Forgotten heroes: Diggers of Rijiyar Kwakware in Katsina


By muktar yahaya alkatsinawiyyi.

During the yester years of pre and colonial times, when little or none was known for tap water in semi-urban water supply, it was water from lake, rivers and stream sources that were only used for domestic purposes in Katsina. The waters were so untreated, unhygienic, and so they were highly proned to contamination through anthropogenic activities and otherwise. These led to the outbreak of so many water-borne diseases such as cholera, etc.
When the colonial master came in northern region, they set out modalities on how portable hand dug municipal wells could be contracted among communities that would enhance provision of safe domestic water.

Municipal wells were designed to provide water in large quantity at all times, and they were so broad enough, mostly cemented after construction, that which made so many of them to last longer. Then, due to low or no population in the areas where they were cited, the waters were tasty, unsoured, sweat ready for consumption.
There is even a record of field laborers who were engaged in the construction of those community wells from 1935 to 1987. Hassan Falalu was among the masons who constructed many of such wells, with vast experience in so. Malam Hasan was born in 1920 and died in 2008.

In writing an account of his short notes , which was done in Ajami .Arabic words of writing in hausa language. He was said to have been recording in written the dates and sites were they carry out a particular construction. According to he, they were employed by the then Native Authority or NA for short. They could apply traditional ways to detect zones with available groundwater occurrences, pray against the jin in the area not harm the workers,then work commences.
One of the two special reasons why Hassan was employed was, to detect the exact position with abundance of groundwater but very difficult to mine, excavate – where invisible creatures took to settle. Hassan was said to have performed prayers and charms to scare or chase the creatures and jins away then work begins.
Before Hassan retired in 1981, he was engaged in the construction of over 100 wells in the former Kaduna State. Mostly in now katsina state
Alhaji Almu Sa’idu Yar’adua was the last of the overseers with whom Hassan worked under his care. Aged, 87, Almu himself is still alive and can still give instructions on well establishment. Almu further stated that major projects on municipal wells sitting, farmsteads (ranches) and local compounding reservoirs were streamlined soon after the Second World War (SWW) ended in 1919. He went further to say most of the youths who were engaged in the war came back home without work to do, were suddenly engaged in so.
One good observation was, colonial masters perceived dangers of those youths living without doing anything. Then they established the ranches and employ them to work there as field officers, to facilitate agricultural development. That is how daudawa , Kafin soli, and others gidan gona started.
The rest were sent to work for compounding reservoirs or earth dams, others for municipal wells constructions.
In well work, 5 persons were engaged, two of which were the overseer and his assistant, then 3 other laborers.
Almu also made mention of invisible being, not allowing proper work to commences, unless traditional means of prayers are performed. He could easily locate an area with possibility of occurrence, local ways of detection. According to Almu, even the hausa name for kwakware was coined from the name of a whiteman (Britain) who worked in field as Works supervisor.
In 1972, the parastatal which was under NA grew and transformed into Rural Development Bureau, taking care of the 3 mentioned. Almu was an agricultural and forest assistant, then transferred to Mani to supervise municipal wells projects. In most of the cases, those hand-dug wells were sitting on rechargeable regional aquifers that could have supplied water for over a period of 50 years or even more. The areas are entirely sedimentary terrains.
An example here was, in Doro and Baure villages in Bindawa LGA, Katsina State, there are municipal wells dug by Malam Hassan and his team, The wells are still recharging. A village head of Baure told me that he knew when the wells were built.and he knew personally malam hassan and upto today he has a good relationship with the family.
A similar discovery was done in an unresidential area near Bakiyawa in Batagarawa LGA, Katsina State, where other functionable and rechargeable wells in abundance constructed between 1930 and 1985 were seen.
It is then an obligation for the stakeholders, writers, researchers and other registered social medias like Katsina City News media to remember and immortalize those who contributed in development of katsina in the yester years and put them in writing, for history never forgets about them.
So many persons in so many sectors have done and gone, Islamic scholars,bricklayers, teachers, businessmen, and even security.and so on and so forth Have played a good role in bringing katsina to what it is..but history wanted to forget them..we should not allow it.
Mukhtar yahya alkatsinawiyyi contributed in hausa .aliyu Ibrahim kankara trastilated in English.
The article was culled from katsina city news magazine. June/ July edition 2021


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