THE NIGERIAN QUESTION: THE HAUSA/FULANI NATIONALITY: WHERE ARE THE HAUSA? By Sola Ebiseni
In an interactive discussion on the Nigerian question, amongst some of us friends, across ethnic divides last week, there was this puzzle on the Hausa/Fulani ethnic nationality. Popular view was that there existed seven well established Hausa states which were overthrown by the renowned Islamic cleric Othman Dan Fodio who replaced these states with the Fulani Caliphate and its Emirates.
In the naivety of some of us, the original Hausa people still exist in distinct form and in fact constitute more than 70% of the Hausa/ Fulani nation. One of us, a lawyer and Fulani from Katsina, educated us to the contrary, insisting that the Fulani jihadists conquest was total in all its ramifications, as the new order is a brotherhood with no ethnic identity. He posited that even the Hausa language, aftermath of the jihad, is no longer the indigenous one which is only now found among a negligible few he referred to as Maguzawa still found in parts of Kano and Katsina states mainly. He was quick to say ironically and proudly I must say, that the Fulani not only preserves his culture but still retains his Fulfude language in the new order. He disagreed with the term Hausa/ Fulani, insisting that no Fulani would ordinarily allow himself to be so referred, not even the nomadic Fulani. It would appear however that the Fulani’s deft assimilation process, which succeeded perfectly in the 18th century than that of the French for instance, was more virulently targeted at the indigenous Hausa because so many of the minority ethnic nationalities in the north even in the core northwestern states of Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna etc retains their ethnic identities even with the new faith and sociopolitical order. In one of such instance, in spite of claims of the abhorrence of masquerade or any other ancestral worship, the Yoruba of Ilorin emirate are still distinguished Oyos. We took a cursory sample of the names of the Hausa/Fulani in the Nigerian political horizon including Sir Ahmadu Bello, Shehu Shagari, even the renowned Talakawa advocate Mallam Aminu Kano, the Yaraduas, Muhammad Buhari, Abubakar Rimi, Atiku Abubakar etc, all are Fulani without the trace of the Hausa. Even Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, we were able to trace to the minority Bageri nationality in present Buchi state. The only Kanuri among the discussants however insisted that the Hausa still exists as a distinguished and identifiable ethnic group in their dominant population but, according to him, the Hausa is the problem of the north. His reasons are reserved till the next chapter of this writeup. The question is: Where is the Hausa content of the Hausa/ Fulani, even among so many Fulani aspiring to the presidency in 2019.
-To Be Continued