons, bow and arrow and knife, that men used to
carry with them at all times. The change that has occurred is that men have
stopped using leathered cloths and wholly depend on cotton-made. First men
changed from using dile to danchiki which was made of cotton. It looks like
in the diagram shown on page 78, typed page -S. At the same time men started
using trousers and turku. The description and diagram of turku and trousers
are respecitvely found on pp. 79 and 80, typed pp. Co (-c. In addition to
this, those who were rich enough could afford to (have) big gowns locally-
made of cotton. There was also change in the shoes they wear. After using
babi tha for quite a long time they started putting on markupu which was made
by the Kanuris. It could cover the whole foot just as the covered shoes we
have nowadays. It was made of leather and well-decorated. It looks like in
After markupu they started using woranga. It is a shoe made out of motor
tire. Its diagram is shown on p. 81, typed p. 61 After the description of
the above changes he was unable to describe those which follow....He pointed
out that it is difficult to name the various types of modern dresses and in the
same way it is hard to know which of them follow one another. He also stated
that there is a drastic change in our traditional marks. All young men have
totally refused to have traditional marks.
When he considered the traditional dress patterns of females he pointed
out that there are differences between those for girls and those for women.
The dresses which belong to women were quite big and of good quality than those
which belong to girls. All female clothing were made of cotton. A woman could
have her zanni made of cotton with kudzir on the center. Kudzir is a dyed
cotton cloth usually black. A woman could wear jabi (p. 73, typed p.&Z) and
midlir (p. 75, typed p.'j7). The pages indicated can help you find the descrip
tions of the respective things.
Women also do have plaited hair like [m en but in addition they do fix
kwatu in it. Kwatu is bright metal which aines even at a distance. When (women?)
have the same shoe (p. 73, typed p.!'$) and traditional marks (p. 74, typed p.Y
like men. Women also have special dress for carrying babies called pizhi. It
was an animal skin which was made soft by robbing oils on it. Ngui and Hwana
still use it at the moment. Babies were carried on the backs of their mothers
supported with pizhi. Diagram
There were quite a number of changes in women's dress just as those of the
men. The informant just mentioned a few of the changes in clothing. First,
the danbatir (a black cloth made of cotton) and then followed by bunu and dankwali.
He was also unable to mention some of the changes in dress pattern of women. He
concluded that the modern dresses ofwomen are so plenty (plentiful?) and added
nothing more. He said the changes that have occurred so far in both the women's
and men's dresses are due to the invention of better methods of producing the
clothes. It is also in the interest of people to keep up to date by trying to
have anything new.
When we discussed the question of how members of the Dur obtain wives the
informant first considered the traditional way. He pointed out that in the
traditional marriage the girls were forced to marry people not of their choice.
They could be forced to marry old people who have already got wives. A man who
wanted to marry would start to court just at her birbh. The man would take
presents to her parents and say that he wanted the girl. His parents would be
paying visits to her parents. They could take with corn flour or ater. After
this the man would take about ten kuntu (locally woven cotton cloth) to her
parents and which they call zhuta. In addition to this the man would carry with
him ngirzang to the girl. Ngirzang is a black cotton threads which the girl
could put on her waist. The man would again take 10 kuntu as something for wul
kutaki. Literal meaning of wul kutaki as in the context can be taken as dowry.
The next thing that the man would do was to bring women's adornment to the girl.
It would include such things as: 12 jabi, 12 ausar milatsi, 12 ausar olirhu,
2 midlir, linduwa (pp. 73 to 76, typed pp.' 17), ncur this is a metal made
in the shape of arrow. It shines brightly and about 7 or them would be arranged
on lifo for the woman to put on. Lifo is a leather colored red. The man would
then cook mbal (beer) for her parents. Finally, the man would arrange for the
girl to come to his house which was usually in a forceful manner. They call it
nka mwala the system by which the bridegroom would send his friend and relatives
to capture the girl and bring her by force to him.
Three days the girl would stay in his house without eating or drinking. On
the fourth day she would visit her realtives where she would take drink and food.
There would always be cordial relationship between the man and her parents. The
next thing that the man would do is luksa. This is a customary practice after
marriage in this area. He would invite his friends, relatives and musicians. He
would also prepare food and plenty of mbal(beer) for ;the people. On this occasion
people would give him gifts of things like beans, corn, kuntu, and some of the
woman's adornment. The musical instruments were usually played in the evening,
while the girls would be grinding corn. There were only two (instruments) at that
time, tsintza and gulum. Gulum is a three stringed musical instrument played
with fingers. Diagram of gulum (p. 146, typed p. 23).
After the luksa the bride would be taken to her parents. But people found out
that the system of forcing girls to marry people who were not of their choice was
AU2 0Ua- C
- - -- -- -- -
not good. So there was change in the way of courting girls and also money is
given as dowry instead of material things.
The present way of marriage in this area. First, a man will approach a
girl so that they will discuss whether she will like to marry him. If she
agrees, then the man will give her N16 as sur dlu kusar. This is just to sig-
nify that they have proposed to get married. The parents of the man will take
N25 to her parents as sur pila (dowry). The man will then engage the girl which
will cost him about N60 or N80. He will buy about 300 kola nuts for her parents
so that they would give to their relatives and friends. In addition to this they
will go and register from the authorities which will cost the bridegroom N1.7.
After this he will invite people for luksa. There are several other ways in
which the wedding ceremonies are carried out. It could be in Christian way or
in Muslim way but the informant did not describe them.
On the same day we discussed the major ceremonies practiced by this Dur.
He mentioned three most important ceremonies, luksa, mbal tuwa, and mbal sadaka.
Luksa as described above is the customary practice after marriage. The bride-
groom will invite people in the area so that they can rejoice for him. He will
prepare mbal (beer) and food. He will kill a goat for his relatives, a goat and
sheep for his friends. There will be music in the evening and at the same time
girls will be grinding corn.
There are now changes in some of the activities. Now the bridegrooms do
not cook mbal but instead they prepare porridge. And also, there are now more
musical instruments played during this occasion. It includes ganga (drum) and
Secondly, mbal tuwa which is a customary ceremony after the death of
somebody. At the death of an old person people will be weeping and there will
be heavy drumming during the burial. Twenty days later people will gather again
for the funeral. There will be plenty of mbal and food for people. Again there
will be music for people to dance for that whole day.
The third major ceremony is mbal sadaka. This ceremony does not occur
at any time without a reason. Usually when the people are suffering from
drought then they will do mbal sadaka. In the past all the people in the
village would prepare mbal (beer) in each of their homes. In addition to it
they would slaughter goats or chickens for their meals that day. They would
put some drops of mbal and bones on broken calabashes so that they carry it
early in the morning to path junctions called matingdla in Bura language.
In the afternoon they would be drinking mbal while they would have great dance
in the evening. How they still do mbal sadaka but they do not dance.
The only title connected to the Dur is the ward head (Bulama). He is
responsible for salving problems in the village and also to report to the
authorities anything wrong in the village. He is the first to plant crops
in the village. All the people in the village have got high respect for him
and so at times they could get advice from him.
In the past the ward head was not paid but people do give him mbal and meat
during ceremonial occasions. At the moment he attends meetings called by the
village head of the district head in order to bring information for the people.
At the moment the ward head receives salary which is proportional to the number
of taxable people in the village.
The office holders in the households are three: first is the husband who
is called salaki; secondly the first woman married in the household who is
called mwala wala, and thirdly, the last woman married in the household who is
called gaji. Salaki is responsible for solving less difficult family problems.
He is also responsible for helping anybody whi is sick in the family. He is
responsible for making fences around the compound and building their house.
Mwala wala is next to him in authority of the family. She helps to solve minor
problems in the family. She is also respected by all members of the family.
The last office holder in the family is the mwala gaji. Her responsibilities
are a bit different from that of the mwala wala. She is responsible for cooking
food for the husband or visitor who suddenly comes home whether at night or
in the afternoon. Other women in the family can also send her to do something
for them. The above discussion is only applicable to large families.
The last thing put into consideration during our last interview is the
traditional installation ceremonies of an office holder. He only considered
briefly the chief and the ward head. When the informant was treating the
chief, he pointed out that the description he is going to give is only applicable
to the local chief in our area. It means those chiefs who are not connected
to the authority. They are usually rich people and are of good reputation.
When somebody wants to be a chief he will invite his relatives and friends
to gather on the installation day. On that day he will slaughter a cow for the
people. to eat. There will also be plenty of mbal for the people to drink. After
he is turbanned he will beat the dlimbwar (a special drum) followed by a great
dance throughout that day. Nowadays people have found that this is just a waste
of money because they don't get paid, so there are not many people who want to
be chiefs. When a chief dies he is buried just like an ordinary person.
Then, secondly, the installation of a ward head. The wardhead is usually
inherited. There isn't anything special about it only that the village head
should have the consent of the villagers. He will just be given his father's
stuff. There used to be great dance at such occasions in the past. When the
ward head dies he is buried like an ordinary person except that they will put
the mat on top of him instead of inder him in the grave. They believe that when
they put him on the mat it will affect them in the village.
The interview was started by 8 and ended by 9:30 A.M.
This information is taken from Mr. Midala Kumirmta Mshelia Tsahuyam. He is
58 years this year and a grandchild of Yamari Wachikma. He is the elder brother
of Badawi, my father, who are the only two left in their family. He is married
to two wives with many children. He can read and write and this has geared him
and his brother to be the first in the village to take their children to school.
He is a farmer as well as a builder. The interview was carried out in his com-
pound with only children around.
When he gave me the information of the origins of Bura he first informed
me of a group of people (Amaza) who were originally at Maza, a place close to
Buni who migrated to Kwaya Bura. He then concluded that from the above example
we can see that Bura might have originated close to the Kanuris but due to con-
flicts and other encounters could cause them to migate.
The word Bura actually is a name of certain insects which are smaller than
the termites. They move about in line with great cooperation between them.
They are able to cross rivers by having volunteers to form the bridge while
the rest pass on. Their character was then found to be similar to this group of
people who were later called Bura. They were homogenous and cooperative during
wars just as the insects. He said when we observe, now we can see that the
present Bura area still reflects the past in that there are only few other
tribes who have made their settlements in this area.
Dur (clan))are a group of people who have the same origin; in other words,
they have the same ancestors. They share in the sacred activities of their
group and they always try not do offend their members but if it happens they
waste no time to reconcile. They are always ready to help when they see one
of their members is in trouble; it could be fighting somebody from another clan
or other things. He went on to say Dur could mean tribe, race, type or kind.
He said there are many clans because of the increase in population and the
feeling of family ties. Those who are born in the same family do feel that they
are of the same blood. They started feeling sorry when they offend their members
and they try to be on good terms always.
There is another way in which clans can develop. He explained that clans
develop as a result of settlements. He took for example the Bwala clan. In
the past whenever you see a new settlement he said, it means all those people
are of the same family so this group of people who are later called Bwala
settled around Bwala (Bwala is a name given to one species of tree in this
area), and in fact some of the clans we see bear the names of trees or settle-
There is no other way of getting membership into this clan (Mshelia)
than to be born in Mshelia family. During period of slavery slaves adopt
their masters' clan and so is possible that they can get membership of the
This clan is well known as blacksmiths, famous farmers, great warriors
in the past and as people who practice hakdza. In the past our people were
well known for the arrows, hoes and axes they made. The man told me the way
they get the metal for their work, yearly they would go to the river shores
with broad wooden planks on which they separate the sand and the metal grains.
They would do this for a week or more while the chief blacksmith would be pre-
paring a place for melting it. He would prepare the place (kidla) usually
in between two walls of a small valley. He would pile up stones and insert
two great fuvu (bellows) and also prepare lots of charcoal. The people would
heap up the metal grains individually on the place he had prepared. He would
then cover them with the charcoal after which he would set on fire. Young
children, women and old men would go back to the village vhi[e the rest would
continue using the bellows until the metal grains melt, producing changes in
the flame color. The flame would be highly hot, that they do not immediately
stop using the bellows or else the fire would follow it and burn them.
After the blocks of metal are cooled each would then share it with the
chief blacksmith. The blacksmiths would then be working on the raw metals,
producing arrows, hoes, axes etc. With the available tools it encouraged them
to work hard on their farms and also to be great warriors and hunters.
The next important aspects of their activity is the practice of hakdza
(the ability to prescribe medicines for people, tell them of what has brought
abput the death of somebody, and to warn people of the danger that lies ahead
with possible precaution). In connection with this he told me the whole story
of Lake Tilla.
He said Lake Tilla was actually a dry depression in which girls and boys
used to cultivate ntalwa. It happened one day th1t there were girls and boys
harvesting ntalwa when a violent wind came after which they were covered by water.
No one knew where the water came from. They believed that the crocodiles found
in the lake were those covered by the water and as a result our people don't eat
crocodiles. They also believe that everybody in our clan has got his or her
crocodile. They then claim the ownership of the lake though it was later shared
between them and the Amaza Nggada after dispute.
They used the lake for curing diseases like madness, leprosy, deafness,
etc. Many people do come and take the water to cure them of their sicknesses.
He also told me of how they cure made people in the lake. When a mad person
was brought to them they warn people not to go around the lake for about two
days. The elders of the clan would perform sacrifices and scatter cotton around
the lake. After all such activities were carried out then they would bring the
mad person and throw him into the lake. They would stand on the lake shore with
whips so that whenever he tries to come out they would beat him. They would
stand there for a long time until they see that he has come to his normal sense;
then they would allow him to come out and that was the end of it forever.
He went on to tell me that the sacrifices they did this year when the lake
dried up was wrong. They sacrificed white cow which was contrary to the black
female cow in the past. Nobody knows perfectly the correct method of rituals
of the lake since disputes are always involved between the two clans and also
the increase in disbelief has decelerated its power. The crocodiles found in
it are friendly; they do not harm people and could go to people's houses and
lay eggs. But when the need for crocodile skins in the market increased, people
started killing them so likewise they started harming people and domestic animals.
When the lake dried up this year people still believe that they are in big hole
in mountain on the lake side.
Still in connection with hakdza, our people have somethings they call
ZOL JANG (a rod given to them by God). It looks something like the diagram.
It is made from wood to anybody in the clan.
The initial one is still with our elder at the moment but they don't bring
it out unless on official days, such as Burial of an old man in the clan or
somebody who dies of leprosy or lightning. It is also used when praying for
rain during drought. We believe that when it is taken out during wet season,
then lightning will strike somebody.
There are two other clans who have zol jang; hena and Gwagram. Hena got
their own independently and they are our best friends. We share in every
activity that involves zol jang; we could treat their people as brothers and
they do likewise. They do hakdza also.
Nobody from another clan can claim our clan. In the past slaves do claim
their masters' clan but usually they do object to it. They believe that if
the slaves claim their clans then their descendants would be eliminated while
slaves will multiply; in other words, the slaves will overshadow their masters'
descendants. People don't change their clan even with change of time. They can
only be divided into nyarmbwa. People do not join the clan.
He told me that all the different groups of Mshelia that cover Buraland
originated from the same ancestor. There are Mshelia who are blacksmiths and
our people who have the zol jang. He said there were two brothers who took to
different occupations, one a blacksmith and the other as one who practices hakdza
and also zol jang; that is Mshelia Lasama Salmamza Badawi.
I just want to point out that all the discussion in this book are only
applicable to the Mshelia Lasama'and not to the Mshelia blacksmith. Of course,
we belong to that group but they have different story to tell which is not
-known to us.
He said our people first lived around Biu when lots transferred to Hyema.
They were there until a time when one of their members, Chikda, created sukur
between then and the Mbaya clan. (Sukur means enmity created due to one group
provoking the other by either killing their member or suffer from mistreatment.)
Chikda engaged one girl and somebody from the Mbaya clan was running after her
and at the same time mocking him.
During one great dance Chikda shot one of them dead so our people ran away
during the night. Yamari Wachikma and his group went to Ving who later went
to Tilla. Yakwi also and his group went to Piti then to Durkwa and finally to
present Tsahuyam as the founder Yamari Wachikma who was at Tilla was a great
warrior. He was a great hunter and did a lot of peculiar things. He could
enter the Lake Tilla and stay for some days and return with either cotton, pilam
(something for hakdza) and even with fresh wet groundnuts during the dry season.
At present, other places where our people are found are: Piti, Ghishi,
Kwamba, Ngazam, Tilla, Waksa and many other places.
The split up into nyarmbwa (segments) did not happen at one place nor was
it at a definite time. We have nyarmbwa Piti and Ngasam who have their ancestor
as Yasokta. Those in Tsahuyam belong to nyarmbwa of Yakwi and Yamari Wachikma
and those at Kwamba belong to Yamagili. There are still many nyarmbwas that
are either small or unknown to him. These segments are brought about when they
ran away due to conflicts with other clans. In such times each family might de-
cide to settle at one place while others would go to different places.
An example of this is when Yamari Wachikma left Hyema and finally settled
at Tilla while Yakwi finally settled at Tsahuyam. Each could have developed into
separate nyarmbwa had it been that those at Tilla did not join those at Tsahuyam.
Nyarmbwa actually are just lineages. These segments do not marry one another
but can marry from the Mshelia blacksmith. They do not marry because they still
share the haptu nyarmbwa and still have the brotherly feeling between them.
This clan does take part in the social activities of other clans. The
members of this clan are always ready to help other people from another clan
and they also in turn receive help from them. They do marry and give in marriage
to other clans. Our clan is friendly to all other clans except Mbaya. But Hena
seems to be our best friend. Hena has got zol jang which our clan possesses also.
They do share in the activities of hakdza, they do treat our people as one of
their members and we do treat them likewise.
And our enmity with Mbaya was created when our ancestors were living at
1Iyema. As mentioned above, Chikda killed one of them when they were running after
his wife. Our people left Hyema in fear of revenge but this did not make them
safe because the people followed them to Tsahuyam and killed one of them. But
before they could bury their unfortunate brother kachalars (champions) have left
for revenge and so they did. The enmity continued to grow stronger and stronger;
they do not allow our people to marry their daughters; neither would our people
agree. At the moment both sides have forgotten everything; only old people still
have the memory.
This clan never asked other people for help when they went out fighting.
The informant mentioned that whenever they went out fighting, at times they could
be reconciled to that group by either Hena or Dibal. This clan was famous during
wartimes, particularly when they take their revenge. A group of kachalars (champions)
would go to the village in the night knowing well the compounds in which newly-
married young men were. Two of them each would enter such compounds, one of
them would be on the fence observing the young man's door as his target, while
the other would be troubling goats so that they make noise. When the young man
opened the door to see what was happening to the goats the man on the fence
would shoot him down and run away. This then would be painful to that group to
see their young married member dead.
The interview was started by 7:20 and ended by 8:40 A.M.
The informant is Midala Kwmirmta Mshelia. The interview was done in his com-
pound in the morning. We had M. Naminji Mshelia with us who contributed very
little to our discussion. He only helped in mentioning the head of the clan
(Dar) in the past and he left before the interview ended.
The informant mentioned that the head of the Dur at the moment is Musa
Kadala from Kwamba. He is responsible for keeping the milim of our clan. He
is the oldest in the clan which has earned him this leadership. One thing should
be pointed out is that he is not in any way connected to the authority. Here he
meant anything dealing with the court. He can advise help just as other older
people in the clan.
There are also old people in the clan who look into the well-being of the
people, settling problems between kinsmen, helping those who want to get married
etc. They are the elders. They achieved nothing in the past more than being
good farmers because almost all of them were not present during wars when man
would prove to be a man. During wars the elders were responsible for organizing
people when attacking enemies and also to make them to be more cooperative, both
at home and elsewhere. Now they just act as advisers to the clan.
In the clan we have got only Bulama as a title to the ward head where no-
body else has a title. This title is inherited and not obtained by merit.
The ward head is connected to the local authority. He attends meetings called
by the district head and he is the only one responsible for making public
announcements of important events in the village.
The Dur head obtained his office by being the oldest in the clan. He keeps
the-milim for the clan. His rights are that anybody who wants to sacrifice to
the idols must inform him first. Secondly he has the right to take portion of
the sacrifice for his own use. The informant stated that nobody has ever prac-
ticed this first night privileges over brides at weddings long ago nor has he
heard of such things in other clans.
There are four nyarmbwa in the Dur: Yamari and Yakwi, Yasokta, Yamangili,
and those at Tilla. Here are the previous Dur heads:
1) Miduku Samba Nyarmbwar Tsahuyam
2) Kwatikar Thlama Kwamba
3) Salki Yamta Tsahuyam
4) Kwatikar Yamta "
5) Yamari Wachikma "
6) Ya Sokta Ngasam and Piti
The list that follows are the previous and present nyarmbwa heads. In
each of the list it starts with the first nyarmbwa head and his successor to
Tsahuyam 1) Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi
2) Shalim Dawi
3) Salki Yamta
5) Kwatikar Yamta
6) Miduku Samba
Ngasam 1) Sokta
3) Miduku Shalim
4) Madi Mari
Kwamba 1) Yamagili
4) Liwa Dika
5) Kwatikar Thlama
6) Saki Inuo
7) Musa Kadala
Tilla He has no idea Aout the heads of this nyarmbwa.
The structural organization of settlements of our people are based on the
segments (nyarmbwa). Each person in the clan finds it safer to settle in
group of people of his nyarmbwa. So we see that each of the nyarmbwa has got
a separate settlement or rather village from one another. One example of such
are those at Kwamba; they are of one nyarmbwa. In the village they have got no
special formula for setting up their compounds. In the past usually when a
young man wanted to set up his compound he had no choice but to do it close to
his father's compound. But in the modern society he is free to choose a place
of settlement for himself. Some people do go and settle with their friends in
The majority of the people live near and in nyarmbwa and Dur areas. There
are many other clans e.g. Kwari, Yidawi, who are strangers to the clan, but
there is no way and time that they will be absorbed into the clan. Their
relation to present Dur could be in many ways. Some might have come and
settled because they have got friends amongst our people. Some, it could be
that they have grown up with their grandparents on their mother's side amongst
our people so that they find it easier to settle with them than elsewhere.
When treating the question of haptu and milim, he first pointed out the
difference between them. He stated that milim does not kill but haptu does.
The second difference comes in the way people consult them. When somebody is
associated with a certain milim he seeks help from it when he is faced with
circumstances like having difficulty in marriage. But if any time he fails to
carry out the necessary -requirements of the milim, then he suffers from sickness
like madness but the sickness may not result in his death. While haptu has a
different function it is there for the man to command and it will act. In most
cases people use it for revenge of evil done against them and could result in
In the clan we have haptu nyarmbwa and kudlagir (milim). Kudlagir is kept
with the Dur head (Musa Kadala at Kwamba). He went on to tell me of how they
(idols) come to existence. Kwadlagir is actually a name of a man who came to
a village near Lakiri long ago. He was tall with long hair covering his head.
He lodged with one man and worked for one year but he had poor harvest. The
following year when he worked he got two granaries of guinea corn and plenty of
beans. One day he went to the farm with his stepmother and he showed her a place
about which he instructed her, saying that whatever appeared there later, let
them sacrifice chicken or goat or sheep before it. After such requirements are
carried out, let them ask anything and it will be granted to them.
When the woman turned round to go back to the farm she saw that the man
was sinking into the ground. She ran home and informed her husband but when
they came they just found a huge stone and others that follow in decreasing
order. The huge stone is the king followed by Birma, Wakil and Thidima in
orderly manner. It became so famous in making people to progress in their
business and could even help those who are barren to bear children. For one
thing, its function is not limited to one clan but it is for anybody who con-
sults it. Because of this it attracts a large number of people so those who
are responsible for it devised a method of giving something to people which
they carry home. This is what our people consult in their homes as kudlagir
without going to the actual kudlagir, yet they receive the same answer with
those who visit the actual place. This is the type we have in the clan with
the Dur head. The Dur head usually puts kusa (sweet liquid made from yeast)
in the kudlagir during the 6th moon (October) yearly but after every two years
they will sacrifice to it during the 10th moon (February). Besides this, any-
body from the clan can bring his sacrifice and consult it any time of the year.
There are other milims kept by individuals in the clan. This could be
certain group of trees outside or inside the village or stones. People usually
make symbols of such things like attractive pot, and keep in their houses.
They make sacrifices to them wih chickens. An individual also can have his
He also mentioned the difference between haptu nyarmbwa and haptu. Haptu
nyarmbwa is just a name given to something they made to represent a collection
of milim which belongs to our ancestors. It is only consulted when somebody is
suffering from chest pain and they used to put kusa into it yearly. The reason
why kudlagir (milim) is kept with Musa Kadala is that he is the oldest person
now in the clan which has earned him the way to take care of it. In the same
way haptu nyarmbwa is kept with Yabukar because he is old.
Haptu can be categorized into two. First, those which are found locally
in our homes. They are made of metals and they are kept in gwalikwagu (shell
of baobab fruit) by the bedside. When anything happens to be peculiar in the
family, be it strange dreams by a member of the family or somebody seriously
sick, then they will pungkir haptu (meaning that let haptu challenge what is
causing it). Pungkir is a Bura word meaning 'pour on'. The second category
of haptus are those with stronger and practical power. People who keep them
take it as their profession to help people.
Predecessors of Musa Kadala, the man who keeps the kudlagir, were: Salmawa,
Shalim, Birma Kisawa, Mangili, and Yamari Wachikma. Not all of these people were
of the same lineage with Musa Kadala.
Predecessors of Yabukar, the man who keeps our haptu nyarmbwa were: Yakwi,
Yangkwarmpt, Saki, Miduku Samba. All of these people were of the same lineage
The informant told me that the dominating religion of our clan (Dru) is
Islam. It has been here for about forty years. It was first introduced at Piti
and Kwaya Bura. At first it took a simple form that anybody who was circumcised
was automatically a Muslim. They then later introduced prayers five times a day
and fasting once a year. So the Muslims at Piti, being our people, went about
spreading it to the rest of the clan and other people who do not belong to our
The Muslims at that time took different life, discriminating (against) any-
body who was not Muslim. They do not eat dlipa (animals that die on their own
or those slaughtered not in a Muslim way). They considered all other people as
kirdi (pagan) and would not eat with them in the dame dish. They do not drink
beer and would not allow their daughters to marry from pagan homes but they do
marry girls from pagan homes, converting them to Muslim. They shouldn't also
have anything to do with other gods. They do pay visit to Muslim brothers in
other villages around, encouraging them to keep to the Muslim ideologies.
But then drastic change came when they found that by discriminating people
they lose friends and even relatives. Later on when Christianity was introduced
people started changing from Muslim to Christianity. The Muslims later on could
allow their daughters to marry anybody of their choice. Some of them started
having secret business with idols and taking beer (burukutu) privately. Still,
there are Muslims who keep their wives in kulile (purdah) and do all things ac-
cording to the Muslim ideologies. The spread of Islam now in this area is rather
very slow. We don't often hear of people converted to Muslim.
According to the informant, Christianity came to this area some ten years
later than when Islam was introduced. It was introduced by the white man who
he mentioned as Mr. Heckman who settled at Marama. It was with difficulty at
first that the people accepted Christianity because they had heard many stories
about the white man and so they doubted his religion as they call it. Moreover,
the white man could not understand their language so it made it even more
difficult. But the white man was not discouraged; he had a handful of people
who have accepted Christianity. With this group of people he went about on a
horse preaching from village to village asking them to repent. But people always
found it difficult to accept it because of its principles. They were told that
Christians are those who believe in Christ and must copy his character. They
should not commit crimes and should be a monogamy which was contrary to their
society of polygamy. The missionaries then introduced schooling which accelerated
the spread of Christianity all over the Bura land. Daily they would open school
with prayers and close with prayers.
All the people who were then converted to Christianity took to new ways of
living. They enjoyed Christmas celebrations and all other Christian activities.
But then as time went on Christians started going back to what they had left just
as what has happened to the Muslims. Some of the Christians would go and have
private business with their milim or haptu nyarmbwa. Some started going back to
the mallams (those that foretell the future or the past) or they would consult
jisiku (a rounded stone which people use for telling the future or the past.)
9ome Christians started to have two wives but still go to church which was for-
bidden in the past. It wasn't mentioned above but not many of our Dur were
Christians in the past and we still have few Christians at the moment.
There wasn't any recorded conflict between thesamajor religions though each
of them has tried to be better than the other. At times some people were put
into confusion of which religion to follow or should they change from the one
they have already accepted to the other. And also there wasn't any conflict
between the two religions and the Bura religion.
The interview was started by lJ.:5 and ended by 12:50 P.M.
The informant is Midala Kumirmta from Tsahuyam. We had the interview on his
farm just after morning's work. There were only few people working on their
farms around but they did not interfere.
In his account of the pre-colonial dress patterns for both sexes in Bura
area he first described those which were for men. The men used to put on dile
for covering only the back part of their bodies. Dile was made from animal skins
mostly of the antelope family. Usually it was made soft by rubbing oil on it.
It was also made into good shape with the edges all rounded with red skin called
llf-~_: ,^ ^ --- ^ ^^ .-^ ,
Diagram of dile.
Biangtang this was used for covering their private parts. It was also made
Diagram of biangtang
Jabi it was made out of metal as shown in the diagram. Men used to
put it on their left hand.
Banjiwi this was just like small wires being bent into circular form.
It was made from metals and a man could have many of such in both ears.
banjiwi < --i- -
Babe (shoe) it was made from skins of large animals like cow and wild
animals. Beside this shoe they had babe udzim which they use during the wet
Diagram of season. It was made of wood.
babe Tej --- ... -
The men also used to plait t eir hair, called sutukur, just like our women.
They used to put groundnuts oil and fat to make it shine.
The traditional marks were the same for both men and women. But it was not
necessary that a person should have all the marks as shown in the diagram which
Myardikum just marks around the mouth as shown.
Bwaralang mark which starts right on the forehead down the nose.
All position of marks are as shown on the diagram with their respective
names. The informant said that these marks do not have special meanings.
The traditional dress pattern of women.
1) Ncakudzir pal and mwapu which was in the shape of a blanket. Ncakudzir -
dyed cloth which they used to get from the Kanuris. Its function was to make
the dress look attractive like all women's dress. Mwapu locally cotton-made
cloth which made up the body of the dress. For girls they have judzir ka yipu.
It was just like the one described above but it has loose ends.
2) Midlir and linduwa both were put on the waist of women. They were
made out of metals and fitted on threads or string as shown in the diagram.
Linduwa is smaller than midlir.
f w 4
The above diagram shows how midlir and linduwa are to be arranged on the
waist. There could be many rows of midlir but only a single linduwa.
Ausar wila tsi and ausar shahu both were made of white metals. The
difference comes in that ausar wila tsi was used on the wrist while ausar
shahu was used on the arm. They also used jabi at the elbow in between them.
Diagram of ausar
Women also used to plait their hair just like the men, but in addition
to it they used to fix kwatu (white metal) in the hair so that it could shine.
They also have banjiwi in their ears just as the earrings our women use now.
Check on p. 73, typed p. 56, for the diagram of banjiwi.
Women also used to put midler, p. 75, typed p. 57, on their legs just
as shown in the diagram.
Thlakuta and thlahili these were decorations women do make on their
stomachs and back. They would just cut small openings on their skin in lines
which, after the wounds were healed, would look attractive.
Changes that occurred in traditional dress patterns of both men and women:
Men started putting on blankets locally made of coeton in the form show in
the diagram. Whenever they were going on official visit or to the markets they
cover themselves with it.
Second change that occurred was that men started putting on danchiki (a
type of shirt locally made of cotton with open sides.
Men use danchiki only on market days and on official days. In addition
to this men started keeping bul (very big cloth) which they use for burying
dead people. Men, after using danchiki and locally-made clothes for a long
time, started using jampa. That was a shirt with short hands (sleeves?) as
After using jampa men introduced bulkila, a kind of dress similar to gowon.
It is not possible to draw its diagram.
Then came the great change when men started using bakta (cloth made from
textiles). Men had a turku, a long shirt with long hands (sleeves).
In addition to turku, series of men's dresses were introduced. Gari,
nashi (these were dresses of family of gowon). Men started putting on trousers.
Diagram of trousers
Several other changes in the men;s dress continued to this day which he can-
not be able to list. Similar changes also took place in the women's dress.
First change occurred in the women's dress when they started using jibi
(black dress) and dangkwali gombe (head tie). Second change occurred in women's
dress when they started putting on bunu and kapancha (these were decorated
attractive clothes in those days). In addition to the above, changes, women
started putting on shirts. Then lastly, women started using modern dresses.
The change that occurred in shoes were both the same for men and women.
After using the leather shoe they changed to waranga (shoe made out of motor
tire as shown in the diagram. Both men and women do use them.
The informant stated that the reasons for the changes which have occurred
in traditional dress patterns before the colonial rule to this day are basically
due to social changes. He mentioned a number of things which contributed to
this change. First, it was due to people's desire for good things or rather
attractive things. Secondly, he stated that human beings are the only animal
that take to new changes in order to be up to date.
\ The ways in which members of the Dur obtain wives. He pointed out that
members of the Dur do not marry from their own Dur hot do marry from other
clans (Durs). He then told me of the processes which were necessary for a man
to perform to a girl before getting married to her.
First he talked of the ways of marriage in the past. Just at the birth
before 8 days of the girl, the young man or his parents would go with leaves
and drop them before her mother. The mother of the young man would visit the
mother of the baby girl with water on the 8th day when she would be taken out
for the first time. The third thing, the mother of the young man would do,
was to visit them again with corn flour. The fourth thing that the young man would
do was to take 4 banjiwi (p. 73, typed p. 56) to the girl right when she was
weaned so that her parents could put in her ears. The sixth thing that the man
Would do was to take two ausar wila tsi (p. 76, typed p. 58) to the girl.
Then when the girl has grown up with small breast the man would ask six
people to go and hoe her mother's farm. When the girl was quite big and ready
for marriage, the young man would do mbal hila (this meant that the young man
would brew a local beer for him and his friends only). During this party, as
I may call it, the man would give the girl ausar wilatsi and jabi kuchir. The
eighth thing that the man would do was to zhu mwala. This involved taking:
(1) six kuntu (6 rolls of locally-made cloth). (2) Twelve banjiwi (p. 73, typed
p. 56), four ausar wilatsi and four jabi kuchir to the girl. The ninth thing
that the man would do was wulmwala by taking 6 kuntu to the parents of the girl.
The tenth thing in the series was for the man to do mbal gwarmwala (that was
taking beer, 4 jabi and 4 ausar wilatsi to the parents of the girl). The eleventh
thing was to do mbal kilmwala (the man would give two pots of mbal (beer) to the
father of the girl, two pots of mbal to the mother of the girl and one pot of
mbal to the girl. In addition to this he would take 8 jabi (p. 73, typed p. 56).
2 midlir and one linduwa kusar to the girl (p. 75, typed p.57). The man won't
do wulmwala (p. 83, typed p. 62) again.
The man would then do yumwala (the man would take 2 kuntu to the father
of the girl, asking him to let the girl go with him but her father would only
be willing the following year. During the wet season the man would be working
on her mother's farm.
The 13th thing, the man would buy meat for the father and salt for the
mother. The 14th thing, the man would also buy salt for the girl's grandmother.
Fifteenth, now everything that was required of the man is completed so the next
thing to do was to inform her father that they would nkamwala (nka, direct
translation of it is catch and mwala is woman). The man would ask his friends
to go and catch the girl for him. They would be visiting places outside her
village which they think they could meet her. It could be market place or in
the river where they draw water. At any place they meet her they ;would force
her to the young man's house. Villagers and her parents would rush to the man's
house in pretense of rescuing the girl just as a custom. They would be beating
people, especially those who were relatives of the man. Anybody who witnessed
such a scene would consider it as fighting rather than something of happiness.
After everything was put in order the girl (bride) and the bridegroom would
be locked in the same room where they play love affairs though the girl would
object to it at first. The girl would stay for about a day or two without taking
food or drink water. On the third day she would be invited by her relatives to
go for kicihi ma (this is a Bura word meaning washing the face in English but
the literal meaning of it as in the context is the day the bride would eat food
for the first time after she was captured by the bridegroom). Often you would
meet young men, girls and children playing at the bridegroom's house.
After she has stayed with him for about a month the bridegroom would then
inform people of the day of his luksa (customary ceremonial occasion after
marriage in this area). There would be plenty of mbal (locally-made beer) at
the bridegroom's house. His friends would kill goats and sheep for the meals
on that day of lukaa. During the daytime the people would be busy eating and
drinking mbal and at the same time giving out gifts to the bridegroom. In the
evening musical instruments (tsintza and gulum) wouad be played while the ladies
would be grinding, coordinated with the rhythm of the music. They do this in
some cases until daybreak. Gulum (lyre) Bura musical instrument having three
strings which are played with fingers like guitar drawing of gulum on p. 146,
typed p. 23), tsintza xylophone.
After the luksa then the bride would be taken to her parents. She would
stay with her parents until she had the first birth. Later she would them come
to her husband and stay permanently.
But drastic change occurred in the way of getting wives in this area. For
one thing, people saw that such a forceful marriage usually leads to a broken
home because the girls were forced to marry people not of their choice. A girl
could be forced to marry a man older than her father; how then could an old
blood mix with a new one? It caused lots of inconveniences between in-laws.
The first change occurred when young men would approach the girls and talk to
them personally to have the consent of the girls before informing their parents.
All other requirements of the bridegroom as described above are the same. The
other difference comes only in the way the girl goes to the bridegroom's room.
Here the bridegroom would send his friends and a lady at night to the girl's
home. Their job was just to bring her peacefully to him.
The second change occurred when the people started using money in this
area. The first thing the man would do was to have the consent of the girl,
after which he would give her NO0.6 which they call sur dlu kusar. (The real
English meaning of this statement is receiving the grass but I (Salmamza) guessed
that it probably makes it better for them to talk about their relations without
making anyone shy). Secondly, the man would bring NO0.5 as sur wulkutaki.
Thirdly, the man would bring N2.00 as mbal tida, and N0.4 as sur pila (these
were the ways of informing the girl's parents that you would like to marry their
The third change occurred more than those previously described. This is
our present ways of getting wives. Here I would like to point out that it varies
from one locality to another and from one religion to another. But the present
traditional way of getting wives embraces all religions in this area. The differ-
ence comes in that some (very few) Muslims give in marriage of their daughters
free without dowry.
The young man will first befriend for few weeks. During this time the girl
and her parents will try and learn something of the character of the young man.
Secondly, the man will give N16 to the girl as sur dlu kusar (p. 88, typed p.64).
He will then inform her parents that he will like to marry their daughter by giving
them N25, N15 for the father and N10 for the mother. Thirdly, the young man
would be responsible for buying clothes for the girl. The clothes include a
number of zanni, shirts, shoes, headties, earrings, necklaces, underwear and
other things like soap, perfume, rubbing oil, powder. This will cost him about
N28. In addition to these things the bridegroom will buy kola nuts so that the
girl and her parents can give to their relatives and friends to let them know
that she is now engaged.
After this the bridegroom and somebody responsible for the girl will go
to the authority for registration. The bridegroom will give N0.75 to the
district head, NO.5 to the village head, NO0.2 to the ward head, and NO0.2 to
saldakwi (a young man in the village which I can say takes the office of social
secretary). In addition to this, kola nuts will be given to them.
Finally, the bridegroom will mbwa nyikar nyarmbwa which I can term as heavy
engagement. It will cost him about N60 or N80. He can give the gLml in cash or
buy clothes and things as listed above. In addition to this he will buy 600
kola nuts, 200 for the girl, 200 for the mother and 200 for the father so that
they can give to their friends and relatives. After this the bridegroom is free
to visit his wife and her parents can allow her to go with him. It is up to the
bridegroom to invite people for his luksa, (p. 86, typed p. 63).
Salmamza Mshelia The above information of the modern marriage is correct to
the best of my knowledge but I would like to add some other activities which are
carried out in our area. In the Christian way of marriage, after the bride-
groom has satisfied the traditional requirements of the girl's parents he will
then distribute weRding:bells to his friends and relatives. On the wedding day
the bride and bridegroom will go to the church where they will be joined in the
Christian way. In the afternoon people will go to the bridegroom's residence
where they will have reception. There will be more activities in the evening.
People will dance for the drumming and tsintza or for music on records. In the
night other musical instruments will be played like likkandi and gulum (lyre).
After this the bride will stay permanently with the bridegroom.
The informant stated that the changes in way of marriage are due to the
introduction of money and clothes. It also makes girl's parents free from accu-
sation from her when she is in trouble because she chose somebody of her choice.
There were two traditional ceremonies practiced in this Dur. First is
luksa which is a customary thing carried out after marriage. This was purely the
responsibility of the bridegroom. It is carried out at the bridegroom's house
where he will invite people to rejoice for his marriage. In the past mbal (beer)
would be plenty while the only musical instrument played druing the occasion would
only be tsintza (xylophone) and gulum (lyre). The girls also would be grinding
guinea corn when the music was played. But with the introduction of religions
now people get mbal (beer) only in few luksa and more musical instruments are
played. It includes drum for dancing and likkandi.
The second traditional ceremony is death ceremony. On the day when an old
person dies there would be people (mostly women) weeping. There would be
drumming during the burial and after the burial for people to dance for the
deceased. On the following day they would cook potash which people would carry
with them as they go home. On the 15th day after the death people would be
gathered again (which they call sa mbal tuwa). On this occasion there would be
plenty of mbal (beer) and food for people. There would also be dancing in the
evening until daybreak. But again, with the introduction of religions in this
area those who have accepted them have stopped such practices while traditionally
old people still do it. Generally those who have accepted Islam and Christianity
only give sadaka (alms) (gifts) on the eighth day after the death.
Informant is Midala Kumirmta. The interview was started by 2:35 and ended by
3:05 P.M. It was the last interview I had with him. It wook place in his com-
pound where nobody was with us.
There aren't many titles connected to this Dur but the informant has told
me of a few. First is the Bulama who is the ward head who should be a man.
He listed his responsibilities in the village: (1) he is the first person to
plant tiksah (a red corn planted around compounds which yields early) in the
village. (2) he is responsible for saving family problems which occurred in the
village, but if it proves to be difficult he can direct them to the village head.
(3) he is also the host of those who come to the village from the authority. In
connection with this he will be responsible for their feeding and he will be
informed in advance of their objective in coming to the village. The ward head
is also responsible for taking the people's complaints to the authority. He
attends meetings called by the district head. The present duty of the ward head
is almost the same as the traditional one. But the difference comes in that they
do get yearly allowance proportional to the number of taxable people in the village
at the moment.
The informant stated that the are three titles connected to household:
(1) Salaki this title is applied to the husband. He is the supreme head of
the family whose words are obeyed most of the time. Traditional families were
always large with many wives and children so problems were frequent. He was
then responsible for putting things in order. The women get permission from
him when they want to pay visit to people outside or when they want to do certain
things. The husband is responsible for building all houses in the family. He
is also responsible for helping the women when they are in trouble. It could be
in the form of money or crops,in particular subsistence crops.
(2) Mwala wala this is the first woman married in a large family. She is
next to the husband in authority in the family. Beside kitchen work she can
also solve less difficult problems in the family. Other women and children in
the family do have respect for her and so it makes her job more easy. When the
husband is away she has the supreme power in the family. She is also the one to
inform the husband of any problem in the family.
(3) Mwala ntsaha (gaji) this is a title given to the last woman married in a
large family. She is subordinate to all the women in the family. She is the
one who does emergency cooking for the husband when he comes home from journey.
She is the one that other women can send even to carry water for them.
But such titles are no longer applicable in the monogamous families today;
only that of the husband holds. In the families where there are single wives
they tend to keep their properties with their husbands.
The informant considered briefly the traditional installation ceremonies
of a chief and ward head. First, he considered kuhi (chief). The character
of such person must be exceptionally good, always friendly with people. He
should be a sort of person whom people would respect. He should be good at
making public speech to draw people's attention. When such a person has got
all these qualities he will invite elderly people and friends so that he talks
to them about his decision to be chief. During this time he will produce mbal
(beer) for them to refresh themselves. After he has heard their advice he will
invite people for a bigger party the day we will beat dlimbwar (dlimbwar is a
big special drum used only during installation of chief). He will use about
60 to 100 modus of guinea corn for cooking mbal (beer) for people and his
friends and villagers will also cook some.
On the day of installation he will be taken to his neighbor's house early
in the morning. At this time he is just called Midala since he is not yet tur-
banned. In the afternoon his compound will be crowded with people while the
dlimbwar is ready also. At this time also his close relatives will turban him
while the crowd patiently waits to hail him with honorary words as burdi, dinar.
When he comes out in his attire there will be music and his relatives will try
to block his gate for him until he gives them money. After he has entered his
compound he will beat the dlimbwar once while his relatives on his mother's side
will continue beating it. In the evening he will sit on a chair when the people
dance before him. They will continue dancing until daybreak. That is how he
becomes a chief.
When he is dead his successor will cross over his legs and he will beat
dlimbwar before the 15th day after his death. During his burial they will just
cover his body with cloth and they will support him in the grave with a metal
folk (fork?). They will fill the grave with charcoal and then complete it with
earth. (This burial is only applicable to the chief of Biu.) They do this be-
cause he is a chief and also to differentiate him from an ordinary person.
Secondly, he considered the installation of Bulama (ward head). It is a
sort of inheritance. The village head will be invited during the occasion. The
village head will then ask the villagers if they accept him as their ward head.
After he has their consent then the village head will turban him. Dance will
follow immediately after this.
When the ward head is dead there will be a slight change in his burial from
an ordinary person. They will cover him with a piece of cloth but they will lay
him with the mat on top of him instead of under him. They did this just to show
that the village belongs to him.
He did not tell me of the way they bury chief today but he said that of the
ward head is the same.