Flora Louise Shaw Lugard.

A tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria online

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concern. No disorder on the part of the soldiers was
permitted. Captain Abadie immediately summoned the
fourteen headmen of the principal quarters of the town,
and made them responsible for the maintenance of order
in their districts. A rate of exchange was fixed between
the local cowries and British silver, with which the
troops paid for all they purchased. The slave-market
closed itself Otherwise the life of the town pursued
its usual course. Within three days the great market
showed its usual activity, and fully equipped caravans
started for the south and arrived from the north and
east as though the country were in perfect peace.

The capture of Kano took place on February 3. The
High Commissioner, travelling up from Zungeru to Kano
for the purpose of dealing at once with this new develop-
ment of the political situation, traversed a few days
later the country over which the troops had marched,
and was able to write under date of February 8 :
" It is a striking comment on the situation here that,
although fighting is going on between the British and
the Fulani rulers of a district close by, the road I am
traversing is as safe as Piccadilly. I met to-day
caravans which must have numbered scores of loaded
donkeys, ponies, and oxen, and fiocks of sheep for sale
down south which must have numbered many hundreds
These are being taken from Kano itself, and the traders
I met saluted with smiles and unmistakable goodwill.


Women travel alone along the road, and men are all
unarmed, except a few nomad herdsmen who carry the
inevitable spear. The headmen of the villages bring
presents of food."

It was soon ascertained that the emir had not him-
self directed the defence and surrender of Kano. He
had removed a month previously to Sokoto, taking with
him a considerable force of soldiery and all members of
the ruling dynasty who could by any possibility be chosen
to supersede him. The defence of the town had been
left to two trusted slaves.

He now returned towards Kano with the whole body
of his army, but there was a fatal division in his councils.
One of his brothers, known as the Wombai, disapproved
of the new policy and refused to fight. The Wombai
influenced a large part of the army, which he separated
from the body of the troops, and drew off upon a different
road. In presence of the difference of opinion between
his chiefs, the emir adopted a course of conduct which
ensured defeat. He placed the loyal portion of the army
under the command of his Vizier or Waziri, and himself
fled northwards in disguise towards the French frontier.
On the following day his army was encountered by
British troops marching out to meet it, about 100 miles
from Kano, and, after a resistance which did honour to
the courage of its leaders in the circumstances in which
they fought, and gave occasion for the display of dis-
tinguished gallantry on the part of three young British
officers — Captains Wright and Wells and Captain Porter ;
the first two in sustaining the shock of attack by an
overwhelming force of the Kano army, and the third in
leading a decisive charge — the native forces were com-
pletely defeated.

The deciding actions took place on February 25th
and 26th. On the 4th of March the Wombai, with that
portion of the army which he commanded, and many
others who had joined themselves to him, signified to the
High Commissioner, who had now taken up his quarters


in Kano, their desire of surrendering to the British.
Having been told that they would be honourably received,
they accepted the condition of returning to Kano and
delivering all firearms, bows and arrows, into British
hands. They were required to enter by one gate, where
a guard was stationed to take the arms, and it was
estimated that about 2500 horsemen and a total of at
least 10,000 persons entered by the gate on this occasion.
The Wombai, having expressed his desire to work loyally
with the British Government, was provisionally placed in
charge of the town, with a prospect of being appointed
emir after trial, under conditions which he showed him-
self cordially willing to accept.

Immediately on the fall of Kano the surrounding
towns had sent in to submit to the British, and to express
their wish for friendship, and it was significant that this
had been done even while their Fulani chiefs with an
armed Fulani following were absent in the army of the
emir. The defeat of the emir's forces and the submis-
sion of the Wombai confirmed these towns in their
acceptance of British rule, and it was explained to all
that it formed no part of British policy to upset or to
interfere with existing institutions in so far as they con-
formed to laws of justice and humanity. Conciliatory
letters also were sent to the Sultans of Katsena and
Sokoto, explaining that Great Britain had no quarrel
with them, nor any desire to fight, provided they
would receive the British in peace and carry out the
conditions under which Great Britain was prepared to
confirm them in their positions. The letters conveyed
emphatic assurance that their religion would not be
interfered with. Katsena immediately replied that he
had no desire for war, and would willingly accept the
British conditions.

No reply being received to the letter which was sent
to Sokoto, the British force advanced westward. It was
the season of the Harmatan wind ; the heat in the middle
of the day was terrific, rendering the stones so hot that


the horses could hardly tread upon them, and the dry
wind blew like the breath of a furnace, parching the
throats of the men. The water of the country during
the greater part of the march was impregnated with salts
of soda and potash, and increased, instead of allaying
thirst. At night the temperature suddenly fell, and the
cold became so sharp that the native troops suffered
severely from pneumonia and lung diseases. At a place
called Shagali the force turned southwards to effect a
junction with some British troops which had been
employed on escort duty for French convoys, and for
the Boundary Commission near Argungu. Here a letter
was received from the Emir of Gando, to whom also
conciliatory messages had been sent, making his submis-
sion. Sokoto alone remained obdurate, and the column,
somewhat depleted by the hardships of the march, but
reinforced by the troops from Argungu, marched upon
the town. On the 15th of March a battle took place, in
which the Sokoto troops were defeated and put to flight.

In the meantime the High Commissioner, anxious as
before to be on the spot for the purpose of arranging
political conditions as soon as the military blow should
have been delivered, left Kano on March 7, accom-
panied by Captain Abadie as Political Officer, and an
escort of seventy Yorubas under a white subaltern, with
the intention of making his way by forced marches in
the rear of the troops towards Sokoto. The British
force had about twelve days' start of him ; but, in
consequence of a misunderstanding when it turned
southward on its approach to Sokoto, the road was
left undefended. The High Commissioner's party had
therefore the interesting experience of marching six
Europeans strong, without any mounted men to act as
scouts, through an enemy's country full of populous
walled towns, owning allegiance to the sovereign upon
whose capital the body of the British force was ad-
vancing. The distance from Kano to Sokoto was about
250 miles. The road for the greater part of the way


lay along the twelfth parallel of latitude, and the party-
moved on at the rate of about twenty-eight miles a
day. As they drew near to Sokoto as many as four
and five walled towns were passed on each day. They
were generally moated, and the walls were sometimes a
mile long on each face. Fortunately the inhabitants
showed themselves quite friendly, and, with no worse
adventure than tolerably severe discomfort, the High
Commissioner arrived at Sokoto on the 19th of March
in time to see, as he came over some rising ground, a
dark crowd streaming towards the British camp, com-
posed, he was informed, of the principal notables of the
town coming to make their formal submission to the
British. He received in person the submission of the
Waziri and principal chiefs of Sokoto. The emir,
like the Emir of Kano, had fled.

The trial of strength had come and gone. The
Fulani emirates were in our hands, and Great Britain
was the acknowledged sovereign of Northern Nigeria.



The first feeling of the territories appeared to be one
of profound relief, and the High Commissioner hastened
to take advantage of the favourable movement by a
speedy declaration of British policy. In Kano, as has
been seen, he had left the Wombai as provisional chief,
with the intention of appointing him to the emirate if
he should prove satisfactory ; in Katsena and Gando the
reigning emirs had made submission ; in Sokoto, as in
Kano, the emir had fled, leaving the throne vacant.

The work of reconstruction began with Sokoto. It
has been seen in the case of the southern emirates
how useful the old Councils of Notables had proved in
enabling the British Administration to appoint in every
case emirs chosen according to the law and custom of
the land. The same principle was adopted at the heart
of the Fulani empire. The Sarikin Muslimin, or Com-
mander of the Faithful, as the Sultan of Sokoto was
called, was the chief who of old gave investiture to the
lesser emirs chosen by their own Council of Notables.
But to the Sarikin Muslimin himself no investiture was
given. He was elected by the Council of Notables
drawn from certain tribes. Immediately on the fall of
Sokoto, and the submission of the headmen, the High
Commissioner, having been informed of the flight of the
emir, called the Council together and asked them to
consider whether the emir, who had very lately suc-
ceeded to the throne, should be recalled and reinstated,
or whether a new emir should be appointed. Time
was taken to consider the matter. The decision of the

449 2 F


Council was in favour of the appointment of a new
emir, and the favoured candidate — Atahiru — was, after
some hesitation, selected. The High Commissioner
agreed to nominate him, and appointed the following
day for a formal meeting to explain to him, and to the
Council of Notables, the future system upon which the
government of the country would be carried on.

Accordingly, on the 21st of March, the Council,
headed by the Waziri, and having with them the Sultan
elect, assembled in the British camp, and the High
Commissioner read to them a statement which was
very carefully translated phrase by phrase by a com-
petent interpreter, checked by the same Resident, Major
Burdon, whose name has been already mentioned in
connection with Nupe, and whose knowledge of the
Haussa language enabled him to guard against mis-
representation of the meaning of the document. As
the speech laid down the policy to be pursued by the
British Administration, I give the essential passages of
it in the words used by the High Commissioner. After
a preamble alluding to the treaties of alliance made
between Sokoto and Great Britain, and recording the
circumstances which had led to war, much against the
desire of the British Government, the High Commis-
sioner continued : —

" The old treaties are dead — you have killed them.
Now these are the words which I, the High Com-
missioner, have to say for the future. The Fulani
in old times, under Dan Fodio, conquered this country.
They took the right to rule over it, to levy taxes, to
depose kings, and to create kings. They in turn have
by defeat lost their rule, which has come into the hands
of the British. All these things which I have said the
Fulani by conquest took the right to do now pass to
the British. Every sultan and emir, and the principal
officers of State, will be appointed by the High Commis-
sioner throughout all this country. The High Com-


missioner will be guided by the usual laws of succession,
and the wishes of the people and chiefs ; but will set
them aside, if he desires, for good cause, to do so. The
emirs and chiefs who are appointed will rule over the
people as of old time, and take such taxes as are
approved by the High Commissioner; but they will
obey the laws of the Governor, and will act in accordance
with the advice of the Resident. Buying and selling
slaves, and enslaving people, are forbidden. It is for-
bidden to import firearms (except flint-locks), and there
are other minor matters which the Resident will explain.
The alkalis and the emirs will hold the law courts as
of old ; but bribes are forbidden, and mutilation and
confinement of men in inhuman prisons are not lawful.
The powers of each court will be contained in a warrant
appointing it. Sentences of death will not be carried out
without the consent of the Resident.

" The Government will, in future, hold the rights in
land which the Fulani took by conquest from the people,
and if Government requires land, it will take it for any
purpose. The Government hold the right of taxation,
and will tell the emirs and chiefs what taxes they may
levy, and what part of them must be paid to Govern-
ment. The Government will have the right to all
minerals, but the people may dig for iron and work in
it subject to the approval of the High Commissioner,
and may take salt and other minerals subject to any
excise imposed by law. Traders will not be taxed by
chiefs, but only by Government. The coinage of the
British will be accepted as legal tender, and a rate of
exchange for cowries fixed in consultation with chiefs,
and they will enforce it.

"When an emirate, or an office of state, becomes
vacant, it will only be filled with the consent of the High
Commissioner ; and the person chosen by the Council of
Chiefs, and approved by the High Commissioner, will
hold his place only on condition that he obeys the laws
of the Protectorate and the conditions of his appoint-


ment. Government will in no way interfere with the
Mohammedan religion. All men are free to worship God
as they please. Mosques and prayer-places will be treated
with respect by us. Every person, including slaves, has
the right to appeal to the Resident, who will, however,
endeavour to uphold the power of the native courts to
deal with native cases according to the law and custom
of the country. If slaves are ill-treated, they will be set
free as your Koran orders, otherwise Government does
not desire to interfere with existing domestic relations.
But slaves set free must be willing to work, and not to
remain idle or become thieves. . . .

"It is the earnest desire of the King of England that
this country shall prosper and grow rich in peace and
in contentment ; that the population shall increase, and
the ruined towns which abound everywhere shall be built
up ; and that war and trouble shall cease. Henceforth
no emir or chief shall levy war or fight ; but his case will
be settled by law, and if force is necessary. Government
will employ it. I earnestly hope to give effect in these
matters to the wishes of my king.

" In conclusion, I hope that you will find our rule
sympathetic, and that the country will prosper and be
contented. You need have no fear regarding British rule ;
it is our wish to learn your customs and fashion, just as
you must learn ours. I have little fear but that we shall
agree, for you have always heard that British rule is just
and fair, and people under our King are satisfied. You
must not fear to tell the Resident everything, and he will
help and advise you."

The speech was amplified and fully explained in the
sitting which took place after it was read. The messenger
who had been ill-treated at Sokoto on the reception of
a first letter from the British High Commissioner was
present and gave his evidence, the original letter from
the late Sultan declaring war was shown. The existing
position having been fully discussed and appreciated by


the Council, and the conditions of installation agreed
to by the Sultan elect, the following day, the 22nd of
March, was appointed for the installation.

The details of the ceremony were determined in con-
sultation with the proper Mohammedan authorities, and
it was arranged that, in sign of the acceptance of the
sovereignty of Great Britain by Sokoto, the Sultan, who
had never hitherto received a gift of investiture, should,
like the lesser emirs, receive a gown and turban from
the hands of the representative of the King of England.
These were to represent the insignia of office, which
up to the present day it had been the custom for
Sokoto alone to present on installation to his sub-
ordinate emirs.

The installation ceremony was performed with some
pomp. The troops, with guns and Maxims mounted, were
drawn up on three sides of a hollow square. An immense
crowd of natives was assembled. On the arrival of the
High Commissioner on the spot he was received with
a royal salute. A carpet was spread for the emir and
for his principal officers of state. The High Commissioner
then made a speech in the same sense as that of the
document which has been quoted. When he came to
the statement that the British Government would in no
way interfere with the exercise of the Mohammedan
religion, that all men were free to worship God as they
pleased, a deep and most impressive murmur of satisfac-
tion broke from the crowd. On the conclusion of the
speech the High Commissioner called upon the Sultan
to say if he fully understood and accepted the conditions
of his installation. The Sultan replied that he understood
and that he accepted them. The High Commissioner
then proclaimed him Sarikin Muslimin and Sultan of
Sokoto, and the gown and turban were presented to him
as the insignia of office. The High Commissioner shook
hands publicly with the Sultan, and gave permission for
the royal trumpets, which can only be sounded for a
duly appointed and accepted emir, to be blown. A


prayer was recited aloud by the criers, and the crowd
dispersed amid discordant sounds of rejoicing and ex-
pressions of mutual goodwill.

The High Commissioner was very favourably im-
pressed with this Sultan, as with the Wombai of Kano,
and with many of the leading men of their councils.
Amongst the upper class Fulani of the northern states
he met men deserving in every way of the name of
cultivated gentlemen. He found them able in argu-
ment, cultivated in discussion, open to the conclusions
of reason. In manner they were dignified, courteous, and
sympathetic. Nor did they seem to him to lack the
essential qualities of frankness and humanity. There
could be no question to his mind, nor to those of the
officers who accompanied him, that among the educated
classes of the northern state they were in the presence
of a wholly different standard of civilisation to that
generally accepted in the southern emirates. A similar
experience was made at a later period in Bornu, and
the recognition of this fact naturally went to strengthen
the conviction of the wisdom of the policy which pro-
posed to rule, as far as possible, through the existing
Fulani and Bornuese machinery of the greater part of
the Protectorate, modified and controlled by the advice
of British Residents.

Leaving a Resident and a small garrison at Sokoto,
the High Commissioner, on the day following the in-
stallation, took the road towards Katsena, escorted by
the new Sultan and throngs of chiefs and horsemen for
a portion of the way. On parting, the Fulani chiefs
thanked him profusely for all that had been done, dis-
played great pleasure at his praise of the plucky stand
which they had made in opposition to the British troops
before the capture of the town, and gave signs of much
relief that the fighting was over, and that events had
taken so favourable a turn. He and his staff gained
the impression, which subsequent events have done much
to confirm, that the majority were genuinely surprised


and pleased at the treatment which had been accorded
to them. The Sultan of Sokoto has up to the present
time continued to work in the utmost cordiality with the
British Resident.

Katsena, which had not yet been visited by troops,
was reached on March 28. On the following day, an
explanation of the British position and policy, similar to
that made at Sokoto, was made to the emir and chiefs,
and the emir was installed under conditions similar to
those of Sokoto. As Katsena had a special reputation
as a centre of learning, assurances were added in the
High Commissioner's speech of the willingness of the
British Government to give such assistance as it could
to education. Here, as in the other towns, the value of
a staple currency was discussed, and a rate of exchange
fixed between British silver and cowries. Other lesser
chiefs of the northern neighbourhood made their sub-
mission, and were interviewed and dealt with.

From Katsena the High Commissioner marched back
to Kano, and on April 2nd, after explanations similar to
those of Sokoto and Katsena, the Wombai was installed
as emir, with observance of some special ceremonies in
historical use at Kano. With Kano, Katagum was
brought under British administration. On April 7 the
High Commissioner reached Zaria ; there he also installed,
after the usual explanations, a new emir, Dan Sidi, who,
in consultation with the Sultan and Waziri of Sokoto,
had been indicated as the best successor to the emir
deposed at Zungeru, and who was willingly accepted by
the Zaria Council.

It may be incidentally mentioned, as an illustration
of the pace at which work was done in a Protectorate
where the loyal desire of every one was to "go slow,"
that, from the date of leaving Kano on the westward
march, to the moment of arrival at Zaria on the return
journey, thirty-eight days had elapsed. In that period
eight hundred miles of enemy's country had been traversed
on foot or horseback, the political situation of Sokoto,


Katsena, and Kano had been investigated, three emirs
had been installed, many minor chiefs of importance had
been interviewed, and the principles of British policy-
had been personally explained by the High Commissioner
to the leading representatives of all the native states
through which the British troops had marched.

The province of Kontagora had remained without an
emir for two years. The population had been much
dispersed, and no suitable heir to the throne had presented
himself. At Sokoto, when the advice of the emir and
Council was asked, a unanimous desire had been expressed
that the recalcitrant chief Ibrahim, who was first cousin
to the ex-Emir of Sokoto, and a man connected with the
best families of the northern states, might be reinstated.
Ibrahim, after experience of exile and confinement, had
become a profoundly altered man. The vehemence of
his abjuration of all slave dealing, when the question of
his restoration was discussed, was in somewhat comic
contrast to his previous utterances on the same subject,
and though the experiment seemed doubtful, it was de-
cided to replace him, under conditions similar to the other
emirs, upon the throne. The installation of Gando was
provided for to take place at a later period.

Every important emir of the Protectorate now held
his throne under a letter of appointment from Great
Britain, and to many of the lesser pagan chiefs a no
less formal " staff of office " had been o-iven. The
pledges given by emirs and chiefs in return had been
made in their own forms, but with full pomp of un-
mistakable public ceremony. By the end of April 1903
there was no population in the Protectorate that did
not understand the transfer of sovereignty which had
taken place from their ancient Fulani rulers to the British
Government. This was strikingly illustrated by the
action of the Munshis, an extremely ignorant and trucu-
lent native tribe occupying the northern bank of the
Benu^, nearly opposite to Bassa, one of the five provinces
which at the beginning of the year 190 1-2 had been


mentioned by the High Commissioner as calling for
attention. These pagans, who had entirely refused to
have any dealings with the British, on hearing of the
fall of Kano, came at once in a strong deputation to the
Resident, and brought presents, saying that the white man

Online LibraryFlora Louise Shaw LugardA tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria → online text (page 36 of 41)