How young princes dazzled at Zaria’s Eid durbars

Horse riders entertaining guests at the durbar, in Zaria.
Horse riders entertaining guests at the durbar, in Zaria.

This year’s Eid-ul-Fitr Sallah festivities in the ancient city of Zaria, like previous ones, were full of excitement. Children and young princes of the emirate added colour to the event, as Daily Trust Saturday witnessed.

Although children and young princes of the Zazzau emirate don’t run entourages of their own during Sallah durbars, their appearance usually adds colour. One of the major attractions of Sallah celebrations in Zaria is the traditional durbar.

The entourage of the emir, Alhaji Shehu Idris, and that of most of his district heads usually comprises young princes and riders.

According to Alhaji Abubakar Ladan (Chiroman Shantalin Zazzau), the Chief Protocol Officer of the Emir, the young princes that accompany the emir and other district heads do not have specific roles to play, other than to ride by. He added: “Involving the youngsters also serves as a way of introducing them to their culture. They’re the leaders of tomorrow, so they need to know the technicalities of the durbar and other traditions of the emirate.”


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“You would also agree with me that the youngsters add glamour to the event. Their presence is a unique part of this tradition. Some of them, sometimes, outshine the older folks. You know, youthful exuberance can sometimes make for serious entertainment.”

However, Alhaji Ladan said the turban of the young princes differ from those of riders who actually hail from the Emir’s dynasty.

“Any prince,” Alhaji Ladan added, “Whose father or even grandfather was an Emir, either this Emir or any other one that had ruled the emirate, would cap his head with a turban bearing two feathers. The two feathers are drawn from the turban. You would see them on top the turban. When you see that, it is telling you that that prince is from the dynasty of an emir.

“These are some of the attractions that make the royal institution interesting, because from our costumes you can tell our titles, background, and even position in the palace,” Alhaji Ladan said.

The first one, staged on Tuesday, 4th June, 2019 took place on Eid day. As tradition demands, immediately after the Eid prayer at Kofar Doka, the emir would ride on horseback – this time on a horse-cart – to his palace, about ten kilometres away. As the emir takes his seat in a special pavilion, Kafen Daudu, district heads on horseback would, while demonstrating their horse-riding skills, pay homage to the emir, eliciting cheers and applause from guests.

An official document released by the Zazzau palace revealed that over 100 entourages of district heads and other princes took part in the durbar on Tuesday.

There was supposed to be Hawan Bariki on Wednesday, but this did not take place. According to Ladan, Hawan Bariki was incorporated into Zazzau’s tradition with the advent of colonialism in Nigeria. “An emir of Zazzau uses the occasion to meet the colonial governor, now state governor, and present his annual report to him. This occasion is an opportunity for the emir to present the needs of the people to the authorities. It also serves as an avenue of taking stock to review the previous year and make preparation for the coming year.”

Hawan Daushe, the last in the series of Sallah durbars, took place Thursday evening. It is a gathering that brings people from all walks of life in Nigeria, and even abroad, to the Zazzau palace.

Residents told Daily Trust Saturday that Hawan Daushe is regarded as the most important of all durbars, bringing together people from villages of Zaria to the city, uniting friends and families. Also, many new friends are made on the day. In fact, some respondents say, a good number of marriages have their roots from the durbar.

Traditionally, after the afternoon prayer, the emir, in company of his district heads, moves out from the palace on horseback to go round the ancient city, providing an opportunity for residents to see the emir. Afterwards, the emir would go back to the palace and the princes would once again pay homage.

During Hawan Daushe, the princes engage in a competition with each trying to outshine the other in horse-riding skills, and display of royal regalia. At the end, the best district head would be selected. With Hawan Daushe done, Sallah festivities too are dusted.

Before the durbars, residents took part in the two raka’at Eid prayer on Tuesday morning. Attired in their best clothes, male and female, young and old residents as early as 7am trooped to various Eid grounds of the town. Emir Shehu Idris and Governor Nasir el-Rufai observed the Eid prayer at the Kofar Doka Eid ground.

In his address, Alhaji Idris reemphasised his usual call for residents to continue to cooperate with security agencies for them to consolidate on the gains of maintaining law and order in the Zazzau emirate and the state in general.

Similarly, the Imam of the Chikaji Zaria Eid ground, Sheikh Muhammad Sani Gumi, urged Muslims to continue to exhibit the values they imbibed during the month of Ramadan, urging faithful to continue to pray for peace in Nigeria.

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