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Akure - the Ties That Bind

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Akure - the Ties That Bind

Post  Admin on Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:56 pm

Abuja — The Pastor is small in size, but he has large dreams. He tells me that some years ago, he fell in Love with a Muslim Hausa lady in Akure. On another occasion, he also fell in Love with a second Muslim Hausa Lady .However, he wouldn't say what the attraction was. But he wasn't allowed to marry either of them. 'Dem no gree', he tells me with some laughter, meaning that members of her family did not approve of his intentions. His experience in this regard did not affect his perception of or fondness for his Hausa friends in Akure.

They are neighbours and are all active in the Tomato trade.They also have something in the nature of an intense joking relationship growing between them. Commenting on his fondness for the Hausa, he says, 'I like Hausas because we do the same work. I trust them. If the Hausa man says yes, it is yes. If they say no, it is no. We have been together here for more than 20 years and we have never quarrelled. If you hear any noise here which is like a quarrel, maybe it is a disagreement between Yoruba and Yoruba or between Hausa and Hausa.We see ourselves as Nigerians and the Almighty has already joined us'.He makes the point that 70% of the food eaten in this country is produced by Hausas ' 70 %of the food we eat is produced by the Hausas.They are hardworking people and I speak a bit of Hausa.'.

80 % of the Hausas in Akure hail from Katsina like their Sarki or leader, while the rest are made up of persons from Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto.Hausas here engage in trading activities, farming and the exchange of dollars for naira. One sign of the good ties linking the Hausa with their Yoruba hosts is the fact that the Deji of Akure recently gave six plots of land to the Hausa community which is to be used as a cemetery. This was a royal gift at no cost to the Hausa, which would have cost some 26 million naira at the current price if it had been purchased. Does a demonstration of friendship or brotherhood ever get better than this?

Alhaji Sadiq Kusada Katsina is the leader of the Hausa Community in Akure, and he has also played a great role in initiating marriages between the Hausa and Yoruba. He has brought together many couples. According to a member of the community 'He will pay the Sadaki or dowry for members of the Hausa community who wish to marry a Yoruba ,because according to him, marriage cements friendships and builds peaceful relationships. Akure is home to Sarki and Katsina has therefore become like a second home to him'..Sarki hails from Kusada in Katsina State, and has been in this city continuously for the past 46 years.He is still very fond of Akure.He tells me that his children have married Yoruba wives and this gives him joy. He was born at Ruma in 1938 and moved to Akure in the year 1965 to sell Tomatoes. It seems he was instrumental in the foundation of a few of the markets in the city. He was certainly pre- eminent in the Tomato trade.

Members of the Hausa community tell me 'He opened Adedeji market. He also sold items at Ilesha garage and also at Iskan, before he moved to set up Iloro market'. They add that Sarki also cooperated with many of the Deji's of Akure to assist in developing the city.

Ahmed Rufai is a trader in tomatoes, pepper and Onions, and says he arrived Akure 25 years ago .He hails from Katsina. He speaks of the good relationship existing between the two communities. Stressing that he can speak Yoruba, he gleefully remarks that this has won him the Love of a woman from Ikare. 'I can speak Yoruba. That is why a woman from Ikare loves me and I will marry her soon'.He tells this reporter that his children from an earlier marriage are present in Akure and they can speak Yoruba. To him, Akure is home,and he is not thinking of going back to Katsina.

Mustapha Ismail has been in Akure for the past ten years.Prior to this time he had lived in Lagos for a while.He is engaged in the sale of popular Guinea cloth. He tells this reporter of a few recent developments in the Hausa community. One of these is the fact that Olusegun Mimiko, the new governor of the state, has encouraged the Hausa community to come under one Umbrella. Thus the Arewa community of Ondo State came into being about four months ago. He speaks of the peaceful quality of life in the city 'I have been here for the past ten years and I have never heard of a clash between the Hausa and Yoruba. I live peacefully here without any problem. He says that Sarki founded the Adedeji market as well as the Zango Cow market. 'He is the one who began to sell goats at Ilesha market. He also opened Iloro market. He played a significant role in the opening up of several parts of Akure

He explains 'In the past, people used to travel to Ibadan to buy Tomatoes. Sarki was the first person who brought a vehicle full of Tomatoes to Akure.So he broke the chain which made people travel to Ibadan ,by bringing Tomatoes to Akure from Soba near Zaria in Kaduna state. He arrived Akure with some money and so he was able to be of assistance to other Hausas present. He gave them little loans to boost their trading efforts. He explains : At that time 3,000 pounds was equivalent to millions of naira as we know it today. So he created many businesses and succeeded. As he created new markets , Sarki invited other Hausas and gave them money to start their businesses'. On the close relationship enjoyed by Sarki and the Deji's of Akure, he says 'Why the Deji's drew close to Sarki is because he is a businessman. So they drew close to him so that he will help in developing Akureland.'

A little pamphlet provided by Sarki sheds light on some of his efforts and contributions to Akure 'After twelve years he decided to have an audience with the late Deji of Akure Kingdom (HRM) Oba Ateyese Adebobajo Adesida on how to assist his Hausa people as well as the Yorubas dealing in all sorts of pepper trading i.e seeking for a sizeable portion of land through the late Kabiyesi, who also assisted them by allocating the market land at Iloro and through the local government council.'Members of the community also feel that the Sarki should be receiving payment from the federal and state governments on account of the good work he has been carrying out for the community and the larger Ondo State.They cite his age and status.They add 'The way he modernised and developed Akure, if he had been Yoruba he would have had an eminent position in the state.'They also say that they have no car or ambulance which could be useful in terms of an emergency. Otherwise they are quite happy and love being in Akure where many of them have farms. There is a form of seasonal migration going on here for many of the Hausa go up north in the rainy season to farm. They then return to Akure in the dry season to engage in other trades. Later when the rains come, they will then migrate northwards again. There are many sellers of Suya here, as well as the inevitable tea seller or mai shayi.

Mrs Lydia Oyinloye Head Documentation Unit National Museum Akure, has lived in the north and has practically become Hausa herself. She guided me to Sarki and displayed a perfect understanding of manners in Hausa society, especially when she genuflected before Sarki. Babangida Isa,a member of the community, was so impressed with her,he soon declared that she is Hausa by tribe. Many members of the Hausa community say Akure is home to them.Sarki says he is from Ondo state. Having lived there for 46 years and also raising a family there, this is very understandable. But he is genuine and true about this fondness for Akure and the state. Members of the community tell me that there is a plan by the Mimiko administration to give the position of Special Adviser at Government House to a member of the Hausa community. They are eagerly looking forward to this, and they mention that so far only the Igbo and Ebira have been appointed SA's in the state. There are a number of officials who help to regulate the palace as well as coordinate the Hausa community. These include the Secretary or Magatakarda,Alkali or Chief Judge, Sarkin Fada as well as Sarkin Baki. Young Muslim children chant from a nearby Koranic school as I conduct the interviews. A few happy Muslim children write using ink on clean slates outside as my work progresses. Women pass by speaking Yoruba. They stop to greet Sarki who responds warmly in Yoruba, and life goes on as it has for 46 years now.


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