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Fulani Slave Raids In Nigeria That The British Put An End To By Jailing The Offending Emirs

The Oasis Reporters

December 14, 2021










Lord Frederick Lugard. First Governor General of Nigeria.




Tafawa Balewa’s 1937 published article reveals the Northern fear of slave raids carried out by the Fulani



The morbid propensity to kill each other in the north which prompted the Sultan of Sokoto to call the region a killing field, has historical origins that has to change for a modern society to emerge.

Nigerians are increasingly getting sick and tired of the daily reports of kidnappings, rapes, tortures, displacements and disruptions of agricultural enterprises leading to widespread hunger and looming famine, especially in the north.


In an article written by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa while he was a teacher at the Bauchi Middle School and published in January 1937 in the magazine, Nigeria titled:





Alh. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

This was long before he became a politician and eventually, Nigeria’s Prime Minister.

He mentioned the Zulawa tribe, as “one of these pagan tribes living in Northern Nigeria, in the province of Bauchi. They live among the hills west of the town of Bauchi, quite close to the main road from Bauchi to Jos. This tribe is still far behind in acquiring the ideas of modern civilization and knowledge. In fact, the Zulawa only realised the British occupation of the country by seeing that they can now breathe freely without a fear of being taken captives by slave-raiders“.


“They never think of reformation, but are quite satisfied with customs and laws which are descended from their forefathers. Their men are of fine stature and their daily life provides them with excellent exercise. They are also great hunters, although their chief occupation is farming and they hunt at times. But the utility of cotton is unknown to them. In every way these people carry out an outdoor life”.

Who were the slave hunters and slave traders ?

Evidently, they were the Fulani ethnic tribe who came on the back of a jihad to invade Hausa land, take out their kings and impose their colonialism using religion as a ruse.

They had horses and weapons, then hunted down natives, who when caught would be sold to European slave traders who shipped the human cargo to Europe, Brazil, the Americas, the Caribbean etc to work on plantations.



Lord Lugard’s Rest House.


Europe was to have a pang of conscience as the industrial revolution got underway making slave labour obsolete and unsustainable. The anti slavery society was then born. It was one of the anti slavery society ships that intercepted the ship carrying Samuel Ajayi Crowther off the coast of West Africa. He was then freed with his co slaves and in his seminal book, he specifically mentioned the Fulani as those that constantly raid Oyo villages for slaves.

He later became a Bishop of the Anglican Church and a Christian pioneer in Southern Nigeria.


A visit to Kabawa in Lokoja, Kogi State, shows the tombs of six deposed northern emirs who were banished to Lokoja by the British colonial administration. The Emirs lived their lives there as ordinary citizens, died there and were buried there.

They were deposed and banished because they flouted the new British colonial law banning enslavement and trade in slavery, believing in the erroneous concept of their rights to enslave “pagans” and other tribes.

This gave the Zul and other indigenous tribes respite from slave raids and they had some peace to live their lives under British colonial rule.

Colonial relics and ancient structures still dot this traditional community as one saunters through.

But beyond its significance of being home to the indigenous people of Lokoja, Kabawa is a Mecca of sorts as it also serves as the permanent resting place of six prominent northern emirs who were deposed by the colonial authorities and banished to the area where they eventually died and were buried.

The six deposed emirs who are resting in Kabawa include the late Emir of Kano – Malam Aliyu Abdullahi (Maisango), who died in 1924, was the grandfather of the present emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero; the late Emir of Bida – Malam Abubakar; the late Emir of Zazzau – Malam Aliyu Dansidi; the late Emir of Gwandu – Malam Muhammadu Aliyu; the late Emir of Zazzau – Malam Muhammadu Lawal Kwasau and the late Emir of Gumel – Sarki Abubakar.

More on Maisango:

According to his biography published on Wikipedia, Sarkin Kano Alu Maisango was born in 1864 at the Royal Palace of Kano during the reign of his father Amir Abdullahi Maje Karofi.

“History shows that he was a deeply learned Muslim scholar who strongly adhered to Islamic injunctions. He had been exceedingly close to ex-Galadima Yusuf and served as his Waziri,” part of the biography said.


The late emir, who was adjudged to be a fearless warrior and military commander, embarked on several wars and came out triumphantly. Those wars could be said to have been unjustly imposed on the other indigenous tribes around Zaria by the Fulani invaders.

“The reign of Amir Aliyu Babba was brought to an end by the colonial invasion after strong resistance by the Kano force on February 3, 1903. The colonial forces crushed the brave opposition mounted by towns and villages on their way to Kano from Zaria.

According to Wikipedia, the Emir was captured by the colonialists while on his way to Kano and exiled to Lokoja where he died in 1924.

Etsu Nupe

The late deposed Emir of Bida, Malam Abubakar, was the grandfather of the present Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.

He was said to be the first among the exiled emirs who moved down to Kabawa to settle after he was deposed by the British authorities in 1906.


He died while in exile and was buried within his palace at Kabawa in the early 1920s. The tomb of the Emir of Bida which is within an enclosed structure is in good condition because it is being taken care of by his great grandchildren.

Tomb of the Late Emir of Bida, Malam Abubakar

The present custodian of the grave, Abdullahi Ibrahim (Tazarce), who is a great-grand child of the Emir, said he took over the responsibility from his father who died about nine months ago.

“It was my father, Aliyu Tunde (Maiyaki-Ara of Nupe) who has been taking care of the grave for many decades before his demise about nine months ago. We are happy to be part of the late emir’s family because we are his great grandchildren.

“Actually, when the late emir was migrating to Lokoja, he came along with his palace cabinet.

“My father was a member of his cabinet. He settled here with all his cabinet members.

“It was a large compound. I am one of the eldest sons here. We still trace our roots back to Bida but we find here more as our home.

“From time to time, we still go to our family house in Bida.

“We were well received by the people of Lokoja. As you can see, we have become indigenes of Lokoja.

“This place (Kabawa) is one of the traditional areas of Lokoja. We are proud of being here. Some of my younger ones don’t even know Bida.

Emir of Zazzau

The late deposed Emir of Zazzau, Malam Aliyu Dansidi, was grandfather to the present Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Nuhu Bamalli. He died in 1924.

According to his biography on Wikipedia, Aliyu Dansidi was a great grandson of the first Fulani Emir of Zazzau, Malam Musa Bamalli.

The late Emir Aliyu was under the tutelage of his teacher, Malam Abubakar Limamin Durum, from age 5 and eventually became the Emir of Zazzau at the age of 62.

“He reigned for 18 years before his dethronement in 1921. He was taken to Ankpa and later Lokoja on exile just like his predecessor Muhammadu Kwasau.

Evidently, while the trade in slaves has come to an end, the resurgence to kidnappings for huge ransoms by mainly the Fulani, according to Katsina State governor, Mr. Masari who fingered his own tribesmen as those mainly in the business, is a congenital throwback to their earlier business of slave raids and trade.

But the time for the Fulani to shift grounds and change to other wholesome vocations is now, so as to enable a new Nigeria to be built based on the absence of fear, equality, peace, progress and development.

Failing which, the advantage of leadership usually shifts in democracies.
Even in the absence of democracy, power does shift unexpectedly at some point.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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