History of Zamfara State, Nigeria

Zamfara Kingdom was from the 15th Century one of the Kingdoms that made up the old Sokoto caliphate. The Kingdom extended from the River Rima Bend in the North down to River Ka in the South – West. By the first decade of the 16th Century Zamfara Kingdom had become a flourishing dynasty operating under the Sarauta System of Sarikin Zamfara. Its first capital was Sutsi. Many Kings and a Queen reigned at Dutsi. They included Bakurukuru; Dakka; Kakai – kakai; Dudufaru; Jatau and Queen Yargoji. Queen Yargoje ascended the throne in 1310 and reigned till 1350. She relocated the capital of the Kingdom from Dutsi to a more tragically defendable area at Kuyambana, a thickly forested zone to the South – West. This zone is today believed to be somewhere in Dansadau. Yargoje was a very powerful ruler and her reign ushered in an era of peace and progress to the Kingdom. The remains of that dynasty is today a today a tourist attraction while her famous lamp, the Yargoje Lamp, is one of the prominent artifacts in the Sokoto State History Bureau Museum. Her immediate successor moved the capital once again to Birnin Zamfara.

However, this powerful Kingdom collapsed when its capital, Birnin Zamfara was destroyed by the forces of Gobirawa in the second half of the 18th Century. This led to yet another relocation of the capital Southwards. It was temporarily based at different times at Kiyawa, Morai, Sabon-Gari and finally settled at Anka where a new permanent capital was built in the second half of the 19th century.

Before the Jihad, Zamfara Kingdom was a power that was reckoned with in the socio-geopolitical setting of the era in Hausa land. When the Jihad broke out in 1840, Zamfara became the base from which the Jihadist launched campaigns against both Gobir and Kebbi. The security available in Zamfara enhanced its significance and strategic importance in the appreciation of the Jihadist leader, Sheikh Shehu Usman Dan-Fodio (of blessed memory).

So when he decided to escape from the constant harassment of Kebbi and Gobir, it was to Zamfara territory that he came with his followers. He moved to Sabon – Gari where Sarkin Zamfara Abarshi had already established a Garrison Headquarters. (Sabon – Gari is in present day Bakura District, Bakura local Government). Inside the territory of Zamfara Empire of that period there were also in residence other tribes and ethnic settlements scattered all over the Empire, especially in Zurmi; Bungudu; Jabaka (Maru District)and Jangeru (Isa Local Government); Katsinawa around the eastern border at Yandoto (Gusau District); Kotorkoshi, Kuhambana and Burmawa in Bakura District. These ethnic groups settled alongside the Zamfarawa and with time interacted freely and even inter- married.

After the Jihad, some key lieutenants of Sheikh Shehu Usman Dan-Fodio were appointed to administer parts of the Kingdom and were given pleni-potentiary powers. The Alibawa Clan Head (Abu Hamid) was appointed as Sarkin Zamfara. He was deployed to Zurmi; Mallam Sambo Dan Ashafa as Sarkin Katsinan Gusau; ibrahim Dan Zundumi as the Srikin Fulani Bungudu; namoda as Sarkin Kiya wa based at Kaura namoda while the title of Bango was conferred on Dadi, an Adar Fulani residing in Maru.

During the colonial era and even after independence in 1960, Zamfara was still regarded as semi-autonomous by successive governments. This was why an assistant Divisional Officer (ADO) was stationed at Gusau to take charge of the Sub-Treasury and other Administrative Zonal Offices established in the town. Even the Sokoto Native Authority established Native Authority Branch offices to supervise the administration of the Zone, Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto and First Premier of the defunct Northern Region was deployed to Gusau in 1938 to head and supervise all the Native Administration Branch offices in Gusau.


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