The Origin and Spiritual Distribution of Zamfara Drummers and Singers

    Citation: Sani, A-U. & Adamu, S. (2023). The Origin and Spiritual Distribution of Zamfara Drummers and Singers. South Asian Research Journal of Arts, Language and Literature, (5)4, 108-123. 

    Abu-Ubaida SANI1

    Dr. Adamu Rabi’u BAKURA1

    1Department of Languages and Culture,
    Federal University Gusau,
    Zamfara State, Nigeria


    This paper explores the rich tradition of singing in Hausa culture, shedding light on its meaning, importance, and diverse manifestations. The study delves into the significant role of traditional singers, known as ‘makaɗan Hausa,’ who compose songs for various individuals and groups. It highlights the historical context in which singing played a pivotal role. The impact of singing during pre-colonial wars is explored, revealing how oral poetry and chants motivated warriors and eased the burden of handwork. Singing also played a crucial role in fostering cultural exchange, with Hausa praise singers finding themselves in non-Hausa environments, such as Ghana. Additionally, the paper sheds light on the significance of singing in the political realm. It generally provides a comprehensive exploration of singing in Hausa culture, examining its cultural, social, and political dimensions. It showcases the importance of singing in energizing individuals, celebrating professions, facilitating cultural exchange, and entertaining rulers. Through its findings, the study contributes to a deeper understanding of the rich musical traditions within the Hausa community.

    Keywords: Singers, Drummers, Hausa, Hausaland, Zamfara Kingdom

    1.0 Introduction

    It is crucial to unravel the evolutionary narrative of Hausa music. This endeavor not only aids in classifying the different music styles into specific genres but also contributes to understanding the long-standing efforts of Hausa musicians in preserving the exquisite Hausa heritage and culture within their compositions. Moreover, it greatly enhances modern research in academia, facilitating a comparative analysis between Hausa songs that epitomized the ancient Hausa culture and those of the present era. Consequently, numerous scholarly endeavors have been dedicated to investigating the origins of Hausa music.

    On the other hand, Zamfara is a geographical region with a rich and enduring historical legacy of renowned Hausa singers. This has led some Hausa scholars to argue that it was originally the principal Hausa state, serving as the source from which Hausa culture emanated and spread extensively to other significant Hausa territories of the present day. Many of the drummers and singers from both the past and the present, whether traditional or contemporary, have their origins in Zamfara or possess ancestral connections to the area. Furthermore, Zamfara represents a Hausa state that encompasses diverse forms of drummers and musicians, leaving an indelible imprint throughout the history of Hausa literature and culture.

    2.0 Zamfara

    Zamfara derives its name from the territory established by the legendary figure known as Bukurukuru. According to the myth, Bukurukuru's grandparents hailed from Arabia, and he embarked on a journey with his followers due to internal conflicts within the family. Initially a group of hunters, they encountered the local indigenous population and Bukurukuru was captivated by the location where the city of Zamfara now stands, ultimately making it his base and capital. Through his conquests and conflicts with Adar, he gained control over the surrounding villages, leading to the emergence of the town as a result of increased migration to the area.[1]

    The people of Zamfara, known as Zamfarawa, experienced territorial expansion towards the southern region, particularly during the reign of Argoje. Under her rule, the town of Birnin Zamfara was expanded. According to Gusau (2009: 25), Argoje frequently organized expeditions, pushing the frontiers of Zamfara westward towards Kebbi until the period of Kanta in 1576. Additionally, raids were conducted in the direction of Azbin. Argoje's prowess in warfare undoubtedly contributed to the kingdom's significant development and peak of prosperity.

    Similarly, the Gobirawa people, inhabitants of Gobir, initially settled in Tungar Alkali, which later came to be known as Alƙalawa, as migrants, with Zamfarawa acting as their hosts. Over time, however, tensions arose between the Gobirawa and Zamfarawa, leading to a full-fledged war. Eventually, under the reign of Yakubu (1714-1739), the Gobirawa managed to drive the Zamfarawa out of Alƙalawa. Subsequently, during the rule of Maroƙi (1754-1764), the Gobirawa destroyed Birnin Zamfara, the capital city of Zamfara. This event forced some of the Zamfarawa people to seek refuge in the territory of Katsina, while others dispersed to various villages and larger cities. Some also migrated to other Hausa kingdoms such as Kebbi, Katsina, and Yawuri, where they established Zamfarawa settlements as a consequence of the destruction of Birnin Zamfara by Gobir.

    3.0 Singing

    Singing holds significant meaning and importance. It involves the deliberate articulation of words in a rhythmic manner, whether through poetry, prose, or similar forms of expression. It encompasses the act of elevating one's voice and prolonging sounds, repeatedly delivering them with or without a specific melody. Singing can be accompanied by music or performed without musical accompaniment.

    Furthermore, singing involves the repetition of sounds with a distinct tune and intonation, allowing for the conveyance of meaningful messages. These messages can encompass various forms of beneficial content, such as admonitions, words of wisdom, and other forms of lyrical expression.

    3.1 The Origin of Hausa Music

    Prominent scholars such as Gusau (1993/2002, 2003, 2008, 2009) and Furniss (1996) share similar perspectives on the origin of Hausa music. According to their research, Hausa songs trace their roots back to the praise chants associated with hunting (kirarin farauta) and warfare, particularly aimed at boosting the morale of Hausa foot soldiers, prior to the reformation movement led by Sheikh Usman Danfodiyo. During the colonial period, following the conflicts, some of the praise singers began composing songs for the emirs. These songs often recounted the emirs' genealogy and their heroic deeds during times of hostilities. These musicians became known as court musicians, palace singers, or court poets. Among the most renowned of these court musicians are:

             i.            Makaɗa Muhammadu Dodo Maitabshi - Bakura

           ii.            Salihu Jankiɗi - Rawayya

        iii.            Ibrahim Naranbaɗa - Isa

         iv.            Aliyu Ɗandawo - Shuni

           v.            Buda Ɗantanoma - Argungu

         vi.            Ibrahim Garso - Talata Mafara

      vii.            Jibo Magajin Kuwaru - Gwadabawa

    viii.            Abubakar Akwara - Sabon Birni etc (Gusau, 1993/2003: 13-15)

    3.2 The Classification of Hausa Singers (Musicians)

    Hausa traditional singers, commonly known as Makaɗan Hausa, hold significant importance within the Hausa community, particularly in the political realm of the traditional Hausa system. The songs crafted by these traditional musicians have gained widespread popularity through radio stations and other modern media platforms. Scholars have categorized traditional singers based on the class of individuals they glorify in their songs.

    One such category is Makaɗan Fada, also known as Court Musicians or Court Posts. These praise singers exclusively compose songs for Emirs and individuals associated with royalty, particularly those holding esteemed titles such as District Heads, Village Heads, and County Heads. In Hausa society, nearly every Emir and District Head has a dedicated singer who composes and performs songs for them. However, with the permission of their masters, these praise singers may also create songs to honor other Emirs.

    These types of praise singers are reliant on their patrons and masters for support and recognition. They serve as important figures in the traditional hierarchy, using their musical talents to extol the virtues and achievements of the noble class.

     They provide shelter, food, clothing, farmland and all their needs. Examples of these palace praise singers are:

    Praise Singer


    Salihu Jankiɗi


    Sarkin Musulmi Abubakar Na III

    Ibrahim Narambaɗa


    Sarkin Gobir Na Isa (Amadun Bawa)

    Abdu Kurna


    Sarkin Ƙayan Maradun

    Ibrahim Gurso


    Sarkin Mafara Abubakar Barmo

    Aliyu Ɗandawo


    Sarkin Kabin Argungu Muhammadu Sama

    Sarkin Kabin Argungu Muh’d Shehe

    Sarkin Yawuri Alhaji Abdullahi

    Idi Ɗangiwa Zuru

    Sarkin Dabai Muhammadu Sani

    Sarkin Zuru Usman Danga


    Alh. Muhammadu sarkin Taushen Katsina


    Sarkin Katsina Muhammadu Dikko

    Sarkin Katsina Usman Nagwaggo

    Sarkin Katsina Muhammadu Kabir


    This group of Hausa traditional musicians often includes a specific individual who serves as both a praise singer (Maroƙi) and a commentator on various events. In addition to composing songs that celebrate and honor their masters, they also engage in criticizing opponents of their patrons. These musicians use their lyrical prowess to support and defend the interests of their masters, while also challenging those who may pose a threat or oppose their authority. Through their songs, they play a crucial role in shaping public opinion, expressing political allegiances, and preserving the cultural values of the Hausa community.

    3.2.1 Professional Praise Singers (Makaɗan Sanaa)

    These traditional occupational singers are individuals who specialize in composing songs for individuals associated with specific professions in Hausaland. These professions are diverse, and each one often has its own designated traditional singer who crafts songs specifically for members of that occupation. The traditional occupational singers are as follows:

    i.           Makaɗan Noma (Farm Singers)

    ii.         Makaɗan Maƙera (Black Smith’s Singers)

    iii.      Makaɗan Runji (Mahauta) (Butchers singers)

    iv.      Makaɗan Wanzamai (Berbers singers) Farm Singers (Makaɗan Noma)

    This group of singers exclusively performs for the Chief of Farmers (Sarkin Noma) in rural areas, traveling from village to village. The members of this category of musicians mostly consist of former Makaɗan Fada (court musicians), with the exception of Aliyu Ɗandawo, who originally did not belonged to this group. Over time, some of them transitioned into becoming royal praise singers. Black Smith’s Singers (Makaɗan Maƙera)

    This category of singers is known as Makaɗan Zari. In the past, their songs were exclusively composed for blacksmiths. They would travel between markets and participate in ceremonies within the blacksmithing community. Often, dancers would accompany them, much like the occupational performing groups of hunters, such as 'yantauri and 'yanburtu. Hero Singers (Makaɗan Maza/Jarumai)

    This group of singers are the musicians that compose songs for brave individuals who confront dangerous situations without expressing fear. Examples are:

    i.                    Kiɗan Dambe (Songs of Boxers)

    ii.                  Kiɗan Kokawa (Songs of Fighters)

    iii.               Kiɗan Tauri (Songs of Warriors)

    iv.               Kiɗan Wasa da Maciji (Songs of Snake Catchers)

    v.                  Kiɗan Wasa da Kura (Songs of Hunters)

    vi.               Kiɗan Yaƙ(Songs of war)

    This category of singers is the musician that composes songs to praise their actors and encourages them. The musician in this category are:

    i.                    Ɗananace

    ii.                  Hamisu Maiganga (Waƙar sabo Wakilin Tauri)

    iii.               Makaɗan Shanci (Ɗangambo, 1984: 25)

    3.2.2 Popular Singers (Makaɗan Jamaa)

    This category of musicians composes their songs for everybody, as long as they can make a gain from such person. The singers belonging to this group include:

    i.                    Alh. Dr. Mamman Shata Katsina

    ii.                  Muhammadu Ganga-ganga

    iii.               Audu Karen Gusau

    iv.               Mammalo

    v.                  Illon Kalgo

    vi.               Ɗanmaraya Jos

    vii.             Garba Liyo

    viii.           Garba Sufa

    ix.                Amadu Doka

    As well as Alh. Musa Ɗanƙwairo who eventually compose praise songs to whoever he can gain from.

    3.2.3 Humor Musicians (Makaɗan Ban Dariya)

    This group of singers usually compose their songs just to entertain people and make them happy. Examples of some are.

    i.                    ‘Yan Kama

    ii.                  ‘Yan Gambara

    iii.               ‘Yan Ƙoroso

    iv.               ‘Yan Galura

    v.                  ‘Yan A-Daki-Buzu

    Gusau (1993/2003: 5-22) presents the view that the development of Hausa music can be attributed to two primary factors: hunting and farming, which were the main occupations in the Hausa region. Both of these occupations had associated practices and dependent occupations, each of which had specialized singers dedicated to praising their practitioners. The following table (Table 1) highlights these associations:

    Table 1: Dependent Occupations and Practices in Hausa Music

    Major Occupation

    Dependent Occupations/Practices

    Form of Music



    Hunting (Farauta)

    Boxing (Dambe)

    Boxing Musicians (Makaɗan Dambe)

    Warriorship (Tauri)

    Warriors Musicians (Makaɗan Tauri/‘Yan Tauri)

    Wrestling (Kokawa/Kokuwa)

    Wrestling Musicians (Makaɗan Kokuwa/’Yan Kokuwa)

    Shooting (Harbi)

    Shooters’ Musicians (Makaɗan Maharba)

    Jinn Harp (Garayar Iskoki)

    Jinn Harpists (Masu Garayar Iskoki)




    Farming (Noma)

    Famers Musicians (Makaɗan Noma)

    Blacksmithing (Ƙira)

    Blacksmiths’ Musicians (Makaɗan Maƙera)

    Butchering  (Runji/Fawa)

    Butchers Musicians (Makaɗan Rundawa/Makaɗan Mahauta/Makaɗan Fawa)

    Barbing (Wanzanci)

    Barbers Musicians (Makaɗan Wanzamai)


    Furthermore, wars among different Hausa communities also played a significant role in the evolution of various categories of musicians. Funtua (2011: 51-54) highlights the following categories of musicians that emerged as a result:

    i. The Tambari Drummers (Makaɗan Tambari)

    ii. The Jauje Drummers (Makaɗan Jauje)

    iii. The Banga Drummers (Makaɗan Banga)

    iv. Calabash Drummers (Makaɗan Ƙwarya)

    v. The Taushi Drummers (Makaɗan Taushi)

    vi. The Kotso Drummers (Makaɗan Kotso)

    vii. The Kuwaru Drummers (Makaɗan Kuwaru)

    viii. The Kalangu Drummers (Makaɗan Kalangu)

    ix. Drum Beaters (Makaɗan Ganga)

    x. Comic Drummers (Makaɗan Bandariya)

    xi. The Algaita Drummers (Makaɗan Algaita)

    xii. The Farai Drummers (Makaɗan Farai)

    xiii. The Kakaki Drummers (Makaɗan Kakaki)

    These different categories of musicians emerged as distinct groups, each with their own specialized drumming techniques and styles. The wars between Hausa communities not only influenced the development of these musicians but also contributed to the diversity and richness of Hausa musical traditions.

    4.0 Outstanding Zamfara Drummers

    Zamfara Kingdom is well known for its notable and outstanding drummers and singers. Many singers in other kingdoms across the Hausaland have their origin traced to Zamfara or at least inherited or acquire the skill from there. This part of the article accounted for some notable singers from Zamfara.

    4.1 Makada Muhammad Dodo Mai Tabshi (1850-1936)

    The real name of Dodo Mai Tabshi is Muhammadu. His father, Makaɗa Usman, was the son of Makada Muhammadu Arzika. They were residents of Bakura in the Bakura Emirate of Zamfara State. Muhammadu Dodo Mai Tabshi was born around 1850 in Bakura.

    His father, Usman Maidama, composed songs for Sarkin Burmin Bakura, Yusufu Dankwari (1859-1888), and later for Sarkin Burnin Na'abu (1888 to 1904). Muhammadu Dodo received musical training from his father, Usman Maidama.

    Based on the advice of Manufar Tsamiya Muhammadu, son of Sultan Abdurrahman (1891 to 1902), due to the abundance of musicians in Bakura town, Dodo Mai Tabshi decided to leave Bakura. He migrated to Rara, an area under the territory of Bakura.

    Dodo also used to visit the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Muhammadu Dikko (1906-1944), for musical tours. The Emir even offered Dodo a position as his chief musician, but Dodo declined the offer.

    Instead, Dodo migrated to the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Muhammad Dikko (1906-1944). The Emir proposed to make Dodo the king of Taushi if he agreed to stay, but Dodo did not stay for certain reasons.

    He then traveled to Sokoto, where Sultan Muhammadu Maiturare (1916-1924) wanted him to serve as his chief courtier. Dodo accepted the position and became the chief courtier of Sultan Muhammadu Maiturare. His children also assisted him in composing songs. Some of his children include:

    1. Alu

    2. Sa'idu

    3. Umaru Tunau

    4. Ibrahim Maigandi

    5. Amadu

    6. Yusufu

    These children played a role in collaborating with Dodo in composing songs during his time as the chief courtier of Sultan Muhammadu Maiturare.

    Before Muhammadu Dodo Mai Tabshi started singing for Sultan Muhammadu Maiturare, he had performed for several emirs, including:

    1. Emir of Kano Alu (1894-1903)

    2. Emir of Kano Abbas (1903-1919)

    3. Emir of Gwandu Halliru Abdu (1906-1915)

    4. Emir of Katsina Muhammadu Dikko (1906-1944)

    5. Sultan Muhammadu Tambari (1924-1931)

    6. Emir of Kano Abdullahi Bayero (1926-1923)

    7. Sultan Muhammdu Maiturare (1916-1924)

    Despite becoming the patron of Sultan Muhammadu Maiturare, Muhammadu Dodo Mai Tabshi continued to sing for other emirs as well. He composed and sang for:

    1. Etsu Nupe Muhammadu Majigi

    2. Emir of Zazzau Jafaru

    3. Emir of Kwantagora Umaru

    4. Emir of Kwantagora Ibrahimu

    5. Emir of Argungu Muhammadu Sama – Muh’d Sani

    6. Sultan Muhammadu ɗan Mu’azu (1931-1938)

    According to (Gusau, 1996: 38), Muhammadu Dodo Mai Tabshi had 34 surviving children, both males and females. Among them are:

    1. Makaɗa Aliyu (1876-1956): He also became a court singer and sang for Muhammadu Tambari, the district head of Gwadabawa. He later became the chief courtier of Sultan Hassan, the son of Mu’azu, in 1936. He is the father of Muhammadu Ɗanbunguɗu (1928), who held the title of the Sultan’s chief courtier.

    2. Makaɗa Sa’idu (1885-1954): He sang for Marafan Tangaza, Isa, the son of Sultan Muhammadu Maiturare. He is the father of Bala, the chief musician of Marafan Tangaza, and Abubakar, who migrated to Kano and became the chief musician of the emir, Balarabe (Gusau, 1996: 39).

    3. Umaru Tunau (1898-1974): He was given to the Ciroma of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, when he ascended the throne of Kano, and served until the reign of Ado Bayero. He passed away in 1974. He is the father of Umaru, who inherited his musical talents, and Balarabe, the chief musician of emirs Alhaji Abdulkadir, Muhammadu, and Aminu.

    4. Balarabe (1899-1968): He served as the musician of the district heads of Gobir, starting with Muhammadu Adiya and continuing until the time of the district head of Gobir, Abdu Jatau. Afterward, he returned home to Sakkwato. He passed away in 1968. He is the father of Dan Tulle, who migrated to Ghana, and Abubakar Maigari, Alu, and Muhtari, who lived with the chief praise singer, Muhammadu Ɗanbungudu.

    5. Ibrahim Mai Gandi (1903-1969): He served as the praise singer of Marafan Gada Ibrahim. He passed away in 1969, leaving behind his son Muhammadu, who continued to live with Muhammadu Ɗanbungudu.

    6. Amadu (1914-1959): He was sent to Kano to serve the Ɗan’iyan Bichi. He passed away in 1959. He is the father of Ibrahim, who also served alongside Mamman Ɗanbungudu.

    7. Yusufa (1924): He resided in Bichi with Ɗan’iya, his older brother Amadu. After Amadu's death, he returned to Sakkwato and stayed with Mamman Ɗanbungudu.

    8. Malan Jibirilu (1924): He performed alongside his father, Dodo Mai Tabshi, but later pursued Islamic knowledge and became a renowned scholar in Sakkwato. He was one of the prominent scholars of Sakkwato during his lifetime. He is the father of Amadu and Musɗafa, Muntaƙa, and Muhammadu Tirmizi. They were all scholars but assisted the chief courtier, Mamman Ɗanbungudu, with drumming.

    9. Abubakar (1925-1980): He sang for the district head of Raɓa, Muhammadu Bello. He passed away in 1980. He is the father of Bello, who lived with the chief courtier of the Emir of Kano, Balarabe.

    10. Muhammadu Sani (1933): He served as the courtier of the district head Wurno, Sarkin Sudan Alhaji Shehu Malami Na Aɗɗa.

    4.2 Ibrahim Gurso (1867-1958)

    Ibrahim Gurso was born in Tunfafiya and became the first settler of Mafari, known as the old settlement, in 1867. His father, Tsoho, was a musician also known as Ɗan'inda. Tsoho served as a farmer's musician and sang for Turu, Ibrahim Gurso, who had an elder brother named Muhammadu Buwai, who was also a farmer's musician.

    Gurso grew up during the later stages of the conflicts between the Jihadists and the Hausa kings. During this period, people demonstrated bravery and acquired defense and survival skills. It was a time when games of valor, such as wrestling, horse-riding, races, and other physical exercises, were taught.

    The musicians of that time were also involved in religious education. They would learn the entire Qur'an and engage with scholars in gatherings where Islamic jurisprudence was taught (Gusau, 1996: 43).

    Gurso learned the art of music from his elder brother, Muhammadu Buwai, who was a farmer's singer and used the Kuwaru instruments.

    After initially singing farmer's songs, Ibrahim Gurso transitioned to performing for kings. His first opportunity came when he sang for Magaji Babba Ɗanhutsaye, who was the grandson of the king of Mafara, Aliyu Ɗangwarzo (1897-1916), during Babba's tenure as the district head of Talatar Mafara. The first song he sang for him was:

    ChorusMuhammadun Garba Ɗansanda,

     The heir who cures enmity.


     Oh ye poor, stay at home,

    As the poor cannot win wars,

     This is the brave warrior who conquares,

     Even if an enemies wins, it will be countered.


     Day and night fully prepared for war,

     Conquering the Ɗankaiwa hills,

     Conqueri g thrpugh Damɓo,

     Untill we defeat Ɗanƙumba.


    Lead: Muhammadun Garba Ɗansanda,

     The prince provides a panacea to hatred.


     Oh, the poor! Go back and stay home,

    The poor do not execute a war,

     Therte it goes a wrong Katsa-katsa,

     Even if it started good, it must go bad.


     Go to bed ready and remain ready,

     Match the hill of Ɗankaiwa,

     We pierce a sword through Damɓo,

     On that day we apprehend Ɗanƙumba.

    Following his role as the praise singer for the Sarkin Mafara, Ibrahim Gurso expanded his repertoire and sang for various other kings. He embarked on journeys to different cities, where he showcased his talent and entertained numerous rulers. Some of the kings he sang for include:

    i. District Head of Sabon Birnin Gobir Umar Shawai

    ii. District Head of Isa, Sarkin Gobir Muhammadu Ammani

    iii District Head. of Isa, Sarkin Gobir Amadu Bawa

    iv. District Head of Moriki, the Sarkin Ɓurmin Moriki

    v. District Head of Zurmi, the Sarkin Zamfaran Zurmi Muhammad and his son

    vi. Several rulers of Kiyawa since the time of Asha

    vii. District Head of Bunguɗu, the Sarkin Fulanin Bungudu Amadu Kure

    viii. District Head of Gusau, the Sarkin Katsinan Gusau Muhmmadu Mai’akwai and Umaru Malan

    ix. District Head of Tsafe, 'Yandoton Tsafe Abdullahi

    x. District Head of Kwatarkwashi, Maikwatarkwashi Abdu

    xi. District Head of Kuyan-Bana, the Sarkin Kudun Ɗansadau Malan Shehu son of Sama’ila

    xii. District Head of Dabai, the Sarkin Dabai Muhammadu of Andi

    xiii. District Head of Wasagu, the Sarkin Wasagu Mamman Ɗan Kumbushi

    xiv. Bena son of Baƙo

    xv. Falkai Mahuta

    xvi. District Head of Anka, the Sarkin Zamfaran Anka

    xvii. District Head of Maru, the Banagan Maru Manman Sule

    xviii. District Head of Maradun, the Sarkin Ƙayan Maradun Garba

    xix. District Head of Bakura, the Sarkin Ɓurmin Bakura and that of Tureta

    xx. District Head of the Sarkin Sarkin Bauran Dange Abdu

    xxi. District Head of Shuni, the Ardon Shuni

    xxii. District Head of Bukkuyum, the Dankon Bukkuyum

    xxiii. District Head of Gummi, the Sarkin Mafaran Gummi

    xxiv. District Head of Keɓe, the Sarkin Kabin Keɓe

    xxv. District Head of Jabo, the Sarkin Burmin Jabo

    xxvi. District Head of Sifawa, the Sarkin Kudun Sifawa

    xxvii. District Head of Yabo, the Sarkin Kabin Yabo

    xxviii. District Head of Dogon Daji, the Sarkin Yamman Dogon Daji

    xxix. District Head of Dingyaɗi, the Sarkin Zamfaran Dingyaɗi

    xxx. Sultan Hassan, son of Mu’azu

    xxxi. Sultan Abubakar III, when he was the Sardauna of Sokoto, in charge of Talata-Mafara

    With such an extensive list of district heads and Sultan Abubakar III for whom Ibrahim Gurso performed, it is clear that he traveled extensively to fulfill his musical engagements. This allowed him the opportunity to visit the towns mentioned above (Gusau, 1996: 43-47).

    Furthermore, some of Ibrahim Gurso's backup singers ventured out to other cities to pursue their own singing careers. For instance, his servant, Ɗan Boko, relocated to Zazzau, while another backup singer named Abdu became the prime musician for the prime minister Abbas, as Gusau (1996: 48) suggested.

    4.3 Salihu Jankiɗi (1852-1973)

    Jankiɗi was born in the town of Rawayya, located in the Bunguɗu district of Bunguɗu local government area, around the year 1852. His father, Alhassan ɗan Giye Ɗan Tigari, was known as the owner of musical instruments. Jankiɗi earned his nickname from his maternal uncle, Karɓau, due to his remarkable musical prowess.

    4.3.1 His Father

    His father, Makaɗa Alhassan Giye Ɗan Tigari, was a skilled player of the talking drum and often traveled to perform. He would leave his village of Rawayya and journey to different cities to showcase his talent, even during times of war. He visited places such as Argungu and Bida, passing through Kwantagora, Kotonkoro, and various other cities. However, he would always return home to Rawayya before setting off for Kotonkoro. Eventually, he settled in Kwantagora, where he entertained Emir of Kwantagora, the Sarkin Sudan Ibrahim with his songs.

    4.3.2 His Youth and Adulthood

    During his youth and adulthood, Salihu Jankiɗi spent his formative years in Kwantagora. He engaged in wrestling and martial arts, combining these activities with other thrilling pursuits of his youth. Growing up during a time of warfare, prior to the arrival of British colonialists, he completed the study of the Holy Qur'an. Additionally, he delved into supplementary Islamic books such as Ƙawa’idi da Ishmawi and Ƙuradabi, among others.

    4.3.3 Apprenticeship and the beginning of his career

    He started learning singing and drumming from his father. He started playing the instrument kuntukuru (kanzagi). Afterwards, he joined his elder sisters as backup singers.

    Invariably, his father once entrusted him to his brother, ɗan Yawuri to learn how to play the speaking drum. After the death of his father, he became the leader of the musicians of Kwantagora and was assisted by the following:

    1. Alhajiya- Daughter of Halima Bakaba.
    2. A’ishatu
    3. Halimtu Bakaba.

    After Salihu Jankiɗi began his singing career, he continued the tradition of combining the songs of farmers and butchers, utilizing the speaking drum, just as his ancestors had done. However, when the colonialists invaded Hausa land, Kwantagora, the place where he resided, was conquered and dispersed. As a result, Salihu Jankiɗi and his family were compelled to relocate first to Kotongoro, then to Bagega in the district of Talatar Mafara, and further to Kanoma and Bunguɗu. Eventually, following the conclusion of the war, he returned to Kwantagora.

    From Kwantagora, Salihu Jankiɗi made his way back to his hometown, Rawayya. Once the colonialists had gained control over the entire Hausa land, he started using Taushi (tafashe) to sing praises for kings. He moved from Rawayya to Tsafe, where he sang for 'Yandoto Muhammadu (1897-1924) and 'Yandoto Ibrahim Maikano (1926-1928). Subsequently, he relocated to Gusau and stayed at the palace of the district head of Gusau, the Sarkin Katsinan Gusau Muhammadu Mai’akwai (1929-1943).

    When Muhammadu Mai’akwai was dethroned from his position, Salihu Jankiɗi found patronage under Sultan Abubakar the III (1938-1988). The Sultan eventually honored him by crowning him as the chief musician of the court.

    4.3.4 Places he visited for musical performances

    Salihu Jankidi's influence extended across numerous cities in Nigeria, particularly in the northern region. He embarked on extensive tours, visiting both major and minor cities within Sokoto State. He traveled to cities such as Kano and Hadeja, Daura and Katsina, Mani and Zariya, Kaduna and Bida, Ilorin and Minna, Ibadan and Lagos, Enugu, and many more (Gusau, 1996: 56).

    Salihu Jankidi's remarkable musical journey came to an end on Friday, 13 October 1973, when he passed away at the remarkable age of 120. His legacy as a renowned musician and his contributions to the cultural heritage of the region live on.

    4.4 Aliyu Ɗandawo (1925-1966)

     Aliyu Ɗandawo was born during the time when Ardo Aliyu served as the district head, coinciding with the reign of Sultan Tambari (1924-1931). He was born in the town of Shuni, which was part of the former Bodinga local government area, now under Dange-Shuni. His estimated year of birth is around 1925.

    Aliyu Ɗandawo acquired his nickname "Ɗandawo" due to his constant selling of dawo-dawo. His father, Aliyu Fodiyo, was a respected scholar in Shuni, known for his teachings of reading and writing.

    From a young age, Aliyu Ɗandawo displayed intelligence and diligence. He diligently memorized and practiced what his father and other scholars taught him, including the Qur'an and various Islamic books such as Ƙawa'idi, Ahallari, Ƙurɗabi, Iziyya, Risala, and others.

    Aliyu Ɗandawo's path as a singer was not inherited but emerged from his exceptional talent for memorization. He would memorize any song he heard from the singers of Shuni. This skill caught the attention of the Ardo of Shuni, Aliyu, who would buy his calabash of corn to enjoy the songs Aliyu Ɗandawo could sing for him, composed by other musicians. He also began composing his own songs and would perform them at social gatherings where youths gathered.

    Ardo Mamman, the son of Aliyu, sought the acceptance of Aliyu Ɗandawo as his praise singer. Aliyu granted Ardo's request and even selected his backup singers, which included individuals like Ɗandaura, Ɗanganga, Sahabin Tashuri, and Ɗankawu Dogon Marken Shuni.

    Aliyu opens the praise of Ardo Mamman with the son that says:

    Your reward is good,

    He who endures today and tomorrow,

    He gives.

    After his first patron, Ardo Mamman, Aliyu Ɗandawo went on to serve Lamne Tsoho, the revered leader of Augi in the emirate of Argungu. He mesmerized him with his beautiful songs. Subsequently, he returned to Argungu and became the praise singer for King Muhammadu Sama of Kabi (1920-1934), remaining in his service until the reign of King Muhammadu Shehe of Kabi (1953-1959).

    Aliyu's fame spread beyond Argungu, prompting him to embark on journeys to other towns for his performances. Eventually, he settled in Yawuri and established his own school. During his time in Yawuri, he resided with the esteemed Emir Abdullahi Abarshi (1923-1955), and later with Emir Muhammadu Tukur (1955-1981). The first song he performed for Emir Abdullahi of Yawuri was:

     Owner of Yawuri boundary of the world,

     Abdullahi hero of men

     Allah elevates you

    Such that no one has its equivalence in the Hausa land. (Gusau, 1996: 60)

    Alhaji Aliyu Ɗandawo died in Yawuri in the year 1966. He was survived by eight children, six male:

    1. Lawal,
    2. Umaru,
    3. Muhammadu Bello
    4. Abubakar
    5. Sani
    6. Ahmed

    And two females:

    1. Aishatu
    2. Jummai

    Among his sons, Alhaji Sani Aliyu Ɗandawo inherited his trade.

    4.5 Ibrahim Narambaɗa(1875-1960)

    Ibrahim Narambaɗa, also known as Narambaɗa, was born in the town of Tubali in the Isa district in 1875. His father, Maidangwale, named him Ibrahim, but he gained the nickname Narambaɗa due to his deep affection for his dog, "Rambaɗa." This love for his canine companion led his peers to call him by that name, and it became well-known and associated with him. Ibrahim Narambaɗa received his education in the Qur'an from his teacher, Malam Shehu, whom he studied under until he completed the Qur'an. He furthered his Islamic studies by delving into supplementary books, demonstrating his keen perception and conscientiousness in his actions.

    Muhammadu recognized Ibrahim Narambaɗa's dedication, proclaiming that he would excel in whatever he pursued. Despite not inheriting his musical talents from his father, Ibrahim's mother had a musical background inherited from her father. Her father was skilled in playing the Kotso, a musical instrument, and she also inherited musical instruments from him. Ibrahim, growing up with an admiration for singing, gradually learned music and became an expert without a formal teacher.

    He initially began his musical journey by singing songs related to farming, but over time, his knowledge and fame expanded, making him well-known throughout the region. He then took up the Kotsannin, the musical instrument inherited from his mother's lineage, and started performing for royalty in Tubali. When Tudu Muhammadu Na'ammani ascended the throne of Gobir of Isa in 1927, Narambaɗa joined in the celebration and sang a song that impressed the king. This performance earned him the esteemed title of chief musician. Subsequently, he became the official musician for the district head of Isa, the Sarkin Gboir Muhammadu Na'ammani (1927-1935) until his passing. Some of the first songs he sang for him include one in which he says:

     Muhammdu son of Audu

     Your enemies surrender

     They follow you with their spears

     So that they can manage to eat and live

     (Gusau, 1996: 65-6)


    After the passing of Sarkin Gobir Muhammadu Na'ammani, Narambaɗa continued to enjoy the patronage of the new Gobir King, Amadun Bawa (1935-1975), until his own death in 1960. Narambaɗa hailed from the Barebari ethnic group and had distinct tribal marks on his face that symbolized his heritage. Known for his joyful and humorous nature, he often entertained people with his jokes. One unique aspect of his relationship with the Fulani rulers was the conviviality between the Fulani and Barebari communities, allowing him to playfully jest at the expense of the Fulani rulers without consequences.

    With the permission and support of the kings of Gobir in Isa, Narambaɗa embarked on numerous travels to perform in various cities. He sang for numerous emirs, district heads and village heads, including:

    a.      Emir of Zazzau Jafaru

    b.      Emir of Zazzau Muhammadu Aminu

    c.       'Yandoton Tsahe Alhaji Aliyu

    d.     District headKudan Gusau Alhaji Sule

    e.      Ibrahima Naguraguri na Shinkafi

    f.        Alƙalin Alƙalai, and many others.

    (Gusau, 1996: 69)

    These performances showcased his talent and versatility as a musician, earning him recognition and appreciation from rulers across different regions.

    4.6 Abdu Kurna (1899-1962)

    Abdu Kurna, also known as Kurna, was born in the town of Ɗankadu within the Bakura Emirate. His father, Makaɗa Usman Ɗankwanada, was the son of Makaɗa Kaka. The nickname "Kurna" became so widely recognized that it overshadowed his given name, and he was predominantly known by that name.

    4.6.1 Abdu Kurna’s Father, Makaɗa Usman Ɗankwanada (Shehu Mani) (1860)

    His father, Makaɗa Kaka Maiganga, was a skilled musician who played the Takashama drum and sang the songs of farmers in the town of Bakura. He also utilized the white drum as part of his musical repertoire.

    Following the passing of Kaka Maiganga, his son Usman Mani inherited his musical talents and became the primary singer in their household. Usman Mani gained renown as a musician, particularly among farmers, using the white drum for his music. However, when performing for royalty, he would switch to the Kotso drum. Makaɗa Usman Ɗankwanada sang numerous songs in the town of Bakura.

    Usman resided in his village of Ɗankadu, where he entertained both farmers and royalty through his performances. In 1914, when the king of Ƙayan Maradun, Ibrahim (1903-1923), requested Usman's presence as his singer in Maradun, Makaɗa Usman Maradun accepted the invitation and relocated there. At that time, Abdu Kurna was 15 years old, and Musa Ɗanƙwairo was only 5 years old.

    In Maradun, Makaɗa Usman performed for the king, accompanied by his wife Hajiya Rabi, his son Abdu Kurna, his son Musa Ɗanƙwairo, and his maids. As Makaɗa Usman grew older, he eventually retired from performing and passed the responsibility to his son, Makaɗa Abdu Kurna.

    4.6.2 The youthful years of Abdu Kurna

    Makaɗa Abdu Kurna had a brief period of studying the Qur'an, but his true passion and focus lay in farming. However, as time went on, he developed a deep interest in singing and drumming. This newfound passion for music became his primary pursuit, and he dedicated himself to honing his skills as a singer and drummer.

    4.6.3 Apprenticeship and early years of singing:

    Makaɗa Abdu Kurna learned the art of singing and drumming from his father, Usman. He began his musical journey by mastering farmers' songs. Once he had gained proficiency in these songs, he ventured out to nearby villages to showcase his talent.

    During his performances of farmers' songs, Makaɗa Kurna captivated audiences of all backgrounds, ranging from the chief of farmers and his esteemed subordinates like the Ɗan Galadiman Noma, Jagaban Noma, and Gojen Noma, to courageous and hardworking ordinary farmers. He sang a vast repertoire of farmers' songs, gaining recognition and popularity.

    As Makaɗa Kurna was establishing himself as a farmers' musician, his father retired from performing and entrusted him with the honor of singing for the district head of Maradun, the Sarkin Ƙayan Maradun, Muhammadu (1928-1939), and Abubakar (1939-1964). He also became the lead musician for the village head of Birnin Ƙaya, the Sarkin Ɓurmi Sule, as well as the Sarkin Ɓurmin Birnin Ƙaya Jayi and Ɗangaladima Mamman (Gusau, 1996: 74).

    In addition to his association with the Sarakunan (kings of) Ƙayan Maradun and Ɓurmin Birnin Ƙaya, Makaɗa Kurna performed for various other monarchs, including:

    i. The Mafara District Head, Muhammadu Maccido

    ii. District Head of Mafara, the Sarkin Gabas Shehu

    iii. Village Head of Gora, the Sarkin Ƙayan Gora

    iv. Village Head of Jangebe, the Sarkin Ƙayan Jangebe

    v. Village Head of Morai, Banaga Dari Abu

    vi. District Head of Maru, the Banagan Maru Sule

    vii. District Head of Anka, the Sarkin Zamfaran Anka

    viii. District Head of Bakura, the Sarkin Ɓurmin Bakura

    ix. Village Head of Kanoma

    Makaɗa Abdu Kurna's musical prowess and versatility allowed him to leave an indelible mark on the music scene, entertaining audiences and earning the respect of royalty throughout his career.

    4.7 Idi Ɗangiwa Zuru (1893)

    MakaɗƊangiwa Zuru, whose given name is Idrisu, hailed from a family with his father named Mamuda and his mother named Ginau. Due to his distinctiveness, he earned the nickname "Ɗangiwa," and upon his return to Zuru, he came to be known as Ɗangiwa Zuru.

    Idrisu was born in the town of Rimi, situated within the district of Bakura, in the year 1893.

    4.7.1 Ɗangiwa Zuru’s Father, Makaɗa Mamuda (1843)

    Idi Ɗangiwa Zuru's father, a farmers' musician, primarily performed within the emirate of Bakura, and although he occasionally traveled for his performances, his range of travel was limited. Idi learned and absorbed his father's music during his early childhood. However, by the time Idi began singing, his father had already passed away. (Gusau, 1996: 83)

    4.7.2 His Early Years

    In addition to his Quranic education, Idi Ɗangiwa Zuru received practical training as a singer under the guidance of his father's friend, Makaɗa Tunau. Alongside his younger brother Sule, Idi served as an apprentice to Makaɗa Tunau, who was renowned for his mastery of the Kotso and the farmer's drum. Together, they embarked on various journeys, visiting towns such as Sakkwato, Argungu, Gwandu, Katsina, and Zariya.

    During their time in Katsina, specifically the times of Korau, Idi and his mentor Makaɗa Tunau found patronage under Prince Abdu, the son of the emir of Katsina, Abubakar (1887-1904). Prince Abdu held the position of district head in Tsakiya before being transferred to Safana. It was in Safana that Idi Ɗangiwa was given the freedom to pursue his career independently from Makaɗa Tunau and his family, marking a significant milestone in his artistic journey. (Gusau, 1996: 84-s)

     4.7.3 Ɗangiwa Zuru’s Independence

    After being granted the freedom to pursue his vocation, Ɗangiwa Zuru relocated to Ruma in Katsina, where he began performing palace music at the district head’s palace under the patronage of Sarki Abubakar. He spent a year in Ruma before moving on to Wonaka in Gusau, where he sang for Kogon Wonaka, Adudu. Following Adudu's passing, Ɗangiwa moved to Faskari and performed at the palace of Kogo Musa for three years.

    Subsequently, Ɗangiwa Zuru traveled to Zuru in Kebbi state during the reign of Mafaran Dabai Muhammadu Sani. He remained in Zuru for three years until Dabai ascended the throne of Zuru after the death of his predecessor. At that point, Ɗangiwa Zuru relocated to Zuru permanently, adopting the alias that almost replaced his given name.

    Upon the death of Sarki Sani, Dabai Ɗantudu became the ruler of Zuru, and Makaɗa Idi Ɗangiwa came under his patronage. He remained in Zuru until the reign of Usman Danga.

    With the permission of his patron, MakaɗƊangiwa Zuru traveled to various places to perform, including Sokoto, Yawuri, Kwantagora, Kaduna, Zariya, Kano, and many others. He had the opportunity to perform for several kings, including the Emir of Yawuri Muhammdu Tukur and Sarkin Yawuri Shi’aibu, Sultan Abubakar III, the District Head of Sakaba, Emir of Kano Ado Bayero, Emir of Zazzau, District Head of Fakai Isa, District Head of of Wasagu, Emir of Katsina, and Emir of Kwantagora. (Gusau, 1996: 85).

    4.7.4 Musical Instruments

    He was known for using three instruments: 1- Farming drum 2- Toho (kotso) drum -3 when he became independent, he used the tafashe.

    4.8 Alhaji Muhammadu Sarkin Taushen Katsina (1911-1990)

    Muhammadu was born in the town of Goran Namaye, located in the district of Maradun, in the year 1911. Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was still a young child. As a result, Muhammadu was taken to live with his relatives in Rimi, Bakura. At the age of around seven years old, he left his birthplace and settled in Rimi.

    In Rimi, Muhammadu's mother remarried, and she gave birth to two more sons, Tunau and Ada. Muhammadu grew up in Rimi under the care of his mother and stepfather. He spent his formative years in Rimi until he reached the age of 17 when he was married off to a wife chosen for him.

    4.8.1 His Early Years

    Mamman grew up with determination and talent for composition. He studied the Holy Qur’an and some books of Islamic knowledge (Gusau,1996: 91).

    Muhammadu did not inherit singing and drumming. He started by singing youthful songs and the Tashe in the month of Ramadan. From there, he started singing songs for the village head of Rimi. However, his relatives objected to his choice of career and commanded him to stop singing. This was the situation when a certain man in Rimi, by the name Magawata, sought the approval of their village head to make the taushe for him. Muhammadu started playing music with the taushe, and without any backup singer. His first song was dedicated to the village head of Rimi, thus:

     He has defeated warlords like Ɗankuru,

     This is the strong pillar of war,

     He is Abubakar the son Muhammadu,

     Who fights like the return of Abdu son Jalli.

     (Gusau, 1996: 93)

    Muhammadu was singing his Taushi songs in Rimi, then he left for Katsina around the year 1938. At Katsina, the Emir of Katsina Muhammadu Dikko, had a certain Molo performer called Sodangi of Bakura, who was born in the town of Rimi. He was the chief singer of the Emir. Sodangi was a brother to Mamman, in fact, he was his father. It was in Katsina that he performed taushe to his death. Upon his demise, the emir was informed about the visiting taushi performer, who is the son of the late chief taushi performer, Sodangi. The emir sent for Mamman, and asked him to play from the talent God had blessed him with. He sang for him thus:

     Oh my king, accept me wholeheartedly, for I am not a devilish person,

     For only a devilish person get rejected,

     I am but your singer, I came to sing for you,

     You are the defeater, Korau of Waziri Dikko,

     The leader who supports his kiths,

     I repent, I follow Allah’s injunctions and I follow the Prophetic injunctions,

     I also obey you, Oh Sarkin Fada

     Do not forsake me alone, I have no helper.

    The emir called the backup singers of Sodangi and installed Makaɗa Tundu as the new leader of the group. He, Mamman, followed Tundun until his demise, upon which he became the leader of Taushin Katsina.

    He sang for the following emirs:

    1. Sultan Abubakar III (1938-1988)
    2. Emir of Zazzau Ibrahim (1924-1937)
    3. Emir of Zazzau Jafaru (1937-1959)
    4. Emir of Zazzau Muhammadu Aminu (1959-1975)
    5. Emir of Kano Abudullahi Bayero 1926-1953
    6. Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi 1953-1963
    7. Emir of Kano Ado Bayero (1963-2014)
    8. Emir Hadeja Haruna Mainasara da sauransu.

    4.8.2 The genres of his songs

    1. Songs of royalty
    2. Political songs
    3. Social songs
    4. Songs of the rich.

    Among the wealthy individuals he sang for are:

    1. Alhaji Haruna Danja –Zariya
    2. Alhaji Barau Yaro –Katsina
    3. Alhaji Haruna Katsina-Kano
    4. Alhaji Shehu Aminu Sarkin Sharifai Sakkwato

    He died on Thursday 31 May 1990.

    4.9 Sarkin Taushi Tunau (Magajin Mamman)

    Muhammadu Tunau, hailing from the village of Goran Namaye in Maradun Emirate, Zamfara State, came into the world in 1929. In the year 1952, accompanied by his elder sister Halima, he embarked on a significant journey to Katsina. Their purpose was to pay a special visit to a woman named Kaka, who happened to be the younger sister of Sarkin Taushe Mamman.

    Although Tunau's primary occupation revolved around farming, his visit to his elder brother in Katsina presented an opportunity to immerse himself in the world of music alongside Sarkin Taushe Mamman. Tunau actively assisted him in performing captivating songs.

    Following the passing of Muhammadu, Tunau stepped into the role of Sarkin Taushe and received his turban in the year 1990. Tunau shared a special bond as a brother to Sarkin Taushe Mamman, along with their mutual connection to Kaka.

    4.10 Alhaji Musa Dankwairo Maradun (1909-1991)

    Musa Ɗankwairo, born in 1909 in the village of Ɗankadu in the district of Bakura, Zamfara State, was blessed with parents named Usman Ɗankwanada and 'Yarnunu. His nickname, Ƙwairo, derived from his maternal uncle's name. When Usman, his father, ceased performing, Musa stepped in as his backup singer. It was during this transition that Musa's father declared the replacement of Ƙwairo with Ɗankwairo, thus establishing his new name (Gusau, 1996: 104).

    Living in the village of Ɗankadu within the Bakura district, Makaɗa Usman and his family catered to the musical needs of both farmers and royalty. In 1914, when Musa was merely five years old, they accepted an invitation from the Sarkin Ƙayan Maradun, Ibrahim (1903-1923), to serve as court musicians. Relocating to Maradun, they brought their talents to the king's court, beginning a new chapter in their musical journey.

    4.10.1 His Early Years

    Ɗanƙwairo resided in the town of Ƙayan Maradun, where he led a life characterized by diligence, obedience, and discipline. Though he did not have the opportunity to pursue Quranic studies, he displayed remarkable intelligence, industry, and a natural aptitude for music. Additionally, his talent extended to possessing an excellent memory, allowing him to easily retain and recall information he acquired from others. Moreover, he held great respect for his elders and demonstrated a commendable level of reverence towards them.

    4.10.2 His Father’s Musical Status

    Musa Ɗanƙwairo's father, Makaɗa Usman, was highly regarded as a skilled farmers' musician in the Bakura region even prior to his relocation to Ƙayan Maradun. His musical talents extended beyond entertaining farmers, as he had the privilege of performing for royalty as well. Accompanying his performances were the enchanting sounds of the white drum and the Kotso, two instruments that were passed down to him from his father, Makaɗa Kaka. Makaɗa Kaka himself was renowned for his ability to captivate audiences with his music, whether it be during times of war or during the agricultural season, demonstrating his versatility as a musician. (Gusau,1996: 105)

    4.10.3 Early Years of His Musical Career

    From the age of 7, which was in the year 1916, Musa Ɗanƙwairo began his musical education under the guidance of his father, Usman. He started by learning to play the Kanzagi and gradually progressed to the role of a backup musician, following the traditional apprenticeship path. In addition to his father, he also learned from his older brother, Audu Kurna, accompanying him on performances in various towns and villages.

    Ɗanƙwairo's musical journey led him to become a musician of 'Yandoton Tsahe, upon the request of 'Yandoto Alhaji Aliyu II. Makaɗa Abdu Kurna, recognizing the talent of Musa Ɗanƙwairo, entrusted him as his younger brother's musician after 'Yandoto Alhaji Aliyu II ascended to the throne in the year 1960. Subsequently, Ɗanƙwairo migrated to Tsafe, further expanding his musical horizons.

    Ɗanƙwairo sang varieties of songs which include:

    1. Farmers’ songs
    2. Dirges
    3. Political songs
    4. Social songs
    5. Popular songs
    6. Court songs for royalty

    4.11 Sa’idu Faru (1932)

    Sa'idu Faru was born in the town of Faru in the Maradun district in the year 1932. He acquired the nickname "Ɗan'umma" after his maternal uncle's wife, whom he referred to as Umma instead of mentioning her name. His father, makaɗa Abubkar Ɗan Abdu, descended from a lineage of musicians. His grandfather, makaɗa Abdu Aliyu Mai Kurya, was also a musician who performed numerous songs during times of war.

    While Sa'idu Faru was enrolled in a Qur'anic school and received an education, his true passion and interest lay in music. Despite his studies, his inclination and dedication were always towards the world of music.

    4.11.1 Early Career

    Sa'idu Faru learned music from his father, makaɗa Abubakar, who was his mentor and guide in the art of singing. At the tender age of 10, Sa'idu started accompanying his father to musical performances, gaining valuable experience and exposure. By the time he reached the age of 16, he had developed his skills to the point where he began singing as a backup vocalist.

    His talent and dedication earned him opportunities to sing for esteemed figures such as Ibrahim, the Sarkin Yamman Faru. He continued to showcase his musical prowess by entertaining princesses with his melodious tunes. Eventually, he had the privilege of meeting the Sarkin Kudu Maccido, who held the prestigious title of Sarkin Gabas, symbolizing his role as the village head of Talatar Mafara.

    4.11.2 Varieties of his songs

     Sa’idu Faru did not sing for anybody, except kings or individuals with royal blood. Among the songs he sang are:

    1. Sarkin Yamman Faru Ibrahim
    2. Sarkin Kiyawa Abubakar Ƙaura –Namoda
    3. Sarkin yaƙin Banga Sule da Abubakar
    4. Sarkin Gabas na Mafara Muhammadu
    5. Sarkin Musulmi Abubakar III
    6. Sarkin Yawuri Alhaji Muhammadu Tukur
    7. Sarkin Sudan na Wurno Alhaji Shehu
    8. Sarkin Kano Ado Bayero
    9. Turakin Kano Ahmadu
    10. Sarkin Kudu Muhammadu Maccido

    4.12 Sarki Taushi Muhammadu Ɗanbunguɗu (1928)

    His given name was Alhaji Muhammadu, but he was also known by several other nicknames. One of his nicknames, Ɗanbunguɗu, originated from the fact that his parents had migrated to Bunguɗu, where he was born. However, before he was officially named, his family relocated to Tangaza in 1928, and he was named Muhammadu, which led to him being called Ɗantangaza. Another nickname he had was Ɗansakkwato, as his mother conceived him in Sokoto.

    His father, makaɗa Alu Ɗan Muhammadu Dodo Maitabshi, was born during the reign of Hanafi Ɗan Halilu (1876-188). His father, Dodo Mai tabshi, had traveled to that region for his music career and was born there. Makaɗa Alu had many children who unfortunately passed away in infancy. Muhammadu Ɗangwandu was his 17th child and the only surviving child who inherited his father's musical vocation.

    Mamman Ɗanbunguɗu, originally hailing from Bakura, belonged to the Burmawa (Kanuri) ethnic group. His lineage can be traced back to his grandfather, Muhammadu Dodo Mai Tabshi, and his parents, who were also natives of Bakura. Mamman was given the name Usman Maidawa by his father, Dodo. The distinctive Burmanci tribal marks adorned by Mamman and his family served as a significant identifier of their affiliation with the Burmawa ethnic group (Gusau, 1996: 129).

    4.12.1 His Early Years

    Makaɗa Muhammadu demonstrated a strong commitment to education and immersed himself in Islamic studies, focusing on the teachings of the Qur'an. He displayed exceptional diligence and a remarkable ability to learn and memorize quickly. Throughout his educational journey, he received instruction from various esteemed teachers, including Malam Majidaɗi, Malam Sahabi, Malam Audu, Malam Mamman Ɗanƙarami, Malam Balarabe, and his paternal uncle, Malam Jibirilu Ɗan Dodo Mai tabshi. He delved into a wide range of scholarly works, including Usulu Al-Ilmi, Ahlari, ƙawa'idi, Ishmawi, Iziyya, Risala, Ishriniya, and numerous others.

    4.13 Buda Ɗantanoma (1858-1933)

    Makaɗa Muhammadu, hailing from the town of Kilgori, was the son of Muhammadu and Tanoma. Born in Kilgori, his ancestral roots trace back to Bazamfare through his mother's lineage, as she hailed from the town of Zurmi. Makaɗa Muhammadu served as a court musician, skillfully playing the instrument known as "Kotso," which was also referred to as "Zakka" in certain regions like Yabo (Gusau, 1996: 18).

    4.14 Abubakar Akwara (1876-1962)

    Born in the town of Nabatsami within the Gwaranyo region, which emerged as a settlement following the Jihad in the 19th Century, Abubakar Akwara was the son of makaɗa Muhammadu Ɗankwado, who, in turn, was the son of makaɗa Abubakar Dakwata.

    4.15 Makaɗa Muhammadu Ɗankwado (1836-1916)

    Makaɗa Muhammadu Ɗankwado's father was Abubakar Ɗankwado, a renowned war musician. He skillfully sang war songs for the king of Gobir, Ibrahim Babari (1742-1770), employing the melodious kuwaru instrument, also known as turu. Born in the year 1836 in the town of Nabatsami (Gusau, 1996: 25), Muhammadu Ɗankwado adeptly utilized the Kuwaru instrument to perform famous songs. Subsequently, he expanded his repertoire to include war songs. He held the esteemed position of personal musician to the Sarkin Yaƙin Gobir Maje na Gwaranyo, and later transitioned to playing the drum.

    5.0 The Place of Singing in the Hausaland

    Singing possesses the remarkable ability to energize the soul and provide the necessary motivation to tackle challenging tasks. It has the power to strengthen one's determination, alleviate boredom, and alleviate the difficulties of long journeys. Singing can also serve as a remedy for loneliness, uplifting the spirit and increasing overall happiness.

    During the 18th century, Hausa caravans of Kola traders would be accompanied by praise singers from Hausaland, riding on the backs of donkeys, all the way to Gwanja. These singers would entertain the traders with a variety of songs, lightening the burden of travel and providing relaxation. Over time, some Hausa praise singers found themselves in non-Hausa regions like Ghana, spreading their musical tradition.

    The singing of oral poetry and chants has been known to dispel boredom, ease the fatigue of manual labor, and boost motivation. This was particularly significant during the pre-colonial wars, where songs played a vital role in uplifting the spirits of warriors and maintaining their focus during challenging times.

    The role of praise singers in entertaining and composing songs for rulers is noteworthy. Emirs from different parts of Hausaland often requested oral poets from Zamfara to entertain them and create songs in their honor. For instance, the Emir of Argungu once requested the District Head of Shuni to allow his praise singer, Aliyu Ɗandawo, to visit and perform for him.

    It is worth mentioning that various locations such as Shuni, Alƙalawa, Dancaɗi, Jabo, Dingyaɗi, Shagari, Tureta, Bakura, Sabon Birnin Gobir, Isa, and Sokoto were all part of Zamfara territory before the expansion of Gobirawa, Ɓurmawa, and Fulani influence. Thus, when older people express their intention to travel to Sokoto, they often say, "Zan tafi Hausa," meaning "I am going to Hausa," as Zamfara is considered part of the Hausa state.

    6.0 Conclusion

    Singing in Hausaland is characterized by the rhythmic utterance of words, often accompanied by music, poetry, and prose. It serves as a powerful means of expression, conveying messages with systematic rhythm and intonation. Singing has been observed to energize the soul, strengthen determination, alleviate boredom, counter loneliness, and enhance happiness. The major groups of Hausa traditional singers include Makaɗan Fada, (the court musicians) who exclusively praise royalty, and traditional occupational singers who compose songs for specific professions. The latter group travels between villages and markets, accompanied by dancers, and plays a crucial role in celebrating and honoring blacksmiths, hunters, and other occupational groups. Tracing back to history, singing played a significant role. During the 18th century, praise singers from Hausaland accompanied Kola traders on arduous journeys, providing relaxation and alleviating the burdens of travel. Poetry and chants also impacted greatly in motivating warriors. As per the significance of singing in the political domain, emirs and rulers from different regions of Hausaland sought the services of oral poets and singers to entertain them and compose songs in their honor. This highlights the cultural importance and demand for singing as a form of artistic expression and entertainment. The paper has highlighted and emphasized the historical connection between Zamfara and the broader Hausa states. It notes Zamfara as being part of the Hausa territory and highlights the intertwined relationship between different towns and territories within the region.


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    [1] Researchers that believed in this historical origin include Nadama, (1997), Nalado, (1999) and Gusau, (2009).