ISLAM IN KINNUPE
The story of Islam in KinNupe had been deliberately distorted by Colonial historians to their imperialist advantages.
The unfortunate problem here, however, is that post-Independen ce historians of Nigeria have continued to peddle the nonsense the Colonialists have spurned as the history of Islam in KinNupe and in Nigeria in general.
Very few, if any at all, researchers and historians have taken the initiative of challenging the conventional story of Islam in ancient KinNupe and ancient Nigeria as concoted by Colonial historians working on the payroll of colonial administrators who, best exemplified by anti-Nupe imperialists like George Taubman Goldie and Frederick Lugard, were out to destroy everything positive about the past of the Nupe Nation.
In the following paragraphs and sections we present a less conventional, and more constructive, history of Islam in KinNupe. Among others we discuss, in details, the fact that Islam has been in KinNupe far longer than the Colonialists made us believe. We also discussed the fact that KinNupe was the first place to be Islamized in ancient Nigeria and that it was from KinNupe that Islam spread to all other parts of ancient Nigeria.
Introduction of Islam to KinNupe
Conventional scholarship is telling us today that Islam was first introduced to KinNupe in the 19th century by Mallam Dendo who was a flagbearer of the Fulani Jihadists of the Sokoto Caliphate.
Well, the fact is that this is completely false and wrong.
Islam was not first introduced to KinNupe in the 19th century. And Mallam Dendo was not the first to introduce Islam to KinNupe.
As a matter of fact Islam was first introduced to KinNupe during the 11th century, and that is some seven solid centuries before the birth of Mallam Dendo.
In fact Islam actually got to KinNupe even before the birth of Tsudi (Tsoede) who was said to be the Founder, actually Re-Founder, of the Nupe Nation.
Tsudi was born circa 1230AD which is over two centuries after Islam first arrive KinNupe.
So, Islam has been in KinNupe for far longer than we are still being told by Western scholarship today.
Wangara Long Distance Nupe Traders It was not Mallam Dendo who first introduced Islam to KinNupe in the 19th century. It was Nupe long distance traders, known as the Wangarawa long distance traders, who first introduced Islam to KinNupe from the ancient Ghana empire from the end of the 11th century through the beginning of the 13th century, that is, over half a millennium before the birth of Mallam Dendo or the advent of the Sokoto Caliphate.
Nupencizhi were known in the past as the Wangara people. Remember that the Nupe Nation was known in very ancient times as Gara.
As a matter of fact a section of the Nupe people is still known as the Gara to this very day. In those ancient days when the whole of KinNupe was known as Gara anybody from KinNupe was also known as ‘Wa-Gara’ or ‘Wangara’ which simply means ‘A citizen of Gara’. Well, it was these Wangara or Wanagarawa Nupe people of old who actually first introduced Islam to KinNupe.
In olden days, in the days of the Gara Nupe kingdom and the AtaGara Nupe empire, KinNupe was variously known as Guangara or Wangara.
And Nupencizhi were variously known as Wangara or Wangarawa. These Wangara Nupencizhi were colonialists, territorial expansionists and great traders.
Most of us are unaware today that the influence of the Nupe empire and its culture spread far and wide through both peaceful and warlike activities of the Wangara Nupe people. In any case these Wangara or Wangarawa Nupencizhi spread and settled in colonies all over West Africa and beyond through various means paramount among which was long- distance trading.
In fact the Wangara Nupencizhi were known to historians as long-distance traders who were famous for establishing gigantic trade settlements and cities across the length and breadth of the western third of West Africa, that is, the Western Sudan.
That is how, long before the emergence of the Western Sudan and Central Sudan empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai the Wangara Nupencizhi were responsible for the establishment of settlements of Nupe origins that were to later on give rise to the Ghana, Mali and Songhai empires.
The Ghana, Mali and Songhai empires were founded by ancient Nupencizhi as I discussed in great details in my books titled, ‘Gadunguru: How the Ghana Empire Originated from Nupe’ and ‘The Askia, Kanta or Tsudi: How the Songhai Empire Originated from Nupe’. It was these Wangara Nupe people who, shuttling between ancient KinNupe and the Ghana empire as long-distance traders, first introduced Islam to KinNupe in the 12th century. Ghana was an Islamic empire and it was inevitable that any continuous contact between that Islamic Ghana and KinNupe, such as the case with the Wangara long distance traders, must necessarily result in the introduction of Islam to KinNupe.
In latter times these Wangara people who were originally a Nupe people were to differentiate into a rather non-Nupe people as we know them today.
But the fact is that the Wangara people, who are today spread over large parts of West Africa, were originally a Nupe people through and through. As a matter of fact the entire Mande complex of people, to which the Wangara people belonged, were originally a Nupe people.
The Mande Nupe People
The entire Mande complex of people who are to be found all over West Africa variously trace their origin to KinNupe. As Sir H.R. Palmer demonstrated, all the Mande people – including the Mandingo or Mandinka, Soninke or Sarakole, the Diola or Dyula, the Bambara, the Bissa, etc, etc – all have traditions of origin tracing them back to KinNupe in very ancient times.
Sir H.H. Johnston's, by far the greatest of the pioneering Africanists, demonstrated long ago that apart from the Mande people almost all the people of West Africa originated from Nupe. I
discussed this in great details in my book titled “Kwa Kukuruku: How West Africa Originated from Nupe.” But now were discussing just the Mande;
the fact that the entire Mandire complex, now spread out over the whole of West Africa and even beyond, originated from Nupe.
All these Mande people were in continuous touch with their motherland KinNupe through the activities of the Wangara Nupe long-distance traders. The Wangara Nupe long-distance traders were continuously shuttling between KinNupe and the west coast of the West Africa were all these Mande people were located.
Because of the strategic location and lifeline natures of the River Niger, its Niger-bend in Central KinNupe and its Niger-Benue Confluence KinNupe became a population-generating and economic powerhouse of the whole of the West African subregion in those far-off days. And that was why there was a continuous and vigorous movement of people, especially the Wangarawa long-distance Nupe traders, from KinNupe to all other parts of West Africa.
Now then, the Mande became Islamized as early as the 12th century due to the influences of the Ghana Empire which came to an end in the 13th century.
As a matter of fact the politico-religious crises that brought about the fall of the Ghana Empire and the simultaneous rise of the Mali Empire in the 13th century led to a displacement of a large number of people. Many of these displaced people, being Muslims and Islamic scholars, simply migrated into KinNupe since in those days KinNupe was the greatest power in the ancient Nigeria of those days and there was no any other great nation, after Ghana, for the migrating people to flee to except KinNupe in those days.
Because of the continuous flux of traders, Islamic scholars and other peoples from Ghana through Mande world to KinNupe the Islamization of the Mandes was immediately transferred to KinNupe such that Islam arrive KinNupe towards the end the 12th century and this was accentuated during the fall of Ghana and the rise of Mali in the following 13th century.
Islam and Etsu Zaguna
It has been said that Islam was first introduced to KinNupe in the reign of Etsu Zaguna.
Whatever the case might have been the fact remains that Etsu Zaguna was the one who gave a boost to the Wangara Nupe long-distance trading in the beginning of the 13th century.
Etsu Zaguna’s serious promotion of Nupe commercialism, part of which was his encouragement and patronizing of the Wangarawa Nupe long-distance trading, contributed in no small measure to the elevation of KinNupe into the commercial and economic headquarters of West Africa in those far-off days.
And Etsu Zaguna’s regional influence in the West African region did had effect on the rise of the Mali Empire.
There are some who have remonstrated that Etsu Zaguna’s transformation of KinNupe into a commercial and economic superpower rivaling the Ghana empire in West Africa contributed to the economic decline of the ancient Ghana empire thereby contributing in no small measure to its decline and thereby ushering in the rise of Mali empire.
Well, whatever the truth of the matter might have been, our subject of discussion here is that it was from the ancient Ghana empire that the Wangarawa Nupe long-distance traders introduced Islam to KinNupe towards the siècle de fin of the 12th century.
KinNupe first part of Ancient Nigeria to be Islamized KinNupe was one of the earliest places to which Islam was introduced before it was spread to all other parts of ancient Nigeria and the Central Sudan.
And it was Nupe Muslim missionaries who spread Islam to almost all other parts of ancient Nigeria.
The introduction of Islam into KinNupe in the 12th and 13th centuries long predated the introduction of Islam to other parts of ancient Nigeria. It was to KinNupe that Islam was first introduced before any other parts of ancient Nigeria. The lie of modern Western scholarship to the effect that Islam was in Hausaland before it got to KinNupe is exactly what we just called it – a lie. It is a capital lie invented by the White men colonialists working under the administrative instructions and sponsorship of Frederick Lugard the AntiNupe.
Even the Sokoto Jihadists themselves admitted in several of their works that there was Islam in KinNupe long before the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate. As a mater of fact both Sultan Bello, the first Caliph of the Sokoto Caliphate and Shehu Abdullahi Fodiyo the highly religious brother to Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo, both wrote in their books that Islam was long established in KinNupe before the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate.
It is quite revealing to notice that upon all the numerous booklets and pamphlets written by the Sokoto Jihadists – from Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo himself through his brother Shehu Abdullahi Fodiyo to his children including the prolific Sultan Bello and Nana Asmau – none of them ever mentioned that they came to Islamise KinNupe. Instead their write-ups are replete with stories on how their Jihad enterprises were directed at converting the Gobir and the Hausa peoples and their Sarki kings to Islam.
But the Rima Valley wherein the Sokoto Jihadists resided was just abutting KinNupe in those days, yet the Sokoto Jihadists never reported that they came to KinNupe to Islamise the Nupe Nation. Instead it is Sokoto historians, including people like Waziri Junaidu, who catergorically narrated that Nupe Jihadists, including most especially the very famous Shehu Abdurrahman Sharif Gbaji, who were coming from KinNupe to not only train the Sokoto Jihadists but to also Islamise Hausaland.
In fact, and as I discussed in exhaustive details in my many of books, including the ones titled ‘Tsatsa Caliphate: Sokoto Caliphate or Nupe Caliphate?’ and ‘The Mahdi From Nupeland: Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji’, the Sokoto Caliphate was actually established by Nupe Jihadist mercenaries headed by Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji the Nupe man.
In any case the fact still remains that KinNupe was the first place, in the whole of ancient Nigeria, to which Islam was introduced from ancient Ghana before Nupe Muslim missionaries spread Islam from KinNupe to all other parts of ancient Nigeria.
KinNupe was fully Islamic for at least a century before any other part of ancient Nigeria became Islamized. Even Western scholarship admits that Islam, for instance, only got to Hausaland in the 15th century – but that is some three or so hundred years after Islam has been in KinNupe. The Nupe Caliphate Soon after the 13th century introduction of Islam to KinNupe, the Etsu Nupes were converting to Islam because they immediately discovered that political Islam was a potent weapon they could use to their great advantage. The Etsu Nupes immediately realized that Islam is an international force, as they saw with the case of the falling Ghana and the rising Mali epires, which they can use to transform their own Nupe kingdoms into international superpowers. So, the Etsu Nupes not only converted to Islam but also immediately focused on using the political powers of Islam to attract for themselves untold powers and wealth.
The Etsu Nupes immediately began to think of transforming the Nupe kingdom into a superpower Islamic Caliphate much the same as they saw happened in ancient Ghana and Mali. And soon KinNupe was attracting Islamic reformists and revivalists from the outside world. Arab and Berber Islamic scholars began to troop into KinNupe to be patronised by the Etsu Nupes.
This was a re-enacment of the case of Ghana and Mali. It was Islamic scholars from the Middle East and North Africa – Arabs from the Middle East and Berbers from North Africa – who came as missionary-Jihadists to transform Ghana and Mali into Islamic Jihad enclaves. Now the same thing was happening with KinNupe as Arab and Berber missionary-Jihadists came in all the way from the Middle East and North Africa in order to be patronized and sponsored by the Etsu Nupes in the bid to transform KinNUpe into an international Islamic Caliphate.
These international Islamic scholars transformed KinNupe into a bastion of Islam in ancient Nigeria long before Islam was introduced to other parts of ancient Nigeria.
As we shall discuss in greater details in the following paragraphs many Etsu Nupes and Nupe Islamic scholars struggled so hard to establish a Nupe Islamic Caliphate. Some of the most popular of these Etsu Nupes include Etsu Jiya and Etsu Jibrilu.
And some of the most famous of the Islamic scholars who struggled for the establishment of a Nupe Caliphate include Shehu Abdurrahman Sharif Balarabe Gbaji.
Etsu Jiya and Islam
One of the famous Etsu Nupes of this period was Etsu Jiya.
This Etsu Jiya was a Muslim who contributed so much to the development of Islam in KinNupe and beyond.
So much was Etsu Jiya’s Islamic activities that the Ottoman Empire, which was the world headquarters of the Islamic Caliphate in those, tried to establish direct diplomatic ties with the Nupe Empire.
The Ottoman rulers also vied with the Portuguese in securing the attention of Etsu Jiya.
During the reign of Etsu Jiya the fame of the Nupe Nation as an Islamic nation in the heart of Black Negro Africa reached unprecedent heights.
In Europe, the Middle East and Asia Minor, including the Byzantine where the Ottman Empire was located as the world Caliphate of those days, the story was everywhere that the Nupe Nation was a powerful Islamic nation atride the very banks of the River Niger.
in Europe there were stories, as late as the 18th century and as recorded by Vatican historians, that KinNupe was actually harboring an Islamic kingdom side by side with the remant of the ancient Chriastian kingdom of Prester John the White man who went to established a powerful Christian empire in the Central KinNupe on the eve of the Christian Era of history…. …
. But we are diverting. I discussed this in plenary details in my books including ‘The Sign of Sara: The Maltese cross In the History of Ancient KinNupe: Prehistoric Christianity In KinNupe,’ and ‘Yisa The Nupe Emperor: The Kisra People And Early Christianity In Prehistoric KinNupe.’
For now, and least we forget, we are discussing Etsu Jiya, the first of the Etsu Nupes who made KinNupe internationally famous as an Islamic nation in medieval times.
Etsu Jiya was also responsible for the Islamisation of the Hausa city states. It was Etsu Jiya who sent Islamic missionaries to the Hausa states to teach them Islam and to Islamise the entire Hausaland.
In those days the Hausa city states were actually peasnt and rustic towns and even villages not known to most historians and of not any historic or political significance.
Most of the Hausa city states in those days were actually Nupe settlements wholly populated by Nupe people but located in today’s Hausaland. Katsina, Zaria and Garun Gabas were, for instance, certainly Nupe settlements through and through in those days.
It is because the Hausa city states were Nupe towns and Nupe vassal dependencies in those days that Etsu Jiya decided to spread his Islamic proselytizing activities to them by sending Nupe Islamic missionaries to his weak and vassal and dependent Nupe city states located in today’s Hausaland.
Nupe Islamization of the Hausa City State Ironically, it was Islam that empowered the Hausa city states to grow into powerful states that gradually became independent of Nupe sovereignty.
When the celebrated Algerian Islamic scholar Sheikh Muhammad Al-Maghili arrive ancient Nigeria, for instance, he first came directly into KinNupe and was a guest of Etsu Gana II for a while before he eventually went to Katsina where he taught Islam and to Kano where he became the spiritual and temporal Islamic adviser to Sarki Rumfa of Kano.
In fact Sheikh Al-Maghili, an Algerian Berber from North Africa, came all the way from Algeria as a guest of the Etsu Nupes. He came and settled down at the palace of the Etsu Nupes with the goal to strengthen Islam in KinNupe and to spread it out to all other parts of ancient Nigeria and its surroundings, that is the Central Sudan. By the time Sheikh Al-Maghili arrived KinNupe he met Etsu Gana II as the Etsu Nupe in those days.
It was Etsu Gana II who sent Sheikh Al-Maghili to preach Islam to the people of both Katsina and Kano. It was also Etsu Gana II who appointed Al-Maghili as the advisor to Muhammad Rumfa the Emir of Kano.
The fact is that in those days Kano was more or less a Nupe settlement and the Emir of Kano in those days, Muhammad Rumfa, was himself a Nupe man. Has anybody ever noticed that the epithet ‘Rumfa’ is nothing but a dialectal variant of the national name ‘Nupe’? The fact is that ‘Rumfa’ and ‘Nufa’ (the Hausa word, Nufawa, for Nupe) are morphologically one and the same. Muhammad Rumfa was titled ‘Rumfa’ because he was a Nupe man.
As was the case with Etsu Gana II sending Sheikh Al-Maghili to Islamise Katsina, Kano and other Hausa city states so also was it the case with many other Etsu Nupes in those days sending Muslim missionaries to all parts of Hausaland to Islamise the ancient Hausa people, the ones we call Maguzawa today, who were actually full-blooded Nupe people in those days. And it was from KinNupe that Islam spread to all other parts of ancient Nigeria.
It was not just to Hausaland that the Etsu Nupes sent Islamic missionaries; it was all other parts of the Central Sudan, that is, ancient Nigeria and its neighbours.
It was Nupe Islamic missionaries who introduced Islam to the Borgu, the Bauchi, the Zamfara, the Adamawa, the Akokos, the Ikara, the Yorubas, the Igbira, the Igala, the Edo-Benin, the Ibos of Nsukka, and almost all other peoples of ancient Nigeria.
Nupe Islamization of Yorubaland
Islam was first introduced to Yorubaland by Nupe Muslim missionaries. Reverend Samuel Johnson, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and many others wrote that Islam was first introduced to Yorubaland by Nupe Islamic missionaries.
Ilorin was established by Nupe emperors as ‘Ile Ori’ or Head House, that is capital city, for the rest of Yorubaland and as a launch pad for Nupe colonial administration of the whole of Yorubaland in ancient times. In the beginning Ilorin was a Nupe town through and through.
In those days Ilorin was actually located in KinNupe as the territorial expanse of KinNupe extended beyond the location of Ilorin. The whole of today’s Kwara State was part and parcel of Nupeland in those days.
With the advent of Islam a renowned Nupe Islamic scholar, known as Sheikh Abdullahi An- Nufawi (i.e. ‘Sheikh Abdullahi the Nupe’) settled in Ilorin to use Ilorin as a launch pad for the Islamisation of Yorubaland. Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther reported this Sheikh Abdullahi An- Nufawi as being the one who established Islam in Ilorin.
Sheikh Abdullahi An-Nufawi was the one who also set up the popular Oke Sunna at Ilorin. It was Sheikh Abdullahi An-Nufawi who established Islam in Ilorin – Mallam Alimi was not the one who brought Islam to Ilorin neither was he the one who established Islam in Ilorin.
Mallam Alimi only came to Ilorin long after Nupe Jihadists and Nupe Muslim scholars have totally transformed Ilorin into an Islamic enclave. And, Mallam Alimi was, himself, a Nupe-Fulani man! Well, the bottom line about the Ilorin-Nupe Islamic connexion is the fact that in the days that Islam was first introduced to Ilorin the town of Ilorin was completely located within the territorial expanse of the greater KinNupe of those days.
So, and as far as the Nupe Jihadists who took Islam to Ilorin where concerned, they were merely extending Islam to a borderline town of KinNupe.
Their plan was to use Ilorin, a Nupe town lying close to the border of former Nupe with Yorubaland, to spread Islam to the rest of Yorubaland. They called it the ‘Ile Ori’, which contracted into ‘Ilorin’ today, or capital city from which they will spread Islam over the whole of Yorubaland.
Nupe missionaries did the same thing in Ekiti. They set up a powerful Islamic centre in Ekiti and used Ekiti as a base to spread Islam to all other parts of Yorubaland and the neighbouring Iboland. Sheikh Adam Al-Ilori wrote in his ‘Nasim as-Saba’ that Nupe missionaries actually attempted to transform Ekiti into an Islamic Caliphate that would have been the seat of the Caliphate of the entire Central Sudan.
As we have mentioned before, many Etsu Nupes struggled and tried to establish a Nupe Caliphate which would have been the central Caliphate of the whole of the Central Sudan, that is Nigeria and its neighbours, today. In the annals of Nupe history the first Etsu Nupe to become famous for such attempts at establishing an Islamic Caliphate was Etsu Jibrilu who reigned from 1746 to 1759.
Etsu Jibrilu was not the first of the Etsu Nupes to become a Muslim as Western scholarship wrongly asserts sometimes. There many Etsu Nupes before Etsu Jibrilus who were Muslms.
We see, for instance, that Etsu Abdullahi Waliyi, who ruled from 1679 to 1700, was already a Muslim and bearing a Muslim name almost a century before the time of Etsu Jibrilu.
Even Etsu Mamman Wari who ruled before Etsu Abdullahi Waliyi, from 1670 to 1679, was also a Muslim. But, and even though not being the first Etsu Nupe to become or be a Muslim, Etsu Jibrilu was the first recorded by modern history be a great Islamic reformer.
He more or less established Islam as the state religion of the Nupe Nation in those middle of the 18th century days.
Etsu Jibrilu deliberately transformed some Nupe cities and towns into Islamic capital. These included Nupe towns and cities like Dabban, Katcha, Eggan, Tiabo, Gbaji, and others. Over these Islamic regional capital cities of KinNupe Etsu Jibrilu appointed great Islamic scholars, some of whom are not even Nupe but Arabs, as spiritual rulers.
Through these Nupe Islamic capitals and their Islamic scholars Etsu Jibrilu ensued the gradual spread of Islam over the whole of KinNupe as a state religion.
Etsu Jibrilu also introduced the Islamic taxation system of Jizya whereby non-Muslims are taxed by the Islamic state for the services of security and welfare being provided them by the Islamic state. With the establishment of the Jizya system over the Nupe Nation Esu Jibrilu had officially demonstrated that Islam was the state religion of the Nupe Nation.
In this manner Etsu Jibrlu was gradually building the Nupe Nation into the ultimate goal of a Nupe Caliphate that will eventually exercise the powers of political Islam over the whole of the Central Sudan.
But the Nupe people resisted Etsu Jibrilu’s Islamic reforms and his transformation of the Nupe Nation into an Islamic state.
They poltted against him and, as Sultan Bello wrote, eventually ousted him from power.
Sultan Bello categorically wrote that, “There was a certain king Jibrilu who ruled over them [the Nupes] in former times. Islam spread because of him. And they hated him because of his firmness and strict observance of the religion.
They deposed him and installed one who agreed with them…” Etsu Jibrilu was opposed and dethroned by those who didn’t like his Islamic reformist activities and his attempt at transforming KinNupe into a Caliphate.
Etsu Jibrilu was took refuge at Kutigi where he remained until his death. The ouster and fall of Etsu Jibrilu was a deadblow to the spread and establishment of Islam in KinNupe.
But for the removal of Etsu Jibrilu from power KinNupe would have been transformed into the Islamic Caliphate of the Central Sudan and would have conquered a great part of the West Africa into the fold of an Islamic Caliphate that would have definitely been far greater than the Songhay Empire let alone the Ghana and Mail empires which where even smaller than the Songhai Empire.
Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji
Apart from some of the Etsu Nupes, like Etsu Jibrilu, Nupe Islamic scholars in those days were always obsessed with the idea of establishing an Islamic Caliphate here in KinNupe or in any of its satellite vassal states.
Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji was the one who came so close to accomplishing that grand dream. Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji was born at the village of Gbaji not far away from Agaie.
He was aan Half-caste, the son of an Arabian father and a Nupe mother. The father, Sharif Balarabe, was an Islamic scholar from Arabia who left Arabia in the days of the clash of the Ottoman forces with the Arabians.
Shehu Abdurrahman grew up to be a great Islamic scholar and was patronized by the powerful Etsu Nupes of those days. He eventually formed an alliance with Etsu Jimada with whom he agreed to establish a Nupe Caliphate with headquarters at Mokwa.
Choosing Mokwa as his base Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji became so great and powerful that, at a time, Mokwa was virtually an Islamic Caliphate.
Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji’s plan was to make Mokwa the capital city of the first and only Islamic Caliphate of the whole of the Central Sudan. If he had succeeded we would have had a ‘Mokwa Caliphate’ or ‘Nupe Caliphate’ today administering Islam over the whole of Nigeria and not a Sokoto Caliphate.
It was this same Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji, the Nupe man, who went up north into the Rima Valleys and founded and established the Sokoto Caliphate for the Fulani Jihadists under Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo.
The Fulani Jihadists revered Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji as the Promise Mahdi of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Even Shehu Usmanu dan Fodiyo bowed down to and referred to Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji the Nupe man as his master and teacher. This was the cause of his clash with Shehu Abdullahi Fodiyo the elder brother to Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo.
When Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji came back to KinNupe his patron Etsu Jimada had been killed by Etsu Majiya and the dendo Jihadists. Shehu Abdurrahman Gabji was then helplessly left at the mercy of his adversaries leading among whom was Mallam dendo and his children.
To make matters worse the rising Sokoto Caliphate of those days also shifted its support from Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji to the Dendo forces. That was how Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji’s enterprise at establishing a Nupe Caliphate fall.
Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji was frustrated by his adversaries and was eventually murdered by his opponents and enemies at the village of Kere. It was the murder of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji and the subsequent collapsed of his inchoate Nupe Caliphate that gave the then minor Sokoto Caliphate the opportunity to rise into the almighty Caliphate of the Central Sudan. But, and as I discussed in many of my books, it was this same Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji, the Nupe man, who founded and established the Sokoto Caliphate. The Sokoto Caliphate was, in its beginning, a Nupe Caliphate.
The Nupe Emirates
After the demise of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji came the end of the Caliphate era of the history of Islam in KinNupe. Instead a new era of Nupe Emirates came about in KinNupe.
The same Mallam Dendo and other Nupe-Fulani Mallams who teamed up with Etsu Majiya to kill Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji and his dream of a Central Sudan-wide Nupe Caliphate were the ones who eventually ended up setting up their own Nupe emirates.
After the death of Etsu Jimada and the assassination of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji the victorious Etsu Majiya and his Mallams headed by Mallam Dendo became the paramount powers in KinNupe. Etsu Majiya actually declared himself as the sole Etsu Nupe of the entire Nupe nation.
But while Etsu Majiya was at Raba trying to rule according to the ancient culture and customs of the Nupe people, the Mallam Dendo he had accommodated as a subject at Raba had become a rallying point for Islamic Jihadists and mercenaries from all parts of the Central Sudan and even beyond.
The issue is that Mallam Dendo became extremely famous as a great Islamic scholar with unparalleled Asiri spiritual powers and Muslim disciples and Jihadist mercenaries therefore saw him as a rallying point for their zealous dream of the establishment of a Nupe Caliphate to oversee the growth and expansion of Islam over the Central Sudan.
So, and while Etsu Zubairu Majiya was comfortably settling back into a life of Etsuship at Raba, he wasn’t aware that right before him there at Raba Mallam Dendo was rapidly transforming into a formidable Islamic force to be reckon with.
Mallam Dendo soon became a rival power to Etsu Majiya at Raba and before long there ensued clashes between the two. It was, however, when Mallam Alimi, a kindred to Mallam Dendo, ousted the Yorubas from power and established Ilorin as an Islamic Emirate that Etsu Majiya eventually saw Mallam Dendo as truly a fatal threat.
Etsu Majiya subsequently drove Mallam Dendo and his battalion of rebel Mallams and sundry Islamic mercenaries out of Raba.
Etsu Majiya then told the Nupe people that if they don’t drive the Nupe-Fulanis out of KinNupe the unpalatable eventuality will be wholesale conversion of KinNupe to Islam.Etsu Majiya’s Ebasanci and Boci soothsayers and prophets rightly prophesised that KinNupe or the Nupe Nation as about to fall under the spell of Islam unless the Nupe people actively drive the Fulani Jihadists out of KinNupe once and for all.
The story as retold all over again by the elders and the wisemen of KinNupe that it was the advent of Islam that initiated the fall of the Nupe Nation in the first place ever since the days of Etsu Mu’azu who appointed his own son, in a patriarchal manner, as his Shaba or heir apparent as against the age-old Nupe matrilineal culture of appointing the reigning Etsu Nupe’s nephew as the Shaba or heir apparent to succeed the Etsu.
It was under the growing influence of Islam in KinNupe in the 1750s that Etsu Mu’azu disrupted the ancient Nupe matrilineal culture in favour of the Islamic patrilineal line of succession to the throne. Of course the then young Etsu Majiya, the rightful Shaba under the ancient Nupe matrilineal line of succession, vigorously challenged the Islamic tendencies of Etsu Mu’azu and eventually overthrew his uncle from power.
But KinNupe never witness peace ever since those days as the Islamists, now in the form of the Nupe-Fulanis, continued to impose the Islamic system of patrilineal succession on the Nupe Nation and now, in his old age in the 1820s, it was the same Etsu Majiya who was still campaigning against and preaching for driving the Nupe-Fulanis and Islam out of KinNupe.
But Etsu Majiya was fighting a losing war against Islam and the hordes of Mallam Dendo. In 1826 Etsu Majiya attacked the Rebel Mallams who had concentrated at Ilorin under the leadership of Mallam Alimi, Mallam Dendo and Etsu Idrisa also known as Etsu Yisa. Etsu Majiya lost the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of Mugba Mugba or the Battle of Ilorin.
The Jihadists chased Etsu Majiya bck across the River Niger through Raba and out of Central KinNupe. Mallam Dendo, now a old man, subsequently settled back at Raba and gradually established the Raba Emirate into the paramount Islamic power in KinNupe.
It was around this time also that other Mallams who have been with Mallam Dendo all along and who have also participated in the Battle of Ilorin went their various ways to establish their own puny Islamic Emirates in different parts of KinNupe. Mallam Babba went into Dibo and Ganagana land to establish the Agaie Emirate; Mallam Maliki and his brother Manzuma went and established the Lafiagi Emirate on the trans-
Niger side of KinNupe. Daudu Maza was to later on form his own Lapai Emirate after serving as a War General for Mallam Babba of Agaie for a while. And the Tsonga Emirate was later on to be created apart from the Lafiagi Emirate by a royal line of the Lafiagi Emirate.
These appearance and establishment of these variety of Islamic emirates throughout the length and breadth of KinNupe was to, in a gradual but surely manner, establish Islam as the paramount religion over the Nupe Nation. While these Islamic Emirates drove traditional Nupe religion and spiritualism underground they also made it very difficult for Christinaity to fully spread itself over the whole of KinNupe with the coming of the White man.
As a matter of fact the establishment of the White man’s Colonial Government actually resulted in the addition of two more Islamic emirates to the Nupe Nation, namely, the Patigi and Tsaragi Emirates thereby further consolidating the pwer of Islam over the Nupe Nation.
In any case KinNupe has remained the bastion and centre of Islam and Islamic activities ever since the 12th century to date. Bida in particular is a deeply Islamic urban centre. All manners of fundamentalist and puritanical forms of Islam have always jostled for existence in the Islamic religiously fertile environment of Bida and KinNupe in general.
And there is no doubt that KinNupe will definitely witness the rise of, and be the headquarters of, a Central Sudan-wide Islamic Caliphate either in the near future or in the far future – before or after the end of the British contraption called Nigeria.
The dream of Shehu Abdurrahman Gbaji
and those Nupe Islamic missionaries will surely
come true one day.