Gobir Agency and Identity in the Mosaic of Ilorin Emirate since 1823

Being a paper presented at the First International Conference on Gobir Kingdom, Past And Present: Transformation And Change, held at The Usmanu Danfodiyo University Auditorium, from 9th – 13th July, 2018

Gobir Agency and Identity in the Mosaic of Ilorin Emirate since 1823 

Ibrahim AbdulGaniyu Jawondo PhD
Associate Professor of History &
Director Centre for Ilorin Studies
University of Ilorin, Ilorin.
Email: jawondoi@yahoo.com, jawondoi@unilorin.edu.ng


Aliyu Sakariyau Alabi PhD
Department of History, Bayero University, Kano,
P.M.B 3011, Kano State. Nigeria.
Email: aliyua4455@buk.edu.ng
Tel: +234 803 5610 427 


All societies emerged as a result of migrations and settlements in time and space. emerged as a multi-ethnic emirate in the nineteenth century, comprising people of different ancestry: Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe, Kanuri, Nupe amongst others, who settled in the area. The Gobirawa of Ilorin formed a sub-group of the Hausa, and who originated from Gobir, one of the powerful pre-jihad Hausa Kingdoms and from which the Sokoto Caliphate emerged. Although Ilorin has been well researched, little attention has been accorded to minority groups such as the Gobirawa who formed part of the mosaic that is Ilorin. This paper examines the place and agency of the Gobirawa who settled permanently, in the history of Ilorin. In the course of the history of Ilorin the various ethnic components of Ilorin have melted into one Yoruba speaking entity. However, some of the varied ethnic components of Ilorin can still be distinguished by certain indices of their ancestry. Even though a minority among the components that formed Ilorin, the Gobirawa of Ilorin have preserved their pristine identity in their surname of ‘Gobir,’ the Gobir facial marks and peculiar marriage rites. What historical forces have made the Gobirawa to keep these identity markers? How sustainable is this cultural identity of the Gobirawa in Ilorin? By examining their history, this paper seeks to tease out the place of the Gobirawa in the overall history and identity of Ilorin and the interconnectedness of the history of the peoples of Northern Nigeria.

Key words: Gobirawa, Ilorin, agency, identity



The Hausa speaking people are one of the three main ethnic groups in Nigeria. Their history stretched back over a millennium. A most distinctive feature of the Hausa people is the Hausa language. It belongs to the Chadic group of languages emerging from the same proto-language which produced Ngizim, Maber, Auyokawa, Shirawa, Bedde, Bolewa, Kerekere, Tangale, Angas, Ankwe, Montol, Buduma, Affade, Bachama, Tera and Margi. The distinction between these languages and Hausa indicates a separation that must have occurred several thousand years ago.[1] Hausa is spoken over a wide area covering the northern region of virtually all West African countries. It was the language of trade during the trans-Saharan trade and is spoken as far as Algiers and Libya.[2] As a language, it borrowed many words from Arabic, especially religious terms.

Migrations is current in all traditions leading to the formation of the Hausa states, developing as centres of migrations, making them cosmopolitan centres of immigrations.[3] The Hausa as a people have been in existence long before the establishment of the famous Hausa Bakwai states.[4] The origin of the Hausa like most groups in the Nigeria area is enmeshed in myths. The legend of the Hausa bakwai gave pre-eminence to a group of seven governing dynasties that appears to have emerged in the first few centuries of the last millennium. The legend assigns a common family origin to them all through the hero, Bayajida. The legend itself is doubtful on the account of various versions of it and having currency largely in the southern part of the Hausa land.

One account has a son of Bayajida, Biram as the founder of Garun Gabas, near modern day Hadeija. Bawo, another son gave birth to the remaining sons: Gazaura in Daura, Kumaiyu in Katsina, Bagauda in Kano, Zamagari in Rano, Gunguma in Zazzau and Duma in Gobir. This legend is disputed by the folklore of Gobir which disassociate its dynasty from sons of Bawo.[5] In Kano, Bagauda also met people with their own leaders. What is obvious from the legends is the existence of polities before the formation of Hausa Bakwai.

Of the seven Bakwai states, only, Kano, Zazzau, Katsina and Gobir have had significant influence over other polities. The people of these states appeared to have moved down from the north due to desiccation of the central Sahara and the land of the Hausa stretched from Azben in the north, southward toward the Kaduna river and then westward to the valley of Kebbi, east ward of the Jos highlands, bound by Kanem Borno to the east and the Songhai in the west.[6]

Hausa socio-political development saw the emergence of the birane (sing. birni) out of garuruwa (singular gari), itself emerging from kauyuka (sing. kauye); small agricultural hamlets based on households organised for crop production. The overall leadership of these households is vested on a ruler, Sarki, for the maintenance of communal discipline.[7] The introduction of iron in the early part of the first millennium no doubt contributed to the development of large settlements. Many of the ancient towns were sited around sources of iron.

Gobir among the Hausa

Little is known of the early history of Gobir. They had occupied the land of Air from which they were later driven down to the north of Kebbi land by the Tuaregs.[8] The Gobir people or Gobirawa are one of the sub-ethnic Hausa people divided into seven main kingdoms. Their history, more than the other Hausa kingdoms had been underscored by migrations. Its people, the Gobirawa are considered to have originally been the inhabitants of Azben from where they migrated southward against the invasion of the Tuaregs in order to protect themselves from domination of the Tuaregs. The Gobirawa had a capital at Birnin Lalle in the Gulbin Targa during the seventeenth century. This moved to Tsibiri at the turn of seventeenth/eighteenth century and thereafter in their southward and westward expansion into Alkalawa in the mid eighteenth century.[9] This led to conflicts with Kebbi over Konni and Air over Adar as well as with Katsina.[10]The Gobir kingdom was also a tributary to Borno until Bawa Jan Gwarzo (d.1794) stopped this payment.[11]

 In the tumultuous seventeenth century western Hausaland, Gobir was one of the rising powers. With Zamfara and the Tuaregs of Air, they continuously raided Kebbi. Their southward and westward expansion met with great success and under their Sarki, Muhammad mai Guitti, they established a new capital at Birni Naya, the present site of Tsibiri in the latter half of the seventeenth century. Gobir also fought with Katsina, whose territory it was encroaching. It was also encroaching on the fertile Zamfara land. The Azbenawa were also pushing southward, an uncomfortable move to the Zamfarawa and Gobirawa. Both Zamfara and Gobir were attacked by the Azbenawa; Gobir for raiding the Tuaregs for which its many villages were sacked.[12]

 By the eighteenth century, Gobir had replaced Kebbi as a new power in western Hausaland. Its attempt to capture Katsina territory led to the sacking of its capital Birnin Naya, leading to the establishment of a new capital at Goran Rami. Gobir’s wars from its new capital in the first half of the eighteenth century were unsuccessful. Thereafter, Kebbi fell to the attacks of Gobir, Air and Zamfara and Gobir captured the king of Kebbi and his chiefs who were put in confinement. With the decline and extinction of Gao-Agades-North-African trade route, it was replaced by Agades-Gobir-Kebbi route. Control of this route led to conflicts between Zamfara and Gobir, the two powers guarding the route to the south.[13]

Gobir spent a great deal of the nineteenth century fighting wars against its neighours, Air, Zamfara, Katsina and Kano. Allowed by the Sarkin Zamfara to settle on the fief of alkali, they migrated in large numbers as farmers, that by 1740s they had constituted a threat to their host, hungry for more lands.  They broke away from allegiance to Zamfara, attacked and defeated Kebbi. Eventually they attacked Zamfara, the latter being incapable of containing the threat. As Adeleye observed, Zamfara’s potential of being an empire was stunted by the rise of Gobir to power. [14]

By acceding to the demands of Usman Dan Fodio, Bawa Jan Gwarzo laid some of the foundation for the success of the Jihad that eventually sacked the Gobir capital by the time of Sarkin Gobir Yunfa (1803-1808). With the success of the Jihad, the power of Gobir, like that of the other Hausa kingdoms declined.[15] In Sabon Birni, the Gobir kingdom continued, overshadowed by the Sultanate of Sokoto. The Gobirawa can also be found in Tsbiri in Niger republic as well as their many settlements in wards of various Hausa towns and cities in Nigeria.[16] In Ilorin, they can be found in the Gambari ward where the Hausas are mostly settled.

Gobir Agency, Identity and the Ilorin Mosaic

The Sokoto Caliphate arose from the ashes of the Gobir Kingdom. The emergence of Ilorin Emirate in the early nineteenth century was a result of the waves of Islamic reforms sweeping over West Africa during this period.[17] Like the Sokoto caliphate that succeeded Gobir, Ilorin also succeeded the old Oyo Empire as the new power in northern Yoruba region. Starting out as a hunting or small farm holding, it became an outpost of the old Oyo Empire and by the eighteenth century had begun to manifest elements of the multi-ethnic character that latter came to full bloom under the emirate system.[18]

At the time of the Fulani ascension to the leadership of Ilorin, the town comprised of varied ethnic groups concentrated in different semi-autonomous settlements. The earliest of such settlement is Idi-Ape where the ancestors of Afonja, the generalissimo of Old Oyo were based. Here were to be found the pristine Yoruba stock of Ilorin. Not far from Idi-Ape were the semi-nomadic Fulani herders who hosted Alimi, their Kinsman.[19] On the outskirts on the route to Ogbomosho was the emerging exclusive Muslim enclave of Okesuna, led by a scholar of mixed Borno and Yoruba descent.[20] In the eastern part of Ilorin, on the entrance of the route from the north is the Gambari quarters populated by varied groups of Hausa, Nupe, Kanuri and Baruba ethnic stocks.

Gambari no doubt began as a zango; a rest point for the caravans plying the north south trade. In this ward are to be found the Gobirawa of Ilorin. As their history has shown, apart from warfare and farming, trade is also one of the strong preoccupations of the Gobirawa. We can thus infer that they must have been part of the earliest Hausa settlers of Gambari ward in Ilorin as their oral tradition also confirmed.[21] In one of the traditions, it was reported that in the course of their migrations they headed down to Ilorin, under the leadership of Suleiman Dangaladima and intermarried with the Yoruba in Ilorin.[22] It is also claimed that the term Gambari was a corruption of ‘Gobir’.[23] 

A people whose history is underscored by migrations, the Gobir arrived in Ilorin in different waves and came from many of their places of dispersal further north such as Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara regions. It can be expected that some of them were in Ilorin before the arrival of Alimi. Some came in the time of Alimi and others subsequently. Some of these Gobirawa no doubt ventured further south into other Yoruba regions, many of whom would later return to Ilorin when it emerged as an emirate, fleeing persecutions of perceived sympathisers of Ilorin by the remnants of the old Oyo Empire.[24]

The politico-religious agency of the Gobirawa is well attested to in the history of Ilorin emirate from its foundation up to the twenty-first century. For example, in the struggle for power at the very inception of the emirate system between the children of Alimi and Sarkin Gambari, Bako,[25] the Gobirawa had supported Bako, who hailed from Zamfara.[26] However, Bako’s successor was outsmarted by Abdulsalami (1823-1836), the first emir, who we learnt, by subterfuge took his royal paraphernalia of tambari (drum) and algaita (trumpet).[27] It is perhaps for this reason that the Gobirawa do not hold any of the powerful warlord positions of Balogun in Ilorin emirate political structure, having supported the side that lost in the power struggle.[28] Thereafter, they aligned with the house of Alimi. [29]

One of the foundational scholars of Ilorin as an emirate was Alfa Abubakar Bube, A Gobirawa. According to Al Iluri, he arrived in Ilorin in 1838 during the reign of the second emir Shitta (1836-1860) following the policy of the emir of settling scholars in his domain to entrench Islam.[30] The emir made himself a student of alfa Bube and also had one of his sons, Mahmud, study under him. He was a pre-eminent scholar who mentored many scholars in Ilorin. He had three sons, Muhammad Sani,[31] Uthman and Muhammad Ameen (nicknamed Nda Agba)[32] who succeeded one another as qadi in Ilorin after their father.[33]

Although the Gobirawa were not rewarded with any of the new chieftaincies by the Fulani rulers of Ilorin, nevertheless, they have a chieftaincy of their own and which is recognised by the Fulani emirs as one of the important hereditary titles in Ilorin.  The chieftaincy of ‘Seriki Gobir’[34] in Ilorin was instituted when the Gobirawa realised that they were of a considerable number and thus they appointed one from among them as their leader.[35] Although Hodge stated that Sarkin Gobir was with Sarkin Gambari Bako, it appears that the role of the title of Sarkin Gobir did not attain much significance until later.[36] Despite their small numbers relative to the rest of Ilorin, the Gobirawa are proud and conscious of their origin and identity.[37] These they have kept alive into the twenty-first century and as a subgroup within the mosaic of Ilorin identity, remain one of the most recognisable sub-identities in Ilorin.[38] Already, Ilorin as an emirate is a mosaic of ethnicities anchored in the religion of Islam and cemented by Yoruba language as the lingua franca.[39]

Identity can be resilient and dynamic at the same time. Hausa identity is one of the key components of Ilorin identity; this in itself is an amalgam of varied Hausa identities, such as Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Gobir. Ilorin is more a melting pot than a bowl of salad by virtue of the unifying factor of Islam and Yoruba language. Hence, except for facial marks, it is impossible to distinguish the ethnic origin of an Ilorin person at first encounter. While there is a general Ilorin facial mark of one mark on the front of both cheeks, some other ethnic components of Ilorin have retained their pristine marks that easily distinguished them from others and points to their origin, such as we find with the Yoruba of Idi-ape, the Kannike (Kanuri) and the Gobir in Gambari ward amongst others. Within the Hausa sourced identity of Ilorin, the Gobir identity is perhaps the most distinguishable.

Identities are formed by selecting beliefs and concepts that better define our sense of self. Attahiru asserts that Identity is not only about individuality and self-awareness, but also and especially about identification with and commitment to, shared values and beliefs, in a social collectivity in which a person belongs to. Also at any given time a person may have multiple identities, each of which may always have some bearing on his or her political conduct and social roles in society.[40] The Gobirawa while retaining their sub-ethnic identities (Gobir and Hausa identities) still share the unifying identity of every Ilorin indigene, underscored by being a Muslim Yoruba speaking person nurtured in the mores and values of Ilorin.

How do we identify the Gobirawa in the mosaic of Ilorin identity? Three main markers serve as keys to knowing a Gobir in Ilorin. The strongest and most resilient is their generic surname - Gobir. Linguistic anthropology has shown that all indices of ethnic identity such as ethnic tradition, religion, ancestry, language, physiognomy, place and time of birth can be morphed into a single morpheme, the name given to a person.[41] Name and naming is very important in all societies and is often the first point of encounter a relationship. A name encapsulates the character of the bearer and differentiates such person from any other.

Surnames can serve as indicators of ethnic or linguistic and even geographic background.[42] For groups who have been morphed into a larger ethnic identity and having lost a key index of identity such as language; surnames can serve as a powerful means of keeping pristine memories and identity alive. Often the surname of the Gobirawa of Ilorin is ‘Gobir.’ The name Gobir refers to both the people and the land of Gobir and in their dispersals serves as an unmistakable identity that connects the Gobirawa to their ancestral land and history.[43] Perhaps, more than any other group in Ilorin, the Gobir have held on to bearing the name ‘Gobir’ as their surname, whether they have the Gobir facial marks or not. By being constantly referred to as Gobir, their identity is always being encountered in relationship with them, more than any of the other Hausa identities to be found in Ilorin.

 A second less resilient index of Gobir identity is the facial marks. This is the instantaneous recognizable identity marker that many of the Gobirawa still bear. In many African societies, facial scarification serves more than one purpose. Apart from being a source of clan or ethnic identity, it also functioned in the past as a form of security.[44] People bearing certain facial marks were supposedly safe from enslavement. In some societies, scarification can also be a status symbol such as among the Umundri of Igboland.[45] Beautification while important in some cicatrisation, generally it appears to be more of a secondary function.

While religion and westernization have reduced the numbers of Gobirwa holding unto this identity marker in Ilorin, it is still common enough in the twenty-first century. This is a visible Gobir marker that can be found among the Gobirawa whether in Ilorin or elsewhere. However, there is fear that it will go into extinction within a generation or two.[46] At the same time this fear and pride in the marks have kept the culture alive among some of the Gobirawa. A method some have devised for keeping the culture alive is giving the marks to the eldest child, most especially the eldest male.[47] The Gobir marks consists of seven marks on the right cheek and six marks on left cheek respectively, which are drawn out from the side of the mouth into a fishtail-like shape.[48] There is also an additional diagonal (ibamu) mark below the left eye. The marks are called yatsun kaza in Hausa (footprint of a chicken), alluding to the similarity between the shape of the marks and that of the foot a chicken.

In the wedding rituals of the Gobirawa of Ilorin can also be found an index of their identity. In the Gambari quarters where most of the Hausa and the Gobir in particular settled and assimilated into the Ilorin larger cultural milieu, a number of Hausa cultural practices have survived into the twenty-first century even as the inhabitants no longer speak Hausa as a first language. For example, there is sisa (running or hiding), a practice where both the groom and the bride would ‘run’ away to a friend or relative’s house. Friends and family will have to seek them out and bring them back into the family house.[49]

Although this is a general practice among the people of Gambari ward, the Gobirawa have some differences that can be observed in their marriage rites. The wedding ceremonies could last between eight to fifteen days in the olden days but these have now been shortened to a two or three days event. When the groom or bride has run away, the friends and family will go and bring them from their hideouts with songs, accompanied by drums and algaita (short trumpet).[50] In the songs, one can see the history and attributes of the Gobir indicated in the lines. The song in Yoruba goes thus:

Gobiri roro, e igba roro[51]                                    Gobiri is stern, accepts no sternness

Tio ba di ija tan, Gobiri ni eyan si won           When it comes to fighting, push Gobir towards                                                                     them

Olufarawe eo gbodo fara we wa                       Imitators, do not imitate us

Ageku ejo, Gobiri oro laa se                                Half-cut snake, Gobiri we are dreadful

Tio ba di ija tan, Gobiri ni eyan si won            When it comes to fighting, push Gobir towards                                                                     them

Gobiri dun bi, obi loni arin lola,                     Gobir is good to be born, give birth to him/her                                                                                  today, he/she walks tomorrow

Gobiri dun fe, o fe loni ara aso meje,              Gobir is good to be married to, marry him/her                                                                       today, he/she buys seven cloths

Oke yo ju oke                                                    Hills are higher than (other) hills

Gobiri yo juwon lo                                           Gobir is above them

Gobiri onijogbon o, taloni ‘o fewon ?            Gobir the stubborn one, who asked you to marry                                                                  them?


Omo ajeba yo                                                  One who feeds (to fill) on eba

Omo aje tuwo                                                  One who feeds (to fill) on tuwo

Omo amu ireke                                               One who crunches sugarcane

Omo amu koko                                                One who drinks koko

Omo agun bori                                                One who rides on bori[52]


In the two stanza song, elements of Gobir traits could be teased out. The first two lines allude to the warrior-like spirit of the Gobirawa, borne of their constant battles in their peregrinations from their northern origin in Air down to northern Yoruba region. In the first stanza is also a reference to Gobir as half sliced snake, a metaphor for a dangerous adversary. In the second stanza, Gobir are qualified by their cultural culinary tastes, tuwo (cereal meal), koko (pap) while the first line in the second stanza refers to eba (cassava meal), a Yoruba food. The last line refers to bori cult, popular among the Hausa, particularly in pre-Islamic contexts.

Other aspects of the wedding rites that are reminiscent of Hausa culture include a version of the boko (fake) groom act.[53] When the bride has returned from her sisa (running), she is taken through laali (Hausa- lalle) henna decoration on her feet and hands. The rite is supervised by an old woman referred to (h)ari wonka (from Hausa wanka= bath), who also supervises the bathing of the bride. The bride then is made to perform a ‘pounding the mortal’ rite with two fake grooms, one older and the other younger. The bride will have two kolanuts on each side of her cheeks and she is not to speak throughout the rite.[54]

The older fake groom, using the back of a tin, gives a small amount of grain to the bride but she will refuse it. Then the younger fake groom will give a full measure to the bride, which she now accepts and pour into the mortal. She will then run round the mortal seven times, pound the grain, give the pestle to the older fake groom and run inside the house. She will repeat this action three times. Each time the (h)ari wonka will bring her out. She will make a show of feeding the small fake groom. After the third time, she will pack the grounded grain and sprinkle on everyone. She takes out the kola nut from her mouth to be collected by the (h)ari wonka, who now prays for everyone. She will then hand over the bride to the eldest woman in the groom’s household. This rite in the real groom’s house completes the wedding rite of a Gobir bride in Ilorin.[55]

Through the three identity markers of a common eponymous surname, Gobir facial marks and peculiar wedding rites, the Gobirawa in Ilorin, despite having lost their original Hausa language (now replaced with Yoruba dialect of Ilorin) can still be identified. The resilience of these identity markers indicate a people conscious of their past, preserving as much as their circumstances permit. Some of these identity markers are being threatened by westernisation/ modernisation and a deepening Islamisation of the society. The most resilient and sustainable of these markers appears to be the common surname Gobir. Neither westernisation nor Islam threatens it. Thus, the Gobirawa, wherever their location, especially in Ilorin, will always be identified by their name of Gobir.

The facial marks and wedding rites are being eroded gradually by the two phenomena of westernisation/modernisation and a deepening Islamisation of society.[56] While Islam does not specifically forbid the giving of facial marks, many scholars do not encourage it. Advocates of modernity see the marks as relics of days of ignorance and as having outlived its usefulness as an identity marker.[57] The same applies to the wedding rites; the puritan nature of Islam makes such rites to be unnecessary even if not forbidden outright and many consider it as relics of pre-Islamic cultural practices. Despite the threats and challenges facing Gobir identity through some of their markers, the Gobir identity is a resilient one, strong enough to last into the foreseeable future.


Identity has been identified as an important feature of human societies, usually the first point of encounter in relationships. Humans therefore generally value their identities. The Gobirawa as an ethnic and cultural phenomenon are identifiable through their history and cultural traits. Their histories have been underscored by migrations and the wars that these entail. From their northern origin in the Air region down to the northern Yoruba region of Ilorin, the Gobirawa have kept alive their identity in some ways.

In Ilorin, the locational focus of this paper, we see the Gobirawa as part of the larger Hausa commercial migrations that eventually settled in Ilorin in various waves, most especially after the establishment of Ilorin as an emirate. Ethnically a mosaic, Ilorin is comprised of people of varied ethnic origins all subsumed into a Yoruba speaking Muslim community, in which the most important index of identity is the religion of Islam, followed by ancestry before the lingua franca is considered. Within this mosaic, Gobir identity is one of the most visible identities despite their small numbers. The Gobirawa of Ilorin have kept alive their identity through three main makers; their generic surname of Gobir, facial marks and some marriage rites as this paper has shown. This stands them out as an important unit within the mosaic of Ilorin identity. Despite changes, threats and challenges, Gobir identity within the mosaic of Ilorin identity appears tenable into the foreseeable future.












List of Seriki Gobir of Ilorin

1. Alfa Salihu Masalasi

2. Alfa Abubakar Salihu

3. Alfa Suleiman Babapupa

4. Alfa Isa Leramon

5. Alfa AbdulKadir

6. Muhammed Ajeigbe (Waziri Ilorin) 1954-1960

7. Suleiman Isa  1960-1996

8. Alhaji Dauda Bababudo 1996-2009

9. Capt. Mohammed Ahmed Yusuf Gobir 2009-

[1] Abdullahi Smith, ‘Some Considerations Relating to the Formation of States in Hausaland’ Journal of Historical Society of Nigeria Vol. 5 No.3 Dec. 1970 p.331.

[2] Charles Henry Robinson M.A, Hausaland or Fifteen Hundred Miles through the Central Soudan (London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1897) p.170.

[3] Smith, ‘Some Considerations…’  p.341.

[4] Smith, ‘Some Considerations…’   p.333.

[5] Nehemia Levtzion, ‘The Early States of the Western Sudan to 1500’ -in- J.F.A. Ajayi and Michael Crowther, History of West Africa Vol .1 (second edition) (London: Longman Group Ltd,1976) p.185.

[6] Levtzion, ‘The Early States of the Western Sudan to 1500’… P.178.

[7] Levtzion, ‘The Early States of the Western Sudan to 1500’… P.180.

[8] Levtzion, ‘The Early States of the Western Sudan to 1500’…p. 281.

[9] Smith, ‘Some Considerations…’ p.342.

[10] R.A. Adeleye, ‘Hausaland and Borno 1600-1800’ -in- Ajayi and Michael, History of West Africa Volume one.p.583

[11] Adeleye, ‘Hausaland and Borno 1600-1800’...p.572

[12] Adeleye, ‘Hausaland and Borno 1600-1800’… Pp.583-585.

[13] Adeleye, ‘Hausaland and Borno 1600-1800’.pp. 586-587.

[14] Adeleye, ‘Hausaland and Borno 1600-1800’.... p.588.

[15] For this history, see Murray Last, The Sokoto Caliphate (London: Longman, 1967)

[16] See Kabiru Haruna Isa and Abdurrahman Abubakar Idris, ‘The Place of Gobirawa in the Social and Economic History of Kano’ Being a paper presented at the 1st international Conference on ‘Gobir, Past and Present: Transformations and Change.’ Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto. 9-13 July, 2018.

[17] See Ousmane Kane, Beyond Timbuktu - An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa   (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2016).

[18] For this early part of emirate history of Ilorin see, H.B. Hermon-Hodge, Gazetteer of Ilorin Province (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1929); H. O. Danmole, ‘The Frontier Emirate: A History of Islam in Ilorin’ (PhD Thesis, University of Birmingham, 1980); Jimoh, (1994) Ilorin the Journey So Far; Safi Jimba, Iwe Itan Ilorin (Ilorin: Jimba Publishers, 1990) and Reichmuth, Stefan, ‘A Regional Centre of Islamic Learning in Nigeria: Ilorin and its Influence on Yoruba Islam’ -in- Nicole Grandin & Marc Gaborieau (eds.) Madrasah La Transmission Du Savoir Dans Le Monde Musulma (Op editions: Arguments, 1997).

[19] L.A.K. Jimoh,  Ilorin the Journey So Far (Ilorin: Atoto Press Ltd, 1994) p.51.

[20] See the following for a history of Okesuna, Hermon-Hodge, Gazetteer of Ilorin Province; Stefan Reichmuth, Islamische Bildung und Soziale Integration in Ilorin (Munster: Lit.Verlag, 1998) pp. 26,39; Onikoko, A History of Ilorin Emirate, (Ilorin; Sat Adis  Enterprises,1992), and Jimoh, (1994) Ilorin the Journey So Far. P.51.

[21] Discussions with Alfa Ibrahim Umar Gobir, 29-6-18.

[22] Yakubu Aliyu Gobir, ‘“Gobir” Wani Jigo a Kasar Hausa-Waiwayon Tarihi da Diddigi Masarautun Gobir’ -in- Ibrahim A.M. Malumfashi, Salisu A. Yakasai, Ibrahim S.S. Abdullahi, The Hausa people, language and history, past present and future (Kaduna: Garkuwa Publishing Ltd, 2016) p. 482.

[23] However this argument is weak against linguistic analysis. The Yoruba have no pronunciation problem with the ‘O’ sound, rather it is with the ‘a’ sound from Hausa that they tend to replace with ‘o’ sound and adding a nunation to it such we see in ‘yabo’ (to praise) which in Yoruba becomes ‘Yonbo’. Similar sounds include ‘wake’  (beans)‘wanke’ , ‘wanka’ (bath)  which becomes ‘wonka’ in Ilorin dialect. Moreover, the pronunciation of Gobir has not changed except perhaps the addition of a dipthong ‘I’ at the end to become Gobiri or repetition of the first syllable, thus it is sometimes pronounced as ‘Gogobiri’. See Salihu Ismail Otukoko, ‘Gambari: Towards a Historical exploration of the Etymology of a Term.’ Unpublished paper. Department of History and Heritage Studies, Kwara State University, Malete.

[24] Gbadamosi, G.T.O, The Growth of Islam Among the Yorubas 1841- 1908 (London, 1978).

[25] Bako was the head of the Gambari ward where an admixture of Hausawa from their various origins settled in Ilorin and was already assuming some form of royalty symbolised by his possession of the trumpet (algaita) and drum (tambari).

[26] One of the Gobir compounds in Ilorin is called Ajiyan Bako (Bako’s viceroy), an indication of their support and closeness to Bako in the contest for power. Ethnic affinities may have been the reason the Gobirawa aligned with Bako, a Hausa of Zamfara and they would not have been unaware of the unsettling of the Gobir kingdom by the Fulani jihad in the Sokoto region around this period.

[27] H.B.Hermon-Hodge, Gazetteer of Ilorin (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1929) p.66;Jimoh,  Ilorin the Journey. p.75.

[28] Discussions with Alfa Ibrahim Umar Gobir,  29-6-18.

[29] There are four main wards in Ilorin traditional political structure, each headed by a Balogun (warlord). They formed a second layer of authority after the emir. They were very powerful chiefs until the colonial authority whittled down their power and bolstered that of the emir. The wards are Gambari, Fulani, Ajikobi and Alanamu wards.

[30] H.O. A. Danmole, ‘The Growth of Islamic Learning in Ilorin in the Nineteenth Century’ Journal of Religions, University of Ilorin, (Vol 6 &7 December 1982).

[31] A grandson of his, Muhammad, wrote the famous poem extolling the virtue of Emir Aliyu bn Shitta (1868-91) after the victory of Ilorin forces at the battle of Offa in 1888. Adam Abdullahi Al lluri, Lamahat al Ballur fi Mashahir Ulama Iluri.p.26.

[32] He was called Nda because he grew up among maternal relatives who were Nupes, an example of inter-ethnic integration in Ilorin. Discussions with Alfa Ibrahim Umar Gobir,  29-6-2018.

[33] Al lluri, Lamahat al Ballur (Agege, Maktabat, 1982).p.25.

[34] ‘In this paper, Seriki Gobir’ is used interchangeably with ‘Sarkin Gobir’ to reflect the changes in pronunciation due to cultural assimilation. Gobir and Gobirawa are used interchangeably.

[35] No dates were not available for the first five of the Seriki Gobir. See appendix for a list of the holders of the title ‘Seriki Gobir’ in Ilorin.

[36] Hodge,  Gazetteer of Ilorin.p.65.

[37] Gobirawa homesteads in Gambari ward of Ilorin are less than a dozen in number. They include Baare (Baarewa- reminiscent of their origin from the Sahel region), Mayaki (likely from Maiyaki), Nda Agba, Ile Panu (also known as Ike Seriki Gobir), Ile Babadudu and Ajiyan Bako homesteads.

[38] The emergence of Muhammad Ajeigbe as one of the first western educated Ilorin indigenes, which later earned him the title of Waziri of Ilorin, the first to hold such a title and his role in the political, administrative and education developments in Ilorin in the twentieth century was a great boost to Gobir Identity in Ilorin. See Z. S. Sambo and Lawal Sakariyau Yittametu, ‘Gobirawa Personalities in Diaspora: The Legacies of Mallam Muhammadu Ajeigbe Gobir, the First Wazirin Ilorin.’ Being a paper presented at the 1st international Conference on ‘Gobir, Past and Present: Transformations and Change.’ Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto. 9-13 July, 2018.

[39] Discussions with Alfa Ibrahim Umar Gobir, 29-6-18. See also Aliyu S. Alabi, Indices of Ethnic Identity in a Multicultural Society: An Appraisal of Ilorin’s Ethnic Identity-in-FAIS Journal of Humanities, Vol.4 No.2.July 2010, pp.1-29.Bayero University Kano. Nigeria.

[40] Attahiru Jega, ‘The State and Identity Transformation Under Structural Adjustment in Nigeria’-in-Attahiru (ed) Identity Transformation and Identity Politics Under Structural Adjustment in Nigeria. (Nordiska Afrikainstitutet and Centre for Research and Documentation-Kano 2003). Pp. 26-44.

[41] Mary V. Seeman M.D., ‘Name and Identity,’ Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol.25, No.2 March,1980.

[42] Teresa Scassa, ‘National Identity, Ethnic Surnames and the State,’ Canadian Journal of Law and society, Volume 11, Issue 2. July 2014; Solveig Wikstrø M, ‘Surnames and Identities,’ Oslo Studies in Language 4(2), 2012. Pp. 257–272.

[43] Group discussions with Alhaji Ahmad Yusuf Gobi (Sarkin Gobir of Ilorin), Malam idowu Gobir. Alhaja Ayoka Gobir, Alhaji Usman Ajiwokewu Gobir, Alhaji, Saliu Yaqub gobir, Alhaja Iya Agbede Gobir, Alhaji taye Gobir, Malam Saad Baba Gobir, Alhaji Baba Ajape Gobir, et al. 2-7- 2018.

[44] Group discussions with Alhaji Ahmad Yusuf Gobi (Sarkin Gobir of Ilorin), Malam idowu Gobir. Alhaja Ayoka Gobir, Alhaji Usman Ajiwokewu Gobir, Alhaji, Saliu Yaqub gobir, Alhaja Iya Agbede Gobir, Alhaji taye Gobir, Malam Saad Baba Gobir, Alhaji Baba Ajape Gobir, et al. 2-7- 2018.

[45] M. D. W. Jeffreys, ‘The Winged Solar Disk or Ibo ItΣi Facial Scarification,’Africa: Journal of the International African Institute,Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1951),pp. 93-111.

[46] For example, the 9th Seriki Gobir of Ilorin does not bear the Gobir marks.

[47] See Tadeferua Ujorha, ‘Gobirawa Marks on the Verge of Extinction’ Daily Trust 19, October 2016 and Murtala Ayinla, ‘Tribal marks, our identity, our pride’. https://newtelegraphonline.com/2017/12/tribal-marks-identity-pride/ accessed 23-6-2018.

[48] As part of the ritual of etching the marks, when a child is being given the marks, the blood from the incision is sprinkled into its mouth.

[49] Discussions with Alhaja Sherifat Gobir, 3/7/2018. This is probably an act that symbolises the groom or the bride’s shyness and anxiety about the new life that the ceremony portends.

[50] Group discussions with Alhaji Ahmad Yusuf Gobi (Sarkin Gobir of Ilorin), Malam idowu Gobir. Alhaja Ayoka Gobir, Alhaji Usman Ajiwokewu Gobir, Alhaji, Saliu Yaqub gobir, Alhaja Iya Agbede Gobir, Alhaji taye Gobir, Malam Saad Baba Gobir, Alhaji Baba Ajape Gobir, et al. 2-7- 2018.

[51]Discussions with Alhaja Sherifat Gobir, 3/7/2018 and Alfa Ibrahim Umar Gobir, 29-6-18.

[52] Bori is the animist cult among the Hausa, in which the practitioners, usually women are possessed. This reflects the memory of their ancestral belief even though they no long believe or practice bori cult.

[53] This is the source of the idea of the name ‘boko’ (fake) for western education in comparison to Islamic education in the first colonial encounter between the two systems of education in the early twentieth century and which has stuck into the twenty-first century by way of othering the education system of the imperialists.

[54] Discussions with Alhaja Sherifat Gobir, 3/7/2018.

[55] Discussions with Alhaja Sherifat Gobir, 3/7/2018 and Alfa Ibrahim Umar Gobir, 29-6-18.

[56] Olanike Ola Orie, ‘The Structure and Function of Yoruba Facial Scarification’ Anthropological Linguistics,Vol. 53, No. 1 (SPRING 2011), pp. 15-33

[57] Ujorha, ‘Gobirawa Marks on the Verge of Extinction’.

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