Wednesday 27 July 2022


ASMA’U, NANA (1793–1864).

A celebrated poet, Asma’u was a respected Fulani public figure. She was active in politics, education, and social reform. One of 40 children born to Usman dan Fodio, her name indicates that she was a twin. Her twin brother was Hassan. Instead of naming her Husseina, however, Dan Fodio named her after a famous Muslim’s daughter (Asma bint Abu Bakar). Asma’u also means “beautiful” or “noteworthy” in Arabic. “Nana” is an honorific that served to deepen her respectability. Asma’u managed a household of several hundred in an age when technology was limited. During times of war, she witnessed battles and recorded them. She was quadrilingual (Arabic, Fula, Hausa, and Tamachek) and a devoted member of the Islamic Qadiriyya order. She had six sons with her husband, Gidado.

She sent elderly women to do in-house teaching. Many of her poems were mnemonic devices for literacy training. She wrote 19 elegies and didactic works for her students in whatever language was most comfortable for them. In her work, she demonstrates her respect for the realities of building an Islamic state and living a blameless life. Readers may also find several key features of Islamic poetry from northern Nigeria.

Asma’u incorporated Sufi Islamic recitation, Koranic commentary, and praises of the Prophet Muhammad. She also wrote acrostic poetry (quite unique for the time), where the first pg. 66 letter of each line forms its own message, which relates to the message contained in the verses of the whole work. In her poem “So Verily,” the last letters of each line spell out the Koranic line “so verily with every difficulty there is relief.” She wrote about her brother, Muhammad Bello, and father, Usman Dan Fodio, as well as other notable descendants of Usman lost to the historical record. Asma’u died in 1864 and was buried close to her father in Sokoto.

Source: Gossip House

1 comment:

  1. Very Nice Information and Article keep on sharing such content.


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