WELCOME TO JIGAWA
Located in the North-western part of the country, Jigawa is one of the thirty six states that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Kano state and Katsina state border Jigawa to the west, Yobe stateto the North-East, Bauchi state to the East. However, on the Northern side the state shares borders with the Zinder region in Republic of Niger.
With a predominantly muslim population, Jigawa state lies within the Sudan Savannah and has sparse forest cover which makes the state prone to desert encroachment. That should be checked by climate change campaigners, but that is not why we are here so enough with the introduction.
THE DURBAR FESTIVAL
Dating back a couple of centuries, the Durbar festival has become one of the evergreen festivals among the Hausa/Fulani people of Northen Nigeria. Many states in the region partake in the celebration of the festival such as Kano, Katsina to mention a few.
The festival is usually celebrated at the culmination of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan during the Eid-Al-Fitri celebrations.A lovely, colorful celebration filled with lots of music and aesthetic display of incredible horsemanship. Do I even need to say more? Think about it for a minute, horses (some camel), Swords glistening in the sun and the rhythmic sound of hoofs as they gallop across the open field. Let me take you on a quick journey.
So a few years back I was on a project, details of which I’d rather skip now, and my friend and brilliant photographer who was my partner in the project captured this lovely occasion in Jigawa state. Ladies and Gentlemen, Adebanji Okeowo also know as BanjyteImagery (on instagram)
The Durbar festival had been in hausaland for more than 500 years. It was introduced by sarki muhammadu rumfa of kano in the late 14th century, as a way of demonstrating military power and skills before going to war. The festival is also an opportunity for local leaders to pay homage to emir throughout the “Jahi” cheering.
The festival begins at the prayer grounds. After the islamic prayers, there is a process constituted by a splendid retinue of Noble men on horse back who follow the Emir of Jigawa and his palace guards. They are accompanied by musicians and entertainers all the way to the Emir’s Palace where the procession ends.
All the Noble men, groups and district take their place at a preassigned position in front of the Emir’s palace. The last to arrive is the Emir who takes his place too in front of the palace to receive the “Jahi” or the salutes of his subjects.
Okay this is the fun part of the durbar and this is where it gets really exciting. If you snooze you loose!
Jahi basically means salute and your guess is as good as mine. The build up all along is to salute and show loyalty to the Emir. Remember each noble house/district have already taken their place. Then one after the other, they ride out fiercely in the open field to the cheers and admiration of the crowd. They come to an abrupt stop in front of the Emir. They draw their swords high, glistening in the sun and bow before the Emir…the Jahi! Everybody cheers them and they move along for the next group to pay their homage to the emir.
But hey, guys, its not only about the horses, for those of you who don’t fancy horse that much…we have this guy….
The young ones are not left out of the grand scheme of things. Look at young pablo over here….
We have swag daddies too….
Finally, what is the Durbar without the people?
So next time you are in any of these cities, Kano, Katsina,Jigawa,Bida and it is Durbar time, do not miss it!
I do hope I have been able to help you explore Nigeria and taken a walk in a different culture. Stay tuned for more exciting places you can visit in Nigeria, next time we probably go west!
SIDE NOTE: The Ibom Fest in Akwa Ibom state and Calabar Festival are coming up real quick I will love to attend Either or both of them. If you can (or know who can) sponsor me to Either/Both please don’t hesitate to hit us up.
All photo credit.
Okeowo Adebanji, Banjyte Imagery 08160003164