Dignitaries from within and outside Nigeria, residents of Kaduna from all walks of life and guests across the country were in Kaduna last week to celebrate the city’s 100 year anniversary. As ABDULRAHEEM AOUDU reports, 15,000 spectators witnessed the ceremony which featured 3,500 horses and 11 emirates displaying the rich mosaic of the north, where sonorous music, dexterous dance steps and a colorful durbar were displayed.
As part of the activities lined up to mark Kaduna City’s One Hundred Years of existence, Governor El-Rufai and other senior government officials were at The Historical Exhibition, which held at the Banquet Hall of the General Hassan Katsina House
Kaduna: still the north’s capital
In 1917, Lord Fredrick Lugard had moved the capital of northern protectorate from Zungeru to Kaduna and 43 years after, even after independence, Kaduna still retained its status as the regional capital of Northern Nigeria.
Significantly, the city has been maintaining this status since 1967, when the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon split the country into 12 states in order to checkmate the secessionist bid of Biafra. Out of Northern region, 12 states were carved out and still, Kaduna remained the headquarters of North Central state.
In 1987, Katsina state was created out of Kaduna state and Kaduna city remained capital of the new Kaduna state.
Right now, in spite series of state creations, Kaduna remains the unofficial capital of the north as governors of the 19 states regularly meet to deliberate on the common assets and political direction of the area. Last week, the city witnessed another colorful festival of music , dance and horsemanship, involving 3,500 horses, 11 emirates and witnessed by 15,000 spectators, as the former capital of northern region clocked 100 years.
Since 1917, Kaduna city has continued to play vital roles in the growth and development of the north in particular and Nigeria in general. Urban and cosmopolitan is population, it still attracts peoples from across the country and all over the world, many of whom have made it their ‘’home town’’.
Last week, emirs, traditional title holders and the business as well as the political class, turned out in their various costumes, to celebrate the culture and character of not only Kaduna town but of the entire north at Murtala Square. Ironically, the same edifice had hosted the last Durbar which held there 30 years ago, at the African Festival of Arts and Culture(FESTAC) in 1977 .
Buhari eulogizes Kaduna, praises ElRufai
In his address, President Muhammadu Buhari had described Kaduna city as the melting point of Nigeria’s politics, a place where important decisions that shaped the nation have been taken. President Buhari who was represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, further said that the city is destined to play leading roles in Nigeria’s development.
As usual, the president used the centenary celebration to address some pressing national issues, where he reiterated his administration’s resolve to solve the power problem bedevilling the nation. According to him, many industries in Kaduna that are now comatose as well as other moribund companies across the country will be revived once the power challenge is solved.
Significantly, President Buhari underscored the relevance of the centenary celebrations, when he said that it is by no means a child’s play. In addition, the president tacitly endorsed Governor Nasir El Rufai by saying that the state has achieved a lot under him. Specifically, he had described El Rufai as a progressive governor who ‘’has started implementing the vision he wants to see the state attain in the next 100 years.’’
We have cause to celebrate—El Rufai
In his speech, Governor El Rufai stated why the government and people of Kaduna state rolled out the drums to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary as administrative headquarters of the north. According to him, the centenary celebration was to showcase the rich history of Kaduna and the rich cultural heritage of northern region.
In addition, the event was also aimed to promote tourism, boost the economy of northern states and promote unity and progress in diversity. El Rufai further said that he is optimistic that Kaduna can be better and that the people are determined to regain its glory. In this regard, he paid ‘’tribute to those who made this city, and we honour the resilience of its residents.’’
According to him, ‘’we must make the next century one of peace, harmony and prosperity. We celebrate the first 100 years of Kaduna, not because they have been perfect. We celebrate, not because there have not been regrettable incidents in this city. We celebrate because the promise of Kaduna endures. We celebrate because its residents are resilient. We celebrate because there is a future, a chance to reclaim the glory, break new ground and make Kaduna an example of diversity and integration, a dynamo of progress and a model of development. We celebrate because the stains and losses of the past are not our destiny. We celebrate because we know that we can be better, and Kaduna is ready to be great again.”
Similarly, the Chairman of Kaduna City Centenary Celebration Committee, Alhaji Balarabe Abbas Lawal, said the anniversary was to celebrate a city that has brought together diverse people from all parts of the country and the diaspora.
Lawal, who is also the Secretary to Kaduna State Government added that, ‘’the city was planned carefully, and it quickly became a magnet for all Nigerians, not least the diverse peoples of the vast areas that constitute the north of Nigeria.”
In giving his vote of thanks, the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris expressed delight at witnessing the centenary celebration of Kaduna city, having participated actively in the durbar of 1977. However, the traditional ruler tasked Nigerians on unity, peace and harmony to enable the country harness its vast potentials and find its rightful position in the comity of nations.
Exhibitions, celebration of heroes, legends
Significantly, the occasion was not only about speeches as an exhibition was also held as part of the centenary celebrations at the State House Kawo. The exhibition featured collections of archival materials, showcasing Kaduna’s prime place in the nation’s history. In addition, pictures of architectural monuments and historic sites and pioneers were on display . El Rufai, deputy Governor Bala Yusuf Bantex and senior government officials led the august visitors to the exhibition.
According to Bantex, the exhibition helps remind the people of their history and heritage and at the same time, it teaches the upcoming generation about the heroes and heroines of the north, including legends who have contributed to the growth and development of the region.
The deputy governor further said that ‘’looking at the pictures, you can see clearly the element of commitment, humility in the leaders, It is also an opportunity to identify those that are associated with events in the country, events that led us to where we are today’’.
Bantex also reminded that “In the past, we had only three regions, the cost of governance was very low, much lower.’’ However, the nation has now been split into states, some of which are not viable, ‘’leaving very little amount to develop capital projects and so on.” According to him, the cost of governance at that time, ‘’ is part of the reason why people said they did better because the cost of governance was relatively low compared to today.’’
Music and dance galore
The climax of the celebrations were the colorful display of horses, the cultural dances and apparels of the various ethnic groups that comprise northern Nigeria. Cultural troupes from the 19 Northern states attended the finale to display their prowess in dance steps, dexterity in drumming and trumpeting.
The Tiv troupe with their swanghe dance, adorned in their traditional white and black striped dresses, mesmerized the crowd to no end. Similarly, their Idoma compatriots from Benue state, wearing their red and black striped clothes, complete with masquerades, also saw the crowd asking for more.
Similarly, the Katsina dance troupe with their cultural attires, the Ebira and Igala troupes from Kogi state, the Kwara dancers in their Ankara dresses with their acrobatic displays added colour to the ceremony.
In addition, the Nasarawa state cultural troupe with their melodious music and Plateau state with their dancers and masquerades were spectacular in their performances. However, the host Kaduna state stole the show as virtually all the 23 local government areas presented a dance troupe with various acrobatic displays, dancing and drumming that erupted in standing ovation from appreciative spectators.
Shehu of Borno leads the durbar
Apart from exhibitions, dancing and singing, spectators were entertained by a colourful durbar, which witnessed equestrian skills.
Last Saturday, 11 emirate councils from the north took part in a colorful durbar, with Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai leading the procession. Specifically, he was followed by the emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II and Alhaji Adamu Abubakar Maje, the emir of Hadejia led a colorful delegation of horsemen at the occasion.
Also in attendance were the emir of Gombe, Abubakar Shehu Abubakar, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, the Emir of Bauchi and the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Usman Yamusa were also there, so were the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar and the Emir of Misau, Alhaji Ahmed Suleiman. Similarly, the Emir of Zuru, retired General Sani Sami and Alhaji Muhammadu Wabi, the Emir of Jama’are graced the occasion.
Significantly, it was a case of history repeating itself as the Shehu of Borno who led the durbar, followed the foot steps of his late father who equally flagged off the last durbar in Kaduna at the same venue in 1977.
After the Shehu of Borno, other emirs and their entourage followed suit, each according to his ranking, to the applause of the spectators. Colorful and majestic, the procession showcased the rich mosaic of the culture and costumes of the north. Column by column, the way they used to line up in the days of war, hundreds of fully dressed up horses, with district heads, warriors and snipers in tow, the scenery was further complemented with archers, emirs’ advisers and their spare horses as well as palace guards or bodyguards.
Entertainers or trumpeters, all dressed up in full war regalia carrying their weapons, looking fierce and battle-ready all added to the splendor of the occasion.
The presence of the Emirs in full regalia, in their royal opulence and elegance, made the durbar a beautiful and entertaining event that many will continue to reminisce for a long time to come.
Gathering of notables
Among the dignitaries that attended the grand finale were former Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina state, deputy governors of Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau states.
Other personalities who graced the event include the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Alwali Jauji Kazir (Retd), former Inspector General of Police and Chairman Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie and other diplomats as well as captains of industry all attended the ceremony.
In all, the centenary celebration of Kaduna city became a celebration of the north with all its diversities, it rich cultural heritage as the people rallied round the pivot which has remained the symbol of their unity for 100 years.