Department of Nigerian Languages,

Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto




Being a paper presented at the 11th NFS Congress for National Confrence on the

Folktale in Honour of Dr. Bukar Usman, oon held at Centre for the studies of Nigerian

Languages, Bayero University, Kano April 2nd-4th, 2014. Theme: Dynamism in the

Folktale in the pasat, present and future.







This paper titled “The Aspect of Trust in Hausa Folktale” is an attempt to highlights the role of Hausa folktales in training their children to grow up in good moral and character. As we all know, trust is almost the back-bone for improving people’s life. Whenever it’s lost in their life, they have automatically dishonest and perished. Therefore, the paper will analysed  some selected Hausa folktales in respect of this important theme (Trust) as per the subject to see how its encourages practicing it, and discourages its betrayers for a negative consequences the follows it.



Verily, the role of Hausa folktales could never be over emphasised in Hausasociety. It teaches moral principles such as trust, truth, respect, endurance, fearless, symphathy, and other good related characters. In the olden days, folktale is the primary method of training Hausa children on how to respect and assist their parents and elderly ones, how to relates with friends, how to become a good person and useful to the entire society. In view of this, the paper aimed to make general analysis of the concept of  trust and its significance in the life of Hausa people through some selected Hausa folktales. Such kind of folktales encourages the importance of keeping trust, and good reward for trust person. It also discourage trust betraying by indicating the bad reward for the betrayers.


According to Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary, folktale is “a very old traditional story from a particular place that was originally passed on to people in a spoken form. In another version, folktale is a created story by the provision of Hausa culture for leisure, and also to teach moral lesson to Hausa children (Yahaya 1971). Zaruk and others (1986), folktale is a created story which consists speeches and work of human being, animals, and jins, which mostly ends in happiness aimed to teach a moral lesson. Folktale may also be described as a story handed down by oral traditon from mouth to ear among people generally (Dawkins 1951).

By going to these given by the scholars, it’s indicated that the definitions have a co-relation with each othe in terms of of key words cited in each definition. The two key words are story and creation. In view of this, one say folktales are stories created by some peoples in systematic way purposely to teach their children moral lessons and to achieve some aims and objectives in the society.


            Trust, according to Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary (7th edition) is “the belief that some body or some thing is good, sincere, honest, etc and will not try to harm or trick you.” Trust is also to give some one a property or some thing to keep for you for the main time, and he keep it safely as if it’s his personal with out anything lost or been tempered (Kamusun Hausa). In a social context, trust has several connotations. Typically refers to a situation characterised by the follwing aspects: One party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee). Conceptually, is also attributable to relationships within and between social groups (families, friends, communities, organisations, companies, nations, etc). It is a popular approach to frame the dynamics of inter-group interactions in terms of trust.

Trust is among cultural heritage practices in the life of Hausa people since before the coming of Arabs and Europeans in Hausa society. Traditional rulers do handle their followers with trust and justice respectively. Likewise between husband and wife, and also between master and his subordinates. Mean while, after the emmergence of Islam in Hausa societies, Islam also emphasized on the principle of trust. Alot of verses were cited in the Holy Book (Qur’an) analysing the importance of trust among the entire Muslims and even to non Muslims. Beign a trust as an important principle or tool for improving life standard of Hausa people, alot of techniques were planned to teach their children an aspect of trust in order to become leaders of example.


Undoubtedly, trust is a key principle for improving life standard of every society. Whenever a society lost it, it’s definitely missed the right way to succeed. Therefore, the importance of trust can lead to to the following success:

  • Improved peace and unity

  • Improved economic activities

  • Improved love among the people

  • Improved welfare in the society

  • Improved socio-political affairs of the society

As mentioned earlier, Hausa people used folktales as a method or mechanism of training their children to grow up with this important panacea (trust) for betterment of their life and society in general. These kind of folktales are story created expressing the importance of keeping trust and good rewards that follows it. On the other hand, it expresses the negative consequences for the trust betrayers, there by ends in shame, destroyed, lost of properties, or even die at large. Let us take a look of some examples from Hausa folktales quoted in their original form and translated into English:


    “A can cikin wani }umgurumin daji, akwai wata zomanya mai ciki da wata kura ita ma mai ciki masu ma}wabtaka da juna. Sai suka yanke shawarar wurin da za su ~oye ‘ya’yansu idan sun haihu. Bayan da suka haihu, sai suka tsara cewa, kura za ta ri}a samo musu abinci, ita kuma zomanya ta ri}a renon ‘ya’yan tana kula da ba su abincin da kura ta samo. Amma zomanya idan kura ta samo abinci sai ta ba ‘ya’yanta kawai ta hana wa ‘ya’yan kura . Kullum haka, kuma idan kura ta ce tana son duba lafiyar ‘ya’yanta sai zomanya ta ce sun ci abinci sun }oshi suna bacci. Wata rana sai kura ta ce sai ta ga ‘ya’yanta, ko da ta le}a ramin da suke sai ta ga duk sun rame. Sai ta tambaye su abin da ke faruwa sai suka ce, zomanya ce ba ta ba su abincin da aka samo sai ‘ya’yanta kawai take ba, kuma sai ta ce su kwanta su yi bacci. Da jin haka, sai ran kura ya ~aci har ta yi kuka, sai ta ce, tun da zomanya ta ci amanarta, to ita da ‘ya’yanta za su cinye zomanya da ‘ya’yanta. Da jin haka, sai kunya da tsora da razana da fargaba da ru]ani suka kama zomanya, idanunta suka raina fata, ta yi da-na-sanin abin da ta aikata. Daga }arshe dai da }yar da ji~in goshi ta ku~uta daga aniyar kura.”


             “In one desert forest, there are two neighbouring pregnants animals, a Rabbit and a Hyena. They took a decision on where to hide their offspring when delivered. After delivery, they planned that the Hyena will go for search of food to feed their offspring, and the Rabbit will take care for catering them. After this arrangement, the Rabbit refused to handle the trust properly, she only catered her own offspring and abandoned the Hyena’s offspring, instead, she asked them to sleep. Whenever Hyena wants to see her offspring, the Rabbit denied her and said, they have eaten food and sleep. One day, the Hyenainsisted to see her offspring, when she saw them they lokked very hunger. Then, she asked them on the situation, they replied, the Rabbit doesn’t cater them, she only took care of her own offspring. The Hyena cried and became very angry and promised to killed Rabbit and her offspring since she betrayed her trust. The Rabbit became disappointed, confused, frustrated, and shame. Lastly, the Rabbit escaped narrowly.”

As we heard, the main theme of this folktale is to narrate the impliction of trust betraying. The Rabbit betrayed the trust of Hyena’s offspring, but at the end of the story the Rabbit ends in shame and frustrated, and even nearly to lost its life. That is the consequence of who ever betrayed a trust.

In another folktale, there are three animals, Jackal, Goat, and Rabbit. The jackal betrayed the trust given to him by a goat and rabbit, but end in lost of his life. Let us look on to the story and see how the incidence occured:


“Wata rana Dila ya ha]u da Aukya. Bayan sun gaisa, sai Dila ya tambayai Akuya ko za ta ba shi ]aya daga cikin ‘ya’yanta su tafi bakin kogi shan ruwa. Akuya ta amince amma da shara]in Dila ya kula da ‘yarta amana don kar wani mugun abu ya same ta. Sai Dila ya amince da haka. Bayan da Dila da ‘yar Akuya suka isa bakin rafi sai suka tarar wuta na ci a wani ramin da ke kusa da kogin, sai Dila ya ce, wa ‘yar Akuya shi zai shiga kogin, ita kuma ta shiga ramin da wuta ke ci. Da yake ‘yar Akuya ba ta da wayo sai ta bi maganar Dila ta shiga ramin sai wuta ta cinye ta. Bayan Dila ya gama kiwo, sai ya zaro naman ‘yar Akuya ya cinye, ya kama hanyar zuwa gidan Akuya yana kukan }arya wai ruwa sun cinye ‘yar Akuya. Akuya sai ta ha}ura, amma abin ya yi mata zafi sosai. Daga nan kuma sai Dila ya tafi wajen Zomo ya sake neman Zomo ya ba shi ]aya daga cikin ‘ya’yansa su tafi rafi, Zomo kuma ya aimnce ya ba shi. Sai Dila ya so ya sake cin amanar Zomo kamar yadda ya ci amanar Akuya, amma wannan karo bai samu nasara ba, domin ]an Zomo ya }i sramin wuta, sai ya jefa takalminsa cikin wuta ya koma gefe ya ~oye. Sai Dila ya zo ya zaro takalmin ]an Zomo da tunanin naman ]an Zomo ne sai ya cinye. Daga nan sai ya wuce gidan Zomo yana kuka wai ]an Zomo ya mutu a cikin ruwa, sai ]an Zomo ya fito ya ce, Dila }arya yake yi. Daga nan dai asirin Dila ya tonu na cin amanar da yake yi, sai aka kai }ararsa wajen sarkinsu aka fa]a masa cin amanar da ya yi, sai sarkin ya ce a kama Dila a fille masa kai, haka kuma aka yi masa.”

                                          JACKAL AND RABBIT TALE

“Once upon a time, Jackal met with she-Goat. After they greet, Jackal asked the she-Goat to give him one of her child to accompany him to teh river side to drink water. The she-Goat agreed, but with the condition that the Jackal should promised that nothing bad should happen to her child. After Jackal and she-Goat child reached at the river side, they met fire burning under one one hole near the river. The Jackal asked the shea-Goat child to enter the fire, and then he would enter the river. The shea-Goat child enter the fire and burned. The Jackal pulled out the rusted meat of shea-Goat child and ate. The Jackal then moved to the shea-Goat house crying that the river swallowed the shea-Goat child. The shea-Goat became very sad and angry. The Jackal also went ahead and met Rabbit and set the same trick he did to shea-Goat, but he wasn’t succeed  this time, because The Rabbit child refused to enter the fire, instead, he threw his shoes in the fire and hided in one corner. The Jackal came and pulled out the burned shoes and ate. He then moved to the Rabbit house crying that the the Rabbit child died in the river. The Rabbit’s child came out and disclosed the Jackal trick. Then, the Rabbit sued the Jackal to the king for the alleged of trust betraying. The king ordered his subordinates to catch the Jackal and cut his head.”

As we have seen from the above tale, the main theme of thie tale is the effects of trust betraying. The Jackal betrayed the trust of two young animals (she-Goat child & Rabbit child) given to him by their parents. The Jackal succeeded his trick for the first time, but failed for the second trick which led him to lost his life entirely. In a nutshell, this tale is tried to emphasized the negative effects of trust betraying. Therefore, he who betrayed a trust, surely trust would swallowed him.

                                           TATSUNIYAR ZARUMI

“An yi wani mahaukaci wai shi Zarumi. Ba ya zagi bale bugu, sai dai tsince-tsince a bola. Zarumi yana da suma mai yawa kuma ta mummur]e saboda dau]a, ga kuma kwarkwata a cikin ta. Idan yana kwance kwarkwata ]aya ta fa]o sai ya ]auka ya mayar da ita cikin sumarsa. Wata rana yana kwance cikin bola sai ga wani wake ja mai kyau, sai ya ]auka ya tafi gida ya shuka. Bayan ya tsiro sai ya sai ya yi ta kula da shi har ya yi ‘ya’ya sosai. Rannan zai fita neman abinci sai ya rasa wanda zai tsare masa wakensa saboda ya }osa sosai. Can daga cikin sumansa sai ya ji ana cewa, ni zan tsare maka gidan. Ko da Zarumi ya duba sai ya ga ashe kwarkwatar da ke cikin sumansa ce ke magana, sai ya ciro ta daga sumarsa ya ce, to, na ba ki amanar gidana, sai kwarkawa ta ce, Allah ya dawo da kai lafiya. Bayan Zarumi ya wuce sai ga Gizo ya zo bara gidan Zarumi.Da ya ji ba kowa kuma ga wake ya yi kyau sosai, sai ya sa hannu zai ]iba sai ya ji ana wa}a ana cewa, kar ka ta~a, waken Zarumi ne. Daga nan sai Gizo ya she}a ya gaya wa sarki cewa, ya tafi wani gida bara sai ya ji wake na rera wa}a mai da]in gaske. Daga nan sai sarki ya tura fadawansa su ]ebo waken. Ko da su ma suka sa hannu su ]iba sai waken ya kama rera wa}a, sai kawai suka kama rawa tare da Gizo. Daga nan sarki ya zo da kansa zai ]iba sai waken ya kama wa}a, sai shi ma sarkin ya kama rawa har Zarumi ya dawo ya iske gidansa ya cika har da sarki, sai ya tambayi dalili, aka ce masa wakensa ne ke rera wa}a mai da]i. Sai Zarumi ya ce, ba wake ne ke wa}a ba, kwarkwata ce. Sai sarki ya ce wa Zarumi yana son ya sayar masa da kwarkwatar, sai Zarumi ya ba sarki kwarkwatar ya ce masa abincinta shi ne man shanu. Sarki ya yi godiya ya sa kwarkwata cikin kwalbar zinari da auduga da man shanu ya rufe ya rataye kwalbar a kan gadonsa. Duk lokacin da ransa ya ~aci sai ya zo ya ta~a kwalbar sai kwarkwata ta kama rera masa wa}a har sai ransa ya yi fari.”

                                                             ZARUMI  TALE

“There’s one mad person called Zarumi. He neither touch people nor beating them. Zarumi has too much twisted hair on his head and kwarkwata inside it. When ever one kwarkwata fall out he takes it back to his hair. Once upon a time, Zarumi laid down in one dump refuse and saw a nice red bean. He took it plant it in his house. He took care of it until it purely matured. One day, Zarumi wants to go out in search of food and has no body to take care of his plant, he then heard a voice from his hair saying “I will take care of your home”. Then, Zarumi realised that it is the kwarkwata that is inside his hair is speaking. He then removed the kwarkwata from his hair and said “Have a trust of my home” The kwarkwata prayed for Zarumi a safe trip. After Zarumi went out, Gizo entered the house to beg and met no one inside the house. He tehn saw Zarumi’s plant and decided to tempered it, but he heard a nice singing saying “Do not tempered it, its own by Zarumi”. Gizo rushed and informed sarki about the unblievable incidence. Therefore, the sarki sent his subordinates to havest the plant (beans), they also heard the samething as Gizo, they both started dancing including the sarki himself until Zarumi came back and met a full house. Zarumi asked on what is happening. They replied that your beans is singing nicely. Then Zarumi said, it is the kwarkwata that was singing not a beans. In view of this, the sarki asked Zarumi to sell him the kwarkwata. Zarumi agreed and informed sarki that the food for the kwarkwata is cow oil. The sarki gave Zarumi ten slaves and a thousand of Dinar. He then put kwarkwata inside a bottle of gold, cotton, and cow oil and hang the bottle around his bed.When ever he was in angry or annoyed he touch the battle, then the kwarkwata would start to sing for him until he became free minded.”

This tale is trying to emphasized the good reward for a trust person. Look at how kwarkwata became silverspoon as a result of keeping trust of the mad person (Zarumi). The kwarkwata disallowed any body to tempered Zarumi’s beans, thereby rewarded by freedom from the twisted hair of Zarumi and later put into the bottle of gold and cow oil. Therefore, the reward for any trust person is always positive, and negative reward for untrust person.


Hausa people are known to to be trustworthy among themselves and to their close and far away neighbours since the before their contact relationship with Arabs and Europeans in their society. They dont break promises let alone trust betraying. These was happened as a result of good background of moral teaching from their local tales on the negative effects of trust betraying and other cultural aspects for their lives, such as truth, sympathy, socialization among others. But now adays, all these characters are seriously detoriorating in Hausa society. Trust has became very scarce between people, when you trust some one and gave him money or a property to keep for you, he would tempered it. Untrust has became rampant among the Hausa people. Then, what are the causes of this situation, and how would it be addressed? Undoubtedly, the causes of these detorioration is obvious and clear. First, is the negligence of our fore-fathers cultural heritage of teaching and training our young ones a good characters in our local tales. As mentioned earlier, folktales play very important role in programming the brain of our childrens on how to become leaders by example of today and tomorrow, but it has been abandoned in the name of contemporary development.


To my own point of view, no matter how things are detoriorated some solution may look into consideration. We need to critically reviewed our fore-fathers norms and values and re-put them into practice such as folktales and among others, and abandoned all the borrowed unuseful cultures or those which causes our society into these problems. I think, by applying this method we may have a solution to these problems.


To identified the promblem is a half problem solving. Hausa folktales are full treasury of moral thoughts that are need to be put into practice rigorously to our childrens, so as to grow up in God fearing and aimed in developing their society. Therfore, when ever a society lost an aspect of trust, surely its socio-economic and political affairs would virtually collapse. The paper cited three examples of Hausa folktales with a trust as a major theme and the bad consequence for its betrayers.








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