The Kiadia people are today known simply as a riverine Nupe subtribe. The Colonial historians wrote the name of the Kiadia as Kede, while the post-Colonial Nigerian historians wrote the name of the Kiadia as Kyadya.
All authorities are unanimously agreed that the Kiadia people are a Nupe people through and through. All authorities list Kiadia as one of the major tribal sections of the Nupe Nation.
The prehistory and origin of the Kiadia people should be traced to the prehistoric Akanda Nupe people. The Kiadia people are descendants of the now-extinct Akanda Nupe people.
The Akanda are one of the earliest Nupe people. They did not come from anywhere outside KinNupe; they have always been here in KinNupe right from the beginning. The Akanda, together with the Eba and Yisa people, are the most autochthonous Nupe people.
The Akanda were originally known as the Nda or Eda people. They got the name from their traditions that they originated from the land or soil of KinNupe in very prehistoric times. Similarly, the Eba, also known as the Gara or Gbara or Kwara Nupe people said that they originated from the waters, River Niger, of KinNupe. And the in the same vein the Yisa Nupe people said that they originated from the skies or the Sun of KinNupe.
So, the Akanda were known as the Nda or Eda because they originated from the soil or land of KinNupe in times immemorial. It is instructive to note that the generic Nupe word for the land or soil to this very day has remain Eda or Edati.
These Eda or Akanda people were, once upon a time, populous over KinNupe and they even had their super Kingdom of Edati variously known as Kata, Koto, Kuti, Kuta, Kudu, Gudu, and so on and on.
In latter times, especially after the Gara Exodus generated by the Nupeko Wars, the Akanda shattered into smithereens thereby giving birth to many of the modern Nupe and Nigerian people including the Kakanda, the Kiadia, the Kebbi, the Batachi, the Oyo, the Igala, and many others.
At a time a section of the Akanda people and the Eba or Gara people merged into a United Kingdom of Akanda-Gara. This Akanda-Gara Kingdom was progressively known as Kanda-Gara, Kanta-Gara, Anta-Gara or, as it became popularly known to Colonial historians, AtaGara.
The Kiadia were of course part and parcel of the Akanda people who together with the Gara people went into the formation of the AtaGara Kingdom. Actually, in those days the Kiadia, the Kakanda, the Kebbi and others have not yet differentiated or descended out of the mother Akanda stock. So, it was in the form of the Akanda that the Kiadia went into the formation of the AtaGara Kingdom.
Tsudi and the Kiadia
In the 13th century the AtaGara Kingdom fall amidst internal crisis. It seems the Kiadia, a prominent Akanda people of the AtaGara Kingdom, left the fallen AtaGara en mass. It also seems that the Kiadia citizens of the AtaGara Kingdom played a prominent or leading role in the internal crisis that led to the fall of the AtaGara Kingdom.
The traditional story is that when fight broke out between Tsudi and his half brothers upon the death of their father the King of AtaGara, it was the Kiadia Akanda citizens of AtaGara who assisted Tsudi in his flight and hiding away from his half-brothers who pursued him out of AtaGara.
It seems that the father of Tsudi belonged to the Akanda stock that went into the formation of the AtaGara Kingdom with the Gara stock. Tsudi’s half brothers must have been born to mothers who were from the Gara stock of the AtaGara Kingdom. So, when fight broke out between Tsudi and his Gara half brothers the Akanda, in this case the Kiadia, took sides with Tsudi because his late father, who was also Kiadia or Akanda, had taken sides with Tsudi before his death.
The traditional story went on to narrate that when Tsudi successfully got to his motherland Bini Kingdom, killing and succeeding his maternal uncle as the new King of the Binis, he rewarded his Kiadia assistants by coronating the twelve or so Kiadia supporters who followed him out of AtaGara as the Kuta, that is kings, of the resulting twelve Kiadia communities. That title of the Kuta is still assumed as the royal title of the king of the Kiadia people at the Kiadia capital of Muregi to this very day.
The Mythical Charter story of Tsudi shows that it was Tsudi who brought the Kiadia, and other Akanda, people from the fallen AtaGara Kingdom in the North down to Apa or Biniland in Central KinNupe. Whatever the case might have been it is clear that it was in the 13th century that the Kiadia and other Akanda people left a fallen AtaGara Kingdom en mass and came to settle down in Biniland in Central KinNupe where the Kiadia subsequently became a force to be reckoned with in Central KinNupe.
In those days Northern KinNupe was known as AtaGara or Kotonkoro while Southern KinNupe was known as Apa or Bini. Both AtaGara and Apa actually resulted from the fall of the Bini Confederacy which shattered into a northern half that became known as AtaGara or Kotonkoro and a southern half that became known as Apa or Bini.
It is in this context that it should be noted that in the days of the Bini Confederacy the Akanda people in general and the Kiadia in particular existed in both the northern and southern parts of the Bini Confederacy. What happened in the 13th century was just that the Akanda and Kiadia people of the Nupe Northern Kingdom of AtaGara migrated en masse on exodus to the Nupe Southern Kingdom of Apa or Bini.
Actually the Kiadia, and other Akanda people, have always been here in Central KinNupe since time immemorial; they have always been a Nupe people. But it was the Tsudi Revolution of the 13th Century – the Nupeko Wars and the Gara Exodus – that led to the rise, or re-rise, of the Akanda people, particularly the Kiadia, to geopolitical prominence over Central KinNupe.
Gara Exodus and the Nupeko Wars
The 13th century saw the rise of Tsudi and his Nupeko Wars that led to the fall of the super Kingdom of AtaGara which resulted in the Gara Exodus. The Gara Exodus was a massive population displacement of the people of the fallen AtaGara Kingdom from the North to Central and South KinNupe. The Akanda were among the large number of people who left AtaGara in the North to Central KinNupe as a result of the Nupeko Wars.
The Nupeko Wars were the endless expansionist wars initiated by Tsudi who in effect transformed his maternal Apa or Bini Kingdom into the Nupeko Empire. This Nupeko Empire is the same that is known to Hausa and Colonial historians as the Kororofa Empire. The Kiadia were among the leading warlike people who helped Tsudi in the building of the Nupeko Kororofa Empire.
It was the Kiadia who assisted Tsudi in fleeing his half-brothers from AtaGara. The Kiadia followed Tsudi down to his maternal Apa or the Biniland here in Central KinNupe. The Kiadia were members of the Akanda who together with the Gara left AtaGara on the Gara Exodus under the leadership of Tsudi to here Central KinNupe.
Here in Central KinNupe the Gara, a term that was used to referred to both the Akanda and the Gara or the Gara Exodus, merged together with the Apa to form the Gara-Apa United Kingdom of Tsudi here in Central KinNupe. The Gara-Apa were also known as the Koro-Apa or Koro-Afa or Korofa which is the same that the Hausa historians pronounced as Kororofa.
Gara-Apa was actually known to Nupe historians progressively as Gara-Ipa, Gara-Nipa, Gara-Nupa, Gara-Nupe, Koro-Nupe or Nupe-Koro. It is this Nupekoro that was popularly shortened as Nupeko.
So, the Kiadia were part and parcel of that amalgamation of people who built the Nupeko Empire or Kororofa under the leadership of Tsudi. Nupeko or Kororofa lasted for some three and a half centuries, from the onset of the Nupeko Wars in the 13th century to the period of the Songhai Invasion in the beginning of the 17th century. Throughout those three and a half or so centuries the Kiadia remained a powerful and very warlike people who contributed in no small manner to the fame and notoriety of Nupeko or Kororofa as the greatest warlike state ever to appear in the history of the Central Sudan.
Kiadia the Riverine People
When the Akanda people arrive Central KinNupe as part of the Gara Exodus as a result of the Nupeko Wars they began to differentiate into the many subtribes and other tribes that we found in KinNupe and other parts of Nigeria today. It was around that time that the people we call the Kiadia today began to assume their definitive tribal or sub-tribal form as we know them today. Those Akanda, otherwise called the Koto, who settled down with other Apa people along the banks of the River Niger, particularly around the River Kaduna and its confluence with the Niger, in Central KinNupe began to be referred to as the Kiadia.
Professor Michael Mason wrote that these people actually formed a kingdom around the general area of the Kaduna and the Niger – what he called the Kingdom of the Kaduna. It was at this Kingdom of the Kaduna that the Akanda, including in this context the Kiadia, initially settled when they arrived Central KinNupe in company of Tsudi on his celebrated flight and the subsequent Gara Exodus.
And it was from the Kingdom of the Kaduna that the Kiadia people eventually began to spread out along the banks of the River Niger as they gradually assumed a riverine life here in Central KinNupe. The Kiadia people consequently became a riverine people famous for their lifetime occupation as canoemen. With their Kuta at Muregi overseeing the Kiadia riverine people, they came to sort of form a state or sub-state within the overall state of the Nupe Nation. And this Kiadia State within a State became quite powerful in influencing the affairs of KinNupe when the control of the riverine traffic of the Nupe Nation became practically the singular prerogative of the Kuta and his Kiadia people.
After the fall of the Nupeko Kororofa Empire of Tsudi at the beginning of the 17th century the Kiadia people in Central and Southern KinNupe gradually left aside their original warlike lives as they adopted a new life of fishing and riverine commerce on the rivers of Central and Southern KinNupe.
The Kiadia became the major riverine people of KinNupe. They became fish-hunters and traders on canoe. They lived the whole of their lives on the rivers. The life and times of the Kiadia became centred on the River Niger and the Kaduna. They came to worship the Spirit or God of the River Niger whom they called the Ndaduma.
As the Kiadia people settled down into their new life of riverine occupation they begun to forget their warlike past and became a completely riverine people. But, interestingly enough, they remained the Nupe people who remembered most their warlike relationship with Tsudi and his laying the foundations of the historic Nupe Nation.
The original Akanda dialect with which the Kiadia arrived Central KinNupe gradually began to be phased out in place of the New Bini language they adopted and referred to as the Nupe Zam. Today the Kiadia have completely lost their original language or dialect as the only language they speak now is the Nupe language.
The Kiadia, Bida and the British
When the Nupe-Fulani Jihadists consolidated their political power over KinNupe in the first half of the 19th century the children of Mallam Dendo at Raba and Bida became close friends with the Kiadia riverine people. Both Usman Zaki and Masaba depended on the Kiadia canoemen and riverine merchants to control the economic traffic on the River Niger. It was to that end that the Nupe-Fulani Emirs maintained good and cordial relationship with the Kuta the head of the Kiadia people.
But the advent of the European merchants along the River Niger in the 19th century came to destroy the cordial relationship between the Nupe-Fulani Emirs and the Kiadia people. The Europeans with their steamships patrolling the River Niger and with their trading posts along the River Niger became superior competitors and unequal rivals to the Kiadia riverine people.
The Kiadia gradually lost their position and influence as the middlemen for the trade on the River Niger as the British came in as wholesale merchants with cheap imported goods from Europe. The British built factories and trading posts that immediately relegate the Kiadia riverine people out of commerce and business along the River Niger thereby rendering the Kiadia traders jobless and impoverished.
The Nupe-Fulani Emirs abandoned the Kiadia riverine people as they established cordial relationships with the European riverine merchants. The economic significance of the Kiadia people declined while their Kuta’s political relevance became negligible. The Kiadia people began to complain and grumble but the Nupe-Fulani Emirs didn’t care.
Etsu Masaba in particular openly courted the British traders to the utter detriment of the Kiadia people.
The Kiadia Rebellions to Nupe-Fulani Control
Etsu Masaba also openly extended his control over the River Niger while blatantly dislodging the Kiadia from their erstwhile control over the River Niger. In 1870 he closed down Raba as an important ferry-port on the River Niger and opened Tsonga as the new ferry-port. This relocation of the ferry-port at Raba to Tsonga by Masaba was a deathblow to the control and influence that the Kiadia have hitherto exercised over the River Niger. Shifting the ferry-port from Raba to Tsonga spelt economic death to the Kiadia riverine people. But Etsu Masaba felt that the economic emasculation of the Kiadia was a perfect strategy to tighten his control over the River Niger and the Kiadia people.
Etsu Masaba, accordingly, tightened his power over the Kiadia people in order to subjugate them further. He, for instance, forced the Kuta or the Kiadia king to relocate from Muregi the Kiadia capital to Dakomba which was closer to Bida from whence Masaba can be effectively monitoring the Kuta. With that singular act Masaba transformed the Kuta into his, Masaba’s, direct but unwilling puppet.
After the death of that Kuta at Dakomba Etsu Masaba even attempted to impose his own choice of a succeeding Kuta on the Kiadia people after the death of a previous Kuta. Etsu Masaba’s choice, called Isatakun, was vigorously rejected by the Kiadia people who said that Isatakun was raised in Bida and knew nothing about Kiadia culture or traditions. The Kiadia people rejected Isatakun whom they saw as a mere puppet Etsu Masaba was trying to impose on them in order for Bida to further colonize the Kiadia people.
All these eventually led to open rebellion by the Kiadia people against Etsu Masaba. And even though Etsu Masaba was able to crush the Kiadia Rebellion, the Kiadia dissatisfaction with the Nupe-Fulani Emirs continued such that Etsu Umaru Majigi who succeeded Etsu Masaba witnessed at least two major revolts by the Kiadia people.
As a matter of fact one of the Kiadia Revolt under Etsu Umaru Majigi grew into a full-blown civil war called the Ganigan War. The Kiadia rebels attacked Nupe-Fulani trading towns and British trading posts and factories. Etsu Umaru Majigi’s army of Bida had a tough time bringing the Ganigan Revolt to an end and only succeeded in doing so when the British came to his aid.
The Kiadia rebellions and revolts became so frequent that they began to impact negatively on the economic and political integrity of the Nupe Nation under the Nupe-Fulani Emirs. The British forces had to come in to help out the Bida forces in quelling the rebelling Kiadia rebels in order for the British traders to be able to continue with their trading activities along the River Niger.
Kiadia and the Battle of Bida
After jointly subduing the Kiadia people, the British and the Bida Emirs, however, ended up becoming arch enemies little less than a decade later when the British began to exhibit imperialistic designs over the Nupe-Fulani Emirs. Beginning from that very 1882 the year the British helped Bida to crush the Ganigan Revolt of the Kiadia, the British began to gradually encroach on Bida territorial sovereignty in order to be able to properly protect their own British trading interests in KinNupe.
The Royal Niger Company transformed from a trading company into an occupying force with imperialistic designs against the Nupe Nation. Incredibly the British began to align with the Kiadia against the Etsu Nupe who was becoming more suspicious of the British.
In fact the British connived with Yaiyu a nephew of Isatakun the puppet Kuta of Muregi imposed by Bida, to defeat and overthrow Isatakun from power. The British then appointed the Yaiyu as the new Kuta of Muregi over the Kiadia people against the wish of the Etsu Nupe at Bida.
Before long it became clear to the Etsu Nupe at Bida that the British were out to impose a British Colonial Government over the Nupe Nation. This naturally led to serious crises and clashes between Bida and the British.
In 1896 the RNC forces clashed with the Bida forces at Ogudu in today’s Kogi State. The British forces were defeated and humiliated by the Bida forces at the Ogudu skirmish. The British therefore plotted a massive and decisive revenge when they suddenly attack Bida in 1897 the result was the Battle of Bida which saw to the defeat of the Nupe forces and the conquest of Bida by the British forces.
The interesting point here is that the success of the British in defeating and conquering Bida during the Battle of Bida was due in part to the decisive role played by the Kiadia canoemen and their Kuta at Muregi.
The Kiadia people whom the Nupe-Fulani Emirs had economically short-changed for the Europeans and whom the Bida forces had mercilessly quashed during the Ganigan and other Kiadia revolts jumped for the opportunity to exert their revenge when the British and Bida forces clashed during the Battle of Bida. The Kuta at Muregi with his Kiadia canoemen had successfully executed a riverine blockade on the Bida forces stranded on the other side of the River Niger and prevented them from crossing over to fight the British forces who have surreptitiously pounced on a hapless Bida.
The Kiadia thus played a significant role in the fall of Bida during the Battle of Bida. But after the Battle of Bida the British disappointed the Kiadia by not fulfilling their promises of according them royal and political powers. In any case the fall of Bida at the end of the 19th century enabled the British to establish their Colonial Government over the whole of the place we call Nigeria today.
The Kiadia and the Nupe-Fulani Today
With the new order of the Colonial Government over the Nupe Nation both the Kiadia and Nupe-Fulani Emirs became birds of the same feathers as subject people under the British imperialists. This forced the Kiadia and the Nupe-Fulanis to normalize their relationship and forge a new pact of friendship and cordiality under the Colonial dispensation. This led to the Kiadia and the Nupe-Fulani people forgetting their old differences and fusing together into one and the same Nupe Nation that today hardly differentiate a Kiadia man from a Nupe-Fulani man since both are only identified as Nupe men at the federal level.
Interestingly both the Kiadia and the Nupe-Fulani have become fully Nupenized today to the extent that they have no any other identity than Nupe. When the Kiadia initially arrive Central KinNupe together with Tsudi during the Gara Exodus the Kiadia were speaking their own Akanda language which was totally different from the Nupe, actually Bini, language that we speak today. But over the centuries the Kiadia people have lost their Akanda language and today only speaks Nupe as their mother tongue. This is similar to the case of the Nupe-Fulani who in their early generations could speak Fulani but have now become so Nupenized and lost all traces of any Fulani identity that they only speak the Nupe language as their mother tongue.