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‘Kwatarkwashi hill: Where humans cohabited with wild animals’

This feature article first appeared and was published in the dailytrustonline of 22 October 2017 by shehu umar, Gusau.

The ancient Kwatarkwashi hill, situated in the southeastern part of Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, has been in existence for over 1,000 years, according to residents. The hill borders Gulubba and Tofa villages.

On the hilltop was an ancient community called Madaci, where people lived for many years. But several years ago, they relocated from the hilltop to Kwatarkwashi town, situated at the foot of the hill.

On the hill is Kwatarkwashi Rock, a giant rock similar to Zuma Rock in Niger State. Also attached to the rock is a legendary Kwatarkwashi Emirate.

This hill was a home for wild animals such as leopards, hyenas and different species of snakes, and eagles. There was also a shrine on the hill, which many people visited before Islam fully gained ground in the community.

Some residents who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday said although the people cohabited with wild animals, they were never attacked.

Alhaji Garba Jodi, a 70-year-old resident of Kwatarkwashi, told our correspondent that, “In those days, pagan hunters used to go there for expedition. Remember, I told you that the hill was an abode for many types of wild animals, including several species of birds. Hunters would go for eagles and bring them to the emir’s palace.

“I witnessed such hunting expeditions when I was a young chap. On one occasion, an eagle overpowered one hunter, lifted him up and threw him down the hill, and the man died instantly. Following that incident, hunting activities on the hill stopped.’’

Jodi said that spirits made the hill a safe haven as residents always heard drumming and other forms of domestic activities, especially in the wee hours of the day.

“Sometimes, wild animals would come down to residential houses. On a certain market day, a hyena came to a residential house and everyone scampered for safety. There was also a day when a huge snake sneaked into this very room you are holding this interview with me. We had to search for it thoroughly and remove it. That was because of our nearness to this hill,’’ he added.

Also speaking, a 33-year-old Saminu Garba Jodi said they used to climb the hill for one thing or another when they were kids.

“I can remember how monkeys invaded our houses and wreaked havoc on our chickens and other domestic birds. They did not also spare our maize farms in the neighborhood.

“Overtime, most of the animals were scared away by hunters and other human activities. We have been following the development. We are residents here and we have no home other than here,’’ he said.

Asked if he knew anything about the spirits believed to have made the hill their home, Saminu answered in the affirmative.

“There was a place on the hilltop called Bakandama. No one dared go there without receiving a mysterious slap. Anybody who went there would receive a slap on the face, but he or she would never see anyone. So people avoided the place.

“Apart from that, on the top of the hill, traces of early habitation were found. There was a belief that people lived there during the Stone Age. Pots and other domestic apparatuses could be found. There was also a natural spring,’’ he narrated.

Another resident of the community, Bashar Adamu, also told our correspondent that he was always surprised whenever he saw visitors at the place.

“Recently, I saw some corps members catching fun at the hill. They were very excited and busy snapping pictures there. No one is prevented from going there to catch a glimpse of the wonders there,’’ Adamu said.

For Abubakar Umar, climbing the hill is very challenging. According to him, there are different types of trees there, and for someone to get some medicinal herbs, one has to climb to the top of the hill, which he described as a very hectic job.

“It takes courage and diligence to get to the top of the hill. It is a sign of bravery. We used to climb the hill, but things are becoming difficult for us this time around,’’ he added.

A hunter, Mamman Dankiwo, who spent more than four decades in the business, said it was surprising that wild animals on the hill did not attack or harm residents.

“At that time, we chased the animals into the caves and killed them without facing any attack. However, we used to come across dangerous snakes in the caves, where idol worshippers visited for their rituals,’’ he said.

Another resident, Abdullahi Usman, told our correspondent that when he was a kid, he used to see idol worshippers and other people visit the shrine on Thursdays and Fridays for rituals.

“There was a time when people dug up the idols worshiped by the ancestors thousands of years ago and sold them to foreigners. The practice continued until recently when the government put a stop to it,’’ he added.

Usman further said that sometimes, flames of fire would be seen on the hilltop, and thereafter, it would stop, and those whose houses are very close to it would not get scared because it is the nature of the place.

Hadiza Muhammad, whose house is situated at the foot of the hill, said there was never a time she felt threatened by anything on the hill despite the fact that their houses were built near it. She added that their forefathers lived there for several years.

“Even during the rainy season, the running water doesn’t constitute any threat to us because there is a crater on top of the rock which prevents the water from running down to wreak havoc on our houses,’’ she explained.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that because of its geographical importance, students of tertiary institutions usually go to the hill on excursion.

Ibrahim Usman is a Geography student of the Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina who visited the hill on excursion with his colleagues. He said, “I had heard about this hill but I never visisted it. When the opportunity came to visit the hill, I saw a lot of things there. It was a very interesting visit.’’

Quarry activities are also taking place on the rocky part of the hill. And this is boosting economic activities in the place.

The people in the emirate are known for their hospitality; that is why many people from different parts of the country who engage in one business or another can be found there.

CREDIT: Source, Dailytrust online

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