chapter  1
15 Pages

A Place Called Shagari

WithDavid Williams

Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari takes his name from the old village of Shagari, which lies in the broad arid savannah of north-western Nigeria, forty kilometres south of the city of Sokoto. Shagari has some 3,000 people and the area over which the Village Head holds jurisdiction has some 8,000 farmers and cattle-herders. The cattle-Fulani continue their nomadic existence and retain their language and many their own religion. Their attachment to the nomadic life and their need of children to herd their stock creates obvious problems, for example for those administering Universal Primary Education, which was introduced throughout Nigeria in 1976. The settled Fulani, however - although a high proportion of traditional rulers, Emirate notables and politicians in the Hausa-speaking states, as well as President Shehu Shagari himself, can claim Fulani descent - have, with the exception of those of Adamawa, lost their language.