The Akurmi of Southern Kaduna: a Historical Perspective
The Akurmi people, popular as Kurama, have traced their origin to the Middle East (Yemen) long before the birth of Islam. In search of arable land, protective enclaves and, much later, in attempts to avoid Jihad wars, the Akurmi began a long migration process which culminated in their settlement around the Kudaru Hills 600-700 years ago led by Bugwama Kurderu (King Kurderu). The hill was actually named after their king and spiritual leader.
Since their exodus from the Middle East, the Akurmi are believed to have settled at various times in present day Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, and Chad. On reaching present day Nigeria, the Akurmi are believed to have first settled in present day Borno State and Kano where they sojourned for 700 and 600 years respectively. From the Kudaru Hills Akurmi descended to various places around the hills, such as present day Saminaka, Yarkasuwa in Lere local government Area, Pambeguwa in Kubau Local Government Area and some other villages in Kauru Local Government Area.
However, some scholars are of the opinion that the claims of Akurmi’s origin by certain quotas, its subsequent attribution to the middle east, as well as its migration pattern through Maiduguri and Kano is a historical distortion aimed at linking, aligning and subsuming its origin under the officious origin of the Hausa’s. Such attempt is also targeted at twisting history in favor of certain interests. According to this school of thought, by no linguistic tracing is Tikurmi (Akurmi Man) affiliated with Arabic as in the case of Yemen, Kanuri as in the case of Maiduguri, or Hausa in the case of Kano. While Hausa is classified under the Chadic: West sub-branch A, Kanuri is placed under the Nilo-Sahara language tree and the Akurmi is clearly classified under Benue-Congo (Eastern-Kainji) language, like other groups in Southern Kaduna.
It is on record that the Akurmi have had their informal traditional institution since 1350AD before the formal introduction of the Kurama Chiefdom by the Kaduna State Government in December, 2000, after years of agitation. The first Paramount Ruler of the Akurmi nation was HRH. Alh. Tanimu Shu’aibu (Bugwam-Kurama I). He was sworn into office in 2001 from his previous position of District Head Yarkasuwa, Lere Local Government Area. Tanimu Shuaibu was succeeded by the present ruler, HRH Dr. Ishaku Sabo Damina, following his demise.
By 1800-1900s the Akurmi people had already evolved a distinct administrative structure. The Haru-Kura (Heads of Households), Haru-Ungwa (Village Heads), Agwama (Chiefs), that is Bugwan Akurmi and Bugwam Uchimtu were the socio-political and religious leaders respectively. Later, an office of Iyan Kurama was created which was intended to give the Akurmi people a status of recognition by the colonial authority, the Zazzau emirate thwarted it and a Hausa/Fulani was appointed to administer a people whom he knew nothing about their social structure or religious beliefs. From the aforementioned, we can begin to trace the roots of the numerical and historical distortion of the Akurmi people from the Hausa/Fulani emirate of Zazzau.
The following are the name of kings that pioneer the journey of Akurmi people: Bugwama Kurderu, Bugwama Dagaza, Bugwama Ucharau Chukka, Bugwama Shawiya, Bugwama Shagiya, and Bugwama Maigamo.
The Akurmi people are known to spread across four states, six Local Government Areas, nine Chiefdoms/Emirates and many Districts. In Lere Local Government of Kaduna State, there are currently seven Akurmi Districts in Yarkasuwa and Kayarda Wards of Kurama Chiefdom; three Akurmi Districts in Piriga Chiefdom (Garun-Kurama, Luwana and Gurza); and Abadawa District in Saminaka Chiefdom. In addition, Karku District in Kumana Chiefdom, Kauru Local Government Area and many villages in Kubau Local Government Area (Zazzau Emirate), both of Kaduna State also have a dominant Akurmi population.
The concentration and spread of the Akurmi communities extends to Doguwa Local Government Area of Kano State (Kano Emirate) where at one time or the other an Akurmi Executive Council Chairman had emerged. In the same vein the Akurmi people are presently holding numerous titles as village heads at Tidere town of Jingre Pingina Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State. The Akurmi can also be found in parts of Bauchi State, particularly Ningi.
One archaeological evidence recently used by the Akurmi to back their long history of settlement around present locations is a 700 years old cultural relic. This wonder of civilization and share intelligence is about a ban up in a cave used by the Akurmi people about 700years ago.
There is only one major economic activity often associated with the Akurmi man – farming. Other subsidiary engagements may include the following: blacksmith; crafts such as wooden sculptures, the production of local mats, brooms and thatched grasses; livestock rearing and animal husbandry; pottery, etc.
The vast majority of the Akurmi people profess Christianity as their religion; others practice Islam and traditional beliefs. In the olden days, the traditional Akurmi High Priest (Umurum) was so feared and respected that people always run for cover at the mention of his name. He was known to protect the Akurmi from witchcraft, diseases and pestilence, and even bring rain or stop it from falling if it will spoil farm produce. Other well-known oracles in Akurmi tradition include Uware Kaka, Maman Jura and Jaruma.
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