Wednesday 8 May 2024


A peep into the history of the Gwandara – an ethnic group spread across northern states in Nigeria, but majorly found in Nasarawa and the FCT, reveals that they are descendants of the aboriginal Hausa tribe.

The Gwandara are believed to be the descendants of Barbushe a Chief priest of Hausa people and the original inhabitants of Kano before the Bagauda descendants arrived Kano.

According to a Gwandara youth, “The group now referred to as Gwandara were idol worshippers, alongside their kith and kin – the Hausas. The Bori cult worshipped the spirits of Tsumburbura on top of the Dala hills in Kano. It was an annual festival that comes before the rains, involving dancing around the Dala hills for seven days.

“According to historical records, during the reign of  Ali yaji Ɗan tsamiya  Islam was introduced into the courts of Kano and he destroyed the Tsunburbura shrine. And during the reign of King Muhammadu Rumfa the great, he determined to root out all pagan practices, came into conflict with one of Hausa traditionalist Karshi, who did not accept Islam, but preferred the religion of his forefathers which was the worship of Tsumburbura.

“He migrated from Kano in the year 1476, as a result of their refusal to embrace Islam, and rather stuck with their old system of worship which included dancing. They were therefore referred to as “Gwanda-Rawa da Sallah” which means “Those who prefer dancing to prayers” thus shortened to Gwandara. This became the name of the ethnic group,” he said.

According to S. O. Ayih (2003,2012 and 2013) who wrote extensively on the history of Gwandara, there were over 100 Gwandara towns and villages in Nigeria and they cut across Nasarawa, Kaduna, Niger, FCT, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba and Benue states.

According to Barr M. T. Alakayi, a commissioner at the Federal Character Commission, “In Plateau State, the Gwandara are referred to as Abakwa Riga. They are in Kanke Local Government Area, believed to have settled earlier than other ethnic groups.

He added that the language of the Gwandara people is reminiscent of their Hausa origin.

“It is uniquely another variance of Hausa, influenced by time and the environment they settled. It is particularly a non-Arabic influenced Hausa, Gwandara words such as Koshiya, Sakata, Adaka, Burgami, Giwa and so on, buttress this Hausa root,” he added.

But Gwandara have also borrowed from the cultures of their neighbours.

The Gwandara political system is similar to the early Hausa-City states. Each settlement has a leader either called Sarki, Sangari, Whurki or Seleki, with hierarchical structure made up of title holders.

The Gwandara engaged in farming, hunting, dyeing, blacksmithing and weaving but western education and technological advancement have seen many abandon these professions.

However, to preserve their culture, Gwandara Development Educational and Cultural Association (GWADECA) sprung up from Gwandara Youth Club (GYC) which was formed in Kaduna in 1970.

The founding fathers were late Alh. Muhammad Danladi Yakubu, a former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Alh Usman Sabo Ago, among others.

Gwandara is a West Chadic language as earlier stated from our previous articles written by Sani Musa Sarkinpada as referenced Dr. Sylvester O. Ayih, and the closet relative of Hausa. Its several dialects are spoken in Northern Nigeria, predominantly in the North Central Region of Nigeria with over million people. Gwandara are situated among areas like; Nasarawa State, Federal Capital Territory – Abuja, Niger State, Kaduna and more also in areas like communities across the northern part of Nigeria such as Kano (founding state), Taraba state, Kwara state, Kogi State, Plateau State and Katsina state. The former governor of Nasarawa state Umaru Tanko Al-Makura popularly known as Ta’al is the first Gwandara person to become a governor in Nigeria after the era of Alh. Muhammadu Danladi Gwandara (He was sworn in as Deputy Governor of plateau state to: Solomon D. Lar on October 1st, 1979).

History will not vindicate us if we fail to mention here that Karshi is the 1st recognized Gwandara town by Government in Nigeria as well as the first Gwandara town to receive the highest tradition status of 1st class Emir. This great honor will forever remain a reference point for us and generations yet unborn.

Muhammadu Sani Bako III (born April 22, 1972) is a prominent member of Gwandara people and a first-class Emir of New Karshi in Nasarawa. He was a career federal civil servant.He is a senior member of Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers, and chairs the Governing Council of Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy, PhD in Political Economy and Development Studies from the University of Abuja. He was the Magajin Garin Karshi.

Majority of GWANDARA people nowadays are Muslims just like their kin tribe Hausa.

Source: Taskar Afrika

#africa  #nigeria

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