Title: Bura research: Tsahuyam by Salmanza B. Mshelia (typescript, 1974)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099271/00001
 Material Information
Title: Bura research: Tsahuyam by Salmanza B. Mshelia (typescript, 1974)
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Mshelia, Salmanza B.
Cohen, Ronald ( Compiler )
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099271
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Special and Area Studies Collections
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Full Text


List of Old Men

Katsalla Zamtia




The Genealogical Diagram is found on pp. 116 and 117,
typed pp. 38a and 38b.

I advise anyone reading these informations to read that
done by Midala before reading the rest. It is just because I have
described most of the traditional dress patterns and musical instru-
ments in this section.


General Description

Tsahuyam is a village west of Marama in Biu Division. It is sited on

an upland between rivers with a rounded mountain ( Gyima ) on its western

side. Presently, it has a small number of compounds as a result of transfer

of some people. In the past it was populated to the size of what a village

should be.

The village is divided into four sections (zara, singular; zaraire, plural).

As shown in the diagram over page (1) is known as Zarar Adamu. This man, Adamu,

has a cattle that is the main reason why he made his settlement outside the

village so that the animals may not bring any inconvenience to other people.

The place is also slopey and higher than the rest with good drainage which is

an ideal place for cattle settment (ciba). (2) On the diagram is know as

Zara Inuwa. This is the central part of the village where traditional distances

(dances?) are held under the big tree indicated.

Zara (3) is known as Zarar Midala. Here I just want to point out that it

was populated in the past but now only few compounds remain. Zara (4) is Zarar

Lawan. It's here that the ward head lives.

Surrounding the village are shrubs and few trees where the women gather

firewood. The two rivers (Mariya and Shaha Mariya (Mariya branch) are seasonal

but there are reservoir all along their course.


I /1/

7c^ z

I. 7 *^Yet^^-i~


The above diagrams (1), (2), (3) are the small, medium and large plan

of compounds respectively. Shisha as indicated in the diagrams are piles of

wood done by women, usually in front of their houses. The granaries are storing

guinea corn and groundnuts. The groundnuts granaries are usually made smaller

proportionally to the quantity. There is something about the large compound

that the house of the master is usually at the center. One thing I want to

point out about the fence is that I have shown it as a circle while in actual

sense some are eliptical and few are in square form.

The farm plots are in small patches which are on an average of two acres.


They have irregular shapes and are scattered all around the village. The soil

is brown with lots of stones which are made into terraces. For one thing there

is no law as to how farmlands are to be shared among farmers. Once someone

wants to clear a farmland he only has to bear in mind that he does not do it

close to a farm without the consent of the owner. There is one practice which

also brings problem when looking for a new farmland, and that is fallow. People

do leave their farms without cultivation for several years and if it happens that

someone else clears it for farming it will result into quarreling.

One person can have three or more patches of frmland not necessarily at

one place. On one patch of farmland several crops are planted. You can find

on a farm guinea corn, millet, groundnuts, beans, cucumber, etc., which are

locally found in this area. In lowland areas where fertile alluvial soil is

present rice, cassava and cocoyam are mostly planted. Pepper also is planted

around anthills and under large trees which are allowed to stand on the farm.

Cotton, another cash crop beside groundnuts is planted on a large scale on farm-

lands around the village and also within the village around compounds.

Greater proportion of all farmlands are given to guinea corn as a subsistence

crop, followed by groundnuts and cotton as cash crops. The rest of the crops

are grown on small guqntities for local use.

Other activities of the people beside farming is that they do keep live-

stock. Almost all men who are heads of families do keep sheep and chickens while

the women keep goats and chickens also.

There is one person who is having ciba (herd) as mentioned in the descrip-

tion but some of the men in the village have one or two cows which are either

with the man or with the Fulanis or other Bura people with ciba. Bura people

who have ciba do have their children as herders or at times they give to

Fulanis for herding and care.

The work on the farm is shared as follows:

The young and matured men do most of the clearing of new farmland though


women do take part but on small scale. Laborers are at times hired to clear

the land and also to weed. During harvesting of the carn the men are ones

who do the cutting of the stalks with a wide fun-like(funnel-like?) hoe while

the women help cutting the corn ears., Cassava is only grown by men while there

are no other distinctions in growing other crops beside those mentioned, be-

tween women and men both young and matured.

Tsahuyam consisted of a homogeneous group of people who were of one Dur

(Mshelia) in the past. Dur means clan as in the context. Other meanings as

(kind, type, tribe).. Durayeri means plural of Dur. But at the moment there

are two Duraine(Durayeri?) in the village. These are Mshelia who are the found-

ing group, and Yidawi who came later. Each of these Dur are of one nyarmbwa.

(Nyarmbwa means lineage as in the context. Other meanings, as door).

The Bulama (ward head) happens to be from the Mshelia group since in the

past to this day. There is a practice in Bura area that the first man who

settles at a place will not be the Bulama but will have a title as Thidima

while the person who came after him will be the Bulama. The first man who settled

at Tsahuyam was Yawulaka who died of smallpox still that year so his brother

by name Yakwi came and settled. He was then made Bulama and to this day

Tsahuyam is called Tsahuyam Yakwi after his name.

When we consider the question of shrine (milim, haptu etc.) in the village

we must first of all categorize them into two before dealing with those who

are responsible for them. First, shrines which are outside around the village

in form of trees and stones. This category is for the general use of the people,

not necessarily belonging to that village (Tsahuyam). The person responsible

for this category is Yabukar. He is the grandchild of Yakwi (the founder of

Tsahuyam), and so it is a sort of inheritance. He is the one in position to

know the secrets about these shrines. The second category is those shrines

kept in households. There is only one kept with Yabukar which is for the general

use of this nyarmbwa (it is called Haptu Nyarmbwa). In the olden days any ma-

* tured person could have his or her/milim but with the increased disbelief in


these idols only few old people are still in position (possession?) of them

these days.

Here is a brief story of Yamtarawalla.

It was believed that Yamtarawalla was a brother to the chief of Yerwa

who one time left his brother and came to Biu Area. He made his settlement

at a place around Mandaragraw northeast of Biu. He was a huge man I suppose

because the story went on to say that at one time he cut a bundle of thatch

which he could not pass with it between two mountains (Mount Goram and Mount

Ghishi). He was just able to take part of it home. The rest was left between

the mountains where lots of thatch are found this day.

Later on in life he performed a miracle by being the first to cook stones.

One day as he was preparing a roof with his children he put a pot full of white

stones on fire. He sent each of his children (except one) to check if the

stones were cooked but each time they came reporting that it wasn't even boil-

ing. He then asked the remaining child to go and check. He went and came

eating the stones like cooked eggs, which made Yamtarawalla'annoyed to see

his child of his equal.-', The child by name Marimita who left his father's

house to Asikina still that occasion.

Following this incident his wife one day heard him (Yamtarawalla) singing

which was strange enough to her.. She asked one of her children to go and see

what his father was doing, He rushed back to his mother and ported that his father

was sinking into the ground. She said it was rubbish because she has never heard

such, and so she asked him to go and observe carefully again. The boy reported

the same thing and she decided to go and see for herself. She was just able to

see his head so she quickly took a blade and cut his hair that was left out.

The hair was then the symbol of kingship and so her child became the first

king of that area.


Interview: 25/6/73 From: 7:35 8:45 A.M.

Mshelia Clan

This information is taken from Mr. Katsalla Mshelia. He was born around

1907 and got married when he was matured. He is physically tall and white

beard. He is a farmer. The interview was carried out when he was working on

his farm. There were many other people around but they did not take part in

the discussion.

The Origin of Bura From his observations of migration of people from

northeast to southeastward he guessed that Bura might have originated close

to the Kanuris. Secondly, he has neard from his grandparents that Bura ori-

ginated from places like Yawi, Kwagu. When I asked him as to how Bura came

to have this name he said he doesn't know. L

Dur He said dur means clan as in the context and other meanings as type, y

kind. When he was asked why there are so many clans he said this was caused

basically due to war. When it happened that somebody from a group of related

people committed a crime that would result to revenge, the rest of the people

in fear of the revenge would declare openly that they are no longer related.

That person would either stay and wait for the revenge or move to another land

out of reach of his enemy, where he would decide any clan for himself. Secondly,

when the population of Bura started increasing more clans are created. There

is no other method of getting membership in this clan than to be born from

Mshelia family.

This clan (Mshelia) is so vast covering almost all Buraland and so the

special occupations, skills and supernatural powers depends on each locality.

This nyarmbwa is specially known for their association with the Lake Tilla in

Kwaya Bura. The man told me that our ancestors were present when the lake basin

was dry, and the true story of how the lake came to existence is as follows:

He said the lake basin was a fine place for cultivation of such crops as

sweet potatoes, ntatwa (sweet hard crop produced under ground). It happened

one day that there were girls harvesting ntalwa in this place when an old woman


came around. She asked them to give her the ntalwa but only one girl with her

sister did respond. She then called the two girls aside and told them that when

they hear of violent strong wind they should not move but when they hear of weak

wind they should move quickly out of the depression. A strong wind came and all

the girls ran out of depression except the two sisters. But when the weak wind

came the two sisters moved out quickly while the rest laughed at them as being

foolish. Unfortunately, they didn't laugh enough before they found themselves

swalled in a body of water. It was then believed that the girls who were covered

by water changed into the crocodiles which existed in the lake.

That was why the people who belonged to this clan (in particular this nyarm-

bwa) don't eat crocodiles. Some thirty years back the crocodiles used to go to

peoples' houses to lay eggs because nobody kills them. It was believed that the

lake was used for curing leprosy, blindness and other diseases. People do come

all over the area, even people from other tribes e.g. Ngui, to be cured in the

lake, but when they come an elderly man from this clan must be the one to immerse

them in the water.

There was a heated argument about this lake between this clan aid Nggada

clan. They also claimed the ownership of it because they live around the lake

so it was divided into half between them.

The people of our clan were also famous warriors and it has been the main

reason for their migrations from one place to another. They used lali and affa

(bow and arrow respectively) during wars. They are also good farmers. The

last important thing is that they are well known for hakdza that is, the

practice of giving medicine to those who are sick, and to be able to tell them

what has happened in the past, and also to prescribe medicines for them against

things to come. In connection with this they have zol jang (a special rod be-

lieved to be given to them by God). This rod is used for asking God to send

down rain whenever there is drought during the wet season. It is also used in

burial of those who died of leprosy and lightning. No other person from another


clan can claim this clan except slaves, which is applicable to all clans. The

children of the slaves could be brought up in the adopted clan.

(?) When asked about the possible changes in the clan he said clan never changes

in its real sense but nyarmbwa do change with passing time. He illustrated it by

saying that to brothers of the same father and mother can develop into two nyarmbwa

but of the same clan. Take for example Sunkira and Asgu as the two brothers. The

descendants of Sunkira will have a closer relationship than to the descendants of


This clan was originated at Kwagu around Biu. Ie mentioned two men who were

our great ancestors. They were Yamani Wachikwa and Yawulaka. They were close

relatives of the Pabir, in particular the Emir so to this effect they were cared

for when in trouble. At one time the Emir told them to stay outside the village

so that their children may not be taken and sold into slavery. They later went

and settled at Hyema where their number multiplied. Trouble then started. One

of them by name (Chikda) got married to Minta Hwavi from other clans around.

Another man from their group pregnanted somebody's wife. Those people immedi-

ately started running after Chikda's wife and making fun of him during dances.

As a result of this Chikda shot one of them and escaped. The whole clan then

excaped during the night. Yamari Wachikma and his group went to Kwaya Bura,

another group to Piti and the rest to Kwamba.

Yakwi then left Piti and settled in present Tsahuyam. Later on some of those

from Kwaya Bura, Piti, and Kwamba came to Tsahuyam when they saw the place was

good. Other groups went to Tanga Raghi and to other places.

Informant: Katsalla Mshelia 3/7/73 From: 7:55 9:15 A.M.

The interview was carried out at the gate of his compound in the morning.

There were quite a number of people who were with us who interfered with our

discussions at times. Mallam Wandzama Dili was with us for the last half of

the period we spent and has contributed some points.

The relationship of our clan to other clans in the area has entirely changed


since the feeling of enmity with some of the clans have died out. At the moment

our clan is friendly with all the clans and we have the same social structure

and cultural practices. This clan is friendly with Gworom because they do

practice Hakdza. The friendship was initiated when they married our daughter

so that her children were brought up in our Dur. They learned the secrets of

our Dur, particularly Hakdza with Zol Jang. Hena also is friendly to our clan

because our people married their daughter and in addition to this they have Zol


There were two clans: Mbaya and Amaza who were our enemies in the past

but now we are at good terms. Mbaya as has been mentioned in the previous dis-

cussions, our enmity was initiated at Hyema because of one lady (Minta Hwavi).

Chikda engaged her and was later pregnanted by somebody from the Mbaya clan. In

those days it was an insult for somebody to pregnant your wife and at the same

time they were mocking him. During one great dance he shot one of them with

arrow who later died. This was the whole cause of the migration of our clan

from Hyema. Several other killings followed from both clans.- And that of the

Amaza Nggada was that they killed two of our people.

When our clan went to war they never asked any other clans for help because

they were good warriors. But they do collaborate with Kwari at times when they

go out raiding.

The present Dur head is Musa Kadala who is the oldest man in the clan.

There are also elders who constitute a number of old people who are approximately

of the same age but less than the Dur head. They did not do anything special in

the past. They were just farmers while few of them were hunters. Now their function

to the clan is that they act as advisors and also they are the ones who know

perfectly the secrets of our haptu and milim.

He told me that long ago our clan used to hold the title of Kachala (one

who leads during (wars?) similar to the commanding officer in the Army). These

people get their office as Kachala by being skillful during wars, and in addition


to know a wider geographical background of the area so that he can lead them thrQtgh

the right route to their enemies. The Dur head obtained his office just after

those who are older than he are dead. They do not perform special ceremonies

for putting in the office. He is being respected in the clan and people do take

advice from him. At times he may be the one to take care of the milim (Kudlagir)

or Haptu Nyarmbwa. His rights do not very much exceed those of a common person

in the clan.

The informant condemned the question of the Dur head's first night privileges

over brides at weddings long ago. He emphasized that such thing has never been

practiced in our society and he has never heard of it.

In this clan we have four nyarmbwas: Nyarmbwa Mangili, that is those at

Kwamba; Nyarmbwa Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi, that is those at Tsahuyam; Nyarmbwa

Ya sokta, that is those at Piti and Ngasam; and lastly Nyarmbwa Tilla.

The following list are the predecessors of the nyarmbwa heads:

1) Kwamba Kwarki, Salmawa, Sulki Yamta and Yamangili.

2) Tsahuyam Yakwi, Shtlim, Sulki, Miduku, Lawan Pagu.

3) Piti Sokta, Yadola and Kidapchara.

He stated that all settlements in the past were organized according to their

nyarmbwas. This is the main reason why the different nyarmbwas in our clan are

in separate villages. But things are changing now that settlement no longer

follows that order. They settle among other people while they keep their identity

and no other people can be absorbed into the clan.

The clan haptu and milim are Haptu Nyarmbwa and Kudlagri respectively.

Haptu Nyarmbwa This is a representation of milims which belong to our

ancestors and it can affect anybody in the clan if they don't take care of it

properly. It is the most important thing that bound the clan together because

they can differentiate themselves from other clans by considering Haptu Nyarmbwa.

They can also consult it when somebody is suffering from chest pain. The person

responsible for keeping it used to put kusa into it yearly and they do sacrifice

to it at certain intervals of years. Now the person responsible for it is Yabukar


Mshelia Tsahuyam. He is the grandchild of Yakwi, the founder of Tsahuyam. It

was handed to him because he is one of the old men left who knows how to take

care of it. His predecessors were Yakwi, Kisawa, Shalim and Miduku Samba. They

all belong to the same lineage with him.

Kudlagir This he said is a milim inherited from our great ancestor, Yamari

Wahikma. When asked how it came to exist he said he doesn't know. All he knows

about Kudlagir is that it is very helpful. It could help those who are in lack

of wives to get married. It is also interesting to know that it could help people

to be successful in their business. He made mention of hunters and students who

consult this milim so they could be successful in their undertakings.

He also made mention of other milims and haptus which are consulted by

members of the clan. Haptu Marama is one example. It is so famous just like the

Kudlagir. It is found in a mountain called Mount Morama. There are people who

are directors to strangers who want to consult it. He stated that if you visit

that place you will see plenty of things. Most of these things are working tools;

for example, hoes from farmers, arrows from hunters, pencils and books from stu-

dents and so on. The reason why they produce such tools to the haptu is that

they want the gods to help them in that particular occupation which involves the

tools. Other haptus are kept in the house individually while some of the milims

are groups of trees and stones outside the village which anybody can consult.

The predecessors of Musa Kadala, the person who keeps our Kudlagir at the

moment are: M Angili, Kwarki, Liawa Dika. They were also from the same lineage

with him.

The present religious denomination of the Dur and nyarmbwa is Islam. He

stated that Islam was introduced in his area some sixty years back. Initially

it was only at Piti and Kwaya Bura but they later on visited other villages

preaching that people should become Muslims. And it was through the introduction

of Islam that people started to practice circumcision for the first time in history

of this area. It was easily accepted by many people of our clan since it came

through members of our clan at Piti. They put into practice all that was required


of a Muslim. They pray daily and fast once a year. Their wives are kept at

home and they would not allow visitors in their homes except their close rela-

tives. They also practice the system of giving their daughters in marriage to

other Muslims without dowry.

There were mallams among the Muslims who go about preaching from village

to village. They built several mosques in various villages where the mallams

conduct the prayers. They usually pay visits to their Muslim brothers in other


From his observations he said the changes that have occurred in Islam are

so great. First they don't often visit their Muslim brothers as they have been

doing in the past. Most of them found that they need their wives to help them

on farms so as a result the question of purdah was stopped. To sum it all, their

practices of some of the Muslim ideologies and their attitude of discriminating

(against?) non-Muslims were stopped after they have tried it but without success.

S The spread of Islam in the past was so fast and often a whole village may be con-

S' verted but now it seems to be static. Not many mallams now go about preaching

1 ~i and we at times only hear of few people who are converted to Muslims and on the

other hand few of them do change to Christianity.

The informant stated that he was present when the missionaries first came.

He stated that it was about 32 years since they introduced Christianity. They

settled at Marama and often they would go out on horses to preach in the nearby

villages. There were few Bura people who could understand English and so they

played a vital role in translating English into Bura during preaching. Not long

after that they invited people to attend classes at Marama. When the people have

learned to read and write and could understand a little of English the work of

missionaries in spreading Christianity became easier because the people could

respond more as they hear it from people of their own tongue. He emphasized that

there was never a time tnat religious conflict was recorded in the history of

this area. There was total freedom of religion in this area so that in a family


you can find Muslims and Christians happily living together. There was no

restriction whatsoever on any of the religions found in this area.

1/7/73 The interview was started by 7:40 A.M. and ended by 8:45 A.M. The

interview was held in the house of the informant, Katsalla Zantimi. We have

Adamu Joko with us during the interview. He contributed very much to our

discussion; in fact, he was the one who answered most of the questions. Even

the questions answered by the informant were treated briefly because he was in

a hurry to go for a drink (mbal) beer.

The informant mentioned several of the traditional dress patterns for both

sexes. He said men used to put on dile which was a well-prepared animal skin.

Additional description of it can be checked on page 71, typed page 59. Secondly

he mentioned that men used to wear biangtang for covering their private parts.

Biangtang was usually made of cotton for boys and that made of skins were for

men. The description of biangtang also can be found on page 72, typed p.$T

He went on to talk of their (babe) shoes which he said were made of skins. The

skins used were those of cows and other big animals. Additional description

and diagram of babe (shoe) is found on page 73, typed page d4. When he treated

the traditional marks, his information was exactly like those described on

page 74, typed pageS-6. He also mentioned that the tradition marks for women

were the same with those of the men. The marks do not have specific meanings

but just to make their faces more attractive. And therefore nobody would stay

without a mark on his face. And in fact it was true because we can still see

relfections of it on the few old people left in the Dur.

The men as well as the women used to plait their hair. If a person happened

to have less hair on his head then he had to buy some from other people or use

black coths. He also told me the names of two parts which will be indicated

on the diagram. After plaiting the hair they used to rub animal fats and msha

(red earth) on it.


Diagram showing the shape.


(plaited hair
covering the ear)

He mentioned several changed in the men's dress patterns which he said were

due to the coming of the white people. He admitted that he cannot be able to tell

me exactly some of the changes. He said men have been wearing leathered cloths

for quite a long time before they invented the method of weaving cotton. Even

after the invention of cotton cloths(es?) some did not stop using leathered

cloths. The first cotton shirt that men started putting on was danchiki. A

brief description of it is on page 78, typed page S- and up to now we still see

people wearing it. When better clothes like bul, gowon were produced. Just

after this point the informant went on telling me the history of Bura and Pabir

relationship. He told me of the ill-treatment given to our people by the Pabirs

which I did not record.

The description of women's pre-colonial dress patterns is a bit different

from that of the men. Women did not use skins for their clothes except for their

shoes. It can there be assumed that they might have been using leaves for

covering their private parts before they started using cotton cloth. The in-

formant mentioned only two cotton cloths used by women in the past. One was

japta which was a cotton cloth made into strips of black and white. It was as

big as a blanket. The second dress was pishiku. It was just like japta but

it has loose ends. The informant concluded that it is difficult for somebody to

describe the modern dress patterns for both sexes. For the traditional marks

we see that not many people still do it. And men have totally refused to plait

their hair. These changes are due partly because of social changes ;and partly

because of men's


The past and present ways in which members of the Dur obtain wives.

In the past members of the Dur obtained wives by zhu mwala. That was the

system of courting the girl while she was still small. The first thing that a

man could do was to take two jabi and banjiwi to the girl when she was still

small. In addition to this he could take two huntu to her parents as sur zhu

mwala. The descriptions of jabi, banji and kuntu are found on pp. 73, 73, 83

respectively, typed pp. 56, 56, 62.

The man would also pay four kuntu as sur wul kutaki and two kuntu as sur

wul kuta mbwa and ten kuntu as mbal tida. These payments are all for per

parents. After this, what was required of the man was to satisfy the girl. In

connection with this he would be required to bring twelve jabi, twelve ausar

wilatsi, twelve ausar shahu, linduwa and midlir for the girl. Now he has com-

pleted all that was required of him except to bring two more kuntu as sur yu

mwala. That was to ask her parents that he would like to go with her. Finally,

he would just nka mwala. That was to send his friends and relatives to bring

the girl by force to his house.

The next even following this is Luksa. Luksa was a customary ceremony

carried out after marriage in Bura area. During the Luksa there would be plenty

of mbal for people to drink which would take up to three days. The first day of the

Luksa was called ninim. That day only young men and girls would be gathered to

enjoy themselves with music. The second day was called yir sambal. That was the

real day of the Luksa on which many people would be gathered. On that day the

bridegroom would slaughter animals for people to eat. People would also give him

gifts of material things like corn, cotton, kuntu, bean etc. There would be

music in the evening for girls to grind corn.

The third day of the Luksa was called vir buchishifa. There would be less

people left to finish with the remaining mbal and there would still be music.

The musical instrument played during the Luksa was gulam and tsintza. But people

soon discovered that this system of forceful marriage was the main reason for


some of the broken homes so parents allowed their daughters to choose husbands

for themselves. Another change which followed was right after the introduction

of money. They started using money in paying dowries for brides. First,when

a man wanted to marry a certain girl he would talk to her. If she did agree

then the man would give her (160/-) f1. as sur dlu kusar. At the moment they

have increased sur dlu jusar to N16. In addition to this the man will give the

girl N4 sur wadi (meaning betroth), cloths and women's adornment. He will also

buy kola nuts for the girl to distribute to her friends and relatives.

After this then the man will pay the dowry. He will give N25 to her par-

ents as sur pila ka tida ka mi ma (these are Bura words meaning, telling the

father and mother). The father will have a share of N15 while the mother will

have the rest of it. The next thing that the bridegroom will do it to

mbwanyaka (engage). It will also cost him a lot of money. He will buy clothes

like shirts, headties, shoes, earrings, necklaces. He will also buy about 600

kola nuts to be presented on the engagement day. When this is satisfied then

he will go for registration from the authority which will cost him N1.45,

N.75 for the district head, N.5 for the village head (Lawan) and N.2 for the

ward head (Bulama in Bura language).

Now the girl is confirmed as his wife and so anybody else who runs after

her will be liable to punishment. Cordial relationship between the bridegroom

and her parents continues and he will at times ask his friends to go and work

on their farms. In the past music was usually played during such workings

on the farm but now they don't do it.

The bridegroom will then send some people to bring the girl for him.

When the girl has stayed with him for some weeks then he will invite people

for his Luksa. He will also invite musicians who will start to play around

4:30 P.M. and it will continue in the night. In the past the main thing for

refreshment at such occasions was mbal (beer) but now we have porridge cooked

rice and food.


On this day the bridggroom will also slaughter four goats and a sheep for

people to eat, and the way the people will show him their happiness is to give

him gifts which will at times total over N40 cash. Others, especially those

who are closely related to him will give him clothes for his wife. It can be head-

ties, shirts, zanni or shoes. After Luksa, if the bridegroom has satisfied her

parents properly she will stay with him permanently.

The informant mentioned that the changes in the way of getting wives have

changed because of social adjustment to Western type and the introduction of money.

The informant however left after he finished with this question. So Adamu

Joro took over from here and we discussed the rest of the questions. Adamu

mentioned two major ceremonies practiced by this Dur. They are Luksa and Kurituwa.

He said that we have already discussed Luksa in the above discussion (p. 133,

typed p. 18) and so he can only tell of how they have changed. First there is

change in the number of musical instruments played at such occasions now from

those played in the past. In the past they had only gulum and tsintza while now

we have in addition to this ganga (drum) and yakadi (a two-stringed instrument

played with fingers). In the past they have mbal as the major thing for re-

freshment but now we have in addition porridge and cooked rice. Another major

change is that in the past they had only the traditional way of Luksa but now

with the introduction of religions we have got various other ways.

Secondly, we discussed kurituwa which is a Bura word meaning funeral. In

the past when an old person was dead they used to have grand dance after his burial.

Again on the 15th daywafter his burial people would be gathered for the kurituwa.

On that day there would be plenty of mbal (beer) for people to drink and those

who married his daughters would slaughter goats for people to eat. Those of the

family of the dead person invite musicians to play for people. They would be

dancing throughout that day and on the following day his wives would be declared

married to some of his relatives. The present ways of kurituwa are many.

Those who still hold to the traditional way as described above still do it


in that way. But because of the introduction of religions, those people who

have accepted either Christianity or Islam do not dance during kurituwa. In

addition to ganga (drum) and tsintza (xylophone) another musical instrument which

they call hubutu is played. It is a pot which they place its mouth against

the stomach when playing it. It makes a very nice sound and the musician also

sings along.

When I asked him about the titles we have in the dur he was unable to men-

tion one. But since I know of Bulama as a title to our ward head I asked him.

He told me that the Bulama of a village should always be a man because they

don't have confidence in women to rule. They respect him highly in the village.

He said ward head is obtained as an inheritance. His responsibilities are

connected to the village. He is the first person to plant tiksha in the village.

Tiksha is a name of a certain red corn planted mostly around compounds. It is

harvested earlier than the white corn just at the right time when last year's

corn is finishing and so most people plant it for its advantage as described


The Bulama also acts as a representative from the village to the authority.

He attends meetings called by the district head or the village head. He is re-

sponsible for warning people of anything going wrong in the village. And in

addition he is responsible for solving problems in the village and if it happens

to be difficult he will report it to the village head or the district head. In

the past the ward head had no salary but he receives some things from the people

which I can term as ward head benefits. These gifts were in form of mbal (beer)

or meat which were usually given to him on occasions like Luksa or kurituwa.

They called such gifts as mbalir di and kumir di. The underlined word is

Bura statement meaning meat for the village. The ward head does take care of

the village milim which can be just a group of trees outside the village.

Whenever there is something wrong in the village he will consult it and

make sacrifices to it. During the last two years the Native Authority has

recognized the importance of the ward head and he was given allowances proportional


to taxable people in the village.

The next thing we discussed is the titles connected to the household in

the Dur. He mentioned four titles connected to the household; namely, Salaki,

Mwala Wala, Mwala Miwa and Mwala Gaji.

Salaki is a title applied to the husband. He is responsible for building

the houses and making the fence. He has the highest power in the family and so

his words are mostly respected in the family. He is the one who gives permission

to any member of the family who wants to pay a visit to people. He is also

responsible for warning members of his family of anything which could affect

them. He takes care of them particularly when a member of his family is sick.

He can also help towards their feeding and clothing. The responsibilities of

Salaki are both the same for Salaki of a large family and Salaki of a small


The next three titles which we discussed are only applicable to large

families. Here I mean families with at least two wives. The titles are all for

the women in the family. First is the Mwala Wala. She is the first woman

married in the family and she is next in authority to the husband. She can also

solve problems in the family as well as give them warning. She takes the report

of everything going on in the family to the husband. She is also responsible

for informing other members of the family of any work that they are going to do

for the husband.

The next title is Mwala Miwa. She can be any of the wives in the family.

She is the most-loved woman in the family because of her character. She speaks

sweet words to the husband and always obedient to him. She does cook a lot of

nice things for the husband. For this reason other wives would hate her and so

her closest person in the family is the husband.

The third title is Mwala Gaji. She is the last woman married in the family.

She is responsible for cooking food for the husband when he comes home on journeys.

All other women consider themselves senior to her so that they take advantage of

sending, asking her to do something for them. So we see that the administration

in a family is a form of a government with Salaki as the head and those who follow


in authority. The above discussions of titles are the same for both the

traditional and for the present.

Adamu Joro was just able to tell me briefly of the installation of

Bulama and chief. Bulama he said is not obtained on merit but as an inheri-

tance. When the Bulama (ward head is dead his eldest son will succeed him.

After the death of the ward head the elders of the village and the village

head will hand over his stuff(staff?) to this eldest son. He will then decide

for himself a particular day on which he will invite people to dance for him.

On such occasions he will have to cook plenty of mbal and slaughter animals

for people to eat. That is all required of him and he will take over all the

responsibilities of his father. When a ward head dies there is one thing special

about his burial but all other activities involved are the same with an ordinary


In the grave usually dead bodies are laid on the mat but in the case of

(the ward head, his body is laid on the floor of the grave without a mat.) The

people believe that when they put mat under the ward head it will cover their

spirits which will result in more people dying in the village. This type of

burial of ward head is the same for both traditional and at the moment.

Next we discussed the installation of a chief. Here Adamu Joro pointed out

That he knows a littlelof the traditional installation of the Emir of Biu. In

the past, he said, when the chief was sick they don't give him medicine because

they believe that he was god himself. Also, nobody goes to greet him. His door

would always be closed and the only way that people could know that he was still

Alive was to tie a string on his leg and pass it through the door. The people

at times would come and pull it and when they feel somebody was pulling it back

it means he was still alive. When the chief was dead then somebody out of his

family would inherit the throne.

Before the installation he would go and take bath in Tsirakumi, a special

river. The blacksmiths were responsible for giving him bath in this water. At

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the riverside they would scatter benniseed and at the same time say certain words.

A stone would come out of the river where the chief would stand. According to

the custom they would beat him before giving him the bath and in return he would

beat them after the bath. When they returned home he would give them clothes

and he would be turbanned. After this everything of his father belongs to him.

It could be slaves, material things and his wives. He would then take over his

father's responsibilities and he was free to introduce his own ways of ruling.

When the chief was sick nobody takes care of him, as described above. But

when they found that he was dead, then they would open the door and take out

his body for burial. His burial would be quite different from that of an ordinary

person. In the grave they would place him as somebody sitting on a chair. His

buttocks would be placed on a metal stool and all parts of his body would be

supported with metal forks. The grave also would be filled with charcoal so

'/ that his body could always be in that position. It should be pointed out that

the grave of the chief would always be in a special place.

Here Adamu Joro was unable to carry on with the discussion because he

doesn't know the present way of installation of the chief or the burial.


General Comments

First the problems which I encountered. I live in a different village and

on several occasions when I visited Tsahuyam I never meet the informants. Even

if I meet them at times they were in a hurry that we had to rush through the

interview. Secondly, some of the informants do not elaborate enough on most

of the topics. I also noticed after the interview that their ideas are similar.

The informant is Badawi Mshelia. He is the younger brother of Midala Kumirmta,

one of the informants. He is just a little above 50 years of age. He has a

large family with his compound isolated outside the village. His present

occupation is farming. The interview was carried out in his compound specially

on the topic of Ndigar Nyarmbwa (that is, the way the clan was segmented into


He first informed me that the Mshelia clan covers two groups of people He

pointed out that when you meet two people both having Mshelia as their clan

it does not mean that they are related. The two groups of Mshelia are the

Mshelia KingngaL and \Mshelia Lasama'\

Mshelia Kingngal is the group of people who are blacksmiths and according

to him they originated differently from Mshelia Lasama. Mshelia Lasama is also

a group of people who are associated with Hadzi as described in the previous

discussions. (This is the one I have been treating in this book.)

According to him the nucleus of our people (Mshelia Lasama) was situated

at Tilla just by the Lake Tilla side. These people lived long ago before

Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi as described in the previous discussions. He

described them as people of his ambition and war liking. It happened one time

when they were highly populated that many of their members were dying.. They

did not know the cause of it and they also found that the medicines they pre-

scribe were not always effective. There were three brothers who were well known

for Hadzi in the clan. Hadzi is the act of prescribing medicine to people and



also to be to tell them the necessary precautions of any coming danger. Two

of them who happened to be older than the other decided to go to the mountain

just by the lakeside where they thought they could find the mta (death). They

believed that mta (death) lies in a hole in the mountain, so that if they could

only block the mouth then people would stop dying. They took with them

thuvur hakdzi which was a bag where medicines and other things associated with

hakdzi were kept.

They went all around the mountain but they did not find anything. Later

on they met their younger brother who asked them what they were looking (for).

They refused to tell him at first because they thought he was too small to know

such thing. But when he heard of what they were looking he did not waste time

in showing it to them. This act then created fear in them and so they gave

him the thuvur hakdzi to finish the job for them. They didn't know whether he

had closed the hole or left it still open. It had also created in them the

fear of him even when they were back home. Throughout their lives together

they were also jealous of the power which he possessed so all the time they

were not on good terms with him. It so happened that his children were very

tough, creating conflicts between them and other clans around. (One thing I

forgot to mention above is that the informant doesn't know their names.)

One of the elder brothers and his group decided to go and have their

settlements at Ngasam while the other and his group went to Kwamba, leaving

their younger brother still at Tilla. This is how the clan was segmented into

nyarmbwas. Long after the segmentation were Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi born at

Tilla. They later lived at Hyema until a time when they had conflict with the

Mbaya people. Yakwi and his group settled at Tsahuyam while Yamari Wachikma

settled at Tilla. The descendants of Yamari Wachikma later on joined those at

Tsahuyam and a branch from those at Ngasam came and found Piti. All these seg-

ments are now regarded as separate nyarmbwas.

One thing is that we still feel that we are all related because we originated

from the same ancestors. We have not been marying from these nyarmbwas but


recently as the clan has increased in population some of us are marrying from

other nyarmbwas. This is the only practical Ndiga according to the informant


Lassam Kanga

can marry

cannot marry still feel related

later on may begin to marry
only rare cases as yet

(Continued from notes, page 19)

25/6/73 From: 8:55 to 10:00 A.M.
This information is taken from Yabukar, the grandchild of Yakwi, the founder of

Tsahuyam and he is in better position to know the secrets concerning the village.

He is married with three wives and eleven children. He is a farmer and has

greater proportion of his farm given to food crops.

Yabukar stated that Bura originated close to the Kanuris but due to wars

and famine had made them to migrate to their present position. He said typical

Bura were considered to be those in the southeastern of Biu but with the increase

in population now Bura covers a vast land.

Bura actually is the name of insects smaller than termites but they are very

(courageous and dangerous. They are plentiful and whenever they go out in search

A/" of food they make sure that they are inline like soldiers. Anything that happens

to be in their direction, be it river, road, compound, etc., they must cross it

even if it will result in half of them dying. It is exaggerated that they do

cross even fire. It if happens that a compound falls in their direction it means


all living things in that compound will suffer greatly. This people (Bura)

were great warriors during tribal conflicts and other encounters in the past

so they were attributed the name Bura.

Clan (Dur), he said, are group of people who share common relations and

they happened to originate from the same ancestors. From our discussions, he

mentioned that the fragmentation of Bura into many clans is due basically to the

increase in population and also conflicts in the past bind people into smaller


He said that there are three most important things that our clan is well

known for. (1) They were famous warriors, (2) they are good farmers, and

(3) lastly, they do hakdza. He went on to tell me in detail that any child born

in this clan should be able to prescribe medicine (herbalist). He talked of

Lake Tilla which belong to our clan. The lake was filled during the presence

of our people.

It happened one day when there were girls harvesting their crops in

ntalwa in the depression, that an old woman came around. She asked them to give

her a little of ntalwa but only a young girl and her sister did giver her. When

she was going away she warned the two sisters that when they hear a violent wind

they should not move but when a weak wind comes they should rush out quickly. A

violent wind came and all the girls ran out of the depression except the two

sisters. Later on a weak wind came and only the two sisters ran while the rest

were immediately swallowed up in a body of water. They were believed to have

changed into the crocodiles found in the lake,'which as a result the people of

Your clan don't eat crocodiles to this day.

In the past they do observe yearly sacrifice at the lakeside and people

do often come to them to be immersed in the lake so that they could be cured of

their diseases e.g. leprosy, blindness etc.

Another very important thing in connection with hakdzi is zol jang, (a rod

given to them by God). He went on to tell me the story of how this was given


to them. He said at one time our people happened to be in Lasa area (we are

at times called-Lasama' instead of Mshelia) where they used to go about playing

Tsintza (xylophone). One day one of them found it difficult to pass with his

tsintza between certain two mountains but when he raised up his rod God allowed

him to pass, leaving his tsintza behind. He kept the rod inside his house but

one morning he found that it had disappeared while brand new one was in its place.

& At any time the rod is raised up the lightning will strike somebody. It is only

used during prayer for rain, and burial of old people in the clan, and those who

die of leprosy or lightning. A newly born baby in the past would have his own

/ \ rod, a symbol of being Lasama.

He said other clans have got\zol jang also. Gwarom has got one because they

) married our daughter and Hena have got their own independently, and so we share in

the activities that involves zol jang.

No other person can claim this clan except slaves) which is applicable to

all other clans. Nobody can change his clan except in case of slaves where they

have no choice but to take to their master's clan. The slaves who joined the

clan in the past have their children brought up in this adopted clan while

presently nobody joins the clan.

The history of this Dur from the time of its founding to the present time.

They lived around Biu closely related to the Emir. The Emir had always given

them protection during dlira (raiding) by the Pabirs. They were later told to

stay outside Biu so that their children might not be taken into slavery. The

place where they settled outside Biu was called Hyema. They were there until a

time when enmity developed between them and Mbaya people.-

Somebody from the Mbaya clan pregnanted Chikda's wife and to make worse they

made him a subject of laughter in the village. The turning point came when they

had a great dance in the village in which Chikda shot one of their members with

an arrow. Before the Mbaya people could get to revenge our people have left Hyema.

It was this incident that had led to our Dur to break into several nyarmbwas.


Yakwi and his family went to Piti and finally settled at Tsahuyam as the founder.

Yamari Wachikma and his family went to Tilla. Yamangili and his family went to

Kwamba and one other nyarmbwa went to Ngasam while the rest went and settled

in the nearby villages. Some of those at Tilla later joined those at Tsahuyam.

From that time to this day the already-existing nyarmbwaire (segments) did not

split up. All the nyarmbwaire of the clan still have cordial relationship

though they are in different villages and so they do not marry one another. This

is so because they still belong to the same haptu nyarmbwa.

The clan split up into nyarmbwaire at Hyema long ago as already mentioned in

the above discussion. It happened because of the conflict between them and Mbaya.

When they were leaving the village (Hyema) they went in groups according to

their families to places of settlement where each developed into nyarmbwa.

Informant is Yabukar Mshelia. The interview was started by 9:25 and ended by

10:30 A.M. It was carried out on his farm where nobody was with us.

Now our clan is at good terms with all other clans in the area, though

it was a different story in the past. He told me that in the past Hena and

Gwaram were our best friends. Our people used to marry from this clans and

they have learned our practices. They have learned to hakdza and both of them

possessed zol jang. There was cordial friendship between us that we treat one

another as brothers.

While the most well-known enemy of our clan was Mbaya.i They do not allow

our people to marry their daughter, neither would our people. It was initiated

when our forefathers were still at Hyema over one lady by name Mimta Huvi. She

was a wife of Chikda who belonged to our clan. She was then pregnanted by a man

of Mbaya clan which resulted into friction between the two clans. Chikda, the husband,

killed one of their members which caused their migration from Hyema to their

present settlements. Several other killings followed on either side which increased

the tension between them untJl the colonial masters came to power. Now everything
| ^


has been forgotten and we don't have ill feelings against one another. We can

marry their daughter and they can marry our daughter, which has broken the

barrier between us.

When our clan went to war there was no time they ever asked other people to

help them. But they used to collaborate with Kwari people at times when they

went out raiding. They were well-known warriors which they considered as nature's

gift. When they went to war they usually perform sacrifices to their idols so

that they could be protected.

The present head of the Dur is Musa Kadala and his helpers are the elders.

They have not done anything special in the past. At the moment he said they act

like advisors to the clan. If iey see anybody misbehaving in our clan it's their

duty to warm him. He explained that their work is not limited to that but it

includes solving family problems. The Dur head obtained his office not on merit

but by being the oldest person in the clan. His duties are just as the elders

mentioned above but in addition to that he is responsible for keeping our milim

(kudlagir). He hasn't got any right or privileges more than an ordinary person

in the clan; therefore, the question of first-night privileges over brides at

weddings long ago does not arise.

The informant said the possible title held by somebody from our clan was

Birma. This was a title given to Yamari Wachikma long ago by the Emir of Biu.

He was a skillful hunter and so he was chosen to act as the king of hunters. His

successor was Kisawa from Kwamba who was also a famous hunter. His duty was to

inform people of a hunting day in which all people were to turn out. They would

only bring with them a big stick and nothing else; even their dogs would not

follow them. They would be close together bounding a large bush where animals

were available. All of them would aim at coming to center of the land they have

enclosed, where they would be catching the animals with hands or killing them

with sticks they have. During such hunting (it is called dalti-hur), one of

the front legs of each animal killed would be given to the Birma, who would also


take some of it to those who have chosen him.
There are four nyarmbwaire in the clan: Nyarmbwar Yamangili, Nyarmbwar

Yakwi and Yamari Wachikma, Nyarmbwa Yasokta, and Nyarmbwa Tilla. The following

list are the previous Dur heads with their respective nyarmbwa.

(1) Yakwi and Yamari Wachikma
Chikda, Liawa, Salki Yamta, Miduku Samba, KwatikarYamta and Audu Tapci.

(2) Nyarmbwa Yamangili
Birma Kisawa, Yamarngaran, Salmawa, Kwatikar Thlama, Kachala Kwarkwar and
Liawa Dika.

(3) Nyarmbwa Yasokta
Yadola, Kidapchara, Yasakta, Miduku Samba, Machar Hadlu, Chikda Bukar and
Kwatikar Thlama.

(4) Tilla
He said that he has no idea because he is not familiar with them.

The informant mentioned several of the clan haptu and milim. We have got

Pila Wala, Juli, Kudlagir, Minta Whada and Haptu Nyarmbwa and out of these he

emphasized that the last three are the most important ones to the clan. He just

spoke very little about Juli which he said is with our Bulama, Lawan Pagus

and Pila Wala is at Tanga.

Kudlagir, he said, is kept with our head of the Dur, Musa Kadala. His pre-

decessors were Yamari Wachikma, Yamangili, Birma Kisawa, Shalim and Salmawa.

Not all of them were of the same lineage with him; they just happened to be the

right people for keeping it. He stated that the requirements of Kudlagir are

just yearly service of putting kusa into during the sixth moon (October), for

intervals of two years, while in the third they will perform a sacrifice to it

with a goat. Individuals in the clan also who want Kudlagir to help them in

his problem must sacrifice to it either with goat or chicken. It could be either

he finds it difficult to marry or just that he wants it to help him to be

successful in his business.

He went on to tell me how Kudlagir came to existence. Once in a certain

village there was one woman with her daughter. They had their farm on a certain

mountain but they always got poor harvest. One day the woman was talking to


herself that if she could get good harvest then she would sacrifice to the

stones and trees which was later called Kudlagir. That year she had a good

harvest and in addition to that she succeeded in everything she did. She pro-

duced more children but one thing she forgot; she did not carry out her promise

to the stones and trees.

One day her elder daughter became sick and died and she was informed by

some villagers that they met strangers outside the village who told them that

they have removed the breast of the dead girl because her mother did not carry

out her promise. She immediately carried out her promise and many other people

consulted it and they were always successful. He stated that our great grand-

father was the one who consulted it because he was afraid that his children

might be taken away into slavery. At the moment all the people of our clan

worship it except those who have accepted Islam and Christianity.

He also talked of Haptu Nyarmbwa which is with him at the moment. He said

it has another name as Madamya. It is actually milim which was handed to us

by our ancestors and it is only helpful for curing chest pain. His predecessors

were Yakwi, Yangkwarmpa, Saki and Miduku Samba. His duty is just to scatter

mighil (beniseed) around it at times and also to pu kusa (pour in sweet liquid

made out of yiest(yeast?) yearly during the 6th moon (October). Anybody in the

clan who is suffering from chest pain could come to him at any time so that he

can inform it (this type of information to haptu is called Tulta). This Haptu

Nyarmbwa is only useful to those of our clan only, because other clans have got

their own.

He also talked of Minta Whada, that it is just a group of trees and stones

outside the village. He also pointed out that it is consulted not only by people

of our clan but also people from other clans. He didn't mention who is respon-

sible for it. He stated that there are no changes in the haptus and none has

been added.


The interview was started by 7:05 and ended by 8:15 A.M.
The informant is Yabukar Mshelia. The interview took place at his house. Those

who are of his family were around but they did not interfere with our discussion.

He mentioned that the dominating religion of the Dur is Islam. He went on

talking of how Islam was introduced in this area. He said that he cannot tell

exactly how long Islam has been here since there was no method of recording the

years as we do now. In any case he said it came when he was a young man not yet

married. At first it took a simple way that anybody who was circumcised was

automatically a Muslim. He said Islam came through the Hausas and was first

introduced at Kwaya Bura and Piti in this area. Later on there were mariams

among the Muslims who go out preaching. They convinced many people and pointed

out that circumcision al e does not make anybody Muslim but must obey what was

written in the Quaran (Koran?). He then mentioned a few of such qualities of a


A Muslim should ray daily and fast once a year. He should have nothing to

do with the traditional religion. He should not drink bal (beer). The Muslims

at that time considered themselves quite different from other people and so

they started discriminating (against) people. They would not eat in the same

dish with people who were not Muslims. They practiced purdah, and wouldn't

allow people to enter their compounds. They do also practice of giving alms to the

disabled people and children. In that case they were considered as being generous.

They also consider it a crime for their daughter to marry somebody who is not a

Muslim and(the number of their wives should always be even.

He stated that we can clearly see the changes in Islam by observing the

practices of the Muslims. They have stopped discriminating against people and

could allow their daughters to marry anybody of their choice. Some of them he

said have even gone back to idol worship privately, which they left when they

accepted Islam. Many of the Muslims now drink mbal (beer). He mentioned that the

spread of Islam is no longer in progress in this area because the Muslims do not


go out preaching as in the past. They don't often pay visits to their Muslim

brothers as they have been doing in the past. He also mentioned the main reason

why most of the people of the Dur are Muslims. When it was introduced in this

area it was our people at Piti'who first accepted it and so when they visit

some of the people of the Dur they talk to them about it. Now most of the
children who come from Muslim homes in the Durthave gone to school are Christians.

Christianity came to this area after Islam was introduced but in the same

way the informant cannot remember the exact year. He said they heard of it first

that it was introduced at Garkida by the white people. It was then introduced

at Marama by Mr. Heckman, a white man. The informant said that there was a day

that he visited the white man but he found that what the white man was doing

was strange to him so he did not go again. The white man invited people for

classes and within a short time there were Bura people who could write and read.

Mr. Heckman then started sending out people to preach in the nearby villages

like Durkwa, Ndiragina, Bilatum, Kidang.

At first some people were reluctant to accept Christianity because they think

that only lazy people can have time to listen when they come preaching. But

they soon realized that those who attend classes irere better off'because they

put on food clothes; and there was dispensary for their health.; The people saw

that the Christians were always happy so in one way or the other they were attracted

to it. Year after year the number of Christians was increasing going side by

side with Islam until the entire Bura area was covered with it.

He said that the changes which have occurred in Christianity are quite

S many, First of all, the way they celebrate Christmas nowadays is quite different
~/Vmany n
I from the past. In the past they do perform drama which has a meaning of the

birth of Jesus but now they only preach. In addition to this there are a number

of Christians who afe married to two wives which contradicts the Christian

practices in the past. According to him, there was never a time when there was

conflict between Christians and Muslims, though Muslims used to embarass Christians

because of their practices. Generally there is freedom of religion in this area


and so individuals judge for themselves which religion to accept.

When the informant was treating the pre-colonial traditional dress pattern

for both sexes he first considered males' dress. He mentioned that our an-

cestors wore biantang (see p. 72, typed p.dS4 for the description of biangtaig).

Usually young boys used to have their biangtang made of cotton while those of

men were made of leather. It was used for coverhig their private parts only.

The dresses they used for covering their body are blasrt made of cotton and dile

(p. 71, typed p.41). The shoes they used to put on were made of leather as

described on p. 73, typed p..-? The hair of the people was plaited and a

red earth which they call Msha was added to it but he did not tell the shape

of the head after it has been plaited. In addition to the above-mentioned

things a man can put on ausar wila tsi (p. 76, typed p.-67) and lia gergera.

Lia gergera is just like the ausar wila tsi but the difference comes in

that it is grooved all round as shown in the diagram.


The traditional marks he mentioned are the same with that on p. 74, typed

p.J' but in addition he told me of one called nvuwanvuwa (Kanuri, Kanuri is

the definition of this name). Here I have indicated it on the diagram.



He also made mention of weapons, bow and arrow and knife, that men used to

carry with them at all times. The change that has occurred is that men have

stopped using leathered cloths and wholly depend on cotton-made. First men

changed from using dile to danchiki which was made of cotton. It looks like

in the diagram shown on page 78, typed page -S. At the same time men started

using trousers and turku. The description and diagram of turku and trousers

are respecitvely found on pp. 79 and 80, typed pp. Co (-c. In addition to

this, those who were rich enough could afford to (have) big gowns locally-

made of cotton. There was also change in the shoes they wear. After using

babi tha for quite a long time they started putting on markupu which was made

by the Kanuris. It could cover the whole foot just as the covered shoes we

have nowadays. It was made of leather and well-decorated. It looks like in

the diagram.

After markupu they started using woranga. It is a shoe made out of motor

tire. Its diagram is shown on p. 81, typed p. 61 After the description of

the above changes he was unable to describe those which follow....He pointed

out that it is difficult to name the various types of modern dresses and in the

same way it is hard to know which of them follow one another. He also stated

that there is a drastic change in our traditional marks. All young men have

totally refused to have traditional marks.

When he considered the traditional dress patterns of females he pointed

out that there are differences between those for girls and those for women.

The dresses which belong to women were quite big and of good quality than those

which belong to girls. All female clothing were made of cotton. A woman could

have her zanni made of cotton with kudzir on the center. Kudzir is a dyed

cotton cloth usually black. A woman could wear jabi (p. 73, typed p.&Z) and

midlir (p. 75, typed p.'j7). The pages indicated can help you find the descrip

tions of the respective things.

Women also do have plaited hair like [m en but in addition they do fix


kwatu in it. Kwatu is bright metal which aines even at a distance. When (women?)

have the same shoe (p. 73, typed p.!'$) and traditional marks (p. 74, typed p.Y

like men. Women also have special dress for carrying babies called pizhi. It

was an animal skin which was made soft by robbing oils on it. Ngui and Hwana

still use it at the moment. Babies were carried on the backs of their mothers

supported with pizhi. Diagram

There were quite a number of changes in women's dress just as those of the

men. The informant just mentioned a few of the changes in clothing. First,

the danbatir (a black cloth made of cotton) and then followed by bunu and dankwali.

He was also unable to mention some of the changes in dress pattern of women. He

concluded that the modern dresses ofwomen are so plenty (plentiful?) and added

nothing more. He said the changes that have occurred so far in both the women's

and men's dresses are due to the invention of better methods of producing the

clothes. It is also in the interest of people to keep up to date by trying to

have anything new.

When we discussed the question of how members of the Dur obtain wives the

informant first considered the traditional way. He pointed out that in the

traditional marriage the girls were forced to marry people not of their choice.

They could be forced to marry old people who have already got wives. A man who

wanted to marry would start to court just at her birbh. The man would take


presents to her parents and say that he wanted the girl. His parents would be

paying visits to her parents. They could take with corn flour or ater. After

this the man would take about ten kuntu (locally woven cotton cloth) to her

parents and which they call zhuta. In addition to this the man would carry with

him ngirzang to the girl. Ngirzang is a black cotton threads which the girl

could put on her waist. The man would again take 10 kuntu as something for wul

kutaki. Literal meaning of wul kutaki as in the context can be taken as dowry.

The next thing that the man would do was to bring women's adornment to the girl.

It would include such things as: 12 jabi, 12 ausar milatsi, 12 ausar olirhu,

2 midlir, linduwa (pp. 73 to 76, typed pp.' 17), ncur this is a metal made

in the shape of arrow. It shines brightly and about 7 or them would be arranged

on lifo for the woman to put on. Lifo is a leather colored red. The man would

then cook mbal (beer) for her parents. Finally, the man would arrange for the

girl to come to his house which was usually in a forceful manner. They call it

nka mwala the system by which the bridegroom would send his friend and relatives

to capture the girl and bring her by force to him.

Three days the girl would stay in his house without eating or drinking. On

the fourth day she would visit her realtives where she would take drink and food.

There would always be cordial relationship between the man and her parents. The

next thing that the man would do is luksa. This is a customary practice after

marriage in this area. He would invite his friends, relatives and musicians. He

would also prepare food and plenty of mbal(beer) for ;the people. On this occasion

people would give him gifts of things like beans, corn, kuntu, and some of the

woman's adornment. The musical instruments were usually played in the evening,

while the girls would be grinding corn. There were only two (instruments) at that

time, tsintza and gulum. Gulum is a three stringed musical instrument played

with fingers. Diagram of gulum (p. 146, typed p. 23).

After the luksa the bride would be taken to her parents. But people found out

that the system of forcing girls to marry people who were not of their choice was

0~ 15

AU2 0Ua- C




- - -- -- -- -


. o


not good. So there was change in the way of courting girls and also money is

given as dowry instead of material things.

The present way of marriage in this area. First, a man will approach a

girl so that they will discuss whether she will like to marry him. If she

agrees, then the man will give her N16 as sur dlu kusar. This is just to sig-

nify that they have proposed to get married. The parents of the man will take

N25 to her parents as sur pila (dowry). The man will then engage the girl which

will cost him about N60 or N80. He will buy about 300 kola nuts for her parents

so that they would give to their relatives and friends. In addition to this they

will go and register from the authorities which will cost the bridegroom N1.7.

After this he will invite people for luksa. There are several other ways in

which the wedding ceremonies are carried out. It could be in Christian way or

in Muslim way but the informant did not describe them.

On the same day we discussed the major ceremonies practiced by this Dur.

He mentioned three most important ceremonies, luksa, mbal tuwa, and mbal sadaka.

Luksa as described above is the customary practice after marriage. The bride-

groom will invite people in the area so that they can rejoice for him. He will

prepare mbal (beer) and food. He will kill a goat for his relatives, a goat and

sheep for his friends. There will be music in the evening and at the same time

girls will be grinding corn.

There are now changes in some of the activities. Now the bridegrooms do

not cook mbal but instead they prepare porridge. And also, there are now more

musical instruments played during this occasion. It includes ganga (drum) and


Secondly, mbal tuwa which is a customary ceremony after the death of

somebody. At the death of an old person people will be weeping and there will

be heavy drumming during the burial. Twenty days later people will gather again

for the funeral. There will be plenty of mbal and food for people. Again there

will be music for people to dance for that whole day.


The third major ceremony is mbal sadaka. This ceremony does not occur

at any time without a reason. Usually when the people are suffering from

drought then they will do mbal sadaka. In the past all the people in the

village would prepare mbal (beer) in each of their homes. In addition to it

they would slaughter goats or chickens for their meals that day. They would

put some drops of mbal and bones on broken calabashes so that they carry it

early in the morning to path junctions called matingdla in Bura language.

In the afternoon they would be drinking mbal while they would have great dance

in the evening. How they still do mbal sadaka but they do not dance.

The only title connected to the Dur is the ward head (Bulama). He is

responsible for salving problems in the village and also to report to the

authorities anything wrong in the village. He is the first to plant crops

in the village. All the people in the village have got high respect for him

and so at times they could get advice from him.

In the past the ward head was not paid but people do give him mbal and meat

during ceremonial occasions. At the moment he attends meetings called by the

village head of the district head in order to bring information for the people.

At the moment the ward head receives salary which is proportional to the number

of taxable people in the village.

The office holders in the households are three: first is the husband who

is called salaki; secondly the first woman married in the household who is

called mwala wala, and thirdly, the last woman married in the household who is

called gaji. Salaki is responsible for solving less difficult family problems.

He is also responsible for helping anybody whi is sick in the family. He is

responsible for making fences around the compound and building their house.

Mwala wala is next to him in authority of the family. She helps to solve minor

problems in the family. She is also respected by all members of the family.

The last office holder in the family is the mwala gaji. Her responsibilities

are a bit different from that of the mwala wala. She is responsible for cooking


food for the husband or visitor who suddenly comes home whether at night or

in the afternoon. Other women in the family can also send her to do something

for them. The above discussion is only applicable to large families.

The last thing put into consideration during our last interview is the

traditional installation ceremonies of an office holder. He only considered

briefly the chief and the ward head. When the informant was treating the

chief, he pointed out that the description he is going to give is only applicable

to the local chief in our area. It means those chiefs who are not connected

to the authority. They are usually rich people and are of good reputation.

When somebody wants to be a chief he will invite his relatives and friends

to gather on the installation day. On that day he will slaughter a cow for the

people. to eat. There will also be plenty of mbal for the people to drink. After

he is turbanned he will beat the dlimbwar (a special drum) followed by a great

dance throughout that day. Nowadays people have found that this is just a waste

of money because they don't get paid, so there are not many people who want to

be chiefs. When a chief dies he is buried just like an ordinary person.

Then, secondly, the installation of a ward head. The wardhead is usually

inherited. There isn't anything special about it only that the village head

should have the consent of the villagers. He will just be given his father's

stuff. There used to be great dance at such occasions in the past. When the

ward head dies he is buried like an ordinary person except that they will put

the mat on top of him instead of inder him in the grave. They believe that when

they put him on the mat it will affect them in the village.

The interview was started by 8 and ended by 9:30 A.M.
This information is taken from Mr. Midala Kumirmta Mshelia Tsahuyam. He is

58 years this year and a grandchild of Yamari Wachikma. He is the elder brother

of Badawi, my father, who are the only two left in their family. He is married

to two wives with many children. He can read and write and this has geared him


and his brother to be the first in the village to take their children to school.

He is a farmer as well as a builder. The interview was carried out in his com-

pound with only children around.

When he gave me the information of the origins of Bura he first informed

me of a group of people (Amaza) who were originally at Maza, a place close to

Buni who migrated to Kwaya Bura. He then concluded that from the above example

we can see that Bura might have originated close to the Kanuris but due to con-
flicts and other encounters could cause them to migate.

The word Bura actually is a name of certain insects which are smaller than

the termites. They move about in line with great cooperation between them.

They are able to cross rivers by having volunteers to form the bridge while

the rest pass on. Their character was then found to be similar to this group of

people who were later called Bura. They were homogenous and cooperative during

wars just as the insects. He said when we observe, now we can see that the

present Bura area still reflects the past in that there are only few other

tribes who have made their settlements in this area.

Dur (clan))are a group of people who have the same origin; in other words,

they have the same ancestors. They share in the sacred activities of their

group and they always try not do offend their members but if it happens they

waste no time to reconcile. They are always ready to help when they see one

of their members is in trouble; it could be fighting somebody from another clan

or other things. He went on to say Dur could mean tribe, race, type or kind.

He said there are many clans because of the increase in population and the

feeling of family ties. Those who are born in the same family do feel that they

are of the same blood. They started feeling sorry when they offend their members

and they try to be on good terms always.

There is another way in which clans can develop. He explained that clans

develop as a result of settlements. He took for example the Bwala clan. In

the past whenever you see a new settlement he said, it means all those people




are of the same family so this group of people who are later called Bwala

settled around Bwala (Bwala is a name given to one species of tree in this

area), and in fact some of the clans we see bear the names of trees or settle-


There is no other way of getting membership into this clan (Mshelia)

than to be born in Mshelia family. During period of slavery slaves adopt

their masters' clan and so is possible that they can get membership of the


This clan is well known as blacksmiths, famous farmers, great warriors

in the past and as people who practice hakdza. In the past our people were

well known for the arrows, hoes and axes they made. The man told me the way

they get the metal for their work, yearly they would go to the river shores

with broad wooden planks on which they separate the sand and the metal grains.

They would do this for a week or more while the chief blacksmith would be pre-

paring a place for melting it. He would prepare the place (kidla) usually

in between two walls of a small valley. He would pile up stones and insert

two great fuvu (bellows) and also prepare lots of charcoal. The people would

heap up the metal grains individually on the place he had prepared. He would

then cover them with the charcoal after which he would set on fire. Young

children, women and old men would go back to the village vhi[e the rest would

continue using the bellows until the metal grains melt, producing changes in

the flame color. The flame would be highly hot, that they do not immediately

stop using the bellows or else the fire would follow it and burn them.

After the blocks of metal are cooled each would then share it with the

chief blacksmith. The blacksmiths would then be working on the raw metals,

producing arrows, hoes, axes etc. With the available tools it encouraged them

to work hard on their farms and also to be great warriors and hunters.

The next important aspects of their activity is the practice of hakdza

(the ability to prescribe medicines for people, tell them of what has brought


abput the death of somebody, and to warn people of the danger that lies ahead

with possible precaution). In connection with this he told me the whole story

of Lake Tilla.

He said Lake Tilla was actually a dry depression in which girls and boys

used to cultivate ntalwa. It happened one day th1t there were girls and boys

harvesting ntalwa when a violent wind came after which they were covered by water.

No one knew where the water came from. They believed that the crocodiles found

in the lake were those covered by the water and as a result our people don't eat

crocodiles. They also believe that everybody in our clan has got his or her

crocodile. They then claim the ownership of the lake though it was later shared

between them and the Amaza Nggada after dispute.

They used the lake for curing diseases like madness, leprosy, deafness,

etc. Many people do come and take the water to cure them of their sicknesses.

He also told me of how they cure made people in the lake. When a mad person

was brought to them they warn people not to go around the lake for about two

days. The elders of the clan would perform sacrifices and scatter cotton around

the lake. After all such activities were carried out then they would bring the

mad person and throw him into the lake. They would stand on the lake shore with

whips so that whenever he tries to come out they would beat him. They would

stand there for a long time until they see that he has come to his normal sense;

then they would allow him to come out and that was the end of it forever.

He went on to tell me that the sacrifices they did this year when the lake

dried up was wrong. They sacrificed white cow which was contrary to the black

female cow in the past. Nobody knows perfectly the correct method of rituals

of the lake since disputes are always involved between the two clans and also

the increase in disbelief has decelerated its power. The crocodiles found in

it are friendly; they do not harm people and could go to people's houses and

lay eggs. But when the need for crocodile skins in the market increased, people

started killing them so likewise they started harming people and domestic animals.

When the lake dried up this year people still believe that they are in big hole

in mountain on the lake side.


Still in connection with hakdza, our people have somethings they call

ZOL JANG (a rod given to them by God). It looks something like the diagram.

It is made from wood to anybody in the clan.

The initial one is still with our elder at the moment but they don't bring

it out unless on official days, such as Burial of an old man in the clan or

somebody who dies of leprosy or lightning. It is also used when praying for

rain during drought. We believe that when it is taken out during wet season,

then lightning will strike somebody.

There are two other clans who have zol jang; hena and Gwagram. Hena got

their own independently and they are our best friends. We share in every

activity that involves zol jang; we could treat their people as brothers and

they do likewise. They do hakdza also.

Nobody from another clan can claim our clan. In the past slaves do claim

their masters' clan but usually they do object to it. They believe that if

the slaves claim their clans then their descendants would be eliminated while

slaves will multiply; in other words, the slaves will overshadow their masters'

descendants. People don't change their clan even with change of time. They can

only be divided into nyarmbwa. People do not join the clan.

He told me that all the different groups of Mshelia that cover Buraland

originated from the same ancestor. There are Mshelia who are blacksmiths and

our people who have the zol jang. He said there were two brothers who took to

different occupations, one a blacksmith and the other as one who practices hakdza

and also zol jang; that is Mshelia Lasama Salmamza Badawi.

I just want to point out that all the discussion in this book are only

applicable to the Mshelia Lasama'and not to the Mshelia blacksmith. Of course,


we belong to that group but they have different story to tell which is not

-known to us.

He said our people first lived around Biu when lots transferred to Hyema.

They were there until a time when one of their members, Chikda, created sukur

between then and the Mbaya clan. (Sukur means enmity created due to one group

provoking the other by either killing their member or suffer from mistreatment.)

Chikda engaged one girl and somebody from the Mbaya clan was running after her

and at the same time mocking him.

During one great dance Chikda shot one of them dead so our people ran away

during the night. Yamari Wachikma and his group went to Ving who later went

to Tilla. Yakwi also and his group went to Piti then to Durkwa and finally to

present Tsahuyam as the founder Yamari Wachikma who was at Tilla was a great

warrior. He was a great hunter and did a lot of peculiar things. He could

enter the Lake Tilla and stay for some days and return with either cotton, pilam

(something for hakdza) and even with fresh wet groundnuts during the dry season.

At present, other places where our people are found are: Piti, Ghishi,

Kwamba, Ngazam, Tilla, Waksa and many other places.

The split up into nyarmbwa (segments) did not happen at one place nor was

it at a definite time. We have nyarmbwa Piti and Ngasam who have their ancestor

as Yasokta. Those in Tsahuyam belong to nyarmbwa of Yakwi and Yamari Wachikma

and those at Kwamba belong to Yamagili. There are still many nyarmbwas that

are either small or unknown to him. These segments are brought about when they

ran away due to conflicts with other clans. In such times each family might de-

cide to settle at one place while others would go to different places.

An example of this is when Yamari Wachikma left Hyema and finally settled

at Tilla while Yakwi finally settled at Tsahuyam. Each could have developed into

separate nyarmbwa had it been that those at Tilla did not join those at Tsahuyam.

Nyarmbwa actually are just lineages. These segments do not marry one another

but can marry from the Mshelia blacksmith. They do not marry because they still


share the haptu nyarmbwa and still have the brotherly feeling between them.

This clan does take part in the social activities of other clans. The

members of this clan are always ready to help other people from another clan

and they also in turn receive help from them. They do marry and give in marriage

to other clans. Our clan is friendly to all other clans except Mbaya. But Hena

seems to be our best friend. Hena has got zol jang which our clan possesses also.

They do share in the activities of hakdza, they do treat our people as one of

their members and we do treat them likewise.

And our enmity with Mbaya was created when our ancestors were living at

1Iyema. As mentioned above, Chikda killed one of them when they were running after

his wife. Our people left Hyema in fear of revenge but this did not make them

safe because the people followed them to Tsahuyam and killed one of them. But

before they could bury their unfortunate brother kachalars (champions) have left

for revenge and so they did. The enmity continued to grow stronger and stronger;

they do not allow our people to marry their daughters; neither would our people

agree. At the moment both sides have forgotten everything; only old people still

have the memory.

This clan never asked other people for help when they went out fighting.

The informant mentioned that whenever they went out fighting, at times they could

be reconciled to that group by either Hena or Dibal. This clan was famous during

wartimes, particularly when they take their revenge. A group of kachalars (champions)

would go to the village in the night knowing well the compounds in which newly-

married young men were. Two of them each would enter such compounds, one of

them would be on the fence observing the young man's door as his target, while

the other would be troubling goats so that they make noise. When the young man

opened the door to see what was happening to the goats the man on the fence

would shoot him down and run away. This then would be painful to that group to

see their young married member dead.


The interview was started by 7:20 and ended by 8:40 A.M.
The informant is Midala Kwmirmta Mshelia. The interview was done in his com-

pound in the morning. We had M. Naminji Mshelia with us who contributed very

little to our discussion. He only helped in mentioning the head of the clan

(Dar) in the past and he left before the interview ended.

The informant mentioned that the head of the Dur at the moment is Musa

Kadala from Kwamba. He is responsible for keeping the milim of our clan. He

is the oldest in the clan which has earned him this leadership. One thing should

be pointed out is that he is not in any way connected to the authority. Here he

meant anything dealing with the court. He can advise help just as other older

people in the clan.

There are also old people in the clan who look into the well-being of the

people, settling problems between kinsmen, helping those who want to get married

etc. They are the elders. They achieved nothing in the past more than being

good farmers because almost all of them were not present during wars when man

would prove to be a man. During wars the elders were responsible for organizing

people when attacking enemies and also to make them to be more cooperative, both

at home and elsewhere. Now they just act as advisers to the clan.

In the clan we have got only Bulama as a title to the ward head where no-

body else has a title. This title is inherited and not obtained by merit.

The ward head is connected to the local authority. He attends meetings called

by the district head and he is the only one responsible for making public

announcements of important events in the village.

The Dur head obtained his office by being the oldest in the clan. He keeps

the-milim for the clan. His rights are that anybody who wants to sacrifice to

the idols must inform him first. Secondly he has the right to take portion of

the sacrifice for his own use. The informant stated that nobody has ever prac-

ticed this first night privileges over brides at weddings long ago nor has he

heard of such things in other clans.


There are four nyarmbwa in the Dur: Yamari and Yakwi, Yasokta, Yamangili,

and those at Tilla. Here are the previous Dur heads:

1) Miduku Samba Nyarmbwar Tsahuyam
2) Kwatikar Thlama Kwamba
3) Salki Yamta Tsahuyam
4) Kwatikar Yamta "
5) Yamari Wachikma "
6) Ya Sokta Ngasam and Piti

The list that follows are the previous and present nyarmbwa heads. In

each of the list it starts with the first nyarmbwa head and his successor to

the present:

Tsahuyam 1) Yamari Wachikma and Yakwi
2) Shalim Dawi
3) Salki Yamta
4) Liawa
5) Kwatikar Yamta
6) Miduku Samba
7) Yabukar

Piti and
Ngasam 1) Sokta
2) Yadola
3) Miduku Shalim
4) Madi Mari

Kwamba 1) Yamagili
2) Salmawa
3) Kwarki
4) Liwa Dika
5) Kwatikar Thlama
6) Saki Inuo
7) Musa Kadala

Tilla He has no idea Aout the heads of this nyarmbwa.

The structural organization of settlements of our people are based on the

segments (nyarmbwa). Each person in the clan finds it safer to settle in

group of people of his nyarmbwa. So we see that each of the nyarmbwa has got

a separate settlement or rather village from one another. One example of such

are those at Kwamba; they are of one nyarmbwa. In the village they have got no

special formula for setting up their compounds. In the past usually when a

young man wanted to set up his compound he had no choice but to do it close to

his father's compound. But in the modern society he is free to choose a place

of settlement for himself. Some people do go and settle with their friends in


other villages.

The majority of the people live near and in nyarmbwa and Dur areas. There

are many other clans e.g. Kwari, Yidawi, who are strangers to the clan, but

there is no way and time that they will be absorbed into the clan. Their

relation to present Dur could be in many ways. Some might have come and

settled because they have got friends amongst our people. Some, it could be

that they have grown up with their grandparents on their mother's side amongst

our people so that they find it easier to settle with them than elsewhere.

When treating the question of haptu and milim, he first pointed out the

difference between them. He stated that milim does not kill but haptu does.

The second difference comes in the way people consult them. When somebody is

associated with a certain milim he seeks help from it when he is faced with
circumstances like having difficulty in marriage. But if any time he fails to

carry out the necessary -requirements of the milim, then he suffers from sickness

like madness but the sickness may not result in his death. While haptu has a

different function it is there for the man to command and it will act. In most

cases people use it for revenge of evil done against them and could result in


In the clan we have haptu nyarmbwa and kudlagir (milim). Kudlagir is kept

with the Dur head (Musa Kadala at Kwamba). He went on to tell me of how they

(idols) come to existence. Kwadlagir is actually a name of a man who came to

a village near Lakiri long ago. He was tall with long hair covering his head.

He lodged with one man and worked for one year but he had poor harvest. The

following year when he worked he got two granaries of guinea corn and plenty of

beans. One day he went to the farm with his stepmother and he showed her a place

about which he instructed her, saying that whatever appeared there later, let

them sacrifice chicken or goat or sheep before it. After such requirements are

carried out, let them ask anything and it will be granted to them.

When the woman turned round to go back to the farm she saw that the man


was sinking into the ground. She ran home and informed her husband but when

they came they just found a huge stone and others that follow in decreasing

order. The huge stone is the king followed by Birma, Wakil and Thidima in

orderly manner. It became so famous in making people to progress in their

business and could even help those who are barren to bear children. For one

thing, its function is not limited to one clan but it is for anybody who con-

sults it. Because of this it attracts a large number of people so those who

are responsible for it devised a method of giving something to people which

they carry home. This is what our people consult in their homes as kudlagir

without going to the actual kudlagir, yet they receive the same answer with

those who visit the actual place. This is the type we have in the clan with

the Dur head. The Dur head usually puts kusa (sweet liquid made from yeast)

in the kudlagir during the 6th moon (October) yearly but after every two years

they will sacrifice to it during the 10th moon (February). Besides this, any-

body from the clan can bring his sacrifice and consult it any time of the year.

There are other milims kept by individuals in the clan. This could be

certain group of trees outside or inside the village or stones. People usually

make symbols of such things like attractive pot, and keep in their houses.

They make sacrifices to them wih chickens. An individual also can have his


He also mentioned the difference between haptu nyarmbwa and haptu. Haptu

nyarmbwa is just a name given to something they made to represent a collection

of milim which belongs to our ancestors. It is only consulted when somebody is

suffering from chest pain and they used to put kusa into it yearly. The reason


why kudlagir (milim) is kept with Musa Kadala is that he is the oldest person

now in the clan which has earned him the way to take care of it. In the same

way haptu nyarmbwa is kept with Yabukar because he is old.

Haptu can be categorized into two. First, those which are found locally

in our homes. They are made of metals and they are kept in gwalikwagu (shell

of baobab fruit) by the bedside. When anything happens to be peculiar in the

family, be it strange dreams by a member of the family or somebody seriously

sick, then they will pungkir haptu (meaning that let haptu challenge what is

causing it). Pungkir is a Bura word meaning 'pour on'. The second category

of haptus are those with stronger and practical power. People who keep them

take it as their profession to help people.

Predecessors of Musa Kadala, the man who keeps the kudlagir, were: Salmawa,

Shalim, Birma Kisawa, Mangili, and Yamari Wachikma. Not all of these people were

of the same lineage with Musa Kadala.

Predecessors of Yabukar, the man who keeps our haptu nyarmbwa were: Yakwi,

Yangkwarmpt, Saki, Miduku Samba. All of these people were of the same lineage

with Yabukar.

The informant told me that the dominating religion of our clan (Dru) is

Islam. It has been here for about forty years. It was first introduced at Piti

and Kwaya Bura. At first it took a simple form that anybody who was circumcised

was automatically a Muslim. They then later introduced prayers five times a day

and fasting once a year. So the Muslims at Piti, being our people, went about

spreading it to the rest of the clan and other people who do not belong to our


The Muslims at that time took different life, discriminating (against) any-

body who was not Muslim. They do not eat dlipa (animals that die on their own

or those slaughtered not in a Muslim way). They considered all other people as

kirdi (pagan) and would not eat with them in the dame dish. They do not drink

beer and would not allow their daughters to marry from pagan homes but they do


marry girls from pagan homes, converting them to Muslim. They shouldn't also

have anything to do with other gods. They do pay visit to Muslim brothers in

other villages around, encouraging them to keep to the Muslim ideologies.
But then drastic change came when they found that by discriminating people

they lose friends and even relatives. Later on when Christianity was introduced

people started changing from Muslim to Christianity. The Muslims later on could

allow their daughters to marry anybody of their choice. Some of them started

having secret business with idols and taking beer (burukutu) privately. Still,

there are Muslims who keep their wives in kulile (purdah) and do all things ac-

cording to the Muslim ideologies. The spread of Islam now in this area is rather

very slow. We don't often hear of people converted to Muslim.

According to the informant, Christianity came to this area some ten years

later than when Islam was introduced. It was introduced by the white man who

he mentioned as Mr. Heckman who settled at Marama. It was with difficulty at

first that the people accepted Christianity because they had heard many stories

about the white man and so they doubted his religion as they call it. Moreover,

the white man could not understand their language so it made it even more

difficult. But the white man was not discouraged; he had a handful of people

who have accepted Christianity. With this group of people he went about on a

horse preaching from village to village asking them to repent. But people always

found it difficult to accept it because of its principles. They were told that

Christians are those who believe in Christ and must copy his character. They

should not commit crimes and should be a monogamy which was contrary to their

society of polygamy. The missionaries then introduced schooling which accelerated

the spread of Christianity all over the Bura land. Daily they would open school

with prayers and close with prayers.

All the people who were then converted to Christianity took to new ways of

living. They enjoyed Christmas celebrations and all other Christian activities.

But then as time went on Christians started going back to what they had left just


as what has happened to the Muslims. Some of the Christians would go and have

private business with their milim or haptu nyarmbwa. Some started going back to

the mallams (those that foretell the future or the past) or they would consult

jisiku (a rounded stone which people use for telling the future or the past.)

9ome Christians started to have two wives but still go to church which was for-

bidden in the past. It wasn't mentioned above but not many of our Dur were

Christians in the past and we still have few Christians at the moment.

There wasn't any recorded conflict between thesamajor religions though each

of them has tried to be better than the other. At times some people were put

into confusion of which religion to follow or should they change from the one

they have already accepted to the other. And also there wasn't any conflict

between the two religions and the Bura religion.

The interview was started by lJ.:5 and ended by 12:50 P.M.

The informant is Midala Kumirmta from Tsahuyam. We had the interview on his

farm just after morning's work. There were only few people working on their

farms around but they did not interfere.

In his account of the pre-colonial dress patterns for both sexes in Bura

area he first described those which were for men. The men used to put on dile

for covering only the back part of their bodies. Dile was made from animal skins

mostly of the antelope family. Usually it was made soft by rubbing oil on it.

It was also made into good shape with the edges all rounded with red skin called

llf-~_: ,^ ^ --- ^ ^^ .-^ ,

J- ~eY~

Diagram of dile.


Biangtang this was used for covering their private parts. It was also made
from skins.
Diagram of biangtang


'~K~-~ ~


Jabi it was made out of metal as shown in the diagram. Men used to

put it on their left hand.

Diagram of

Banjiwi this was just like small wires being bent into circular form.

It was made from metals and a man could have many of such in both ears.

Diagram of
banjiwi < --i- -

Babe (shoe) it was made from skins of large animals like cow and wild

animals. Beside this shoe they had babe udzim which they use during the wet

Diagram of season. It was made of wood.
babe Tej --- ... -

The men also used to plait t eir hair, called sutukur, just like our women.

They used to put groundnuts oil and fat to make it shine.

The traditional marks were the same for both men and women. But it was not

necessary that a person should have all the marks as shown in the diagram which


Myardikum just marks around the mouth as shown.
Bwaralang mark which starts right on the forehead down the nose.
All position of marks are as shown on the diagram with their respective
names. The informant said that these marks do not have special meanings.

For Women
The traditional dress pattern of women.
1) Ncakudzir pal and mwapu which was in the shape of a blanket. Ncakudzir -
dyed cloth which they used to get from the Kanuris. Its function was to make
the dress look attractive like all women's dress. Mwapu locally cotton-made
cloth which made up the body of the dress. For girls they have judzir ka yipu.
It was just like the one described above but it has loose ends.
2) Midlir and linduwa both were put on the waist of women. They were
made out of metals and fitted on threads or string as shown in the diagram.
Linduwa is smaller than midlir.

f w 4


The above diagram shows how midlir and linduwa are to be arranged on the

waist. There could be many rows of midlir but only a single linduwa.

Ausar wila tsi and ausar shahu both were made of white metals. The

difference comes in that ausar wila tsi was used on the wrist while ausar

shahu was used on the arm. They also used jabi at the elbow in between them.

Diagram of ausar

Women also used to plait their hair just like the men, but in addition

to it they used to fix kwatu (white metal) in the hair so that it could shine.

They also have banjiwi in their ears just as the earrings our women use now.

Check on p. 73, typed p. 56, for the diagram of banjiwi.

Women also used to put midler, p. 75, typed p. 57, on their legs just

as shown in the diagram.

Thlakuta and thlahili these were decorations women do make on their

stomachs and back. They would just cut small openings on their skin in lines

which, after the wounds were healed, would look attractive.

~J/&/eA~ r



Changes that occurred in traditional dress patterns of both men and women:

Men started putting on blankets locally made of coeton in the form show in

the diagram. Whenever they were going on official visit or to the markets they

cover themselves with it.

Second change that occurred was that men started putting on danchiki (a

type of shirt locally made of cotton with open sides.

Men use danchiki only on market days and on official days. In addition

to this men started keeping bul (very big cloth) which they use for burying

dead people. Men, after using danchiki and locally-made clothes for a long

time, started using jampa. That was a shirt with short hands (sleeves?) as


After using jampa men introduced bulkila, a kind of dress similar to gowon.

It is not possible to draw its diagram.

Then came the great change when men started using bakta (cloth made from

textiles). Men had a turku, a long shirt with long hands (sleeves).



In addition to turku, series of men's dresses were introduced. Gari,

nashi (these were dresses of family of gowon). Men started putting on trousers.

Diagram of trousers

Several other changes in the men;s dress continued to this day which he can-

not be able to list. Similar changes also took place in the women's dress.

First change occurred in the women's dress when they started using jibi

(black dress) and dangkwali gombe (head tie). Second change occurred in women's

dress when they started putting on bunu and kapancha (these were decorated

attractive clothes in those days). In addition to the above, changes, women

started putting on shirts. Then lastly, women started using modern dresses.

The change that occurred in shoes were both the same for men and women.

After using the leather shoe they changed to waranga (shoe made out of motor

tire as shown in the diagram. Both men and women do use them.

The informant stated that the reasons for the changes which have occurred

in traditional dress patterns before the colonial rule to this day are basically

due to social changes. He mentioned a number of things which contributed to

this change. First, it was due to people's desire for good things or rather

attractive things. Secondly, he stated that human beings are the only animal

that take to new changes in order to be up to date.

\ The ways in which members of the Dur obtain wives. He pointed out that

members of the Dur do not marry from their own Dur hot do marry from other

clans (Durs). He then told me of the processes which were necessary for a man

to perform to a girl before getting married to her.

First he talked of the ways of marriage in the past. Just at the birth

before 8 days of the girl, the young man or his parents would go with leaves

and drop them before her mother. The mother of the young man would visit the

mother of the baby girl with water on the 8th day when she would be taken out

for the first time. The third thing, the mother of the young man would do,

was to visit them again with corn flour. The fourth thing that the young man would

do was to take 4 banjiwi (p. 73, typed p. 56) to the girl right when she was

weaned so that her parents could put in her ears. The sixth thing that the man

Would do was to take two ausar wila tsi (p. 76, typed p. 58) to the girl.

Then when the girl has grown up with small breast the man would ask six

people to go and hoe her mother's farm. When the girl was quite big and ready

for marriage, the young man would do mbal hila (this meant that the young man

- -X

' v^
r I*


would brew a local beer for him and his friends only). During this party, as

I may call it, the man would give the girl ausar wilatsi and jabi kuchir. The

eighth thing that the man would do was to zhu mwala. This involved taking:

(1) six kuntu (6 rolls of locally-made cloth). (2) Twelve banjiwi (p. 73, typed

p. 56), four ausar wilatsi and four jabi kuchir to the girl. The ninth thing

that the man would do was wulmwala by taking 6 kuntu to the parents of the girl.

The tenth thing in the series was for the man to do mbal gwarmwala (that was

taking beer, 4 jabi and 4 ausar wilatsi to the parents of the girl). The eleventh

thing was to do mbal kilmwala (the man would give two pots of mbal (beer) to the

father of the girl, two pots of mbal to the mother of the girl and one pot of

mbal to the girl. In addition to this he would take 8 jabi (p. 73, typed p. 56).

2 midlir and one linduwa kusar to the girl (p. 75, typed p.57). The man won't

do wulmwala (p. 83, typed p. 62) again.

The man would then do yumwala (the man would take 2 kuntu to the father

of the girl, asking him to let the girl go with him but her father would only

be willing the following year. During the wet season the man would be working

on her mother's farm.

The 13th thing, the man would buy meat for the father and salt for the

mother. The 14th thing, the man would also buy salt for the girl's grandmother.

Fifteenth, now everything that was required of the man is completed so the next

thing to do was to inform her father that they would nkamwala (nka, direct

translation of it is catch and mwala is woman). The man would ask his friends

to go and catch the girl for him. They would be visiting places outside her

village which they think they could meet her. It could be market place or in

the river where they draw water. At any place they meet her they ;would force

her to the young man's house. Villagers and her parents would rush to the man's

house in pretense of rescuing the girl just as a custom. They would be beating

people, especially those who were relatives of the man. Anybody who witnessed

such a scene would consider it as fighting rather than something of happiness.


After everything was put in order the girl (bride) and the bridegroom would

be locked in the same room where they play love affairs though the girl would

object to it at first. The girl would stay for about a day or two without taking

food or drink water. On the third day she would be invited by her relatives to

go for kicihi ma (this is a Bura word meaning washing the face in English but

the literal meaning of it as in the context is the day the bride would eat food

for the first time after she was captured by the bridegroom). Often you would

meet young men, girls and children playing at the bridegroom's house.

After she has stayed with him for about a month the bridegroom would then

inform people of the day of his luksa (customary ceremonial occasion after

marriage in this area). There would be plenty of mbal (locally-made beer) at

the bridegroom's house. His friends would kill goats and sheep for the meals

on that day of lukaa. During the daytime the people would be busy eating and

drinking mbal and at the same time giving out gifts to the bridegroom. In the

evening musical instruments (tsintza and gulum) wouad be played while the ladies

would be grinding, coordinated with the rhythm of the music. They do this in

some cases until daybreak. Gulum (lyre) Bura musical instrument having three

strings which are played with fingers like guitar drawing of gulum on p. 146,

typed p. 23), tsintza xylophone.

After the luksa then the bride would be taken to her parents. She would

stay with her parents until she had the first birth. Later she would them come

to her husband and stay permanently.

But drastic change occurred in the way of getting wives in this area. For

one thing, people saw that such a forceful marriage usually leads to a broken

home because the girls were forced to marry people not of their choice. A girl

could be forced to marry a man older than her father; how then could an old

blood mix with a new one? It caused lots of inconveniences between in-laws.

The first change occurred when young men would approach the girls and talk to

them personally to have the consent of the girls before informing their parents.


All other requirements of the bridegroom as described above are the same. The

other difference comes only in the way the girl goes to the bridegroom's room.

Here the bridegroom would send his friends and a lady at night to the girl's

home. Their job was just to bring her peacefully to him.

The second change occurred when the people started using money in this

area. The first thing the man would do was to have the consent of the girl,

after which he would give her NO0.6 which they call sur dlu kusar. (The real

English meaning of this statement is receiving the grass but I (Salmamza) guessed

that it probably makes it better for them to talk about their relations without

making anyone shy). Secondly, the man would bring NO0.5 as sur wulkutaki.

Thirdly, the man would bring N2.00 as mbal tida, and N0.4 as sur pila (these

were the ways of informing the girl's parents that you would like to marry their


The third change occurred more than those previously described. This is

our present ways of getting wives. Here I would like to point out that it varies

from one locality to another and from one religion to another. But the present

traditional way of getting wives embraces all religions in this area. The differ-

ence comes in that some (very few) Muslims give in marriage of their daughters

free without dowry.

The young man will first befriend for few weeks. During this time the girl

and her parents will try and learn something of the character of the young man.

Secondly, the man will give N16 to the girl as sur dlu kusar (p. 88, typed p.64).

He will then inform her parents that he will like to marry their daughter by giving

them N25, N15 for the father and N10 for the mother. Thirdly, the young man

would be responsible for buying clothes for the girl. The clothes include a

number of zanni, shirts, shoes, headties, earrings, necklaces, underwear and

other things like soap, perfume, rubbing oil, powder. This will cost him about

N28. In addition to these things the bridegroom will buy kola nuts so that the

girl and her parents can give to their relatives and friends to let them know


that she is now engaged.

After this the bridegroom and somebody responsible for the girl will go

to the authority for registration. The bridegroom will give N0.75 to the

district head, NO.5 to the village head, NO0.2 to the ward head, and NO0.2 to

saldakwi (a young man in the village which I can say takes the office of social

secretary). In addition to this, kola nuts will be given to them.

Finally, the bridegroom will mbwa nyikar nyarmbwa which I can term as heavy

engagement. It will cost him about N60 or N80. He can give the gLml in cash or

buy clothes and things as listed above. In addition to this he will buy 600

kola nuts, 200 for the girl, 200 for the mother and 200 for the father so that

they can give to their friends and relatives. After this the bridegroom is free

to visit his wife and her parents can allow her to go with him. It is up to the

bridegroom to invite people for his luksa, (p. 86, typed p. 63).

Salmamza Mshelia The above information of the modern marriage is correct to

the best of my knowledge but I would like to add some other activities which are

carried out in our area. In the Christian way of marriage, after the bride-

groom has satisfied the traditional requirements of the girl's parents he will

then distribute weRding:bells to his friends and relatives. On the wedding day

the bride and bridegroom will go to the church where they will be joined in the

Christian way. In the afternoon people will go to the bridegroom's residence

where they will have reception. There will be more activities in the evening.

People will dance for the drumming and tsintza or for music on records. In the

night other musical instruments will be played like likkandi and gulum (lyre).

After this the bride will stay permanently with the bridegroom.

The informant stated that the changes in way of marriage are due to the

introduction of money and clothes. It also makes girl's parents free from accu-

sation from her when she is in trouble because she chose somebody of her choice.

There were two traditional ceremonies practiced in this Dur. First is

luksa which is a customary thing carried out after marriage. This was purely the


responsibility of the bridegroom. It is carried out at the bridegroom's house

where he will invite people to rejoice for his marriage. In the past mbal (beer)

would be plenty while the only musical instrument played druing the occasion would

only be tsintza (xylophone) and gulum (lyre). The girls also would be grinding

guinea corn when the music was played. But with the introduction of religions

now people get mbal (beer) only in few luksa and more musical instruments are

played. It includes drum for dancing and likkandi.

The second traditional ceremony is death ceremony. On the day when an old

person dies there would be people (mostly women) weeping. There would be

drumming during the burial and after the burial for people to dance for the

deceased. On the following day they would cook potash which people would carry

with them as they go home. On the 15th day after the death people would be

gathered again (which they call sa mbal tuwa). On this occasion there would be

plenty of mbal (beer) and food for people. There would also be dancing in the

evening until daybreak. But again, with the introduction of religions in this

area those who have accepted them have stopped such practices while traditionally

old people still do it. Generally those who have accepted Islam and Christianity

only give sadaka (alms) (gifts) on the eighth day after the death.

Informant is Midala Kumirmta. The interview was started by 2:35 and ended by

3:05 P.M. It was the last interview I had with him. It wook place in his com-

pound where nobody was with us.

There aren't many titles connected to this Dur but the informant has told

me of a few. First is the Bulama who is the ward head who should be a man.

He listed his responsibilities in the village: (1) he is the first person to

plant tiksah (a red corn planted around compounds which yields early) in the

village. (2) he is responsible for saving family problems which occurred in the

village, but if it proves to be difficult he can direct them to the village head.

(3) he is also the host of those who come to the village from the authority. In


connection with this he will be responsible for their feeding and he will be

informed in advance of their objective in coming to the village. The ward head

is also responsible for taking the people's complaints to the authority. He

attends meetings called by the district head. The present duty of the ward head

is almost the same as the traditional one. But the difference comes in that they

do get yearly allowance proportional to the number of taxable people in the village

at the moment.

The informant stated that the are three titles connected to household:

(1) Salaki this title is applied to the husband. He is the supreme head of

the family whose words are obeyed most of the time. Traditional families were

always large with many wives and children so problems were frequent. He was

then responsible for putting things in order. The women get permission from

him when they want to pay visit to people outside or when they want to do certain

things. The husband is responsible for building all houses in the family. He

is also responsible for helping the women when they are in trouble. It could be

in the form of money or crops,in particular subsistence crops.

(2) Mwala wala this is the first woman married in a large family. She is

next to the husband in authority in the family. Beside kitchen work she can

also solve less difficult problems in the family. Other women and children in

the family do have respect for her and so it makes her job more easy. When the

husband is away she has the supreme power in the family. She is also the one to

inform the husband of any problem in the family.

(3) Mwala ntsaha (gaji) this is a title given to the last woman married in a

large family. She is subordinate to all the women in the family. She is the

one who does emergency cooking for the husband when he comes home from journey.

She is the one that other women can send even to carry water for them.

But such titles are no longer applicable in the monogamous families today;

only that of the husband holds. In the families where there are single wives

they tend to keep their properties with their husbands.


The informant considered briefly the traditional installation ceremonies

of a chief and ward head. First, he considered kuhi (chief). The character

of such person must be exceptionally good, always friendly with people. He

should be a sort of person whom people would respect. He should be good at

making public speech to draw people's attention. When such a person has got

all these qualities he will invite elderly people and friends so that he talks

to them about his decision to be chief. During this time he will produce mbal

(beer) for them to refresh themselves. After he has heard their advice he will

invite people for a bigger party the day we will beat dlimbwar (dlimbwar is a

big special drum used only during installation of chief). He will use about

60 to 100 modus of guinea corn for cooking mbal (beer) for people and his

friends and villagers will also cook some.

On the day of installation he will be taken to his neighbor's house early

in the morning. At this time he is just called Midala since he is not yet tur-

banned. In the afternoon his compound will be crowded with people while the

dlimbwar is ready also. At this time also his close relatives will turban him

while the crowd patiently waits to hail him with honorary words as burdi, dinar.

When he comes out in his attire there will be music and his relatives will try

to block his gate for him until he gives them money. After he has entered his

compound he will beat the dlimbwar once while his relatives on his mother's side

will continue beating it. In the evening he will sit on a chair when the people

dance before him. They will continue dancing until daybreak. That is how he

becomes a chief.

When he is dead his successor will cross over his legs and he will beat

dlimbwar before the 15th day after his death. During his burial they will just

cover his body with cloth and they will support him in the grave with a metal

folk (fork?). They will fill the grave with charcoal and then complete it with

earth. (This burial is only applicable to the chief of Biu.) They do this be-

cause he is a chief and also to differentiate him from an ordinary person.


Secondly, he considered the installation of Bulama (ward head). It is a

sort of inheritance. The village head will be invited during the occasion. The

village head will then ask the villagers if they accept him as their ward head.

After he has their consent then the village head will turban him. Dance will

follow immediately after this.

When the ward head is dead there will be a slight change in his burial from

an ordinary person. They will cover him with a piece of cloth but they will lay

him with the mat on top of him instead of under him. They did this just to show

that the village belongs to him.

He did not tell me of the way they bury chief today but he said that of the

ward head is the same.

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