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The Legend of Bayajidda (mythology)



“Bayajidda’ (Hausa: Bàyā̀jiddà) is the eponymous ancestor of the Hausa people of Nigeria and Niger.

Most accounts say that Bayajidda came from Baghdad, traveled across the Sahara, and arrived in the Kanem-Bornu Empire, where he married a local princess. Tensions with her father, the king, forced him to flee; leaving his wife in Hadejia now Garin-Gabas in Malam-Madori Local Government Area, where she delivered his first son, he made his way to Gaya, where he had the local blacksmiths forge him a knife. With this knife and his sword, Bayajidda proceeded to the final point on his journey, the city of Daura, where he slew a serpent that had been terrorizing the townspeople.

In gratitude for this heroic deed Magajiva Daurama, the queen, married him. He had one child, Bawo, with Daurama, and Bawo’s own children are said to have gone on – together with a child of his first wife – to found the seven Hausa states. While some scholars believe that Bayajidda was a historical figure, others hold the view that he did not actually exist, but is instead a personification of a group of immigrant people from a more or less distant region.

Legend’s content: The hero’s departure from Baghdad and his stay in Borno  According to the legend, Bayajidda was a prince from Baghdad (the capital of Iraq) and son of King Abdullahi, but he was exiled from his home town after Queen Zidam, also known as Zigawa, had conquered the city.Once  he left Baghdad, he traveled across Africa with numerous warriors and arrived in Borno.

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Once in Borno, tales differ as to what caused tension with the local king. According to one story, Bayajidda realized his forces were stronger than those of the king; because of this, he planned to overthrow him. However, the king heard of the plot and, after consulting with his advisors, gave Bayajidda his daughter, Magaram (also known as Magira), in marriage. Later, when the king attacked and took over several towns, he tricked his new son-in-law into leaving his own men to guard the towns, thereby decreasing the number of men Bayajidda had at his disposal. Bayajidda realized that he was being tricked when he had only his wife and one slave left; during the night, they fled to Garun Gabas, now situated in the Hadeja region.While there, Magaram gave birth to Bayajidda’s first child, Biram, the eponymous ancestor of the petty kingdom of Gabas-ta-Biram (“east of Biram”).

However, according to another version of the story, Bayajidda was welcomed into Borno, married Magaram and became popular among the people. Because of this, the king envied him and plotted against him; upon being informed of this by his wife, he fled Borno with her.

Arrival in Daura and slaying of the serpent                                                    Bayajidda left his wife and child in Garun Gabas and continued on to the village of Gaya near Kano – which others believe to be Gaya in modern Niger -, where he had the local blacksmiths make him a knife.He then came to the town of Daura (located in modern day Katsina State), where he entered a house and asked an old woman for water. She informed him that a serpent named Sarki (sarki is the Hausa word for king) guarded the well and that the people were only allowed to draw water once a week. Bayajidda set out for the well and killed the serpent with the sword and beheaded it with the knife the blacksmiths had made for him, after which he drank the water, put the head in a bag, and returned to the old woman’s house.(The well where this is said to have happened is nowadays a tourist attraction.)

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The next day, the people of Daura gathered at the well, wondering who had killed the snake; Magajiya Daurama, the local queen, offered sovereignty over half the town to whoever could prove that he killed the snake. Several men brought snake heads forth, but the heads did not match the body. The old woman, owner of the house Bayajidda was staying in, informed the queen that her guest had slayed it, after which Daurama summoned Bayajidda. Having presented the snake’s head, proving to her that he was the one who had slain Sarki, he turned down the offer of half the town, instead requesting her hand in marriage; she married him out of gratitude for slaying the serpent.

Relationship with Magajiya Daurama                                                                Because it was against the custom of the people of Daura for their queens to marry, Daurama made a compromise with Bayajidda and said she would only have sexual intercourse with him later; because of this, she gave him a concubine named Bagwariya. (according to the oral palace version of the legend, Daurama gave him Bagwariya because she wanted to break her “queenly vow to remain a virgin,” but had to undergo rituals to do so.)

Bagwariya had a son fathered by Bayajidda and she named him Karap da Gari, or Karbagari which means “he snatched the town” in Hausa. This worried Daurama, and when she had a son of her own (also fathered by Bayajidda), she named him Bawo which means “give it back”.

Two groups of descendants                                                                                          Throughout his life, Bayajidda is said to have fathered three children with three different women.Bawo fathered six of his own sons, whose names were Daura, Gobir, Kano, Katsina, Rano, and Zaria (also known as Zazzau). Together with Biram, the son of Magaram, these seven went on to rule the seven “legitimate” Hausa states, the Hausa Bakwai. (Some versions of the tale leave Bawo and Magaram out entirely, with Biram, Daura, Gobir, Kano, Katsina, Rano, and Zaria being the sons of Bayajidda and Daurama). Karbagari’s descendants, meanwhile, founded the seven “illegitimate” states, the Banza Bakwai.

Source: Wikipedia

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