Title: Interview with Heman Wapasana : biography of Wapasana, Heman and Kilba Garkida (typescript, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095976/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Heman Wapasana : biography of Wapasana, Heman and Kilba Garkida (typescript, 1973)
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Mshelia, Tam
Cohen, Ronald ( Compiler )
Copyright Date: 1973
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095976
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Special and Area Studies Collections
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Tami Mshelia December 1973

Interview with Heman Wapasana

I was born a iizha in Kilba land and was brought to Garkida as a small baby on

the back, just a few months old. I am a $ura man, not Kilba. It happened that I

was born at hizha because my parents went to settle there, though he died here in

Garkida. At that t;ie they went to Kilba, they were already living in Garkida,

but decided to go off (just normal wandering) and later came back. My parents are

both bura of Garkida. 'They were both born in Garkida.

Father's name is Fiama Tarfa, Mother's name is Mangawa Kwatam.

I am now over 80 years. I cannot remember my father's first house, but when
t^ ___ _^--"----- ---
he came he lived in Kunjugu. When he came from hizha, he lived in a friends

house before he built his house. Building houses was very cheap and it doesn't take

more than three months. There was alot of building material cornstalkk, grass and


I am the youngest in my father's house (last born). Due to old age of my parents,

they didn't born any more children after me. My father was having four wives. My

mother was his first wife.

My father was just a farmer. He did not specialize in any other job apart from

the usual cotton weaving that men do. Today you find many odd jobs done by people

who are specialized in it, but in those days everyone was strong and could do it
_--- ca"'-t ~+ wcrmev mIm.
himself. . 000

Actually I did not know my father because he died when I was only a year old.

He died not only because of sickness but also because he was old. The person I

know as my father is Birma Garga.

Immediately after the death of my father, my mother was married to Binma

Garga. At that time he wasn't the Birma, he was just an ordinary Tarfa man. He

married my mother not because he is a brother to my father, he isn't, it just so

happened that he was interested in her and also he is a Tarfa man. Usually when a

man dies, his relatives marry his wives.

So it is that I grew up to find myself in Birma Garga's family. He had many

other wives and children. My mother had two girls by him. I can't quite

remember much about my childhood from the age of one to four. We just used to stay

at home and play with other small children. We sleep in our mother's hut at this


At the age of five, I started herding goats. We had alot of goats, sheep and

some horse. Usually in a household every woman has her goats, and also the head of

the house had his. Males have mostly sheep with a few goats. Not all the women have

goats, only those who are well off. That is their parent have alot. A husband

doesn't give his wives goats to keep. She brings it from her father's house when she

has settled down, usually aft.-r two years in her husband's house. She asks for a

female goat, she keeps this and it woiadd produce many for her. If a woman wants

to keep goats and her parents can't give her any, she goes to the market and buys

some. Goats were very cheap, abo-it the cost of a chicken today.

In our house, I was the only one that herd our goat. At that time the village

was surrounded with thick forest, the big hill (Fwahar hill) was thickly covered

with trees. There were leopards and many other wild animals. Hyena were so many you

would think they were village dogs. It was very dangerous, to go o-ut of the village

alone. They have to go in a large, group. In the evenings, the hyena's roam the

village and they enter houses. They crash through gates and try to enter where the

goats are kept.

The women have their goats inside their bedrooms withle the husband has his

in the middle of the house.

The goats have a small compartment cut off to one side of the room, built of
mud. They are not just left to roam in the room. The room is usually crowded since
she has her small children inside with her.

Calabases 0




Mats for Children
Pots 1

0 O

O Grinding Stone

They sleep in the middle of the room on mats, these mats are packed off and
stacked to one side in the morning. In the room she has big clay pots in which
she has her guinea corn powder, dried okra, beans, clothes, there are no boxes
so pots are used. To one side she has her grinding stone. Also she has calabashes
with foodstuff inside them. Then she has basket with guinea corn in them.
The reason for goats being kept inside rooms is because of the hyenas. They are
fearless at night, but they do not attack people, only animals.

In a house that there no male children boys the girls go herding the


Some women in a compound may have goats, but no one to rear them for her,

In that case she has to tie them at home andbeg other children to cut grass for

her. But this is very rare.

A boy is responsible for all the goats in his compound. In the morning

about 8 o'clock the boy closes the main gate of the compound.

A house hld has the big surrounding wall of cornstalk termed the compound, and

in this compound are the houses. The houses being one for each woman. The

husband having his.

Everyone having goats would open their goat's room and all would be collected

by the boy, or boys if they many in the household. If there are horses,- there were

some in mine they are brought out also.

Horses have their stables inside the compound also. They can be left out in

the compound during the dry season, but are kept in during the rainy season.

The boy then owns to the gate and opens it, standing outside to control the

goats scattering about.

A Zara (ward) may have up to ten or more houses. The boys in that Zara have

their own herding grounding, their own herding king this usually not a chosen person,

instead it is one of these boastful bullies that force themsleves as kings, and is

meekly accepted by the rest due to fear. They have a throne built of stones for

this king. The village is surrounded by hills and stones are no problem. They

have a special part of the river where they take their goats for drinking water.

iaras do not share these things, and they are the main causes of fights between


There is a special waiting place meeting place for a Zara. That is when

everyone is ready with his household herd, he comes to t is special meeting place

usually a tree and waits with his herd under this tree until the rest come. The goats

graze and number to hundreds with the boys holding their food on their heads

and whips in hands.

When all the boys have arrived, the march on to their herding ground.

On one of such occasion, it so happened that I was the first to come out with

my goats and was waiting for the rest under our waiting tree.

Usually goats are very stubborn, especially in the mornings, when they are very

hungry. 6o it was that I found myself very busy keeping mine at one place. They

would wander o f this way and that when you are after them the rest still standing

go off in the other direction. Well, when the rest of the boys came, also with our

king, he forced me to take charge of the goats. This boy was a real tyrant and

bully. He does nothing the minute he comes out of his house. He force us to do all

the work.

Immediately he came on that day, he started his bully on me. I told him I

was already tired from controlling my own goats. He whipped me once, twice,

and I told him to please stop it. He then said I must go and control the.whole herd.

I told him I won't., In the end we had a fight. He wasn't real strong. I gave a

real beating. You might think the rest of the boys would help their king. 1io, they

clapping their hands and wer proud of me. That is so because all of them were fed

up of him. Everyone thanked me and from that time on he never bullied me in particular.

Anyway, he was still our king.

Usually the grazing grounds are not very far from our homes. We usually carry

our food to the grazing ground with us. This food is the remaining food from

the previous day's In Buraland, when cooking, a woman cooks more than the family

can eat in case a visitor comes unexpectedly. This habit brings about the idea of

leaving some food for the children to eat in the afternoon when the parents are

away on farm work. The name for this food left over is "Machikle." It is boiled

in the pot used for the new food cooked Machikle is guinea corn food which is left

over from the prewous evenings dinner. Every woman has a pot, "Turn Buli" Tum

means pot and buli is what is inside it. Inside this pot is placed the boiled machikle

and water is poured over it. It gets sour after some days. This is "African Fanta"

or thirst quencher. That is, when a visitor comes around, he is not given just

plain water but water mixed with this bull water. People like the sour taste of it.

Not all Bulls are good,most have worms in them fly larva. It is supposed to be

changed frequently. This pot is where Machikle is stored. When children are

hungry, they rush to Turn buli and take out machikle. They put it in water and drink


We thus proceed to the grazing grounds when everyone is ready. Not all of us

come with food. Some go back to get theirs in the afternoon when we are to have our

food "lunch."

The goats graze till about two or twelve in the afternoon. We sit in the shade

of a tree in our grazing field, and take turn in bringing back goats that have gone

far. The king just sit down on his throne doing nothing. We might tell stories

or sing songs. Usually some may even sleep on the ground. When the goats are

full, we take them to drink water and bring them back. They lie down and chew the

curd under the trees. Then at this time everybody brings his food to the king who

tastes the ones that look pleasing to h s eyes, usually the ones with meat or fish.

When he has chosen the best we take the rest and gather round a dish at a time.

No washing of hands or prayers.

The goats woult start eating some more grass after some time and at four we

drive them to our waiting place. The goats are separated and everyone takes his

h me. We do nothing else at this age apart from running errands.

In the Birma's house we were many. We had slaves. These were bought with money.

I don't really know much about the financial deal of these slaves, nor where they

came from. But we were treated equally the same. In the real sense they weren't

slaves because we eat together. They did not have to work more than we do nor

were they guarded. (They were in every sense like free citizens.) Anyway, one thing

was that they cannot get married. This is because no girl would marry someone

said to be a slave. But the ones that we were in the same house with were small

ones. Not up to the age of marriage. In the compound, we boys were, Abu, Chemwasu,

Cnegubal, Tura and one of the slaves I remember well is Kida Madu. We did our things

together. The Birma had four wives. I cannot remember his compound clearly because

I spent only eighteen years in that compound and then he died.

When I was about ten years old, I left herding goats. By this time, there

were other children behind- me to do this job. I then started to go to the Birma's

farm. We had many farms. There were five big farms for guinea corn and we had

catton'farms. oAll of us the boys and the slaves were the ones that farm them.

When I was about thirteen years old, some Europeans came to our house. These

Europeans had Pabirs with them and also policemen. They came to Garkida and lodged

on the empty fields near the Hawal :river.

They were asking the Birma to give them escorts to a village which they named as


But no one was willing to be an escort. My father tried hard to get the

escorts. The Europeans also asked for food which was collected to them be every

Zara. Guinea corn powder and goats were contributed and sent to them.

They waited for some days but they did not get any escorts. My father could not

force anyone against his will to escort them. Thep one day he went to other villages

outside Garkida to find escorts. The Europeans came early in the morning and asked

for him but he was not back. 'hey later came back many times and each time they wee

told that he was not yet back. Then they grew suspicious that maybe he had ran

away. In the evening my father came back and told them that he could not find

escorts for them. They kept quiet and decided to leave Garkida.

They packed up and crossed the river then kept their loads and started to come

back again. They came straight to our house and set it afire. They burnt some of

the other houses in the -irma's Zara.

When the people saw this, they packed their wives and children and ran away.

But my house hold did not go away. They built a crude sleeping place from matted

grass "tutu" and luckily it was during the dry season.

The damage was really very great, our guinea corn was all burnt and our property

wal all burnt. Even animals died and nothing was left. But we were able to recover

after sone time. The people could not fight the Europeans because we were afraid

of the guns and also we have heard that they burn villages when you do not please


When I was about seventeen (N.B. writer, he can't quite remember which occurred

first, whether it was the burning of their house or the Fulani fight. That is, one

took place when he was thirteen and the 6~her when he was about seventeen).

There came a fight between the Fulanis. The Fulanis wanted to take over Garkida.

Joro Myel was taken by Joro Gwala and later Myel died. All the Tarfa men went to

the fight and two Fulanis died with one severely wounded. Policemen and Europeans

came to settle it. They built some sort of enclosure of tutu and all of us were

told to go into it, they said that the Europeans wanted totell us something.

When we went in, they caught in my;-family only Abu. Two people were shot when they

tried to excape.

All the Targa clan went into hiding after this out my family still stayed.

It wasn't long after this that the Birnna got sick and died. My mother was

very old by now, but she went and stay with her mother's brother Bzarima who was

a tarfa man. I went and lived with her.

Some of the Birma's children had already got married by now and his wives were

all old. They went and lived with other relatives.

It was at Dzarma's house that I got matured and started to think of women.

I stayed there for two years and then married a wife. This girl Iyasindaya

was married once, but her husband died so she got married to me. I immediately

married her. I went and lived in a house of my own near the fwahar hill. That

is I built my own home. I had my first born Berta still in that home. I later

left that house and built a bigger one, which is the house I am presently still


My best freind was then Pwasi Haman and he is still my friend todiy. I

believe right here in Garkida we two are the oldest among the males. Whatever

it was I wanted to do, we did it together.

I then next married another wife Asura. She was still a girl when 1 married

her. She too had a baby girl soon after Iyasindaya. We named her Mwala Mshina.

Altogether I married eight wives, but most of them left me and now I have only

four. (N.B. writer: He is very sick and finds it very difficult to elaborate on

the marriages and the births of his children. He would prefer to nave out the

wives with a little detail and then his children).

After Asura I next married Kwapchi. This woman later left me for another man.

Usually it is not a fight that brings about the separation, but just that our

women being very free, they have affairs with other men they like and later they

go for him and leave their husband.

Then there was Fatim. Her first husband died and she later married another mai

who she deserted tbd married me. But she could not give birth.so I left her and now

she is married to another man and she has given birth to some children for him.

Next I married a Kilba girl called Mdaliya. She gave birth to a baby girl,

Kwapla. But Kwapla got sick at the age of eleven. Mental sickness and she was

taken to a hospital in Yola where she died. Her mother Midahiya then left me and

went to her peoples

I married next Awa but she is a barren woman and up to today she hasn't given

birth to a child. But she is still with me.

I then married Gana and she has given birth to three children. She is still

with me.

I married lastly Magira who has given birth to three children and is still with



A hi L 6

I have at home only four wives, Asura, Awa, Gana and Magira. My children who

are still with me at home are: lIwajim, Ali, Jumamai, Salvia and Mathla.

-VI :z

Bata my first born is working at Sos. Dawi and Chebri are both working at


Kopaya is married. Mwala Mshina is also married with children. Bata

her junior brother is at Kafunchan working.

Bauchi is working at Azare and Adiuu is a student at Zaria.

Mwajim, Ali and Jummai are still here at home in primary school.

Pindar is married and Salvia, Mathla are still here at home in school.

About six years ago I got poisoned. Now I am almost a cripple with terrible

waist aches. Since when I was poisoned, I have never used a how. It was done by

some unknown enemy who did not want to see me as a successful. I have never had

clashes on women with someone nor have done anyone some wrong to deserve such

p nishment.

The poisoning was not in form of food or drink, but it is the type that is thrown

on the reed where you are likely to cross. Even if other people cross, it would

do them nothing, because it was your name that was called when it was being prepared.

I do drink beer and I have many friends with whom I drink with, but I don't

think that has anything to do with it.

At first when it happened, I could not even bend down in the toilet. After

some treatment in the hospital I got a bit better, but it can never be cured. I have

since then been receiving medicine and would die in my chair without doing any normal

work ever.

Though I do not farm, my remaining four wives are very active and have big

farms. Also my children who are working outside send me nomey regularly.

My only worry is that most of my children are going out to school secondary

school and it never seem to end, also, when they finish they do not come here home

to work but stay out there and they hardly ever come home. I am a lonely man and

I need them round me at least to have a chat with them.

Since I cannot farm, I do alot of weaving and rope making.

(N.B. writer: Though this man has experienced much, recently he has had some

sort .of sickness and cannot give any more than t is. Thus it is much more a skeletal life

history like the former ones I did)

Informant: Gwandi Gaba 75 years old

Topic: Biography

My birth name is Mwada This name was given to me when I was born as a twin,

the other oeing a girl was called Thlama. These are the names for twins in Buraland,

Mwada can represent both a boy or a girl, so it is with Thlama. 'hat is, two twin

girls would bear Mwada and Thlama. Two twin boys would still bear Mwada and Thlama.

There are two very similar hills side by side some 10 miles away from Garkida that

bear these names Mwada and Thlama. That is not the origin for these names. They do

not have any special meaning.

If newly born twins are given other names apart from Mwada and Thlama, they get

sick and one may even die. They are given real names only when they are big. Oftimes

twins bear these names up to old age.

In my case, my second name.- Gwandi was given to me when I was about 15 years

old. This when Thlama twin sister died. My name was changed so that I would

not die also. Usually when one of the twins die, the other follows. When Thlama

died, I used to see with spiritual eyes. That is I could see into the future or hidden.

I used to predict the death of people. I predicted that of my mother and father and

it took place exactly as I said. People warned me to stop doing it because it

wasn't good. The spirit of Thlama used to come to me always. I see her as I see

people physically. We wou-d sit and talk normally as I do to everyone else. It's

only me that see her, so that we would go back to where we came from. 6he says in

her 'world' we have a lot of cattle and children with food. tut I always refuse to

follow her. I would reply her that I hcve enough here on earth. I would always dream

of her and she disturbs me very much.

My parents then took me to a witch doctor who closed my spititual eyes. The

way they do their things is all queer, mostly talking or rat er blabbering of

some words. Witch doctors were paid with "Kuntu" and beer. They may ask for other

items like a white cock or a black goat, depending on what the sickness is.

After the treatment from this witchdoctor I never saw anything or dream of

my sister.

My Grandfather, Headima Mafa father's father was a witchdoctor. He was

quite a good one. He is a Kilba man. His hometown is at Udzum. He cures all sort

of sickness snake bites, poisons, stomach aches or chest and waist pains. There

was once a wat at;:Hiza another Kilbo village and he was called upon to lead

in the war, after which he was made the Hedima a rank little lower than the

chief. But some of his friends poisoned his family Another witch doctor

stronger thc.n him and he ran away from Hiza to his hometown Udzum. His wives

were Bura women not from Garkida. Most of the villages around Garkida are Bura

and they are not different from those in Garkida verbally in speech and culture.

My father was born and brought up at Udzum. He did not inherit my grandfather's

art in witchcraft, but he could cure snake bites. My grandfather could disappear amidst

people when he falls into trouble, like in a war, he would face the enemies and then

disappear again. One of his wives Yatina once decided to find out how he

disappears, so she waited in the house with him while the other women had ran away

because of enemies. When the enemies arrived, Granny shot a few and disappeared,

but Yatina was not able to escape, her head was cut off, the head was running round

while the trunk continued to move about.

My father married his first wife still at Udzum. While they were there, they

had six children but all died. A fight broke out at Udzum fight over a woman Some

one in my father's c.an had an aftair with someone's wife and it started a fight.

My father went into hiding at Hinhgn a village 3 miles from Garkida. whilee he was

in hiding, he came to Pellachirama another village on the other opposite bank of

Hawsal to Ga. kida. Here he met and married my mother. They went back together to


My father had six children with his first wife, all of them.were boys.

This first woman Mangili was a witch. In Bura witches are said to have two

stomachs, one for eating normal food and the other spiritual meat. That is, since it

is said that a person has been eaten by a witch, but his body is still there, the

spiritual meat is regarded as the one eaten by the witch.

Well, this woman was responsible for the death of all her children. Not that it

was known at that time the deaths were occurring.

When ever she gives birth to a child, and it grows up to crawling stage, the

child dies. So it went on up to when I was born. 'hat is, even though she had nine

children in all, the other three were after me.

My mother Gitau had already had a husband before she married my father. Her

first marriage was satisfactory as she wanted so she left her first husband. That is she

did not like the man, but she was pregnant with his child. 'he left his house pregnant

with his child, this first child is my senior sister Miwasa Pindar. She grew up

in my father's house as his daughter.

I and Thlama were the next children born to my father aft ,r the six born to him by


After my birth, my father and his family went to Galandiwa this is a village

about 10 miles from Garkida still in duraland. He had a relative there who wanted to

live with him. This relative's name is Headima Ali.

My father went with, his first wife Mangili, my mother, Pindar, I and Thlama and

his father's last wife that is my grandfather's widow.

In Buraland it is customary for a child to 'marry' his father's wife that is if a

man is married and has a young wife with babies, if he dies, his eldest son or any of

his sons would look after this woman with children. Not all people like it, but they

are forced, especially if the woman has little babies. Not that he has to h.ve sex

with her but it his responsibility to bring up the children and also to provide for her.

Usually if the lady is fertile, the person has sex with her and brings forth children.

This children are his. The ones left by his father are his half brothers. QO'5 Ar'
------- ""~_ - \ ^ f RVP ^-^jQYD~ iRrP

When taking such a wife the man doesn't pay a dowry and the only ceremony is that

the man is to bring a calabashful of guinea corn powder, one goat, and two chickens.

These he gives to the woman who in turn gives a goats thigh to her mother with some of

the guinea corn powder, and the goat's chest to her father.

In Buraland, everybody has a father and a mother even if your real parents are no

more alive. duringg the burial of your father it is usually with a goat you take

the goats neck and kidneys and give it to any of your father's relative that you would like

to be your new father. It must be a relative. If it is your mother that has just
(, l t 0, CeM- ^-^y )
died, you would choose one of her relatives by giving her the goat's thigh and some guinea

corn powder.

Thus my father 'married' his father's wife wnio had small babies with her two small

boys who are my father's half brothers. He did not have sex with this woman, le just

kept her because of the children. /J- fll P f-44

So he took us to Galaniliwa to this relative of his Hedima Ali. Wihen we went to

live with Hedima, he had only a little property, but he was to get rich after our

arrival due to an incident that happened between him and my grandfathers wid-w.

Usually, in the night some 'stars' used to fall down. 'hese are the shiny

objects that use to run across the sky and fall down or die off still in the sky before

reaching down (N.B. writer: I guess this man means the small remains of space debris

that one attracted due to the gravity of earth and while passing through the atmosphere,

friction between this stone and air causes it to burn and when people see it, they think

it is a star falling down.).

Well, one of these stars I don't really know the shape or size or what it is

made of fell in Hedima's farm. Not that people saw when it fell, but after some

days, some small boys saw a shiny, luminous object and went to check what it was. When

they went near it, the object stopped shining. But it starts immediately they are

gone. Galandiwa is a village belonging to Gwahi people. These people speak a different

language from aura, but basically their culture is similar to that of dura. Well,

according to this people, when such things happen, and you the owner of the farm wants

to see the object, you should take a cock and cut it's neck at that spot where the luminous

object seemed to be appearing.

Hedima then did as was advised by the witchdoctor such things are reported to

witch doctors first because it is regarded as an evil thing or rather it is beyond

ordinary human knowledge and power to know what such things are. That is one of the

reasons that witchdoctors are regarded more than kings, because the local people in

Buraland and those near it like the Gwali are governed by superstitions occurimg

everyday. And it is only a witchdoctor that can predict or explain such things even the

whole faith of a village can sometimes depend on it's witchdoctor. Like in the case of

an epidemic or lack of rainfall, it is the witchdoctor that decides on the approach

as to how to stop it, usually some sacrifice to some spirit not always gods of rain

or god of iron (N.B. writer: asked if to any god) but usually they do refer it

to God.

When the cock was killed, at thi.t spot tuey picked up what was believed to be the

star. It was some sort of stone which I myself can't describe since I didn't see it.

Hedima was advised to throw it into a widow's hut or else he would meet with some

misfortune. The misfortune being in the form of his house burnt down or his relative

dying without real cause (N.B. see page for Bura treatment of this star incident).

The widow can be any woman without husband around. It doesn't have to be a relAive,

but Hedima chose to throw it into my grandfather's widow's hut the woman my father

married from the remains of my granny's home. Not that the witchdoctor chose which

widow, but just any that he finds convenient. If he dows that, the widow would die

and he would become a rich man.

His house was not where we were living t.;.at is, my family had a separate fome

from his. He threw the stone in my father's wife's hut and she died aft r some small


Actually all this was not known to the public, but die to gossipping and from

what elders leak out to friends, it becomes a general thing known to all.

Since no one can prove or prosecute him, my father could not say much about it. But

he got annoyed and we packed back to our former home at Hinhg.

When we came back, my mother gave birth to Kwatam, a female baby. This is

our last born on my mother's side.

We were the only children in the compound I, Thlama and Kwatam. Mangili

had no children because she had eatmn them up. She got two more boys and ate them,

making eight children. The ninth child she gave birth to was a girl.

My father then decided to see a witchdoctor to spare this girl's life. He had a talk

with Mangili first. He said, "Mangili, seeing that we have had so many children but

are not successful in bringing them up, and now God blessing us with a girl, I think

it would be wise if we get a witchdoctor to see who among the two of us is bringing

this bad luck." Mangili agreed with him and he went and brought a witch doctor. The

witch doctor then took the small girl and dug a hohe in the middle of our compound.

He took some sort of medicine, (N.B. He can't remember what the medicine is made of)

and rub..ed it on the girls body. He washed her body over the small hole he had dug.

Next he covered it with a stone and put some clay over it. He then called my father and

said to him, "Climb over this hole and hold the girl in your hand. You shall swear

that if you are the one that brings evil to your children, their lives be avenged of

you." My father did as he was told. Next was Mangili's turn. She did as my father did.

The effect did not co-le immediately. People had already suspected that it was

Mangili that ate up the children. Ohe was actually a very bad woman. Ohe used to cause

a lot of trouble in our house. Always quarrelling with my mother. Whenevermy mother

gets pregnant, Mangili would come to her in the day time, and start rough play on her.

She would climb my mother's back as you ride donkeys. Ohe wold push her about until

my mother have a miscarriage. My father would beat her and warn her to stop this evil ways

of hers but she wouldn't listen.

Always when my mother miscarries, it is found that she has twins. That is it is

the same children that always come back to her. She had about 5 miscarriages,

and all were twins.

When Mangili's girl was about 2 years old, the child got sick and died. Immediately

Mangili began to suffer from imaginary burns. he would shout out that she is being

burnt and wouldrun to the big pot where water is kept glamm' and pour water

over herself. Ohe would come and beg my father to get the witchdoctor to break the

power of that medicine done two years ago. My father would always give her the reply

that it has already been done and cannot be undone. Alsoihhat he doesn't care even if

she dies because she is an evil woman. If it is the two of them that are bad, he too

would soon die after her. ,he died alone.

My father was left with only one wife then. And he had only me, Thlama and

Kwatam as his living children. He then married two more wives at Hinhg.

When I was about the age of five I used to herd out goats. It was only my father

that had goats. His wives had only chickens. He started with a male and a female goat

which he bought in the market. The goats multiplied and we had about thirty of them

by the time I started herding them. Before then, I used to cut grass for them and they

were tied at home.

At Hinhg te did not used to have much children wars in herding as in other

villages. Instead we quarrel among ourselves. Usually what starts the quarrels is

bringing back the straying goats to shed. We had a king for herding and we built

him a large throne and placed sheep's skin for him on top of this throne. He decides on

our programmes and settles our quarrels. He is the one that chooses who is to go and bring

back the goats or who is to go and bring water for us to drink.

Someti !es he would tell one of us something to do, and if a boy refuse to do it, the

king orders the boy to be beaten. There is no any special beater, any of us can beat

him up. Mostly it is lashing done b, the king himself. Though we quarrelled eve3day,

in the end we always forget it. We never hold anger against anyone for long.

In my house we had a horse also. 'his also my father bought when it was young a

female one. She gave birth to many young ones. In buraland, smajl horses are not

usually bought in market. vhen you need one, you go to someone with a female horse

and pay about half the price of a big horse, and make an agreement that when she gives

birth you would come and claim it. The owner would then keep the young one for you. Prize

for a horse is about 18 Kuntu.

Our horse had six births, after the sixth one, we sold it and kept the sixth young

one because the mother was too old. I was a very good rider.

At first my sister Thlama used to come with when herding goats, later, at the age of

about nine she stayed at home. There were no other boys in the house to heap me and the

goats were rather too much for me. thoughtt we used to combine our goats when we are out

with the other children, I suffered among them, because I would alwyas have to go and

turn back my straying goats. That is, since I had many goats, and when the king tell,

some other boy to go and base the goats from someones farm and .he refuses, I would

have to go and do it if it is my goat or else the owner of the farm would a.cuse me of

leaving my goat to enter his farm.

I was getting fed up of herding when my father brought my uncle's goats to be

looked after for him. My uncle had goats but no one to look after them so he brought

it to oir house so that I can take them along with ours. I told my father I can't look

after all of them but he did not listen. 6o in the morning I just left the goats in

their rooms and cut some grass for them and went to farm with him. ,1hat was when I started

farming. My uncles goats were returned to him and I continued cutting grass for the

goats at home. I would go to the farm with my father in the morning and in the evening

I would go and cut grass for the goats.

I never went to farm for my mother. It was a shame for a boy of eight years to

stay near his mother always. It is only the girls that stay with mothers that is, a boy

doesn't stay in the kitchen area or in his mother's bedroom at all. He plays with

other boys outside and he sleeps in some room built for boys. 1he girls when about the

age of ten do not sleep in their mother's room but in the other small enclosure where

guinea corn is ground (MBwa hadla) or called grinding room. It is in this room that

things as food stuff are stored.

roow v

wattr pot-

But a boy can go and help his mother on farm if she is sick. It is the girls

that carry water from the river. A boy doesn't do that. ihey go to the river to

take their bath, no bathrooms at home. Our father goes and has his in the river also.

Usually where the women carry water from is quite different to that whera the

men have their bath. We had some sort of local soap made from ashes with some

slippery juice from plants. There were no factory made soap. 'he sponge we had

grew locally. The boys were not much worried about the decorations as the girls.

The girls rub some oil mixed with red earth "Msha" on their bodies. The boys

put it only on their heads. Doth girls and boys had plaited hair.

In the evenings, when food had been prepared, boys are not given any. They eat only

that that has been left over by their father. In our house, all the women cook

at the same time. Each woman would bring hers to my father, her daughter carries it to

him, or she herself does that if she hasn't any daughter. The boys stay in the miadle

of the compound, in my case I was the only one I said before that my father married

his father's widow beca.ise she had children, bat they died two of their, at Hinhg,

when we came back from Galandiw, due to some sickness which I don't know. 4hen the father

has finished, usually he tries all of them, eating only a little bit, he calls the boys

and they pack off the food. 'he girls eat in the same dish with their mother.

San d I n3 5>W-

At the age of about eleven, some relative of my father died, and his children came

to live with us. Usually when a man dies, his children that are over five years especially

boys, go to .his relatives. The girls stay with their mother. If the children are very

young aoout three years old, the mother either lives in his relatives house or marries

one of his relatives the man's relatives.

Well, these boys took over the care taking of the goats. They were two.

I went on farming for my father.

We had a big farm and most of it was for guinea corn. Only a little bit for

groundnuts. We grew a little bit of cotton this my father usus for weaving.

Every man over thirty weaves in his spare time especially in the dry season when there is

no work.

Our crops are stored in granneries. These grainneries are built by the women, It

has some stones under to lift it of the ground. It is made of clay mixed with much

grass. The top has a round disc made of

clay which can be removed. It has a

grass roof to stop rain washing off the

clay it is made of. The body is also :V

grass covered. Every women has her i

own grainnery, things like beans, dried

leaves for soup "shaptang" In Bura Land, their main solp is leaves, these are dried

bean leaves mainly. In the dry season there are no gardens, and not much oil is used.

They did not know of palm oil. But they had other types of oil, e.g., pigs oil, corn

oil, and there is some sort of tree that has oil in it's pod. Grainneries for small

items are small while those for corn are big. These are built in the dry season when farm

work has been done over with.

The wealth of a man is counted in how many grannieries he has filled with corn. A

wealthy man should have at least three big grainneries.

Men are the ones that build the rooms. The rooms are not made of mud as today's.

Before rooms are built of wood placed side by side in a cycle and covered on the outside

with neated grass (Tutu) guinea grass and mud is placed thinly outside. All this

is done in the dry season Rainy season for farm and dry season for house work. The

roof is made of grass which the boys cut. The very tough and strong boys are those that

cut and carry large bundles of grass. The fence is made of corn stalk. When a man

has finished cutting the corn, boys go and bring the corn stalk for fencing. Fences are

changed every one or two years.

Therefore, when I was about eleven to fifteen, my main work was farming in the

rainy season and cutting roofing grass, collecting cornstalk, rope making and

helping in making repairs on the house in the dry season.

When I and Thlama were about the age of fifteen, the village was swept through by

some terrible sickness.) (Cold) Almost everybody caught this cold. Nearly half the
Q~ii I ---------- -
village died. vvhen you came into the village you would find some of tuie houses deserted,

with no owner, all of them dead. We did not know what brought this. whether it was

caused by some evil spirit we could not tell. Sacrifices and prayers were made to out

SHoptu. Every house had their hoptu. If a house has been wippd out, some sort of special

grass usu is kept the gate of this house. 'his is to show that it has been

abandoned or norone lives there anymore. No one would like to live in such house

due to fear of spirit. Usually the house stays like this and it break down after many

Years and then a farm is started on it the houses are amongst maize, red guinea corn,

and garden farms then if a new comer comes otner dura people from neighboring

villages which is desentigsating due to lack of growth of that village or the people

seeing that it is far from market centres, schools, hospital or such anemities -

Sthese sort of people build their houses on such place. Not that they choose it specially

because a house has been there once, it is just that tnis place is favourable that

was why the first owners chose that site.

In my own house, all of us had the cold, but unfortunately, my dear sister Thlawa

could not stand up to it and died. She was the only one that uied in my house. Twins

do not have a special burial. They are buried just as any other small child is

buried. It was at this age that I was named Macher Gwandi. This is just a local name

with no any special meaning to it. I was not called by the name ifwada anymore (See page I/

for twin acts).

It was at the age of eighteen that I first experienced a Pabir raid. This was

during the time of George. He was a European and was referred to as Government George.

These Pabir were only found in Biu. That was their only village. All the re.t

were Bura villages but these small population of Biu Pabir were terrible and they were

feared and hated by the Bura as you do a snake.

As my parents used to say, when they come to a village, they would take all

food they can find. They would ask for chickens. Sometimes it is their "Kuhyi"

- king that sends them. But sometimes they come without the kings permission and

would say that it was he who sent them. they always come for tax. In those days, we

did not have a bura king, you only have village elders or a village head. One of the

tax collections I witnessed was during the time of King Ali they had no emirs or Ajias

at that time. It was Ali's son that started with the title of Ajia. The Pabir came

and they lodged under some trees near my fathers house.

They entered housed and started to ask for tax. The tax was paid in bundles of

Kuntu. There was no fixed amount, they just collected as much as they could squeeze

out of a house. You could pay in guinea corn. But in this case, they came to my house.

I was sitting by my father when they entered. They asked my father for the tax and he

gave them nine bundles of Kuntu. They said it wasn't enough and that he should bring

out his horse also. My father said if they want the horse, they should bring back the

Kuntu.he had given them. 'hey refused saying that he should bring the horse and he would

get back the Kuntu. In other houses, they had collected all they could and were packing

out guinea corn from grainneries. Usually they force their way into the houses and place

two shillings by the grainnery saying they hdd bought it off. 'hey struggle among

themselves trying to but off as many grainneries as they could. The cost of the corn

in a grainnery is much more than two shillings in fact the two shillings is just for

jest sake and not for payment. People can do nothing against them. aura were not used

to such leness and moreover the Pabir reported to the European any resistance put up by

any village. They used to come with guns sometimes and we had never in our life seen a

stick bring out fire with a big bang. When a village proves tough, it is burnt down.

If a man kills, he was hanged. It wasn't the Europeans that do the hanging themselves

but the Pabir. 1hey had as their supporter the European.

I have seen with my own eyes a man being hanged. This man had killed another bura
--* ----- --
fellow who was having an affair with his wife. The fellow killed wast"carried home

by relatives who went and reported the case to the Europeans and they caught this man

and hanged him on a tree. Sometimes a man is shot down instead of hanging. 'hen such

things take place, the Pabir wou]d say to us that have we seen this and a shiver would

run through us. No of us dared to face them.

Well, in this caje, when they were asking my father for his horse, he made a signal

to me that I should go away. He was sitting down with his bow and arrow. The Pabir

bought off our grainneries but my father kicked off their money and pushed them out. He

said if they wanted his corn they would have to kill him first. He thus stopped them from

packing out our guineacorn. While they were still outside, I went in and untied our

horse. We had only one entrance usually some houses have two so that one can be

used as back escape in ti-.e of emergency In our case I loosened some of the cornstalk

from the back fence and took our house away.

The Pabir had horses and they chased me, but being a good rider they did not

get to me.-1 I went to another village and stayed there for two days before I returned


When I came back, I found that people were deciding to ran away from the village

because there was no food. My family still had food and my father hadn't been hurt.

The elders advised the people that it was unwise to go away since in the bush there

was no food, let them wait till next year when they have hidden some food in the bush a

and when the Pabir come they can then run away. They agreed and stayed. But some had

to go away to live with relives who still had food in other villages.

When we harvested our crops again,(we stored it in holes in the bush. hen

the Pabir came and the people of hinhg ran to a deserted village in the bush. We used

our corns then in the bush. 'hose in Garkida ran hwana land.

Not hhat all of us ran to the smae place. My family in particular went to Pellamera.

This was a village which has been deserted, we found only two people there, Maina Barka

and Lausha. hey too were refuges of last years Pabir raid on other villages.

They found no one in Pellamerra.

When we all decided to leave hinhg, we just deserted it, with other families

going to when they think best suitable. Some people followed Garkida villagers to

Hwana land, while some people from Garkida came to Pellamerra.

We had no donkeys and there were lo special proters (In those.days no one

specializes in any job for payment except the witchdoctors, and in their case it is

natural gift). Well having no donkeys, we had to carry our loads on our heads. The

women carried their babies on their backs, their calabashes with some food and necessary

things in them on their heads. My father carried his kuntu, cotton and other men

property. I was the one that rode on our house. We had our goats. There were ober

families with us and they had their things along also.

We had rest at Thila. 'his is a village on the other bakk of river Haiwal opposite

Garkida (In buraland, the women are not treated as European women who won't allow their

women any hardship. In our case, a woman shares the same hardship as the man but she

has the same respect for her man if not more that the European woman for her man. The

African-bura man does not care whether his wife is tired, if she is, she just sits down

and takes her rest while he goes on slowly. He doesn't care about where she sleeps comfort

as long as it is not with another man).

Thus when we were going to Pellamera, my father was ahead with other male travellers

while my mother was with the other women.

After the rest at Thila we want on to our destination Pellamera. When we lodged

at Thila we just entered any house and usually they will recieve people. 'hey cooked

for us and some of them came to Pellamera.

At Pellamera we lodged that evening at Maing's house and Laushi's. We set out to

start building rooms for our self the next day. First we built crude huts of grass "tutu."

(matted guinea grass) so that we could live in them before we build stronger ones.

I helped my father build a comound with houses each for the women. He had a room

for himself. I did not have a room (In buraland, the boys have to watch over their

horse at night, and also horses eat day and night so the boys should feed him, so

boys usually sleep in the horse room. The room is built very big so that the horse

doesn't come into contact with the boys. (This is not strange since the women have

goats inside their rooms)

After we had finished with the buildings, we resumed normal life. bince it was

dry season, there wasn't much to be done. The goats are left to roam on their own.

It is on-y in the rainy season that goats reared. 'ut I had to go and look for grass

for the horse. Horses are not left unguarded becauod people might cut their tails or

steal them away. Horses were a sign of wealth and also they were a great help.

When rainy season came, we started farm work. No one gave enyone any permission

to farm any farm, you just choose any suitable place and farm you farm. I help my father.

We cleared the former faris farmed by the villages (people that deserted Pellamera).

After that we went and helped his wives make their farms.

The women built grainneries while we were building the house. Into these we

stored our crops.

The women use their crops first (that is, we used their corn until it finish then

my fathers grainnery would be opened and the wo-en would take out equal amount all of

them, usually two basketful each.

Not all the women have their guinea corn used up. "ut due to jealousy my father-

would still give them. ihen a household has used up the whole of it's food before the

next harvesting season, the women start to trade for same guinea corn. Usually the

exchange a goat for some guinea corn or some other crop is used in purchasing the

guinea corn. At it's worst, they sell their ornaments. In such cases, relatives help

them with some food. There werj no beggars, everybody does some work to provide food

for himself.

I was nineteen years old when I started to think of having a wife. I courted a

QobU Ia-o

X4 ufluupU

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girl whose parents were from Thila. This girl had two different husbands already. The

first husband was her real husband, but she did not like him. She then had .an affair

with the second husband and she ran away (eloped) with him to hwana land. This husband

paid her dowry to the first husband. It wasn't paid to her parents because they had no

business in it after receiving their's from the first husband. Later she had a quarrel

and left this second man and came to live with her parents. I ,"

I already have a "claimed wife" (matched marriage when the boy and girl were still

very small). This wife was not of age yet, but I wanted to start A family. This

claimed wife of mine was claimed for me when I was about nine years old. My father saw

that my sister Thlama was developing rapidly and he thought it bad if she should have

a husband before me, so it was that he claimed this other girl Mwajim for me. She was

from hinhg also.

This girl was courting is Kwamtim. My father knew nothing about it. I mentioned

it on the day that I and the girl and her mother had settled out talk. I just brought her

(it is your friends that go and catch her on her way to the river or to get firewood

in the bush). My father then paid the dowry to the second husband.

I then had a room of my own, so we used to slepp in it with my wife Kwamtim. It

was the same year that I st rted my own farm also. It was the same farm we farmed

together with Kwamtim. She did not have her own farm. When she cooks food, she gives

my father first before mine. She was treated like the other women.

(N.B. Writer questioned deeply against his will to find out why he did not think

it bad to have as his first wife a woman who seem obviously to have a bad character

since she has divorced two husbands)

Personally I did not mind having her because it was I liked her very much and

moreover she was still very young (seventeen) and did not stay long in any of the other

house (not up to a year in any). I wasn't afraid she would do the same to me because if

she does I can just go and marry another woman.

I lived with her for two years quite happily, but to our disappointment we could not

have a child. My parents thought it bad on Kwatim's side and my father advised me to

divorce her and marry another woman. My claimed wife Mwajim was just getting to marriage

age (seventeen). I did not give up hope of Kwamtim getting a child. We tried many


I then married Meajim (the method of marriage is different for Kwatim and Mlwajim.

Kwamtim's was that the dowry was paid in bulk to her second husband where as in Mwajim's

case, the dowry was paid to her parents little at a time and this involves some ceremony

towards her parents). (N.B. Writer: refer to my former work on wedding and marriage

ceremony in Mziwi Clan which is the same iu all clans in buraland).

The visit we had been paying the witchdoctor's was successful, and Kwamtim and

Mwajim got pregnant at the same time.

Kwamtim gave birth to a bab,, boy. Awajim had a miscarriage. Kwamtim's boy was

named Wanadza.

At this time my father decided I should have my own part of the compound alone.

At first when I married Mwajim, I had a-room for her and I left Kwamtim's room to

Mwajim's room where we slept together. I sometimes though leave Mwajim's room and

sleep with Kwamtim. but when the two of them were pregnant, I built a room for my

slef (N.B. Writer: Notice how a family cycle is going on, fathers home was small,

increased more wives came, increased father for son's room, increased father for

son's wives, now son cut's himself out, father's house getting smaller.).

When my father said I should have my own side of the compound, it wasn't that there

was a quarrel, it was just that he thought it better if I and my two wives have a section

for ourselves. A cross fence was then built between my area and his.

It was when I had these two wives that my mother died. She got sick and combined

witn old age and lack of proper medicine she died.

(Before then, my junior sitter Kwatam had already got a husband. She married a

man from Garkida called Suwang). (Even if I had known anything about her courtship by

this man Suwang, it was none of my business to interfere that is, it wasn't usual for

boy to tell his sister who she should marry or who she shouldn't, only if the match

is obviously very bad, like if the man is popularly known as oad, then does he say

anything, but it was rare for any such thing to bring about any disagreement from a

brother to his sister's marriage.)

Actually, marriage was important only on one side that is a man has to widen his

clan and also to continue his generation. thereforee marriage was not for happy living,

beauty of the girl though beautiful women get men clashing on each other or any other

symbol,ut to get children. That is why divorce is not regarded bad in our area, the

evil of divorce being that there was no love between you and the wife. In buraland,

most marriages are rather of admiration of body structure which shows that a woman would

give birth, rather than of ove. Love doesn't really come into it since gqrls do not

mix with boys to have ti.e to understand and l..ve one rather than the other.

(N.B. writer: Love is a deep likeness to one you understand, in other words, it is

character that people love and not the body. well, in buraland, boys do not meet the girls

often o -get to know their character, but they just marry a girl who they see far away

or just once in a while and look beautiful with prospect of a child).

That is why polygamy is encouraged in the old bura people. To have many children.

And also divorces are frequent because love of the body doesn't stand hateness of

character. That is, even if a man marries a beautiful woman and finds later that her

character is bad, he just divorces her.

My wife Mwajim was taken away (this was before I properly married her) by another

tv) ex Ac"&Lc^^t ^ ".- "' 31

man against her will. His frineds just came and seized her on her way to the river.

This man had admired her for long and wanted her as a wife. Her parents did not agree

and also she herself did not agree so his dowry was not accepted and he had to give her


Well, when my mother died, Kwatam's husband, Suwang, was responsible for most of

the ceremony like he was the one to bring the stone to cover the tomb entrance. This

is because he was her daughter's husband. (N.B. writer: refer to my former work

on burial of old women in buraland.)

Among the bura, there is something known as "finishing the cry of you mother,

or fat aer." Well, the main finishing of the cry for my mother was Suwang's duty.

My father would finish the cry of his wife with his friends. Usually finishing a cry

takes the form of a drink of beer and eating a goat with friends. I finished mine also

with some friends.

All this time, I was still farming the same farm with my two wives. Mwajim got

pregnant three times but miscarried all. Kwamltim also miscarried twide.

Mwajim then gave birth to a baby boy Anjikwi. My father was having only two wives

at this time. I too was having two wives. My father had other children in the house

apart from those who were from his half brother's. He had Mafa, a boy, Sida and

Bilari both girls from his wife Yangasa. Also his other second remaining wife which

was his last wife had Bata, Kobathli, both girls and Abagana a boy. She had other

three (N.B. writer: this woman is still alive and very sick at the moment and she doesn't

want to mention their naines). Any way, these other three were not really very big when

they died, all died from sickness except one of them a girl of fifteen who was eaten up

by witches. When this girl was still alive, she and her sister used to come to school

at Garkida and when crossing the river, they fish in it. Well, when going home and if they

meet people on the way, some look into the grils dish that is, they wanted some of the

fish, but the girls were ignorant and did not realize it so they never gave anybody some

of the fish and it is regarded for children not offer things to elders. That is they

should always give some of what they have to the weak old ones or they are regarded as

bad mannered children. Well, some wicked people witches took her spirit away and

she died.

When she died, a witch doctor was consulted and he gave the mother some sort of

herb "Kurum" which points out which witches have killed the girl.

The herb was placed on the girls heart between her breast and she was buried, but

the next day, four people died. These people were the witches that had killed her.

By this time, the missionaries had arrived and there were no more Pabir raids.

When the missionaries came, I wasn't married by then and I had wanted to enter school

though I was older than the age required, but my father did not agree, it was said that

the missionaries caught people in Garkida and ate them up (it was just common fear by

we people).

Well, since there were no more raids, people in the far villages in the bush started

to migrate to the bigger villages. Thus Pellamera began to shrink in size. There

weren't anymore families coming to it. My sister's husband Suwang who had his house in

Garkida invited my father to come with his family to come and live with him in Garkida.

My fatter accepted the invitation and all of us in his family went to Garkida. We did

not live in Suwang's house but built a crude hut where we lodged in while we were

building new rooms for ourselves. My father built his compJund while I built mine.

We were now just side by side and no more joined as we were at Pellamara.

When rainy season came, I went *nd helped my father start a new farm. After we

had finished, I made one for myself to make a new farm, you just search for good land

and cut down the bush an it and plant your crops there. You don't have to ask anybody

for permission by them.

After I had made mine I helped the women to make farms for themselves each. My

farm was bigger than theirs and whereas mine was mainly guinea corn, they mixed theirs

with beans, cucumbers, and okra. Their groundnut was more than mine. But I had cotton

farm whereas they did not have one.

Whenever one of ttiem is sick, I would go and help her on the farm. but if both are

strong, I leave them alone to do as they please on their farms. Apart from sickness,





I help any of them that obviously needs help on her farm. The two boys Wanadzo and

Anjikwi were attending school. I had my own goats as my father did.

When we had stayed in Garkida for auout three years, my father got sick and died.

There was a hospital by them but it's activities were not yet convincing to us so we did

not take him to the hospital when he fell sick. Usually it was his whole body that was

disturbing him. Sickness of the old.

When he died I was responsible for his death ceremony and not Suwang. In buraland,

the woman has her daughter to look after her and the man has his son to look after him.

Jell, since a girl has nothing much her husband is responsible.

(N.B. writer: The ceremony was exactly as described in my first work.)

His house was burnt down after the things in it were taken out. I don't really

know why they burn down a dead man's house but maybe it's because it would bring sad

memories to his wives and children if it is left untouched.

When we came from Pellamera, i'afa my half brother was already married and had his

house, so he too built his house alson mine and my father's. There was another relative

also that came with us from Pellamera to Garkida. This man is the son of my father's

sister. That is my father is his un ce. This man had his house near ours.

There were two wives my father left /Yangasa who was the mother to Bata, Kobathli

and Abagana with Yangasa who was the mother to Miafa, already married, Sida and Bilari.

mAf I told Mafa to'marry'the first Yangasa, mother to Bata so that I could "marry"
^- ---- --
his mother this was so that if he had wanted to have the "marriage" as a sexful marriage

and not just a guardian marriage. tut he refused, and to me it did not matter which he

took since none was my mother and moreover I wasn't interested in a sexful marriage with

my father's wife. Mafa then "married" nis mother and I "married" the other woman.

I married a third wife Dalipa. This I married without claiming first that is I

married her, even though not as someone's wife, she was matured when I courted her (N.B.

writer: the marriage was like the others I did in myr former work on marriage in buraland

apart from the claiming part).

By this time, Mwajim my second wife had given birth to two girls, Nkwalaku and


I was then having three real wives with my father's widow and seven children in the


My first wife Kwamtim got sick and died. ie did not know the cause. I cried like

a little baby over her body. I did not care whether people were looking at me or not.

I really felt her death more than I did my parents. Anyway, it wasn't in bura custom

that a man shouldn't cry over his wife's death, and even if was, I would still have cried

because she was really a good woman.

I was responsible for her death ceremony. Her on-y son Wamadza used to sleep

in my own room then.

Not up to a year iMwajim got sick and died also. I was responsible for her death

ceremony. There was a hut and I allowed the two girls Nkwalaku and Kubili to have it

as their room. ihey cooked their own food. I did not allow them to live with

any of the remaining two women in my compound. I just did not like it. The four of them -

Wanandza, Anjikwi, Nkwalaku and Kubili used to farm with me and I give them the food stuff

they need. They were all attending school. j i

I then claimed a young girl of thirteen for a wife. I lived for some years just like

any other man that is just farming and doing odd jobs in the dry season.

There was no market at Pellamera, it was too small to have a market. Hinbng

was bigger than it and we never had a market there, up to today there is no market

at Hinhg. Only large villages had market. At ta-at time the markets were at Biu,

Garkida, Mamaina and one at Hwanaland. We even used to go to Bornau Maiduguria for

marketing our goods.

There was a time when I had wanted to go to "aamaina MJarket to sell some guinea

corn this was when I was still at Pellamera and seeing that it was very far I don't

know the distance but it was obviously more than twenty miles. To carry the guinea

corn on my head was out of the question, it was too heavy for me. ^nd more over it was

so hot you could hardly bear to walk bare footed. My head was as if it was being

roasted. I asked one of my friends to help me with his donkey which he had bought from

Maiduguri, but he refused saying they were very tired after the journey they had had

from Maiduguri. I then decided to carry only a little guinea corn and sell it to buy

donkeys so that I can come and carry the rest of my guinea corn to the markey. The

money I needed was for my coming marriage to Yangasa the girl I had claimed.

I sold the guinea corn and bought a donkey. 'y this time, my wife Dalipa had

given birth to a baby girl, Wufu.

I then married Yangasa. ut to my disappointment this girl was very trouble some

and bad mannered. Mainly this was because she started to think I was an old hag

compared to her age, but I was still very strong and didn't really appear very old.

She got pregnant and she became restless in the compound. I used to beat her.

She would abuse me all the time. I egen once took out a knife trying to kill her, but

seeing that i was still a strong man and wo .ld face inuch punishment and judgement from

people that is if I were old, I would have been regarded as too old to think or

reason out, but as a man in his prime I should not follow my anger to its end. So

I left her alone.

She did not give birth to this baby in my house. ohe had been chasing other men -

was having an affair with other men. She married one of them and they ran away to Hwana

land. In buraland, eloped couples usually run to far away villages where tracing them

out would be very difficult.

Before then, Mafa and the other relative living near me had died so I migrated from

my house near the fwahar hill to the Gunjugu "Zara" just the first house in that Zara.

Mafa's mother had died earlier and his brother was married also his two sisters. The

same of the relative, his family had disintegrated and he died of sickness. I did not

leave that area because of their death, but because I was the only one there. The other

neighbours had moved nearer to the center of Garkida. My house being alone was easy for

thieves, chickens were caught from my house in the day time when we had gone to the

farm. Someti ;es even guinea corn from the grainneries are taken by the thieves.

When I started to build the house in uunjugu, I did not have to make new roofs.

I brought down the roofs from furahar to the new house.

When Yangasa got married to this other man, I went to claim my dowry at Kwajaffa

because that land was under Kwajaffa rule. When she gave birth to the baby, a boy she

named Bukar, they said I should go and claim my child, but I refused and told them that

they can keep him and when he is big enough they can bring him to me, or if he die they

should bring his corpse to me for burial.

I then spent the dowry, but after a few months, she rejected that man and came back

to me saying she wants to marry me again. I told her to go back to the man she ran

away with. Her parents and some elders begged me to take her back, so I had to. 'ut I

hadn't any money to pay back the dowry.

The donkey I bought to use for selling guinea corn in order to obtain her first dowry

had given birth to many more donkeys which I've been selling out to people, now there

were three of them. I then sold them to obtain the dowry for her again. I sold also

some of my goats and some guinea corn and paid the dowry to the husband she ran away

with to Hwanaland.

My son Wamamdza got married and went to Saminaka as a cook. He did not succeed with

his schooling. Anjikwi also did not succeed but he went to a driving school and is a

driver with the missionaries here in Garkida.

We stayed peacefully with Yangasa for about six months when she started to have

affair with other men outside again. She was pregnanted by someone, but had an abortion

and was nearly killed during the process. The women here have different herbs given

to them by witch doctors for abortion.

I did not mind tllis attitude she was adopting again and we had a baby boy Bata. Next

we had a bab girl Mangawa, and Yangasa got terrible both as a mother and a wife. She

was very troublesome and had affairs outside like a harlot.

She later left me and married another man here in Garkida. I asked for my dowry

and it was paid to me. Actually she took me to court and asked for divorce which I agreed

to. Now I have no business with her. H3r three children are here with me in my house.

The eldest, Bukar, is in primary seven.

I am now too old to have more children so Mangawa is my last born.

When 3uwang died, my sisters husband, she went and lived with one of his sons, Kofur

Mwada. She had only two girls Mwajim and Mbadzi who are both married, but she could
not go and live with them. Ohe has to do or rather live where it suited the Mziwi
Mshelia the clan for Suwang her husband.
At Kofur's home, she did not like it very much and moreover Kofur did not
care where she lived or how she was living. ihe then asked if she could come and live with
me which they agreed.
When she came, I built a room for her and a kitchen, partially separating her from
my own compound. he has got very bad eyesight. Now she has eyelenses, and I too need
some, but mine is due to old age and a little bit of sickness.
In my house now I have my father's widow Yangasa without children all grown up
and married, My third wife Dalipa without children but grandchild only daughter married,
and my sister with the three children my fourth wife Yangasa left.

; a p lk o LVjood

^ \ ^ (\ Ooy^^


When Yangasa was still with me, she was living in the room I am now and I was in the

cham. But now the cham is empty.

Bukar and Bata sleep in my room. Apart from one grandchild that stays with her Wufu's

son I have with me Wanadza's son. he left his parents at Sanunaka to come and school

here in Garkida. Not that there was no school there but school at home is easier and

the method here at home is better because students pass into secondary schools easily

than they do when they school outside.

I used to have big farms, but now since I am old, I farm only the small area where

my former house was near the fwahar hill. I get only about three bundles of guinea

corn. My wife Dalipa has her own farm. his amount of guinea gorn is quite small normally

a man gets about sixty to seventy bundles. dut my sons provide me with little bit of

money to buy guineacorn in the market. My father's widow Yangasa is a blind woman

now. Ohe does not farm or do any work apart fom cooking her meals. Her children sends

her money and also she gets outside help.

About my religion, since when I was small I was an idol worshipper. this was

because there was no any other religion and also that was what our forefather's were. There

were fulani moslems but we did not understand their religion nor did they tell us.

The idol I have in my house belongs to my grandfather. He got it from the main hoptu

in Garkida the haptu for hunting at the foot of fwahar hill. Haptu Wajafa he took

only a small piece of the broke pieces of the main haptu and made his own with. I don't

know the details of how his haptu was made, but it is regarded anf feared by others since

he was a witchdoctor.

'This main Haptu Wajafa was found there where it was and hunter's fond that when

they consult that haptu, it blesses them and they catch alot of game. When they came from

hunting the hunters usually collect the horns of the game they've caught at this haptu aid

burn it there.

I myself had gone to this haptu during the days when used to go hunting and I

was blessed with many game. I don't know why the horns are burnt there. Usually when

consulting the haptu just kneel down in front of it and beg it to bless you with game and

that's all.

Well, when my grandfather died, my father packed his haptu the haptu is not famous,

that is, it is not known widely for any purpose. When my father died also, I claimed the


Haptu's do not need any continuous prayer or ceremony like the christian's or moslems.

3ut just once a ear depending on its strength. Most haptu's have ceremonies yearly,

but some are twice a year.

My own is yearly. "~hen I was small, the ceremony involved the .whole family. That

is, when food and meat sacrifice for haptu and is known at haptu food,- has been

cooked, we the children get our share in it. Ihe women in the compound get some of the

food also. Now it is only me and my sister that eat the haptu food. Ohe cooks it for

us. 'y wife does not eat it because she is a christian.

In the olden days, a woman does not have to worship her husbands haptu. She has

to respect it that is she shows fear of it but she can have her own haptu inside her

room. 'his is very common in ouraland and in some case when the woman's haptu is

tough, it is the husband that respects her own.

I do not really think there is any gain or faith in worshipping of haptu, but it

is a real thing. That is I don't have faith in it, but I believe and fear it. Four

years ago I decided to stop worshipping my haptu. 'y then it was in my former house near

the fwahar hil.. I joined christianity and was attending the church regularly. I

used to enjoy their worship and the sermons. But whenever I go to the church, in the

evenings I have visions, and nightmares. I see lions trying to devour me, snakes, vultures,

hyenas and see myself in flames or in deep black oceans. iilso I used to get sick. ny

Sunday I go to church I have such nightmares but when I don't go I don't have them.

I know that the church is better and I really want to continue but the haptu won't

leave me alone. I would now go on worshipping it actually what I do is just observing

the yearly ceremony, and any year that i do not get a chicken I simply leave the ceremony

until the next year. When jump a year nothing happens (N.B. writer: the ceremony is

like I wrote on haptu ceremony in my former work).

When I die, my haptu would either be thrown away taken back to Wajafa or

buried with me. I am the last in my family who would worship haptu. My children

have grown up in the time when haptus are no more worshipped, I am not stopping them

from worshipping haptu, but they themsleves realize that it is useless and foolish.

None of them is interested in it now.

I do not really have a lot of friends now. I used to have friends with me when I

was still strong and used to go to drinking houses. I still do drink but not always

due to difficulty of money.

I started drinking when I was born. Beer was the first I tasted when I was born.

It is the custom that when twins are born, a boy is given beer to drink as his

first food before he is breast fed. Uirls are not given some. actually I do not know

why it is so, butaybeitis the sign of malehood. VH A : /A 7 -g X/, A

Now I am am resigned man.5 have no more interest in things apar from a drink with

old friends an. a little chatting with my grandchildren. do not feel I've left any

thing undone in my life which I should have done nor do I regret anything). L am only

a sick man now but not a sad man. I still feel strong, though but I don'tthink

I would be able to do anymore farming as from next season because my eyesight is decreasing


Talking of wars, I do not really like wars. "hen ever there was a war like

the Kilba wars I just used to hate it very much, anyway, I was still very small by

then and was not invloved the war itself.

We did not used to have Christmas or many other holidays and ceremonies as we do

today. The ceremonies are not village wide and their are no fixed ones which are done

repeatedly. We do have a way of counting our months. "re start the counting days when

we see a new moon and it ends when the moon disappears. "Fe did have twelve months

in year, but our fifth monti would not coincide with today fifth month because in our

case we start co nting not at the same time as they e.g. we cut _,uinea corn in the eighth

month which is in November.

We did have seven days in a week. Since there was no Christianity, we did not really

observe Sundays. Anyone that goes to farm on this two days has his hoes seized,

and given back after seven days.

(N.B. writer: This is all he has to give about himslef and those that involve


Twin Acts

(N.B. writer: this small part is explained by a bystander, friend to Macher's


There are two types of twins in buraland. One is Marama twin this twins have thin

longish faces and they are called iiarama twins because towards a village called ^arama,

there are two thin twin rocks and is regarded as the abode of twins.

The other type of twin is the Gabn twin these have round concentrated faces and

this name is given to them because in Gabn have such f:ces.

Before a woman gives birth to twins, she usually sees the sign of it, though

some women might not know it. In my case, I've given birth to eight sets of double twins

and two single twins. The twins usually try and choose a patient woman who would not

mind whatever they do to her. "hen choosing they would do it in such ways:

(N.B. writer: She is going to describe her experiences)

"hen I got married, I used to go to farm with my husband. He is a single twin and

so was his father (N.B. writer: single twin means a person who is believed to be a twin

but is born alone and normally may show the behaviour of a twin).

Whenever I come back from the farm, I would see my calabashes scattered about the room -

in buraland there were no metal dishes, only calabashes which a woman collects in a

bigger calabash, about thirty of them she has. Also we had iiud dishes, like clay

pots without the top half.

I would just exclaim that, "oh my, who on earth has done such to my calabashes," and

I would pack them up withjuit shouting.

Next day when I come back again from the farm, I would find my grinding stone broom

scattered in the room. I would just keep quiet and sweep it out and ,et a new one.

(N.B. writer: In those days, guinea corn being the only food in buraland and there 1ing

-' I

-.--- ..,----- -

no grinding machines, every woman had a grinding stone on which she grinds her corn ans

also other things like groundnut for porridge and pepper. 1he stone is elevated on mud

raisedhigh, and the ground powder goes into a pot sunk into the raised mud.-)

Then I got pregnant and I gave birth to a set of twins, two of them. I performed

the twin duties (N.B. writer: refer to my work on twins).

These twins were both boys, but from the start they showed they were not going to stay.

Usually most twins just like to go about, they come to this woman and then they die and

then go to another woman.

I took them to a witch doctor and he told me that these are grown ups who have come

away from their family just to suffer me. 'hey have women and children and wealth but

they came just for a walk into our world. I told him about the calabashes and he said

that they were the ones that did it. If I had shouted ans cursed, they wouldn't have

cone to me, they would say I wouldn't treat them properly when they are born, so they

would go away. Usuallywhen they are testing your character, they stay between the

roof of your room and the wall.

Well, the two of them died after some days.

The next set came in a stranger way. When I and my husband are going to our farm,

we would come across snakes. Not only one but sometimes about seven before we reach

the farm. None of them harm us. When we are in the farm we would meet scorpions under

every earthful of hoe we dig up. My husbandd would cock his head and say that he heard

someone calling him. He would curse someone I do not know I've said he is a single

twin. He then told me that this is an act by twins. When I find untolerable we go home.

And on our way back we would meet snakes again. his went on through out the

rainy season. And at the end I got pregnant.

I gave birth to twins again. They got sick and we went to a witch doctor who

told us that they are not ready to stay.

Ily husband came and started shouting at them. He accused them of punishing me.

He said "You grown ups, with your houses and children, why do you come to innocent

people like us. You better go away, we don't like you." But this was to be a bad

lick for him, because when he went to farm with his fkineds usually when a man is making

a new farm he buys beer and asks his friends to come and help him. 'hat is they make a

new farm for him. And it is on such new farms that milli is pla nted (N.B. writer:

remember that all witchdoctors use this v.ry much and also performing the twin duties

this has to be used. It cannot be planted on old farms because it doesn't do properly).

Well, when they had finished and my husband was coming back home he became blind at

once. ne had to be dragged home. "hen he came home he spoke to the twins. He begged

them and with the help of a witchdoctor, the twins restored his sight still on the

same day. But they died within a week.

Usually when you want your twins to die you just shout at them alwyas. J2ake banging

noises at them. When you come back from the farm you drop you hoes with a bang near them,/

All t is would show them that you don't like them and they would get sick and die.

Or else when they are born and you don't perform the twin duties, their people

from the spiritual land would vome and say to them, "have they received you happily, where

are the things that they have given you? ome let us go away." 'hen the twins would

die. But if you had performed the twin duty, they would show off their things and their

people spiritual would say yes, they are good people and the twins wolld not die.

I did have other twins but all died. I had single twins also.

My sister here has six single twins (N.B. writer: She also would describe hers).

My first born is a single twin girl. I know she is a twin because I had a vision-of

two girls always before I gave birth to her. And when the was born she had a peculiar

mark on her body. his mark must have been made on her by her former parents when she

died. Usually when twins die at a young age, some mark is done an them, and when they

are born again, they appear with the mark on their body and they won't die again. Apart

from this mark my daughter showed signs of twin acts, whcih is usually stinging people

with scorpions. They bring the scorpions from their ears.

The next two were boys both. Usually you would see that they won t like each other

very much. All of them have a mark on their body.

he -ost peculiar among the six are my last two, a boy and a girl. Before I gave

birth to them, my son being a single twin could see with spiritual eyes and he would

always say "Mother, do not accept them. Here they are. Don't take them, oh Look

you've taken one of theg, I told you not to take them: and I got pregnant. 'hat is,

the twins were waiting under my roof and my son saw them. But only one got into my

womb. The last one is a girl. I always had visions of her before she was born. Ohe

was like a fulani woman in my visions. Sometimes she wo.ild just stand by the road

side with a wrapper over her head. I would chase her away, but she would always follow

me. I got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl with a mark on her stomach. When she

was at the age of two years up to seven she used to put her wrapper on her head as I

saw her do in my visions.

(N.B. writer: I asked them that have they ever asked these children why they are

troublesome or why did they punish their former mother by dying and then to be born again.

She said she had and the children appeared ignorant of all this. "hey just deny it and

say it is all nonsense.)

End of Macher's Interview

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