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He was a well-known Hausa griot/musician among the Hausa people of West and North-east Africa. His vocals were often accompanied by talking drums, known as kalangu. He performed for the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria for more than half a century.
He went to an Islamic school as a boy, according to Hausa Muslim tradition.
Musawa village was under the Katsina Native Authority (N.A.) when Shata was born. When the Local Governments were created it came under Kankia Local Government. Today, Musawa is a Local Government of its own.
Shata's father, Ibrahim Yaro, did not want him to become a musician due to widely held belief of those days that music or praise-singing was a form of 'roko' or begging. His father being of the Fulani ethnic stock, the young Shata was expected to become a farmer — a more dignified occupation. Shata's insistence on becoming a musician was therefore seen as a rebellion against the norm.
Shata acquired his sobriquet of 'Shata' from a man called Tsalahu (Salahu). Shata sell his nuts for Tsalahu and after the sale he shares the profit to people he met on his way home or in the market and comes back to Tsalahu empty handed, as such he was given the name 'Shata' meaning to spread. He combined this trade with the sale of sweets ('mishin'). He usually sing for fun in the market place or the local play ground called 'gaandchili'. Later he abandoned both trades and embraced music or praise-singing full-time. This vocation took him to many villages in the Musawa area. However Mamman Shata settled at Daura with his notable benefactor Emir of Daura; Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, Finally he settled in Bakori, where he married his first wife, Binta. They had a daughter, Amina, who died in infancy. From his base in Bakori, Shata traveled with his band to places as far away as Katsina and Kano, which he first visited in 1952. A few years later he moved to Funtua, a more cosmopolitan town not far from Bakori. Shata made Funtua his home for about forty years - up until his death.
Mamman Shata was one of the best selling Polygram artistes from the north in the 80s. He was a highly respected folklorist. He spent about 50–60 years in the music industry.
Alhaji Shata could not recall or remember how many songs he produced. He was able to record some.
Shata was famed to have sung for every topic under the Hausa land's sun: agriculture, culture, religion, economy, politics, military, etc. Shata was awarded honorary doctorate degree by Ahmadu Bello University in recognition of his contributions to Hausa literature.
His relationship with other musicians was cordial. Some of his notable benefactors were Emir of Daura; Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, Mammada Dan Sambo, Emir of Kano; Alhaji Ado Bayero, Sultan of Sokoto; Muhammadu Maccido, Jarma of Kano; Alhaji Muhammadu Adamu Dankabo; and Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Usman Idris.
He joined politics in the 1970s, becoming a Councillor under Kankia Local Government area. His politics was largely left-wing even though his benefactors (the royal and the business classes) were mostly on the right. He ascribed this to his humble background. In the 2nd Republic (in the '80s) he was first in the centre-of-right GNPP and then moved to the conservative ruling party, the NPN. In the 3rd Republic he was elected as the Chairman of SDP of Funtua Local Government.
Alhaji Shata died on Friday 18 June 1999. He was survived by three wives (Furera, Hadiza, and Binta), 19 children, and 28 grandchildren. He was buried at Daura. However; he married many other women and divorced them, some with children between them. Amina (the third of his wives when he died) never gave birth even though she lived with him for more than 10 years.
- Shata: Mahadi Mai Dogon Zamani, by Ibrahim Sheme, Yusuf Tijjani Albasu, Aliyu Ibrahim Kankara, and Ali Malami; Informart Publishers Ltd., Kaduna, 2006
- Warren L. D'Azevedo, The Traditional artist in African societies, 1973, p148, "A very famous singer, Alhaji Muhamman Shata, uses hand motions to signal to his drummers the rhythms he desires while in the midst of composing new lyrics in an impromptu fashion."
- The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians 8, p312 Sir George Grove, Stanley Sadie, 1980
- African urban notes Michigan State University. African Studies Center, California. University, Los Angeles. African Studies Center, University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee. Department of Political Science, 1970, 5-6 p23, "Similarly, I have been informed (by J. Michael Armer) that during the period of riots in Northern Nigeria in 1966, the great popular singer Alhaji Muhamman Shata composed and sang songs urging the people to keep calm."
- World music: the rough guide, Simon Broughton, Kim Burton, 1994 "Muhamman Shata is always accompanied by a troupe of virtuoso drummers who play kalangu, small talking drums."
- Glossary of Hausa music and its social contexts, David W. Ames, Anthony V. King, 1971 p25