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The myths and thrills of Machina’s many rocks

However, what many visitors may not be aware of is that apart from traditional displays, Machina which shares historical antecedent with Birnin Ngazargamu of the…

However, what many visitors may not be aware of is that apart from traditional displays, Machina which shares historical antecedent with Birnin Ngazargamu of the old Kanem Borno Empire, is rich in historical sites and monuments among which are rocks.

Machina’s original name ‘karbi kauwa’ (Manga term that means physical features), aptly captures the natural endowment of Machina, a town which historical documentations is equally traced to the Sefawa Dynasty of the Kanem Borno.

Experts say the influence of climatic fluctuations is reflected in the superficial overlay in Machina and its adjoining villages which resulted in the deposition of series of longitudinal and transverse sand dunes which runs in a north-east to south-west direction in response to the prevailing wind direction and therefore, a delight to any visitor.

Machina shares border in the extreme part of Yobe State with Niger Republic to the north and Jigawa State to the south and the ancient city is surrounded by deserts and sand dunes.

Organisers of this year’s festival in Machina which is scheduled to hold during the Easter break, say the event will last five days and will be embellished with many interesting activities.

Kanem Trust reports that visitors to the festival may have to look beyond the traditional wrestling to also catch some fun by visiting archaeological artifacts including the Brides Rock (Kau Njudu), the Male Goat Rock (Kau dal), the Eastern Rock (Kau cigidinna), the Breast Rock (Kau tuamma), the Drum Rock (kau ganka) and the aero-plane rock (Kau jirgi) among many others in Machina.

The ‘Bride’ stone

The rock is located in the western part of Machina town. Its Manga name is Kau Njudu while it’s Kanuri name is Kau Larusa and it is believed that the famous rock has been in existence for over 1000 years.

Based on historical documentations, whenever there is a wedding ceremony, the people conveying the bride must have to pass by and make a sacrifice to a certain rock. The sacrifice entails keeping a ‘fulai’ which is a tray locally made from grasses before proceeding to the new house of the bride.

However, one unique thing about the Bride Stone is that a visitor must seek the permission of the Emir of Machina before attempting to visit the site and it is believed that whoever visits Machina and decides to go straight to the rock site without permission, such person’s life span “becomes shortened and may not live long.”

It was documented that very long ago, one of the Shehus of Borno, Mai Bukar Zarami, had attempted to prove the old belief wrong when he decided to go for  an expedition to the rock site in Machina. Though he succeeded in visiting the site in company of other people, it was stated that Mai Zarami died shortly after the visit and most of the people who went with him followed suit one after the other.

It is however, believed that one can conveniently visit the site after obtaining permission from Emirs of Machina, such as the current one, Alhaji Bashir Albishir Bukar Machinama.

The ‘Male Goat’ Rock

This is another beautiful site to behold in Machina. It is also called Kau Dal meaning ‘the Male Goat Rock’ and is located in the northern part of the town. According to legend, many centuries ago, the people living around the rock had many female goats without male goats and they saw their predicament as a curse from the gods. It was stated that after praying and many incantations, one fateful morning, the people woke up and saw a beautiful male goat on top of the rock and therefore started taking their female goats there for pasture, believing that the gods had answered their prayers. In the process, many of the female goats conceived and gave birth to many siblings and they therefore named the stone, the Male Rock.

After the demise of the male goat, the site became a shrine for the people of that era and therefore continued going there to make predictions into the future.  It was believed that the rock had a clear echo and when someone climbed and shouted ‘Kau Dal’ meaning (Male Goat Rock), then the rock would say the same thing.  It is believed that when someone said ‘Tazanum Dal La Kilawo?’ meaning (is your younger one male or female), the rock will answer in one of two ways. If it echoes ‘Dal’ meaning (Male Goat), then that particular person’s future shall be bright but if the rock echoed ‘Kilawo’ meaning (female goat), it then meant the person’s future would be wrecked by calamities and uncertainties.

However, with the passage of time and proliferation of Islam, the rock lost its power of speech and any impact on the lives of the people even though it still echoes exactly what one says and it is now a delightful site in Machina.

The ‘eastern’ Rock

It is known as ‘Kau Cikidinna’ and is located in the eastern part of Machina town. One thing about the rock which makes it a unique tourist’s attraction is that it has a wide opening which the natives believe that the hole is up to one kilometre deep.

One of the features of the rock is that though located in a semi arid area, its vicinity is always wet either during the rainy season or the dry season in which people in the area always go there to fetch water. It is indeed a must visit area for anyone wishing to explore Machina’s rich cultural heritage.

The ‘Breast’ Rock

‘Kau Tuamma’ or the Breast Rock is another historical site in Machina with its entrance facing the north and the exit facing the east.

It is believed that the rock had the supernatural powers to determine when a girl was ripe for marriage. In ancient times, Machina girls always went there to play by going into the rock from the entrance in the northern part and going out through the exit point in the eastern part.

It is believed that once a girl attained the age of marriage, as soon as she enter the rock from the northern entrance, she would be trapped and would not be allowed to move ahead, rather, she must go out through the very entrance she entered.

Based on the tradition of the people that time, whenever a girl finds herself in such a predicament, she would keep on crying while her friends would accompany her back home in a joyous mood believing that it was time for suitors to ask for her hands in marriage.

The ‘Drum’ Rock

The attributes of the Drum Rock which is also called ‘Kau Ganga’ was aptly captured in the book “The Great Machina Dynasty,” written by Mukhtar Haruna Aminu.  As the name implies, the rock is just like the normal drum which makes a sound once it is beaten.

“The sound of the rock has no difference from that of a real drum when you pick a small stone and beat it”, Aminu said in his write up.

Up till today, the rock has remained the delight of children who besiege it to play. It is believed that hundreds of years ago, the inhabitants of Machina used to hear drum sounds from the site of the rock especially at night but it is no longer so. They only produce sounds after being beaten by human beings.

The ‘Aeroplane’ Rock

It is called ‘Kau Jirgi’ in Manga language. The rock is also situated in Machina and its shape is exactly like an aero-plane which is about taking off. In fact,   the rock does not need much explanation because it tells the story of its self.

The ‘Cool’ Rock

This is another beautiful site to behold in Machina. It is known as ‘Kau Amasuram’, meaning the cool rock because it maintains a constant cold temperature all the time despite its location in the desert. It is cold under the hot sun, day and night, throughout the dry season and expectedly during the rainy and harmattan seasons. In the ancient times, it was also learnt, the Machina warriors used the zenith of the rock as a tower where they viewed far places as a strategy for depleting any moves by aggressors who might think of attacking the ancient town.

The ‘Independent’ Rock

From a distance, one would think that the Independent Rock (Kau Falam) is a house because it is stationed alone in the eastern part of Machina. Because there are rocks around, supporting it, aged long inhabitants of Machina gave it the name, Independent Rock.

It therefore goes without doubt that Machina is not only a home of its annual durbar, horse racing or traditional wrestling but also a town endowed with natural rocks with mythical explanations and thrilling features.

According to legend, before the 13th century, the people of Tauna village, a settlement around Machina, gave out their daughter in marriage to a son of another settlement known as Suntulmari.  On the day of taking the bride to her matrimonial home, friends, associates and family members including old women carried the belongings of the girl. However, on reaching the appointed stones, when one of the old women told the bride to make the usual sacrifice, the girl retorted saying ,“No, I can’t make any sacrifice because my mother did not tell me to do so.” Despite series of appeal, the bride vehemently resisted and therefore all the people accompanying her couldn’t do anything and therefore agreed to carry on with their journey. Unfortunately however, immediately they started moving, all of them froze and turned into stones and that is how it has remained till today earnning itself the name, ‘the Bride Stone.’

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