Zamfara State is a Nigerian state, located in the northwest region of the country with 14 local government areas. Zamfara state was carved out from the old Sokoto State in October 1st, 1996. The capital of Zamfara State is Gusau (The word ‘Gusau’ means “To Get Better”; the city is the traditional city of Gusau Emirate, the town was founded during the Fulani Jihad under the Sokoto Caliphate by Mallam Muhammadu Sambo, (Dan Ashafa) a disciple of the Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio. Gusau Emirate Council is the current traditional institution inside the city boundaries of Gusau, and under the authority of the Government of Zamfara State. The area today called Zamfara state was one of the old states like Kano, Katsina, Biram (Hadejia), Gobir, Kabi and Zazzau. The earliest inhabitants of Zamfara were said to have been hunters and giants. Zamfara Kingdom was established in the 11th century and flourished up to 16th century as a city-state. Its capital has shifted with the fortunes of the kingdom from place to place like Dutsi and Birnin Zamfara. In the first half of the 18th century, its then capital Birnin Zamfara was destroyed by the Gobir Kingdom and a new capital was established in Anka by the second half of the 19th century. It became part of the Sokoto Caliphate after the 1804 Jihad by Usman dan Fodio. At the wake of British colonialism, the emerging town of Gusau became an important commercial and administrative center with road and rail networks passing through it. With the creation of states during the Gowon Administration, Zamfara Kingdom became part of the then North West state and later the Sokoto State. The people of Zamfara have over the years struggled for autonomy, but it was not until 1996 that the then military administration of the late General Sani Abacha detached the Zamfara State from Sokoto State. Of the 36 states, Zamfara is the 7 th largest in area and 20th most populous with an estimated population of 9,278,873 as of 2006 census. Zamfara state is named after Zamfara Kingdom, one of the old Hausa states, and nicknamed as “Farming Is Our Pride”. The major ethnic groups living in Zamfara State are the Hausa and Fulani, while other ethnic communities include Gwari, Kamuku, Kambari, Dukawa, Bussawa and Zabarma. Others include the Igbo, Yoruba, Kanuri, Nupe and Tiv. Agriculture and gold mining are the state’s main occupations and the central source of income. Irrigation is required for cereals and legumes, hence the slogan “Farming Is Our Pride”.
Festivals and Traditions
- There are different festivals in Zamfara state, aimed at celebrating their culture and heritage. These include; • Durbar Festival: The Durbar Festival dates back hundreds of years to the time when the Emirate (state) in the North used horses in warfare. During this period, each town, district, and nobility household was expected to contribute a regiment to the defense of the Emirate. The Durbar provides illuminating perspective to the display of horses, regalia and spectacular horseman ship to bring about colour, pump and pageantry to the joy of spectators. Durbar is a spectacular horse procession festival organized by traditional rulers, especially the Emirs in Northern Nigeria. The Royal Parade take place when the Emirs honor distinguished guests with a special treat or during Eid Sallah celebration and these cuts across ethnic barriers being a period of celebration for all Muslims all over the world.
- Sharo Festival: The Fulani people’s Sharo celebration, also known as the Shadi festival, serves as a gateway for Fulani boys to reach manhood and marry up to four wives. The Sharo festival is held twice a year among Fulani communities, once during the dry season when guinea corn is ready to harvest and once during the Muslim Eid-el-Kabir feast. The flogging festival is mainly held in open areas such as markets, fields, and village squares and lasts for a week. Dignitaries from both within and beyond the Fulani country, as well as Nigeria, are in attendance. The festival begins with a gallant show of acrobatics, magic, dances, and songs performed by lovely maidens with sweet vocals. The flogging session, where young yet powerful guys demonstrate bravery by refusing to be whipped, is the most anticipated part of the Sharo festival.
- Kokowa Wrestling Festival: The Kokowa Wrestling Festival is one of the major festivals in Zamfara State, it is a cultural festival where young men try to show their supremacy over other young men in a wrestling match. This festival is usually celebrated during the dry season in the village square. The young men who will compete will come out in the middle of the square where they will be commanded to show their strength. The wrestler that first falls the opponent wins the match and is rewarded accordingly. The winner of the wrestling match command high degree of respect among his peers and also among women. Spectators hang around the square, chanting songs to cheer the wrestler they like up to victory.
Tourists Attractions and Locations
- Kwartarkwashi Rock: The Kwatarkwashi rock was during pre-Islamic period considered to be the site of Iskoki (spirit) worship. A powerful spirit was said to have resided on it. As a result some hunters settled around the foot of the rock and founded Kwatarkwashi town. There are some caves in this rock that several people can hide inside. The biggest cave can contain one thousand people conveniently. In the days of war, women, children and the elderly people of Kwatarkwashi usually hide in the cave while able young men go out to battle the enemies. This assured the Kwatarkwashi warriors that the people kept in the cave are safe and protected from external aggression. And when a war becomes too serious, Kwatarkwashi warriors used to ran into the caves and hide too. But now nobody is allowed to enter the caves because they are too deep and dark, it is difficult to see inside and even to determine the depth and the people are suspecting the wild animals and reptiles may be hiding in them. Kwatarkwashi is just 12km away from Gusau.
- Ruwan Kura Natural Spring Water: At the other side of Kwatarkwashi Rock, there is village called Kura. And the spring water coming from the rock is called ‘Ruwan Kura’. The spring water at Kura village doesn’t dry up. It runs throughout the year, the day and night. The water is always very cold and always very clean, the water has no odour and it also doesn’t any taste. The water is hiding under rocks, you cannot see where it is coming out from. The environment is very cool.
- Kanoma Hills and Rock Formations: The Kanoma people were the 19th century hunters that lived atop the Kanoma hill which provided them with protection against enemies during tribal war. The Kanoma hill is therefore a test for the daring climber. Kanoma is in Maru Local Government Area; a distance of about 34km from Gusau. Kanoma Hills is a sprawling rock formation, and the sight as well as the spread of the formations is enchanting to both natives and visitors alike.
- • Kuyambana Game Reserve: This is a vast forest area that stretches from the Dajin Rugu to the Kontagora Forest. Wild animals of all kinds such as Elephants, Lions, and Hyena etc can be seen in their natural habitat. Kuyambana Game Reserve was set aside by the government for the preservation of plants and animals, especially the endangered species. This area stretches from the Dajin Rugu to the Kontagora forest. Kuyambana Game Reserve is a safe haven for animals