Arewa is a Hausa language term for north, one of the cardinal directions. Its popular usage in contemporary Nigeria sometimes suggests a northern Nigerian regionalism or proto-nationalism. In both Nigeria and Niger Republic, Arewa is the name of very specific historical entities: in Niger and Nigeria a pre-colonial state, and in Nigeria a small local government region.
In Nigeria, it simply refers to the local term for geopolitical area north of River Niger and River Benue that geographically split Nigeria into north, west and east. In Niger, it has a very specific meaning. Arewa (Niger) is a small pre-colonial animist dominated state of the Dallol Maouri valley, known for the indigenous "Maouri"/"Mawri" Hausa culture. In Nigeria, Arewa Dandi is a "Local Government Area" in Kebbi State, and has been called simply "Arewa" in the past.
In Nigeria, "Arewa" means beautiful in the Yoruba tribe. This is historically traced to the allusion of imminent beauty in the northern female, with the term making its way into the lingua of the Hausa peoples Yoruba neighbours, who have also been for centuries long their trading partners.
Nigerian regionalist usage
In post independence Nigeria, some use the word as a general term for Nigerian Hausaland: a contraction of "Arewacin Nijeriya" (Northern Nigeria). Much of the north was once politically united in the Northern Region, a federal division disbanded in 1967, and was previously home of the seven Hausa states, later the Sokoto Caliphate in the pre-colonial period, and the Northern Nigeria Protectorate under British colonial rule.
Northern Nigeria regionalist groups, such as the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Arewa Media Forum based in Kaduna, and the related Arewa House and Arewa People's Congress are examples of this usage. These groups do not advocate independence from Nigeria, and focus on cultural unity of the so-called Hausa–Fulani community which forms the majority in the north of the nation.
Within even smaller regionalist circles, the term Arewa Republic is used as to describe a speculative future region, entity, or state that coincides with the pre-1967 Northern Region, Nigeria.
- Arewa-s-region, tarbiyya-tatali.org.
- Decalo, Samuel (1997). Historical Dictionary of the Niger (3rd ed.). Boston & Folkestone: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3136-8.
- Fuglestad, Finn (1983). A History of Niger 1850-1960. African Studies series (No. 41). New York - London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-25268-3.
- Geels, Jolijn (2006). Niger. Chalfont St Peter, Bucks / Guilford, CT: Bradt UK / Globe Pequot Press. ISBN 978-1-84162-152-4.
- A good critical discussion on the genesis of the ACF can be found in
- Nneoma V. Nwogu. Shaping truth, reshaping justice: sectarian politics and the Nigerian truth commission. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007 ISBN 0-7391-2249-5
- Speculative regionalist discussions can be found on message boards, such as this, at nairaland.com.
- Powergame, Sun News (Nigeria). 7 September 2008.
- Editorial. Sun News (Nigeria). 2 March 2009.
- NIGERIA: THE 'ENEMIES WITHIN'. Femi Ajayi. Nigeria World Online. 20 September 2004.