Northern Nigeria as we have it today was once a series of states ruled by Emirs. The Durbar Festivals or Hawa began then to show the importance of strong standing army with a horse parade or procession. These have then been carried on in the new Northern Nigeria as Hawan Sallah during the Eid festivals. The festivals begin with a special morning prayer around each town followed by a dazzling and colourful procession of the Emir and his retinue.

Hawa are the main attractions of the Sallah festivals in any Hausa city-state. Horse riders are adorned in superb, traditional costumes while galloping full tilt. Obviously, the Hawa is the key highpoint of the Sallah festival, but other events usually sandwich it, which are a bit routine but equally evoke the memories of Sallah.

The Tareni Barbeque of Sokoto

Sallah in the ancient town of Sokoto is never a dull moment. Apart from the usual regalia and festivities, a special preparation of the Sallah ram is what catches the eye in this town. All across households, after the slaughter, rings of fire are raised in an open field and rams are hanged in a circular form to be roasted by the raging fire. This activity goes on all through the day and into the night over long hours ensuring that Sallah air is filled with the mist and scent of roasting meat and glitz of a burning fire. Tareni is a special barbeque in its own right.

After the rams have been roasted, the fat will be drained off the next day and the meat shared across for a proper delicacy. Tareni barbeque also helps in preserving the meat better to be processed even after Sallah.

Hawan Daushe

All across the Hausa states especially in Kano, Daura and Zaria, a certain day is kept for a special durbar termed the Hawan Daushe. This Hawa is the only one that is common all across this Hausa kingdoms. Historically, Hawan Daushe was said to have been named after the demise of a man called Daushe. Daushe was a servant of the then Emir of Kano, Sarki Rumfa who could not participate in the Sallah festivities due to illness, as such the Emir in order to honour him, directed a procession for Daushe – hence the tag Hawan Daushe. Since then, this special tradition has continued in the memory of Daushe and also adopted by neighbouring Daura and Zaria kingdoms.

In Zaria city, Hawan Daushe is usually done as the last series of the Sallah Durbars usually on the second day after Sallah. A resident of Zaria, Aminu Abubakar Adamu describes it as the Dubar of all Durbars. It is a gathering that brings all dignitaries across Kaduna State to the placae of the Emir of Zazzau to pay homage. Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i the governor of Kaduna State was among the contingent that graced this year’s Hawan Daushe in Zaria city. During the durbar, young princes and traditional rulers all emerge trying to outshine one another in horse riding skills and display of colourful regalia to shouts of guns and tambourines.

Kano has been the real home of the Hawan Daushe with the event having been introduced by Emir of Kano Muhammadu Rumfa in the 1400s. During the festival in Kano, ‘yan bindgiga usually fire gunshots to announce the arrival of the Emir and his retinue. One of the key highlights of the Kano durbar is the Jahi race where several horse riders charge on top speed towards the emir, and pull a halt just upon reaching him, before raising their swords to exit. Over 2000 horses usually take part in Kano’s special Hawan Daushe.

Sallah Fashionistas

In the cities of Kaduna and Abuja, there are no durbar processions and the day of Sallah is usually quiet. However, the day after Sallah is usually a day of outlandish fashion. Young men and women display their regalia of pop and trendy fashion designs, and in the age of social media, #BarkaDaSallah goes viral with flashy outfits. In Kaduna and Abuja, fashion houses, tailors and designers go to the bank smiling during the Sallah festivities as it’s the hub period of business. Aisha Shehu a young fashion designer says during Sallah, she is besieged with instructions and demands of new and trendy designs. “It is usually hectic, but I thoroughly enjoy the thrills of the Sallah festivities” she said.

From roasting barbeques of Sokoto, to the Hawa processions of Kano, Zaria, Katsina and Daura and fashion trends in Kaduna and Abuja, Sallah period is a roundabout of celebrations and festivities. A cultural trend unique to Northern Nigeria.

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Sada Malumfashi is a writer living in Kaduna. His works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry have appeared in local and international magazines.