Gombe, the capital of Gombe State, was agog for four days, between June 15 and 18, 2018, when the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar III held three grand durbars to commemorate this year’s Eid-el-Fitr.
Abubakar III treated his guests, well-wishers and residents of Gombe to a grand durbar that was unarguably never witnessed in the history of the emirate, demonstrating the rich cultural heritage of the city.
Among participants in the colourful durbar procession that involved about 2000 horses on Sallah Day are emir’s entourage; council members; princes; district heads; traditional titleholders; horsemen; warriors; archers, courtiers; musketeers; praise-singers and acrobats. Emir Abubakar III rode on a white horse.
Clad in white attire and a white alkyabba to match, the emir left his palace at 9:30am to take part in the two raka’at eid prayer on Friday morning at the Eid Ground, near the Gombe main market, amidst cheers, adulation and gunshots from palace musketeers.
Immediately after the eid prayer, emir’s procession departed the Eid Ground through the western gate, via Herwagana and Biu roads and back to the palace, where Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, members of the State Executive Council, federal and state legislators waited for the traditional ruler at a pavilion, popularly called Kan Giwa.
As tradition demands, as soon as the emir arrived his palace courtyard, the durbar commenced. Consequently, district heads and other traditional titleholders on horsebacks paid their allegiance to the king, displaying their horse-riding skills.
The durbar lasted for more than an hour while over 2000 decorated horses and horsemen showcased their skills, each trying to outshine others.
In his address, Emir Abubakar III expressed gratitude to Allah who enabled Muslims to witness another Sallah celebration after completing 29 days of fasting in Ramadan.
He thanked the governor for the people-oriented projects he executed in the state and called on the people to support him for more dividends of democracy. He also prayed for a blissful rainy season, bumper harvest and continued peace among the various ethnic groups in the state.
The emir’s address signified the end of the first durbar, Hawan Sallah, after which he entered his palace to meet his family.
On Saturday, June 16, 2018, which was the Sallah day, as tradition demands, the emir received district heads, traditional rulers and residents who trooped to the palace in their hundreds to pay homage. The homage ended at 1:30pm, which is the time for Zuhr prayer at the Central mosque.
The second durbar, called Hawan Daushe or Hawan Gidan Gwamnati, took place on Sunday, June 17. Immediately after Asr prayer, the emir, on horseback, led other district heads and traditional titleholders, amidst cheers and gunshots from palace musketeers via Emir’s Drive and Bima Lodge road to the Government House, where the governor and members of his cabinet received him.
After the usual homage by his subjects, Emir Abubakar III applauded Governor Dankwambo for the prompt payment of salaries to civil servants, which he said had brought economic prosperity to the state.
In his response, Governor Dankwambo thanked the emir for the visit and pledged to do more and further develop the state. He said it was time for the people of Gombe to support an indigene of the state to contest for the presidency come 2019.
After the presentation of kola-nut to the governor as tradition demands, the emir mounted his horse and returned to the palace through a different route, where residents of Gombe, young and old, male and female lined up the street to catch a glimpse of him.
The durbar ended with the call for Mabrib prayer about 6:30pm.
Usually, Sallah durbar ends with the Hawan Gidan Gwamnati, but since he was enthroned, Abubakar introduced a third durbar tagged: Hawan Tudun Wada, to enable residents in other parts of the town catch a glimpse of the emir.
Because of his love for his subjects, this year, the emir decided to re-enact the magnificent display of Gombe contingents at the Kaduna durbar, where they outshined other emirates at a special durbar organised by the Kaduna State Government during the celebration of 100 years of Kaduna as the political capital of northern Nigeria.
On Monday, June 18, the emir led a procession of 500 specially selected horsemen who adorned colourful royal regalia, the same used for the Kaduna durbar. The procession passed through 10 residential areas of the metropolis, displaying horse- riding skills, to the cheering of women and children, young and old.
After this procession, the emir returned to his palace for a mini durbar. The mini durbar brings the four-day Sallah festivity in Gombe to an end.