Sallah Durbar: Banditry Snatching One More Thing Of Value From The Katsina People – By Malam Naini Musa
I am full of sorrow and despair. The katsina emirate council has announced that it will not hold the biannual sallah durbar. This decision was reached because of the continuous injury and pain inflicted on Katsina state by banditry. Two (2) months ago, on the event of Eid-el-Fitr, the same decision was announced by Katsina emirate council. His majesty, the emir of Katsina and his emirate council deem it unethical to celebrate at this sorrowful hour. Obviously, despite his best intentions, there are many who thought otherwise.
The plaguing insecurity has once again snatched away something of immense value from the people of katsina. The Arewa people have not known peace for a long period of time. Right when the shackling pressure applied by Boko-Haram on the North-East was easing away, banditry is accelerating its way into other parts that were spared the scourge of Boko Haram terrorism. The North-west and North-Central parts of Nigeria are being decimated by banditry. For a very long time now, these parts have not had a single day without pain inflicted on an inch of their territory. It is claiming lives, savings, properties and livestock. Now it has taken away a moment, a moment traditionally reserved for happiness and celebration.
As a young boy, I looked forward to sallah for many reasons. We get to wear our best clothes and wear out best footwear. This is the time of the year we see relatives and friends from near and far. Above all, this is the time of the year we go for the durbar or as it is popularly known in hausa “hawan sallah”. That is the peak of all the activities. It’s a majestic ride by royals through the streets of Arewa streets. Flanked by millions of spectators. The noise of instruments, the cheering by the crowd, and the colorful men mounted on horseback blend together to form an ecstatic atmosphere that cannot be replicated by another activity anywhere else. I swear there is nothing like that.
In times of despair and hopelessness. Where the people are left untended to. Where there are more wailings of death than celebrations of birth. Where there are more losses counted than gained. I believe the wisdom of his majesty to cancel this event has been a little rushed. People need reasons to be distracted. People need a break from counting their cursed fate. People need hope. People need excitement. People need to be uplifted. People need euphoria. Nothing does that in the style hawan sallah does for Katsinawa. Nothing!
We deserve to forget and take a break from the pity party. The hopelessness, worry and moments of mourning have not amounted to anything. Our worrying today, yesterday and the day before that have no tangible value that can be channeled into improving our situation. If the counsel of our number one (1) citizen to “bite” the invading forces is anything to go by, we are being led to a fate that can only be likened to that of sacrificial lambs. There is very little we can do about our circumstances. But there is so much we can do about our attitudes. Let us choose to be uplifted, not sober.
Hawan sallah has always been a big unifier of people in katsina. People from all corners of the emirate pour into the capital in their numbers. It is a coming together of the poor and the rich, the learned and the unlearned. United by our common desire to be there for our sovereign. A form of salutation from the ruled towards the ruler. It is almost a renewal of pledge. There in the open streets we witness the majesty of Arewa royalty. A throwback of the times of kings and princes. You could almost taste the grace and majesty it exudes. No modern leader commands that kind of love and awe.
We katsinawa look forward to these moments. We prepare for it. We save for it. It’s an edifice of a moment we all rally around. On the occasion of the cancellation of the previous Eid’s durbar, a video of a crying kid trended. A sorry sight of a despairing kid pleading with his highness the emir to please reconsider that decision. This is how it felt for many of us. This is how much it meant to us. While many of us may not react in ways that are that dramatic, we were no less disappointed.
While the decision may never be rescinded. We wish to express our own opinion on this matter. The emir and his emirate council are the most revered and respected institution in our state. The emir continues to enjoy the love of his subjects. We have complete faith in his decisions and have no doubt that decisions taken were given thorough thought. No contemporary royal in Nigeria has as much love for his subject as the emir of Katsina. He has long established his credentials for pursuit of justice for the common man. We wish his majesty, the Emir barka da sallah. Allah ya ja zamani. Allah ya taya riko. Allah ya qara daukaka.
Mallam Naini Musa
Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and social critic.
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