Historical Development of Settlements in Hausaland: A Case of Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, c.1500- 1600 AD

Cite this article: Ibrahim, H. B. K. 2023. Historical Development of Settlements in Hausaland: A Case of Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, c.1500- 1600 A. D. Sokoto Journal of History Vol. 12. Pp. 11-23. www.doi.org/10.36349/sokotojh.2023.v12i01.002

Historical Development of Settlements in Hausaland: A Case of Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, c.1500- 1600 A. D. 

Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, PhD
Department of History
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
E-mail: hussainabeekay@gmail.com


Gozaki emerged as a political entity adjacent to Katsina, Zazzau and Kano Kingdoms by c.1500 A.D. The growth and development of Gozaki occurred in different stages. Firstly, it emerged as a hilltop settlement in Dutsen Kuraku (Kuraku hill) and thereafter a plain settlement which was characterised by the emergence of Garuruwa (towns) under the authority of Masu Gari. The Masu Gari were the heads of the towns that emerged in the area and had a number of villages under their administration. Also, the Masu Gari were superiors to the occupational heads in their respective towns. The occupational heads anchored various occupations, such as farming, hunting and smithing in each town. The emergence of the towns was as a result of the sophistication of the economy which developed beyond subsistence level. Agriculture was no longer centred on food production for the teeming population; it served industries, as large hectares of land were deployed in the production of cotton for the textile industry in the Gozaki area and beyond. There was the production of goods beyond subsistence level which led to the development of commerce. This paper used primary sources, particularly oral sources and Archaeological reconnaissance derived from the field. The sources have been critically examined for the reconstruction of the history of the area of study.

Keywords: Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, Political Entity, Migration, Settlements.


Gozaki was a settlement that emerged in the south-eastern part of Katsina Kingdom, from a small hilltop settlement at Kuraku to a plain type, due to provision of security and advancement of the economy. As a result of the economic development that took place in the area by c.1500 A.D, Gozaki town was able to excel all other towns and became the most important in the area. This change occurred due to historical developments, not by accident. The Mai Gari of Gozaki came to occupy positions over and above other Masu Gari in the area. This was possible due to important developments that heralded the emergence of Masarautar Gozaki, as a centralized polity with semi-independent status. Gozaki was conquered by Katsina Kingdom and was administered under the kingdom with semi-independent status. What this means is that Gozaki like other settlements in Hausaland emerged from small village units, to towns due to economic changes, migration among several other factors. There were developments that led to its emergence as an important polity in the area. The peak of the developments could be seen in the emergence of masu gari in the vicinity of Gozaki as well as the emergence of occupational heads and different occupational groups. The occupational heads emerged in different towns, signalling the occupational sophistication in the area associated with advanced settlements that consisted of varied groups, and attracting immigrants to the settlement. The towns had villages and some towns under their administration, which made them more advanced than the village settlements. The primary concern of this paper is an analysis of the factors that led to the development of a kingdom in Gozaki between 1500 and 1600 A.D. Therefore, any discussion of the earlier period is beyond the scope of the paper.

Development of Advanced Political System in Gozaki

The historical development of Gozaki, like other settlements in Hausaland, was possible due to many factors. One of such was the availability of iron ore in Tandama in the Gozaki area, which led to the development of smithing activities and the production of agricultural implements such as hoe, axe, cutlass and war implements, particularly bows, arrows and spears.[1] Iron smithing took place on the plain, and not the hilltop settlement of Gozaki. Archaeological reconnaissance of the hilltops in Gozaki has not revealed the remains of iron working centres.[2]This makes us to state that, iron working did not develop on the hilltop, but the plain settlements of Gozaki. Archaeological excavation has revealed the presence of spheroids (stone tool) in Gozaki.[3] The discovery of a stone tool in Gozaki is a pointer to the existence of a continuous settlement in the area right from the Stone Age period. However, there is the need for more archaeological excavation of the hilltops of Gozaki to ascertain the nature of tools used in production in the earlier epoch in the history of Gozaki.

Available evidence has revealed the existence of iron working on the plains of Gozaki which became one of the few centres of iron smelting in the states of Hausaland that were developing at the same time with Maska.[4] That is one of the reasons why trade in iron-ore developed between Gozaki and other parts of Katsina Kingdom. In fact, Gozaki was one of the few centres of production of iron ore in the kingdom of Katsina and Hausaland.[5] That was why iron workers from northern part of Katsina travelled there, during the dry season period and engaged in smithing work. The iron blades which were the final products were carried and sold in the markets of the northern Katsina. Gozaki is part of the region referred to as the southern part of Katsina. It is possible that, iron working attracted immigrants from the northern part to settle in Gozaki due to the availability of the resource there.[6]

 Iron smelters were attracted to Gozaki from other Hausa states. And this has led to the boost of the economy and an increase in immigrants who decided to settle there permanently, thereby swelling the size of the heterogeneous population which was beginning to emerge in the area at that time. The existence of a heterogeneous population during the period of study in Gozaki points to the fact that the society was ripe for transformation into a more advanced type. Evidence exist as Gozaki was an important source of iron ore and one of the few iron working centres, which made it economically important and politically viable, as a power reckoned with in the south-east region of Katsina Kingdom.[7] Therefore, the emergence of rulers to the emerging entity was feasible. Thus, the discovery of iron and iron smelting have played great role in the emergence of states in the Western Sudanic region of West Africa. Thus, these developments partly made Gozaki a centre of importance in Hausaland.

Also, another important factor that led to the advancement of the Gozaki area is the ability of Gozaki town to provide security against external aggression. The period of the emergence of the settlement was a time when it faced constant attacks from states of Katsina and Kano. Therefore, the ability of the rocky areas to provide security from attacks was one of the reasons that made Gozaki attractive to people from the vicinity and from other parts of Hausaland and beyond.[8] Thus, the issue of security was so important that it made Gozaki the political centre of administration of the area. The towns of Dabai, Tandama, Danja and others came under its control. Economic centres of wealth production were located in these towns under Gozaki to a larger extent. For example, Dabai and Danja were areas endowed with abundant food crops production.[9] It was in these areas that large cotton plantations were established. Similarly, in Tandama there was high iron ore concentration which was exploited for the production of iron implements. These towns were important centres that led to the emergence of Gozaki into an advanced political entity.

Gozaki became prominent and it continued to attract the attention of people from Hausa states and beyond. The attention of the people was not drawn for nothing. It was a settlement endowed with the production of guinea corn, millet, potato, cocoyam in the raining season.[10] An area endowed with the production of cereals and tuber foods is indeed blessed in varied crops. Production of variety of food led to its exportation to other areas. In the dry season, they produced sugar cane, onion, wheat, tomato in large quantity.[11] This translated into food security for the people not only of Gozaki, but also to the regions in the northern Katsina Kingdom that experienced food shortages due to periodic droughts experienced during the period of study. There were indeed, not many cases of drought experienced in Gozaki. However, northern part of Katsina Kingdom, including the capital experienced drought after every five years due to shortage of rainfall.[12] This means that there were periods of food shortages in those areas. A likely solution for the people of northern Katsina was either to migrate to areas of food abundance such as Gozaki, or import food from areas of food stability. Therefore, the issue of food security had led to the emergence of Gozaki as a strong political entity.[13]

Another reason for the political advancement of Gozaki was soil fertility. The soil of Gozaki area contains sand, silt and clay, and the clay has the highest composition. The clay has high water retention capacity suitable for the production of varied crops. Annual rainfall was about 1,000mm (40 inches) around Danja in Gozaki area,[14] while in the areas of northern Katsina, the average rainfall is 25 inches, and as low as 15 inches has been recorded in some of the areas.[15] People are attracted to settlements with higher rainfall.

 Indeed, the Gozaki area was endowed with water supply, it is moisture dense which enabled people to engage in agriculture all year round, and this advantage attracted the attention of people to that area. The ability of people to engage in agriculture all year round provided not only food security; it means that excess food and vegetables became means of generating income. Gozaki has been known for the production of onions and tomatoes for long. These two products were produced in the dry season due to the availability of underground water for watering of the plants.[16] Gozaki is said to be lucky to have underground water, otherwise referred to as “dausayi in Hausa’. Onions and tomatoes were seasonal and have been scarce and expensive during the raining season.

Also, cotton was produced in large quantity and was used in the manufacture of cloths, a production technique was developed which involved utilisation of the product in industrial production. However, large hectares of land were only employed with the establishment of Gozaki entity.[17]What is important is that, at the early stage, the soil was noted for the production of cotton and this would have attracted people to settle in the area. Indeed, cotton an important raw material for the textile industry attracted people from as far as Kano to settle in Gozaki.[18] Trade in cotton was a major factor that led to the establishment of commercial intercourse between Kano and Katsina, even before the formation of Katsina Kingdom.[19]

Therefore, the changes in the economy of Gozaki brought significant transformation of the settlement from a town among equals in the vicinity of Gozaki area, to an advanced political entity with centralised authority regulating the affairs of the settlement. The political economy perspective points to the connected stimulus between the development of the economy and the resultant expansion of a state. Thus, economic growth stimulated the rise of the kingdom of Gozaki.

Development of Gozaki as a Centralized Political entity by c.1500 A.D.

A plain settlement had already emerged after1450 A.D., on the plains of Gozaki, distinct with the hilltop settlement of Kuraku. The political head of the people on the plains was a Maigari (head of town) of Gozaki. The town was one of the many that emerged in the vicinity of Gozaki in that period; others were Dabai, Tandama, Dabaibayawa and others. It should be noted that, there was the development of hilltop settlement in Gozaki which was its beginning. The hilltop settlement was headed by the Sarkin Gwari. However, due to the emergence of Masu gari in the vicinity of Gozaki, the Sarkin Gwari remained the head of both hilltop and the plain settlement of Gozaki. Then by c.1500 A.D., a change occurred which had to do with the introduction of Islam into the area.[20] It should be noted that, this did not go well with the Sarkin Gwari and his people who perceived it as a ‘threat’ to their traditional religion. Therefore, the Gwari rulers and some of their followers under the guidance of a single ruler Wake left Gozaki as defiance to the introduction of Islam into the area.[21] Therefore, they went to Birnin Gwari and founded a new settlement on hilltop there. It is possible that, the Gwari people were attracted to the hills of Birnin Gwari due to the semblance and similarity of it to the environment of Gozaki. Thus, due to this link there is still good rapport between Gozaki and Birnin Gwari up to date.[22] The people of Birnin Gwari up to today identify the people of Gozaki as their own. Nowadays, people from Gozaki receive the hospitality of the people of Birnin Gwari whenever they visited.[23]

However, the emigration of the Gwari did not signify that, the whole Gwari people left Gozaki as some remained and intermarried with the Gozaki people.[24] It was at this time also that Jangora, an official of Sarkin Gwari Wake who did not leave for Birnin Gwari was made a ruler of Gozaki.[25] The decision to appoint him as a ruler was made in recognition of the fact that he was one of the founders of the Gozaki hilltop settlement. Thus, the new settlement on the plains of Gozaki was established under the leadership of Jangora. What this means is that, the Gwari who stayed back in Gozaki reaped the reward of being patient. Having stayed back they were able to rule Gozaki. There is a proverb in Hausa language that tackles the importance of patience in the society, “mai hakuri ya kan dafa dutse ya sha romo” which means that, the patient can cook a stone and drink from its sauce.[26] The proverb was made in consideration of the fact that, it takes longer period for a stone to be crushed under intensive and high pressure. Thus, the patient one can see to the crushing of a stone. The patience of the Gwari has recorded them in the annals of history as a group that ruled not only the hilltop settlement but the plains. Though, during the rule of Jangora, the nature of political leadership was maintained, the change was only associated with the Jangora being the ruler of the plains, a town, different from the hilltop which they were associated with. Thus, Jangora was not able to establish a centralized entity in Gozaki.

 A new development happened in Gozaki by c.1500 A.D., the same period when Jangora the Gwari ruler became the head of Gozaki. In fact, the period c.1500 A.D was a turning point in the history of Gozaki. This had to do with the arrival of immigrants into the area from the Lake Chad basin that shaped the history of the area. This development was none other than the arrival of Kyangyaran who has been accredited with founding of the state of Gozaki. It is said that, the town of Gozaki was founded by a man called Kyangyaran[27] who is said to be the founder, and first ruler of Gozaki.[28] It should be noted that, Kyangyaran was not the founder of the town of Gozaki, when he reached the area he met independent towns in the vicinity of Gozaki. What Kyangyaran did was that he was able establish a centralized entity by making the town the metropolis of the entity of Gozaki. The establishment of a centralised political entity means that there a king in Gozaki, who emerged along with the masu gari of Dabai, Tandama and others who were heads of towns. However, the king of Gozaki was able to bring under his authority other towns in the area by making other masu gari in the area to recognize his rule. Therefore, the political transformation brought by Kyangyaran in Gozaki led to his acceptance, widely and in all quarters as the first ruler of Gozaki.[29] This does not signify that, the towns in the area of Gozaki were not in existence prior to his arrival. For clarity, the arrival of Kyangyaran did not signal the beginning of political system in Gozaki. Rather, he was able to shape the political developments already taking place in Gozaki. Upon his arrival in Gozaki he was viewed as a mai gari, by other masu gari he met in the area and not a king at that point in time, in the surrounding towns of Gozaki. Innitially, the other masu gari have seen, and accepted him as a person with similar position as theirs. The position of mai gari was the highest political office in the Gozaki area, and was the order of the day at that time prior to the arrival of Kyangyaran. This is so, because the society did not emerge overnight, as it went through different stages of development. Prior to his arrival developments which we noted above occurred in the society, this led to the transformation of the society to a large entity.[30]

Therefore, Kyangyaran has been widely accepted as the first king of Gozaki, which has debunked the legend of origin of Gozaki that claimed Gozo and Agwaragwi, the said giants, as the first rulers of Gozaki.[31] Kyangyaran was a hunter who migrated into the area from the Lake Chad basin with large number of people.[32] So being a hunter and a warrior he was able to use his military might and strength in Gozaki and established his authority over the masu gari he found in the vicinity, and he established a small state afterwards. The masu gari that Kyangyaran met had put up resistance against his authority as they saw him as none other than a mai gari like them, with equal powers. Therefore, even if they challenged his authority, Kyangyaran had the military might of subduing opposition. He came to the area with some followers whom he could have conscripted into an army to suppress all opposition. He went a step further to secure his position as a ruler of Gozaki by defending the state he established against external aggression, by establishing a strong defence. Prior to his tenure as the king of Gozaki there was attempt by Katsina Kingdom to conquer the area.[33] Therefore, establishing defence for internal and external security was paramount for the survival of the emerging state.

It should be noted that the Gozakawa (people of Gozaki) were a mixture of Gwari,[34] Hausa, Bare-bare (people of Borno), Fulani and other groups from different parts of Africa. This shows that Gozaki emerged as a heterogeneous society composing of different groups, which was far and above kinship based settlement. However, as the Hausa in the settlement were the largest in terms of number, they assimilated other groups into Hausa culture. Indeed, the importance of migration in the emergence of Gozaki cannot be undermined. The arrival of Kyangyaran and his people from the Lake Chad basin brought changes into that entity of Gozaki; and this is a testimony to the fact that people from other parts of Africa beyond Hausaland also settled in Gozaki.

It is worth noting at this point that; a centralised state of Gozaki emerged by c.1500 A.D., at the time when other Hausa kingdoms were also emerging. This was the time when some territories were gradually brought together through conquest, and integrated into the kingdom. Consequently, a “state like” system distinct from a settlement that was based on kinship relations emerged. This implies that, the people living in Gozaki were not related by blood alone; they established relations with people from far settlements. It composed of artisans, farmers and even more villages and towns were incorporated in to the state. It should be noted that farming remained important in the economy of Gozaki.

The political developments of Gozaki with the arrival of Kyangyaran was similar to what happened in Katsina Kingdom, as the arrival of Korau signalled a new era of the establishment of a centralised state of Katsina in 1500 A.D.[35] With his arrival Kyangyaran decided to take a measure to strengthen his authority over and above other Masu Gari he met in the vicinity of Gozaki. In order to strengthen the defence of the area, he engaged in the fortification of the town of Gozaki, which led to its advancement to a status of a metropolis and the most advanced town in that entity.[36]There are some characteristics of a birni (metropolis) and capital of a settlement which differentiate it from a gari (town). In other words it is referred to the characteristics of a state, no matter how small, which differentiate it with other towns. One of such is fortification of a settlement. The town of Gozaki was fortified, similar to the way states in Hausaland were secured with fortification that provided security to the people not only in the physical sense, but also, provided mental stability; it guaranteed safety to the people, as they felt a sense of security and protection from danger. This provided a boost to the growth of the economy, as people felt safe to engage in commercial transaction within and outside the settlement of Gozaki, than in any other settlement in the vicinity.

The ability of Kyangyaran to organise labour in the erection of the fortification, popularly known as ganuwa in Hausa Language is a clear indication of his leadership skills. The walls were erected through a serious effort of canvassing for the support of large number of people, both free born and slaves. There were leaders assigned to organise the workforce that was engaged in a strenuous way involving the use of physical energy and technical know-how. The wall happened to be so thick that makes one wonder the amount of earth that was used to erect it. Hefty buildings must have been erected to stand the test of time. Also, the wall was meant to prevent the enemies from crossing over, either, by breaking down the wall or through creating a hole on the wall.

That is why a ganuwa (fortification) is different from dwelling place in terms of energy, resources and workmanship devoted in erecting it. The fortification of Gozaki was made of mud, which was broad and very strong. In fact, the fortification was so strong and impenetrable,[37] which made it difficult for foreign elements to plan a surprise attack through it or by bringing it down.[38] This is an indication that the people took their time, resources and craftsmanship to put up structures that could be impenetrable from all sides and direction. In a similar vein, in countries of Asia such as Korea, India and China for example, states that developed in those regions in the past centuries were able to develop strong defensive measures, and one of such was the fortification of their settlements, in a manner that the rulers and the ruled happened to be in a single fort, a kind of superior fortification, though not made of mud alone, but a combination of mud, stones and cement. The fortifications were of great height, about 100 feet high, which prevented the invaders from easily penetrating inside.[39]However, the palaces of the rulers were demarcated from the rest of the commoners, an evidence of rise of authority between the rulers and the ruled.

The erection of the fortification would have given Kyangyaran a sense of authority over and above other Masu Gari he found in the vicinity, and that would have given him some legitimacy as the new ruler of Gozaki. The other Masu Gari at that juncture have witnessed a difference in leadership, as Kyangyaran was able to achieve allot by erecting a fortification for the whole settlement of Gozaki from all sides. The fortification was highly needed by the people at that time due to constant attacks on Gozaki from Katsina and Kano.[40] The provision of security to the people was one of the reasons they decided to accept him as the new ruler of the emerging entity of Gozaki. In fact, not only did the rulers of the surrounding settlements submitted to the ruler of Gozaki, the fortification sent a signal to other rulers, with centralized authority elsewhere that an important settlement which could not be easily crushed had emerged. People who wanted to invade Gozaki must have had superior military tactics, to be able to do so. People coming in from other places into Gozaki, have found a secured place to inhabit, where they could pursue their means of living, with the soil being productive and enabling them with food resources all year round, not found everywhere. Therefore, the emergence of a heterogeneous settlement began to unfold in Gozaki that became a centre of political leadership and economic growth.

Another important factor behind the emergence of Gozaki as the most important settlement in the region by 1500 A.D., lies in the transformation witnessed in terms of religion. It became a centre of a more advanced religious practice, the bori cult. In Gozaki, there developed a system of religious worship which accommodated the interest of the heterogeneous community settling in the area. This was the worship of the spirits and the emergence of bori cult which was superior to the ancestral worship tenable in the settlement.[41] Kyangyaran had an upper hand in the bori cult and he belonged to the iskoki pantheon that was introduced in Gozaki which is among the reasons why he was accepted as the ruler. Prior to that period, the ancestors were believed to be the protectors of the lives and properties of the people and as the dead watching over the living. The dead, dwelling in the spirit world oversee the lives of their ‘own’ people living in the world, and assisting them in time of need and difficulty. The role of the ancestors could be seen in the mediation they engaged in case of disputes between people, provision of rain and good harvest, curing various ailments was also a duty of the ancestors. The ancestral worship reflected a society of people with close relationship either by blood or through similar traits of kinship. It also, shows that the society has not advanced to a heterogeneous type to incorporate people of different values and occupations. The issue of ancestral worship has been part of the social fabric of many societies in Africa.[42] The introduction of bori cult in Gozaki catered for the heterogeneous population that settled there.

In Gozaki, the advancement of the society led to the emergence of different occupational groups, which further led to the emergence and the introduction of bori cult. It is said that each occupational group had certain spirits who were the owners of that occupation. For example, iron workers sought for the blessing of the spirits of iron and the same applies to other occupations.[43] This means that, the role of the ancestors in regulating the lives of the people was no longer tenable, as it was before c.1500 A.D. Therefore, in order to meet the needs for the growing population, a bori cult was introduced. It involved worship of spirits and supernatural beings considered to be elements of enormous powers, who afflicted people with diseases as well as provide cure for different afflictions. In fact, bori was a religious practice among the people of the area. The followers of a type of bori cult could harm a non-follower using the spirits they worshipped. However, on a general note, the bori cult took care of the interest of all, whether related by blood or those from distant places. That was why it became widely accepted by the heterogeneous society.

Bori is a form of traditional religion. Before the advent of Islam people the world over had a deity they worshipped. People in Hausaland worshipped the Jinns, as they considered them as deities.[44] People prayed to the jinn for protection against all adversities like famine, as they also prayed to him to bless them with all fortunes like offspring and bountiful harvest. The act for seeking for assistance from the spirits gave birth to Bori. The intermediaries between the adherents and the Jinn were the people called ‘Yan Bori. The adherents of Bori cult called ‘Yan Bori prayed to the gods of those times, the jinns, for all fortunes and against misfortunes.[45]

The most notable bori cult in Gozaki was the Magiro cult, which was the most common form of worship among the people of the area.[46] Gozaki became a centre of the bori cult, thereby, bringing the surrounding settlements under its authority. The recognition accorded the Uwar gari,[47] the female spirit responsible for protecting the people, was incomparable to any other spirit. The Uwar gari was similar to the position accorded to the female spirit, Inna uwa in the political evolution of Katsina Kingdom. The bori cult involved making animal sacrifices, be it goat or chicken to the spirits in order to grant the wishes of the people as regards to rain, good harvest, and cure from illness and protection from enemies. The dwelling place of the spirits is said to be the baobab tree, and such trees happened to be the largest in number in the domain. If such trees were the abode of the iskoki, a lot of them dwelled in Gozaki.[48] Up to today that settlement is inhabited by the iskoki who frighten people at every opportunity; they might have frightened invaders to Gozaki alike.[49] Therefore, Gozaki was able to supersede other surrounding settlements and they were able to submit to her. The rulers of Gozaki became part and parcel of the new religious order and were able to dominate not only the religious aspect but became in charge of the political authority of the area. Interestingly, the bori cult was not only the belonging of the males; women were part and parcel of it. In fact, that is why the position of Magajiyar bori emerged, a title held by women who co-ordinated the activities the bori for the rulers and the ruled. Interestingly, a renowned spirit worshipped was a female, popularly called Inna uwa, meaning mother.[50]

Therefore, Kyangyaran set the foundation of a strong political system and became the first Sarkin Gozaki. The emergence of the office of Sarki heralded the emergence of a political system whereby other settlements of Dabai, Tandama, Dabaibayawa were brought under its fold and Sarkin Gozaki became the chief executive officer of that territory. However, it is said that, there was the rise of chief priest in every community in Hausaland, who had all the powers at their disposal and even exercised political influence in the settlements and were the preservers of the accord made between the ancestors and the spirits of the land.[51] It is now clear that, the spirits were the owners of the land and they gave the people usufruct rights according to the sacrifices offered to them. Therefore, the rise of the chief priest in Gozaki for example would have heralded a power tussle between them and Kyangyaran. It is possible that, Kyangyaran was widely accepted by the spirits of the land. And the Bori cult might have served the interest of the spirits to have warranted his acceptance as the ruler of the entire Gozaki region. The chief priest continued to perform their duties in the religious sphere. The bori was however used by some people to inflict pain on others by spreading diseases to the enemy or making someone barren. This is so because, animal sacrifice made to the spirits by some people could make them derail from their role of ‘protecting’ all members of the community.

The tenure of Kyangyaran was short-lived as he left Gozaki and this paved way for another ruler to assume office. There is paucity of source to explain why Kyangyaran left Gozaki to Birnin Gwari.[52] The traditions of Birnin Gwari support the view that immigrants from Katsina founded the settlement, as it is said that “hunters from Katsina went and founded Birnin Gwari. When they reached the area they only met bushes and vast open land which they were able to transform into a settlement due to fertile nature of the soil, which was swampy in nature, and suitable for the production of varied crops.”[53] We have to note that, other immigrants Wake, and his people left Gozaki for Birnin Gwari. According to Oral Tradition collected in Birnin Gwari, it stated that, the old settlement of Brinin Gwari was founded by hunters from Katsina and were able to put themselves in position of authority.[54]In fact, these hunters from Katsina along with the Gwari people from the area ruled Birnin Gwari.[55]

The evidence from Birnin Gwari has corroborated the claim in Gozaki that Kyangyaran and followers left for Birnin Gwari and they established the political leadership there. This is shown in the king-list of Birnin Gwari which established that there was mixed succession between the Gwari rulers at the time of the arrival of these hunters, up to the reign of the last Gwari king Shijaw.[56] What is clear is that, Kyangyaran was not chased out of Gozaki or was defeated in a war, to have warranted him leaving the settlement. He left on his own accord for another settlement. It is possible that, his whole existence and dreams rested on ushering in political developments and transformation of the settlements he inhabited, that was why after transforming Gozaki, he set out to Birnin Gwari to transform it into an advanced settlement as well. It is possible that, he was one of those rulers who were not interested in establishing long reigns and dynasties. Also, travelling from Lake Chad Basin he had passed through some settlements before reaching Gozaki. Though there is no information on his life before reaching Gozaki. What is important is that he left his foot print, and the mark he left behind is indelible in the history of Gozaki, it cannot be washed away by the sand of time.

However, there was no interregnum in the history of Gozaki. The leadership of the entity continued in the hands of the Gwari after Kyangyaran, and it continued to be administered as a centralized entity. In fact, dynasties that ruled Gozaki were clearly marked in its history, consisting of rulers who reigned in Gozaki as an independent entity and later as an entity under Katsina kingdom. What is important is that, these rulers stirred the affairs of Gozaki and administered it as a significant entity whose economy was reckoned with in terms of internal production of goods and services as well as income generation.

Incorporation of Gozaki into Katsina Kingdom

The incorporation of Gozaki into Katsina kingdom was done in the context of territorial expansion undertaken by the newly formed Hausa kingdom, Katsina, in the beginning of the sixteenth century Central Sudan. Gozaki at that point in time was not an insignificant settlement that was desolate; rather, it had emerged as an important entity. The availability of natural and agricultural resources in Gozaki has contributed immensely to its emergence as an important entity by c.1500 A.D. That natural resource and along with many factors made Gozaki attractive, and it drew the attention of state builders in Hausaland. And it was annexed and conquered by Katsina Kingdom in the fifteenth century. However, Gozaki came under Katsina kingdom instead of Zazzau kingdom despite its proximity with the latter. Zazzau was a centralised political entity with well centralised political entity and a well developed military structure at that point in time.[57]

Also, it is also likely that, Katsina Kingdom was the fastest in terms of territorial acquisition of Gozaki over and above Zazzau and Kano. In Hausa Language the ability to grab something at a faster rate is called ‘shigar sauri’. Therefore, it was likely that Katsina Kingdom did shigar sauri, outwitted Zazzau and acquired Gozaki. It is possible that, the attention of Kano and Zazzau Kingdoms was not on Gozaki at that time. Though as we stated earlier there was attempt by Kano to conquer it. The most important issue to be considered is that, Katsina Kingdom acquired Gozaki and brought it under its administration due to the supposed significance of Gozaki to the growth of Katsina Kingdom. The kingdom of Katsina was established in the fifteenth century in the northern territory of the state. [58]

Thus, the formation of the kingdom of Katsina in the fifteenth century around the Birnin Katsina by Korau “requires the bringing of the towns of Katsina Laka.... under the authorities of the Birni.”[59]Birni’ here is referred to as Birnin Katsina, the capital of the Katsina kingdom. Also, this information has been corroborated by oral information where it has been stated that, Gozaki was brought under the authority of Katsina Kingdom during the rule of Korau.[60]

Thus, the acquisition of Gozaki by Katsina Kingdom signalled a new era in its history. Instead of Gozaki existing as an independent entity composing of the Gozakawa (people of Gozaki), it became an entity under Katsina.

In fact, Gozaki was one of the important territories under the Sarakunan Garuruwa (heads of territories) of Katsina. Others were Maska, Kogo, Dugul, Samri, Yandaka and Gazobi.[61]

The occupation brought an end to the independent status of Gozaki, along with Maska located to the west; they became provinces under Katsina Kingdom.


Gozaki emerged as a centralized political entity in the fifteenth century in an area south east of Katsina Kingdom, close to Zazzau Kingdom. It was administered as a political entity under the administration of a king, the Sarkin Gozaki. However, the independent existence of Gozaki was brought to an end with its conquest and incorporation into Katsina kingdom, thereby bringing an end the independent settlement of Gozaki in c.1500 A.D., as it became an entity under the Sarki Katsina, the overall head of the kingdom.


1.                  (a) Oral Interviews

i.        Interview with Mallam Sani Ladan, Limamain Masallacin bakin hanya, guide to historical sites in Gozaki, Gozaki, 12th June, 2020

ii.      Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, 43 years, civil servant, the interview took place at Kafur local Government Secretariat, 6th September, 2018.

iii.    Interview with Mallam Sani, civil servant, the interview took place in front of his house in Gozaki, 10th August, 2020.

iv.    Interview with Mallam Salisu, Potter, 50 years, Gozaki, July 2017.

(b) Field Reports

1.      Fieldwork Report on Gozaki by Oyinloye Yinka Olenrajaju, Department of Archaeology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. 2013.

2.      Umar Bashir, “An Archaeological Field Report of Gozaki Kafur Local Government of Katsina State”, June 2016.

(c)                Archival Records

NNNAK KATPROF/1/6,3. Maska District Notebook

NNNAK KATPROF /1/25 Danja District Record Book

NNAK KATPROF 1/1695, Assessment Report Galadima District

2.         Published Works:

a. Books

Barth, H., Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa, Vol. 1, London.

Bello, Muhammad, Infaqul Maisuri Bello, Being a Paraphrase and some parts translation of Infakul Maisuri of F.J., The Rise of the Sokoto Fulani

Aiman Zagami, Hausawa da Makwabtansu, vol. 1, Northern Nigeria Publishing Company, 1970

Ibn Khaldun, Al- Muqaddimah (Rosenthal translation), Dar al Qalam, Beirut, 1981

Nakuta, Abubakar Ibrahim, Takaitaccen Tarihin Birnin Gwari, Kual Printers, Kaduna, 1999

Palmer, H.R., Sudanese Memoirs III, London, 1928.

Usman, Y.B., The Transformation of Katsina 1400-1883, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, 1981.

b. Articles

Adamu, M., “Thousand Years of Hausaland Participation in Trans-Saharan Trade 9th to 19th centuries” in History Research at A.B.U vol. I 1981/82

Aliyu, M. K., Archaeological Survey of Gozaki Site: A Preliminary Report, Zaria Archaeological Papers, vol. 11, no.1, 2012

Holowinska Zofia, “Ancient Towns in Katsina and Daura Emirates”, Fieldwork Report, 1974.

Ibrahim, Hussaina B.K., “Gozaki:The Emergence and Political Development of a Settlement in Central Sudan Up to 1600 A.D.” Degel: The Journal of the Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies, vol. 19, no.2, December, 2021

[1] For details on the emergence of Gozaki see Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, “Gozaki: The Emergence and Political Development of a Settlement in Central Sudan Up to 1600 A.D.” Degel: The Journal of the Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies, vol. 19, no.2, December, 2021.Pp. 76-97.

[2] Fieldwork Report on Gozaki by Oyinloye Yinka Olenrajaju, Department of Archaeology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. 2013.

[3] M. K. Aliyu, “Archaeological Survey of Gozaki Site: A Preliminary Report”, Zaria Archaeological Papers, vol. 11, no.1, 2012

[4] For details see Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, “History of the Emergence, Development and Collapse of Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, c. 1450-1915 A.D.”, PhD thesis, Department of History Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, June, 2023.

[5] J.E. G Sutton, “Towards a less Orthodox history of Hausaland”, Journal of African History, vol. 20 no.2, 1979.

[6] Ibid

[7] Interview with Mal. Mato, farmer, 85 years, his house in Gozaki, 12th August, 2020; Interview with Mallam Sani Ladan, 70 years, knowlegeable in oral history of Gozaki, 15th February, 2018.

[8] NNAK KATPROF 1/1695 Assessment Report Galadima District

[9] KHCB File 116, “Tarihin Garin Gozaki”, Garuruwan Jihar Katsina., Katsina History and Culture Bureau, Katsina State , vol. II

[10] Interview with Mallam Isiya, 55 years, Gozaki, farmer, 16th August, 2018.

[11] Ibid

[12] A. T. Grove, Land and Population in Katsina Province, Kaduna, 1952

[13] Michael Watts, Silent Violence: Food, Famine and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria, University of California Press, Berkeley,1983; Hussaina B. K. Ibrahim, “Impact of Colonialism on the Aspect of Economy of Katsina Metropolis, 19031960” M. A. thesis, Department of History Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.2011.


[14] B. J. Smith et all, “ Size Sorting of Surface Materials on Debris Mantled Slope near Zaria, northern Nigeria” Savanna, vol. 7 no. 1, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1978.

[15] A. T. Grove, Land and Population..., op.cit

[16]Interview with Mallam Umar, 60 years, farmer, his house, Gozaki, 14th August, 2020; Interview with Ado Ibrahim, 62 years, in front of his house, ‘Yar kasuwa Masari, 22nd July, 2020; Iinterview with Auwal Alhassan Gozaki, 32 years, Mazarkwaila producer, Gozaki, 15th December, 2020.

[17] Y.B. Usman,The Transformation of Katsina 1400-1883, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, 1981, p.32

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] Interview with Mallam Sani Ladan, Limamain Masallacin Bakinhanya, guide to historical sites in Gozaki, Gozaki, 12th June, 2020.

[21] Interview with Mallam Sani Ladan, Limamain Masallacin Bakinhanya, Ibid; Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, 43 years, civil servant, at Kafur local Government Secretariat, 6th September, 2018.

[22] Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, 43 years, civil servant, at Kafur local Government Secretariat, 6th September, 2018. Interview with Alhaji Zubair Abdul Ra’uf, 58 years, Danmasanin Birnin Gwari, via phone and whatsapp chat on 8th August, 2023 and 11th August 2023. Danmasanin Birnin Gwari corroborated the information on the history of Birnin Gwari and Gozaki relations in a discussion of Waziri of Birnin Gwari via phone call, 11th August, 2023.

[23] Ibid

[24] Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, Civil Servant, 43 years, and the interview took place in Kafur Local Government Secretariat, 20th July, 2019.

[25] A. B. Sani, “Al’Adunmu”, Journal of History and Culture Bureau, Katsina State

[26] This proverb is a common saying among the people of Hausaland.

[27] Interview with Mallam Salisu , Potter, 50 years, Gozaki, July 2017

[28] Zofia Holowinska, “Ancient Towns in Katsina and Daura Emirates”, Fieldwork Report, 1974; M. K.Aliyu, “Archaeological Survey of Gozaki Site: A Preliminary Report”, Zaria Archaeological Papers, vol. 11, no.1, 2012

[29] The tradition of Gozaki which attributes the establishment of Gozaki as a political entity is widespread among the inhabitants of Gozaki. The tradition is extant and recovered through oral interviews conducted by the author.

[30] A. Smith, “Some Notes on the History of Zazzau under the Hausa Kings” in M.J. Mortimore (ed), Zaria and its Regions: A Nigerian Savannah City and its Environs, Occasional Paper no. 4, Department of Geography, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1970.

[31] For details see Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, “History of the Emergence, Development and Collapse of Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, c. 1450-1915 A.D.”, PhD thesis, op.cit

[32] Zofia Holowinska, “Ancient Towns in Katsina and Daura Emirates” op.cit; M. K. Aliyu, Archaeological Survey of Gozaki Site: A Preliminary Report”, op.cit

[33] Interview with Mallam Salisu , Potter, 50 years, op.cit

[34] Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, Civil servant, 43 years, Kafur Local Government Secretariat, September, 2018

[35] Y. B. Usman, The Transformation of Katsina op.cit, pp.10-19

[36] Zafia Holowinska, “ Ancient towns...” op.cit

[37] Interview with Mallam Sani, civil servant, the interview took place in front of his house in Gozaki, 10th August, 2020.

[38] Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, “Gozaki: The Emergence and Political Development of a Settlement in Central Sudan Up to 1600 A.D.” Degel, op.cit, p.92.

[39] The historical movies of the Asians depict that fortification was an important measure employed by the rulers in securing their territories.

[40] Aiman Mahamman Zagami, Hausawa da Makwabtansu vol. 1, Zaria, 1970; Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, Civil servant, 43 years, op.cit; Interview with Mallam Sani, civil servant, op.cit

[41] Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, “Gozaki: The Emergence and Political Development of a Settlement in Central Sudan Up to 1600 A.D.” Degel, op.cit,p.83

[42] Hussaina B.K. Ibrahim, “History of the Emergence, Development and Collapse of Gozaki, Katsina Kingdom, c. 1450-1915 A.D.”, PhD thesis, op.cit

[43] Finn Fuglestad, “A Reconsideration of Hausa History before the Jihad”, Journal of African History, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1978, pp.319-339.

[44] Interview with Dr. Muhammad Tahar Adamu, Ibrahim Yaro Yahaya Centre for Research in Nigerian Languages and Forklore, Bayero University, Kano by Uthman Abubakar, www.dailytrust.com.ng, 2017

[45] Ibid

[46] Interview with Mallam Ladan, farmer, 65 years, Gozaki, 20th December, 2019.

[47] Ibid

[48] Interview with Mallam Haruna Gozaki,65 years, Farmer, at his house in Gozaki, 18th August, 2018

[49] Ibid

[50] In the emergence odf settlements in hausaland religious factor has played important role. see A. Smith, “Some Considerations Relating to the Formation of States in Hausaland”, JHSN, vol. 5. No. 3, Dec. 1970, p.340; Y.B. Usman, “The transformation of Katsina c.1796-1903: The Overthrow of the Sarauta System and the Establishment of the Emirate” PhD Thesis, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1974; Abdullahi Mahadi,”The Sarauta and the Economy:The Sarauta Systema and Its Role in Shaping the Socity and Economy of Kano with Particular Reference to the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”, Ph.D. Thesis, Departmenet of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1982

[51] Finn Fuglestad, op.cit

[52] Zafia Holowinska, op.cit; Interview with Mallam Dalha Gozaki, Civil servant, 43 years, op.cit; Interview with Mallam Babangida Gozaki, 50 years, Kafur Market, 16th June, 2021.

[53] Abubakar Ibrahim Nakuta, Takaitaccen Tarihin Birnin Gwari, Kual Printers, Kaduna, 1999, pp 2-3.The book is written in Hausa Language, so the quotation was translated into English Language by the current researcher with the assistance of A. S. Muhammad, Department of African Languages and Cultures, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

[54] Norman K. Grant, “Some Oral Tradition from Sabon Birnin Gwari”, Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, vol.4, no.1, 1967, pp.135-139.

[55] Ibid

[56] Ibid

[57] Hausawa da Makwabtansu vol. I, op.cit

[58] Y.B. Usman,The Transformation of Katsina 1400-1883, op.cit

[59] Interview with Alhaji Nuhu Yashe, Bebejin Katsina, District Head of Kusada, 90 years, Sabon Layi, Katsina, 3rd April, 2021; Y. B. Usman, “Some Aspects of the External Relations of Katsina Before 1804” Savanna: Journal of Environmental and Social Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, vol.1 No. 2, December, 1972; Interview with Musa Gambo Kofar Soro, 50 years, a journalist who has written on the history of Gozaki, the interview took place in Kofar Soro Katsina, 10th July, 2023.

[60] Interview with Mallam Musa Isuhu, 50 years, farmer, in front of his house at Gozaki, 25th May, 2019; Interview with Musa Gambo Kofar Soro, 50 years, op.cit

[61] KHCB,“Garuruwan Jihar Katsina 2”, Katsina State History and Culture Bureau, unpublished Research Paper, op.cit; Interview with Musa Gambo Kofar Soro, 50 years, op.cit

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