For the Shehus of Dikwa and Bama, and the Emir of Gwoza, in Borno State, the 2019 Eid-El-Kabir celebration last Sunday, 11th August, was the most significant event since 2014. It afforded them the opportunity in the last five years to, not just perform one of their key roles as fathers of their domains, but also to commune so affectionately with their subjects in a relationship of amity and reverence built between kings and their subjects in traditional communities.
The royal fathers were chased out of their domains in 2014 by insurgents, expelling them from, among others, their venerated positions of leadership of their domains in the celebration of the Sallah as the most significant festivity in Muslim communities the world over.
Since then, they had lived in exile in Maiduguri.
Last Sunday, 11th August, 2019, Eid-El-Kabir day, readmitted them to that revered position as they, for the first time in the last five years, led their respective domains in the Sallah festivities.
Although the 2019 Eid-El-Kabir celebrations in those insurgency-stricken domains were not as elaborate and colourful as in the good old days’, they, thanks to the presence of the royal fathers in person and spirit, characterised the restaging of togetherness, fellowship and communal cohesion.
For restaging this situation of reunion and togetherness between the three royal fathers and their subjects in a situation of spectacular amity, so much gratitude is owed the administration of Governor Babagana Umara Zulum, which directed the royal fathers to relocate to their domains, following what it perceives as the restoration of sufficient peace and security across the terror-troubled Borno terrain as well as the need to reignite development.
Recently directing the Secretary to the Borno State Government to write to the Shehus of Dikwa and Bama to relocate to their emirates, Governor Zulum observed that as custodians of their respective peoples’ cultures, traditions and religious values, they should relocate home along with their district heads and relevant traditional title holders whose functions and responsibilities are critical to the affairs of the people.
Consequently, the Shehu of Dikwa, Alhaji Mohammed Ibn Shehu Masta II El-Kanemi, presided over the Eid-El-Kabir celebration at Dikwa, the headquarters of his emirate in an atmosphere properly secured by troops and other security agents, and prayers for permanent return of peace and security.
The Shehu attended the Eid prayer at the heavily-secured Dikwa main Eid ground, along with the member representing Dikwa, Mafa and Konduga local government areas at the House of Representatives, Engr Ibrahim Abuna, members of Dikwa Emirate Council, security officers and the district heads of Dikwa, Gumsu, Fada, Mass and Bonoshe districts, among other important personalities.
In his Sallah message after the Eid prayer, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Dikwa Local Government, Alhaji Rawa Gana Modu, had praised the Dikwa Emirate Council for its role in fostering peace and unity among the people of the local government areas that constitute its domain.
Thereafter, Shehu Masta II El-Kanemi hosted VIPs to low-key celebrations at his palace. Those in attendance included the local government caretaker cimmittee chairman, members if the Emiraye Council, head of the Dikwa military formation, Brig-Gen. Folusho Oyinlola, Mai Kindimi of Dikwa, Shettima Kanuribe of Dikwa and the district head of Wulgo, Kachalla Kysri Kaigama.
The Shehu’s personal band was in hand to thrill the personalities with traditional performances.
During the celebrations, various groups and associations paid Sallah homage to the monarch, during which prayers were offered for the permanent return of peace and security. The prayers were offered by several Islamic clerics led by the Chief Imam of Dikwa, Imam Babagoni Jugudum.
The Shehu of Bama, Alhaji Kyari Ibn Ibrahim El-Kanemi, accompanied by the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Bama Local Government, Tijjani Mohammed, presided over a memorable and first-in-five-years Eid-El-Kabir celebrations.
After the Eid prayer, the Caretaker Committee Chairman presented two bulls to internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as 10 bags of rice and two bulls to the troops of 21 Armoured Brigade, Bama, for the Sallah festival.
At the second day of the celebrations, the Shehu hosted a large group, mostly of returnees and IDPs, to festivities at the palace. The crowd, as well as top security personnel, the local government Caretaker Chairman, members of the Emirate Council and traditional title-holders, was thrilled by various traditional music performances, reminiscent of the good old pre-2014 days.
So elated was Shehu Kyari by the huge gathering for the celebrations that he reportedly directed the immediate transportation of all the reserved food items and cows slaughtered for the celebration at his Maiduguri residence, to Bama for the people to celebrate in abundance.
Same is the story from Gwoza, whose Emir, Alhaji Muhammadu Idrissa Timta, returned home last July to reclaim his traditional authority snatched by the insurgents who converted Gwoza, the headquarters of his domain, to the capital of their so-called caliphate. The Sallah celebrations were conducted there in a peaceful atmosphere, secured by troops.