Agitation and Dialogue in Hausa and Fulɓe Encounters: (Reassessing the Hausa Version as Depicted in Hausa Orature)


Folklore as a discipline is an important historical source in the territory of Oral tradition. Whatever shortcomings we may think is possible in self-styled narration of the history and happenings in our societies, it is very unlikely to make any significant input in our history outside the speculations of the popular oral sources. Fulbe and Hausa, though of different historical, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, are today socially integrated in Nigerian context and generally named as Hausa-Fulani. I do not contest the Nigerian factor behind the tag-name but the fact remains that, Hausa and Fulani of the northern region of the country are very close associates from time immemorial. Dandatti (1975) as per the role of oral singers in Hausa-Fulani societies…

Agitation and Dialogue in Hausa and Ful’be Encounters:
(Reassessing the Hausa Version as Depicted in Hausa Orature)
Aliyu Muhammadu Bunza
Faculty of Humanities and Education
Department of Languages and Cultures
Federal University Gusau,
082 431 6508
Being a paper presented at the International Conference on Fulfulde Language, Literature and Culture organized by the Centre for the Studies of Nigerian Languages and Folklore Bayero University, Kano, dated 28th – 30th March, 2016.

Folklore as a discipline is an important historical source in the territory of Oral tradition. Whatever shortcomings we may think is possible in self-styled narration of the history and happenings in our societies, it is very unlikely to make any significant input in our history outside the speculations of the popular oral sources. Fulbe and Hausa, though of different historical, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, are today socially integrated in Nigerian context and generally named as Hausa-Fulani. I do not contest the Nigerian factor behind the tag-name but the fact remains that, Hausa and Fulani of the northern region of the country are very close associates from time immemorial. Dandatti (1975) as per the role of oral singers in Hausa-Fulani societies in the most relevant folkloric materials to this respect. This write up aims to study the unpleasant relationship of the Hausa and Fulani peasants in the post-colonial era through the mirror of Hausa folklore. The pre-colonial agitations was followed by mutual understanding through dialogue, truce and diplomacy during the colonial and post-colonial periods. This episodes were of great importance in the historical development of Fulbe, Hausa folkloric materials which enhanced the study of Fulbe and Hausa literatures, languages and cultures.
Ful’be and Hausa, Friends of Foes?
Though the historical origins of Hausa and Ful’be are still contestable, but the territory occupied by the Hausa ethnic group was historically named “Hausaland”. In this view, Hausa were the first settler in the land as well as the largest ethnic group in the region. Thus, the land was politically and linguistically Hausanized. The Hausa tribal overlordship and political advantage through wars, raids, battles diplomacy and acculturation marginalized the minority ethnic groups (Ful’be included) and the territory remains under strong Hausa political institutions.
In the pre-colonial period, Hausa were in full control of Gobir (Sokoto included), Kebbi (Gwandu included), Kano, Zazzau, Zamfara, and Katsina. The regime change brought by the 19th century Islamic revolution in Hausaland and the colonial support to the then constituted authorities gave the Ful’be upper hand to contest the legitimacy of the Hausa government and hence marked the beginning of class struggle between the Ful’be and the Hausa. Wars between Gobir and Sokoto, Katsina and Maraɗi, Kano and Sokoto, Zazzau and Sokoto, Kebbi and Sokoto, to mention but a few, were among the episodes of historical relevance to the joking relationship between the duo.
Fulani in the Sub-Saharan African Folklore:            
Fulani nomadic activities are widely spread throughout sub-Saharan African region. Their close contact with farmers and fishers is based on their pastoral activities in search for grazing land. Their contact with Zarma fishers and Tuareg of Niger Republic is prominent in the folktales of the Zarma and Tuareg. In Mali, they are close associates of Duala and Wangara. In Ghana, they are very familiar in Asante narratives and tales. The Kotokoli and Borgu of the Benin Republic are good friends of Ful’be in their jokes and story telling. Fadan Gurma is a big stronghold of Ful’be in Burkina Faso where the Fulani are the third largest ethnic group. The two major ethnic tribes Doulla and Mossi are their good friends in cultural activities. In central African Republic Ful’be is well spoken all over the region. With this development, we can posit that Ful’be language, literature and culture penetrated deeply in the cultures and languages of African societies in sub-saharan Africa. In folklore, the meeting point of aculturation is by contact among the ethnic groups. It is only through the peaceful and friendly relationship we may be chanced to know our differences and understand each other.
In the Nigerian context, the Ful’be are joking friends with the Kanuri, which dated back to the late 18th century. They fought the Yoruba around the era of old and New Oyo empires. This contributed to the creation of hundreds of folktales between the two. The Ful’be contact with the Nupe was not well pronounced in the history but many Nupe and Ful’be proverbs and figures of speech have many things in common. In the history of many northern ethnic groups of Nigeria such as Lelna, Kambari, Shanga, Eggon, Babur, Jukuns, Shuwa Arabs, Kyanga, etc so many traces of Ful’be language, literature and culture could be found in the study of their folklore.
Remembrance of the Great Victory:
Cultural critics are of the opinion that wars and battles are the landmarks of history. In Hausa Orature wars and battles are well preserved in the proverbs and oral songs and well committed to memory for the sake of history. The pre-colonial wars and battles were captured in oral arts specifically oral songs under the guise of court music in different Hausa kingdoms. Fulani encounters with Kabawa of Kebbi kingdom during the famous battle of Alwasa and several battles in which Kabawa were victorious over the Fulani informed the master piece of late Aliyu Ɗandawo song’s to Late Sarkin Kabi Sama.
The Rise of Kabawa:
In the assessment of Aliyu Ɗandawo, Kabawa were well protected under a very powerful authority of Kabi. The Fulani advantage during the 19th century jihad was properly handled by the rise of a strong Kabi chief Nabame, who dismantled the Fulani forces and put the end of their further territorial expansion in the Kabawa Kingdom. Ɗandawo states:
Jagora: In hadari ya taso
: Cikin sarautar Allah
: Gizagizai su ka zuwa
: Su taushe kaihin rana
: Jama’a waw waye duhu
: Nabame yak kwaye duhu
: Yay yi ma azna fitila
: Yag gaƙe Torankawa
: Gudummuwa kwaz zaka
: Ya ishe shi ya sha kaihi
Yara  : Mutum guda yahi gaban mutum dubu
: Magabata abin da sun ka hwaɗi,
: Ai mai da hwaɗi ɓanna na.
Gindi : Shugaban tahiya sarkin Kabi mai Sudaani
: Ila marin rugga ɗan Yaƙuba sa gurfani.

Leader         : At the instant of thunder storm and cloudy sky
: In the wisdom of the Almighty
: Clouds will (first) appear
: To subdue the glaring heat of the sun
: Oh my people? To whom do we attribute this blessing
: It was Nabame who cleared up the dust (in our mist)
: He provided a chance for the contestants to peep through
: The Torankawa were apprehended and brutalized
: (The victims) and their alliance
: Were ruthlessly dealt with his sharp sword
Chorus        : One man (single handedly) above one thousand (at battle
: Prophecy of elders is a notable pronouncement
: Pronouncing it again is making fur fly.
: The leader of the journey Sarkin Kabi conqueror of Sudan,
Based          : Ila the chain of Fulani settlement the son of Yakub force them to their knees.

Ɗandawo was agitating that it was Nabame who repelled tribal overlordship of the Fulani against Kabawa and their alliance. The popular ruling clan of the Fulani Torankawa were defeated and forced to their knees and mde to accept defeat unconditionally. The Fulani version of the encounter may be different in their favour. The point I would like to raise here is, the agitation may raise the question of who is who between the two rival friends? In the cultural origin of joking relationship this is a good ground for creative writings, jokes and tales. Many of the Kabawa and Fulani jokes developed from this level of agitation.
Freedom Fighting:
Hostile relationship between Fulani and Kabawa was well pronounced in their history. The Kabawa resistance to the Caliphate has different interpretations. Kabawa refusal to accept foreign domination by the Fulani was faced by Nabame in the name of freedom fighting against unlawful enslavement by the political Fulani in the name of religion. In this view, Ɗandawo opened up another debatable point in the following lines:
Jagora: Da yaw wuce
: Bayan shekara dubu biyu
: Sannan Nabame yab bayyana
: Yaf fanshi Kabawa
: Yag gagari Hillani
: Da ruwan kibau da masu
: Ko sun yi ƙulle-ƙullensu
: Ina ruwan sadauki
Yara  : Ya dai buwaya ko bindiga
          : An ba shi tsari bai tashi
Gindi : Shugaban tahiya Sarkin Kabi mai Sudani
: Ila Marin rugga ɗan Yaƙuba sa gurfani.

Leader         : After his demise
: After two thousand years
: Nabame ascended the throne
: He emancipated Kabawa
: And over powered the Fulani
: With heavy showed of arrows and spears
: No side talk will inflict fear in him
Chorus        : He has nothing to worry about
: He is a wonderful fighter
: Spiritually protected against gunshot.
In any struggle, there must be a winner and a loser. It is very impossible to end a battle without casualties. The defeated group would hardly accept the defeat in good faith, and the winner would always praised his strong fighters and his capable weapons. The Kabawa trust in their weapon to emancipate them against any external aggression. In their opinion, their wars with Fulani is a freedom fighting against Fulani assimilation and indirect rule. Kabawa battle with Fulani in Sanyinna and battle of Jantullu with Dikkon Dandin Mahe remain a solid reference in Kabawa and Fulani tales and jokes.

Defence Policy:
In many instances the incapable weapons used by the enemies in the battle may be a point of reference in the opponents figures of speech, proverbs, wise sayings and protest songs to make a mockery of them. The Katsina torch-light style against Nupe remains a laughter in Hausa jokes. Ɗandawo was of the opinion that joking relationship with Fulani must never be taken for granted, they may one day fight back to take the credit. Thus, in the conclusion he said:
Jagora: Na Audu in tahiya ta tabbata
: Sai mun dawo
: Ka sa a tara dawaki
: A shirya damman masu
: Ko suna taya fansa
: Ka tababta ma maza
: Ba a girsuwan mai ƙarhi
Yara  : Ga yanzu wa am madadin
: Mainasara ba kai ba.

Leader: Man of Audu I wish you safe journey
: Until we meet again
: However you should order all the cavalry to be ready
: And bundles of spears to be well prepared
: In case, they may think to retaliate the defeat,
: Let them be well informed that;
: Strongmen are always ready for the business
Chorus: In these days who is the heir of Mainasara
: If not you?
When the battles and wars were over peace-talks were expected to bridge the gap of the mistakes committed. The Kabawa and Fulani wars are said to be physically over, but the Kabanci Tagunanci songs of defeat continue to flourish in Kabawa festivals and ceremonies. In the opinion of Kabawa, it is a necessary duty for the Kabawa to recite Kabanci slogans against Fulani in every Kabanci festival and ceremonies. The slogan reads:
Jagora         : Kabi ta ci Hausa
Yara           : Da mi tac ci Hausa?
Jagora         : Da ƙarfi da yaji

Leader:        Kabi defeated Hausa
Chases:       With what might was Hausa defeated?
Leader:        With military might of the (Kabi) capable armed forces.
The Protest of Jada Ɗantarana:
Jada’s protest to Sarkin Kabi Sama is same as that of Ɗandawo, but it was too wild or wide and open on both sides. Jada a popular protest singer of Kabawa was invited by Sarkin Kabi Sama to receive the Sultan of Sokoto Hassan Ɗan Mu’azu at the Kabi border on his invitation to attend meeting in respect of the first Argungu fishing festival. The Kabawa opinion and Jada in particular was that, the Sarkin Kabi of Argungu should stay in his palace and that any official of the palace may receive the sultan on his behalf. Should Sarkin Kabi receive him in person would indicate, the kingdom; acceptance of Fulani superiority and leadership, which is a great failure to the kingdom. However, some of the officials are in support of Sarkin Kabi Sama to honour his guest with all the best he could to bless the occasion. Jada sees no reason for Bakabe to honour Bafulatani. On the very day of the occasion, Jada escorted Sarkin Kabi up to the Argungu gate and song a farewell message sang to Sarkin Sama:
Jagora: In an zo gida a ce wa Tsahara
           : Gaba ta koma baya
          : Don tabkin da tas sani
          : Bana ya koma laka.
: Sama in bi kakai
: Ka zo ka bi Turai
: In san manya kab bi
: Mu sarkinmu bai biyan wani sarki
: In ba Allah na ba.

: (My dear Kabawa) If you go back home let Tsahara know
: Certainly things have fallen apart
: The (dear big) lake she knows
: Is now a mere puddle
: Sama if you wish to be answerable (to any authority)
: Why not follow Europeans
: So that I know you are with world powers
: As for us (Kabawa) our leaders would not follow any leader
: If not God the Almighty.
It was reported that upon these citations Sama to declined to honour the Sultan of Sokoto by receiving him in person. He was forced to go back home and junior officials were dispatched to Faƙon sarki (the border of Kebbi and Sokoto) to receive the Sultan. This might be beyond an ordinary person’s imagination, but to Kabawa in reality that must be at the back of all true Bakabe’s mind that Kabawa have no business with Fulani empire (if any) beside war. Many tales and epics of Kabawa captured these belief in their input.

Tauri Songs of Garba Ɗanwasa:
Relationship of cattle rearers and farmers is always full of trouble and conflict. The Fulani culture of holding stick and sword is their life security which they always feel ready for any combat. The Hausa farmers has no such militant culture of carrying protective weapons on their shoulders. The Fulani took the cultural advantage by planning several attacks on the Hausa peasants in defence of their cattle. Late Garba Ɗanwasa Gummi songs reveal some of the encounters of Gummi farmers and Fulani nomadic in the famous song of: Mai Sharanin Biɗan Faɗa ko ba ni shi ba…
Jagora: An kashe tsohon gidanku kai ko ka aikata,
          : Bahillace goma sha bakwai na yar runguma
          : Kowane yak kai garai yanai masa yankan guro
: Ga shanu na gudu cikin fadama ko’ina
: Ina makiyayansu mai takobi ya fallasa,
: Idonka idon Dikko yanzu malfa na faɗuwa
: Idonka idon Dikko kak ka ce masu komi kashe
Gindi : Mai sharanin biɗan hwaɗa ko ba nashi ba
: Na Sarkin Kabi kaɗo masu motsattsen hankali


Leader         : An old man of your house was murdered and you
                   : Seventeen Fulani were chased by him
: He butchered each one of them like okra
: Cattles are scattered and running all over the Fadama
: Where are their herders? The owner of sword had lynched them
: At any point you meet Dikko his head will role
: At any point you meet Dikko killed him right away
: A hunter of trouble and conflict for no just cause
: The man of Sarkin Kabi, Kaɗo a confused and terrible (warrior)

Garba’s songs is a pointer to the unpleasant relationship between Fulani and Hausa of Zamfara region. Many of these related examples are available in Bala Lahodu’s songs, Sabo Wakilin Tauri, Ɗanbuga na Sabon Sara, and similar Tauri songs. Infact the whole of Tauri song is an agitation against Fulani hegemony and the support they receive from constituted authorities.

It is my assumption that at this era of trouble and disaster between Hausa and Fulani is over. Dialogue is a conversation in which two or more take part. In this respect, it may be a literary work in which two or more characters are represented as conversing. The Fulani and Hausa are today very close and the unwanted events which were responsible for the unusual relationship are gone. Therefore, the dusty history of the past are now diluted into the real folk stories, histories, epics, songs, tales, and creative writings. Fulani cultures and opinion form a great part of Hausa jokes and laughter nowadays.

Proverbs are intellectual dialogue of our great generations. It is a great school of history as well as literary criticism and linguistic studies. In many Hausa proverbs there are elements of mutual understanding between the Hausas and Fulani of Hausaland. The following examples are relevant to the point raised herein:
Tambaya: Masa masa har Kabi
Amsa : Kashin shanu
Question: Cake scattered all the way to Kabi
Ans:   Cattle excrement
“ Shiga shawo ba shanu – Quarreling for no just cause
: Jiran gawon shanu – Expecting what is not known

Fulani are well represented in Hausa proverbs with special reference to their culture and economy.
Tales/Short Stories:
Many tales and short stories attributed to Fulani may not be the true happenings. Mostly some are mere jokes meant to provoke laughter. Imbedded in the stories are many things to study about Fulani culture and personality. The following short stories and tales are with details:
Are Fulani Wicked?
I strongly contest Hausa assessment of a Fulani youth who was duped by a coffee seller, the story goes:
A Fulani youth requested for a cup of tea from the seller. He was served with very hot one and was not informed until he sipped it and got scalded. He pretended as if he was not hurt. He took the cup back to the seller saying: “Oh my friend so you put salt in the tea for bush men and sugar for your own people? Have a test of my cup to confirm what I am saying”. The tea seller quickly drinks the tea to confirm, he got burnt and dropt away the cup. Saying: There is nothing like salt herein my customer”. The Fulani laugh and said “Yanju mun joje”, meaning we are all hurt with hot tea, so I wish all of us to test the hot of your tea”.
One may be selfish to accuse Fulani of wickedness, but who gave him the hot tea? What was the intention of the tea seller? What is wrong with Hausa proverb at: kashe makashinka tun bai kashe ka ba? Kill your killer before he kills you.

Any wrong show is a style
In one of the Katsinawa tales, it is mentioned that a Fulani singer went to Yola to perform. He met a beautiful mosque after Isha prayer. He thought it was the Emir’s palace and continue praising the king with his goge instruments. His attention was drawn that he was at wrong venue. He was informed that it is a mosque and not Emirs palace. He quickly changed the style of his song and music saying. Mun goga don AllahMun goga don Rabbi. we are playing our music for the sake of Almighty.
Shame is part of the Pulaako personality. I see nothing wrong in negation as a style. Hausa proverb provides ana wata haka in ji gwanin rawa da ya faɗi. In an attempt to match his dance with music he missed his steps and fell down but insisted the music to continue: the struggle to get up is another dance style. Is he not right? 

Who is at Fault? Presiding Judge or Ɗanfulani?
Ɗanfulani reported a complain against his friend Oro for slapping him. The judge informed Ɗanfulani that you will receive five pounds as damages from Oro. He pretend reading from the book of Law saying, each finger would attract one pound for the offence committed by the plaintiff. He (Ɗanfulani) was asked to wait as Oro is yet to appear in court. It took more than five hours for Oro to be served with sermon and the complainant is anxious to reach a good grazing land. He stood up and slap the presiding judge saying: “Kul Oro ya zo, ka zauni fam biyat mutanen ujuri muke”, if Oro is back, you may wish to claim the five pounds, you know we are very busy people, I can’t wait anymore”.
Must the judge inform his client the verdict of the case in advance? The case was never prosecuted when the presiding judge delivered the judgment. Is Ɗanfulani wrong for implementing the ruling exactly as he was told?

Let the Truth be told.
A Bakabe preacher in Ɗakin Gari Central mosque was addressing his audience after the preaching session. He required for any Observation, correction, and question to the subject under review. He added, though I open up doors for questions I will attend very few and skip that which I have no answers to, you know our proverbs says: “Sani ya fi ƙasa yawa” knowledge in more than the sand as we were told. Unfortunately for the Bakabe from the town of Ɗakin Gari to Barbarejo and Aljannare towns are typical deserts full of white sands throughout. One Fulani man asked the preacher: “My teacher have you been to Berbarejo or Aljannare towns?” He replied: “No, I only know of Dakingari today”? The Fulani laugh and said: “Continue with your story telling oh my teacher”.
Infact the Fulani did not contest that knowledge is as wide as anything or in abundance as anything your may think of. However, to the best of his knowledge, to compare knowledge with “sand” and even proclaimed that it is more than sand in volumes is doubtful. His expereince with available sands in Barbarejo and Aljannare in enough evidence. Had it been that the preacher had same experience, he would never attempt to pronounce such a wonderful statement before the experienced believers of Barbarejo like him. What is wrong with Ɗanfulani’s argument of let the truth be told.

Data Analysis
The opinion of Hausa folklore as per the Fulani personality is very open from the afore-mentioned stories. They may be seen as wicked because of their intelligent styles to skip dangerous traps. In whatever capacity one may judge them, they are very good philosophers. Their perceptions of the worldly affairs is excellent and their method of confronting problems is well arranged and planned in whatever context of laughter we considered the jokes involving Fulani and others. Fulani are very clever men with good foresight in handling issues of confidence.
The Hausa people were able to have a careful study of Fulani from the very time of hostile relationship to the era of dialogue and diplomacy. The Fulani became their good friends in jokes and business activities. Their lives and influences, and well as their behaviours make their thought and deeds far below the expectations of the people of the urban areas. However their responses to their alleged shortcomings are well grounded.

The Result: 
·                    Historically Fulani and Hausa are of different ethnic and linguistic background, but their cultures are nowadays very close and similar due to the long period of diplomatic relationship and living in close proximity.
·                    It is the opinion of this write up that, the study of Fulani language, literature and culture cannot be successful without paying heed to the Hausa contributions to the development.
·                    Though Pulaako and the language are still active but the culture and language are seriously endangered by Hausa language through intermarriage, politics, and socio-religious activities.
·                    Fulani were for long in Hausaland and have a good contact with all the strong Hausa Kingdoms. Thus they have joking relationship with Kabawa, Katsinawa, Zazzagawa, Kanawa, Gobirawa, and Zamfarawa. Folkloric materials of Hausa and Fulani of these regions are enough to develop Fulfulde cultural and literary studies.
·                    In the absence of popular oral singers in Fulfulde, professional oral singers, court musicians, public orators, and strong Fulfulde Ajami writing system, something must be done urgently to protect the language and preserve its ancient culture and vocabularies.

It is high time for our universities and research centres to address the issue of Fulfulde studies in West-Africa. The study of indigenous languages must be given serious attention in our primary schools, post – primary and in institutions of high learning. This paper is suggesting that Fulfulde influence in Hausa language, literature and culture be given a good chance in all the Hausa courses of our universities. Hausa language literature and culture must carry essential topics of Fulfulde studies. If our education fails to protect our histories, is unable to develop our languages as enshrined in our constitution and could not promote our cultures to the standard of our era, then it has totally failed to deliver anything good in our name.


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