Title: Mallam Inuwa Mshelia : his own biography (1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095980/00001
 Material Information
Title: Mallam Inuwa Mshelia : his own biography (1973)
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Mshelia, Tam
Cohen, Ronald ( Compiler )
Copyright Date: 1973
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095980
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

r. NEhelia

Informant;: allam Inuwa Nshelia
Age: I 63 years old
Vopieo Bis own Biography

I was bxmn by Bura Parents Badt Davi and Daliuga
Kubili in 1910 at Garkida. Ir parents' house was in
Kutanular near the Wahar hill.
It was the year I was born that some Tarfa men Babu
and alwami were caught and sent to prison after the
Fulani war in Oarkida.
I am the first bozn of my parents. My father married
only ay mother at first, he bad wanted to marry another but
that woman got married to someone else.
Ny parents did not suffer anymore than natural child
birth difficulties on me. Usually in Buraland, if it s a
normal child birth,- for boys they are named Anjikw~ they
are later given proper names for girls they are named
Kubili. I don't know why they choose these two names.
Today, some women still called Kubili even though they are
big. everyone must have another name apart from Kubili and
I was breast fed for two years and all this time I was
carried on the back. I went through my first two years as\
any other normal Bura child. I wasn't siek apart from colds
and headaches.
During this tim when I was carried on the back, my
mother goes to her own farm guinea orn, groundnuts, beans -
where she lay me on a rapper while she farms. She did tt
even when I was able to work that is up to the age of about
/four. Thiss s because I had no one to look after Sm at home.
But every Bura woman must go to the farm with her child who
is still breast feeding, She is the one to feed him. I
I was called with the name Anjikwi for long up to the
age of eighteen when I became Inuwa.

2. Mshelia

1Y father's mother was living with he because she was
blind. ~ parents feed her. She is the only one that stays
at home while my mother takes me along to the farm.
Iy father had sch big guinea corn farm, that even up to
his death time he did not need any one's else. People adm.-ire
his faras. People did not do any harm to hiwbecause of this -
but he did lost his eyes before oldage due to sickness- ftlaria.
That Zara was m stly of Mziwi Nahelia and everyone felt
safe. When boys are of age to marry, they build their house
still near their father's house. shis is for the father to
help them in time of need if they get into trouble. Just
ordinary woman d mantrouble.
All I can remember of sickness during age one to four is
the removal of am epiglottis. I couldn't swallow food due to
effe*tien of the epiglottis, so I was taken to the expert -
they do this for nothing, they just did it for help. He took
ane out with a flat stick and a metal in the shape of a
pointed knife. sally, when 'a child epiglottis is taken out,
he is given appetizing food chicken meat to start him eat-
ing so as not to loose health.
We had lots of goats seventy and when I was not of
age to go herding, patrineal relatives who were in my father's
house used to help herding taema Usually in those days, when
two IBra brothers get married and one does not have children
the other would allow him to have on or two of his children to
help. You then bring them up as your own children. The child
may kaow his own parents and in Bura land patrineal relatives
compound is the same as your -own house and you regard them -
actually call and respect them as your father's.
I started herding early because I was very interested and
moreover I had no brothers ahead of me to do the job except
/ these relatives. Atstfirst I started following them to the bush
and I would be the one to control starring goats when goats

t lrahelia 26

are all and tired, e. sait down and the goats hey the eud,
"but some do go en eating more grass and usually aander away
Also at this time I was the one tDooae home a8l a e0lleet
our food., ..: ,
When. I was about 7T ywacr old, was left alone to look
after the goats.
I experienced no serious children quarrels, only the
usual ones. *That is quarreling over aaybe a greas hopper -
ehildren go after them wand eateh them to *oast or try if many.
I did not find herding difficult t .Just eeause I was alone,
this is so beCause immediately yue get of the hou se with yoWa
goats, you omabine them with other children' a ow and go off
to yoew herding fields wbare yOt have your king and he goes
and sit on his throne made of stones by us. w e first follow
or let the goats e'at grass. This s e diftiult beoas re we
have to sew they di.ont get into other farms or other people ts
herding ground Also there ar ae jackals and they comegand
eateh goats. When we see one we shout and chase them away.
Sone might be looking for snakes or vats for us to eome and
roast when it is time for eating.
When the goats arer full and we are hungry, some would
have gone and brought our food, we then retire to sheds and
sit near the kings throne the foods are brought to him and
he choose the ones :e likes and he lets us have the rest.
he foods are usually, guinea corn food with vegetable
soup, or porriAge. There was no rice yet in Bura land rxie
pame after the Europeans hadi been in Garkida by the Hausa
traders in Boi, Garkida. The king eats alone, but we the "est
sit round every dish and eat together. The king has nothing
like a queen, this is because only a few girl go herding and
/ male4*feale relationship didnIt develop.
We bring the goats back at about 4 o'clock. In those
days goatee were not tied as it is done today, Today they

!4, hhella 27b

are tied at home because children do not go herding because of
school and moreover there are no more bushes due to farms.
Instead, the grass is brought to them at home by the children
after school or by the parents themselves. Also the number of
goats has decreased* hey do not get chance of mating to
produce as they do in the bush when mixed.
We were also interested in having fights with other
Zaras when herding. A tines, your zara, you then fight in the
bush. Also we mny ambush them and a fight would start. We
use rods and whips. You might also decide on a day to meet
each other and your king would go on encouraging you to be
bold and to prepare yourselves in ready for the fight.
We advance them staging braveness songs. We are not
organized, we just try and get any of them and hit them. If
some one is hurt, a bigger boy might help him with the wou*lA.
Not very much notice is taken on wounded ones, we just fight
on and try to hurt them
One group might run. mas away or we might just get tired
and stop.
I continued herding till the age of sixteen when Dr,
Helsen came and asked me to be his houseboy. I then had other
junior brothers to look after the goats. I used to go to work
and then come back and go and meet my brothers in the bush.
After herding you go to the farm for two house. You go to
your father's and not mothers farm. A boy follows the father
and girls follow the mother. A times, when a family has only
girls, one may go and help the father, or if only boys, one may
go and help the mother, Usually it is the favourite that is
School had started but I didn't go early because of herd-
ing. A friend used to come and teach me what he had learnt at
School. I was very interested but had no chance.
Sy work at Helaen's house was to prepare the table for
meals and bedw. I also did the eieaning of rooms. I was paid


T. Nehelia 28

six pence a week and used. to savwe some, I collected this and
we. bought a cow with it. A big bull costted A1 5/-. There was
nothing to buy fcr' us. hat is a3aot everything we needed at
that time, we had at home guinea o.rn, soup ingredients,
things to eat like cassava, groidnut cakes and nuch were all
at home. We took the cow bought, to the Fulamis Ax Bot
darkida to herd tor us. he ow was Sust bought in case we
need it for use foia future banting. e did not pay thea
but the milkn is for them. the young born by the cow is still
ours and not theirs.
I started sch ol at the age of sixteen and a' half No
one took me to school. X Just went. Our parents did not like
the idea of schooling for their children because they thought
it a waste of t1me.
There was no school fees intact they begged us to come.
When we were in class, if there is a bush fire, we used to run
out of elass without permission to run for rats and also
rabbits. If it is market day, we are sometimes allowed to
leave and go to the market, if not we go without permission.
Though there was no fee for me, some did hoe for money, they
were paid six pence a week and two pence a week was taken Qut"
as their fees.
We were taught in Bam, The Eiropeans had already leArnt
Bura. They were taught by some interpreters Gerba. They
thought us A 3 0 a ba cha da ea fa we learnt first the
vowels, later the consanants.'
I go to school in the morning and continued with my job
at Gelser 's house in the evenings No more farming or heading
for me. My mother did not want me to continue with the job, so
that I could help with house duties, but I refused to liste to
hear. father said nothing to me about it. But I do go to
faim on holidays, father' rm

77 77-----

I never had any serious sick3ess up to the age of
seventeen. ,y parents had no sickness during this tie also.
By mly time, the school was already big and we were about
twenty-five in my class Piromotion was yearly and you have to
pass before you are promoted* We continued schooling very
long. There was, no end to schooling, you just go on.
Zn my case, we that were in higher classes would come
early in the morning and attend classes from 7 a.m. to 9.30 a.a.
After break we come at 10.30 a.m. and teach the junior elasses.
If it wasn't for Mr. Btingr another missionary we would
have sti.l been schooling today. They really kept us long in
school. But they paid us for the teaching we did. There was
no reason why we stayed long. The school just did not end or
Mr Sitingr then introduced a teacher's course for us, It
lasted two years but I did only one year and passed ny certifi-
The school year was from August to April. This was to
give us the opportunity of helping our parents with farm, The
certificate given us was by the missionaries. I started
proper teaching not half time and was earning twelve ahil-
lings asi pence (1 2 6d) a month. his is more than twenty
pounds (20.) today, This is noticeable in the prices listed
below:- 1930 1 1975
Three measures of guinea corn id 6s
Beat for family 5d 10I O
One goat s9:6d I 2
Cow 1:15s:-d I 60

In those days, ene caass belongs to one teacher and you
teach them every subject.
I was already arrmei while I was teaching. I was married
in 1952. That was the year my father died. He died of a boil.
He wasn't taken to the p eital because we were not quite used
to hospital.

T. Nshelia 30

My first wife was someone's wife that is, they were
not yet married, but she has already been promised to him by
her parents and he has performed some of the duties reiqUred
for hi to do as part of marriage duties.
I used to meet her in the market but I don't go to their
house, I sent people. Tis is because she is not my wife. I
send them to discuss when she would be caught by my relatives
and brought to me. No one knew it, not even her parents, only
my relatives. On the decided date, we went and hid near their
house, she then came and met us. We took her and hid her in
my patrineal relative's house Suang. You don't bring her
to your house because they would be easily found out. Her
father found out that she was missing and he and his relatives
went to Suwang's house. My relatives streset patrilineal -
knew not that they were coming, but luckily for us, we were all
in the sam zara. They gathered and helped. The girl's
parents asked for where the girl was hidden -n which room -
they tried to get at her but we stopped them. They got tired
and went away. I later paid back her husband's dowry and I
became friends with her people. I went to Chad with Helser.
I lived with her in my father's house. y father was
already dead but my mother was leaving with Nazau Bata her
brother. I took over my father's farm. e had two daughters
with my first wife. It was tree but one died of sickness.
/ We farmed the same farm with her. Actually my farr was famed
by labourers under supervision of my wife.
I was transferred to Narama. I aBBra taught there for two
years. I Ulved in a teacher' s quarters. Ny farms in Garkida
were farmed still for me by my brothers' aid. I had no farm at
Marama. I then came back ,to Gearkida and continued teaching.
We had a guarrel and she took me to court my wife in
those days, when a man saeps his wife, he is charged five shil-
lings (5e) for every slap. I paid off that money and also paid
./ .
/' i

tI T i M helia .

five shillings (5s) for a divorce. At this stage, I was also
looking for another wife.
The divorce pledge was not refused. She went back to her
parents. Our children were left with ay mother. It was not
a must that any of the parents should take the children. Any
could take them, but it is usually the father. In ay ease my
wife did not ask for them and I didn't ask her to.
I then married my second wife Telwa. There was no
trouble in this marriage, it was gust a normal Bura marriage.
At school, I continued my job as a teacher, I also had
y farms still and was farmed partly by labourers. We con-
tinued farming the same farm with my wife. We were both
christians, We don't go to farm on Sundays.
In 1941, I got a leg (sickness) sore feet. I was treated
in the hospital bu t itnever finished skin disease, Every
year it moults. According to doctors, they said it was a fly
that caused it. But witchdoctors say it was the work of wicked
people those who are Jealouse or did not want to see me well.
I was later transferred to Kwajafa. That was when my
fourth born was on the back Just a year old. Schools were
shut down in 1942 and I had to come back to Garkida.
The aissioneries saw that teachers were enjoying the
money given to them towards riches: and not to help the poor or
use it towards God's way in a religious way.
People who had children in school were happy because
their children could now go and farm. We could not understand
what the government said or did we know no official reasons,
and it was the whole 0,.BX. that was shut down.
I went back to fa going some went to other towns like
Maiduguri, Jos, or Yolal. They travelled on foot to these
I was 3ater given 'a job as a printer in the mission
terms. here in Garkida. :I was paid eighteen shillings (18s) a

T. 'b~hella.

month. y wife gave birth to my fifth born Pindar she is,
the second born with my wife Telwa, the first Naomi. But the
fifth in the sense with my other wife's children.
School: opened in 1944 and I went bask to teaching. At
this time, teaching method was improving. Children attended
school for seven years and then they go to secondary school.
I asked for a pay of 1 a month and told them if not I would
go back to printing, they agreed because there were no teachers.
My wife gave birth to a baby boy in 1945 Samson. I
taught for four years and in 1948, I started driving. The van
was for the missioneries and I was the one who asked for it.
The salary was more than the teaching line's. The van was
used for packing stones, said, or goods. In 1948, my wife
gave birth to a daughter Lucy. My children were all born in
the hospital,
During the birth of Samson, being the only boy after two
girls, I was so happy in those days and even today, girls
were not regafted much by mea in that they can't continue with
your Nyarbwa, I had then promised that if my wife gives birth
to a baby boy, I would kill a ram before I set eyes on him,
and that I did.
The work of driving required more than my sore legs could
bear. It became painful again. I was then advised to go back
to teaching. I was afraid they wouldn't allow me back to teach-
ing because I had disappointed them when I wanted driving. With
the help of one of them missionaries I started teaching
agaiin n 1955. By then iy wife had given birth to two other
baby boys Habika in 1952 and Eziekiel in 1954. There was
Sno sickness or anything wrong all this time with any one of
the family.
I was than paid nine pounds (9) a month. I continued my
farming as well. I left my former house in Kutamular because
I had to be near my wooing place. This is still the house
an living in.
*f 'I

T, Nshe,1a

iJ wife gave birth to another baby boy Narnasseh in
1956, Later a girl Christiana 1960.
S Ny feet continued with a series of yearly pain -
usually in the rainy season. I always take it to the hospital.
In 1965, my wife gave birth to my last born Monica.
In 1 967, I retired from teaching. The required age needed
for retirement by the government was up.
I was getting too old to enjoy teaching children things
like P,BE I was pleased to retire and I wanted to devote more
time to my farm. I have Kuntu making to keep me busy. I have
made a few buls with which people were buried. I have also
made maine,
When I retired, there was a great send-off party for me
and a small biography of mine was printed in pamphlets.
This was distributed to people during the party. I was a
decon in our church here in Garkida since the 1950s.
I became a treasurer also for the church.
After retiring, I had continued my farming up to today.
I hate always achieved my ambitions. My hobbies during my
younger days was fishing, hunting and atheleties. Today I
am interested in travelling and would like to go places.

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