Dallazawa clan in Katsina: The travails of a dynasty

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The origin of the Dallazawa clan and their coming to Katsina are issues that have been explained by notable research works of many historians, amongst whom are two famous historians, namely Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman and Issaka Dankoussou in their books – The Transformation of Katsina (1400 – 1883) and Katsina Traditions Historiques des Katsina après la Jihad, respectively. Some historians believed Dallazawa were an original Fulani clan from the Sene-Gambia confluence, who have their origin from Fulani Baawa who are descendants of Nasi, the Son of Ukba. Katsina residents stage another protest over rising insecurity Police kill 8 bandits, recover 30 cows in Katsina Ukba being the progenitor of the Fulani tribe. Researchers continued to explain that from the Sene-Gambia Confluence the Dallazawa clan moved eastwards along the River Niger and finally settled in Borno. It was further explained that from their settlement in Borno the Dallazawa started migrating along with their herds of cattle into the territories of Katsina around the 8th Century AD. Another view has it that the Dallazawa clan originated from the Arabian Peninsula from where they migrated into the Sudan and settled at Garwa, in between the Sudan and Cameroon, from where they moved into Borno and finally into Katsina territories. A group of historians holding this view further explained that the Dallazawa were Arab nomads from Hijaz Region and migrated into the territories of North Africa moving back and forth with their cattle between Egypt and Libya spanning a very long period of time along the Nile River until they arrived into the territories of Sudan and later Borno where they settled for a very long time, and inter-married with the Borno Fulani tribes.   It was from this settlement that the Dallazawa clan moved further westwards with their cattle avoiding major towns and villages until they arrived in the territories of Katsina where some of them settled at a place called Dasije near Dallaje in present Bindawa District. Mallam Umarun Dallaje the acknowledged ancestor of the Dallazawa clan is the son of Mallam Abdulmumini and the grandson of Mallam  Muhammadu Goshi, who was the leader of the Dallazawa immigrants that settled at Dasije. It was from this settlement in Dasije that Mallam Umaru got to know about Shehu Usman Danfodio and started visiting him to further his religious education, until he eventually became one of Shehu’s closest disciples responsible for the custody of his books during preaching expeditions. With the commencement of the Jihad in 1804, Mallam Umaru became one of Shehu’s warriors that participated actively in such prominent battles like that of Tafkin Kwato, Alkalawa and Alwasa.   After these expeditions, Mallam Umaru was instructed by Muhammadu Bello, the son of Shehu to launch the Jihad in the territories of Katsina. The Jihadists under the leadership of Mallam Umaru sacked the Habe rulers and took over Katsina in 1806, and Mallam Umarun Dallaje became the first Fulani Emir of Katsina under the Sokoto Caliphate. Mallam Umaru therefore ruled Katsina Emirate from 1806 to 1836 and was subsequently succeeded by other emirs from his lineage, as follows:- One minute around the Atlantis – The Palm – Dubai Copy video url Play / Pause Mute / Unmute Report a problem Language Mox Player (i) Emir Saddiku                       – 1836 – 1844 Son of Mallam Umaru (ii) Emir Muhammadu Bello – 1844 – 1869 Son of Mallam Umaru (iii) Emir Ahmadu Rufai     – 1869 – 1870 Son of Mallam Umaru (iv) Emir Ibrahim                   – 1870 – 1882 Son of Muhammadu Bello (v) Emir Mallam Musa          – 1882 – 1887 Son of Mallam Umaru (vi) Emir Abubakar               – 1887 – 1905 Son of Emir Ibrahim (vii) Emir Mallam Yero        – 1905 – 1906 Son of Emir Musa The British colonialists under the leadership of Sir Frederick Lugard came to Katsina from Sokoto in 1903 during the reign of Emir Abubakar Ibrahim. They were received at Kofar Yandaka by the Emir and his entourage, comprising his son Yarima Abdulkadir, Magayaki and Durbi Muhammadu Dikko, among others.  After entreaties, Sir Lugard was temporarily accommodated at the Emir’s Rest House (Sansani) in Sararin Kuka, before he eventually relocated to the east of Kofar Durbi where a residency (Bariki) was constructed for him and his aides.  The Residency (Bariki) became the official abode of all British Residents and later District Officers that were posted to Katsina.

Thereafter, the colonialists requested the Emir to appoint his son Yarima  Abdulkadir for liaison between them and the Emir’s Palace, but Emir Abubakar instead appointed Durbi Muhammadu Dikko, explaining that he was equally his son because he was marrying his first daughter. Durbi Muhammadu Dikko is the son of Gidado who was appointed Durbi by Emir Abubakar’s father (Emir Ibrahim).   Durbi Muhammadu Dikko is also the grandson of Dahiru who was appointed to look after the Kofar Sauri Tuaregs trade route north of Katsina by Emir Abubakar’s grandfather (Emir Muhammadu  Bello). As time went by, the erstwhile cordial relationship between Emir Abubakar and the British Officers turned sour, owing to the very well known clash of interests between emirs and colonialists in the area of administration and governance, which in Katsina was fuelled by series of calculated hypocritical machinations of the then palace clique. Eventually, Emir Abubakar was unjustifiably dethroned in 1906 and sent on compulsory exile to Ilorin, as rightly captured by the then Acting Lieutenant Governor, H. R. Palmer, in a book of Confidential Reports of Katsina, where he wrote: “……………. Abu Bakr like other Emirs then, sat on the fence, but he was not disloyal, i.e. actively disloyal, and he was deposed in 1906 for a matter he had nothing to do with, i.e. for putting a dead dog in the Residency well.” Mallam Yero the Son of Emir Musa was appointed to replace dethroned Emir Abubakar.   In less than one year, however, Mallam Yero also became a victim of the same palace intrigues and evil machinations of the palace clique who by then had the ears of the colonialists.   He was also deposed and exiled to Lokoja by the end of 1906.   With the dethronement and exile of Emir Yero, the administration of the Emirate became chaotic and uncertain, and the colonialists became in need of someone experienced in palace administration to hold fort pending the appointment of a new emir.   Explaining this situation further, the Acting Resident Kano, Major Arthur Festing wrote as follows:- “Mr. Palmer and Captain Peebles, the latter strongly, and in favour of electing Durbi as Emir.   Durbi is a fulani but of no particular birth.   He is evidently intelligent and very anxious to please and to fall in with our policy.   Late Captain Phillips and I gather Dr. Cargill also were in favour of electing him, but on going into the question, I note that Dr. Cargill also on one occasion suggested the reinstating of Abubakar mentioning as a precedent the case of Sarkin Sudan being restored to Kontagora.   From what I can ascertain is this would be dangerous as the former Palace Clique is still powerful and would reunite and cause trouble”. Thus Durbi Muhammadu Dikko was appointed to act as Emir.   The Acting Resident Kano stated further: “On receipt of H.E’s wire approving of the Emir to be deposed and Durbi being temporarily installed, I sent out to Resident Katsina telling him  to carry out this order.   In my instructions, I especially noted Durbi was to be made no promise of future Emirship.  

That he was to be the mouthpiece of the Resident in giving orders to the other Chiefs for the time being.   I told Captain Peebles however that he could promise that a new Emir would be installed about the time of the big Salla (January/07) as I think by that time we could see whether Durbi is capable to hold the office and also by that time Dr. Cargill will have returned and can be consulted.   Captain Peebles is holding over the staff of office which was not presented to the present Emir but retained pending my arrival.” Subsequently, Durbi  Muhammadu Dikko was confirmed Emir of Katsina by His Excellency, Mr. W. Wallace, Acting High Commissioner, on 25th January, 1907. Following the dislodgement of the Dallazawa Dynasty, the Dallazawa as a family found itself in a very difficult and precarious situation.

In the first place, this was a family that has grown so large as a ruling family with large number of followers that were completely dependent on it for their means of living. Having lost the throne, all the family members and its followers looked up to Yarima Abdulkadir who was then the Crown Prince. Furthermore, just about two years after losing the throne to Durbi Muhammadu Dikko, members of the Dallazawa family who were holding traditional titles/offices were stripped of these titles/offices.

The situation got to an extent that members of the family had no sense of security and wellbeing in Katsina, which forced them to disperse and migrate to other non-hostile environments. It was under this situation that Yarima Abdulkadir led members of the family, courtiers, palace guards and other well-wishers who remained loyal to the family to relocate and settle in their farms at Tarkama north of Katsina in present Kaita District. In the same vein, other members of the family out of apprehension, desperation and persecution decided to leave Katsina and its environs completely and relocated to places like Kano, Zaria, Jos, Nasarawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba, etc.   A host of other family members relocated and settled in their farms which eventually grew to become many of the towns and villages on the north and northeastern part of Katsina town today. Undoubtedly, the reign of Emir Muhammadu Dikko has adversely affected the progress and wellbeing of the Dallazawa clan as a ruling family in Katsina.  

The matter got to a point where W.F. Gowers under Memo No. 3802/21 wrote to the Resident in Kano reminding him that for quite a number of times since his ascension to the throne, it became necessary for the Resident to caution Emir Muhammadu Dikko against dethroning of title/office holders of other families and appointing his kith and kin.   Gowers stated further that at one time the Emir even attempted to give a member of his family (Basullube) the District Head of Dallaje, after the death of the then incumbent Danyusufa.  

This was confirmed in the report of G.L. Monk (D.O. Katsina) 1915 when he told the Resident, that: “………….At the same time I told him as Mr. Palmer has already told him, the suggestion of giving any further District rank to any other members of his family would not be entertained, and that he must content with the fact that four out of 20 Districts were held by members of his family.”

This was the condition of the Dallazawa family up to the time when Mr. Palmer visited Katsina in 1909 and asked for the whereabouts of Yarima Abdulkadir and insisted on seeing him physically.   When Mr. Palmer eventually met Yarima and his family at Tarkama, he was rudely shocked with the condition of abject poverty and impoverishment in which he met them.   Mr. Palmer instantly directed that the Emir Muhammadu Dikko must carve out a District for Yarima and his family in order to enable him cater for the large family and followership under him.   Thus, in 1909, the Emir carved out Tsaskiya out of Yandaka District and appointed Yarima the District Head.  Tsaskiya was a remote and rocky village with no source of water in the midst of Rugu Forest inhabited by wild animals.   After a few years in Tsaskiya and owing to survival difficulties, Yarima had to look for a safer environment within the district, which resulted in his relocation to Safana in 1928.   Prior to Yarima’s relocation to Safana, the District Officer of Katsina, G.L. Monk, had in October, 1923 reported that:- “During the discussion, I suggested that Yarima might take Makama’s place at Danja and Umaru Yarima’s District of Tsaskiya on the grounds that something ought to be done to the sole representative of the previous dynasty now holding rank; as the present position of Yarima and the rest of Abubakar’s family is somewhat of a scandal and a shame.  

The Emir refused to entertain the suggestion at all as he did in subsequent suggestion that Yarima should have Mashi District, though he consented to an increase of salary.” In a nutshell, the foregoing depicts the story of Dallazawa Dynasty in Katsina.   The family today is represented at Safana, Zakka and Bindawa districts, while teeming members of the clan are settled in cities, towns and villages within and outside Katsina State. It is a pity, however, that notwithstanding the family’s tremendous contributions to the history and development of Katsina, it has remained unrecognized by historians and successive administrations.   It appears today the history and development of Katsina only started in 1907.   History is indeed, on trial.

Danjuma Katsina is a secretary of MD Yusufu Research and Documentation  Centre and can be reached at mdanjumakatsina@gmail.com. 08035904408 This article was culled from a yet-to-be published book on  Dallazawa in Katsina by Dallazawa Unity Assembly.

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