History Corner

History of Birnin Lalle and her sculptured king, Sarki Kututturu

There situated one ancient African kingdom, Birnin lalle in Dakoro district of Maradi state of Niger Republic. The ancient Gobir kingdom in West Africa was renowned for its historic occurances in Gobir history; city of Henna trees (the trees that fetches the city its name) which numbers of them now did not withstand test of time in the lake owing to traditions of Hausa women body beautifications, marriage rite bathing and others. In this ancient city, there located tomb of Gobir first marked womanly royal, Kushewar Tahoua, the tomb of Queen Sarauniya Tahawwa, mother to founders of Birnin konni in Tahoua state, Niger Republic and Argungu emirate in kebbi state of Nigeria. The throne of Sarki Dalla Gungume, also Sarki Kututturu(one of African historic sculptured king that was had in the kingdom) is located there; And location of remarkable lake of its kind in the country “Tabkin lalle”, which attracts tourists from within and outside Maradi State of Niger Republic.

Birnin lalle is the next capital Gobirawas settled in after Birnin Marandat and Birnin Toro. The city was founded centuries ago by Gobir hausas when they were in quest of a river or lake they would be practicing their dry season farming, being them farmers since day one. The city got its name from the Henna trees they found at the lake bank, by approaching the area with the spacious lake and discovering the trees there, they instantly gave the area name, by exclaming “Wannan wuri Birnin lalle kenan! -What a place bound with Henna trees!” The lake is the reason of their settling in there, due to their ancient occupation farming and the fact that water is life. According to historians, the Gobir capital, Birnin lalle was founded about 2000 years ago. Gobir people of ancient time are incessant travelers, they wandered all the way from Baghdad to their last spot, moreover amidst their capitals that they deserted, each one has a purpose surrounding… “Drought”, “Femine”, ” Lack of stream”, “War” and other social vices, as speculated. But on the part of Birnin lalle it was as a result of outbreak of femine.

After the former founders moved, it was said the city made another boom 300 years back as a commercial city of that time, according to one oral historian in the ancient city, where the myth was that Kano based Merchants Caravans don’t stop by to sell-off goods to buyers enroute- untill they got to Lalle, then the present economic state “Maradi” was still a little village or not even in existence.

Birnin lalle was once an administrative headquarter of French colonies but following the Frenchman’s dissatisfaction in the frogs crowing emerging from the lake, Maibuje (name given to him by the people, meaning one who wore skirt) moved the quarter to present Dakoro, a 15 km distance away from Birnin lalle.

Sarki Issuhou Maidabo is the traditional ruler of the ancient kingdom of Birnin Lalle. He was enthroned to the ancient kingdom for about 50 years with traditional authority to villages and towns assigned to the kingdom by the French Government while other villages to a neighbouring kingdom, Kornaka under rule of Tuaregs (Abzinawas), formerly a Gobir hausa kingdom.

Abzinawas were opportuned to rule the kingdom after their forefather Sarki Jaku settled in Kornaka Town. He married a Bagobira princess by name Princess Sahiya. When the Bagobiri king that ruled the kingdom last died and he begot no heir to succeed him, Jaku implored on his inlaws, the royals of Tibiri Gobir to let him be the next king to the throne and they have no option than to let him because Gobir hausas have such a tradition in them not to turn down their Inlaws requests and they enthroned him. His lineage are the rulers of the ancient town of Kornaka populated with Hausas, Tuaregs(Abzinawa), Zabarmawas, (Barebaris) Kanuris and Fulanis in the Dakoro district of Maradi state in Niger Republic.

Tabkin Lalle covers about hundreds hectares of land implanted with different species of trees and enrevling sweet songs of birds as one approaches the lake. The remarkable lake attracts tourists and visitors from within and outside the country, most especially during Islamic festivals. The inhabitants who practiced dry season farming harvests tons of fresh vegetables and fruits which they distribute to neighbouring towns and villages markets, and generating revenue by so doing. In addition, under the undisputable President of the nation and with the aid of International interventions, the dry season farming was strenghtened with provisions of Machineries and enlightment. President Muhammadou Issuhou launched a program called “Dan Nijar ya cida Dan Nijar” let Nigerienes feeds Nigerines in the country in the year 2015 and Birnin lalle was among the beneficiaries of the program till date. Tabkin lalle also serves as must go for to camels and cattle rearers- Normadic Tuaregs and Fulanis, when other lakes that provides water to their livestocks had dried-off.

Sarki Kututturu amidst other kings that were had in the city; Sarki Barankame, Sarki Kanni, Sarki Bartakeskes, Sarki Hammadin, Sarki Bartuwatuwa and others were among the Gobir 380 kings, but the fascinating fact is that Sarki Kututturu is not human king- it’s scuptured. The sculptured king, Sarki Kuturturu is an example of ancient African technology- tactics used by Africans to overcome a difficult situation in olden days and this is one of historical occurances in Gobir. The king is counted among Gobir 380 kings.

An idea came to the royals fathers when they are out for a walk in the forest, they found a trunk and carved-out sculpture from it and enthroned it. They implemented this trick so as to checkmate killings of innocent kings by the rival royal families in Birnin lalle, when there was misunderstandings among the royal families in choosing a king. After the trunk king had been enthroned, the opposing royal families came forth as usual to make the king’s end, as they done have to others, but they found Sarki firm and fixed in his throne. To their understandings they don’t know the number of charms or amulets he possesses that made him not be scared of them or what he has in mind, at that instant they let peace reign and gave room to enthrone human kings long before they moved. Sarki Kannin and Sarki Hammadin the two surviving sons of Queen Sarauniya Tahawwa survived it by fleeing at night, as they have planned. They were forced to the throne one after another. They mounted horses and fleed northward and founded the present Birnin konni in Niger Republic and Argungu emirate in Kebbi state of Nigeria.

Whenever their Mother, Queen Sarauniya Tahawwa recalled on how her two surviving sons got lost in the tiny air she would lament “Gobirawa haka kunka kai ni, bani ga Kannin, bani ga Hammadin?- Gobirawas is this how have got me, separating me from Kannin and Hammadin?” out of grief, according to Late Hausa Traditional Musician and Historian, Alhaji Maidaji Sabon Birni.

After that She later reunited with her two sons when She learnt of their whereabouts. Sarki Kanni’s pregnant wife which he left at Birnin Lalle was brought to him and his supporters flooded and lived with him. Sarki Kannin and his younger brother Sarki Hammadi each have normal Gobir tribal marks six (6) and seven (7) scars respectively on their right and left cheek, and at the birth of their first children they decided that each child should have ten (10) or Twelve (12) scars in order to differentiate their children from other Gobirawas children. After a few years of stay with his elder brother Kanni who became the beloved and undisputed leader, Hammadin, considering that he has accomplished his duty, moved and founded Argungu emirate in present Nigeria.

Sarki Kututturu serves some roles as a king during his reign, the king had chiefs and followers and when people come to do palace greetings, the chiefs and followers would quickly respond, “Sarki ya gaisheku- the king greets you”, perhaps that originated the practice of such responds to greetings in Hausa system of Government. Settling quarrels or disputes is done by the chiefs in palace who are taking the Sarki Kututturu’s part, when needed.

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Multilingual Blogger, Website and Graphic Designer, Gobir Enthusiast, GTE at WordPress Hausa. I am Abdul Mailahiya Hausa by name, Founder- Operator at Bago Technologies. My hobbies are reading, travelling and discovering.

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