December 9, 2018

TAKUTAHA: A mini-Arafat in Kano

TAKUTAHA: A mini-Arafat in Kano

By Abdulmumin Murtala, Kano

Despite the evidently poor culture of preserving and sustaining tourism in Nigeria, an annual event that could serve as a tourist attraction in Kano just took place with all the feasts, beautiful colors and happy moments.

The event called, ‘Takutaha’, is the celebration of the seventh day anniversary of the birthday of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad SAWA. Usually, Muslims have naming ceremonies on the seventh day after the birth of a child and it is on that day that the name of the child is made public.

The 12th day of Rabi’u Awwal, the third month of the Islamic Calendar, is the birthday of the holy Prophet SAWA, among most Muslims as a result of which the 19th day of the month is the day of the naming ceremony. This is the day on which the people of Kano celebrate the Takutaha.

People colorfully dressed come from all parts of the state in groups, chanting eulogies and praises of the holy Prophet SAWA with some riding mostly only camels and others on horses in processions across the ancient city of Kano. In every corner of the city people are seen celebrating and feasting and heading towards the famous Dala hill from all directions.

The peak of the Takutaha event for a lot of families and friends is the large assembly of people on top of the Dala hill on which they eat together and watch some socio-religious entertainment and performances. The entire Kano could be seen from on top of the Dala hill.

Alhaji Muhammad Sani, a businessman who resides in Kano city and was having fun on the Dala hill, told Sunday Vanguard that since he was a small boy, he had been part of the occasion as his father always brought him to the place and, this time, he was there with his last born. “I had to squeeze out time from my busy schedule to bring my last born here. He has been anxious to come here and he is very happy now that we have come”, he explained.

Fatima Muhammad and Zainab Muhammad, both students and residing at Brigade Quarters in Kano, said it had not been long since they relocated to Kano and they saw how people around were looking forward to the event and were sewing new clothes, slaughtering animals and feasting and they decided to join in the fun as well.

“This is our first time here. We are having a nice time here”, Zainab said.

The famous hill of Dala in Kano is where the Takutaha event takes place annually. The hill is said to have been built like a pyramid similar to those in Egypt in the 1400s. Explaining the history of the event, a representative of the traditional office of Babban Malami, who also heads the Takutaha and is a member of the Kano Emirate   Council, Malam Saminu Ibrahim Umar, the Wakilin Babban Malami, said it all started prior to the coming of the Islamic religion to Kano. The Hausa then worshipped and served spirits and demons. Islam came to ancient Kano several hundreds of years ago through trade activities from Kano to the north of Africa.

Former religion

Prior to the advent of Islam, the people’s religion was ‘Maguzanci’ and the followers are called ‘Maguzawa’. There was said to be a spirit that resided on top of the Dala hill called Tsumburbura.

Tsumburbura used to be cared for by a strong man called Bargushe. He was said to be very strong such that he could fight with and kill an elephant with his stick. It is only through him that offerings are made to Tsumburbura.

He accepts such offerings on the day of Takutaha on which he reveals to the people whether they would face disasters like famine, wars or diseases in the following year. The people strongly believe in the shrine as a spiritual support and protection.

During the reign of King Yaji Dan Tsamiya, the Tsumburbura shrine was attacked and demolished. King Yaji wanted total allegiance of the people and could not withstand sharing power with Tsumburbura and so he attacked and destroyed her shrine and she was said to have escaped and left Kano through one of the ancient city gates of Kano called Kofar Ruwa.

King Yaji later embraced Islam and established the Islamic law in the land though there were still remnants of the Maguzawas existing and they continued with their beliefs and practices.

It was the Maguzawas that referred to Muslim converts and other Muslims who celebrated the birthday of the Prophet on the 19th of Rabiu Awwal of the Islamic calendar saying “Wagga idi takuta”, meaning “this celebration belongs to you Muslims”, hence the name Takutaha which is commemorated annually.

Wakilin Babban Malami also told Sunday Vanguard that, over the years, people gather annually at the Dala hill to praise the Prophet of Islam and chant his eulogies all over the hill and around the city of Kano. It has now become traditional for the Kano people to express their love for the Prophet SAWA on the day of Takutaha.

This event is a big tourist attraction if properly organized and could bring a lot of revenue to the state especially with the history and other mysteries attached to it. In the near past, followers of Malam Aminu Kano of blessed memory made an effort to construct a staircase to ease the climbing of the Dala hill.

The simple fact that the ancient pyramid has now turned into a big hill on which people spend the whole day annually in a socio-religious activity reminds one of the annual Arafat Day in Makka in which pilgrims spend the entire day on Mount Arafat at the peak of the Hajj. Indeed Takutaha is a mini Arafat in Kano.