Title: Walls around towns, Bura Field Project: Wandali by Stephen Luka Hena (typescript, 1973)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099272/00001
 Material Information
Title: Walls around towns, Bura Field Project: Wandali by Stephen Luka Hena (typescript, 1973)
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Cohen, Ronald ( Compiler )
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099272
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Special and Area Studies Collections
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text





Stephen L. Hena

Origin of Wandali Village

Informant: Galadima Soroma Mshelia
(see p. 17, typed p. 7 )

The present village of Wandali was founded not earlier than 1920. It

first started when two households left their home area in search for a better

farming ground, having been pressed in their area of origin by the aggressive

European/Babur regime who imposed on them rules and obligations which were be-

fore then unfamiliar.

The founding fathers of what is now known as Wandali came from Hga, which

is today the district headquarters of what is referred to as West Bura. They

were Hgedima Yanjili and Gurgurtima Mbaya. They were subjected to the harsh

treatments of the Pabir people who based their station at Birni (about 10 miles

southeast of Wandali). They found that they were not enjoying the fruits of

their labor in the hands of the Pabir so they sought assylum westwards out of

the reach of the Pabir. They moved from the black, muddy soil of the east and

settled in this sandy area.

When they arrived in this area they found that there had been a settlement

in this area. What they met was the crumbling thick mud wall surrounding sites

of what were once compounds of people who long abandoned this area in which up

to now it was not possible to trace who the original founders were.

There was a large muddy stream (now filled up and dry) which was infested

with tsetse fly and it was believed that it contributed to the disappearance of

the first settlement. Today, this stream hardly has any flowing water for-one

or two months of the year. It is now well cultivated with mango and guava trees.

Ten years ago there used to be sugarcane and banana farms but it is now too dry

for these crops. The Church of the Brethren Mission (C.B.M.) had a small but

go6d orchard along the valley in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The settlers

therefore had no problem of water supply while fish was also available in the

stream in those days. There were also plenty of wild animals such as varieties


of antelope, rabbits and the like for hunting. Farms were never up to half

a mile away from the settlement.

Unlike other parts of Buraland, when these people arrived they found that

they were in a land owned by a certain chief with his headquarters at Minta

(also walled) and therefore had to obtain his permission in which they were

willingly allowed to settle. This chief did not acquire the land through con-

quest but through traditional agreement between him and the other neighboring

chiefs. They do so by setting fire to the dry bush (during the dry season)

and wherever the bushfire kindles will be that man's boundary. This boundary

was normally a stream in which the burning fire could not cross. Thus, having

obtained permission to settle in the area it was the duty of the chief to

install the new head of the settlement or village. Normally, the person who

first settled in the place had the right to the headship of the new village

but since they came together there was no clearcut leadership. They however

agreed that Gurgurtima, being the eldest,,,should assume the leadership. It

was customary to provide a goat for the opening ceremony of the new village

and it was later found that it was Yangili Dibal who provided the sacrificial

animal and not his elder friend, Gurgurtima. Thus, the chief decided to appoint

Yangili Dibal as the head (Bilama) of Wandali. When Gurgurtima died he left no

son but daughters and relatives who traditionally cannot compete for the post.

Traditionally, the successor is usually the eldest, responsible son of the out-

going or dead Bilama who could inherit the post. Yangili had many sons and

daughters so that when he died there was no strong opposition to the leadership

and thus his son, Ali, succeeded him as the second and present head of the village.

Apart from Minta, there were other villages around even before Wandali was

re-founded. To the north are Lapiya (also walled), to the northeast are Gasi,

Gundu and Duzunkir, in the east were Nggaku, Lesga and Wuyakshafa, while to the

south and west are Minta, Kuggawa, Magaba, Bumanda, Gongdi, Salahu and Guwal.,

Most of these villages were founded earlier than Wandali but most of these villages


have today migrated to Wandali or Kwaya being on the main road and already grow-

ing to be large villages with school, church, mosque, market and dispensary.

Apart from the founding Dur, many others moved to Wandali for various

reasons. Earlier settlers were attracted by the sandy soil which was easily

farmed and that there was plenty of water from the nearby stream even during

the dry season. As the land fell to colonial rule a road was constructed join-

ing Biu and Kwaya Tera. That road passed through Magaba, Birni and on to Kwaya

Bura and then to Biu. Wandali was then about 8 miles north of the motor road.

When the new road was opened joining Biu and Gombe it passed through Wandali

(around 1940s). This road made Wandali accessible to both the Pabir and the

colonial administrators. With the coming of the missionaries in 1946 to establish

a station, Wandali began to grow faster and attract more migrants to this area.

The new religion (Christianity) together with medical center and school brought

by the missionaries also helped to attract people from the surrounding villages.

Thus in Wandali today we have Dibal, Mbaya, Mshelia, Hena, Mshelbwala, Chara,

Dlakwa, Ngganijiwa as the main Dur living here. There are also Fulanis (Home

or Town Fulani) who had for long been living in their separate Zara, herding

their cattle and cultivating small plots around their compounds. (see p. 17,

typed p. 7 ).

Original Size and Layout of the Village

As mentioned earlier, Wandali was "re-founded" being located in what was

once a walled village but was deserted due to past war of which no one could

tell who were the enemies. When the village was opened it consisted of two

households or compounds of Yanjili Dibal and Gurgurtima Mbaya. Yanjili had

about eight sons and two daughters. Some of the sons died long ago. Later,

some of his relatives moved to Wandali. Gurgurtima's relatives also came all

of which formed the core of the early stage of the village.

In the pre-colonial era compounds were normally well spaced, being 50 100


yards apart. This spacing was necessary because the people were in the habit of

planting various types of crops around their compounds. Among the many crops

which are planted around the compounds tiksha (a species of sergum which is

cultivated and harvested within four to five months) occupies the most space.

Maize takes the second position in terms of plot allocation while pumpkins,

cucumber, guard, and various sther vegetables are also to be found on the same

plot around the compounds. Groundnuts are planted further away from the com-

pounds, but not too far as to be within the reach of monkeys, baboons and the

like. Newly married young men may establish their compounds close to that of

theri father so that it is not unusual to see some compounds close together or

even joined. They may however move away from such places so as to give more

room to the expanding household.

As the village grew and with the addition of more and more clans to the

village (up to 20 compounds) the organization of the village became more diffi-

cult and cooperation began to dwindle. Thus a certain Dur, Amaza, decided to

move out of the walled village, moved half a mile away and founded Ta-sha.

This was under the leadership of one Madi Kwana and his brother Kuthi Samba,

both of the Amaza clan. Madi Kwana became the Bilama of this new settlement

and was independent of the leadership of Wandali. When Madi Kwana died he was

succeeded by Kuthi Samba and when he also died around 1957 he was succeeded by

his son, Bulama Abdullahi, who is still the present Bulama of that Zara and

still independent of the Bulama of Wandali, despite the fact that the two and

other Zaras are today joined.

With the coming of the missionaries some of the early converts singled

themselves out to establish another zara which they named 'Katsina'. They

mainly of young men who accepted and adopted the new religion and their doctrine

of one wife. This was around 1950. These people had their compounds closer

together than the 'traditional' people although they cultivated the same type

of crops.

It should be pointed out that the plots surrounding the compounds are not
owned collectively by all the members of the household. Since all able-bodied
male and female are farmers the field surrounding the compounds is shared fairly
equally among the wives while the head of the household may have a larger share
and usually the area in front of the gate, while the servants or elder sons
will have smaller portions.
This practice continued until 1963 when it was seen that the village was
expanding fast and needed to have a modern outlook. Thus local authority
decided to design the village and re-arrange it with streets.

Diagram of Pre-Colonial Wandali


\/ /


Within the pre-colonial setup of the village there were no well-defined

Zara but when one needs to make reference to a particular section of the village

he may refer to it according to the area where there is higher concentration

of a particular clan e.g. Dibal, Amaza, etc.

Note also that the above diagram is not that of the people who built the

wall but of the people who re-occupied the abandoned settlement.

With the re-arrangement of the village in 1963, compounds or households

now live close together separated by wide streets which were not to be planted

except in the more remote end of the village. The cultivation of tiksha, maize,

etc., which were once close to the compounds are today planted far away from the


For their water supply the village and its constituent zara obtained their

water from the nearby stream which used to have plenty of water throughout the

year. During the rainy season the stream flows so that there was no problem

but during the dry season it was often necessary to have some shallow wells

around for their water supply. For washing, swimming and fishing there is a

larger river about one and a half miles north of the village. Water is fetched

from the stream by women and children.

The Village Headship and Its History

As discussed earlier (see pp. 6-7, typed pp. 2-3) ,the known history of

Wandali can not be traced beyond 1920s. It is true that this is an old place

and in fact there are many other abandoned villages around here to be evidenced

by graveyards, building foundations, broken pots and buried treasures, but no

one can tell who the settlers were. Thus, as for Wandali, the present "dyasty"

have no long history. The founding father and the first village head was Bulama

Yanjili Dibal who came here with his friend, Gurgurtima Mbaya. Since Yanjili

was the first Bulama of the village it became traditionally legal to pass on

the leadership of the village to his senior son or any other responsible elder


member of the Dibal family. Thus there has not been much opposition for


Being in the land of the chief of Minta, Bulama Yanjili was installed

Hyedima. This title was recognized to be higher than that of Bulama. It was

thus a sort of promotion.

When he died in 1963 he was succeeded by his son, Ali, who is up to this

day the ruling Bulama of Wandali. Thus there has not yet been any change of

leadership from one lineage to another.

Informant: M. Bulama Dibal I

ORIGIN of Wandali Village

Wandali is 18 miles west of Biu town, along Biu-Gombe road, just on the

border of the Biu plateau. There is a fertile valley around while farms were


Long ago this area was believed to be inhabited by two tribes Ngwi and

Bachama. These people moved westwards into Adamawa Province due to famine and

never came back. They are today in Numan Division of Adamawa Province. When

they left their Bura neighbors in Minta village (about 2 miles west of Wandali)

remained and established a small 'kingdom' which covers the area which is today

ruled by the present Lawan of Wandali. 'They had their-chief advisers, and

several Bulama under this chief. They had a wall around their village (the

ruins of which could still be seen today) and has powerful chiefs. Minta was

then a sort of headquarters of several villages such as Gundu, Gasi, Wandali,

Guwal, Bumanda, Magaba, Kugwawa, Bantam and a host of others.

When the Bachama and Ngwi left the area the ruins of their village was

never re-occupied until the present founders came and re-named it 'Wandali'.

In those days Minta being a powerful village had control over the whole area

and thus anybody who wanted to settle in the area had to obtain permission to

settle in the area first, and that the village head of such and other settle-

ments are automatically subjects to the chief. They must always report to the


chief of any death occurring in their village so that the chief will send his

representative to decide where to locate the grave. All social activities, public

gatherings such as marriage ceremonies must be reported to the chief for his

approval first.

It was in such a condition that the founders of Wandli village came. They

were Gurgurtima Mbaya and his friend, Yangili Dibal. They came from Sakwa in

West Bura (about 8 miles south of Biu). They had problem with the Pabir people

to the north which led them to poor harvest and thus inconveniences. They thus

decided to move down westwards frre from the Pabirs. Their intention was to go

as far as to Wuy' (another ancient village about 4 miles northwest of Wandali).

This Wuyo is different from Wuyo of Teraland. On their way to Wuyo they passed

through this area to find the fertile plain ground here with plenty of water,

wild animals to hunt, a nearby stream for fishing, etc., which attracted them.

In addition, they came across the abandoned town with broken-down buildings

which could easily be repaired. They therefore decided to settle down here

rather than to move on to Wuyo.

They went to the chief of Minta and told him of their intention and ob-

tained permission to settle. Gurgurtima Nbaya was older and he was given the

leadership of the village. He provided for the sacrificial he-goat for the

opening ceremony of the village and the chief of Minta gave him the Shafar di

(staff of office) and thus he became the first village head of Wandali.

In those days this area was heavily forested and occupied by varieties of

wild and tame animals which included hyenas, leopards, elephants, buffalo-type

of animals, pythons, cobra, several varieties of antelope and over four species

of the monkey family. There were also other dangerous snakes, birds of several

kinds and plenty of wild fruits. Children could not venture to travel 300 yards

away from their compounds.

A few years after their settlement some people came to live with them.

They were, among the early-comers, Kuthli Dala, Karbati, Yarima Dili and several


others around the 1940s and early 1950s. Gurgurtima's children, Alasa and

Ibrahim Jalo, also established their own compounds later. Same also with

Yangili's children Musa Yoksa, Baidu Aji and later on the younger ones,

Ali, Mwagjim Kaku, Samba.

As they opened up the place another group of people, Madi Kwana and Kuthi

Samba Amaza came to the area and founded their own village about 400 yards

away from the wall. They named it Tasha and have their own Bulama and were

recognized as an independent village, not subject to Wandali but to Minta

directly. Other villages such as Lesiga were founded by people who were formerly

living in the stony village of Gundu, Gasi and Nggabu as well as Duzuntir, all

of which are deserted today, the people having moved to Wandali and other

more open places along the main road.

Original Size and Layout of the Village (see p. 9, typed p. 3)

The village originally consisted of the compounds of the founders, two

in all. Later on their sons got married and established their own compounds.

Other people also arrived to share the fertile land with them until eventually

the village grew to fill the old walled surrounding.N As more and more people

arrived the surrounded area could not contain them; also the wall started to

lose its function (which was mainly defensive). Thus other newcomers started

to build houses outside the wall.

Compounds were scattered far apart, at least a hundred yards apart, so

as to allow room for the cultivation of vegetables, tiksha and other short-

period crops. Spacing of the compounds were also necessary so as to avoid

burning of one house after the other when there is outbreak of fire. Once

the compounds are far apart only the first affected compound will perish.

There were no distinct zara in the pre colonial setup of the village as

such. People established their compounds within respectable distances. Any

other settlements will have their own independent Bulama and thus there were

no zaras.


Villages were scattered all over and although some are never up to half

a mile away they are still recognized as independent villages and not zaras.

The planting of tiksha and other fast-growing crops around the compounds

was necessary so that in case of shortage of food, such crops would supplement

before the other varieties of guinea corn could ripen, which is usually two

months after the harvest of tiksha. Maize also serve the same purpose although

its harvest is never as much as that of tiksha. The modern setup of the village,

with its compounds so close together does not permit the cultivation of tiksha

and the rest around the compounds. Wide streets are left uncultivated except

for short-season type groundnuts in the more remote streets.

It is a common practice for a village in this part of Buraland to share a

waterhole. In the case of Wandali, the nearby stream provided for all the water

supply for drinking, washing, and other purposes. At times towards the end of

the dry season, shallow wells are often necessary and dug in the valley of the

stream. These wells are never up to ten feet deep.

In addition there is a bigger stream, called River Ndivana, about two miles

north of the village. There used to be plenty of fish and other water animals

and are hunted for annually during the dry season. Fishing and hunting are not

fulltime occupations. Almost everybody could fish when desire arises.

The Village Headship and Its History

In this area the first person to begin a settlement automatically becomes

the village head and is supposed to be succeeded by his eldest son. The history

of the village headship of Wandali therefore dates back as far as the beginning

of the village. It was said earlier that the first people to open this village

were two friends, namely, Gurgurtima Mbaya and Yangili Dibal. Although they

both came at the same time and could claim equal rights to the headship of the

village, Gurgurtima was older than Yangili and was therefore installed by the

chief of Minta to become the first village head of Wandali. He continued as

,~jj% /4 /bL



the village head until his death (not sure how long).

The village headship was supposed to be inherited by one of his senior

sons, Alasa, but due to the promise made to Yangili by Gurgurtima before his

death, he promised Yangili that since they both came together and that they

have been good and successful friends, they were to alternate the village

headship. Thus it was arranged that Yangili was to succeed him after his

death while his son was to succeed Yangili and so on. Yangili therefore

succeeded Gurgurtima and ruled the village for over thirty years. He ruled

the village well and attracted a large number of people so that the village

grew rapidly that a call was made to plan the village into a modern setting.

He died in 1963 when the village was being planned with streets.

He kept his promise and Gurgurtima's son was to succeed him as agreed.

At this time of his death, Alasa, the eldest son of Gurgurtima was blind and
therefore unsuitable for the post. The older son was too young for the post

and in addition he was sickly. The rest of his children were females and

traditionally unacceptable. The village elders (Kwakuma) were therefore left

with no other alternative but to install one of Yangili's sons. He was there-

fore turbanned by the chief of Minta to succeed his father as the new village

head (Bulama) and still rules the village up to this day.

Thus we have seen that the village headship changed from the Mbaya family

to Dibal family

Titles and Offices

As mentioned earlier, this part of Buraland has chieftaincy and the area

can be described as a kingdom; in fact it is referred to as Tsidi Ladi, meaning

land of Ladi people, with their headquarters at Minta village. The ruling Dur

or clan is Dlakwa. They have been ruling a number of villages in their dominion

until the coming of the Europeans to colonize or pacify the area. When the

Europeans came the resistance made by the chief of Minta made him unpopular


within the colonial eye. His power was thus reduced and a Lawan was appointed

(from the Dur of Chara) to rule the area instead.

Before the coming of the Europeans however the chief had exclusive powers

over several village in this area in which Wandali was one of them. The chief

promotes certain Bulamas to the rank of Hyedima or Thlerma, which was just a

high-ranking Bulama or head of a prosperous village. This title may be bought

from the chief by certain Bulamas who were not patient enough to wait for the

promotion time.

Within the villages the Bulama was the head of the village and had powers

to punish members of the village as decided by the council of elders. He

also has a sort of council, consisting of old or elder members of the village

in which he summons them at times when matters which needed to be discussed

arise. These people are generally referred to as Kwakuna.

He also selects within this group certain people with specific duties.

First, there is Wakil, who acts as a messenger to notify the elders when there

is a meeting, helps the chief to communicate to the people any decisions which

have been agreed upon, and also helps the chief to announce any other announce-

ments such as dates for certain ceremonies such as festivals, and communal works

which needed joint effort.

Kadala. Sometimes on often mysterious cases such as sudden death of a

middle-aged person may occur due to a short illness, this must be probed

immediately because it was believed that once a child passes successfully in

the series of diseases of childhood, it would be certain that he would not

die until old age. Thus, it was the duty of the Kadala, with the help of the

witch doctors to find out what or who caused the death. Cases of theft, mis-

fortune and other criminal or unlawful cases were also similarly probed. He

was also to organize programs for any rituals, burials and any other similar

ceremonies. When a person was suspected of bewitching a person or believed

to have caused the death, he was to be proved guilty or not guilty by drinking


a calabashful of hira (a certain syrup or sap from a poisonous cactus). His

death or survival would determine whether he was innocent or not.

Other titles are found where there is Kuthli (chief). There is Batari,

who was or were the chief advisors of the chief. He was to see that nothing

bothers the chief and helps him solve problems which were at hand. Holds

private conference with the chief to advise him when necessary.

Also Kaigama, whose duty is forgotten.

Capwala. The duty of the Chapwala was to act as the 'commander of the army'.

This was normally a tough warrior who fears nothing and leads the people of

the village or the people in the chief's dominion to war against invading

neighbors which were usually Fulanis from Mbormi and Gulani area. No case

of fighting or war between the neighboring Tera people to the northwest and

west of this area.

All the above-mentioned titles(were by appointment on merit and could

not be inherited. Once holder of that title dies, another will be chosen from

among many other alternatives. Often, no ceremony was attached to such


Kuthir Dakwi (chief of young men) was also appointed in each village.

His duty was to see that girls and boys were able to attend any dance in a

neighboring village in which they were invited. He was also to be contacted

first or as early as possible when a young man from other village wanted to

marry a girl from their village.

Women and girls sing when there is a dance. The leader of the singing

group, usually one who sings the best all the time, never shy, and always

ready to compose a new song, was also chosen from among the girls and was

called Zabiya. This title does not stay long since some of them, once married,

may not 'he-allowed by their husbands to attend dances.

As regards occupation, there wasn't much leadership or title in the pre-

colonial period. All men were expected to be able to hunt, using bow and arrow,



rarely spears and traps. Those who distinguished themselves in hunting were

referred to as experts and respected. Such people were often associated with

the knowledge wide ranges of medicinal herbs, both for doing good and harm.

They were therefore feared and respected. Hunters were distinguished by the

number of large animals killed per annum.,

Other titles such as Migawa (for any blacksmith), Kida (for any musician,

especially drummer) were automatically given to any person of such a profession.

Relation to Other Places

As mentioned earlier, this village was among many others which were ruled

or controlled by Minta chiefdom. As such the village was subordinated to Minta.

Even as early as the 1960s, once there occurs death of anybody in this village

the Bulama will first be informed and he likewise would send somebody to report

the matter to the chief of -Mta who would then send his representative to this

village. This person would be authorized by the chief to decide upon the grave-

site. Once the site has been located the people will then continue to dig the

grave and then bury the person. Apart from this, there were also social acti-

vities in which they do invite not only the people of Minta but also the other

village. Such invitations were mainly annual festivals such as Mbal Sadaka

where each household of the village was expected to prepare enough beer for

distribution to friends and visitors free of charge. This festival was usually

associated with dance in which the invitees would come with their girls and

young men of their village to share the joy of the festival with them.

Among the villages in which Wandali used to communicate or share social

activities were the now-extinct villages of Duzinkir, Gasi, Gundu, Nggabu,

Dikira and the still-existing villages of Minta, Gurval, Salahu, Bumanda, Gongli,

and Magaba. For these villages they do pay return dances and be represented

at each other's festivals. As for Biu, Mandaragrau and other Pabir village,

there was no relationship whatsoever during the pre-colonial days. It was only

after the coming of the Europeans did the Pabir come to this area exercising


\( <

7 /7


power over the Bura people of this area. Compulsory 'gifts' were to be taken

to Biu in form of guinea corn, chickens or goats; these were not gifts in that

sense but were compulsory annual dues, taken to the chief of Biu. This was

around 1900-1920.

It was also known that slaves have been captured during war or bought

during famine. It was therefore possible that there must have been contact

with the Kanuri, Fulani, Pabir and the Tera occasionally during the pre-colonial



Like many other villages around here, including Minta, this town had a

wall round it. However, not a single person can tell who actually built the

wall or who lived around here before the coming of the present founding

lineage. When they came the wall was already collapsed and only a heap of

earth indicated the original layout of the wall. It was seen to have had two

doors. To add to the height of the wall a deep trench was dug around the wall.

It was believed to have been up to ten feet deep and more than ten feet wide.

This trench was to prevent any horsemen from coming close enough to the wall.

Near the gate there was provided a wide plank or timber enough for people

to go in and out during the day while the gate was to be shut for everybody

immediately the sun set. The gatekeepers insure that rangers were identified

before being allowed in. Since there were no stones close by the wall was

built with mud and no attempt was made to use stones, not even for the founda-

tion. In other places where there are stones, as in the case with one village

called Madliba, about 4 miles east of Wandali, the stone wall still stands

high today with the gates remaining the only entry to the village. In all

cases the gates would not be opened to anyone going in or out after the sun

set. There were gatekeepers who see that no invaders come near the gate. If

invaders dare come near the gate the villagers would be alarmed and everyone

would take position near the wall and shoot out arrows at them. Women and


small children who were helpless were usually hidden safe somewhere within

the wall or a nearby valley.

The mud wall used to be worn out by the heavy rains of this area. This

meant that it had to be repaired by the villagers. It was built through

communal effort, usually with the help of other villagers and sometimes slaves

if any. For its repairs similar efforts were used.

These walls were believed to be built for defensive purposes against

Fulani. There have been constant attack by Fulani cavalry from the north and north-

west of this area. Also, Kanuri people used to come to this area, raiding for

slaves. It was also believed that the Pabir people have been threatening this



There has been no record of any serious fighting between the people of

this area. It was only minor vengeances. The most serious warfare which has

been a threat to this area was that from Mbormi area. Mbormi had been a large

town and had a strong cavalry whose main aim was slave-raiding and looting of

public property. This town had a wall round it built of mud and covers an

area of over 10 square miles. The people of Mbormi had been causing a lot of

damage to the people of this area until her power was weakened by the raiding

forces of one Rabi. Rabi defeated the people of Mbormi and came to this area.

They attacked the Babur people first but could not resist them. They therefore

sought alliance with the Bura people. When Rabi died his daughter took over

the leadership and continued with the battles. The defeated people of Mbormi

then rallied under the leadership of Mallam Zai and attacked Gulani, passed

through Kwaya Tera area invading and looting as they went on expanding their

empire. They went as far as to Walama, about 20 miles south of Kwaya and

stopped there by the joint effort of the Bumn and invited Kanakuru armies.

These invasions had great impact upon the people of this area because many

people fled their villages and went as far as to Shani area,(Kanukuru land)


and they never came back again but decided to settle there.

Informant: Kuthi Kadala
Those Present: His son, Madu Isa.
Time: 4 hrs.

Origin of Wandali

The origin of Wandali is related to the chiefdom of Minta. Minta is

now a small village about one and a half miles away south of Wandali. The

village of Minta has a chief under which were many villages and covers almost

eight square miles. Most of these villages were (and are still) under the leader-

ship of Bulama i.e. the original founders or founding lineage of the village.

It is customary in this land that any founder of a village resumes the headship

and retains this post unless there is no successor to the outgoing Bulama.

Normally, it was either the son of the closest responsible relative in absence

of the son.

Among the big villages under Minta chiefdom were Madliba, Nggabu, Gasi,

Duzirkir,Grim, Wandali, Bumanda, Kugawa, Gongdi, Kankir and Wuyakshafa. Al-

though these villages are never more than eight miles apart and the chiefdom.

as a whole is not more than eight square miles, it was nevertheless big enough

to be under the control of one person, the chief. In those days there villages

were separated by dense savana forests with lots of wild animals around which

included among the dangerous ones- hyenas of various species, zebras, tigers,

lions and many other smaller animals which hindered the establishment of large

empires which the available weapons and means of communication. (?)

It was within such a setup that Wandali came to existence. There was

once a strong chief at Minta called Kuthi Malum. (Kuthi = chief or king.) and

as he was growing older he chose among his sons (with the traditional advice

of his elders or councils the Kwakunas) the one who was to succeed him. This

man was called Kadala. As a chosen one by the chief he was popular and well

honored throughout the villages under his father, the chief. The people of


his father's chiefdom thought that it was good to honor him in one way since he

was to become their future chief. Thus they decided that he shouh establish

his own village so that they would build him a wall round his new village. As

there were no stones close by it was easier or cheaper to build the all (garu))

with mud just as that around Minta, his father's headquarters.

The building of these walls was solely voluntary (although some people

may be unwillingly to contribute their effort) and that slaves also did

participate in the building of these walls.

When the wall was completed the chief's son (Kadalla) moved into the new

village with a number of followers which altogether numbered up to 50 house-

holds, with the Kadala's compound in the middle of the settlement. The wall

had four gates which were well guarded with men armed with bows and arrows.

It so happened that this Kadala died before his father due to a sudden

illness so that he did not live to succeed his father to the throne. Since

the villagers went there purposefully due to the son's chief(chief's son?)

most of the villagers in Wandali went back to Minta to stay with their chief

for fear of invasion by the Fulani and Kanuri who used to visit the area on

occasional invitations. There were however about three people who remained

in the village until their death. With that the village became uninhabited

for quite a long time until one man who claimed to be one of the sons of a Biu

chief (no name was mentioned or remembered) came to the deserted village of

Wandali to settle. Since he did not obtain prior permission of the chief of

Minta he was warned to vacate immediately, which he did.

When that person left, again the village remained uninhabited for long

before some people came from the east, being driven by famine to look for

food supply and farmland. They were the families of Gurgurtima Mbaya and Yangili

Dibal. Yangili, according to the chief of Minta, came from Tanga (other in-

formants, as mentioned earlier, said that Yangili came from Aga or Sakwa)

while Gurgurtima came from Njukuku, about four miles from Biu.

In any case, these people, according to many sources, were tight friends and


had good relations with the Pabir and even helped the Pabir in their movements

in Buraland until the famine broke in to strain the relation. They thus moved

down westwards to this area to found in the middle of a thick forest a walled

abandoned village with some round huts still standing but the village wall

was already on the ground. They therefore found it easier to settle here and

abandoned the idea of traveling to Wuyo as they had planned before.

On understanding that this land belonged to the chief of Minta, they went

to Minta and lodged there and explained their intention and obtained a per-

mission from the chief of Minta to settle in the village of Wandali. They

were allowed and with Gurgurtima as the eldest among the two, resumed the

headship of the village until his death.

Not only these people but even some people from Minta came to Wandali to

settle in the re-founded village of Minta. This included the brother of the

then chief of Minta. This man was called Kuthi Dala. He could have been

appointed the head of the village but Gurgurtima was allowed due to his old age

and the respect he used to give the chief. As such even when Kuthi Dala came to

Wandali he was not recognized as the head of the village but as a representative

of the chief of Minta. After staying for some time in Wandala Kuthi Dala went

back to Minta and died there.

Original Size and Layout of the Village

The village of Wandali, as mentioned earlier, was designed in honor of

the prince of Minta, and the walls round it were built to suit his desire and

the labor needed was supplied solely by the surrounding villages who worked in


The wall was oblong in shape to avoid certain eroded area and all the village

lived within the enclossure of the wall with no one outside the wall for fear of

invaders. The whole settlement numbered up to 50 compounds with an average of

6-8 people per compound, while the village head may have over thirty people in

his compound, some as servants, dead relatives' wives and children and so on.

The compounds were scattered all over so as to have enough room to cul-
tivate some crops especially some pumpkins, cucumber, maize, millet and
varieties of sergum(sorghum?) tiksha and the like. Also some vegetables and
The head of the village was the chief's son, and his house was located in
the center with all others spread evenly throughout within the wall. As such
there were no distinct zaras with different leaderships.
Compounds were located at respectable distances of up to hundred yards
apart in some cases, not only to allow room for cultivatable land but also
against any cases of fire outbreak which often burns down their thatched roofs
and compounds. All compounds were also enclosed by cornstalk or grass matting
so as to keep out others from seeing what was going on within their compounds.
The spacing of the compounds was also necessary due to some common contagious
diseases such as whooping cough, measles, chickenpox and the like which were
very much feared.




To- Z ---


The diagram above shows the original or pre-colonial layout of the village, showing

the four gates, the position of and location of the head of village's compound

and the spacing of other compounds.

There were no wells or sources of water within the wall;as such all

water supply was obtained from outside the wall. Most farms were also outside

the wall.

Today, as many people moved into the village or as they increased in num-

ber they became more and more compact so that the only spaces left are streets

between the compounds.

All the people fetch their water from the same place. During the rainy

season water was usually plentiful from the nearby stream, also called Wandali.

It flows until around January, that(then?) it starts to dry up leaving isolated

pools. It was only then that waterholes were necessary. Usually one waterhole

was enough but sometimes it may be necessary to have more than one. Washing

and bathing were done in the stream or the isolated pools of the dry season

while others would venture to go to the larger river, Ndivana, about one and

a half miles north of the village. This river was rich in fish and used to

supply the people with fresh fish throughout the year without difficulty. They

used fishing nets and traps. Hooks were later introduced with the coming of

the Europeans.

There were no professional fishermen so that most fishing was done during

the dry season when there was practically no work on the farms. Those who were

interested do participate in fishing

Titles and Offices Which Were Held. By Kuthi Isa of Minta

Apart from the head of the village (Bulama) and the chief (Kuthi) there

used to be many other titles held with specific purposes. The informant being

the present chief of Minta himself was able to give the following titles as

used during the pre-colonial period.

The chief, as mentioned earlier, exercises supreme power over the whole area


under his jurisdiction, his powers being checked only by his Kadala and Kwakunas.

He administers justice and sentences criminals and offenders for various offenses*

He collects fines and re-distributes it to the general public in the form of

gifts, feasts and the purchase of arrows to his people during the time of war.

He had authority over everybody and property,as well as some saying in rituals

and other ceremonies to a certain extent.


This title was normally given to the chief's close relatives, occasionally

to some distinguished Bulamas and chief's friends in some cases. This post

was very important, next only to the chief. It is the equivalent of the

district head (Ajiya) in modern day administration. He had the power to order
all the Bulamas in the chief's kingdom to important meeting and chairman the

meeting in which his decision was well respected. He was also the spokesman

of the chief. The chief speaks to the Bulamas through the Hyedima but never

speaks out directly to people. The (chief) never shouts out anything, thus

the Hyedima was the one who was to speak out loudly what the chief wanted to

tell the Bulamas. TheiHyedime was (and even now) succeeded by his eldest son.

It is a hereditary post.

The installation ceremony of the Hyedima was performed in a similar way

to that of the chief. When turbanned, the new Hyedima would be given the

official drum (dlimbwar) to beat three times, each of which would be received

with loud cheers by a crowd of people, after which he would be escorted on

horseback and followed by a large crowd to his house. In his house he would

offer a large feast, slaughtering oxen, sheep and goats while beer (locally

brewed) would be in excess of demand.


The person who held this post acted as the chief's attendant. He was to

usher in all those who wanted to see the chief. Without him no one was able


to come into the chief's presence or be allowed to talk to the chief. This

included the Hyedima, Bulamas and all other officials as well as the general



This title was given to a respectable person who acts as the chief's

guardian so that the chief respects him well and that whatsoever he says the

chief may likely agree with. The chief does not normally dispute the Kadala

while the Kadala may always disagree with the chief. He advises him on matters

affecting his leadership and the administration of his land.

Maina or Yerma

Refers to any possible successor of the chief or Hyedima. This specifi-

cally refers to the eldest son but may equally be right with the other sons

of the chief since their possibility of inheriting the post cannot be ruled

out. Being the possible successor of the chief, the eldest son used to be well

respected by almost everybody and he in turn was expected to be very kind, gener-

ous and hard working so as to gain popularity from the people of the villages.


This post was given to anybody who has been appointed to look after the general

social welfare of the chief's village. He was to see that water supply was

adequate; if not, orders for new bore holes to be dug immediately. He was to

see that the dancing ground (in front of the chief's palace) was swept clean for

ceremonies. When there was outbreak of diseases such as whooping cough and

measles, he was to be informed immediately so as to find the witch doctor to

decide what steps to take.

It should be understood that he doesn't take decisions on his own but con-

tacts the chief and his elders on matters which affect everybody. Thus, for

example, in the case of any outbreak of contagious diseases, the elders virtually

decide what was to be done, such as segregating the affected person from non-

affected people. Affected people were taken outside the village and treated


there until they were cured or until they die.


This post was not unique to villages such as Wandali but places like

Minta where there is chief. This post was created during war period and may

persist for long. His duty was to keep or account for war booty and other

wealths received as fines. At times herds of cattle, goats or sheep may be

captured and other properties looted. Such properties were taken care of by

the Batari. He distributes these properties to the Bulamas as decided by the

chief. The Bulamas in turn will distribute it out to the people of their vill-

ages. It may not be only war booty. It may happen that the chief called for

the people of other villages to come and work for him on his farm (in which

they come willingly) and that he wanted to give them a gift. He may give out

five cows, a dozen goats or so. It was therefore the duty of Batari to

share out these gifts according to the population of the villages.


This was normally a physically tough fellow who handles criminals. He

acts as a police or guardman of the chief. He stands at the service of the

chief and forcefully arrests people when ordered to do so.


Acted as chief messenger entrusted to deliver the chief's message to all

the surrounding villages. He makes announcements of decisions made and informs

people of what they were supposed to know. For example, when the chief wants

to hold council with his Kwakunas (elders) the Wakil will be responsible for

for informing them. Also announces dates decided upon for various ceremonies.


Keeps the weapons which were owned collectively; they included rare weapons

which were captured from other people such as foreign swords and spears, captured


especially from the Fulanis and Kanuris during war. Also during intensive

battles the chief may order his blacksmith to make more arrows, knives and

spears. Bos were also to be made so that the Kaigama will distribute them to

the various villages under the chief.


The post of Ngurkuma was created only when there is Fulani (Pilasar)

settlement within the area. Where there are Fulani settlements the Ngurkuma

will be the sole coordinator between them and the chief. All matters pertaining

to the selling or purchasing of cows would be through him. Any lost cow or dead

cow will be reported to him so that he would have a share in the beef.


Leader of hunting expeditions. Announce when and where the next hunting

expedition would take place.

Stories of Actual Battles Fought in This Area

This part of Buraland has been in close contact with the Tera people to

the west but no cases of real battles could be remembered. On the whole, there

had been a better relationship between the Bura and Tera than between the Bura

and Pabir. The informant however could not recall any battle fought either

between the Bura and Tera or the Bura and Pabir.

Bura-Pabir War

Among the well-known individuals who resisted Pabir dominance were Kadala

Yoksa of Dlamdi, a village of about fifteen miles west of Biu. This Kadala

Yoksa took war against the Pabir in order to revenge the death of his famous

father, Bila Kidafa, who was also a well-known warrior. Bila was captured by

some Pabir people inbne battle but because of his resistance to order he was

tortured and latter killed. This annoyed his son, Kadala Yoksa, and he took

revenge. He gathered his forces and invaded Biu, took them by surprise and


captured many slaves and killed many others. When Biu people realized the

power of Kadala Yoksa they sought to solve the conflict through peaceful means.

The Pabir therefore sent a large number of cows and goats plus some Bura slaves

as a ransom for their captured people. This was agreed and there was no other

conflict between the Bura and Pabir again until the coming of the Europeans.

Other well-known warriors who had been a constant threat to the Pabir

were Sankir Dili of Nggwa (southeast of Biu) and one Ndajara of Birni. Their

true stories could not be recalled well in this area. As for Wandali, there

had not been any contact with the Pabir of Biu or Mandaragrau.

Of all the informants contacted they said that there used to be no war

among the Bura people themselves but only minor cases of vengeances. Such

vengeances were personal rather than collective affairs. Cases of vengeances

were common when a person interferes with another's wife. If caught, he may

be beaten to death and if his people could not forgive, then this leads to

vengeance and thus continuous bloodshed.

To avoid bloodshed when one person commits adultery with another's wife

they would brew some beer and take it to the village head and explain the

matter to him so that the head of the village would send for the offended

husband and appeal for him to forgive theperson. If he agrees they would be

served some beer in the same calabash. Some beer will be given to the offended

husband first and after taking some, would hand it to the offender who would

likewise take it. This would be repeated with the offender first. They will

then swear by (Haptu) not to offend each other or revenge again. That's the

way to avoid alcontinuous vengeance.

Informant: Ibrahim Shiwan Dibal
Those Present: Soloman Hyelduku Mshelia, Avi Hena, Daniel Fifi Hena/

Origin of Wandali

The informant said that he could not recall who were the first people to

start Wandali because those who actually lived in the area were no longer there


when the present generation came. They came and met an abandoned walled village

which was already crumbling down. He also said that apart from the walled area

there had been an older settlement about three hundred yards outside. He in-

dicated the place to correspond with the present primary school site and re-
called that some of the trees still stand today were within someone's compound.

However, not even ruins of buildings could be seen and only some graves. I

agreed with him because when I was a pupil in that area we once dug out a pot

enclosed in a bigger pot and covered tight, inside of which we found some

strange metal ornaments which must have been stored and forgotten by those who

lived there.

He also pointed out that Wandali is comparatively recent when compared

with the now-abandoned villages of Gundu, Gasi, Bila Nggabu and Duzunkir, while

Minta which up to this day still has up to four households was much older.

Also, just a mile away is another village called Lesga and is also older

than Wandali. This village, Lesga, was opened by those who were formerly living

in the hilly areas to the east of Wandali but decided to move down to the sandy

flat land of this area.

Among those who came to Lesga first were Chakda Shimwa Dibal who came from

Bdli, Watuta Yakda and his brother Audi from Bwala (village), Barde Helang

and Yashapu Hena from Gundu. Later the following people also arrived. They

were Kwarki Babiya, Korianga Malum, Doko Helavi and Birma Amarha. Apart from

these people and later their sons, the village started reducing in number. The

only settlements added were the sons of Yashapu Hena who were Kuthi Bata Hena

and Charkida Bulama Hena, and their relative, Adamu Ngelwadi. Today there is

only one man living there. He is called Kuthi Mari and even his sons are living

in Wandali with their compounds rather than with him. Most of the above-mentioned

people died there while others migrated to Wanda and Tasha.

Having touched briefly the history of the older villages he went on with

the story of the origin of Wandali as follows:

FThe people who built the wall could not be traced. The story then began

with two friends, Gurgurtima Mbaya and Yangili Dibal who were once on good
terms with the Pabir people. They obtained favor from the Pabir people during

the coming 6f the Europeans. Yangili was believed to be from Tanga while Gur-
gurtima was from Njukuku. They were among the people who led the Pabir to this

area so that they were still on good relations when a West Bura District was
established with headquarters at Birni, the first district head being one no-
torious Pabir man by name Therma Bata. This man used to harass the Bura people
collecting whatsoever he wanted from the surrounding Bura people.
Here the informant shook his head and remained silent for some time as
he recalled the type of torture and confiscation he witnessed ring that time

by the Pabir people.
When the headquarters were transferred from Birni to Aga (near Marama) these
people (Gurgurtima and Yangili) did not enjoy as before and were even involved
in one offense (he was not sure) which caused them to fee away from the Pabir.
This coincided with a time of famine and it was often believed that it was

famine which drove them to this area. When they came they lodged in Wuyakshafa,

a village of about two miles east of Wandali. They surveyed the area and found the

abandoned Wandali area in which they obtained permission from the chief of Minta
who was the owner of this land. They were allowed to stay.
As for leadership of this village, Gurgurtima resumed the leadership, being
the eldest. At his death he had no responsible son or relative who would succeed
him, plus the fact that since they had equal rights to the headship of this village

they were to alternate from Gurgurtima's family to Yangili's family and back.
Village Headship of Wandali

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The village grew steadily with some people from other villages shifting

into Wandali because there was a large area suitable for farming. Their only

problem was the stagnant marshy stream called Wandali where the village got

its name. There used to be many whild animals in this area which were a

constant threat to them. They therefore decided to join effort to drain the

area of which they did. The draining of the area led to the drying up of large

bodies of water which were then very deep. It also cut short the supply of nearby


KWAYA TERA Introduction

Origin of Kwaya

The interview took place in Kwaya with permission of the district head. I

made an appointment through one of his Kwakuna's by name Shehu Yamta. I was

told to call early in the morning of which I did. I waited for almost two hours

in his office (adjoined to his palace). At 8 o'clock I was introduced to his

secretary (an old man) who was to introduce me to the district head. He led

me to his reception hall where I met several elders already sitting with him.

We greeted him and he answered and asked of our health. We answered that we

were fine by his blessing. I was then introduced and the purpose of my visit

was also narrated. He said he was aware of it and that several other students

of A.B.U. did come to him the previous years (students of governemtn and

history). He said one of them by name M. Bala yY. Bwala, is now a district

officer while the other, Jack Walari. Mbaya is now a principal of a secondary

school in Azare. He said my research is welcomed and ordered his Wakil to

bring the traditional chief and his elders so as to give me all the information


The chief, a middle-aged man, came but with only one trusted elder. He

said that the others may give false information. Thus I had in the office the

following to interview:


Kuthi Malum(Chief); Yabubwa(elder); M. Chamalwa(scribe). The interview

took three hours.

Origin of Kwaya Tera Village (by Kuthi Malum)

The village of Kwaya was once on a site near a hill about three miles

away from the present-day site of Kwaya. It is located in the land of the

Chara Dur. Their land stretches from about one mile west of Wandali (Wandali

is in the land belonging to Dlakwa people with their chief and headquarters

at Minta). The land of the Chara people extended as far west as Kurbagai,

about four miles west of Kwaja. All in all, their land covers about 15 square

miles. This included important villages like Gongdi, Magaba, Guwal Gashina,

Maiba, Kwaya and other smaller villages. Their first chief was at Gongdi, a

village of about three miles south of Wandali, situated on top of a defensive

hill. It was there that the origin of Kwaya began.

There was once a man who lived in Gondi called Kadala Dawi. Kadala Dawi

was a tough warrior and established this area around Gongdi for himself. He

had two sons. One of the sons (name wasn't remembered) became the chief of

Gongdi. The other son also wanted to become a chief and there developed a con-

flict between the two sons. The other, by name Mari, who wasn't a chief, de-

cided to leave the area and establish himself somewhere. He came to Kwaya

area and established his own village near a hill about three miles away from

the present site of Kwaya. He named the village Kwaya and of course made him-

self chief of the village and its surroundings.


-7; A~1~-




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6 o

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Diagram showing the location of

old and new Kwaya.

The old and the new village of Kwaya both had walls.
The village of Gongdi had a stone wall round it with two gates. So when
Mari founded Kwaya he also ordered his people to build a wall round it. They




built the wall with two gates and a deep trench round it.

The ditch which was dug round the wall was over fifteen feet deep and ten feet

wide all round the wall. At the entrance planks obtained from a palm tree were

laid across the ditch for people to pass into and out of the village.

After living there for decades Kuthi Mari decided to come to a more open

site of present Kwaya. By then his village had grown large, consisting mainly

of his relatives. When he established himself in the present site of Kwaya he

again ordered the building of a wall round his village. By this time other Dur

known as Mbarma. As they stayed on he gave them the title of Hyedima (Galadima -

Hausa) and up to this day the Mbarma people still hold this title. With the

coming of the Europeans and the establishment of Kwaya as the District Head-

quaters some Pabir, Fulani, Hausa, Tera and Hinna are now found in the village

of Kwaya, with no distinct zaras but streets.



Original Size and Layout of the Village (by Kuthi Malum)

The old village site was as in the diagram above. It was located near a

hill where it could be climbed and spot enemies at far distances and also used

as a hiding place if the enemies happened to break into the wall. According

to the informant, there had not been any case of attack on the village which

demanded the use of the hill for defensive purposes.

Houses were built close together so as to accommodate everybody within

the village wall. In some cases they were never more than ten yards apart. The

small places left were cultivated with maize and vegetables such as cucumber,


All the people in the village were related; as such there were no distinct

zaras. There were Kwakunas and messengers to assist the chief in.his under-


Original Size and Layout of New Kwaya in the Pre-Colonial Period

The desire for a more open land due to the increased population of his

village caused Kuthi Mari to shift his village to the more open area of the

present site. When he moved to the present site there were still suspects and

threats of attack by Fulanis, Kanuris and one notorious Patralla, to be ex-

plained later. He therefore built a wall again round his village. It was

estimated that by then there were over fifty compounds (households)and there-

fore the wall was much bigger than the old one. This time the gate was built

with four gates leading to east, west, north and south. Again there was a deep

trench near the base of the wall and another trench about ten yards apart also

surrounding the wall. This means there were double trenches. This was more

defensive than the old one because enemies could not come near the wall.


Diagram of Kwaya Village in the Pre-Colonial Setting.



/ / /1/

/ ./.
K* 7, -^j / _____

,I / i

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Diagram of present-day Kwaya showing the position of the old wall, the chief's
house, and the District Head's Palace.


There used to be a waterhold near the school just near the wall which

supplied them with water but sometimes, especiAlly during the dry season, they

had to go to a nearby stream (about half a mile away)for their water supply.

In both cases they all fetch their water from the same place.

The Village Headship and Its History (by Kuthi Malum)

The village of Kwaya was since in the beginning headed by a chief and this

lineage of chieftaincy was maintained and up to this day they are still the

head of the village. There never had been any Bulama or ward head since there

were no wards.

When Kuthi Mari died he was succeeded by his son, Kuthi Ali. This Kuthi

was also succeeded by Kuthi Njidda in which he could not tell exactly whether

he was son of Kuhi Ali or his brother. It was during the time of Kuthi Njidda

that the Europeans came to this land. By the time Njidda died the land was

almost colonized by the Europeans and he was succeeded by Kuthi Malum. There

was nothing much remembered about these chiefs but the informant could only

remember their names.

Another Kuthi Mari succeeded Kuthi Malum. During this period the chief of

Biu appeared in this area. He was called Kuthi Ali Garga. It was only then

that Kwaya came into contact with the Pabir people. They were not aware that

they were no longer independent but under the chief of Biu. Kuthi Mari was

succeeded by the present chief, Kuthi Malum, the informant.

Kwaya had been the name of the village but it was later understood that

there is another Kwaya near Biu. So to distinguish the tw9 people used to call

this Kwaya as Kwaya Kusar, or Kwaya Kuthi Mari and referred to the other Kwaya

near Lake Tila as Kwaya Bura. Today, Kwaya Kusar is more commonly known as

Kwaya Tera. Tera is a neighboring tribe and people believed that Kwaya consists

of Tera people.

Another headship, Hyedima, acts as the head of the village in absence of

the chief or village head. They are the Mbarma people and their lineage was


was narrated as follows:

Hyedima Lamba

Hyedima Bata

Hyedima Madi

Hyedima Usman (now)

The chief also explained that since they are related with the people of

Gongdi and Guwal any member of his family can be chosen to become chief in

either Gongdi or Guwal. He however did not specify who once tried that but

said that it was possible in absence of responsible successor.

Titles and Offices (by Yabubwa)

The chief was supreme and the Hyedima acts in his absence. The Hyedima is

not a member of the chief's family and can never inherit the 'throne'. His

family was considered as a commoner, a talaka(Hausa) and therefore can only

advise the chief on crucial decisions. The Hyedima's family was responsible

for the haptu of the village and therefore, all religious rituals are performed

either by the Hyedima or a trusted member of his family who was devoted to the

practice of haptu.

The Kwakunas were designated with the following titles:

Kadala, usually a relative of the chief and can warn him,(not only advise)

the chief, as well as the other Kwakunas.

The name, Ngurkuna, was given to the eldest son of the chief and can act

in absence of the chief. There were also Yokdima, and Chiroma in which he could

not remember their specific duties since these titles are no longer in use.

Dzarma was a sort of Kwakuna of the Hyedima and advises the Hyedima on what

he does.

All blacksmiths were referred to as Migawa or Dyeha Bdla but their leader

was called Pukuna. The appointment of such a leader was by the chief after

being elected by his colleague. He was then to be offered with sword three times

each of which he draws out the sword from its sheath and return it. He would then


be declared capable of holding the post.

The chief messenger of the chief was referred to as Birma. He was

responsible for informing the Kwakunas when the chief wanted to see them.

When asked whether there had been any relations between the chiefs of

Kwaya and that of Biu or Mandaragrau he said that there have never been any.

They only heard of one Kuthi Garga who came to the area and not long after they

began to hear of white men. It was then that they realized they were under Biu.

The only place where they had close contact was Gongdi. They used to

take their stubborn slaves there, including those who used to escape and other

notorious ones.

Walls (by Chamalwa)

The diagrams on pages 88 and 89, typed pages 34 and 35, show the location

of the wall round Kwaya village. There had been a wall since in the beginning

It was meant for defensive purposes. Both walls of the old and new site of

Kwaya were built of mud since stones could not be found near the site.

The first wall had two gates while the second had four gates, all of

which were well guarded by armed men at night. To make the wall more defensive

a double trench was dug round the wall. It was about 20 feet wide and that

deep. This prevents enemies' horses or men themselves from coming near the

wall so as to attempt climbing over. The trenches were crossed over using

planks from palm trees. These planks were to be removed dudng the time of

war so that enemies may not use it for entering the village.

As soon as the sun sets all the doors will be closed to everybody. Those

who are in will not be allowed out even if they became bold enough as to desire

to be out for fear of slave raiders(Fulani). Those who happened to be out,

be they strangers or members of the village must be identified first and then

surrender whatever weapon (bows, arrows, knives or spears) they were carrying.

They may then claim the weapons in the morning or in presence of the person

they were going to.


When the wall wears out it would be shared out to various groups of

compounds so that they may thicken the wall or rebuild the broken areas.

This is done annually by the people of the village.

The doors were closed by thick wooden planks enforced(reinforced?) by

metal strips. The wall itself was perforated with small holes whereby people

of the village could shoot their arrows through to approaching enemies.


Types of weapons used: Bows and arrows have been the main weapons used

for battles and hunting. There were also jangum (sword).


---Small knife (ndla kusar)

Mai(?) ding (sling made of rope for throwing stones)

Mwasu wooden handle metal blade

Dzangir (another type of Mwasu)


Katsakar and yambal were also used. They were one form of long knife

but were not made by the Bura people. They were either bought from the

Fulanis and Kanuris or captured from them in a battle.

Battles were fought with villagers remaining in the walled village, taking

cover behind the walls, and with arrows pointing ready at anybody who happened

to pass by. Sometimes enemies may use certain shields which could not be pene-

trated by the arrows. They found out that hot arrows could penetrate such

shields. Thus, at times it might be necessary to make the arrows red hot if

the enemies were using such shields.

Once invaders were spotted and reported to the village the men took their

positions near the holes made through the walls ready to shoot out arrows while

women and children would hide in their houses. The gates of the wall would be

shut tight.

Cases of Actual Battles

Mbormi People. This man came through Gulana and defeated the area and

moved on until he dame to Kwaya. They tried to resist but surrendered and he

moved on to Maiba and burned the whole village down, killing all those he could

see and looted their food stores, sheep, goats and chickens.

He also attacked Pabir people in Gur and Mirnga and defeated them. He was

interested mainly in slaves as well as to expand his empire. They were Fulanis.

Saleh Gardama Ngaran Bornu. This man was believed to come from Bornu and

was on a slave-raiding mission. He was heard of attacking the people of Gur.

The report of his wickedness, killing both men and women as well as children,

and the large number of captured slaves, made the people of this area to get

ready for his coming but he never turned up. He did not go beyong Gur and was

therefore only heard of in his area. He was a Kanuri man.

Patralla Battle. Another notorious invader was Patralla, son of Rabi, who

came from Masar (Eg ypt). Rabi had been attacking this area but usually loses.

His daughter also did come to this area and captured lots of slaves but they were


never as wicked as this Patralla. When he came to this area the people of

Kwaya heard of his wicked deeds and surrendered to him before his arrival with

his forces. They sent him gifts of cows, horses and food. Kwaya was therefore

not attacked. Those who resisted were the people of Maiiba and Yimirdlalang.

The village of Maiiba was completely burned down while Yimirdlalang was

not only burned down but the occupants were surrounded and slaughtered all

with the exception of the chief who escaped. They took with them many slaves.

'-This was close to the time of the coming of the Curopeans so they-, never came

again after this battle.

Apart from external forces the Bura people were peaceful with each other

and never fight.

Hunting Organizations

1. Kidla; 2. Chalau; 3. Daltahur

In those days every young man was taught how to use the bows and arrows.

This was necessary for defense both against human and animal invaders. Hunting

was therefore done by almost every grown up man on a small scale.

During the dry season most people hunt for animals and birds which were

close by. But there were others who took hunting as their main occupation and

were called mwazumaku. These people, due to their daily contact with animals

in the bush, could shoot and aim better than others and count the number of

animals shot per annum in terms of hundreds. They also know a lot about medicine

so that the spirits of the animals would not cause sabal for them. This sabal

was/is a sort of sickness which weakens, deforms or kills those who hunt the

animals constantly. They were therefore protected against such illnesses.

Kidla (run after) was an organization for hunting pruposes. When people

plan for kidla it would be broadcasted far and wide to even distant villages of

about ten miles away. The name of the place where the kidla will take place

will be announced in markets and the date stated. For example, most of the

bushes or milderness were named so that when one says 'we will be going to


Kidlar Wanzaha', everyone knows the place and those who do not know would ask

the professional hunters who know all the places around. Choices were made

bearing in mind that the place is full of animals to be hunted.

During Kidla the whole area in mind will be combed, all the animals

hunted for and killed. None could escape because there were dogs around to

run after any animal that escaped arrows. Here even birds and big rats were


It was often necessary that people of the same village or people of the

same nyarmbwa move together in groups. This was necessary because once someone

kills an animal a stronger person may take it away from him and run away with

it. But when they are in the same group this may not happen because they would

beat the person and chase him away. Some people unskin the animals they kill

up on the trees. This prevents any intruder from cutting some piece of the

meat. This was allowed as part of the show of strength and toughness.

Chalau is another simple hunting expedition. It consisted of as few as

four friends, or may be a large number of people, up to twenty, who decided

to go out in the bush to obtain meat. They inform each other of the date and

place. When they reach the place in mind they would stretch out in one row

side by side and move in one direction, with their dogs in front. All animals

thus killed will be shared even with those who killed nothing.

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