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Suleja: Grandeur as Emir celebrates 20 years on the throne

Durbar specially in Hausaland is always a great event to watch particularly the procession. Durbar is usually held for important personalities and special occasions, for…

Durbar specially in Hausaland is always a great event to watch particularly the procession. Durbar is usually held for important personalities and special occasions, for instance, coronation of emirs and Sallah celebrations.
Suleja Emirate recently conducted a grand Durbar hosted by the Emir, Alhaji Muhammadu Awwal Ibrahim  at his expansive palace in Suleja, to celebrate 20 years of his ascension to the throne as the eighth emir of Zazzau Suleja.
The Durbar was packaged under the leadership of Madakin Zazzau Suleja, Engineer Shuaibu Gani the chairman of the central working committee.
The Palace was agog on the day of the Durbar Saturday September 21, as many events started taking place from the previous day Friday. Preparations started in earnest as dignitaries started arriving the palace as early as 9 am in the morning.
Drummers, clowns and   different traditional musicians from other ethnic groups resident within the emirate crowded the frontage of the palace singing   praises of the celebrant Emir Awwal Ibrahim.
The emir received   visitors, after each of the visitors come out to take his seat under many of the canopies erected at the frontage of the palace preparatory for the Durbar. There was an upsurge of visitors mostly the down trodden attracted by the colourful decoration of the venue of the events. The security operatives had to keep most of the crowd outside the gate to avoid overcrowding or disrupting the Durbar procession and to avoid accidents involving the horses and humans, as most of the riders,   especially the young ones want to ride their horses on high speed through the crowd.
The emirs came to the palace with their colourfully dressed palace guards called “Dogarai”. The palace guards are always easy to spot in the crowd and they are the most noticeable lot whenever there is an emir or emirs’ presence at any event. It was the same here. The most noticeable thing with them is the distinct colour of their dressings, which is mostly a combination of red and another colour or two to make it brighter from a far.
While they waited for the arrival of the celebrant, but with   side attractions entertaining them,   Emir Awwal Ibrahim performed certain rites before he took his seat for the grand Durbar. The Emir went to the first palace built by the first Emir Sarki Jatau in 1825, where all the subsequent emirs were turbaned.
People were treated to many forms of entertainment, some melodious while others comic which include the ‘Yan Gambara’, and ‘Yan Kama’, displaying their unique comic gesticulations and exhilarating language as well as  mocking people who refuse to spray them money or even the ones who gave them money.
The Igbos led by the Eze Igbo Suleja, Chief Collins Okoli, and the President General Chief Kelvin Ugwu (JP) came with their drums and entertained the guests at the palace to show how they have integrated into the Suleja Society.
Also, the Yoruba community also entertained the guests singing and beating their talking drums, while small children arranged in rows danced and sang with the rhythm and sound of the talking drums. Their presence is easily noticed, as they were in their popular “Anko” of the same coloured material, the women adorning “Gele” and their unique head tie popularly called “Goggoro”. The men also dressed in the same materials adorned caps, while the children were dressed with the same materials.
The Igbirra and Edo community communities carried the day with the bizarre displays of their cultural and fetish as well as scary attires including a fearful masquerade. The masquerade was surrounded by hefty young men, clearing any human obstacle on its way with long fresh sticks, chanting songs meaningful only to the people who understand the language.
Two people carrying pots with burning mixture of fetish materials walked in front of the masquerade while smoke   billowed from the pots on their heads. One spectator admitted that he has never seen anything scary at an event like the Igbirra masquerade. Most of the people especially were really scared given   the way they gave the masquerade right of way anywhere it goes despite the heavy crowd present at the event.
Colourfully dressed horses and their equally finely dressed riders explored the entire breadth of the palace and the surrounding areas galloping and racing as the guests watched.
Security was heavy in and around the palace as almost all paramilitary and other security agents were present to ensure security. Anybody going into the palace especially those on foot were thoroughly screened, searched, and scanned with metal detectors and even questioned people suspected by the security agents.
The emir arrived   the venue on a horse, guided by his “Sarkin Zagi” who holds the reigns of the horse guiding it through the crowd. His arrival was heralded and preceded by the deepening sounds of dane guns of the ‘Yan Bindiga’, dressed in black attire. The first gun shot into the air,  to announce the celebrant’s arrival to the Durbar venue, caused the  people to panic. However, as the gunshots continued to rent the air, the crowd got used to it and the celebrations went on earnestly, smoothly.
Working ahead of the emir’s entourage were colourfully dressed young riders, in blue dresses in the style of the roman army and clutching long spears. They move gorgeously in groups of six or four, one group behind the other. Their presence was a spectacle and added beauty to the emir’s procession, as if the emir  was on his way to a battlefield with his soldiers scouting the road ahead to avert any form of threat to their beloved emir.
The emir sat on his chair, flanked by the Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Isah Mustapha Agwai on his right, while the Niger State Deputy Governor Alhaji Ahmad Isah Ibeto sat on his left. Other emirs present at the Durbar include that of Lere in Kaduna State HRH Brigadier General Abubakar Dahiru Muhammad (rtd),  Mai Kaltungo HRH Engineer Saleh Muhammad,   Esu Bwari HRH Ibrahim Yaro (JP), Emir of Kanam HRH Alhaji Muhammad Mu’azu Muhammad,  Emir of Jere HRH Dr. Sa’ad  Usman, Sarkin Sudan na Kwantagora HRH Alhaji Sa’idu Namaska as well as the representative of Etsu Lapai HRH Engineer Umar Tafida. They watched the Durbar processions passed them by.
Procession after procession, Suleja Emirate district heads and other traditional title holders rode on horses, entering from the gate at the eastern part of the palace stopping intermittently raising their hands to greet the emir.
The ‘Hakimai’ or District Heads with their entourage of heavily dressed horses in various colours sometimes blended with the dresses of their riders led the processions, one entourage following the other in orderly linear movement which begins from outside the premises through the premises and ends where it began.
Prominent traditional title holders who participated in the Durbar were the district heads of the emirate in Suleja, Gurara and Tafa. Some of the District Heads who led the Durbar processions were Magajin Garin Zazzau Suleja, Architect Yahaya S. Na’ibi;   Madakin Zazzau Suleja Engineer Shu’aibu Gani and Sarkin Yakin Zazzau Suleja Engineer Muhammad Sani Alhassan and the crowd puller, the Banagan Zazzau Suleja.
While the procession was coming to an end, the clouds gathered and the rain descended on the participants as well as the spectators, but the crowd defied the rains, standing in there   to complete the celebration of the 20 years of their beloved emir. For them the rain is also a blessing as it brought the ceremonies to a happy end.

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