The Durbar festival is an annual cultural, religious and equestrian festival celebrated in several northern cities of Nigeria including Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Akko Emirate, Sokoto, Zazzau, Bauchi, Bida, Lafia and Ilorin.[1] The festival marks the end of Ramadan and also coincides with the Muslim festivities of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitri.[2][3]

Horseman at Kano Durbar (2006)
Bida Durbar (2001)
Children of Katsina mimicking the Durbar festival with sticks as horses.
Durbar Festival Of Lafia during Salah celebrated 2022

It begins with prayers at dawn, followed by a colourful mounted parade of the Emir and his retinue of horsemen, musicians, and artillerymen. At the Durbar festivals noblemen travel to pay homage to the Emir and reaffirm their loyalty to their various emirates.

The festival dates back to the 14th century in Kano, the largest city in Northern Nigeria. The Kano durbar festival is a four-day extravaganza of opulence, horsemanship, and street parades.[4]

Etymology edit

The word Durbar is of Persian origin and it was first linked to ceremonial assemblies marking the proclamation of Queen Victoria as the Empress of colonial India in 1877. But the native Hausa use the term "Hawan Sallah" to describe the festival - with Hawan meaning the "Mount of Eid", referencing the physical mounting of the horse.[5]

History edit

Pre-colonial era edit

Historians say the "Hawan Daushe" (Mount of Daushe) was introduced to Kano during the reign of Muhammadu Rumfa in the 1400s. During and after the Fulani Jihad horses were used in warfare to protect the Emirate. Each noble household was expected to defend the Emirate by forming a regiment.[6] Once a year, the regiments would gather for a military parade to demonstrate allegiance to their ruler, by showcasing their horsemanship, readiness for war, and loyalty.

The Jahi race is the Durbar's centrepiece and the Hawan Daushe's final item on the programme. Several horse riders in the emirate charge full speed towards the emir, then abruptly stop when they approach him and wave their sword or flag before exiting. The Emir and his entourage ride through a number of quarters housing historically significant families before returning to the palace via the Kofar Kudu gate for the Jahi - the horsemen's salute. The Palace guards march into position after the Jahi and fire several gunshots into the air, signaling the end of the Hawan Daushe Durbar.

Hawan Sallah – the Festival Riding, followed by Hawan Daushe, Hawan Nassarawa, and Hawan Doriya. The most fascinating and impressive aspect of the Durbar celebration is the Hawan Daushe, which also includes the "Jahi", which attracts viewers from all over the world.

The Hawan Daushe began as the Emir and his entourage ride out of Gidan Rumfa – the Emir's Palace, past Kofar Kwaru to Babban Daki – the palace of the Queen Mother, where he pays tribute to his mother.

Colonial era edit

Other say that the Durbar festival was introduced to Nigeria by colonial administrators with political objectives in mind.[7] The word Durbar is of Persian origin and it was first linked to ceremonial assemblies marking the proclamation of Queen Victoria as the Empress of colonial India in 1877. In Nigeria, the events then were ceremonial in nature. The first Durbar was held in 1911, subsequent ceremonies were held in 1924, 1925, 1948, 1960 and 1972. The ceremonies linked together pre-colonial aspects of martial display, colonist-created assemblies and celebrations of important events in Northern Nigeria.[8]

Independence edit

The Durbar festival featured prominently in the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, sometimes known as Festac 77. Since Festac, the colonial origin was gradually phased out and the events were linked with pre-colonial traditions such as the importance of horses for military purposes and ceremonies in the Bornu Empire and the ceremonies of "Hawan Sallah" and "Hawan Idi".

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Temi, Emidun (8 September 2019). "Exploring The Wonders Of Ilorin Durbar Festival". The Guardian Nigeria News. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  2. ^ "A 100-Year-Old Muslim Festival of Horse Riding". Folio Nigeria. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  3. ^ Tukur, Sani (8 July 2016). "In Kano, a thrilling display of ancient Durbar festival marks Eid el Fitr". Premium Times Nigeria. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Kano Durbar Festival: Nigeria's Most Spectacular Horseparade". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Northern Nigeria's cultural treasure". Pulse Nigeria. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  6. ^ Enuma Okoro (3 July 2017). "Inside the Durbar festival in northern Nigeria". CNN. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  7. ^ Steinmetz, George (1999). State/culture: State-formation After the Cultural Turn. p. 217.
  8. ^ Augi, Abdullahi (1978). The History and Performance of Durbar in Northern Nigeria. p. 1.