MUHAMMADU KAZALLAH: THE UNSUNG KNIGHT OF KATSINA ROYAL COURT -1880—1965
“Dubi Kazallah, ya manta mu!
Yana magana baki na kumfa!!
Dogari a gaban Sarki bai tsoron kowa!!!”
Dan Mani, 1952.
Meaning; Behold, Kazallah has forgotten us!
seething as he talks!!
The intrepid warrior for the emir!!!
Dan Mani’s song, in 1952.
When Muhammadu Dikko became Emir of Katsina, he was so unpopular among the Katsinites in the emirate to extent that whoever wore cap in a jaunty style people said, according to one Hausa popular parlance of Katsina dialect of Hausa, ‘Ba ta Zauna ba, sarautar Dikko’ which, literally, means as unpopular as Dikko’s reign.’
Being fully aware of the unpopularity of his administration as Emir, Dikko, astutely managed his subjects by, in some other times, applying sophistry; in other cases, by deployment of a little force which was lavishly garnished with pieces of cajolement, in some other rare points in time.
As a die-hard warrior, in order to lay down a sound foundation for his rulership as Emir, he employed knights from the neighbouring emirates to serve as his royal courtiers, besides marrying princesses from them. All, just to make, impregnably more solid, the political foundation of his reign; and at the same time, to cultivate a good diplomatic rapport with the neighbouring kingdoms. For instance, he married Abdullahi Bayero’s younger sister when he held the mantle of leadership in Kano.
Of the invincible warriors Dikko made as one his closest confidant courtier, Muhammadu Kazallah of Kano origin from Tofa area, who was in katsina on the invitation of sarki Dikko.whose invincibility in the battle field was phenomenal. For this kin of Bayero of then, maintained a scriptural trust on him, as far as warfare fighting was concerned.
Muhammad Kazallah, according to his ancestral origin, was one of the descendants of the legendary north African traveler cum writer, Ibn. Battuta.
When he was sent to Katsina to live with King Dikko, Muhammad, Kazalla was happy because there was a considerable number of his relatives there who were Islamic clerics imparting knowledge. Kazalla’s arrival to Katsina, had as a matter of fact, facilitated further the coming of his kin and kith into the city to settle there permanently.
Kazalla was a sturdy person armed with variety of charms of unprecedented precision and, no weapons fashioned against him prospered. His wards had commanding power on every person too, particularly the enemies.
These were the characteristics that earned him special position in Dikko’s court. He used to cool down the Emir’s temperaments by eulogizing him with inducing words at the end of which he said: “what on earth make you upset while we remain with you as your most loyal courtiers? Hearing this statement made the king as cold, temperamentally, as the coldness can be.
In those days, knight Kazalla gave no breathing space to thieves and and armed robbers within the area reign.’
environs. By the time a robbery or burglary occurred, Kazalla studied the footprints of the persons involved then tracked them down arrested them. Above and beyond, he developed vested interest in Islamic education. He spoke little Arabic and was fully involved in almost every religious discourse that took place within the royal court.
With all the accomplishment garnered for the ancient Katsina emirate, Muhammadu Kazalla’s name seemed to disappear in history. From all indications, albeit, this might not have been unconnected to the fact that, he was not blessed with children. Though he lived in Katsina right from the time of Emir Dikko up to the time of Usman Nagoggo. He passed on at the age of eighty -five, after a protracted illness which lasted for years. For the whole period, according to the narrations of his closest relatives, he always invoked the blessings of God on the Holy Prophet (S) and asked the forgiveness of the Almighty Allah for himself till breathed his last.
A grand daughter to his wife, who was still alive, said, he had prayed to God that, as He gave him no children to remember with him, while in the great beyond; “I am praying to You, not to delete my memory in the history of Katsina and its people.”
To grant his prayers, perhaps, a renowned singer of Katsina, Dan Mani, in a his popular song his, in which he threw ironies against a judge who had wanted to force him to divorce his wife, before the Emir, he made some quatrains, which in praise of Kazalla, as quoted at the beginning of the piece. The song has, in fact, gone a long way in making him more popular and immortalizing Kazalla among the Katsinites within the emirate and beyond.
The late Wambai of Katsina, Alhaji Abba Kalli, is one of those who met Kazalla during the twilight of his life. He confirmed to this writer that the Knight under question was, of course, an incomparably brave man. Myriad reference to his bravery appear in so many historical writings by the colonialists. The picture of his here, was captured by a British photographer in 1950, and published in a number of newspapers and magazines across Europe, with captions that described him as, an “impenetrable bulwark for emirs of Hausa land.”
As a matter of fact, therefore, historians cum writers of Katsina descendants, should, as a duty on them, embark on research with the aim of unearthing such unsung males and females protagonists in order to keep the memory alive and to keep forthcoming generations in touch with their ancestral origin. Just the way and manner a book on Kano emirship, titled Bayi a Gidan Dabo, written by Nasiru Wada (2012).
This article was written in 2013.and was published on many newspapers.