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Bayajidda Legend | Gobir



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ALTHOUGH the Bayajida legend may commonly be regarded as an account of the origins of the whole Hausa race in fact it relates how a stranger arrived in the future Hausaland, married into an existing ruling family, and fathered the rulers of the seven city states which were to make up that elastic but successful confederation known as the Hausa Bakwai. The fullest and at the same time the most widely spread of several extant versions of the legend narrates how Bayajida dan Abdullahi, the king of Baghdad, fought against the Ziduwa, a tribe of pagans, dividing their land into forty parts. He took possession of one part himself, and this brought him to Bornu with the strength which had resulted from his jihad. Being more powerful than Bornu, he was advised to assume the rule, but the mai averted this by marrying him to his daughter, the Magira. Bayajida's forces were then sent out to fight various wars on behalf of Bornu, and were settled in different towns on their return, so that their command became lost to Bayajida, who, after his brother had gone to Bagirmi and become ruler there, was left alone except for his wife who was pregnant, and his horse. The mai determined to kill him, so he fled, and on arrival at Biram the Mdgira had a child called 'Burkimu' who became king of Biram, the first of the Hausa states. Meanwhile Bayajida went on alone and reached Daura, which was under the rule of a dynasty of queens. He found lodgings with an old woman named Ayana and asked for water for himself and his horse. She told him that water could only be drawn from the well on Fridays after performing certain rites at the house of a seer, because there was a snake known as Sarki living in the well which devoured anyone who attempted to obtain water on other days. Nevertheless Bayajida went to the well and killed the snake as it emerged, after which he drew water for himself and his horse, taking what remained to Ayana. The following morning, when the queen heard of the death of Sarki, she offered to divide her country with the deliverer. There were two false claimants, but when Ayana recounted what had happened, having difficulty in describing the horse as she had never seen one before, Bayajida was sent for and informed of the queen's offer, but he expressed a desire to marry her instead. The queen agreed on the condition that they did not live together, and she gave him a concubine to share his bed. In due course the concubine bore a child which she called 'Mun karbi gari'. On seeing this, the queen fulfilled her wifely duties for the first time and gave birth in her turn to 'Ba mu garinmu' or 'Bawo'. After the marriage the queen's house had become known as the house of Makas- Sarki, which is why Hausa rulers are called sarki. When Bayajida died, he was succeeded by Bawo, whose six sons became the rulers of Daura, Kano, Katsina, Gobir, Rano and Zaria, thus, with Biram, forming the seven Hausa states. The son who became the sarki of Kano was named Bagoda. Several variants of this legend occur, and in some the name of the hero is Abi Yazid, another form of Bayajida. In none of them is there any important alteration to the basic framework, but there are additional details of interest. Thus it emerges that Bayajida was 'an Arab of Sham', and the ruler of Bornu was 'of the race of Sham'. A second brother is mentioned who subsequently becomes the ruler of Kanem, and the queen of Daura is described as coming from Bornu with her slaves and founding a town in the bush. Another version calls the stranger Abba Kyari and describes him as fleeing from Bornu with a foal born of a mare which his mother had contrived to have mounted clandestinely by a fine horse belonging to a maina of Bornu. He was pursued unsuccessfully for seven days, and finally arrived in Daura where the queen, whose name was Umme, gave him the name of Bawo after he had killed the snake. Yet other forms of the legend have Bayajida as the son or grandson of the king of Baghdad. In yet another, as in the Abba Kyari version, he does not appear by name at all, and it is Biram who fathers six children by a woman called Diggera; with him they make up the Hausa Bakwai. Sultan Muhammad Bello of Sokoto, the soldier-scholar who wielded the pen as ably as the sword, held the opinion that Bawo was a slave of the ruler of Bornu and described the Hausa as the slaves of the Berbers who came from Bornu. The Kano Chronicle covers the Hausa and Fulani dynasties in Kano down to I892, and as lengths of reigns are recorded, it has been possible to estimate dates right back to Bagoda, recorded as the founder of the Hausa dynasty of Kano, who, about A.D. iooo, occupied Adirani for two years. Then he went to Barka for a similar period before moving to Sheme in Kazaure, eventually arriving in Kano, where he ruled for over sixty years. The first king names in the Chronicle may not refer to historical personali-ties; the lengths of their reigns are suspiciously long and they are more likely to be personifications of related tribal groups. According to the traditions, Bagoda was the grandson of Bayajida and thus, although these legendary generations should not be taken too literally, it is reasonable to assume that Bayajida alias Abu Yazid, or the people of whom he was the personification, came to Daura during the tenth century. Who, then, was the original Bayajida or Abui Yazid? Palmer broached the theory that he was an Ibadite sectary from North Africa, Abf Yazid Makhlad ibn Kaidad al-Zanati, who was born about 884, either at Gao on the Niger or at Tademekket nearby. His father was a merchant of the important Zanata tribe of Berbers from Tfizar in the Bilad al-Jarid district of the modern southern Tunisia, and early in his life Abui Yazid was sent there by his father. In 909 'Ubaid Allah became the first Fatimid Khalifa of North Africa. Throughout his twenty-four year reign he strove against dissatisfied elements, the majority of whom were Berbers. Abu Yazid derived a considerable following in the Jabal Awras, and, in consequence of 'Ubaid Allah's punitive measures, was forced to flee. He went to Mecca, a far distance in those days, but a sanctuary where he could be assured of finding sympathy for his anti-Fatimid cause among the austere pietists who dwelt in that city and Medina. In 937 Abu Yazid returned to North Africa where al-Qa'im, 'Ubaid Allah's successor, had him arrested at Tuzar. But his sons released him, and the rebellion soon flared up again, achieving such triumphs as the capture of Qairaw5n in 943 and the defeat of the Fatimid army at Al-Akhawan. This victory was followed up by the siege of Mahdiya, after which al-Qa'im died, the rule passing to his son known as al-Mansur. By 946 Abii Yazid was besieging Susa, but al-Mansuir appears to have taken his measure, for he drove him off, compelling him on more than one occasion to seek refuge in the Sahara. Finally, in 947, he killed him at Kiyana, in the Zab, where his corpse was roasted and placed in a cage as a plaything for two monkeys. Abii Yazid's sons carried on a desultory warfare for some time, but their cause was now hopeless, and before long some remnants of the Ibadite rebels marched southwards into the desert and disappeared from the pages of North African history. It seems possible that it is the arrival of this force in Bornu which is de-scribed at the beginning of the legends. If this is so, its advent would have been about 948, the year after Abu Yazid's defeat in the Zab. Bornu was still in the tenth century a kingdom of nomads, and its location was not that of modern Bornu in Northern Nigeria. The famous, almost mythical, capital N'jimi was already existing as at least a settlement, or perhaps a war camp, and was perhaps identical with Garoumele near Nguigmi on the northern shores of Lake Chad. The puissant Bornu empire which reached its peak in the thirteenth century may be said to have germinated during the tenth century; certainly the first continuous historical records date from soon after, and this may be taken as indicative of a stability which precipi-tated from the fluid years of wandering. Abu Yazid's defeated army could have been the rock on which this empire was founded. The establishment of settlements as outlying districts were conquered would be the beginning of the end of the nomadic era of the Maghumi aristocrats. This is not to  say that any tightly bound administrative complex was created or even contemplated: that was not to come for centuries. Oral tradition collected in Bilma furnishes the information that the oases of Kawar were occupied by Beriberi, subjects of Bornu, who had arrived there at the beginning of the ninth century and colonized all the oases between Bilma and Chad, driving out the Koyam indigenes. These oases would be located along the ancient Garamantian Road, terminating near Garoumele, and the Koyam would have fled southwards into modern Bornu, where to this day they pasturize to the west of Lake Chad. From this and other sources, a fairly specious theory may be postulated that the Bornu court nomadized during the tenth century between Lake Chad and the Kawar oases, perhaps already gaining ascendancy over parts of Kanem to the east and south-east, almost certainly speaking the language of Kanem. This nomadization caused them to come into contact with the western Teda or Tubu, already in the position which they still occupy, and, in order to keep the route through their string of oases open, they would have been obliged to occupy and garrison outlying posts such as, perhaps, Termit and Fashi among others. In this light, then, the rebel refugees coming from the north could have met the Bornu mai in Kawar. By the time the migrants arrived in Kawar and met with the Maghumi aristocrats, they would still have been refugees, although with the first dis-ordered panic of their flight somewhat abated. They were recognizable as an army, perhaps, as they would have had weapons, and it is not likely that many of their women would have been with them. Experienced cam-paigners that they were, they would need but little time to appreciate the situation along the Garamantian Road; the wandering mais struggling to hold on to the few permanent bases and supremacies they had acquired, marching and countermarching without cease to maintain their communi-cations, beset on both sides by Tubu raiders and in the south by the Koyam whom they had expelled from Kawar. At best, the Maghumis were an obscure band of wanderers just managing to exist in a most inhospitable part of the world. Although they claimed descent from a distinguished line, their future was dark and unpromising, completely unenviable. By this time, although Ibadite Berbers were less known in the Central Sudan and Sahara than in the western states of Ghana and Songhai, con-tact did exist, and an Ibadite governor south of Tripoli at the beginning of the ninth century is recorded as speaking the language of Kanem better than Berber or Arabic. Zawila in the Fezzan, adjacent to the Central Sahara, was probably the capital of a small Ibadite state by the beginning of the tenth century, and the Ibadites may even have had a slave depot in Kawar. There are other indications also that the Berbers were not un-known in the Kawar oases and Kanem. That being so, the first arrival of the warlike horde from the north would perhaps not have caused too much consternation, being considered more as an armed caravan in transit than as a military menace. It seems that the newcomers on arrival would have been more than a match for the Bornu army. This superiority may have been one of military ability rather than numerical strength, and perhaps meant that their cavalry was wielded more efficiently as a result of the years of campaigning in the North African hinterland. At the end of the tenth century the Berber tribe of Banu Darjin which occupied the plains west of Tuzar possessed an army estimated at i8,ooo horsemen. This was after the Nukkarite rebel-lion, but even before then the Zanata Berbers had probably been renowned for their troops of horses, as Bornu was later to be, and it may be guessed that they were sedulous raisers of animals. The Zanata had been associated with the introduction of the camel into North Africa in Roman times, and the broad coastal plains west of Carthage near the area in which they settled have been noted as eminently suitable for the breeding of horses and cattle. The sobriquet of 'The Man on the Ass' would not have been applied to Abii Yazid had his preference for this particular mount not been remark-able. This singularity can only be explained by supposing that the more normal mount amongst the Zanata during the tenth century was the horse. The refugees, after their arrival in Bornu, may have considered assuming, or even have actually assumed, power; probably they began to inter-marry as soon as they arrived. It is clear, however, that if this were the case, Bornu culture remained dominant in the resultant strain. This assimi-lation is likely to have been an involuntary process, but it could possibly have been accelerated by the Bornu mai, either to forestall belligerence, or with the object of employing and dissipating their strength. If so, it was an adept move by which he turned the potentially disastrous irruption of a horde of confused but war-wise Berber cavalry into advantage for his nation, if such the still nomadic Bornu forebears could yet be called. But it appears possible from the traditions that a small part of the Zanata emigrants and their descendants may have retained a measure of independ-ence and resisted at least cultural, if not physical, assimilation. This could have been because they did not stay in proximity to the court but settled in an outlying colony, perhaps Diggera, in which case they might have been some of the forces which were given settlements as a reward for services rendered to the mai and as part of a political scheme to curb the Berbers' strength, whilst at the same time forming garrisons similar to the limes of the Roman North African provinces. It may be speculated that this colony, wishing to move southwards with their horses, had some difficulty in getting away. Perhaps when their intention was realized an attempt was made to detain them and they were pursued for some distance. Bornu may not have desired any of the surrounding states or peoples to acquire horses. Their first halt of any length would have been at Biram, where some lingered when the remainder moved on to the area of Daura. Here again the migrants commenced, as they had done in Bornu, by inter-marrying with the inhabitants; their cavalry, hitherto unknown in this territory, was then used to found states, but this time eventual political control did not elude them, neither was their culture allowed to be sup-pressed in the resulting aristocratic strain. In this way the picture painted by Sultan Bello may perhaps refer to a party of Berbers who came from Bornu with their Hausa slaves, al-though the name Hausa was not then in use.38 The aboriginal inhabitants were not actually slaves as such, but they were of a servile race; to a Fulani ruler of Sokoto so soon after the conquest of Hausaland the description would come only too readily. There is another factor in the Bayajida tradition which appears to form a connexion with the Ibadites; that is, the reference to the pagan Ziduwa. The Fatimid Khalifas belonged to one of the more militant Shi'ite factions, the Isma'ilis, of which 'Ubaid Allah was the leader, and their establish-ment in North Africa had been preceded by the advent of Abu 'Abdullah al-Shi'i, a skilled political intriguer from San'a'. At the same time, the position of the Shi'ites throughout the Muslim world had never been better. The Zaidis were active in Arabia and the revolt of the Carmathian Shi'ites was at its height; in 930 they raided Mecca and carried away the Black Stone from the Ka'ba, retaining it for twenty years. Conversely, the power of the 'Abbasid Khalifas in Baghdad was at its lowest ebb, their authority hardly extending outside the city walls. Whilst the Fatimids in North Africa were still struggling for the rule, an appeal came from the Khalifa in Baghdad to all Muslims in Africa, calling upon them to resist the Shi'ites. That such an appeal was issued and no troops were sent is a sure indication of the Khalifa's current weakness. Later, Baghdad commenced a campaign of denigration against the Shi'ites. Genealogists were set to work to show that they were not of 'Alid descent, and this inspired a pro-digious volume of literature which tried to prove first, that 'Ubaid Allah was from a family of heretics which had supposedly given birth to the Carmathians, and secondly, that the real 'Ubaid Allah had been killed in North Africa and a Jewish impersonator substituted. Whilst the Kharijite doctrine originally appealed to the Berbers as a rallying and unifying influence in their various wars against the invading Sunni Arabs, there is no doubt that later, when the Shi'ite tide almost engulfed the Muslim world, the North African Kharijite insurrectionists could be considered as involuntary allies of the Sunni in so far as they had a common enemy. In the Sudan where the intricacies of Muslim sectarianism were still im-perfectly understood, they would have appeared as one. It is feasible, therefore, that the pagan Ziduwa of the legends were the Shi'ites. The Shi'ites were known to the Sunnis as the 'Rejectors' and it is not difficult to see how they could thus be defined as pagans; the sacri-legious appropriation of the Black Stone alone would be sufficient qualifi-cation. In Hausa the plural of Shi'ah would be Shi'awa or Sh'uwa and the changing of the glottal stop for the implosive 'd' of Hausa, to become the Shiduwa or Ziduwa of the Hausa versions of the legends is a simple and natural move. The reference to the splitting of the land into forty parts is at least ambiguous, but may be an allusion to the towns which Abui Yazid conquered during his ascendancy, and over which he appointed governors, and, if nothing else, it is a gloss over the defeat and rout of the Nukkarites and an explanation for their sudden arrival in Bornu. With the whole of Islam rent by the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ah, it is not unlikely that in the Sudan the Kharijite Abu Yazid could have been identified with the 'king of Baghdad' and his descendants. Whilst not biologically impossible, the reference should be regarded as symbolic of the common anti-Shi'ite viewpoint at a time when the Sunni Khalifas had so few allies throughout the Islamic world; so that Bayajida's appellation as 'dan Abdullahi' in the legend, which perhaps emanates from 'Abdullah al-Mustakfi, the 'Abbasid Khalifa from 944 to 946, is not to be taken literally, and the romantic conception of a khalifat ancestry for the rulers of the Bakwai must be discarded once and for all. The references to Bayajida as an 'Arab of Sham' and the mai of Bornu as 'of the race of Sham' refer to a common Semitic origin for the migrants and the Bornu aristocracy. The Bornu royal family would have been of the Saifuwa dynasty and still light-skinned; the first dark-skinned ruler of Bornu was Tsilim ibn Bikur, who reigned at the beginning of the thirteenth century. The identification of Berbers as Arabs has been a common mis-take for over a thousand years, and in any case it is still by no means certain that the Berbers are not at least partially of Arab descent, having been re-inforced by a mixed Cana'anite and Yemenite population which dispersed from Saba' in Southern Arabia after the collapse of the Ma'rib Dam. The names bestowed on Bayajida's legendary sons in Biram and Daura are worth studying, as they may indicate stages in the relationship of the newly arrived strangers of Berber blood and the inhabitants whom they found in situ. 'Burkimu', the Magira's son who was born in Biram, had a name connected with joy or gladness-joy, perhaps, at having success-fully escaped from Bornu or at having arrived in a land which compared favourably with the inhospitable one they had just quitted. For any of the original rebels who might just conceivably still have been in the party, this would be the first cultivated land of any extent which they had seen since leaving the North African littoral. The name of Bayajida's son by his concubine, 'Mun karbi gari', means in Hausa, 'We have taken the town'; and 'Ba mu garinmu', the queen of Daura's son, means 'Give us our town'. The significance of these two names should be considered in con-junction with the offer made by the queen, when asking for the killer of the snake Sarki, to divide her kingdom with him. Bayajida, refusing, preferred to marry her, even though she would not cohabit. It was only when she was, it is implied, stirred to jealousy by the birth of 'Mun karbi gari' that she lived with him as his wife. The most likely explanation is that the Berber emigrants, on arrival, found a kingdom flourishing, the rulers of which would not submit to them, and whom they were not strong enough to subjugate by warfare, even with the aid of their horses. This shows that the new arrivals were in all probability not numerous. They were perhaps offered some land on which to settle but, wanting to rule themselves, sought an alliance with a group of servile subjects, thus presenting an irresistible combination of numerical superiority and greater intelligence. The rulers took the only course open and allowed the newcomers to have their own way and assume the rule, very quickly assimilating them. On the other hand, the rulers may have been powerless to prevent such assimila-tion, or it may have been an involuntary process. It is doubtful if there was any actual warfare, the essence of the legend being one of peaceful penetration coupled with, perhaps, successful political application. It seems that there was already in existence, in northern Hausaland at least, a Saharan type of society, servile subjects with aristocratic rulers of a different origin, and the fact that one Daura legend has the queen of Daura as coming from Bornu shows that this aristocracy could have been an earlier offshoot from the same stem as the Bayajida emigrants. This was the aristocracy whose rule was taken over by the Bayajida group, and there are pointers which indicate that these queens, if such they were, could credibly have been of Zanata or Zanata-influenced stock themselves. Their origin is traditionally held to have been in Nagib, a Cana'anite who moved westwards into Libya from where his son, 'Abd al-Dar, went to Tripoli with his people. When he was unable to secure the kingship of Tripoli, 'Abd al-DSr went southwards until he came to the Kasugu oasis, where he begat the line of Daura queens, the first of whom was Bakainya. One source gives these queens as Kufunu, Gufunu, Yukunu, Yakunya, Waizam, Waiwai, Gidirgidir and Nagari, names which sound somewhat strangely on the ear. This tradition suggests a memory based on certain Arabian and North African events. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the Banu Ghatafan came to Medina. They were also known as the Banu Abdaldar, according to al-Baidawi, and pretended to embrace Islam to win Muslim trust, thus joining the ranks of those who have gone down in Islamic history as The Hypocrites. In A.D. 627, when the Quraish from Mecca attacked Medina in the War of the Ditch, the Bani Abdaldar plotted with the Jews of the Bani Quraiza against the Muslims. This led to stern reprisals after the Quraish had withdrawn, and, soon after the death of the Prophet, the Muslim general Khalid led an expedition against the Bani Abdaldar as a result of which many became Muslims, while others dispersed. Certain of the unrepentant Abdaldar leaders escaped from Arabia across the Red Sea and down the Nile Valley, a well used migration route, settling perhaps in one of the Egyptian oases west of the Nile in ancient Libya, and being bypassed by the first of the Arab invaders of North Africa, who moved westwards from Egypt under 'Uqba ibn Nafi' in 642. Later, HIassan, the governor of Egypt, consolidated the Muslim gains, and this could conceivably have driven the descendants of the Bani Abdaldar, as it did others, to flee and seek refuge amongst the rebellious Berbers of the Maghreb. They would have had common purpose with them and would have joined in their wars and revolts, notably those of the Zanata, who rallied under their prophetess Kahina until they were defeated by the Arabs in 703. After this defeat a southerly displacement of Berbers, particularly Zanata, took place, setting the pattern for future migrations into the Sahara for the next 500 years. The elements of Banu Abdaldar descent, or their lingering influence, would have accompanied such a movement, they and their Zanata hosts having been unable, in the words of the tradition, to secure the kingship of Tripoli, having lost it to the Arabs. A likely route would have been the Garamantian Road through the country which was later to be colonized by Bornu under the Saifuwa, and then westwards up the fertile valley of the Komadugu Yobe. The legendary names of some of the earlier queens in Daura could be echoes from the past; Kufunu and Gufunu being derived from Ghatafan, the alter-native and more widely applied name of the Baniu Abdaldar, with Bakainya, Yukunu and Yakunya connoting from Kahina (being yar, daughter in Central Sudanese languages, plus Kahina). The Cana'anite factor, as seen above, is common in Berber folklore, and both the Berbers and the Arabs have ancient racial connexions with them. 'Abd al-Dar seems to be a personification of the tribal name Abdaldar. The snake ingredient of the Bayajida tale is common enough in Sudanese legends of origin. It is found in Songhai, where the founder of the first dynasty, Za Alayaman, killed a river serpent before assuming ascendancy. Historically this first dynasty probably started about A.D. 850, and its founders have been described as not necessarily of Berber origin. The legend of origin seems to be a mixture of the snake episode of the Bayajida legend with the Yemenite traditions of the Bornu Saifuwa, although in the Ta'rikh al-Fattash the founder is described as Jabar al-Yaman, one of four soldiers of the Khalifa 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz who left Arabia and moved westwards into the Sudan. A snake also appears in the Yoruba traditions of western Nigeria-although now living mainly in the forest zone, they are, strictly speaking, a Sudanese people-and Dahomey is the unrivalled centre of snake worship in West Africa. Throughout the ancient world the snake, serpent and dragon were symbols of evil, typified in the European legends of the Beowulf or St George and the Dragon series, and in the great Babylonian corpus of legends which range from the creation epic when the city god Marduk slew the monster Tiamat and formed the world from its body, to the great Gilgamesh saga, an incorporated edition of all the older Sumerian traditions. Both the Bible and Qur'an have borrowed from these Mesopotamian legends, to say nothing of Greek mythology, in which Apollo killed the serpent, Python, at Delphi because it would not let him approach the oracle-in some versions the serpent itself uttered oracles-or because it persecuted his mother Leto during her pregnancy. This Apollo legend bears considerable resemblance to the arrival of Bayajida in Daura. The earlier Berbers in North Africa might have absorbed influences from the hellenized Libyans of Cyrenaica which filtered down to the Sudan. 'Makas-Sarki' is the name given to Bayajida for killing the snake Sarki, the traditional presumption being that the word sarki, meaning chief, was derived from this. This may be so, but it is perhaps more likely that sarki already meant chief, and that the assumption of rule by the newcomers was taken as a symbolical killing of the former rulers. In primitive thought, springs, wells and other sources of water are commonly inhabited by serpents-in Palestine and Syria springs were even named after them-and it is possible that the servile peoples over whom the queens of Daura ruled subscribed to such beliefs. These beliefs may have been so strong that they turned the people against their rulers, a problem with which the first kings of the Bagoda dynasty of Kano were faced. If as, seems possible, the Bayajida group commenced integration with the commoners first, their in-fluence, still probably Muslim, may have overcome these primitive beliefs which may have amounted to full-scale snake worship, and in this light the episode of the snake Sarki becomes explicable in a purely local significance. Telescoped into the fantasy of the snake, however, appears to be some less speculative matter of interest. The fact that water could only be drawn once a week suggests that the wells which the migrants found yielded little water. As far as north Daura, wells which are dug in sand dry up some time before the rains, and for all season supplies it is sometimes necessary to penetrate into rock lying under the sand. The Bayajida migrants might have introduced the art of sinking wells into rock. Their horses would have needed substantial water supplies, and the slow-seeping sand wells may have been enough for the existing peoples but insufficient for the new-comers and their horses. It may be argued that, as the original Abui Yazid migrants from North Africa were Muslims, their religion should have spread wherever they went, erasing or modifying pagan mythology. This is not so, however, and the descendants of the migrants must have apostatized. The sources of this period all indicate that, although Kanem may have adopted Islam at the end of the eleventh century, Islam did not reach Hausaland until the fourteenth century, when it was brought by Wangarawa from the empire of Mali. The incoming Berbers are unlikely to have had North African wives with them and thus, as the original arrivals died out, their descendants, being remote from cultured Islamic influences, would soon have apostatized, but without absorbing the pagan beliefs of the Sudan. To conclude, a possible historical background to the legend of Bayajida and the rulers of the Hausa Bakwai may be briefly summarized by stating that at the middle of the tenth century the final defeat and death of the Berber sectary Abu Yazid Makhlad ibn Kaidad al-Zanati at the hands of the Fatimid Khalifa of North Africa caused some remnants of his followers to take refuge in the Sahara desert. Arriving at the Kawar group of oases, they may have encountered the forebears of the Maghumi court of Bornu. They began to integrate, and perhaps the strength which Bornu gained from both fresh blood and a superior strain of horses formed a foundation for Bornu's later greatness. One segment of the newcomers' descendants later moved away to the savannas south of the desert. Here they arrived in a country where the original inhabitants were ruled by an aristocracy of earlier Berber stock. The newer arrivals sought for a means to assume the rule, at first by forming an alliance with servile subjects, later by uniting with the existing rulers, an amalgamation in which physiological assimila-tion was rapid. By the use of horses, which were the first in the area, and the exercise of a practised political ability they then obtained an ascendancy over a fairly wide territory which crystallized into the seven city states of the Hausa Bakwai. Certain material aspects of Berber culture were re-tained, but the Islamic faith of the migrants lapsed or lay dormant until the conversion of Hausaland commenced four centuries later.
The various Bayajida legends in Hausa folklore describe how Bayajida, son of the king of Baghdad, came to Bornu and married the ruler's daughter. He later fled and came to Daura, fathering the founders of the seven Hausa states. The legends seem to be describing events which happened during the tenth century A.D. and Bayajida may be identical with the Ibadite sectary Aba Yazid who resisted the Fatimids of Tunisia until he was killed by them in 947. The debris of his army may have fled across the Sahara and arrived in Bornu, then north of Lake Chad. After some time a part of this rabble which had remained unassimilated moved south-west and interbred with the indigenous inhabitants round Daura, forming the Hausa aristocracies. Different ingredients of the legends may be folk memories of events near Mecca, Berber myths of origin and perhaps Greek mythology, as well as accounting for the introduction of horses and the sinking of wells in rock by the incoming Berbers.

Author: W. K. R. HALLAM