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Thrills of Dagagirau traditional durbar display

It’s been days since Eid-el-Fitri was celebrated, however, the excitement  of the Sallah celebration still lingers. Daily Trust Saturday reminiscence on the thrills of the…

It’s been days since Eid-el-Fitri was celebrated, however, the excitement  of the Sallah celebration still lingers. Daily Trust Saturday reminiscence on the thrills of the durbar display 

“I have seen too many Sallah durbars across the northern states but I have never seen anything like the display of the Dagagirau. They are just something else, and I never knew that such practice exists in Gaya Emirate. However, this display is what will bring me back to Gaya next Sallah durbar because it was just amazing to see pain with pleasure,” said Aminu Sani who travelled from Jigawa State to witness Gaya’s Sallah durbar.

Gaya has always been a nucleus of various historical happenings in the history of Kano as a state and parts of northern Nigeria as a whole. Based on its importance, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Rimi, a former governor of old Kano State, on 1st April 1981, announced the creation of four new first-class emirates declared to be co-equal with Kano Emirate. The then newly created emirates were Auyo, Dutse, Gaya and Rano.

Emirs of the newly created emirates, in addition to other emirs of second-class status namely Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure, were also promoted to first class status. However, in 1983, the then newly elected Kano State Governor late Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo, reverted all the promoted emirs to their initial status amidst mixed reactions from various sections of the state.

Three decades after, Gaya Emirate and three others were elevated to first class emirates in May 2019 by the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje-led administration. With the elevation, the late Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir Gaya, became the second first class emir in the history of Gaya Emirate.

However, when Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir who has been on the throne since his appointment in 1990 died at the age of 91 in September 2021, Gaya kingmakers submitted three names, out of which Chiroman Gaya, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim, was selected as the new emir of Gaya by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, thereby making him the third first class emir in the history of Gaya kingdom.

Therefore, the 2022 Sallah durbar is regarded as the emir’s first Sallah durbar since his coronation as the third emir of Gaya. To many Gaya sons and daughters, it was a historical moment worth celebrating in the best way they can.

To everyone who loves celebration, the music, rich cultural displays, beautiful aesthetics and iconic ambience that heralds and accompanies Sallah durbars are some of the reasons they look forward to such periods.

No doubt, in Gaya, the new emir’s first Sallah durbar was a major event that Gaya people and other Hausa speaking communities across the globe looked forward to be part of. 

Thrills of Dagagirau traditional durbar display


Sallah festivities are usually an avenue to display skilful horse-riding prowess and also for traditional title holders to display various colourful traditional regalia as well as the emirate’s rich culture. 

Among these various displays is the Dagagirau cultural display, unique to Gaya Emirate. It is a kind of display exclusive to a certain clan in which they hit their heads with sharp knives while dancing to music. They show no sign of pain or anguish even as blood oozes out of their cuts and wounds.

This act of bravery displayed by the clan thrilled some spectators who graced the Gaya Sallah durbar because it is an alien display which many didn’t know exist in Gaya.

Ibrahim Sarkin Kasuwar Gaya is the leader of this clan and according to him, the display is dated back to hundreds of years and one has to be born in the family to be able to do that without fear.

“This is a traditional inheritance of the Unguwar Mahaukaci clan of Gaya Emirate that has been in existence for centuries. Only members of the family can do that without feeling any pain, it is an act of bravery to show our loyalty to the emir and the emirate. Though you will see blood oozing out but we feel no pain. This is not a magic but purely a traditional inheritance that we are proud of displaying,” he said.

He further revealed that the wounds are real but they get healed easily and the recent elevation of the emirate is what brought back the bravery display for the world to see and reckon with as part of Gaya’s rich cultural inheritance.

No doubt, the display by the Dagagirau thrilled many spectators as people watched in awe as they hit themselves with sharp knives while dancing and smiling with no sign of pain.

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