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Dole-Kaina: Where countries share same lifestyle, culture

Dole-Kaina, a border town of Kamba in Dandi Local Government Area of Kebbi State, is strategically situated between Nigeria and Benin Republic. The town is…

Dole-Kaina, a border town of Kamba in Dandi Local Government Area of Kebbi State, is strategically situated between Nigeria and Benin Republic. The town is geographically divided into two parts between Nigeria and Benin Republic, and that is why it is referred to as Dole Kaina of Nigeria and Benin Republic.

At Dole-Kaina, because of the interwoven economic activities, cultural integration, farming and lifestyles of the people, it is difficult to differentiate between a Nigeria nationals and those of Benin Republic because the communities have merged, so much that only a narrow path, electric pole or a gutter is  left to demarcate the boundaries between the two countries. 

Dole-Kaina communities share same markets, hospitals, and could be seen farming side by side, yet they belong to two separate countries.

One of the elders at Dole-Kaina, Musa Samaila, told our correspondent that they were not aware of any difference between them. 

“We don’t often realise that  we belong to different countries. You can see how we live together here in one community that belongs to two different countries. I have three wives and one of them is a Nigerien. We just live our life here as one community. Look at that market ther; that is where we all meet to sell and buy our things. We speak the same language and do virtually everything together, yet we belong to different countries.”

The district head of Kamba, Alhaji Mahmudu Zarumai, told our correspondent that his people in Niger and Benin did not see themselves as belonging to different countries. 

“To further appreciate the name, Dandi, which is the symbol of our unity, there is a recent grouping of Dandi Ganda formed by Nigeria, Niger and Benin republics. It is a cooperative society for the development of Dandi and its people. 

“The collapse of the Songhai Empire gave rise to Kabbi Kingdom, where we belong.  Culturally, our ties with Niger and Benin republics are such that we see each other as the same family. That is why we created the border/local government cooperative. And we meet from time to time to discuss our problems, how to improve our togetherness, security and other ways of living together peacefully.  

“Four days ago, we met here with Niger and Benin republics representatives to deliberate on how to move our communities forward and improve on the welfare of the people.  

“We marry from among them. We cannot be living together, interacting and sharing some similarities and not receive something from each other. We marry across borders because we are one family,” he said.  

Also speaking on the existing cultural ties and economic relationship between the Kamba/Dole-Kaina, Niger and Benin republics, Alhaji Ibrahim Bawa Kamba, a community leader said, “Kamba people are neighbours to Niger and Benin communities. We have a common platform called Dandi Association. It is a platform where we meet regularly to discuss our common problems and how to improve on our existing relationship and ties. At our last meeting we discussed extensively on the need for a border market to be sited at Kamba. 

“We agreed to make an appeal to the governments of Nigeria, Niger and Benin to establish the market in order to boost our economies.  The administration of former President Obasanjo promised to establish a border market here; we even provided  them with the land for it at Dole-Kaina, near the border, but nothing has been done till now.”

He said that Kamba, by its location, is very close to many Niger communities. 

“At Dole-Kaina, you could see that what demarcates Nigeria from Niger Republic is not more than 10 yards. If anyone commits an offence in Niger he could just jump from there into Nigerian territory. Likewise, if anyone commits an offence in Nigeria he could as well jump from Nigeria into Niger by just crossing over a narrow gutter or a foot path. This is how it is in many of the communities at the border area. Only narrow gutters or pathways serve as demarcation between Nigeria and Niger Republic. That is why the two countries are meeting to discuss issues of security, so that if anybody commits an offence in Nigeria or Niger he can be easily arrested. We share a common border; and our people and their people live together as brothers and sisters.

“We share the same entity with Niger, we marry among them and they also marry from us. We also go there to build houses because we are of the same tribe and share common border. We have the Hausa/Fulani, Zabarma and others. We share the same culture and tradition. During Sallah we celebrate Zaro festival and other festivities together,” he said.

A former chairman of Dandi Local Government and former Speaker of the Kebbi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Samaila Abdulmumini Kamba said, “It is difficult to separate a Nigeriens from Kamba people, culturally, socially and economically. Every Sunday is usually lively here because of multi-national activities. 

Also, culturally, you cannot differentiate between the Gaya people of Niger Republic and people from Kamba. The culture of Kamba/Dole- Kaina and Niger is interwoven and very difficult to differentiate. However, we both have our cultural backgrounds. Whatever societal norm they have in Niger Republic is accepted in Kamba, and vice versa. We have a very long standing relationship. 

“When I was the local government chairman of Dandi from 1996 to 1998, every month we used to have what we called border security meeting with Niger and Benin nationals. People will come from Niger, Benin and we might decide that the meeting would be held in Kamba, Niger community or Benin. That cordial relationship still exists. 

“We share many things together. Nigeriens celebrate a wrestling competition every year and people from Kamba would go there en masse. Our wrestlers also participate in the competition. During our cultural festivals, people from Niger do come to celebrate with us. We have a fishing festival like Argungu. They also have a minor fishing festival. 

“When I was council chairman they used to invite me and we would go there to take part in whatever they were doing. If they have a marriage ceremony they will invite us, and if we also have, we invite them. 

“Many of our people here married from Niger, particularly the Gaya part of the country that is near the border. Many of them also come to Kamba from as far as Niamey to marry our women and daughters. That is why the relationship between us is strong.  It has been like that for a long time,” he said.

 

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