Zuru: Kebbi community where soldiering is a family pride

If there is one profession the Dakarkari people of Zuru in Kebbis State are obsessed with it is the army. To every Zuru adult, there is no profession that is as dignifying as the military. In every Kilela’s (Dakarkari) family, it is common to find up to 10 members of the same family enlist in the army. Available data has also shown that the Zuru community always record the highest number of recruits into the Nigerian Army in Kebbi State.   

Their exceptional passion for the military service, according to elders of the community, is derived from the Dakarkari culture called Golmo. Under this cultural practice, adults of the community are expected to show bravery, courage and act of manhood before a wife is given to them.

They are required to farm and hunt for their would-be father in-law for a period of seven years. During the period their courage, bravery and extra-ordinary acts, of manliness are put to test. This culture of bravery (Golmo) which the Lena (another word for Dakarkari) sees as his training ground is what has influenced several Zuru indigenes to take up job in the military in order to display their courage and mastery of warfare. 

The Golmo cultural practice through which the Zuru people derived their passion for hunting and farming is what has today enhanced their military prowess and unending desire for the army job.  In Zuru community, it is seen as an act of cowardice when an adult enlists in the police force or other paramilitary formations instead of the army. A member of the Nigerian Legion in the town, Dauda Gona told Daily Trust on Sunday with pride that, “For us in Zuru we consider those who joined the police instead of enlisting in the army as women. We prefer the army because by our culture and tradition we are brave people.”

Due to the people’s exploit in the army, Zuru community today prides itself as having more retired prominent senior officers in the Nigerian Army than any other community in the North-West. The former Chief of Army Staff, (rtd) Lt Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, present Emir of Zuru, (rtd) Major Gen. Muhammadu Sani Sami Gomo II, (rtd) Major Gen. Muhammadu Magoro, late Major Gen. Tanko Ayuba, (rtd) Major Gen. Muhammed Isa Dan- Hane, late Major Gen.  Musa Bamaiyi, (rtd) Colonel Samaila Yombe Dabai, the present Kebbi State Deputy Governor and (rtd) Lt Col. Dauda Musa Komo are among the several prominent top ranking retired army officers from Zuru community. 

Commenting on why there are many Zuru indigenes in the army, the District Head of Rikoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Shehu Bandi, said their large number in the military is a reflection of the people’s way of life. “It is not surprising that we have many people from Zuru in the army because naturally we are trained in the Spartan way of life. No matter the intensity of any hardship we can endure it. In those days, before any Zuru adult could marry a wife he would be subjected to seven years of hard labour. He would farm, do all sorts of other hard work to please his would- be father in-law. It is after he has done all these for seven years that he would be given a wife. Once the woman is given to him she can never divorce him no matter the hardship, she would have to endure. We take pride in our ability to endure any hardship and this is responsible for our desire for the military service. 

“By our cultural upbringing as hunters and farmers, nothing can stay on the way of a Kilela because he is not afraid of the military training and even war,  because they are already used to it. The Badakkare believes if anybody could achieve a particular feat he should also be able to achieve it. This belief is what is today responsible for the competition among our youth over the military career. Because Mr. A has joined the army, Mr. B would also want to join.

“Today in Zuru you will find up to 10 persons from the same family in the army. If it is taken statistically, in the whole country I don’t think there is any community that has the number of people that Zuru has in the army. I don’t think there is any Emirate Council in the entire country which parades the number of army generals that we have in our community and we are proud of them.  If it is about the military, our people cannot be left out. The profession has projected our name beyond Nigeria we are known in many parts of West Africa. If the Federal Government has not institutionalized the Quota System for enlistment into the army, more of our people would have been in the military. There are many of our youth who are still struggling to join the army. No Zuru man is afraid of any hard labour or hardship because he is ready for whatever he might encounter there. This is why many of our people like the army because it is a tedious profession”.

While interacting with some of the retired soldiers under mango trees, where they usually converge in Rikoto area of Zuru to reflect on their days in the army, some of them who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday on their military exploits, gave reasons why almost every able men even women in Zuru wants to take up a career in the army.

A retired soldier, Garba Sule Manga, who claimed he was on a peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Chad said Zuru people do not like to serve in the police force or paramilitary formations. “We prefer the army. I fought the civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Chad I later went to France. I was one of the soldiers that were deployed to Cameroon area to defend the Nigerian territory. I joined the army in 1981 and retired in 2007. 

This is what we love to do in Zuru. Presently, one of my sons is in the army, four others are still struggling to get in. We love the army work a lot. You could find about eight people from the same family in Zuru in the army. Every family in Zuru has relatives in the army. Even those whose age had passed the stipulated age for enlistment into the army are still making efforts to be in the military. They have been struggling for many years yet they won’t give up. It is not because we cannot do other jobs but by our upbringing and tradition we have a strong passion for the army than any other job. Even our women are not left behind in the desire for the military career. I will appeal to the federal government to give us special consideration during enlistment into the army based on our contribution and sacrifice to the nation”.

Kyale Noma Pani, the PRO of the Nigerian Legion in Zuru, who during his military career served in the 3 Division, said his people are fearless. “We joined the army because we are brave we don’t fear to fight war and we don’t retreat we always fight to the last. I joined the army in 1968 and retired in 1980. I served in the 3 Division at Port Harcourt. I fought in the civil war General Benjamen Adekunle was our commander but later they brought T.Y Danjuma to replace him and Obasanjo was brought in later to replace Danjuma. I was shot in the head and leg could have died but God saved my life. Two of my sons were enlisted in the army. Unfortunately, one of them was killed by insurgents in Maiduguri, the other one is on a military mission outside the country. I have no regrets joining the army; I am so proud to have served this country because it was my desire to be in the army. It is what we always love to do here and I thank God I was given the opportunity.”  

Muhammed Wade is a retired Warrant Officer in the Nigerian Army before he retired in 2006. He is presently the Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Zuru Emirate. He said the passion for the army among the Zuru people was based on their belief that it is a profession where they can utilize their strength and power to defend the nation. Every Zuru man wants to be seen as a brave person and he likes to be in a place where he would be allowed to work hard and earn his living. This is why we love the army job. I don’t think there is any Zuru man who does not want to be in the army.  I joined the army on the 15th of May 1968 and I was discharged in 2006 as a Warrant Officer. When I was in the army, I fought the Biafran war at Enugu. I was shot, so I was taken to Otukpo from where they moved me to Kaduna. I was in 122 Battalion when the war started but they have since dissolved that battalion.  I was later posted to the 65 Battalion in Sokoto. I also served in the 65 Battalion before I was posted to the 7th Brigade. I was later posted to the Army Headquarters in Lagos as Chief Clerk.”

Gona is one of the soldiers that were discharged from the army in 2004. He said one of the reasons they are trooping into the army was because of their toughness. “We are physically fit people and we are fighters. No community ever conquered the Zuru community during ancient wars. Many of our neighbours tried to fight us then but none of them ever won over Zuru. We are proud of our culture because it taught us bravery and endurance in the face of hardship. Any man who refuses to join the army is seen as a coward here, we see them as women because we are physical people who are ready to fight any time. I joined the army on March 1, 1969 and retired in 2004. Now I have two of my children in the army they are doing what I did and I am very happy about that. I am very proud that I was allowed to serve in the army and fought in wars to defend the country

Curled from Daily trust.

Reported by ISYAKU.COM

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