Abdulbasir Ahmad Atuwo
Department of Nigerian Language
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto-Nigeria
Gsm: 07032492269, 08084298903

Umar Aliyu Bunza
Department of Nigerian Languages
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto-Nigeria
Gsm: 07063532532, 07014529336

Presented At International Symposium On The Relationship Between Kabi And Zigui (Dosso) Organised By University Of Abdoumuomini Niger, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto And Kebbi State University, Aleiro. From 14th -16th December, 2014 Dosso-Niger Republic.


Emir Zarmakwai of Dosso (Emir of Dosso) was the most popular and influential Zarma emirs of his time, not only within Francophone but also among Anglophone countries. His popurlarity could be attributed to certain qualities that include kindness, generosity, friendliness and peacemaking. These are the qualities that influenced his diplomatic ties with other emirs. Emir of Kabi Muhmmadu Shehe (1953-1959) was among his friends. Their closeness influenced Aliyu Dandawo a popular court musician at Kebbi place to compose two poems in his honour. This paper is a glance to the harmony displayed in the context of the said poems.

1.1 Reflection: According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary The word reflection means to show an image on the surface like a mirror. It also means to throw back light, heat or sound from the surface. It may also mean to show sign of attitude or feeling, and finally, it also refers to the act of thinking carefully and deeply about something.
1.2 Harmony: The word harmony in Oxford dictionary has three different meanings. It means a state of peaceful coexistence and agreement. Another meaning refers to the way in which different musical notes that are played or sang together combined to make pleasant sound. For instance to sing in harmony. It could mean a combination of related things, e g colour, behavious or attitude.


The relationship that existed between the Kabawa and Zarma could be traced to the 16th century when Songhai invaded and occupied the entire Hausaland and make its tribute to Songhai. Before their quarel, Kanta was a strong army under the leadership of Muhammad Toure Albakri (popularly known as Muhammad Askia the Great ). Muhammad Askia who ruled for thirty six years (1493-1591A. D) was very popular due to his successful military expeditions to neighbouring states. He was able to subdue places like Mossi state, (remnant of Mali), Taghaza, Agades and the Hausa states of Katsina, Zamfara and Kano.
In the year 1516 , Kanta had a quarrel with his Commander General ( Askia) over a booty; and this led to Kanta’s declaration of Kabi as new independent state, with its headquaters at Surame and garrisons at Gungu and Leka. In 1721 the headquaters was transfered from Surame to Birnin Kabi due to constant attack by the forces of Gobir and Azbinawa. In 1804 Sheikh Usmanu Danfodiyo started a jihad. In 1805 Abdullahi Fodiyo chased out the royalty of Kabi to Augie. After series of wars, in 1831 the Emir of Kabi Sama’ila Karari, was killed, and a peace treaty that lasted for 18 years was signed between the Kabawa and the Fulani. However when Emir of Kabi Yakubu Nabame (1849-1854) secured the support and cooperation of Zarma, Arawa and Dendi, he waged war against the Fulani. The war persisted and did not cease until the invasion of the Caliphate by the British forces in 1906. Aliyu Dandawo a popular war poet in Hausaland particularly in the kingdom of Kabi and Yauri. Xandawo narrated more about Nabame’s war against the Fulani in his poem entitled: Shugaban Tafiya Sarkin Kabi mai Sudani
Jagora: Shugaban tahiya Sarkin Kabi mai Sudani,
The leader of the journey (troops) King of Kabi, the Lord of western Sudan,
Ila marin rugga Dan Yakubu sa gurhwani,
Ila the obstacle of Fulani,
son of Yakubu who forces others to their kneel,
Hausa: Da yaw wuce bayan shekara dubu biyu,
Trans: After two thousand years of his demise,
Hausa: Sannan Nabame yab bayyana,
Trans: Then Nabame emerged
Hausa: Yah hwanshi Kabawa,
Trans: He emancipated Kabawa
Hausa: Yag gagari Hillani,
Trans: He resisted the Fulani
Hausa: Da ruwan kibau da masu,
Trans: With showers of arrows and spears
Hausa: Ko sun yi qulle-qullensu,
Trans: Despite all their concipracies
Hausa: Ina ruwan Sadauki?
Trans: What concerns the brave Captain?
Hausa: Ya dai buwaya ko bindiga an nan suka yi bai tashi.
Trans: He resisted them and even with firing guns there.

The friendship and understanding between Kabi and Zarma continued to widen up to 1953-1959 during the reign of Emir of Kabi Muhammad Shehe who was a very close friend to Emir of Dosso, Zarmakwai Abdurrahman. This was the period when Dandawo a prominent court musician in the palace of Kabi who composed and sang poems for the Emirs of Kabi for the first time in the history of diplomatic ties between Kabi emirate and Dosso emirate embarked on a visit mission of performing his poems dedicated to Sarki Zarmakwai. This paper is therefore a glance to the harmony displayed in the context of the said poems.

2.0 Who is Aliyu Dandawo ?

Aliyu Dandawo was born in 1924 in Shuni a district in Sokoto state, Nigeria. His father, Aliyu was an Islamic scholar. Therefore, Aliyu Dandawo did not inherit public rendition lyricized poetry as a profession, but just found himself a poet as destiny would have it. His performance was very casual at initial stage but Ardo Mamman requested him to remain as his poet and he (Dandawo), agreed. Ardo bought ‘Taushi’ for Dandawo and four people to form a circle namely: Dandaura, Danganga, Sahabin Tashuni and Dankawu Dogon Marke. Ardo Mamman also bought horses for all of them.
Aliyu Dandawo as one of the recognised elderly Hausa artists was at different times under the patronage of different Emirs and district heads viz:
1. Ardon Shuni-Ardo Mamman
2. Sarkin Fuloti Dan Barau Dange
3. Ahmadu Bello Sardauna of Sokoto
4. Lamne dantsoho-Emir of Augie (District head of Augie)
5. Sarkin Gobir na Isah
Emir of Yauri
6. Emir Kunduda Isah

After the deposition of Emir of Kabi Muhammad Shehe who was exiled to Maru, Aliyu Dandawo decided to shift base to Yauri. The late emir of Argungu Muhammad Mera (1959-1996) wanted Aliyu Dandawo to come under his patronage but Dandawo decided to go to Yauri rather than his stay in Argungu. It shoud be noted that, Aliyu Dandawo intended an itinerary that would take him to Yauri then to Bida and Zaria through Kano
Aliyu Dandawo however ended his life in Yauri. He died in 1966 as indicated in his son’s condolence poem of late Shehu Kangiwa the former Governor of Sokoto state:
Gindin waqa: Gwamnan Sakkwato Shehu Giwa,
Governor of Sokoto, Shehu Giwa,
Gurin Shehu ya dau jama’a was,
His mission was carry along his people,
Kamar wada Ahmadu Bello yay yi.’
Just the way Ahmadu Bello did
Jagora: Shekarar 1982 shekarar nan tai man zafi,
The year 1982 the year bitter for me
Kamar 1966
Like 1966
San da Ahmadu Bello yak kaura,
When Ahmadu transited
Sannan Baba Aliyu yab bi.
And dad Aliyu likewise followed

Aliyu Dandawo left behind two wives and nine children (seven males and two females). Presently, only five are alive three men and two females. May Allah forgive him (Amin).

3.0 The Spirit of Harmony In Dandawo’s Journey To Dosso

The journey was set from Argungu heading to Dosso to visit emir Zarmakwai. Dandawo’s band consists of many men, but only four of them rode on horses back. These are: Aliyu Dandawo, Alhaji Dankawu, Aliyu Dandaura, and Alhaji Umaru Rinkici. Before their arrival at Dosso, all the remaining members were blessed with horses. They passed the road through major towns of Dogon Dutsi, Filinge, and Tabla. The journey which took them 20 days before their final arrival at Dosso was full of hurdles and mystries. Aliyu Dandawo gave true picture of his encounter enroute that journey.
Gindin Waka: Abdurrahman shugaban Zabarmawa,
Abdurrahman the leader of Zabarmawa
Duka Dan Sa’idu tangalin dangi,
Possessor of all son of Sa’idu a relief to of relatives,
Ko can Faransa Dosso am manya.
Even among the Francophones, Dosso is prominent.

Jagora: Na sha wahala dah Hilinge,
Kahin in kawo Zabarma inda Sarki,
Before I arrived Zabarma base of the Emir
Na zago Duwatsuna da ramu,
I traversed hills and valleys
Da qishirwa da yunwa da rana,
In serious Thirst, hunger and sun heat,
Na yi hawan tudu da rahuna,
I crossed hills and valleys,
Don in gano na mai fada Jibo.
Just to see head of Jibo in charge of palace.

The commitment involved in this journey despite the difficulties, the risk of dangerous animals or vicious persons along the way shows how peaceful the environment was then . It also shows how close the two Emirs were to the extent that the Emir of Argungu (Kabi) can take the risk of allowing his cherished poets along with all his band to undertake such a dangerous journey across a treacheous route for 20 days. This evidently means the harmony in their relationship was really strong.
4.0 Display of Generosity At Dosso
At Dosso, Aliyu Dandawo experienced humble reception from both the emir Zarmakwai and his people. Dandawo and his group spent 20 days in Dosso as honorable guests of Sarki Zarmakwai. He was able during the period to compose his second poem for Zarmakwai while at Dosso. The root of the poem is as follows:
‘Ba da kai aka wargi ba,
A joker has no place in your palace,
Zarmakwai madogara,
Zarmakwai the protector
Mai Faransawa xan Sa’idu
The master of Francophone (Niger) communities
Tangalin maza.
Supporter of men.

Sani Aliyu Dandawo was in the convoy of Aliyu Dandawo’s journey to Dosso but he was only twelve years old then. According to him when his father- Dandawo performed his poetry before the Emir, he was surprised and overwelmed by the gifts showered on him by the Emir and his people. He mentioned some of the gifts in his performance:
Jagora: An yi min dokina
I was given a horse
Da rakumina
And a camel
Am ba ni nagge
I was given a cow
In sha madara da ‘yan diya
To drink milk ( there from) a long with my children

Amshi: Bangon duniyag ga
On the entire global world
Tun da sama hak kasanta
From the heaven to earth
Hay yau ban san gari
I have never seen a town
Irin Zabarma ba
Like Zabarma.
On the first poem he mentioned his happiness by praising the Zarmakwai in some of his words. He said:
Jagora: Zarmakwai, uban Baraya na yanzu,
Zarmakwai, the father of present Baraya
Mujaddadin Sarakuna,
The reformer of Kings,
Kowag ga ka ya wadata,
Meeting you is all the best to be rich,
Bai ji haushi ba.
He will not be annoyed
With the collection of different materials such as herds of cattle and camels, Dandawo therefore returned to Nigeria carrying a lot of wealth with full pride and happiness. All these resulted from the impact of harmonious relationship that existed between the late Emir of Kabi Muhammad Shehe and late Emir Abdurrahman Zarmakwai of Dosso.

As a matter of fact, Aliyu Dandawo as an artist under Kabi Emirate was very happy with his host at Dosso, Emir Zarmakwai, for the well cherished hospitality and abundant items he recieved. As a result of this he remembered some important things that had happened in the history of Zarma. One of such things was a story of related that one scholar among the Zarma who went to Madina and he sang the Isshiriniyya poetry which is on the praise of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The custodian of the Masjid Nabiyyi then opened the grave of the Prophet (SAW) for the poet to see. It used to open only on special issues of the kingdom. So Aliyu Dandawo brought that happening in his poem to make Zarmakwai happy. He said:

Tun da Zabarkana yag ga Annabi,
Since Zabarkanu saw the prophet
Ba ka da faduwa ga duniya da kiyama
You have nothing to fear in this world and hereafter

Similarly, he recounted to Zarmakwai the history of the relationship existing between Dosso emirate and Argungu (Kabi) emirate. The time of his visit to Dosso (1953) the two emirates were colonised by two powerful forces i.e (France and Britain). Although the two emirates have no authority over each other, but their relationship remained closely tied. Thus, Aliyu Dandawo shows how large the power and influence of Zarmakwai of Dosso went as far as Gulma town which is under Argungu emirate. In this view he mentioned:
Jagora: Tun dab bisa hwad Dakar
Right from Dakar
Tahowa hwadag Gulma
From the palace at Gulma ,
Har Damagaram da Maradi,
Up to Damagaran and Maradi
Abin ga dun na Dosso na.
All these are under the chieftancy of Dosso.
Amshi: Sarki maganak ka dai suke jira,
Emir, Everyone awaits your command,
Yau sai ka kira su,
Today you are the one to assemble them,
Babu mai kirawo ka
You awaits no invitation
Jagora: Har Fallomi takata,
Even Fallomi is yours,
Uban Maidanda,
Father of owner of Danda
Amali ba san iyakatai ba,
One cannot show your limit/boundary,
Allah ya yi ma rabon duniya,
God has bestowed this world upon you,
Babu mai yi ma shayi.
No one can causion you (Constrain you).

All the towns mentioned here above namely: Dakar( in Sengal), Damagaram, Maradi, Dosso and Fallomi were all in Niger Republic. While Gulma is in Argungu emirate, Nigeria. Dandawo in this respect the original relationship as per their history. The poem however affirms the claim that Dosso was under Kabi before but after the adjustment of colonial lines, about 70% of Kabi land which was British colony was taken to France colony and compensation was recommended for Emir of Kabi Muhammadun Sama (1920-1934) but Emir Sama rejected the offer. It is worthy to note that most of the great warriors and war commanders in Kabi were Zarmas and up till today they were highly respected in Kabi emirate. They continued to inhabit villages and towns in Kabi emirate. Examples are abundant: For instance, of 84 villages of Lailaba district, 37 villages are Zarma villages bearing Zarma names. Example of such villages are: Girbani, Danifondu, Burtuwa, Fondu, Katanga Banizumbu, Tungar Hainikwai, Raya Fondu, Kokoshen Zabarmawa, Banidai, to mention a few.

You may also like this

4.0 Conclusion

Aliyu Dandawo’s visit to Dosso had appeared to be an indicator of harmonious and peaceful relationship between Dosso and Kabi Emirates that is Nigeria and Niger, but also a path finding mission that involved historical exploration. It however symbolised how poets can use their God given talent to promote diplomatic ties or relationship among communities, religious bodies, towns, countries or even continents. This assertion could also be reflected in popular poem ‘Nijeriya Da Nijar Daidai suke’ by popular poet of Niger Republic Mamman Gao Filinge. Similarly, that of Fati Nijar ‘Nijar, Nijeriya’.


Abiola, E. O. ( 1974), Text book of West Africa , Omololoyo Standerd Press , Ado ekiti.
Abbas, H. (2009), ” Gudummuwar Hakumar Wallafa Littattafai ta Arewacin Nijeriya Wajen Habakar Adabin Hausa 1966-2006,” M. A. Dissertation, submitted to Department of Nigerian Languages Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sakkwato.
Auwal , M. A. (12012), Tarihin Hajiya Rukayya Sani Yauri da Wa}o}inta na Siyasa” B. A. Project, Submitted to Department of Nigerian Languages, Usmanu [anfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Alkali, M. B. (1969), “Kebbi in the Nineteen Century” M. A. Dissertation, Submitted the Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Balarabe, M. U. (1987), Dangantakar Adabin Baka da Al’ adun gargagiya, Triumph Kano.

Bichi, A.Y. (2008), Harsunan Nyejeriya VOL. XXI center for the study of Nigerian Langauges, Bayero University Kano,
Bunza. A. M. (2009), Naramba]a. lbrash Islamic Publication Center Linuted Lagos.
Crowder, M. (1977), West Africa: An Introduction To Its History. Longman, London.
Dabo H. A. (2006), Danmaraya Jos in Folkloric Aspect. Benchmark Publisher Limited.
Dangambo, A. (2004), Rabe-Raben Adabin Hausa Da Muhimmancinsa Ga Ruyuwar Hausawa. Triumph. Kano.
Dangambo, A. (2007), Daurayar Gadon fede Wakar Barka. Press publishation Limited kaduna.
Danladi, L. et al (2013), Studies in Hausa Language, Literature and Culture The 1st National Conference
Gusau, S. M. (2002), Salihu Jankinki Sarkin Taushin. Baraka pablishers Limted kaduna
Gusau, S. M. (2003),Wakokin Alhaji Mamman Shata. Government Printing Press, Katsina.
Gusau, S. M. (2003), Jagoran Nazarin Wakar Baka. Benchmark Publishers Limited, Kano.
Gusau, S. M. (2008), Wakokin Baka A Kasar Hausa:Yanaye-Yanayensu da Sigoginsu, Benchmark Publishers Limited, Kano.
Haliru, A . (1983), “ Aliyu Dandawo da Wakokinsa. B. A. Project, Department of Nigerian Languages, University of Sokoto.
Hornby, A. S. (2000), Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Newyork.
Hod, T. (1960), Nigerian Perspectives, Oxford Press, London
Ibrahim, M. S. (1983), Kowa ya Sha Kida, Longman. Ibadan.
Meekes, M. E. (1972), Literature and violence, Cambridge University Press, New York.
Muhammad, D. (1990), Hausa Meta langauge, University press, Ibadan.
Mukhtar, I. (2004), Jagoran Nazarin Kagaggun Labarai. Banchmark Publishers Limited, Kano.
Nuhu, A. (2012), “Sauye – sauye A Tsarin Wakokin zamani Nazari A kan Wakokin Finafinan Hausa” M. A. Dissertation Submitted to Department of Nigeria Language Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto
Sarbi, S. A. (2007) Nazarin Waken Hausa. Samarib Publishers, Kano
Umar, Y. (2014), “Wakekeniya A Tsakanin Wasu Mawakan Baka Na Hausa,” M. A. dissertation, Department of Nigeria Languages, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto
Yahya A. B. (2001), Salo Asirin Wa}a. FISBAS Media Service, Kaduna.
Yahya, A. B. (2013), Zauren Waka :Jonrnal of Hausa Poetry Studies, Department of Nigerian Langauges Usmanu Danfoodiyo University Sokoto Vol. I No .1
Yahya, A. B. (1997), Jigon Nazarin waka, FISBAS Media Service, Kaduna.