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Bayajidda

Bayajidda

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Bayajidda is a character from the tradional history of the Hausa people
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

 of Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and the central figure of the Bayajidda Legend. The various versions of the legend differ on major points, but generally agree that early immigrants came to the western region of Lake Chad from the Near East.
Most accounts say that Bayajidda came from Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, traveled across the Sahara, and arrived in the Kanem-Bornu Empire
Kanem-Bornu Empire
The Kanem-Bornu Empire existed in modern Chad and Nigeria. It was known to the Arabian geographers as the Kanem Empire from the 9th century AD onward and lasted as the independent kingdom of Bornu until 1900. At its height it encompassed an area covering not only much of Chad, but also parts of...

, where he married a local princess. Tensions with her father, the king, forced him to flee; leaving his wife in Hadejia
Hadejia
Hadejia is a Hausa town in eastern Jigawa State, northern Nigeria. The population was approximately 47,400 . The people of Hadejia are largely Muslim, although some follow indigenous belief systems...

, where she delivered his first son, he made his way to Gaya
Gaya, Niger
Gaya is a city in the Dosso Region of Niger. The city is situated 254 km southeast of the capital, Niamey, is located on the banks of the Niger River, and is near the borders with Benin and Nigeria. Gaya has a population of 28,385 . The wettest area in Niger, Gaya averages 800 mm in...

, where he had the local blacksmiths forge him a knife. With this knife and his sword, Bayajidda proceeded to the final point on his journey, the city of Daura
Daura
Daura is a city, emirate, and Local Government Area in Katsina State, northern Nigeria. It is the spiritual home of the Hausa people.The University of California's African American Studies Department refers to Daura, as well as Katsina, as having been "ancient seats of Islamic culture and...

, where he slew a serpent that had been terrorizing the townspeople. In gratitude for this heroic deed Magajiya Daurama, the local queen, married him. He had one child, Bawo, with Daurama, and Bawo's own children are said to have gone on - together with a child of his first wife - to found the seven Hausa states. While some scholars believe that Bayajidda was an historical figure, others hold the view that he did not actually exist, but is instead a personification of a group of immigrant people from a more or less distant region.

Migration from Canaan


The palace version of the legend begins with the account of a massive migration of people from Canaan under the leadership of Najib whom the local informants identify with Nimrod
Nimrod
Nimrod means "Hunter"; was a Biblical Mesopotamian king mentioned in the Table of Nations; an eponym for the city of Nimrud.Nimrod can also refer to any of the following:*Nimród Antal, a director...

. After the crossing of the Sahara the leadership was assumed by successive queens until finally Magajiya Daurama led the people to a well with a snake where the people founded the city of Daura
Daura
Daura is a city, emirate, and Local Government Area in Katsina State, northern Nigeria. It is the spiritual home of the Hausa people.The University of California's African American Studies Department refers to Daura, as well as Katsina, as having been "ancient seats of Islamic culture and...

.

The hero's departure from Baghdad and his stay in Borno


According to the legend, Bayajidda was a prince from Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 (the capital of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

) and son of King Abdullahi, but he was exiled from his home town after Queen Zidam, also known as Zigawa, had conquered the city. Once he left Baghdad, he traveled across Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 with numerous warriors and arrived in Borno.

Once in Borno, tales differ as to what caused tension with the local king. According to one story, Bayajidda realized his forces were stronger than those of the king; because of this, he planned to overthrow him. However, the king heard of the plot and, after consulting with his advisors, gave Bayajidda his daughter, Magaram (also known as Magira),in marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

. Later, when the king attacked and took over several towns, he tricked his new son-in-law into leaving his own men to guard the towns, thereby decreasing the number of men Bayajidda had at his disposal. Bayajidda realized that he was being tricked when he had only his wife and one slave left; during the night, they fled to Garun Gabas, now situated in the Hadeja region. While there, Magaram gave birth to Bayajidda's first child, Biram the eponymous ancestor of the petty kingdom of Gabas-ta-Biram ("east of Biram").

However, according to another version of the story, Bayajidda was welcomed into Borno, married Magaram and became popular among the people. Because of this, the king envied him and plotted against him; upon being informed of this by his wife, he fled Borno with her.

Arrival in Daura and slaying of the serpent


Bayajidda left his wife and child in Garun Gabas and continued on to the village of Gaya near Kano - which others believe to be Gaya
Gaya, Niger
Gaya is a city in the Dosso Region of Niger. The city is situated 254 km southeast of the capital, Niamey, is located on the banks of the Niger River, and is near the borders with Benin and Nigeria. Gaya has a population of 28,385 . The wettest area in Niger, Gaya averages 800 mm in...

 in modern Niger
Niger
Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

 - , where he had the local blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

s make him a knife. He then came to the town of Daura
Daura
Daura is a city, emirate, and Local Government Area in Katsina State, northern Nigeria. It is the spiritual home of the Hausa people.The University of California's African American Studies Department refers to Daura, as well as Katsina, as having been "ancient seats of Islamic culture and...

 (located in modern day Katsina State
Katsina State
Katsina State is a state in northern Nigeria. Its capital is Katsina, and its governor is Ibrahim Shema, a member of the People's Democratic Party...

), where he entered a house and asked an old woman for water. She informed him that a serpent named Sarki (sarki is the Hausa
Hausa language
Hausa is the Chadic language with the largest number of speakers, spoken as a first language by about 25 million people, and as a second language by about 18 million more, an approximate total of 43 million people...

 word for king
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

) guarded the well and that the people were only allowed to draw water once a week. Bayajidda set out for the well and killed the serpent with the sword and beheaded it with the knife the blacksmiths had made for him, after which he drank the water, put the head in a bag, and returned to the old woman's house. (The well where this is said to have happened is nowadays a tourist attraction.)

The next day, the people of Daura gathered at the well, wondering who had killed the snake; Magajiya Daurama, the local queen, offered sovereignty over half the town to whoever could prove that he killed the snake. Several men brought snake heads forth, but the heads did not match the body. The old woman, owner of the house Bayajidda was staying in, informed the queen that her guest had slain it, after which Daurama summoned Bayajidda. Having presented the snake's head, proving to her that he was the one who had slain Sarki, he turned down the offer of half the town, instead requesting her hand in marriage; she married him out of gratitude for slaying the serpent.

Relationship with Magajiya Daurama



Because it was against the custom of the people of Daura for their queens to marry, Daurama made a compromise with Bayajidda and said she would only have sexual intercourse with him later; because of this, she gave him a concubine
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

 named Bagwariya. (according to the oral palace version of the legend, Daurama gave him Bagwariya because she wanted to break her "queenly vow to remain a virgin," but had to undergo rituals to do so.)

Bagwariya had a son fathered by Bayajidda and she named himKarap da Gari, or Karbagari which means "he snatched the town" in Hausa
Hausa language
Hausa is the Chadic language with the largest number of speakers, spoken as a first language by about 25 million people, and as a second language by about 18 million more, an approximate total of 43 million people...

. This worried Daurama, and when she had a son of her own (also fathered by Bayajidda), she named him Bawo which means "give it back".

Two groups of descendants


Throughout his life, Bayajidda is said to have fathered three children with three different women. Bawo fathered six of his own sons, whose names were Daura, Gobir, Kano, Katsina, Rano, and Zaria (also known as Zazzau
Zazzau
The Zazzau, also known as the Zaria Emirate is a traditional state with headquarters in the city of Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.As of 2010 the emir was Alhaji Muhammad Bello Idris.-Early Hausa kingdom:...

).
Together with Biram, the son of Magaram, these seven went on to rule the seven "legitimate" Hausa states, the Hausa Bakwai.
(Some versions of the tale leave Bawo and Magaram out entirely, with Biram, Daura, Gobir, Kano, Katsina, Rano, and Zaria being the sons of Bayajidda and Daurama). Karbagari's descendants, meanwhile, founded the seven "illegitimate" states, the Banza Bakwai.

Social embeddedness of the legend


The different figures of the Bayajidda narrative were embodied by precise officials of the former Daura kingdom: the king represented Bayajidda, the official queen mother Magajiya Daurama and the official royal sister Bagwariya.

Re-enactment during the Gani/Mawlūd festival


Formerly the celebrations of the Mawlūd or Gani festival consisted in the re-enactements of the major details of the legend: departure from Canaan, slaying of the snake in the well and marriage between the hero and the queen. The royal sword and the knife are still believed to have been those ones used for the slaying of the dragon and the cutting of its head.

Repercussions on other regional traditions


The Bayajidda legend is widely known at the courts of the "Seven Hausa" kings where it is considered to correspond to the oldest known history of Hausaland. As already observed by the traveller Heinrich Barth
Heinrich Barth
Heinrich Barth was a German explorer of Africa and scholar.Barth is one of the greatest of the European explorers of Africa, not necessarily because of the length of his travels or the time he spent alone without European company in Africa, but because of his singular character.-Biography:Barth...

 the basic division between the Seven Hausa and the Seven Banza is used among the Songhay to distinguish between the northern hausa and the southern gurma side of the River Niger.

Historical meaning


There are a variety of views on the Bayajidda story, with differing opinions on the meaning and historicity of the tale. Some scholars suppose that Bayajidda is an historical person, the founder of the Seven Hausa states, and contemporary Hausa royals - especially those in Daura and Abuja (Zazzau) - trace their lineage to and draw their authority from him (see Kano Chronicle
Kano Chronicle
The Kano Chronicle is a written account of the history of the Hausa people who inhabit northern Nigeria. Although it relates only to Kano, it is typically drawn upon to explain the early history of the Hausa as a whole...

). By contrast, others claim that Bayajidda never existed.

Ancient history


Dierk Lange, a German professor, contends that the story parallels the biblical story of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Sarah
Sarah
Sarah or Sara was the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran. Her name was originally Sarai...

, and Hagar
Hagar (Bible)
Hagar , according to the Abrahamic faiths, was the second wife of Abraham, and the mother of his first son, Ishmael. Her story is recorded in the Book of Genesis, mentioned in Hadith, and alluded to in the Qur'an...

. He compares Bayajidda to Abraham (while also noting the similarity between Biram and Abraham's names), Magaram/Magajia to Sarah, and Bagwariya to Hagar, and says that the Hausa Bakwai are cognate to the Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

, while the Banza Bakwai correlate with the Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

ites/Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s. According to this theory, the legend was introduced to Hausaland together with the corresponding social institutions of the Canaanite state during the first millenium BCE by ancient Near Eastern immigrants influenced by Israelite traditions.

Medieval history


W. K. R. Hallam argues that Bayajidda represents a "folk personification" of the supporters of Abu Yazid
Abu Yazid
Abū Yazīd Mukhallad ibn Kayrād , nicknamed Ṣāhib al-Himār "Possessor of the donkey", was a Kharijite Berber of the Banu Ifran tribe who led a rebellion against the Fatimids in Ifriqiya starting in 944...

, (a the tenth-century Kharijite
Kharijites
Kharijites is a general term embracing various Muslims who, while initially supporting the authority of the final Rashidun Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law and cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, then later rejected his leadership...

 Berber rebel), whose followers fled southwards from North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 after Yazid's defeat by and death at the hands of Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

s. According to this theory, the Hausa states would have been founded by Kharijite refugees in the tenth century CE.
Elizabeth Isichei, in her work A History of African Societies to 1870, suggests that Bayajidda's stay in Borno prior to arriving in Hausaland is "perhaps a folk memory of origins on the Borno borderland, or a reflection of Borno political and cultural dominance."

Symbolical history


One view is that the story of the marriage of Bayajidda and Daurama symbolizes the merger of Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 and Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

tribes in North and West Africa.

Biblical Anthropologist, Alice C. Linsley, maintains that Bayajidda's closest biblical counterpart is Cain http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2010/01/conversation-with-hausa-muslim.html. Cain is said to have fled from his father, married a princess who he met at a well, and was involved with metalworkers. Most of the heroes of Genesis met their wives at sacred wells or springs. Abraham married Keturah at the Well of Sheba (Beersheva). Issac (Yitzak) found a wife at a well in Aram. Moses encountered his wife at a well sacred to the Midianites and won her hand after he delivered the women and flocks from Egyptian raiders.

The antiquity of the Hausa origins account is believed to be attested by the role which water plays in the story. In the ancient world shrines were built along rivers and at wells or springs from West Central Africa to the Indus River Valley. Serpents inhabited these places and were both venerated and feared. In Sanskrit serpent is naaga, in Hebrew nahash, and in Hausa the serpent is naja.

In his 1989 book An Imperial Twilight, Gawain Bell suggests that the marriage of Bayajidda and Daurama signals a "change from a matriarchal to a patriarchal system." (Prior to the arrival of Bayajidda, the Daura monarchy would have been exclusively female.)

External links

(Includes audio file of pronunciation of Bayajidda.)