Teli (Hamlet)

Title: Balbaya, Wuyo, Telli by Abdul Kadin Bwala (typescript, 1974)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095974/00001
 Material Information
Title: Balbaya, Wuyo, Telli by Abdul Kadin Bwala (typescript, 1974)
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Bwala, Abdul Kadin
Cohen, Ronald ( Compiler )
Copyright Date: 1974
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095974
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Special and Area Studies Collections
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Table of Contents
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    Teli (Hamlet)
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Full Text
1 -
Abdul Kadin Bwala Asked to stop work


d/o Amos Nggada Date 20/6/74
Dept. of Human Anatomy
ABU Zara Time 5 P.M.

1st Informant Mamadi old chief of the village

People Present Mallam Aliyu Biu Headmaster of Balbaya Primary School

The Origin of Balbaya Village

According to Mamadi the original settlers of Balbaya were Bura

then come Ngididi who was said to have come from Yemen in the east.

Ngididi lived for a short time at Birnin Ngazarngornun before he

went to Kwana (Kwararaffa) and then finally to Balbaya. This move-

ment of Ngididi suggest to me that he might have left when Jukun

Kingdom was destroyed. (Abdulkadir A.).

Ngididi was followed by Gwantal from Deba. Ngididi was said to be

a brave famous hunter. When he come to Balbaya he killed a very

big animal and invited the Bura people he found there to share the

meat with them. He gave his daughter in marriage to Awantal who

followed him. After a short period he suggested that they appoint

a chief. Because Ngididi has an outstanding quality of being a

brave man and good at shooting,the original settlers of the village

appointed him as chief that can lead then to victory in war over

their foes. Ngididi appointed one of the people he found there to

be Gladimaof Balbaya. When his people learned that he had found

a village where security is guaranteed the/ flocked to him.


- 2 -

Original Size and Layout of the Village

The village was formerly located on an inaccessible hilltop of

about 3/4 of kilometers by radius. But it is now desolate. The

Biu local authority had forced them to come down and settle on a

plain which law south of the hill so that schools and clinic are

now built and improved for them. But all the same, they still

retain the way they used to group themselves.

According to Mamadi the original settlers have their own Zara and

ward head. Those who descended from Ngididihad split into twelve.

(names of each and their location please. p.4

The spaces between compounds or households are planted with tiksha.

The old village had a spring well which they call tilla or'tsiyaf

tilla' of Kwaya Bura. There have been fish in the well but they

were never caught because the people have special belief towards

the fish, that if the fish were caught the water will return to

the mother tilla. Though the old village is deserted they still

use it as burial place for the old people. It also was? place

for Angiramta ceremonies.

The present village is now located in the plain as I have

mentioned earlier. The village has altogether 350 households

according to the 1973 census. The householders have built their

compounds according to their sublineage. Each sublineage is called

a ward. Though they can trace their descendents to Ngididi they

have come to recognize different sublineages that have remote

relationships and sometimes they did fight each other especially


- 3 -

on marriages. The different wards are:

1. Jumdawal
2. Calagodim
3. Kindinga
4. Mbirafti
5. Leu
6. Kwabo
7. Jifa
8. Wuji
9. Simsirdi
10. Kwardam
11. Panyam
12. Zamsurom

Because the present layout takes modern planning no crops are

planted between the compounds. The village has wide streets now

segmenting the different wards which are based on sublineages.

The spring is no longer used for drinking but children of the

village use it for washing purposes.

The Village Headship and Its History

Ngididi who founded the village became the first chief of

Balbaya. The people who he met have never had a chief so when

Ngididi arrived he suggested that they should have a brave leader

who would be recognized as chief, who would ledd them to victory

when there happened to be war. Ngididi was a brave hunter. He

killed a very big game and invited the people to share the meat

with him. After sharing the meat they appointed a date for choosing

the chief. Friday was chosen but the people could not count the

days so they come to him on Thursdays which was a wrong day. He

told them that they should be back to their houses and come on the

appropriate day, i.e., Friday. When they went away they did not


come back till after the third day so he told them that he had

been chosen to be the chief by the spirit of the village and the

bush so the people willingly accepted him as such because he

possessed all the qualities they needed for their chief. Ngididi

gave titles of honours to the original settlers. aladima title

was given to one of the most elder and wiser of th Talakat The

Galadima to this day is acknowledged as head of the Talaka -the

original settlers of the village, and this title comes from this

lineage to this day. They have their own Zara (unguwa). Another

title that comes from this lineage is Hyedima. (How did it come

into existence?What is its function?)

The chieftancy has come (how? why? What was original home of

alaka?) to be inherited by three sublineages who trace their

forefathers to Ngididi Bad ima, Gwamtal and Kubu. The three ruling

families built a palace. Any chief that succeeded was given a

period of twelve years to reign, after which he must vacate the

throne to the next chief. But this change of office had often

resulted into rivalry and fighting which involved killing, so they

brought the term of office of the chieftancy to the period of six


The System of Choosing the Chief

There have been kingmakers composing 3 people. The Galamima,

Dzarma and Kadala. (why?) When the tenure of office of a chief

from the family of Gwamtal was over the kingmakers chose the best

- 5 -

man from Badima. There had often been contestants but the con-

testant must come from the family of Badima which'the office was

open to them by the rule of rotation. When the stipulated term

of office of Badima was also over it would then be open to the

ruling house of Kubu.

When the British came they found that the system of rotating

chiefs for the period of six years could not fit the nature of

their administration as taxation could easily be swindled in

the hand of outgoing chief. So the British colonial masters put

before them that unless a chief spoils his work that chief must

rule until fate decides his service. The officials of Balbaya

met over this and rejected the idea outright. They opted to leave

for Shaim District if the British keep on interfering with their

traditional system of chieftancy. This took place during the

office of Kuthli Handamya.

After the ruleof seven chiefs i.e., Kambata, Mwgda, Galaya,

Pace, Gembidi, Ydionadi and Sarki Mamadi, the people of Balbaya

had to submit to the British ideal that they should discontinue

with the system of rotation. At this timethey had been under

the jurisdiction of Gulani chief, who treated them ruthlessly in

his demand of free labor and excessive taxation. So they came to

choose to be in Biu Division. This was a turning point in their

history. The Chief of Biu had to approve of any chief that was

to succeed chieftancy office or retire from office. They frowned

at this new system but they had to choose between Gulani and Biu

~~cj.~& M~ Q~~~;~o ~IE

6 -

areas, so during the office Mai Alogo Sarki Mamadi was appointed

and approved to rule his area in compliance with orders from the

Emir. He was also told that the orders would not go to him

directly but through his district head at Kwaya. Sarki Mamadi

ruled for 39 years until he was asked to resign because he embezzled

tax revenue to the amount that he could not pay it and also could not

be punished because he has become old. The three ruling classes

are still respected as chief but they can only be shifted into

office when the services of the present village head are no longer

satisfactory or if death occurs.

Another change which sounds strange to Balbaya people is the

title of Lawan which their chief is referred to.

Titles and Offices

Balbaya have kingmakers whibh comprises senior councillors.

They are Galadima, Dzarma and Kadala.and Hyedima. Beside the

Kadala these offices are held until death or old age. They have

executive powers over anything that is political. They make and

unmake chiefs. The office of Dadala is held by a person chosen

by any chief in office,If the office of the chief that put him in

office expires his role also ceases to exist.

The village administration is also in the hand of another

set of executive officials, referred to as Kwakna(Council of

Ministers) 'q

1. Galadima head of Talaka

- 7 -

2. Dzarma
'3. Chiroma
4. Kaizoma
5. Kuru
6. Dathi
7. Yarima
8. Mbulu Simbirdi
9. Kadala
10. Surama

The chief has another set of officials who are chosen by him

called fadawa. In this set are found those who carry out his

personal service, convey his messages. Senior members of this

group are Birma, Kadala and Chiroma. The Kadala is an elder chosen

by the chief. He is the father of the chief. He advises the chief

on issues that need the chief's discretion. The Chiroma is the

man that must be seen first before he allows anybody who wishes to

see the chief.

When the Kwakna are holding meeting the fadawa are only

witnesses. They do not say anything unless the Kwaknas require

them to carry out duty, e.g., announcements, delivery of messages,

errands, etc. In actual sense each of the twelve wards has

representative on the Council of Ministers. No decision is taken

at the absence of any one ward head which is referred to as Bulama

in the modern language of village administration.

The Kwaknas have another dual function besides their political

role. They have spiritual duties which include annual celebration

of Mahl Marmudi and burying a dead chief or dead title holder.

The Mahla is kept in the chief's house.

The Marmudi (Angiramta) is attended by chief priest known as

- 8 -

Kuru. This secret office is not given to any other lineage; it

is always delegated to the most senior member of the house of Kidinau

who introducethis secret organization in Balbaya.

Pukuma is another title given to the chief of blacksmithers.

Blacksmithing is an occupation practised by a specific house, be-

cause according to them backsmithing is handed down by forefathers.

Kudurgar is another title given to chief of bush who organizes

hunting and prescribes medicinal herbs. He has the absolute

authority' over firing the bush.

The office of the Galadima is given only ,to the senior member

of the original settlers of Balbaya, i.e., Deberan.1

My informants told me that each of the ward heads are respected

as chiefs by their ward members. (Why? What is the difference

between these categories of titles? How did such a difference

come about?) Other titles can go to any elderly member of the

twelve wards when that title__beomes vacant. Titles, offices are

never inherited from fathers.

Relations to other places: The people of Balbaya had no

relations with other places in pre-colonial days. (Nonsense. When

did they get salt and other trade goods? How did Angirmta come there?)

Walls: Since the Balbaya village was founded it had been

maintained with a strong wall built around it. My informant could

not remember when the wall was built. The foundation of the wall

was built with big stones more than a knee high and the rest was

completed with earth o the height of more than two people's height

-9 -

added. At about average height of man holes were being made to
allow the people to shoot their enemies at close range. Each of

the wards had their gate with a gatekeeper. It is opened and

shut at dusk and at dawn. The wall is repaired or plastered every

The wall had also been surrounded with a ditch so deep that no

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- 10 -

horse could cross it. The ditch is cleared at the end of every

wet season.

The gates are named after the name of chief of every ward at

the time the wall was constructed

Whenever the village decided to strengthen the wall by

plastering the chief must spill blood of chicken and male goat,

for the Mahla first then the whole village population will be

engaged in the work. Women are engaged in carrying water and

the mud. Young men are engaged in mixing the mud with grass so

that it becomes strong. There are always expert builders chosen

to do the building. This work is done when wet season is over

and no attacks coming from enemies. When enemies have come to

attack them all gates are closed. Only the ones that enemies

may not be suspected to be on that side. When a member of the

village wants to come after gates were closed he is always required

to identify himself by the name of his father, mother and grand-

father. Otherwise he would not be let in.

According to my informant Balbaya had never been defeated

in war because of their wall and the Mahla see page 20.


The Abba Ru ai Attack: Balbaya was attacked by Abba Rujai soldiers

A Kanuri war captain sent by the Shehu of Bornu. They come on

horseback armed with bows, arrows, mashi and shield but they could

not cross the ditch let alone break the wall. They surrounded the

11 -

village for three months. In the third month they cut down planks

and built a bridge over the ditch. All of them dismounted and started

to break the gate by collecting wood and setting it on fire. When

the Balbaya people saw that the Kanuri soldiers were near success

they boiled faeces and kept on throwing it at them with the whole

pot. They ranaway and came back after two market days (2 weeks).

This time they/ecame blessed with a wonderful woman who was said

to possess special magic. She took a traditional plate (mpeli),c//-<-"

round it three times over her head and invoked the names of their

forefathers and the spirit of the land. She then threw the Kanuri

soldiers.In a few minutes an army of honey bees rounded the soldiers

up. They got stung and ran away.

The Attack of Mallam Zai: Mallam Zai was a man from Bwarmi. He

was said to be a Fulani man. He became a nuisance to the people

of Balbaya. He made surprise attacks on villages. He did not

fight with weapons other than fire. He used to make his attacks

by four to five o'clock. He burned down Balbaya, Gulani and

Kwaytera. (All villages met and attacked his village. Many of

his people were killed and e village was burned down. But he

came back with his people and settled again. A Fulaki from Sogoto

came and he hid the Fulaii. The Chief of Gulani informed British

soldiers that he was camped at Ashatca so the British soldiers came

to Mallam Zai and asked him to produce the Fulani man. He refused

to hand over the Fulani. Instead, he let the Fulani man run away

so the British forces opened fire on the village. His people


at y

- 12 -

submitted but he was killed.

According to my informant the people of Balbaya did not witness

any further war when the British came. They were attacked by

Rabi and their properties were looted but after few years the

British came and defeated them at Gulani. I asked my informant

if they had ever kept slaves. He said that the slaves they had

kept were got by buying from those that used to steal people. Some

were bought from those who had many children and could not feed

them so one or two of the children would be sold out so that the

S rest could be fed with the money. (Did slaves become part of

lineage after several generations?)


Youth Organization: In Balbaya youth organization has no specific

aim and organized movement. They have no rule governing their

existence. Young men have only dedided to have their leader called

Kasalla or Sarkin Samari and his assistant who will seek their

cooperation in organizing dances and communal piece of work. When

a young man gets married and is expected to work on his in-laws

farm,the young man will inform the Kasalla and the Kasalla would

inform all young men of the village to cooperate and get the work

finished for him. Nobody fails to attend this work because if

anyone fails to attend this type of tork, that person would be boy-

cotted when he is faced with the same type of work. Even if a

young man may be married to two wives he is not free to absent

- 13 -

himself unless he is succeeded by brothers or by his own son or


When the chief has important visitors, like the Emir of Biu,

the District of Kasalla is told to organize dances as a sort of

entertainment to the august visitor.

When somebody engages a girl he is expected to provide

kolanuts and one naira for the youth organization. Otherwise they

would not recognize that marriage. When there is wedding ceremonies

in the village the youth are also expected to handle entertainments

and run the activities smoothly.

The women organization go together with the young men's
i ______ _________-------- ____ __._ jis ^
organization. The head of ladies is known as Gwanan Mata. But

women leadership is never stable because when Gwanna gets married

she automatically throws away the title, so the power of the

Gwanna is always less. In most cases the Kasalla handles the

affairs of the women especially if they are going to a neighboring

village. But when a lady is getting ready for her husband's house

the Gwanna organizes girls to see the lady off with her household

property. She always checks to see that everything that is ex-

pected of the husband is correctly brought to the girl. Otherwise

the public will tease the girl if she does accept it.

The Mahla: This is a secret cult introduced by Sarki Kalau whose

tomb is still worshipped when the village is worried over unending

problems. It is handled by the house of Badima. The Mamadi who

14 -

is the priest called me in and showed me the hut which the Mahla

is in. The Mahla is a very big i~ae(?) (linga and nguzhar). (Alive

or brass?) They are always given beer and sometimes blood of chicken

when danger is approaching the village like war, drought, epidemics

and swarms. The chief would offer special prayers with the spilling

of blood on the door of the Mahla and then elders of the town would

go to the tomb of Kalau to offer another special prayer and by

the will of God Almighty their request had always been granted.

New crops are never eaten unless they are given ) o the Mahla,

for example; maize, mazila, garden eggs, groundnut beerrs(?) and

many others. It is believed that one who defies this rule will be

i punished by sickness, that unless the Mahla is given blood the

Syr sickness would not go. But with the introduction of Islam to

the village young people do not observe this rule; only elder

People still believe in this. When an elder dies he is buried

with Mahla special drumming to be danced by only elder people.

See page 140.

Marmudi (Angiramta): The Balbaya people believe that when an

elderly person dies his (Magibila) or spirit comes back to guide

his children. The Angiramta is a secret organization headed by

a chief priest known as Kvunuri/through which dead old people

can be talked to. In the 5th month, i.e., in October, elders

who are concerned with this secret cult will meet and decide on

the day they should mend old people's tomb and the path leading

- 15 -

to the Kuru's hut will be hoed up. Friday has always been the

chosen day. When the day comes they will go to the bush and hoe

up the path. The hut is only visited and mended by the Kuru who

will encircle the hut with blood of chicken. He would then meet

the other members. A special beating of drum will accompany them

while they go from tomb to tomb mending them and sprinkling beer

on top of stones of the tomb. All the members will be drinking

beer while the Angiramta makes noises throughout the night. They

will pay visit to every elderly man in the community who is still

a member. The Angiramta will tell them all their worries and

headaches. He will call the names of all those that have died

and what angered them. He would tell them all what they should do

to remedy evil incidents. (How do they speak of these? Give as

many examples as possible.) People who have difficulties will bring

chickens to the Angiramta so that he tells them what to do. Women

who lack children could come and he would tell them who they should

go to to get the appropriate medicine. A man may suffer from

sickness which had lasted very long so when he comes to the An-

giramta he would be told the best medicine man even hundred miles


Sometimes the Angiramta would tell the chief that unless

his people brew some beer for sadaka in a particular month their

crops -will be destroyed by winds. The people of Balbaya believe

whatever is said by the Angiramta and fulfill his orders. However,

despite this strong belief the present Lawan tried to stop all

- 16 -

these secret organizations and the Angiramta is losing-members

every year because young men are no longer initiated into the
secret organization.
They have an order which many people will soon break. On
the day they are doing the Angiramta no woman is to cook with
fire. This.is the point of friction that will soon be broken. I
was told that there was a time the Angiramta abused one woman and
threw her with sand because she was making fire so she became
instantly blind and was never cured.

Personal Comment: The people of Balbaya call themselves Bura
but they have become culturally different especially in language -
their sentence construction and vocabulary are totally quite
different from Tamalta or Bura. The elderly people can speak Bura
but their children cannot understand Bura man when he speaks.
(Then speak to elderly people!)

T ll
li^ ,^!^/7
c- O^"1' ^- r

r. <4" v. A

- 17 -

The Marmudi -Angiramta

Date 15/7/74

Time 7:25 A.M.

Informant K

Bystander Mallom Andiwi

The Marmudi as it is called in Balbaya and Wuyo languages

is a strong secret organization which is only taught to initiate

members of the organization. On the day of initiating a new

member he takes oath not to reveal any of the secret that he is

being introduced. The day he makes an attempt to reveal the

secret of the organization, that would be the last day for him

on earth. The Angiramta will kill him even if the place where

the secret is being revealed could be a thousand miles away from

the members of the secret organization. This organization is

closely related to witchcraft, and the chief priest which is known

as Kuru must possess a supernatural power; otherwise he can't

handle this secret and be feared by all the members. He has a

special eye and ear which ordinary persons do not have. He must

know all the chief priests of other villages where there exist

Angiramta beyond Balbaya. In fact all Angiramta stations in Bura,

Tera, Pidlimandi, Houa and Kanakuru areas.

The way it can be related to witchcraft is the way they

kill anybody or member that defy the rules of the Marmudi because

the Marmudi would demand the spirit of the person that offended

him so that the spirit could be punished by way of caning or

- 18 -

tying to the post or tree which will kill the offender. The

Angiramta does not eat meat of a person nor any other animal

except raw chicken which is eaten by the priest as special food Y,

is beer, and pumkin. On any occasion that members of this

secret organization wants to perform Angiramta farmers must forfeit

their pur&in. Otherwise if any farmer attempts to hidthe pumpkin
puposely the Angiramta would ask of it. So though it is mysterious

in the way they kill somebody there is no evidence to believe that

the Angiramta does eat meat.

Gingeng spirit of a dead man that could be seen.

The Angiramta got started when Kidanaw (a clan in Balbaya)

saw his father who had died for a long time ago returned naked

and in a white shap called out his name and sat near him facing

away f rm him. He talked to him and asked of all those he could

remember and those that had died with him but could not allow

Kidanau to see the face of the returned dead father called Gingeng.

The Gingeng told Kidanaw of what to do in order to maintain

relations with the spirit of the dead (mami.bila). The Gingeng

explained what he should do to keep the secret a secret and went

away. This wasa revelation)to Kidanaw so he called elders of

his clan and told them what appeared to him in the previous night,

that if they did not maintain relationship with the dead, evil

or misfortune would always befall the village of Balbaya and her

children. Kidanaw brewed some beer and prepared some for his

dead father, who was to return and drink the beer. The spirit

- 19 -

of the dead came back and drank the beer. The spirit also told

him all the secret he should organize in order to qualify others

of his lineage to see the spirit of their dead fathers so the

secret developed into village-wide organization because every

village would like to be guided by the spirit of their dead fathers

and forefathers.

The Angiramta is known as Kwadoma in Kanakuru language.

According to my informant this secret is originated from Balbaya

and spread to Shgni District. This is illustrated in their song

of praise to the Angiramta which is a mixture of Balbaya and

Kanakuru languages. This secret organization is most popular in

Kwaya Tera District, Sakwa District and Shoni District. There

are however isolated villages in the whole Biu Division where

there exist this secret organization. The Angiramta does not

get to another village as is demanded by a certain group of

people in that village it follows clan. For example in Balbaya

only the house or children of Kidonaw could become priest of

Angiramta through many years of experience. It could spread

to another clan through intermarriage for example, if a daughter

of Balbaya is married to a son of Wuyo their male children

could be initiated into the secret if they want it. It had

always been necessary to introduce such children because if their

mother died, her dead body would be buried with the secret of

Angiramta and her children would not be chanced to see the dead

body of their mother so once the children learnt the secret

20 -

they would need to introduce and establish such secret organization

in Wuyo if the chief of Wuyo do not object.

Another way by which this secret organization could get

to another village is through migration. If the children of

M helia are in this secret organization in a particular village,

say Wandali, and the children decide individually to migrate to

other villages, say Timirdlalang, Bila Cwsi and Kubuku, each of their

? J would be trained as a priest and they would go to the

head of their respective villages to ask permission for the

establishment of the secret organization. Chiefs do not normally

object because they have good aim towards protection of the

welfare of any village it is being established. There is another

situation where it would be impossible for a head of a village

to prevent such aspect of the society. For example, no law of

the land would prevent them from burying their dead with this

secret. Hence their annual festival provide an avenue for

dancing which promote relationship between many villages and

makes the chiefs of villages to be popular.

When an elderly person is to be buried with this secret

the children of the deceased could not be allowed to see the

dead body if they have not been initiated and all the customs

and traditions that would be carried out on the occasion would

be done without their due information. Though Islamic and

Christian religions may be binding upon somebody who is centrally

in this society he must register as a member of this secret

21 -

organization. Otherwise his father would be angry with him.

permanently and may even count that son that refuses to register

with him as not among his beloved children. So once a man

becomes a member of such secret it follows that his children

and grandchildren must become trusted members. If the man does

not press his children to become members his fellow members would

be pointing accusing fingers at him and the Angiramta would also

warn him against spoiling the children and may even decide to

punish him as a last resort.

The Marmudi society makes life difficult for a non-member,

particularly on the occasion they wont perform their activities.

A non-member can not go out while they are making performance

until they retire to their individual houses. Making fire is also

prohibited and consequently cooking cannot be done because they

do not like the public to see what they are doing. Also fire

produces smokes which the Angiramta dislikes. The road that passes

near to where they carry on the performance should not be used by

anybody. Even a stranger must put off his journey on that parti-

cular time.

In Balbaya all elderly and/male folk have registered in this

secret but as I mentioned earlier young men are not all that

willing to be initiated because of Islamic faith.

In Bura area particularly those areas bordering Shoni District

and Kwaya Tera District the Angiramta is a thing exclusively

restricted to some clans for example Tirgaw, Kwara NggQnjiwa,

- 22 -

Mshelia and Baliya. But clans like Wakirwa, Malgui Mshelbwala,

Hena, Mshel Iza, Dawha, Ndahi Amaza Nggada and Mbayare b

from the Angiramta secret. If a house of Mshelbwala is found

in this secret organization this privilege must have come through

marriage being contracted between Mshelbwala man and a daughter

of one of the clans involved in Angiramta but this exception does

not extend to his children. The secret organization of Angiramta

has an intra-village license of membership. A strong member from

Balbaya secret organization would be privileged to attend such

organizational performance from anywhere else beyond Balbaya. For
----------T _
example he could attend those at Wuyo, Wada, Gusi, Buma and Shoni

provided he could identify himself through the language they use

for addressing the Angiramta when challenged to do so. If he

is really a member and is unable to address the Angiramta in the

official language he would be demanded to present the name of

the Kuru, else he would be held to ransom unless his people come

and explain his position regarding membership. In most cases

people who claim to be membersland get through this organization

are beaten thoroughly and made to pay a fine of one goat and a

pot of beer to appease the Angiramta.

When new members are to be initiated their fathers and

grandfathers must be known and from which clan they come from so

that less fees may be demanded. A son of Mshelia may only need

pay with a sizeable pot of beer but for a man that come from one

of the clans that are barred from Angiramta secret because their

forefathers have not been involved or their origin did not entitle

them to get the secret they must pay a sum of 10 K, one chicken

and a pot of beer because they are privileged to be initiated

through their mother. Though he may be a member he would not be

aught all the secrets because he is not entitled to go and establish

his own independently.

It is one of the rules of Angiramta that no one should go

near him with a cap on and shoes on. Women are totally barred

from this secret organization No matter how much a member may

love his wife he is not allowed to reveal the secret for her if:9he

demanded to know the secret or else she will divorce the husband.

The husband would have to divorce her. It has always been the

condition for women to keep themselves indoors while members are

engaged in their activities. If a woman wants to consult the

Angiramta on her personal worries she must do that through any

member that she trust very well.

It is also binding on any member that they are not allowed

to fight with their wives during the period of Mbwa mya di, i.e.,

from the second to the fifth month because this is the period

the spirit of their dead were protecting their crops. Women also

respect this period. They do not take advantage so as to behave

rudely to their husbands. W~Lere this is strongly uphold the priests

of Angiramta give out orders pertaining eating new crops like

groundnut and maize. No member of the village is allowed to eat

new groundnut or new maize unless they have their orders.

24 -

This is believed to discourage thieves because some people who may

not have their groundnut or maize mady at the time others may be

ready would steal their neighbors so when everybody has his ready

on the farm no one would bother about his neighbors' crops.

The Angiramta has many roles to play in the social welfare

of the village. The annual festival which is known as Rai kai

in Balbaya and tsuwha laku in Bura promote cultural heritage in
r ^--- ------------------------------
that many villages will meet annually> drink beer and dance. If

there have not been this occasion it would have been difficult

for many villages to have the same culture pertaining dancing

in Bura area. It is only on such occasion that chiefs or head

of villages could exchange visits which will help to create mutual

Understanding between them. The annual festival is just like

how Christians celebrate a Christmas Day or like the day Muslims

celebrate Salah day. People spend all their savings to buy

themselves best clothing shoes and and other things used for

adornment. Strangers feel free and are fed cheerfully. It is

also on such occasion that there arise the possibility of inter-

marriage between villages because if not on such occasions young

men and women can not meet and admire each other. This is the

only focal point of social intercourse in the life of people before

modern facilities open much more chances of meeting.

The secret organization also promote the etiquet6 of the

village society. Unlike the loosening control of elders over

young men in the present day society, young men and elders alike

25 -

are reminded of the best social behavior and humanities expected

of them. Evil plans against neighbors are exploited by

the Angiramta and any culprit known to be creating unpleasant
life for the community is punished. He wouldd be excommunicated

from the organization unless he pays up the fine imposed on him

by the Angiramta. his practice is still in full force). Whenever

they pass judgment on their member no appeal is made to the present

S institution of sharia court. The sharia court would never grant

a hearing. There was a case where somebody felled a tree from

their Mahla forest (the Angiramta forest is also referred to as

{ Mahla forest because they do not usually find it easy to pronounce

the Angiramta or Marmudi) and they punished the man with a fine
------- ---------------- - ----------~
of seven goats and a pot of beer. He took the case forward to

Kwaya Tera Sharia Court and was turned back and advised to comply

with their simple fine. The man had to pay all what they demanded

of him.

In my opinion the secret organization of Angiramta is wa

/ of keeping law and order in the traditional society where it is


- 26 -


Time: 11:00 A.M.

(1) Yarima Dabara
(2) Chiroma Kyari
(3) M. Mohammed Magaji
(4) Kudi Gajere

(1) Galadima Yakubu
(2) Kacham Kadai
(3) M. Mwajim Subwang

Origin of The Village

The people of C?) trace their descendents to have come

from Yemen in the Middle East. Chiroma Kyari narrates that their

forefathers settled briefly at Bimi Gazargonu with so and Kanuri

people(but their life was not guaranteed peace, security and food)

so they had to continue with their movement in search of a place

that they can be certain of their basic needs. In their movement

they come to Mandarra hills and lived for few years at Gabin in

Adomaura Province of the pres-nt northeastern state. Some members

of the party decided to make permanent settlement. The group that

remrned are now referred to as Hona. The party moved again to

Tombali by the bank of the Hawel river and later erosed the Hawel

river but their movement was now guided by the river. They came

to Buma and lived for another few years. The direction of their

movement came to be divided, about half of them continued to follow

the river and settled at Sho'i. The other half moved to Walama

27 -

hill (Shari District). Few members of this group decided to live

at Walama and later come to be known as Walama or Pidlimdi. The

rest of the group moved southwest and arrived at Wuyo Gampala (Hill).

The group that settwed here came to call themselves Yamaltu. Two

brothers decided to find another place. They are called Bolewa. They

travelled east of the Gongola river. One settled at Kwani (Gombe

Division) and the other settled at Dutsen Donaski (Fika Division).

The Yamaltu that settled at Wuyo Gampala come to realize

that they were people living on the other side of the hill. These

people were called Barwa. They also come from the east but arrived

earlier and settled first at Barmi northwest of Wuyo. The two

groups came to live together peacefully on one side of the hill.

This was a poor site of settlement in terms of defense. They

were constantly raided by Fulanis so they transferred themselves

to another hilltop seven miles away northeast of Wuyo. They

called this place Sugwa.

The people that arrived were quite few in number because most

of them(were killed or enslaved by the Fulanis yn their former

site. The Sugwa site had given them the security they wanted but

not enough fertile land to cultivate. Fortunately they were

blessed with powerful chief (Farumai) so he brought them down

on a plain site andkgave them the idea of Ganuwa (wall) to be built

around the village. They settled closer together with only one

street. They don't plant the immediate fields around they com-



SYarima Dabara gave another source of their origin that their
forefathers came from Kwaya Bura. They are called Wakirwa Clan.

They came at the time that the Yamaltu people had no chief and

that they were also peacefully received. I asked him if he could

give me the reason why Wakirwa clan are Bura but they are/Yamaltu.

He only maintained that in the beginning they spoke the same

language but gradually their people lost most of Bura vocabulary.

I come to understand that old people of Wuyo could speak in Bura

just as was the base in Balbaya.

Chiroma Kyari said that after few years of settlement another

20 7(:0 different clans came and lived with them but later some

went to Dali some to Deba some Hinner and some went to Wade.

Original Size and Layout of The Village

The village is divided into Kalaha (wards). The Kalahas are

Bonga, d leng and Tala. The village is divided just to simplify

the administration of the village. The wards are graded according

to seniority and headed by the most senior title holder of that

Kalaha. They obtain their drinking water from four nearby streams -

Zona, Dongi, Gigub and Kukulet.

Compounds are fenced with Zanah. There may be four to six

householders in one compound; this is especially common where

brothers decide to build their houses together in one compound.

In pre-colonial days the compounds were enclosed in the village wall.

There were 4 wells within the village wall but all disappeared in the

29 -

colonial days because of lack of maintenance. Now, all the people

of Wuyo get their water from government well dug in the heart of

the twon but in wet season they drink the waters of the 4 streams.

In December 1972 the whole village was burnt down by fire

accident because of their unspaced housing so in the following

January 1973 a local authority twon planner was asked to plan

the village in modern shape. As a result it has more than eight

major streets. Turn forward to page 105 for the diagram of the

modern village. In comparison with the diagram on page 103 you

find that position of the main road Biu-Gombe was changed.

The Village Headship and Its History

There have been two ruling classes of Wuyo. The family of

Mele and the family of Konyung are the two classes that maintain

the changes of chieftancy to this day. My informants did not

agree on which family started the chieftancy. According to M.

Muhammadu Magaji the first chief of Wuyo was Pirmapur. He was

the origin of Kopyung ruling house. The chief is called Kudi.&:*:)

Pirmapur was said to have come to Wuyo with tambali (talking drum

of chiefs) which he got from Buma. He collected the different

clans he found in Wuyo. The clans were Ndukmewobi, Ndukgw ajang

Ndukadleng and Nduk sukwa otherwise referred to as Wakirwa tilla. /

He told these groups that he has something in his house that needs

a chief. So a date was fixed for choosing the chief to be Friday.

When the date came all the groups turned up except Barwa who said

- 30 -

he could not come because he was too busy weaving a shirt so

Pirmapur was unanimously appointed as their Kudi. They built him

a palace nd secluded him from public sight. They appointed

officials having the titles of Galadim Mewabi and Kaigoma from

Barwa the first settlers of Wuyp. Wakirwa (Mele) maintained

their independence though they were living together with all the

other groups who recognized the overlordship of Pirmapur. In later

time they came to change the chieftancy with Kopyung house. The

first Kudi ;of this house was Nkiming. Nkirving emerged influential

and popular. He was loyal and could command the respect and peace

of different clans. Thus up to date there are two ruling houses

in Wuyp.

SYarima Dabara disagrees)with Muhammadu Magaji. Yarima said

that Kudi Nkirving was the first chief, his supporters were Barwa,

Nyanguvari and Pikdlir. Barwa was invited to come so that they

SS appoint a chief but he did not attach any importance to chieftancy

affairs so Nkirving beat his tambali as the first Kudi. He was

taken shoulder high on Garkuwa by his people. They took him

round his palace three times and taken to would-be Galadima where

he should spend seven days before installation cere onies finally

ended. On the seventh day his chief councillors were appointed.

In this first class senior councillors were Galadima 2. Mshelkala,

3. Yarima and Batati. Their assistants were Shetlima assistant to

Mshelkala, Yakauma assistant to Yarima and Dzarma assistant to

Batari. These group of officials were the eyes and ears of the

2 ^ /
7O V9 "J 4
3- l ^I I
Co ^ -




- 31 -

chief. The government of the village is in their hand. They

have the power to make and unmake chiefs. When they lost confidence

in any chief that chief automatically becomes unpopular to the

public and must retire but every chief must see that they are

always in agreement over any matter affecting public interest.

There were *other officials who were always present at any meeting.

Birma as a clerk, Birgina Ma'aji, Kala an announceer to the public

and two others Birndeka the chief caretaker officer of the chief's

palace. These offices are still existing in the present admin-

istration of the village. I shall now list the names of Wuyo

chiefs of the two different ruling houses with accompanying events.

Chiefs of the Mele (Wakirwa) Ruling House ,

1o2. Kirving the Founder of the Mele ruling line
2. Zanga
-' 3. Gurumdiwai
4. Megene '
5. Klaljam
170 6. Klanjileng .. 5
7. Bwotar
8. Izirbangong
9-. Idli -
10. Mele His name was coined for the ruling house and Waiarwa
was no longer referred to.
i 11. Birni He took the people from Wuyo Mb age to Sugwa because
^-> of continued '(ulani hqosti lties. Many able-bodied
men and women were lost here. Kudi Birni also drove
is J, away Fulani raiders in Wuyo area and from Telli and/,
Gedaba. V1-4 aA",A
12. Yibrom (Ibrahim),-
P' 13. Ali Ladi Village wall(was extended) because more people
arrived to live in Wuyo Islam was introduced in
this time.
14. Kadai Izirma The I
S15. Mele Amina White people came during his time.
British colonial government appointed him a
third class chief but his officials or title holders
did not support this promotion because their tradition
did not allow their chief to go out on tour that could
take him days and in addition their chief do not eat

D) Y%/Z




A ~OO6(' -&~'


a) A/4-1L 'e1
/ #A~

(C/ Cfr (A5UCe

f^, ,e/nm^ ^^-t ^/^U- ^

c) (r ) ^^^
~--- LcO----

1J 7

- 32 -

food outside his palace. There was a time he was
kept for 3 days at Gujba by the District officer
and he refused to take anything so the British
government concluded that he can't run their govern-
ment as he could put himself in public situation.
The staff of office was received back. He collected
tax for two years but was finally imprisoned because
ev rchil Snosav- Probably this
was one of the reason he was demoted.
16. Jonga Pana (musa) He ruled for 48 years and retired in
1967. Wuyo Primary School was opened during his
office. Biu-Gombe road was tarred. The village
boundaries were readjusted in his time. He was the
1 chief to receive salaries.
17. Kadai Izerma The II He is the present village head of Wuyo.

Chiefs of the Kopyong Ruling House

1. Kudi Pirmapir He founded the ruling house. He brought
the tambali )talking drum), the royal spear and
introduced horses. He founded the Wuyo Gampala.
2. Basampada
3. Kopyong -gumaromdi He ruled for 50 years, his name was
coined for the family.
4. Kot-ponggomabiki
5. Gawa
6. Ardo hold office twice
7. Jangali held the office for few days and was killed by
8. Aehambirri The population of Wuyo increased during his
tenure of office.
9. Kadai Zainabu
10. Idli Zainabu
11. Idli Galya
12. Madlamnaki He brought the people of Wuyo to the present
location on a plain site and initiated the idea of
.GaruwalI}) which was built around the village.
13. Leka Pana
14. Nadlam (Yakubu). Tera District broke away from Gulani and

joined Biu in 1914. Wuyo got a marked boundary of
jurisdiction by M. Mamman Fulata.
The Biu-Gombe motor road was built during the ad-
ministration of the first District officer for Biu.
T eD.O. is known as Mr. Elder otherwise called
Bata hada by Buras.
Hausas began to arrive and settled with him. The
hausas introduced gardening to the area. Wuyo got
a market. The chief of Wuyo was to be the District

33 -

head of Kwaya terra District but he got into trouble
and was imprisoned for disputing the District head-
ship with Birma Yamta the 1 District head of Kwaya.
This happened in October 1923.

How New Chief Is Installed

It is the traditional provision of the chieftancy institution

of Wuyo to appoint immediately a new successor when their chief

died. The dead chief was never buried; the dead body would lay

in state until a new chief is acceptably installed no matter how

many days it would take the kingmakers to make their choice. A

successor must be a pure blueblood son of a chief. If their

chief die say from(Kopyon ruling house the next heir of the

throne must come from the house ofMele. Thearima of Mele

house would meet shell Kala of the Kopyong ruling house. The two

would then choose the most suitable candidate. They would then

meet GCladima and seek his approval. If Galadima disagreed another

candidate was picked before the six senior councillors meet. The

six senior councillors which comprised The Galadima, Yarima,

Yokduma, Shetlima, Mshelkala and Batari would approve of the would-

be chief. If there was no disagreement a date would be fixed for

the installation ceremony while the would-be Kudi was being informed

to prepare gifts to the Galadima. If there were many candidates

contesting for the throne all of them would be giving out the

highest gift they could offer to the Galadima. Friday had always

been their ceremonial installation day so when the fixed Friday

come all title holders would assume their seat in front of the

34 -

palace followed by invited guest and villagers. All Mainas will

assume their seat opposite to the title holders. The Galadima

would then give out order for drummers to beat a special dance
po-,& r -L 0-4"^-b
called Para. The dance is performed by dogarai of the village

under the leadership of Kadafir (chief of police). All the dancers

hold Garkuwa in their hands. They would dance to and fro three

times between the Mainas and the title holders. In the third

time the would be chief is picked and brought to the Galadima.

The new chief would be asked to beat his tambali three times and make

his pledges and loyalty to his officials and talakawa. He would

then be turban with rawani (white calico) and(seated on a shield

(Garkuwa) for four people to lift him up about shoulder high.

Dancing drum will follow while he is taken round the chief's

palace three times. After this he is taken to the Galadima's
c-~--------------~~ ___ UuI_ _____t "Tl--------
house where e should spend seven days at the end of which feasting

and dancing mark the end of the ceremony when he is finally taken

to his papace.

There is however an exception where chieftancy does not change.

For example, if a chief dies within three years of assuming office

his son or any suitable person from his house is chosen for the

office. If he has served for more than three years chieftancy

must go to the next ruling house.

Noticeable Changes Since Colonial Administration

Before colonial times Wuyo had the following villages in his

- 35 -

area of jurisdiction:


All these villages accepted the overlordship of Chief of Wuyo.

hey paid him tribute annually with gifts in return Wuyo provided

security and defence if there were any offensive attack from other

villages. During this time there were only 3 chiefs east of river

Gongola, i.e., Sarkin Wuyo, Sarkin Gwongndi (Wandali) and

Sarkin Walama.

When the British came to Wuyo area during the reign of Kudi

Arina more villages were added to him. These villages were -


He was made third class chief and collected tax for 3 years, after

which he was demoted and made a mere village head in Gulani district

because he did not want to go out on tour by himself and more than j/

he was discovered in selling children into slavery. After the first

World War (1914) the Chief of Wuyo decided to break away from

36 -

Gulani and join Biu Division because the Chief of Gulani treated

them ruthlessly on more than one occasion. Malom Muhammadu Wuyo

gave the following reasons that made Wyyo to join Biu:

/ Iln 91, when Kudi Gajere succeeded to the throne one Maina

of the other ruling house his daughter from Wade with smallpox

an epidemic disease that can destroy the life of whole village.

The Maina was ordered to take back the infected daughter and was

fined two pounds (*4.00k.) The Maina paid the fine but took

the case for appeal at Gulani. Before this incident the Chief

of Gulani had come to Wuyo without notice on his way to Gubirnde

and captured a beautiful married woman. He was asked to hand

back the woman or be reported to the D.O. at Gujba, he gave

back the woman unwillingly and held Chief of Wuyo as a disloyal

chief in his heart so when the case was brought to him he handled

the affair with emotion. The Chief of Wuyo was fined +-10.00k and

was to be given 48 strokes of the cane. He paid the 410.00 and

endured 20 strokes of the cane in front of all village heads of

Gulani area. The rest of the punishment was to be given the

following morning but he was unfit to take it.

The Chief of Wuyo summoned all the chiefs of Guol, Dali,

Gusi, Whada, Kubuku, Mwaku, Wawa, Gwangirdi, Balbaya, Kukwal and

Hyawi to consider their plight in connection with the brutal

punishment meted out to him. He told them that if they let the

situation to go unchecked they would one day find themselves in

the same soup. So they all decided to join Biu Emir' but some of

- 37 -

them were afraid to present themselves to the D.O.

The chiefs of Wuyo, Balbaya and Gwangirdi went to the Emir of Biu

and the D.O. but the others failed to turn up so the Chief of Wuyo

designated all his Kwaknas (senior councillors) as chiefs represent-

ing the interest of the other villages. The D.O. interviewed them

and all of them agreed that they would like to come under Biu area.

As a result of this added large area of jurisdiction to Biu a

District head must be found. Thus Kwaya Tera District came to be

formed after the first World War.

The first District head was before his appointment a messenger

at Y rwa, he was called Barde and later Birma Yamta. Biloma Aku

of Gwangirdi and Sarki Ajajere of Wuyo were made Wakiliw Ajuya.

After few years the Chief of Wuyo agitated that he or Chief of Gwangia

should be the District head because he had the insight that in

future the interest of Kwaya District will not be well represented.

He was finally imprisoned because he was intending to forward the

matter to the resident of Bornu province. This is still a bottle-

Sneck problemfor the people of Kwaya District. Their agitation

S have been granted consideration. All the village heads of Kwaya area

were interviewed on their last struggle by the commissioner of

finance of N.E. State in December 1973. But the outcome of that

interview is not yet known.

The Effect of British Administration On Wuyo

The/chieftancy title is no longer recognized by the local


authority. His official title is now Lawan (village head). The

power of the chief is reduced. He is no longer the architect of

law and order but instead carry you-orders given by the local

authority. He can't pass judgment on any case, civil or criminal.

He had been denied his special armchair (Tahna). He is denied

the free labor given by his subjects on his personal farm. As a

result of this he is forced to keep only one horse. He is deprived

the putting on alkeba, a special chieftancy gown.

The power of the village senior councillors is no longer

bounding on him. They have no influence on him because appointment

to the office of village head when it becomes vacant is subject to

the approval-of the Biu local authority.

By virtue of his office the Lawan is one of the district

councils representing the interest of people in his area of


Titles and Offices

The title holders are classified according to their rank.

They are also differentiated from their appointment. The first

class title holders have offices and perform special duties. They

have assistants that fall in the second class title holders. The

appointment of the two classes of title holders is always celebrated

with beating of the tambali, dancing and feasting.

First Class Title Holders:

1. Galadima senior councillor
2. Mshelkala "

3. Yarima
4. Batari
5. Birma
6. Birgina
7. Kala
8. Yakduma
9. Shettima
10. Zarma

senior councillor
ii It

information officer
assistant to Yarima
assistant to Mshelkala
assistant to Batari

The Second Class Title Holders:

Pukuma Kura

Pukuma Gana

14. Kacham

legal adviser on Muslim law. He
is also chief treasurer.
assistant to Pukuma Kura
assistant to Pukuma Gana
protocol officer
chief of dogarai(police)
Kilisin sarki (takes care of the
chief's chair)
general duty, also assistant to Kadafir

The Third Class Title Holders are appointed with (Kindiri) stick to
differentiate their rank with the above title holders:

1. Lawar
2. Ngoma
3. Puluma
4. Mezawa
5. Sampar
7. AchamKala
8. AchamKadair
9. Acham aluva
10. Achamngurkuma
11. Achamdla
12. Achambirapti

13. Kalaprbirapti
14. Achamkimi
15. Lanyi
16. Ngurkema

assistant to Birma
11 11 1


assistant to Birdeka. They are
always close to the chiefs. They
prepare his sets and beddings.
Birdeka group
Birdekas member
Birdekas member
protocol officer for Fulani

- 39 -



- 40 -

17. Achambiu protocol officer
18. Malwa I" "
Only a man from a ruling class could hold this office.

Kadala Tarku

These officers are in
charge of horse dressing
for special occasions.

The above group are specially chose for dressing chiefs horses

and dancing in front of the horses in front of the chiefs on

special occasions, e.g. Salah day.

There have also been those chosen to cook food in the chief's



chief supervisor

Those who help in preparing alcoholic drinks:


Special title holders:

Pukuma Bidli
Pukuma Chiriji
Pukuma Gurda

leader of blacksmiths
leader of xylephone
leader of drummers
leader of alketa

Another group of title holders who have no specific offices:

41 -

1. Tinja
2. Kalge
3i Ngwarza They are also entitled to
4. Ngombene attend fada (they are fadawa
5. Dalmshel members).
6. Dukuma
7. Ngoma

The significance of title in this community is that any title

holder has the right to attend fada and general assembly which

comprise all title holders. Hence title holder can air his views

on any issue under discussion. It is also a status which one can

be a respected member of this community. Thus anybody that had

a role or functional duty in day-to-day political, social or

religious activities must be given a title. The senior councillors

and their assistants have the absolute power under the chairmen-

ship of the chief to confer the titles to a deserving person.

The titles and their offices are not inherited when they be-

come vacant. The most senior member of these office holders is

promoted. For example when Yarima dies his assistant can take his

office and somebody is recruited to assist him among the title

holders. However, the office of the Galadima and his assistant 3

is never given to any member of the two ruling houses) i.e. Kopyong

and Mele. It is exclusively given to Barwa clan member provided

that member commands respect and is eligible by age and wisdom

because the Barwa clan are the founders of the village and are

regarded as the owners of the village though they are aloof in

chieftancy affairs. They are neutral in chieftancy affairs and

loyal to any chief that succeeds to the throne.

- 42 -

When administration of the village is at stake because of

authoritative and unpopular chief that the people have lost con-

fidence in the chief, the Galadima is the only person that can

play the role of the chief. The chief can not do anything without

his consent. In short he can be regarded as a prime minister in a

country where there is president.

The office of the Birndeka and his members are carefully picked.

Only those who are believed to be trustworthy are given this duty.

Birndeka otherwise known as Kiliminsarki knows much of the chief's

privacy. He prepares even his beddings and is always with the

chief wherever he goes.

The Dogarai or policemen title is given to those who are

outstandingly brave and energetic, who can stand and face any danger.

The titles which are somehow inherited are the Pukuma Bidli leader

of blacksmithers, Pukuma Chinji leader of xylephone, Pukuma gurda -

leader of dummers and Acham leader of alkita because these are

special occupations which are handed down from forefathers.

Relations to Other Places

Before 1914 social intercourse of Wuyo people has been

restricted to sister villages east of the Gonaola River. The chief of

Wuyo could send his representatives to attend burial ceremonies of

chiefs and annual festivals of Gwangneli, Walama, Chimga, Hinna,

Deba, Gol, Wade and Dali whenever any of these villages extended

an invitation to him. Even after the first World War when they

joined Biu my informants can not remember any event that have taken

- 43 -

the people of Wuyo to Biu. jVo .^

28/6/74 I3
Informant Galadima Yakubu ,

Witness Malam Mwajim Subwang wa

The walling of Wuyo village was originated by Kudi Makamnaki

when he succeeded the throne at the most difficult time of insecurity

(on personal lives because of frequent raiding and attacks.) His

people were undergoing many problems on the Sugwa hill (seven miles

from the present location of Wuyo) They coul not have enough

fertile land to farm and it came a time they took ree years without

farming. In this three years they fed on fruits and roots because

of raiders, so many of them died. Kudi Makamnaki thought the only

way he could save the lives of his people was to have a wall around

his village. So he chose the present area the people are occupying.

They built the wall first and the chiefs and Galadima's house before

everyone got his. A bystander by name Ajiya disagreed with my
---.-------------____--- _,^--- /IR
informant. He said that the wall was built first by Kudi Yabrom

but my informant maintained that Kudi abrom only extended the wall.

From the story of the people's origin connected with Birnin

Gazorgorum there is probability that the people might have got

the idea of building the wall there (Abdulkadir A.)

The wall have come to be remembered with the names of chiefs

who had made their contribution: J

1. Garu Kudi Makamnaki c, 4L-
t 6f
-y- j -
% Y

- 44 -

2. Garu Ali Ladi Baitari
3. Garu Ali
4. Garu Kudi Mus a lafiya4

The first chief is controversial but the last three chiefs have

been extending the wall due to increment of population. For

example the fourth chief was a Kanuri man who came with many

followers. He finally left for Gora Shoni district.

The wall was said to be more than eleven metres high, four

metres thick at the base and ended one metre thick at the top.

Huge stones that can't be lifted were used for its foundation.

Where the earth was dug for its building and yearly planting

remain to this day a wet season pool. It has four gates in each

of the four directions (east, west, north and south) and three

minor gates. The gates are four inches in thickness. They were opened

at dawn and shut at dusk when there was no danger. Each gate has

keeper who holds the key. The present Galadima is still holding

the key. It is in this shape. The gate keeper is called achama.

Wall Key

The wall was surrounded with two ditches about seven metres

deep. There were gutters leading out of the wall to the ditches.

45 -

The wall has holes which are only opened for shooting .enemies. The

gutters were also shut until when it rained. My informant emphasized

the deepness of ditch to the extent that fishing was done in them.)jI

There were movable bridges on every gate. When there happen to be

attack on them the bridges were pulled'inside by eight people.

They used to plaster the wall yearly to strengthen it. It used

to take them a month to get it plastered.

The wall was broken in 1948 during the emirship of Mai Ali

Gugur when a primary school was established. It became necessary to

make room for the school building and motor road to pass through

the village. It is now impossible to trace even the foundation

stones all through but the latest extension can be traced for more

than hundred metres.

According to my informant the building of the wall had kept

all hostilities at bay. An evidence of this was the marked increase

of population that the wall have been extended three times.

Turn to page 103 for the diagram of the village wall.


Before the coming of the British Fulanis had always been

hostiletto the people of Wuyo. The Fulanis were day thieves always

stealing animals of Wuyo people. The Fulanis also needed slaves to

look after their animals or herds. My informant Yarima Dabara said

that Fulanis were too many to be destroyed. They killed uncountable

but still were not free. There was no year that they had not fought

- 46 -

with Fulanis but I will say things about two memorable ones.

The Telli Attack: el

When tEie yopTe of Wuyo were still at Sugwa they were twice

attacked by the Fulanis. In the first attack about seventy

different clans were destroyed. In the second attack they took

a month in ambush. ihejsed simple weapons which includes only

bows, arrows and knife but used horses which gave them advantage

over the Wuyo people. Kudi Birni who was the chief of Wuyo at I

this time was given a laiya by Wali that visited him by night. He

tied this laiya in the center of his roof. The laiya may parade (?)

to and fro to tell the chief that it would not be safe if his people

go out. When it was still the people can go out in search of food.

The chief prayed to God under this laiya so that he may have

victory over his enemies. When the Fulanis came it rained heavily,

that they were weakened and in addition honey bees broke out on

them and chased them away. The Fulanis went back to Telli and had

never made any attempt to fight Wuyo again.

Kudi Birni prayed again and told his people to make a surprise

attack on the Fulanis at Telli but they were to go lightly armed.

So they were given wooden arrows and knives. They went to the

village at about 5 A.M. Twenty brave people were chosen to enter

the village under the camouflage of strangers. The rest remained

outside the village. They were told to shoot only women with the

wooden arrow if the first woman to be shot made noise, then those

at the outskirts would come in. When the people (Fulanis) burst

47 -

on them they caught them with hands and used the knives in cutting )/P
--'------------~- & lj
away their ears, nose and eyes. Some were taken for slaves but I "

many escaped and ran to Gedeba. When the Fulanis at Gedeba saw

what happened to Telli Fulanis all of them ran to Pero where they

decided to make strategies. They raided Hinna people and took

away their animals and properties. The chief of Kinna requested all

Tera people to come to his rescue.

The Pero Attack:

The chief of Hinna promised to offer seven bulls, seven goats,

seven slaves, seven horses and seven gowns to the chief of Wuyo

if only the Fulanis could be destroyed. /The Chief of Wuyo appealed

to. the chiefs of Gari, Jara, Gol, Dali, Waloma and Konakuru to come

and wage war on the Fulanis. Wuyo blacksmiths were given fourteen

days to produce weapons as many as they could.

All the chiefs willingly responded-afd sent their soldiers.

The different set of soldiers devised a method of identifying

themselves by tying ropes on different parts of their body. Wuyo

tied their own on their left hand wrist. Some sets tied on elbows,

arms and at the back of their shirt. They were armed with jagum

hankal, Dambo, Masti and bow and arrow. At 5: A.M. all of them

made a surprise attack on Pero Fulani. They burned the village

to ashes, enslaved the Fulanis and took away their properties.

All Fulanis east of Gongola River ran away. The Pero attack marked

the end of Fulani hostilities.

Unfortunately another fight resulted between Wuyo and Hinna.

48 -

The Chief of Hinna failed to honor his promise and felt that Wuyo

may attack him so he sent his soldiers to raid Wuyo on the day

that all able-bodied men were engaged on communal work on their

chief's farm. The Chief of (Wuyo?) ordered the Chief of Hinna to

send back in double all what they have taken and fulfill the terms

of his promise; otherwise his people were ready to make full scale

war on them which would disrupt the cordial relationship existing

between all Teras. The Chief of Hinna fulfilled all the conditions

laid down to him and that war was avoided. He gave his piece of

land to Wuyo. s A /.4

The Pataralla Attack: FV ^ .

This was waged byK son and daughterof Rabi (HawaiRabi) on

Gwani, a village still within the area east of Gongola that was

well populated; it had a very strong wall surrounding it. The

rench soldiers came and lay in siege for three months beside the

wall but could not do .anything to enter the town. They started to

dig and break the wall with pickaxe but when they retired in the

night the people started inner building with thatched (chara) a

very strong grass used for bedding. They were doing this for days

and finally realized their futile effort so they devised another

method of destroying the lives of Gwani people. They built a roof

on top of stairs they erected against the wall with bamboo. Any-

body that came out was shot down with gun. The people of Gwani

found themselves in a difficult situation. They were confined to

move only by the inner side of the wall and in the night. This

- 49 -

continued for three months until finally all villages east of

Gongola realized the fate of Gwani people and offered their help.

Wuyo, Wade, Gol, Dali, Balbaya, Hinna, Chinga, Diffa, Zonibuk,

Kodon, Kaldinga, Kwali, Kubo, Waloma, Kuba, Doho, Jangali all

made a concerted effort o fight the Frenc because once Gwani is

taken all the remaining villages will fall in a day. They produced

different ammunition as many as they could but the way to supply

the Gwani people became difficult. They finally crept in the night

and threw over the wall the ammunition they have got. Many of the

(French soldiers were killed but it did not chase them away. A

blacksmith by name Pukuma Yaya Wade devised another method of

destroying the roof the French had erected. This time they engaged

themselves in smithing hot arrows to be shot while still hot in

order to get the roof burned. They succeeded in this but the

SFrench did not go away until when British soldiers came and opened

fire on the French soldiers. They were chased to Gujba and finally

Hawa Rabi was killed by British forces ::fohere / h e u

The British forces were peacefully received. Gifts in form

of eggs and chickens were offered. There was a time that the

British forces came to pass Wuyo on their way to fight the Germans

in the Cameroons. They camped for few days at Wuyo. Three hundred

huts were built for them and eight bulls offered. So the coming

of British ended all hostilities, wars and raiding.

The permanent effect of Pero battle is still felt today

because the piece of land given to Wuyo Chief is the most fertile

- 50 -

area of Hinna. The village head of Hinna and District head of

Dadin Kowa tried as much as they could to have the area recovered

but their efforts did not bear any fruit. It lead to boundary

dispute between Gombe and Biu but it was finally demarcated recently

when a tomato factory was to be established.

Informant Muhammadu Pati

Witness Habu Teraw

Men's Youth Organization
(Kungiyan Manomi na yon Matasa)

My informant cannot remember when this organization was started.

He is the president of this Kungiya. He said before he came to

this office there have been more than ten presidents that held this

office successively for the period of three to four years.

The organization has its own government operating independently

from the village government. The aim of this organization has been

the same since its inception, i.e., farmers should come to the help

of any member that finds himself in difficulty. The difficulties

may be in the nature'of sickness at the peak of farm activities.

The members may then go and help him on the farms. Another may be

unable to pay his tax so some money will be lent out to him. If a

member gets married he is given a sum of Wl.00k to help him. En-

tertainments and other ceremonial organizations are done by the


The union had before this time the following offices Madi,

51 -

Galadima, Kasalla, Yarima, Pukuma, Konawa and Kadafir. But this

offices have modern names now. They have

1. Gwamna C" ) (President)
2. Wakiliu Gwamna (Vice President)
3. Commissioner
4. Ministan Raya Kasa (Community develop)
5. Minister of Education(Illiniu)
6. General secretary
7. Ma aji (Treasurer ,/ A
.1 -8. Baturen Gwanma (Agricultural office)- s
9. Ministan watsa labarai (Information office)
10. Edita (Auditor)
11. Alkali (Chief of justice)

Consitution of the Union:

Any member that breaks this Constitution is liable to be fined

to the tune of 50k.

1. Failure to attend meetings at the appointed time unless
a reasonable excuse is forwarded through any of the officers.

2. Failure to the union's work.

3. Interference with the village government.

4. Leakage of the union's secret.

The union has cotton and groundnut field. This is the chief

source of the union's revenue. There is no annual contribution

or fees charged for new members. Instead the labor of every member

can make the union strong. If somebody outside the union needs

their services on his farm he can contact the Gwanna and the union's

members can do the job and be paid. The money goes to the union's


The organization is now linked with Wuyo Youth Association

52 -

which has its headquarters in Kaduna. They have members in Zema,

Jos Lagos, and other big towns in Nigeria. In 1972 they built a

mosque. The home union built the wall of the mosque and the

external association supplied zinc for the roof. They are now

planning to dig a well.

Problems of the Organization:

1. Its programs are always restricted because of lack of
sufficient fund.

2. They do not have patron.

<3. They lack support from the village head .

4. The management of the cotton field is always poor because
they do not have enough money to buy fertilizers. I
advised them to get an educated patron that will always
advise them on their problems.

Women have similar organization to that of men but they have

no farms. Their revenue comes from gifts and donation when they

organize dances with the cooperation of men's union. At the peak

of farm activities each member will get free labor for a day on

the farm. When a member falls sick pounding and grinding of

corn is done to the incapacitated weekly. When a member

gets married and the husband is giving labor with his friends,

if the husband is in men's union all the union members will help

him, then all the women will go and participate in preparing food

for the workers. The women also sing song of praises to the young

men while at work in this way, the young men do not get tired

quickly. During annual festivals this organizations provide

53 -

accommodations for other villages that have similar organizations.

These organizations are also used by Red Cross Society Biu

branch, and when there is to be agricultural show in their district

headquarters they organize dances and other cultural activities.

If these organizations can receive the maximum cooperation

from the local authority they would no doubt contribute their own

quarter to the development of this area particularly in promoting

culture of this area. (Abdalkadir A.)

Informant Baba Gaya

Ten years ago hunting was still very popular. Every able-

bodied male sex wish to display his manhood in hunting. Everyone

was a hunter. My informant said that every man in Wuyo has got

bow and arrows in his house though there is general decline of

interest in hunting because games are hard to come by and worst

of all government has come to control bush.

Wuyo people has got officers to control bush hunting. There

is chief of hunters called Kudigar and Wurima who has authority

over firing the bush. These two offices are given to Mele clan.

Mi-pwacio--i-s a title given to a man that possess special knowledge

in poison preparat He also cures any p insoned accidents, for

example, snake bite, and victim of shooting.

Dachom is another specialist doctor for any breakage of human


- 54 -

Assistant Kudigar information officers. He does this

by blowing his horn.,- LL4

There are three types of hunting organizations: Dado, Charo

and Kharra.

How the Dado is Organized:'

This is done when Goro is harvested at the time grasses have

begun to appear yellow. -The Kudigar will then make announcement

through his assistant who will blow his horn immediately after

supper when everybody is thought to be in. The following morning

the horn will be blown again at about 9 A.M. All will gather at

the outskirts of the village. When all are present the Kudigar will

then bring Amthill tibet and shaffa and in his prayers will say in

the name of God, our forefathers owners of the O? and chief

animal of the bush may we have what we want in the bush, may return

safe without spill of human blood by their will. The hunting

group will then face east and west and then he will tie his bow

and arrow,all the rest of the group tie their bows.

The Kudigar will then call out skilled shooters to go and take

position at about one an a half miles. The rest will form a rear

wing guided by two captains known as Kwagol. The rear wing will

push the ponies towards the direction of the skilled shooters.

This diagram illustrate the (following page):

- 55 -

skilled shooters position

Captain (Captain)
Kwagol Kwagol



rear wing

The captains have terminologies to use when they (Warwar)

it means the group should move quickly. When they say dlerma

it indicate halfor the group. They have different ways of making

signals with their hands and bows. In this tactics many animals

will be shot in the net being formed. When the hunters are too

close together only sticks are used to avoid accidents.

The Organization of the Kharra

This involves many villages. It may comprise four to six

or even more villages.

- 56 -

Each village will move with similar tactics. The Kudigar

of each village will organize his hunting party as illustrated

in the diagram:

0 O0 O

~O 1


Direction of Movement

This type of tactics is only view in a bush where there are

no dangerous animals like lion, hyene, gorrila and bush dog because

when they are netted like this they would injure the hunters and

small animals would escape.

The Organization of the (?)Kharre. () Charro:

This is organized by one hunting group. Every hunter takes






57 -

position at the distance of ten metres, they would then move but

breaks when a game is being seen. They will run after the game

until it is being killed or escaped. The group will however end

up in a ring form. Charros is always organized when the hunting

is on a small scale or when the bush is small and contains few


Games killed in the Dado (Daltuwar) are shared. The lion's

share goes to the hunter that killed the animals. The rest goes

to the Kudigar who will collect such pieces from other hunters

and brings them to the chief or Galadima. A portion is given to

the chief, Galadima, Batari, Dzarma, Yarima, Yokduma, Maikanda,

Mshelkala and Shettina. Kudigar, Dacham and Wurima have also their

share which they will divide among themselves. The larger remaining

portion of the collected pieces of meat is shared equally among all

those that have participated in the hunting of that day. The hunter

will also take the neck of the meat to the Mai Pwacha who prepared
-----------------~ --
him the poison he used on his arrow.

In the Kharra organization as it involved many villages the

sharing of meat takes the form of contribution. The Kudigar of

each village after collecting the pieces of meat as usual will

take away someto the chief that owns the bush they have hunted in

and every village will share their own as befit their practice.

In the two types of hunting organizations the spirit of equal

sharing of meat is highly respected and any hunter that choose to

defy this constitution is deprived of hunting because the effort

58 -

of all hunters combined enable a hunter to kill a game. No matter

how expert he is he cannot go out hunting alone and be satisfied.

There are however individual hunters that go out almost every day

to hunt. In this case the community does not respect anything

from that hunter unless he decides to give out some.

In the Charro organization sharing the meat is less elaborate

but a hunter that kills an animal may still give out one thigh to

the Kudigar. And a piece to his poison maker but if he buys the

poison with money he does not need to give him a piece of meat.

f J Wuta diva (cikan shekara or tsuuwh a laku)

Wuta diva is an annual celebration of the twelfth month which

is usually in October when farm activities become less.

The chief will provide a male goat and a chicken to the Kuru -

the chief priest of Marmudi or Angiramta in Bura. Every compound
will brew beer for drinking the following morning when strangers from

neighboring villages will come.

There is a hut built with zqnah mat in a forest at the outskirt

of the village. The Kuru and his team will comprise old people

of the village will go to the path leading to the hut after food

and clear it. Only the Kuru is allowed to go to the hut and kill

the chicken in order that the blood is spilt around the hut. He

will then kneel down and address the Marmudi. The Marmudi will

then make noises which will frighten the whole village. The goat

will then be brought and be killed in the same way it is said that

- 59 -

knife is not used. One will just see the chicken feathers

floating in the air. The Marmudi will call the name of each

priest and the old men one by one. He would ask about the health

of every individual family. They would keep on answering him D2

(Kaka, kaka) father or grandfather. The Marmudi will go on to

ennumerate all major events of the year, the future prospects

of the village and things that will plague the village. It will

also point accusing fingers at people who are evil planners against

their neighbors regardless of their title. Even the chief will

be worried that day in case it hold out his name responsible for

bad act. The party will drink beer, cook the goat and eat it

there. They will keep on dancing for the greater part of the night

with special drumming and singing that is heard only on such

occasion. By four o'clock they will come back home because they

do not want anybody to see them.

In the following morning the whole village will be in a

festive mood. Young men and women will dance starting at 2:00 P.M.

till dawn.

Everyone will kill chicken and spill the blood on his fore-

fathers tomb which is in his compound because it is the custom

of Wuyo people to bury their dead inside the compound.

The Kuru will announce to the public that they are free to

cut thatching grasses if he had thatched the hut of Marmudi. After

.everything is over the Kuru will shave his hair which is also

shaved annually.

- 60 -

This aspect of life has died out with the introduction of

\ Islam. I asked if they would kinly show me the way to the Kuru

hut but they said that since the last Kuru died in 1966 no one

succeeded him and the Marmudi had since left for where it comel/"*L -/

They said that itwas introduced by Jukun people and none of the

clans living in Wuyo learned the secret. The annual festival is

still celebrated whereby individuals prepare his forefathers tombs.

The only secret organization that remain to this day is the

worshipping of the tomb of Kudi Birni who was said to be a divine

chief that possessed laya which had guided their people in the

most difficult time of the life. The tomb is seven miles away

from Wuyo. The place is called Sugwa where they lived before

coming to the present Wuyo. The tomb is visited only when Wuyo
iPA q- r
people are in great danger and need the help of God. This/year

on Friday the 7th June the elders of Wuyo went with rago( )

(sheep) in the early morning and spilled the blood on the tomb.

They ogf-ere their prayers to God Almight to ive them rain

Through the tomb. The meat was given out as sadaer to every household.

The elders hardly spent two hours before they had heavy downpour which

lasted more than four hours. The roof of the school building was

even destroyed by the strong wind that accompanied the rain so the

tomb of Kudi Birni remains to this day a sacred place for offering

special prayers for great need.

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- 63 -


The Mahla as introduced on page 20 is synonymous with Miliga

in Bura or g*a Dur.( ( )/

The Village of Balbaya was founded by a hunter or chief of

jungle known as Ngididi. When Sarki Kalau became chief at the

time Balbaya people were suffering from hunger because of drought

Wok (dewin?) that spoiled their crops, and frequent insecurity

from raiders, he was fortunately visited by snake (linga) by day-

break while he was sitting outside with his Fadawa members. All the

Fadawa members ran away from him in search of weapon to kill the

snake but Sarki Kalau protested and asked his Fadawa members to

be calm. This was very unusual and surprising but Sarki Kalaw

said that there must be reason behind the coming of such a snake

at such hour. The snake coiled under his chair. Sarki Kalau told

the snake that if it came for good let it stay harmless and save

him from his troubles but if it came for bad reason let the snake

bite him so that his people become free from their lifelong

worries. The snake only put out its head and put it on his foot.

In a few minutes another animal came by name Nguzhar. It crawled

and stopped near the chief. Sarki Kalau told his Fadawa that let

them not forget that Balbaya village was founded by a famous

hunter who spent most of his life with snakes, lions, hyena and

all other untamed animals that they can think of in the jungle

without being harmed. This was his backbone of power he got over

Balbaya people. He further told his people that the spirit of

/ //
: /

_I I II IK. 111 /' :I
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- 65 -

Ngididiand his wife had come to live with them so that their

long standing problem could be over in a record of time if they

are prepared to look after these animals which have become their

Shangur (spirit).

Sarki Kalau went in and called his Galadima and other senior

Kwaknas. They built a hut in one corner of the chief's palace

and in the night the two animals went in without being told or

induced. Sarki Kalau called in the Kudigar and told him that he

should see that nobody kills the two types of animals from the

bush that surrounds them and beyond, and to this day no Balbaya
son would evern dream of killing the types of animals from anywhere.

Sarki Kalau was believed to be a supernatural chief because

from that year onwards Balbaya was never beset by any problem

known in their history. He told them that once they become care-

less about the two animals they would witness great tragedy. He

also warned them that the names of the animals should never be

pronounced but should be secretly referred to as Mahla. As the

palace had been the possession of people bf Balbaya every chief

that succeeded was taught how to handle the two animals but the

chief priest must always come from the house of Badima which was

the house of Sarki Kalau.

It is one of the basic reasons that the tomb of Sarki Kalau

is still visited for offering special prayers when danger is in

sight, especially drought. Male sheep is killed and the blood

is spilled over the tomb with beer. On such days no one is allowed

66 -

to travel, go to bush or work on the farms. The day is strongly

observed in solemn prayers to Allah Almighty through the tomb.

The meat of the male sheep is given out for sadaka to every house-

hold. While a chicken is killed in front of the hut of Mahla

and the blood of it is collected in an earthen plate for the Mahla

look back at the picture on page 4 roughly drawn. It illustrates

the different kinds of objects in the house of Mahla. There are

rany more but I can't put them in drawing.

Sarki Mamadi the old chief who is the priest asked me

not to draw the animals. I was also frightened as to be able to

move closer and observe carefully the inner part of the house.

The two iron sticks decorated with rings are his staff of office.

The cap tied with a knife are also chieftancy articles. He told

me that all these articles were brought from Deba by Kudi Handonya.

Mamadi told me that by preserving this chieftancy articles in the

Mahla hut nobody can plan evil or subversive activities against

the chief.

I asked him why the present lawan is not living in the palace

and be taught how to take care of the Mahla? He only defended

himself by saying that the present lawan is never recognized as

chief of Balbaya by Balbaya elders and in addition he was not

traditionally appointed; hence his Islamic belief does not allow

him to interest himself, and when there happens to be a serious

problem he always refers the matter to him for traditional remedy.

He alleged the present lawan of developing "I don't care" attitude

67 -

over traditional beliefs which has led to many people undermining

his authority to the extent that up till now he still has over

two hundred naira E(200.00k) as outstanding community tax.

The Modern Village Layout

When the old village of Balbaya became so small that was

not left any room for expansion on the hill so as to allow the

building of school dispensary and market the new village head,

who was formerly a school teacher, came to Biu and demanded re-

planning of the village on a plain new site. A town planner was

sent to the village. He surveyed the extensive plain which is

south of the old village and planned the area. But the people of

Balbaya refused to come down the hill and take up the plot given.

A councillor was sent to the village head. He told him that if

the Lawan does not come down he could appoint anybody who come
down first as the village head. Thelawan therefore submitted to

this plan. The villagers followed suit. His house was built on

communal effort as was the custom. The Lawan summoned all his

council of elders and the heads of twelve wards and told them

the sections they allocate to their members.

In 1965 the village head and the Galadima and other members

on the senior council were settled. In two years that followed there

was nobody left on the hilltop. The primary school which was only

classes one to four was extended to classes one to seven. With

the new buildings being erected a football field was cleared and

- 68 -

farm was also cleared. Clinic centre was built and a market was

also built. Two government wells were sunk. With these basic

amenities the people began to realize the idea of living in a more

accessible area. A lorry could load and unload at their door post

which hitherto they had to carry their load down the hill or up

the hill even if a vehicle was provided.

In nine years the village had witnessed a spectacular increase

of population to the tune of three hundred and fifty householders.

There are two wards which have settled, Luguda tribe from Han

division and Fulanis with houses scattered mostly near the market


The twelve Zaras are still existing under this ward head

distinctly but it is difficult to demarcate on diagram because

when there is no more space say for the house of Jifa which is

in the heart of the village its people could build their houses

in Galagodim or Simbirdi which have spacious area of extension

but they would still pay their taxes to their original heads of


Informant Lawan Ali Date 16/7/74

Time 11:00 A.M. 2:00 P.M.

- 69 -

Origin of Balbaya

Informant M. Ibrahim Madubi Date 16/6/74

Bystander A. Loda Time 10:05 A.M.

The people of Balbaya have conflicting idea of origin. One

source of information from my informant states that the b were in

the beginning of the same stock with Tera people who came from

Ye through irn Gazargomu where they settled with different

nations and thereafter decided to move south from hilltop to

hilltop until they reached River Hawal. They followed the River

Hawal until they reached Dbimbil (River Gongola) and finally (?)

founded Deba Village in Gombe division. After many years of living

there a son of Deba grew very famous in hunting. He used to hunt

all the surrounding bush within hundred miles radius. He sometimes

spent more than two months without being seen in Deba. He did not

normally sleep at home and enjoy the warmth of his house. He wore

animal skin and nobody knew the type of food he ate.

One day he came out with an idea that sounded very strange.

He told his brothers that he was going to make a permanent home

on hilltop in a faraway bush where he would never need to travel

before he hunt animals. He therefore came to Balbaya where he

met some people but did not live among them. He told them that

he was a Muzinaku-(chief hunter) Kudorgar and could live at best

singly because he had some dafi (medine?) which would lose its

strength if he mixed himself with some people. He told them that

his name was/Gididi.

- 70 -

One day he succeeded at killing an elephant and a bush dog -

animals which the village people had rwver succeeded at killing any.

The people he found there were surprised and regarded him as a

man of supernatural power. He invited them to share the meat of

the two animals. Everyone got a share more than one meal. The

people were pleased with such generosity and promised him anything

he demanded.

One day he told the people that he had a noble idea to tell

them but they must come to his house on Friday. Before this time

his brother by name Gwamtal and a friend whothe later married ,is

dau~Sgs- by name Badima had brought with them a talking drum known

as tambali in 4ausa. So when all the villagers had gathered he

told them that the most elderly, respected. and the most liked

among them would be their head and his name would become Galadima
for for himself he would be referred to as Kudi (chief) because

he had always been the chief of bush.

He asked if they could agree he would beat his drum to signify

the occasion. The people did not understand the import of being

a Hyedima and a chief as far as the village was still in their

hand. So they willingly agreed because they were also afraid of

disputing whatever this supernatural hunter said. Ngididi hit

his drum. The sound of the drum made them all the more surprised and

believed that they had got a savior from any manace.

Thus Ngididi started the chieftancy in Balbaya and is remembered

as the founder and first chief of Balbaya. The original settlers

were known as Bura Kwkrale and those that came after them were

- 71 -

observed and they now call themselves Bura but have lost Bura

language because they have no point of contact personal opinion.

(Compare with the one on pages 1 to 2.)

The Village Headship

In the pre-colonial era the rank of Galadima and Kudi (chief)

in Balbaya was indistinguishable in power and importance. To the

people of Balbaya both of them are chiefs because they get equal

treatment, more especially if there was anything to be shared, like

slaves. They were also appointed on the same,day. Indeed their

addresses were quite the same but while the chief was seated on

a chair the Galadima was always seated on a mat to the left of

the chief. The Galadima post, though, was never inherited by his

son immediately. It was the only title and Dyedima given to his

lIeage. It is a rank being held for life. It has term of office.

To the people of Balbaya Galadima was the owner of the village

and was a living history. Chiefs could be enthroned and dethroned

by him. This gave him neutral and unique position. To a great

extent the administration of the village was in his hand.

The village of Balbaya was divided into twelve sections

headed each by title holders viz. Zamburem, Tamdimal, Jifa Leu,

Mbirapti, Simbirdi, Wuji, Panya, Kwasdam, Kwabaw, Kidinga, Galagodim.

The twelve sections were subdivisions of four main divisions:

Gwamtal has three wards Jifa, Panyam and Galagodim; Badima Kwardam,

Zamburom and Jamdimdi; Kubu house Wuji, Simbirdi and Kwabaw;

Galadima lineage Kirdnaw, Mbirafti and Leu.

The system of village headship in Balbaya(had been on rotation

- 72 -

bases or more democratically they have a strong constitution

evolved to suit the ruling houses with a specific term of office.

The three competing houses are Gwamtal, Jubu, and Badima. All of

them claimed to have descended from ididi who founded the chief-

tancy line and have the right to win the throne of chieftancy by

right of royal blood.

Originally, a period of twelve years was constitutionally

agreed for any chief that won the throne to serve before that

chief retires but this would mean that one house had to wait for

twenty four years before its tur a_came.- This resulted into

political rivalry which often led to killing and bloodshed so the

term of the office was cut to half, i.e., six years was the

meximum period a chief could serve the village. This idea was

hatched by the second Galadima who took more than three months

without being unable to appoint a successor to a dead chief. The

Galadima knew that they were all from the same father but if he

kept on appointing immediate sons of chiefs other sons of the

brothers of chiefs would make life difficult for every member of

the village; hence the constant killing and bloodshed between

brothers who would always envy the ruling chief because the losers

would always think that they could never become chiefs much less

their sons and grandsons.

There were kingmakers, one from each ruling house headed

by the Galadima and his assistant Hyedima. The other three title

holders are Chiroma, Kaigoma and Kadala.

- 73 -

These council of elders were the custodian of the customs.

They made sure that things were done according to the provision

of their constitution. It had also been their custom to re-instate

a chief from the same house if tbse chief/died after one or two

years of service. -

There were also many more local chiefs who were titular.

This had been created by retiring chiefs. If a chief retired after

six years he could be given a ward to head. He could attend

general assembly but was not allowed to air his views, particularly

if that view was directed towards opposing the ruling chief. If

he wanted to criticize any issue at hand he was expected to do that

through the elder council.

The priests of Mahla and Marmudi have also vital roles to

play. They can sit on the council but do not say anything unless

they have been asked to do so or if they understand that things

were deviating from normal practice. They have their specific

area of duty and therefore do not normally interfere in chief-

tancy affairs.

The house of Badima has seven list of chiefs on record:

Kudi Kambata
Kuthi Mwada
Yakanadi (
"Had anya

The house of Kubu has five chiefs that could be remembered.

- 74 -

They were:

Kudi Dapi / )
Kudi Mari
Kudi Dathi Makomni
Kudi Fori Sunama
Kudi Kidinga Amna

The ruling house of Gwamtal has the following chiefs:

Kudi Kalau
Panyar wobi 6 j'
S Kwarva iH .
Lawan Ali

Some of the notable chiefs had the wards in Balbaya named

after their names. Important events during the office of some


Kudi Kalau His tomb is still worshipped to this day. He 1i 5

Built the wall around Balbays but my informant had a doubt about

this. He introduced the Mahla which they have strong belief in

protecting their village.

Kudi Pate Abba Rubai-Kanuri warriors attacked the village

of Balbaya but were not successful.

Kudi Hadanya British started to colonize Balbaya. There

were asked to change the system of giving six years as the maximum

period of service of any chief. The people of Balbaya objected

to their idea of making a chief stay in office for life. They

^ Vdecided to go Shoni district because they thought by moving to

Shoni they would be far away from the British interference. In

the later year they demanded transfer of authority to Biu. The

r British district officer was then living in Gujba.

- 75 -

Kudi Momadi Balbaya village area was transferred to Biu

area of jurisdiction. He was appointed as a village head during

the office of Mai Ali Dogo. He was the first chief to bring the

tax of Balbaya to Biu Division. Kwaya Tera District was created

in this period. The modern village of Balbaya was planned in his

time. He ruled for thirty-nine years and was made to resign because

he embezzled tax revenue in 1969. y./ '

Major changes in the traditional political setup of Balbaya:

The three ruling houses still do exist as the rulers of
Balbaya but their system of rotation after every six years haI

been abolished. Any chief that succeeded to the throne of chief-

tancy could stay for life unless his work is spoiled due to his

inefficiency in carrying out local authority orders. His title

is no longer Kudi but now Lawan village head. He does not make

rules now do his Kwaknas (council of elders). He is now responsible

to the district head at Kwaya Tera.

Balbaya Title Holders

Informant Galadima Wahi Date 16/7/74

Time 3:00 P.M.

The first category of title holders:


- 76 -

The second category of title holders:

Kadala Taku
Pukuma Gunda
Pukuma Pidlir

The first class of title holders form the senior Kwaknas

(council of elders). They are appointed with beating of the chiefs

talking drum to signify their importance. They also form cabinet

if they wantLdiscuss an important issue before the general assembly

is summoned which comprises every title holder.

The Galadima is the head of the Kwaknas and other title holders.

The village is in his hand because his forefathers were the original

settlers of Balbaya. He is next to the chief. His lineage are

Ialoof ef cieftancy affairs and because of his neutrality he is

Regarded as ear and eye of the ordinary man. Thus he is referred

to as the head of the talaka (ordinary man), but this word is no

longer used because people feel humiliated or lowered when they

are referred to as talaka.

The Galadima with the help of Kadala, Dzarma and Kaigomaare

the chief makers. Before the other senior councillors (Kwaknas)

are informed they must meet in the first instance and make agreement

-s~ cZ~i ~UL~ LL k-~/p
K j/- Ay ~J

- 77 -

over suitable would-be chief. The ceremonial turbaning of the

chief is the sole power of the Galadima.

The appointment of the senior councillors is based upon the

fair representation of each ward. Though they are only nine of them

the other three are represented by the Galadima and his assistant.

Titles are never inherited. When any title becomes vacant the

senior councillors would meet and decide upon whom they should

promote from the second class title holders or whom they should

pick from the ward heads or any most senior member of any ward that

is chosen to have a representation on the council. In any case

every ward must have a title holder who should represent that ward

either in the senior class or lower class.

The second class title holders are appointed by announcement

from the chief. In this class of title holders we have those that

have specific duties to perform or office based on their skill.

Birma assistant to the Galadima. The Birma does the work

which is done by Birdeka in Wuyo who supervises every work being

done in the chief's house and other senior members of the Kwakna.

Shettima assistant to Dzarma a senior member of the Kwakna.

Talba records events. He is also assistant to Batari in

sharia (court).
Kadafir chief dogorai (police). He also makes sure that

the chief's horse is properly dressed,ie. he supervises Kadala

Takus work.

Pukuma He shares out everything to be shared among the

- 78 -

Kwaknas and the chief. He also advises on legal matters, when

Batari is not available.

Kalam He prepares the chief's chair whenever the chief wants

to come out on fada (resting in front of the palace).

Pukuma Gunda leader of drummers and those that supply music

to the chief.

Pukuma Pidli (Bdla) leader of blacksmithers

Kudurgar chief of hunters. He collects pieces of meat

whenever the village goes out on hunting expedition.

Molima head of those in charge of horses food.

Acham messenger of the chief. He handles secret messages.

Kelma messenger of the Galadima.

Ngwaza head of fadawa members.

The people of Balbaya do not have/many title holders as Wuyo

because retired chiefs wield power in their respective wards.

Balbaya Hunting Organization

Informant Madu Kudurgar Date 16/7/74

Bystander Nuhu Tliya Time 5:00 P.M.

Almost everybody in Balbaya was a hunter in the days when

hunting was the order of the day. People hunters did go out

individually to hunt animals. Kharra is the most popular hunting

organization. Whenever there is to be this type of hunting the

Kudurgar would choose the most popular market attended by many

villages. He would then seize an opportunity to attend the market

and meet Kudurgar of a1l villages that would possible attend the

- 79 -

hunting. He would fix a day and all the Kudurgars would inform

their village hunters respectively. They would decide on what

time every village is expected to be in position at a specific

place or their usual place of which every Kudurgar knows. Announce-

ment would be made by blowing a horn in the market. At the hearing

of the horn everyone will inquire of the blown horn. In this way

everyone will know that there is going to be a. hunting expedition

on the appointed date. The announcement is made in advance of

seven days to allow everybody to equip himself with enough arrows

and bows. The arrows are usually made poisonous with herbs.

When the appointed date comes each Kudurgar will ask his

assistant to blow another announcement horn after supper when

everybody is expected to be at home. In the early following morn-

ing every hunter would try to take his meal earlier than usual

at about nine o'clock a.m. Another announcement horn will be

blown three times. At hearing the sound of the horn each hunter

would ask his neighbor to start for the bush. All hunters of

one willage will gather at their usual place of waiting each other

at the outskirts of the village. When everybody is believed to

have come the Kudurgar would come out to invoke the name of Allah

Aliighty, the spirit of the bush and their famous Kudurgar that

has died long ago to guide them through the bush so that they may

get back home safely. He would then tie his bow in the direction

of the bush they were to hunt. All hunters would then do the same

thing after him. He would also warn every member to be careful

- 80 -

Kharra Organization in Diagram





D/ o of mo
/ f
. Direction of movement.

not to shoot his friends.
They would then form a straight (?) each hunter will take

position at the distance of 10 meters. Each hunter would try as

much as possible to control his dog. Two expert shooters would

be positioned at each side of the line. They would therefore

start movement. The movement is always steady and slow steps are


- 81 -

not expected to be heard because this would awake animals at a


Each village would move in the same way and direction, i.e.,

to the heart of the bush. The assistant Kudurgar would climb a

tree and blow his nnouncment hor and listen for five minutes

Antil he hears from his counterpart. If he could not hear anything

it means that other villages were not ready so they had to pause

a little until they hear/the horns of other villages. Immediately

They hear the horns they would reply by blowing theirs and con-

tinue their movement. When they happen to awake an animal and the

animal runs forward they would not follow the animal but it escape

and runs backward. They would run after theanimal until.

it is killed or escaped.

Animals are usually killed before they reach the heart of the

bush. When somebody shoot down animal the first man to catch the

animal when it falls down is usually given a piece and if it were
--- ---------------
a dog that catches it its master would receive the same thing. The

killed animal is usually skinned on a tree fork because dogs would

disturb those involved in the skinning.

The peak of shooting and killing animals is usually at the

center of the bush when every village had moved animals forward.

It usually takes three to four hours before they get to the center.

After the end of the shooting the different villages would exchange

greetings and talk over their successes or failures, pointing out

mistakes to be corrected when they next organize such hunting. The

Kudurgar say of Balbaya that call the hunting expeditions would

- 82 -

be given pieces of meat by every Kudurgar of the other villages

who were also given by their village members.

When the Kudurgar gets home he would collect the pieces of

meat to the Galadima and the Galadima would give him his own share

though he may know that the Kudurgar might kept some at his house.

Then the Galadima will call Pukuma to share out the meat to every

Kwakna and title holder. The chief's share is always the lion's

share because he is said to have many family members. If it had

been a very big hunting and plenty of meat have been collected at

least every household would get a share even if the share may not

be enough for one meal.

A hunter that kills an animal would also give out a piece

each to his herbalist and blacksmith if he had been given the

poison and the arrow free of charge.

Changes that have altered normal practice:

A hunting expedition is still organized on the same principle

but they no longer contribute their share to the Kudurgar unless a

hunter wishes to do so. Hence village hunters must get permission

first before they hunt a bush.

The custom of Balbaya does not allow women to learn hunting.

No women are ever included in anything that is manly.
------- ------------------------_ _

- 83 -

Ward History:

TELI (Hamlet)

Informant Bello Limani Date 16/7/74

Bystander Bukor A. Ali Time 12:35


Telli village is located on a plain four kilometers from

the Biu-Gombe road. It is also six kilometers from Wuyo. It

is in the northern direction of Wuyo. Telli is thenext oldest village

and has population greater than Wuyo. It has one hundred and seventy-two

householders whereas Wuyo has 110 householders.

Telli is the biggest village in Wuyo area that is predominantly

populated with Bura and Babur and few Fulanis who have their own

isolated section. According to my informant Wuyo is only seven

years older than Telli. It is not known whether the Fulanis lived

in Telli earlier than the Buras but from the account of the battle

that took place between Wuyo and Telli during the office of Kudi

Birni (refer to page 180)Fulanis were known to have been living there

before they left for Pero hear Hinna.

Origin of the Village

That the people who founded the Telli village were Minta

and Milila people from Minta, a defunct village near Gunda. Minto

village was raided for slaves by Kanuri people who finally set

the village on fire. Children, able-bodied men and all their





V ^ 6-7 s

-) 0 Z )


_ __ _

rck ly~

1 1 1

I al I\,, S~3(0

- 85 -

properties were taken away. Lucky ones escaped and took shelter

at Ganda, Mandaragva~, Piba, Berim and Bimbilim and Vikithla

(Biu Kuthla).

Slave raiding continued eve: more and the towns they took

shelter did not provide the security they needed to survive from

hunger because they were not free to move about so as to gather

food or work on the farms. yedima Kwaja was a brave man versed

in medicine preparation. He was given this title (Hyedima) to

be the leader of Minta people who were the only clan that can take

the title of Hyedima in Biu. But when stability was uncertain

because of constant raiding he decided to take his people towards

Gar Bima. This come to him in dreams that his house would be safe

north of Gar Bima. Hyedima Kwaja took his family and hisbrothers

moving south. He was followed by another clan called Milila

and were joined by another group called Gwadzahar on their way.

The group decided to settle at Gwangndi (Wandali) but as a

Hyedima he did not like to be considered as talaka (ordinary

person) by the Bura people, so he set his group on the move again

after brief period.

The group discovered a thick forest of palm (minna) at the

time the fruit of the trees were ripe. They camped there and fed

on the fruit of the minna trees. After seven days Hyedima Kwaja

discovered a very big minta tree in a nearby hill. He offered

sacrifices and prayers to the mirta tree because his belief was

that the minta tree was the oldest among all the trees found there

- 86 -

and that the minta tree was able to attract all other trees so

he wanted to gather as many people as the minta tree has gathered.

After another seven days he made fire to signify toother neighboring

villages that he was there for piece(peace?) and needed all people

who like to settle with him. The palm trees became a source of

food, matting leaves and roof thatching. In addition the area was

very fertile for crop production and the settlers soon prospered.

Other brothers heard of their new finding and many sons of Minta,

Milila and Gwadzaher came to live with them. Many other clans

from Bura area come and pledge their loyalty if Hyedima Kevaja

could offer them places to build houses and make farms.

These were the different clans that came to live with Minta

and Milila people:

Hena from Zobi Kwaya Bura
Gwari from Dlamndi near KiBura
Mbaya from Kubuku
Whanja from Timirdlalang south east of Kwaya Te
Amaza from Kwaya Bura
Basi from Birni former district headquarter

Mshel Fuma
Mshelia Kingal

of west Bura before it was
transferred to Sakwa.
from Bila south east of Kwaya Tera
from Shaffa Bwala
from Guwal near Wandali
from Sakwa



Original Size and Layout
of the Village

(Turn back to page 201 for the location of the village in pre-

colonial days.)

Telli village was a very small village enclosed in a wall.

- 87 -

It is located on a plain side of a hill about half a kilometer

from a stream called River Mbarkwati.

With the arrival of more than thirtee different Bura clans

Telli developed into three Zara\or Unguwa. This Zara had not

been divided on clan bases but just to simplify the administration

of the village. Each ward is headed by senior member of the

chief's councillors. They are Yarima, Hyedina and Jampada. This

senior councillors can a1ocate land for building houses in their

respective wards. Households (compounds) were scattered and

tiksha or Yari were planted around houses before 949 Some

compounds were ten to fifty meters apart. All the Zara have been

getting their drinking water from River Mbarkwati.

In 1949 Mallam Liman succeeded in heading the village. He

spent most of his childhood days in Biu and thereafter left for

Kano where he spent nine years until he was called to come and

head the village when his father died. So when he became chief

of Telli he decided to give modern planning to the village just

as the ones he had become so fond of. He consulted with his

elders who were in the beginning against his idea but finally

agreed to his plan. The village was therefore planned and he

went to Kwaya Tera and received one hundred trees to be

planted along the streets. Planting of tiksha or mazla (millet)

ceased to be around immediate fields of the houses see page 208

for the diagram of the village. /

7 ~ I iI
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Topic History of Wardheadship

Informant Birma Thloma -S Date 16/7/74

Witness Bukar Ali Time 8:00 P.M.

Oirginally the Minta people only take the title of Hyedima-ship

in Biu town administration because they were knowledgeable people in

protecting the welfare of Biu town through secret preparation (mbwa

mya di). The Hyedima had been always next to the chief in power.

The swimming of Hyedima in Biu became difficult because however

rightful the title taker may be he has got to be materially sounc

and able to lavish other title holders with money. In addition,

whenever there happen to be an important visitor he must be able

to supply as much food as could feed the visitors so Hyedima Kevaja

decided to stay as Hyedima in Telli and abandon the wish of be-

coming Hyedima in Biu.

When he died, his dead body was carried back to Minta for

burial. The dead body was robbed in new cowskin each day before

they reach Minta which took them two days. The meat of the cows

were eaten by those that carried the corpse and part of the meat

were given out as sadaka in every village they slept. The skins

or hides were used by the people of Telli for making war shoes

when they got it changed. With this shoes no enemy would ever

escape by running or no enemy would every catch them if they

wanted to escape.

The tomb of Hyedima Kwaja is still visited to this day by

- 90 -

Telli Babur for protection.

Hyedima Ali succeeded Hyedima Kwaja. He realized the in-

creasing difficulty of taking the Hyedima title in Biu so he

decided to buy/limbwar (talking drum) from Whana area and installed

himself as chief of Telli. He is regarded as the first chief of

Telli and from then onwards up to now the Minta people have the

chieftancy though British administration had demoted the status

of Telli and made it Bulama responsible to the village head of


The wardheadship had been in single house,i.e., Minta.

List of Telli ward heads (chiefs)

1. Hyedima Kwaja the first head of Telli village. He

was able to collect more than thirteen Bura clans who lived

permanently with him. The founder of Telli. His tdmb is still

worshipped whenever the village is in danger; for example, battle,

breakout of epidemic disease and drought.

2. Hyedima Ali gave off the title of hyedimaship and

started chieftancy in Telli. The wall of Telli village was con-

structed in his time. He created title holders as found in Biu

and elsewhere.

3. NgurKama Garga introduced annual celebration of new

season (mbal dlimbwar) beating of the chief's talking drum to

signify a successful end of year and coming of new season for

another year. This is done in the sixth month by Bura counting

of moon faces. This is equivalent in October. He also introduced

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annual horse racing in this occasion which involved twenty to

thirty villages.

4. Kuthi Dala chief of Galani raided the village.

5. Kuthi Madu Rabi set Telli village on fire and looted

their property when they refused to pay him tax that he demanded.

6. Kuthi Somi imprisoned by Gulani chief. He was found

guilty of absenting himself, he went to Zombi so as to be married

with a lady of Zombi instead of waiting to receive the Chief of

Gulani at home. Gulani chief intended to make him a village head

(Lawan) but he was found too incompetent administrator when it

come to tax collection.

S 7. Kuthi Kwadiya Shehu Sanda of Boryu ordered the village

wall to be broken to make passage for motor road which passed

through Telli to Fikahyel. This was the beginning of British

colonial rule.

8. Kuthi Yamta Telli was put under Wuyo administrative

area. This was during the time of Kudi Gajere of Wuyo.


10. Kuthi Whakshama

11. Kuthi Bello Kwadiya mosque was built in Telli.

12. Kuthi Midala

13. Kuthi Ali Ani He was asked to send children to Wuyo

Primary School in 1949.

14. Kuthi Bello Limani He began ruling in 1949. He

destroyed the former shape of Telli and gave it a modern design.

92 -

(See page 208.) He sent a medicine man from Mshelia Kingal clan

in 1951 when Mai Madu the ex-emir of Biu that died at Bauchi to

perform the traditional (mswa mya di or mna Kithla). This secret

is done with black bull at Kumzhi Karwa near Klaka where there is
a special pit which contain all tools, implements, weapons that

control or promote the work of man. It is believed that when this

secret is done, that is washing all these in the blood of the black

bull and the meat is raosted and given out as sadaka while the priest

of this secret keeps on praying for seven days, no calamity will

ever beset the division, law and order will never be thrown into

confusion, no drought, no epidemic disease and no political up-

heaval which will disrupt the normal course of administration.

Only Mshelia medicine men could perform this secret up to

date. No chief or emir could easily succeed to the throne and

enjoy the smooth administration of Biu area without the successful

\ performance of this secret.

The Mshelia Kingal are knowledgeable in this field because they

are blacksmithers who made all the contents of the secret pit.

In bygone days the mai would put on a special gown called )

Beer used to be brewed in every household of elderly people. The emirs

palace used to be free for entrance on such days for drinking beer

but now only sadaka is given out by the chief. No beer is brewed

because tradition has become Islamised.

It s should also be on record that Kuthi Bello Limani came to

the throne when Mai Ali Dogo was still in office and have witnessed

- 93 -

three successive emirs, i.e., Mai Ali Dogo, Mai Madu and Midala

Mustafa Aliyu.

Titles and Offices

When Hyedima Ali became chief he needed the cooperation of

all the different clans. He did not like to have rivals from his

own brothers so he brought the idea of conferring title of honor-

ship so that he could have their full confidence in his administra-


First i




n rank were the senior Kwaknas (councillors):


in rank were:

Yarima 16. Dalta
Midala 17. Tashkalma
Midala Gwarom 18. Pukuma
Batari 19. Kale
Chamalwa 20. ?
Jampada 21. Birgini
Kadala 22. Acham Yarima
Thlefir 23. Acham Birma
Kadafir 24. Acham Midala
Chiroma 25. Chapwala
Birma 26. Barde
Maidugu 27. Talbwa Madugu
Bulama 28. Mshelkala
Ngwaza 29. Dzarkana
Kada Yadim 30. Ngurkuma

Duties performed by the title holders:

All the title holders are referred to as Kwakna. A non-

title holder will never pronounce their real identification names.'

It would sound rude to address them without mentioning the title;

- 94 -

for example, if Mari becomes Hyedima, people would only call

him Hyedima and may eventually lost his original name.

The four senior councillors perform identical duties. The

Hyedima Dzarma, Betara and Kaigoma. They have veto power because

whatever they decide to do on any issue their decision in always

final. They are the screen which the chief rule the village behind.

The Hyedima is the head of all the Kwaknayeri. He is their

spokesman whenever they are in meeting. His duty is the same as

that of Galadima in Wuyo and Balbaya. He is also the acting chief.

Whenever a new chief is to be appointed it is through his office

that the new chief is confirmed. He doesn't,however, take arbitrary

action on any issue without due consultation with his assistants

which includes Kadala, Ngwaza, Dzarma and Jampada. His actions

are however checked by Betara and Kaigoma.

The four senior councillors and those assisting the Hyedima

perform a secret duty at the end of each year and the beginning

of planting season. The secret is called (Mbwa mya di) so as to

protect the village from misfortune. Whenever this secret is

being done they would ask every household to brew beer or cook

janguli depending on the nature of the occasion and the suspected

misfortune for sadaka.

The janguli is a mixture of guinea, corn, millet, groundnut,

beans, maize, gwadzara and tiksha and anything that is cultivated

on the farm. This is cooked in front of the gate of every compound.

They also declare such days on which those sadaka is given

- 95 -

as public holidays which is spent solemnly in offering prayers

to Allah Almighty.

The senior councillors also have the responsibility of

conferring any other titles though the title is announced by the

chief. The Hyedima is the only title holder that is appointed

with the beating of talking drum (Dlimbwar). When an elderly

person of Minta clan dies even beyond Telli village the drum will

be beaten either by the chief or the Hyedima if the chief is not

available. However the drum is rarely beaten by the Hyedima.

The title of hyedima could be taken by any elderly person

of Minta clan or Milila clan. It is never given to any other

plan because it would mean giving away part of the chief's power

to another clan. Bello limani said that whenever he or his

children become rich enough so as to take the title of hyedima

in Biu Telli people would cease to use the title of hyedima and use

Birma title.

In the second rank of title holders we have those who are

given the title because they stand the right to be chief but

were defeated in favor of one/chief. They are all brothers to

the chief and therefore are eligible by right of birth. They are

generally referred to as Maina son or grandson of chief. These

are: (1) Yarima, (2) Midala Gwarom (senior), (3) Midala

If the chief dies or lost confidence of the people of the

village one of the above title holders could be made a chief so

these titles are only open to sons of chiefs. If they are not

96 -

honored with these titles they may be engaged in subversive

activities against the ruling chief.

The title of Chamalwa and Chiroma are given to influencial

sons of Kwatam daughter of a chief. They are honored with these

titles because they do not stand eligible by birth to be elected

as chief because they are born to fathers who are not in the royal

family; hence the chieftancy is maintained in the patrilineal


The senior Kwaknas decided that the other Bura clans living

in harmony with them should not be left in title holding so they

invited all the Bura clans so that every most elderly person can

say which title they usually take in his own area of origin.

Consequently a Hena man demanded Batari title and was given like-

wise.Kala went to Amaza, Bwala takes Birma, Kadala Mbaya,

Kelma Gwaru, Kaigoma Mbaya again.

It follows that the following title is given to any reason-

able person from any clan:


Specific duties performed by title holders:

Batari legal advisor and chief justice. He is given the

power to sentence and punish lawbreakers and local disputes. He

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