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The Sukur Kingdom In Adamawa State

Encyclopedia » History


              Sukur kingdom the cultural landscape with its palace, terraced fields, ritual features and villages whose unchanged settings have survived for many centuries, it is located on the highest plains on Mandara Mountains in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State in northeastern Nigeria. The site is among the over 1, 300 sites, including historic buildings, archaeological sites as well as works of “monumental sculpture or painting. These are the features that hyped and made the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to notice and granted World Heritage Status (WHS) to the site in 1999. UNESCO calls it an exceptional landscape illustrating a form of land-use that marks a critical stage in human settlement and its relationship with its environment. The cultural landscape of Sukur is also eloquent testimony to a strong and continuing spiritual and cultural tradition that has endured for many centuries. The term 'Mandara montagnards' is commonly applied to the indigenous peoples of the Mandara highlands, it is recognized that they are closely related to their neighbors on the plains, for example the Wandala, whose chief resides in Mora, the Gisiga who live south of Maroua, and the Pabir and Bura who live some distance west of the Margi Dzirngu (literally Margi of the mountain). They all speak languages of the Central branch of the Chadic family of languages. This is not true of the Choa (or Shuwa) Arabs who speak Arabic, a language of the Semitic family which is distantly related to Chadic. The Kanuri speak a Saharan language of a different phylum, and the Fulbe a West Atlantic language of a third language phylum (Niger-Congo or Congo-Kordofanian). In fact the only indigenous phylum not represented in this area is Khoi-San, which includes the languages of the San (Bushmen) of southern Africa.                         



                  At the foot of the kingdom it has two gates, of varying size the small one and big one the big gate is for everybody’s use while the small gate is for the king only. The Sukur people have a belief that the king is not supposed to share the same passage with ordinary people; therefore the king has his own passage in most of the gates. Sacrifice is also being offered at the gate by slaughtering a goat. The bones of the goat get buried in the middle of the road and the skin of the goat is tied from end to end by a special method. Gradually, the extended goat-hide disappears and this is taken to be a sign of appreciation from the gods. Another thing is that it signifies an assurance from the gods concerning protection from all evil and an additional blessing in all that they do. The second gate has a guard who takes care of the gate and the king’s grave yard. The puzzling thing about this is that the person in charge of the gate is not at liberty to see the king face-to-face as if that happens, “something terrible” would befall the king or the people. And once it is late, nobody is allowed to pass beyond the gate–no matter whom. The atmosphere at the kingdom is calm and breezy. Inside the kings compound there is small hut meant for the king to sit and watch all activities taking place in his domain. Few steps away from the king’s hut there is a shrine and seats for the king’s men. The shrine is known as Medala. It houses a very deep hole into which their local wine is poured every year as a form of sacrifices done to ascertain the possibility of a good harvest of crops. If the hole is still filled up when it is opened after a year, it indicates having a good harvest but if the hole is empty, the omen is that of a bad harvest.



               In Sukur kingdom is it made-up of 27 clans but only one clan has been ruling them for years now. At the kings places it is been decorated with title holder seat and waiting place for visitors all these are build with stones of various sizes. Also within the same confines there is some sort of a chalet for young, immature children, and mature men are not allowed to stay in the king’s palace. According to Sukur tradition, only the first wife of the king prepares his food. The rest of his wives serve their duty as ordinary wives to the king. Furthermore, before contact with the West, the Sukur people were civilized in their own special way. They had their own locally made coin that they used within their community for the purpose of buying food and valuable items. The coin is made-up of a substance found on the mountain which they melted and shaped in form of a circle. They also have a multipurpose hall where decisions and other issues are being discussed. It also serves as a court yard where punishment is meted out to offenders. The guilty is tied up by the legs and left in a hole for days until he/she accepts his/her fault. Another form of punishment is that the guilty gets thrown into a hole which serves as a prison cell until the king and the king’s men have decided to let them out. It is only in the multipurpose hall that anybody in the community has the right to bare their mind, even to the king.
                  Finally, after touring the site, you don’t leave by the same gate you gained entrance to the palace–there is an exit. At the exit gate there is a forbidden stone. The stone is placed so that it separates the passage for ordinary people and that of the king. If anybody touches the stone, small rashes like chickenpox are believed to appear on the person’s body and are without cure unless a sacrifice is offered to the gods. More astoundingly, they don’t have a specific deity that they call god but they believe that there is someone up in the sky that is special. The community is made up of mostly farmers, hunters and blacksmiths. They grow crops like millet, maize, rice and many others. But the mountain dwellers seem to be living a prehistoric life. They go about half-naked and very far from civilization. SUKUR THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF NIGERIA!!!!


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