Hausa Kingdoms

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History of Northern Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Major cities of Hausaland. Modern borders are in red.

The Hausa Kingdoms were a collection of states started by the Hausa people, situated between the Niger River and Lake Chad. Their history is reflected in the Bayajidda legend, which describes the adventures of the Baghdadi hero Bayajidda culmulating in the killing of the snake in the well of Daura and the marriage with the local queen Magajiya Daurama. According to the legend, the hero had a child with the queen, Bawo, and another child with the queen's maid-servant, Karbagari.[1]

Sarki Mythology[edit]

According to the Bayajidda legend, the Hausa states were founded by the sons of Bayajidda, a prince whose origin differs by tradition. but official cannon records him as the person who married the last Kabara of Daura and heralded the end of the matriarchal monarchs that had erstwhile ruled the Hausa people. Contemporary historical scholarship views this legend as an allegory similar to many in that region of Africa that probably referenced a major event, such as a shift in ruling dynasties.

Banza Bakwai[edit]

According to the Bayajidda legend, the Hausa Bakwai states were founded by the seven sons of Karbagari ("Town-seizer"), the unique son of Bayajidda and the slave-maid, Bagwariya. They are called the Banza Bakwai meaning Bastard or Bogus Seven on account of their ancestress' slave status. Yet, because of the first-born ancestor Karbagari they claim precedence over the Hausa Bakwai. These states include two kingdoms inhabited by Hausa-speakers and five states inhabited by speakers of Benue-Congo languages:

  • Zamfara (state inhabited by Hausa-speakers)
  • Kebbi (state inhabited by Hausa-speakers)
  • Yauri (also called Yawuri)
  • Gwari (also called Gwariland)
  • Kororafa (the state of the Jukun people)
  • Nupe (state of the Nupe people)

Hausa Kingdom

Hausa Bakwai[edit]

The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states founded according to the Bayajidda legend by the six sons of Bawo ("give the (town) back"), the unique son of the hero and the queen Magajiya Daurama in addition to the hero's son, Biram or Ibrahim, of an earlier marriage. The states included only kingdoms inhabited by Hausa-speakers:


The Hausa Kingdoms were first mentioned by Ya'qubi in the 9th century[citation needed] and they were by the 15th century vibrant trading centers competing with Kanem-Bornu and the Mali Empire.[2] The primary exports were slaves, leather, gold, cloth, salt, kola nuts, animal hides, and henna. At various moments in their history, the Hausa managed to establish central control over their states, but such unity has always proven short.In the 1000s the conquests initiated by Gijimasu of Kano culminated in the birth of the first united Hausa Nation under Queen Amina, the Sultana of Zazzau but sever rivalries between the states led to periods of domination by major powers like the Songhai, Kanem and the Fulani.


Hausa-Fulani Sokoto Caliphate in the 19th century

Despite relatively constant growth, the states were vulnerable to aggression and, although the vast majority of its inhabitants were Muslim by the 16th century, they were attacked by Fulani jihadists from 1804 to 1808. In 1808 the Hausa Nation was finally conquered by Usuman dan Fodio and incorporated into the Hausa-Fulani Sokoto Caliphate.[3]


  1. ^ Palmer, Memoirs, III, 132-4; Smith, Daura, 52-55
  2. ^ Hogben/Kirk-Greene, Emirates, 82-88; Lange, Kingdoms, 216-221, 554 n. 25.
  3. ^ Smith, Daura, 419-421.


  • Hogben, S. J. und Anthony Kirk-Greene: The Emirates of Northern Nigeria, London 1966 (pp. 145–155).
  • Nicolas, Guy: Dynamique sociale et appréhension du monde au sein d'une société hausa, Paris 1975.
  • Palmer, Herbert R.: Sudanese Memoirs, vol. 3, Lagos 1928 (Bayajidda legend, pp. 132–146).
  • Smith, Michael: The Affairs of Daura, Berkeley 1978.

External links[edit]