Maguzawa Hausa people

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Maguzawa are a subgroup of the Hausa people who still adhere to some of the tenets of the pre-Islamic traditional religions of Kano and Katsina, cities in northern Nigeria. Most of the citizens are found in the rural areas close to Kano and Katsina. They are known to have facial scarification similar to early rulers of Kano and Katsina under the Kutumbawa lineage. In terms of culture, there are only two major differences between Muslim Hausas and the Maguzawa: religion and social organization.


Farming was the leading occupation of Maguzawas, while cattle herding was left to the Fulani. During the dry season, when farming activity is low, the men engage in dyeing, iron working and basketry. The female Maguzawa were known to show an independent streak in economic activity in contrast to an imported harem culture in many other households. Many wives and female slaves engaged in trading and use their profit to buy clothes for themselves and their offspring. In terms of a socio-political organization, most Maguzawa communities are made up of scattered compounds and like their Hausa counterparts are led by a Sarki. However, predominant Maguzawa communities have three patrilineal cultural leaders. The Sarki'n Noma, who is the head of farming, the Sarki'n Arna, known as the head of the Pagans and the Sarki'n Dawa, the headman of the bush. The latter two heads or Sarkis share equal power. The Sarki'n Arna is usually given to the best beer drinker in the community while the defunct Sarki'n Dawa is the best hunter in the community.

Maguzawa according to the tradition are Hausa speaking people in fact the original Hausa speaking people found in northern Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Chad and some other countries of the world such as Saudi Arabia etc. this is as a result of their economic activity which is trading. Others include hunting, fishing, blacksmithing and farming.

There is no distinct difference between Hausawa or Hausa and Maguzawa. The name Maguzawa was named to some group of Hausa people after the jihad of Shehu Usman Fodio of Sokoto who spread Islamic religion in some northern part of the country, these group of Hausa were named Maguzawa by their fellow Hausa because they resisted accepting the Islamic faith from Shehu Usman Fodio and continue with the general Hausa or the known Hausa tradition which includes their way of worshiping the Gods with the help of idols. Maguzawa means "those that run away from Islam". All Hausa were known to worship the Gods before the arrival of Islam.


Maguzawa religion revolves around an infinite number of spirits or iskoki (singular - iska) in Hausa. This literally translates into 'WINDS' There are about 3,000 iskoki in the religion. However, the dominance of Islam in the region has diluted the original meaning of the Gods/spirits with the imposed Islamic canon, and they are also referred to today as Al-Jannu (singular Jinn) also known as the westernised 'Genie'. The Isoki are divided into two main categories : The Gona or "Farm spirits" who are tame and easier to manipulate, and the Daji or "Bush Spirits" who are untamed and much difficult to contact.

Six Major Spirits[edit]

Name Relationships Characteristics Illness caused by
Sarkin Aljan Husband of Mai'iyali A black spirit; king of all the spirits Headache
Mai'iyali "possessor of a family" Wife of Sarkin 'Aljan Has a large cloth to carry children None
Waziri "vizier" Vizier of Sarkin 'Aljan Distributes the presents of Sarkin 'Aljan among the people None
Babban Maza "great among men Husband of Inna Uses a pestle Loss of soul
Manzo "messenger" Son of Babban Maza A hairy dog who devours souls Loss of soul
Bagiro Son of Babban Maza; Devours souls Loss of soul


  • Greenberg, Joseph Harold. 1946. The influence of Islam on a Sudanese religion. New York: J. J. Augustin. Monographs of the American Ethnological Society, vol. 10.