GOGO HABIBA’S GBIDIGI: HISTORY OF BADDEGI
[Below is a lengthy summary of my book titled ‘Gogo Habiba’s Gbidigi: History of Baddegi]
The history of Baddegi is a rather complex and convoluted one with various historical factors coming to play prominent and varied roles at different stages in the course of the history. For the sake of didactic clarity it might be better to point out that the story below of the history of Baddegi is divided into mahjor sections as below:
Old Oyo wars
Migration to Jebba
Further Migration to Baddegi Lapai
Mallam Dendo Wars
Umaru Bahaushe Reign
Gogo Habiba at Baddegi
Gogo Habiba at Bida
We shall now proceed to narrate this history in some details.
Ilorin and Gbidigi
For the beginning of the history of Baddegi we will have to go down south to Ilorin; for that is where the people of Baddegi remembered coming from.
But the truth of the matter is that the Ilorin people themselves originated from here Central KinNupe in very ancient times. Laderin, the historical founder of Ilorin and the great grandfather of Kakamfo Afonja, was a Nupe man.
In former times the Ilorin general area was part and parcel of KinNupe. In those days the people of Ilorin were a Nupe people through and through. The borders of the Greater KinNupe of those days extended well beyond the Ilorin general area – some historians, including Sultan Bello, said, as the Nupeko Kororofa, even down to the shores of the Atlantic.
In any case Ilorin was a Nupe settlement in those days. And in fact in those days Ilorin was actually known as Baidigi or, as the colonial scribes and historians including O. Temple transcribed it, Baedegi. This Baedegi was later on written, by the same colonial scribes, as Baddegi and it is in that form that we all write it to this very day in modern day Nigeria.
But then we need to also mark the fact that it was not only Ilorin but the whole of the Southern KinNupe of those days that was known as Baedegi or Baddegi. And in those days, as we shall discuss further in a latter part of this present work, the whole Southern KinNupe of those days include the modern Nigerian states of Kwara State, Ekiti State, Ondo State, Edo State and Edo State. So all these states were in those far off days Nupe places collectively known as Baedegi or Baddegi.
And in those same far off days the Nupe people living in this vast Southern KinNupe area known as Baedegi or Baddegi used to speak, as a Lingua Franca, the ancient Nupe language of Gbidigi. So, these people, in all these states, were a Nupe people known in ancient times as the Gbidigi.
So, the people of Ilorin were originally known as the Gbidigi and Ilorin was itself known as Baedegi or Baddegi.
Now then, what these colonial historians didn’t know was that Badigi, or Baedegi as they wrote it, was actually an ancient national name of the whole of the Nupe Nation or KinNupe very ancient times.
Nupe was Original Bornu
Baidigi is actually a contraction of the original Baraedigi or ‘Ibara Edigi’ which directly translates as ‘The Ibara language’.
The Nupe language used to be known as Ibara or Ibara Edigi in those far off days when the language spoken in KinNupe was the Old Nupe language known as Ibara. Professor Roger Blench documented the fact that the Nupe language used to be known as Ibara in former times.
Ibara or Bara was actually a great but ancient form of the Nupe language that used to be spoken over a greater part of ancient Nigeria in former times. In those days almost the whole of Northern Nigeria, the whole of Middle Belt Nigeria and a greater part of Southern Nigeria used the Nupe Bara language as a Lingua Franca due to the fact that the Bara empire of the Nupe people exercised sovereignty over a greater part of ancient Nigeria.
The Bara Nupe people were known in those days as the Barani or Baranu or Barnu which was what the White man came and Latinized as ‘Borno’. Yes, the Nupe people were the first people to be referred to as the Barnu, Bornu or Borno people. Please read my book, titled ‘Borno Was Nupe’, for all the details and references you may need on the fact that KinNupe was Original Borno or Old Borno and that the Borno people originated from Nupe.
The Nupe people were known in those days as the Barni or Bornu or Borno people and their kingdom, which became an empire, was also known as Barni or Barnu. In latter times this same ancient Nupe kingdom of Barni or Barnu also came to be known as the Barnu Gungu or, as the colonial historians wrote it, Borno Gungu.
Barni or Barnu or Barnu Gungu or Borno Gungu was located right here in Central KinNupe on the very banks of the River Niger. In fact, and the very reason why, it became known in latter times as Borno Gungu is due to the fact that it was located in Central KinNupe. KinNupe came to be known as Gungu in latter times and to indicate that the Original or Old Borno was located here in Central KinNupe, or Gungu, it used to be referred to as Borno Gungu.
Borno Gungu or Old Borno or Original Borno which was a Nupe kingdom through and through was the center of the Old Nupe language of Bara or Ibara. Remember that the very name ‘Bornu’ itself was derived from ‘Barni’ or ‘Barani’ or ‘Bara-ni’ which simply means ‘The Bara Person’ or the ‘Speaker of Bara’. And Bara or Ibara was the name of the Old Nupe Language.
Bari Nupe Peoples
This ancient Nupe language of Bara was also, dialectally, known as Bari and the Bariba, Baribari, Kambari, Gbari, and even the Yoruba people are remnants of these ancient Bari or Bara Nupe people.
As you can easily see Baribari is simply a repetitive form of Bari or Bara which was the name of the Nupe people in ancient times. The Baribari people are to be see today as a very ancient form of the Kanuri people in today’s Borno region of Nigeria. Of course, the very fact that the Kanuri people are still known as the Baribari, a very ancient name of the Nupe people in former times, consummately corroborates the fact that the Baribari people were originally a Nupe people.
The people of Borgu are also known as the Bariba. But Bariba is simply another repetitive form of the Bari the national name of the Nupe people in very ancient times. The people of todaay’s Borgu were originally a Nupe people through and through. As recent as the time of the visit of the Lander brothers to Borguland in the 1830s the Borgu people were still overwhelmingly a Nupe people. Please read my book, ‘Legend of the Bariba: How the People of Borgu Originated from Nupe’ for details on the fact that the people of Borgu were originally a Nupe people.
The Kambari people were also, once upon a time, members of the overall Bari or Ibara Nupe Nation in former times. The Kambari people originated from Nupe also. And so also are the Gbari or Gbagyi people who were once upon a time a Nupe people through and through.
The Yoruba people used to be knonw as the Bari, Bariba or Yariba people. In those days the Yoruba people were a Nupe people completely. In fact their Oyo kingdom was in those days a Nupe kingdom and it was located right here on the banks of the River Niger in Central KinNupe. Please read my book, titled ‘Oduduwa was Nupe: How the Yoruba People Originated from Nupe’, for details on how the Yoruba people originated from Nupe.
In any case the Nupe kingdom, and later empire, of Bara or Bari was also known as Bara Edigi or Baedigi or even as Gbidigi. This Baddegi or Gbidigi kingdom grew into an empire that extended its territorial tentacles in all directions of the ancient Central Sudan, that is today’s Nigeria and its neighbouring countries.
Practically the whole of ancient Nigeria in olden days became the territory of the ancient Bara or Bari Nupe people. Sir C.R. Niven actually noted that this ancient Bari or Gwari Nupe ethncitiy forms the ‘bedrock stock’ from which almost all other Nigerian tribes and ethnicities were to later originate. And in fact Sultan Bello categorically wrote that the Bari or Bara or Gwara Nupe people at one time ruled over practically the whole of ancient Nigeria.
That is why to this very day we have remnants and descendants of this ancient Bara or Bari Nupe people in almost every part of Nigeria. The ancient Nupe national names of Bara or Bari were also variously pronounced with dialectal variations as Bwari, Bwori, Bworo, Boro, Ibori, Ibo, Agwara, Agwoi, Kalabari, Urhobo, and so on and on. All these modern Nigeria peoples are remnants of the ancient Bari or Bara Nupe people.
Well then, at a time the powerful Bara or Bari or Baedigi Nupe empire began to decline and eventually fal back into history. This was due to the rise of other and latter Nupe kingdoms and empires including the Apa or Ife empire, the Akanda or Nda Nupe kingdom, the Kisra or Yisa Nupe nation, etc, etc.
The Baddegi empire fall and its Bara or Bari or Gbidigi Old Nupe languagewas also ousted from its erstwhile position as the Lingua Franca of KinNupe. Many people in different parts of KinNupe began to speak the new languages of the emergent kingdoms of the Akanda, Kisra, Apa and various new Nupe people. Actually most of these new Nupe languages incorporated greater parts of the Old Nupe Gbidigi language and the overall result was the Middle Nupe language which was a pidgin of the Old Nupe Gbidigi language with various elements of the new and emergent languages that came to replace the Old Nupe Gbidigi language.
But Gbidigi continued to be spoken in few other parts of KinNupe most especially in the Southern KinNupe of those days. This is because most of the new and emergent languages and kingdoms came as foreign influences from the North thereby pushing the older languages and ethnicities southward. P. Amoury Talbo and Professor Michael Mason, and many others, have discussed the fact that the history of Nigeria generally flows from the North to the South as foreign influences from the outside almost always come through the North in those prehistoric times and always push the older and more ancient tribes and ethnicities towards the south such that today we find some of the oldest tribes and ethcnities in Nigeria – including people like the Ibibio, the Kalabari and the Urhobo – at the furthest and southernmost part of Nigeria today.
Gbidigi gradually disappeared from Northern KinNupe and became a language spoken in some parts of the Southern KinNupe of those days. But the Southern KinNupe of those days is different from the Southern KinNupe of today. In those days KinNupe was far and many times larger than the KinNupe of today. This was such that the Southern KinNupe roughly corresponds to the Northern half of today’s Yorubaland. This means that the modern Nigerian states of Kwara State, Oyo State, Osun State, Ekiti State, Ondo State, Edo State and Kogi State were all part and parcel of the Greater KinNupe of those days and in fact these states constituted the Southern KinNupe of those days.
There actually used to be a time in the remotest past when the whole of Yorubaland, from the banks of the River Niger to the shores of the Atlantic ocean, was part and parcel of KinNupe and that ancient Nupe Yorubaland peopled and populated completely by the Nupe people.
In any case today’s Kwara State was also part of that Southern Yorubaland of former times and this general area actually became one of the last enclaves of the Old Nupe language of Gbidigi.
The place we call Ilorin today was particularly one of the major and last bastion of the Old Nupe language of Gbidigi. In fact the original name of the place we call Ilorin today was, simply, Baedigi.
In those days Ilorin was a Nupe settlement through and through. In fact Ilorin was at a time referred to as the place where one can still find the oldest and purest form of the Old Nupe Language of Gbidigi spoken. The Ilorin general area was first was founded and established by the Nupe in very ancient times. That was why Ilorin was originally known as Baddegi or Baedigi or Gbidigi – the name of the ancient Old Nupe language.
Ilorin was also the capital city or headquarters used as the sociocultural launch-pad from which the Nupe overlords ruled and carried out their imperial designs, wars and territorial expansion to the rest of that ancient Yorubaland. That was why the place was referred to, in the Middle Nupe Language, as Ele Eri which is what the Modern Yoruba language pronounced as Ile Ori or, as the colonial scribes came to Latinize it, Ilori or, as we write it today, Ilorin.
The Nupe settlement that was originally known as Baddegi gradually became known as the Ile Ori or Ilorin because it was the headquarters or war camp from which the Nupe overlords were launching their imperial attacks on the rest of today’s Yorubaland. Ile Ori, of course, directly translates into English as the ‘Head House’ which is the Old Nupe or Yoruba equivalent of the English ‘Capital City’ or ‘Head Quarters’.
Well, and in any case, the name of the place changed from Baddegi to Ilorin over time. Both names however speaks of the original Nupe influence in that place. And to this day it is still known as Ilorin.
The Oyo Crises
The use of the Ilorin general area as a launch-pad for the Nupe imperialist wars on the rest of the Yorubaland made the Ilorin area a very crisis-proned area in those days. There were always battles around the Ilorin general area and there were always floods of refugees moving in around the area.
Actually that very period, the 1780s, coincided with the time the Nupe overlords back in Central KinNupe decided that they are going to re-conquer the whole of the Southern KinNupe, that is today’s modern Northern Yorubaland, back into the Greater KinNupe fold.
The case was always that whenever a new kingdom or empire emerged in Central KinNupe it will have to re-conquer all the territories that used to be under the sovereignty of the former Nupe power that it came to oust or succeeded. That was, for instance, the case in the 1530s when the Apa, Afa or Ifa Nupe people became the supreme rulers of KinNupe. They immediately set about re-conquering all the former vassal territories under the sovereignty of the former power they replaced here on the banks of the River Niger in Central KinNupe.
In the 1530s the new and emergent Apa Nupe overlords sacked and destroyed the Old Oyo kingdom who were also a Nupe people but who have refused to follow the Ifa religion of the Apa Nupe people. The Nupe rulers of the Old Oyo and their ruling dynasty were held captives for some 80 years in the western region of the Greater KinNupe of those days. This western region of the Greater KinNupe of old is the one known today as the Bariba or Borgu.
For eighty solid years Old Oyo was dislocated back to KinNupe and actually in the western half of the Greater KinNupe of those days – the western half now known as Bariba or Borgu.
Now then, this very scenario was re-enacted with regard to the Baedigi Nupe people of Ilorin when in the 1780s, that is some two centuries later, the Nupe overlords again overran the northern half of today’s Yorubaland which was in those days the southern half of the Greater KinNupe of those days.
What actually happened was that a new power, most probably the Bini Confederacy of Professor Nadel’s thesis, arose to power in at the beginning of the 18th century and had to go through the usual routine of re-conquering the former Nupe territories of the erstwhile power the Bini Confederacy have overthrown from power.
In any case the new and emergent power back here in Central KinNupe initiated another round of endless series of wars that engulfed the entire Southern KinNupe, that is today’s Northern Yorubaland, area.
This, of course, led to the destabilization of the Old Oyo kingdom again since the Old Oyo kingdom was located in the border of Central KinNupe and Southern KinNupe in those days. It is not a surprise, therefore, that this very period is related by the Yoruba historians to have corresponded to the time of the internal strife within the Oyo kingdom caused by the infamous Bashorun Gaha.
In any case the Oyo kingdom and all other settlements within the Northern Yoruba or Southern KinNupe region became engulfed in all manners of political and internecine crises as the Nupes from Central KinNupe, once more, overran Yorubaland.
That was when the crises of the Ilorin area also gained momentum. The Ilorin people actually began their rebellion of secession against the Oyo kingdom. But many others within Ilorin supported Oyo and preferred to stay with the Oyo kingdom.
The Migration from Ilorin to Old Oyo in KinNupe
In the end a large section of the Gbidigi Nupe Ilorin population left Ilorin on a general exodus back towards Central KinNupe from where their Ibara or Bari Nupe ancestors originally came. They eventually came to settle on the Nupe island of Jebba on the River Niger some fifty or so miles from Ilorin where they had started their journey.
There are versions to the effect that the exodus of the Gbidigi Old Nupe people of Ilorin to Jebba was not a spontaneous exodus – it was actually forced and orchestrated by the invading Nupe overlords from Central KinNupe. The Nupe overlords had the intention of putting an end to Ilorin polity and they therefore ravaged and razed Ilorin and ordered the ancient Nupe people of Ilorin, the Gbidigi, to migrate back to Central KinNupe or be merged with the Old Oyo kingdom which was itself also under attack by the Nupe overlords.
Whatever the truth of the matter might have been the historical fact still remains that the Gbidigi Old Nupe people of Ilorin moved en masse in an exodus from Ilorin to Jebba in the very vicinities of the Old Oyo kingdom.
This exodus of the ancient Gbidigi Nupe people of Ilorin from Ilorin to Oyo was not an isolated phenomenon – it was actually part of a general mass movement of so many ancient Nupe people from the Southern KinNupe (that is today’s Yorubaland) of those days back to Northern and Central KinNupe. This general mass movement was caused by the endless Oyo crises and wars that resulted from the ambitious re-conquest of the entire Northern Yoruba, that is Southern KinNupe, by the Nupe overlords back here in Central KinNupe. This Nupe Re-Conquest Wars devastated Northern Yorubaland and led to the fall of Oyo and the destabilization of other major Yoruba settlements including most prominently Ilorin, Abeokuta and Ibadan.
This Nupe Re-Conquest Wars generated mass movements in all directions out of Northern Yorubaland but majority of the mass movements actually headed up north back to KinNupe. It was part of this massive Gbidigi Nupe movement out of Southern KinNupe or Northern Yorubaland that also went to settle at and overpopulated Mokwa and Gudu or Ogudu. From Mokwa, Jebba and Gudu these ancient Gbidigi people were to further migrate to form the famous town of Kpotofu which was the original settlement of the people that are in Tsaragi today.
Actually the Gbidigi Nupe people of Ilorin said they were coming back home to Central KinNupe their original homeland and origin. They also chose Jebba because it gave them the opportunity to settle down beside their kindred Old Oyo people.
The Old Oyo people were also a Gbdidi Nupe people. Remember Baedigi is actually a shortening of Bara Edigi and then remember also that the Old Oyo or Yoruba people are also a Bara or Bari or Bariba or Yariba people same as the Baedigi people of Ilorin. The Baedigi people from Ilorin and the Yariba people of the Old Oyo kingdom were virtually one and the same Nupe Bari or Bariba people.
In any case the Gbidigi people of Ilorin came back home to KinNupe to settle beside their kith and kin, the Baedigi or Yariba people of the Old Oyo kingdom.
It was all the endless wars and crises around the Ilorin area that led to an exodus of the Gbidigi Old Nupe language speaking Ilorin people from the Ilorin general area some fifty miles up north to the Nupe island settlement of Jebba. The ancient Gbidigi people of Ilorin said they were returning back to their origin, Central KinNupe, when they moved en masse from Ilorin to Jebba.
At Jebba the Gbidigi settlement from Ilorin simply became a twin settlement to the Old Oyo kingdom just a couple of kilometers away. As a matter of fact the Gbidigi settlement at Jebba was immediately becoming the New Oyo as the Old Oyo kingdom was then enmeshed in all manners of internal and external upheavals.
When the Nupe overlords attacked Oyo in the 1780s culminating the disastrous defeat of Alafin Abiodun and his loss of large numbers of his Oyo war generals, the Old Oyo rulers began to evacuate their valuables and transferring them over to the Gbidigi or Baddegi Jebba which was then fast becoming the New Oyo. It was in this context that, and for instance, the Ndakotako gods of the Old Oyo Gbidigi, that is the Badedigi Oyo, were transferred to Baedigi Jebba.
That the leading gods of the Old Oyo people could be transferred to the Baedigi Jebba at a time when the Old Oyo kingdom was under siege and under the threat of extinction by the Nupe overlords bespoke of the great and familial relationship between the Baedigi Oyo and the Baedigi Jebba.
As the Old Oyo kingdom, or Oyo Ile, sank into further crises in the 1780s, the Baedigi Jebba, as the New Oyo, increasingly a great and significant Baedigi or Bari Nupe settlement.
But the Old Oyo crises was not limited to the walls of the Old Oyo, or Oyo Ile, settlement alone. The crises of Old Oyo engulfed the whole of the Yoruba zone with the three major Yoruba settlements of Abeokuta, Ibadan and Ilorin seriously affected.
Many other settlements throughout Yorubaland and Southern KinNupe were also affected by the crises of the Old Oyo kingdom. Jebba, and the immigrant Baedigi Jebba people were also affected by this crisis.
It was during this period of crises and great uncertainty that a major section of the Baedigi Jebba Old Nupe people resumed their migration by leaving Jebba, moving along the River Niger and then along the Niger’s tributary called Pai or Lapai and migrating further and right into Central KinNupe until they came to settle close to the banks of the tributary. This new Baedigi settlement is some 90 miles away from Jebba and it is located right here in Central KinNupe.
Incidentally the place where these migrating Gbidigi Nupe people came to eventually settle down was not far away from Bida but in those days Bida was an unknown little Bini village some 14 kilometers away.
Here, almost on the banks of the small Niger tributary river of Lapai, the Gbdidi people founded a village settlement which came to be known as the Baedigi Lapai. And they were continually joined by more immigrants from the Baedigi Jebba as the crises of the Old Oyo kingdom worsen further and further.
In 1835 Old Oyo eventually fall to civil war spearheaded by the Nupe war general called Kakamfo Afonja from Ilorin. With the demise of the Old Oyo kingdom the Gbidigi people of Jebba became one of the last and enduring remnants of the ancient and Old Nupe Gbidigi people. But by then a major section of its population had by then migrated along the River Niger to the new Baedigi settlement at Baedigi Lapai just 15 kilometers away from Bida.
At Baedigi Lapai these Gbidigi Nupe people settled down to a quiet and peaceful life of peasantry and farming. Baedegi Lapai is located in one of the most fertile plains of KinNupe. These people have fled the crises and trouble-prone areas of Old Oyo close to Jebba because and they came to settle down at their new settlement of Baedigi Lapai in order to be able to farm peacefully without the crises of the Old Oyo kingdom.
Interestingly enough by the time these Gbidigi people finally settled down at Baddegi they had lost their original Gbidigi language and were now speaking the Bini dialect of the Nupe language. It is this Bini dialect that everybody, all of us, wrongly refer to as Nupe today. But Bini is just a dialect of the overall Nupe national language as was Gbidigi too.
By the time the Gbidigi Nupe people arrived Baddegi they have already lost and stopped speaking the Gbidigi dialect of the Nupe language. But even back at Jebba, where they came from, the Gbidigi language was already on fast decline. Professor S.F. Nadel saw the last speaker of the Gbidigi language at Jebba in the 1930s.
Gbidigi was the Old Nupe language from which both Modern Nupe language and Old Yoruba language descended.
In any case the Gbidigi Nupe people who migrated further from Jebba to Baddegi were fleeing the general crises of the Old Oyo kingdom which was also having its toll on the Jebba population since Jebba is not far from Old Oyo. At their new settlement of Baddegi these ancient Gbidigi Nupe people from Jebba settled down to a peaceful and undisturbed life farming in the very fertile plains of Baddegi.
But then, and unknown to these Baedigi Lapai people, political crises and trouble for inching towards them with the rise of the Fulani Jihadists who are by then already taking over the Ilorin that destroyed the Old Oyo kingdom, the Lapai and Agaie areas and Raba the capital city of KinNupe in those days.
It is such a paradox of history that Ilorin succeeded in destroying and sacking the Oyo empire only for Ilorin itself to be immediately conquered and taken over by the Fulani Jihadists. Mallam Alimi, invited by Kakamfo Afonja himself to help in the fight against Oyo, immediately became the paramount ruler of Ilorin after Kakamfo Afonja was killed. Of course Mallam Alimi, an Jihadist, immediately transformed Ilorin into an emirate and an Islamic missionary base for the transformation of other places to Islamic emirates.
Thus was it that it was to Ilorin that Mallam Dendo and his cliché of other Fulani Mallams came to seek asylum when they were driven out of Raba by Etsu Majiya II. At Ilorin the Mallams were busy preparing for war when Etsu Majiya precipitously besieged and attacked them at Ilorin. The result was the famous Battle of Ilorin known to Nupe historians as the Mugba Mugba War.
Etsu Zubairu Majiya lost the battle to Mallam Dendo and his followers who chased Etsu Majiya back across the Niger through Raba and eventually out of KinNupe. Mallam Dendo went back to Raba and gradually began to lay the foundations of the Raba Emirate which was to later on became the Bida Emirate that flourishes to this very day.
Not long after the Baedigi Jebba people settled at their new place of Baedigi Lapai the Dendo dynasts established themselves at Raba, the Babba dynasts at Agaie, the Manzuma dynasts at Lafiagi and the Maza dynasts at Lapai. Now the interesting point here is that all these were Fulani emirates established in different parts of KinNupe with Baedigi Lapai roughly located in the centre.
Mallam Dendo died in 1832, the same year that his son, Usman Zaki became the Emir of the Raba Emirate.
The truth of the matter is that it was Mamman Majigi, the first son of Mallam Dendo and the elder brother to Usman Zaki, who was the first Emir of Nupe at Raba but Nupe historians don’t mention him or add him to the kinglist of the Emirs of Nupe for the simple reason that he was on the throne as the Emir of Nupe for only three days after returning from Gwandu with the Sokoto Caliphate flag confirming him as the first Emir of Nupe.
This Mamman Majigi had many children two of the most famous ones of whom are his daughter Gogo Habiba and his son Mamman Majigi. This Mamman Majigi was to become the third Emir of Nupe (or fourth if his father, Mamman Majigi, is counted as the first Emir of Nupe).
In any case Usman Zaki became the Emir of Nupe in 1832 after the death of both his father Mallam Dendo and his elder brother Mamman Majigi.
Gogo Habiba and General Umaru Bahaushe
But Masaba, the junior brother to Usman Zaki, challenged and pestered Usman Zaki until he ousted his elder brother from power in 1841. A defeated Usman Zaki fled to Gwandu in a hasty manner for his life. He went with his nephew Umaru Majigi the son to his, Usman Zaki’s, elder brother Mamman Majigi.
Masaba assumed power as the Emir of Nupe but was in turn ousted from power by his own war general, the powerful General Umaru Bahaushe.
General Umaru Bahaushe chased Masaba out of Lade, Masaba’s capital city, and assumed the throne as the Emir of Nupe. And for nine solid years Umaru Bahaushe, a Kanuri man actually, was the paramount Emir of the whole of KinNupe.
The manner in which both of Mallam Dendo’s children, Usman Zaki and Masaba, were ousted from power and chased out of KinNupe in a hasty manner left many of Mallam Dendo’s children and grandchildren stranded as refugees at Raba the Dendo’s official thronecity in those days.
Gogo Habiba was among the many other grandchildren and children of Mallam Dendo who were stranded at Raba. The problem was that they were under the threat of extermination from General Umaru Bahaushe who was the Emir of Nupe in those days and who, the Bida historians later claim, had a terrible reputation for ruthlessness.
Gogo Habiba was a sister to both usman zaki and Masaba. Both Usman Zaki and Masaba treated her favourably when they were successively the Emirs of Nupe. In fact, and under their reigns Gogo Habiba grew into a wealthy and influential trader and business woman. She was also gradually becoming the most powerful woman in KinNupe when General Umaru Bahaushe suddenly overthrew her brother Masaba from power and grounded the Dendo dynasty to and unexpected fall.
The moment General Umaru Bahaushe assumed the office of the Emir of Nupe fortunes changed reversed drastically for Gogo Habiba. In fact she had to go into hiding most of the time for there were rumours that General Umaru Bahaushe was out to eliminate any Dendo family member that he come across in those days.
For close to nine years Gogo Habiba had to live the painful and difficult life of a fugitive on the run and hide. Imagine being reduced from the richest and most powerful woman to the despicable position of a fugitive hiding and surviving on crumbs for over eight long years.
In the end Gogo Habiba came up with the idea of putting an end to the reign of General Umaru Bahaushe. Her brothers and many of her relatives have ran out of KinNupe out of dread of the all-too-power General Umaru Bahaushe. Usman Zaki and Umaru Majigi fled to Gwandu, Masaba fled to Ilorin, and other members of the extended Dendo family have all scattered in different directions out of KinNupe while the powerful General Umaru Bahaushe reign supreme over KinNupe.
Gogo Habiba deserve the credit as being the first member of the Dendo dynasty to come up with the idea of bringing the reign of General Umaru Bahaushe to an end in a bid to restore the Dendo dynasty back to power. She sent secret emissaries to her siblings, cousins and nephews in all the places they have fled in a scattered many outside KinNupe. She passionately entreated them to come back in a combined team to KinNupe to fight and oust General Umaru Bahaushe from power. But most were afraid to come back to face the dreaded General Umaru Bahaushe.
Umaru Majigi and General Umaru Bahaushe
At last Gogo Habiba’s brother, Umaru Bahaushe who had fled together with their uncle Usman Zaki to Gwandu, came back to KinNupe. He came with the cover story that he came to repatriate the remaining younger children and grandchildren of Mallam Dendo at Raba out of KinNupe. He did gathered the remnants of the Dendo extended family at Raba together and sent them to his uncle out of KinNupe. But then after that Umaru Majigi boldly went over to General Umaru Majigi and, incredibly enough, convinced the General that he, Umaru Majigi, came to be friends with him.
Umaru Majigi dutifully remained with General Umaru Bahaushe for a while, actually following the later around his incessant wars of conquest in around KinNupe. But after gaining the trust of General Umaru Bahaushe and after gathering intelligence on the activities and strength of the General, Umaru Majigi suddenly rebelled against General Umaru Bahaushe. A series of clashes, and eventually battles, ensued between Umaru Majigi and General Umaru Bahaushe.
Of course the very powerful General Umaru Bahaushe was no match for the young and inexperienced prince Umaru Majigi who consequently became a fugitive warrior running from one place to another as the greatly embittered General Umaru Bahushe decided to eliminate mischievous prince.
After being on the run for a while with General Umaru Bahaushe in hot pursuit, Umaru Majigi was eventually holed up at a small and obscure ancient Bini village called… Bida.
…. That was the beginning of the fame of Bida, which is today the capital of the Nupe Nation.
In any case, General Umaru Bahaushe laid siege on the walled Bini village of Bida with Umaru Majigi holed up inside Banin Bida. The General was actually bidding his time to attack the village of Bida, to sack it and capture and execute the hapless Umaru Majigi.
General Umaru Bahaushe didn’t know that Umaru Majigi was actually a bait, a trap, set for him by the combined forces of all the Etsu Nupes and Emirs of Nupes in and outside KinNupe.
To cut the story short, General Umaru Bahaushe was suddenly attacked by a combined force of battalions of military formations from Gwandu, from Ilorin and from many other Etsu Nupes within KinNupe. On flight from the gargantuan allied forces General Umaru Bahaushe got drowned in the Gbako river just a couple of kilometers from Bida.
Usman Zaki became the new Emir Nupe again, this time for his second term, in 1856. He chose Bida as the new capital city of Nupe. Three years later he died and his brother Masaba succeeded him as the new Emir of Nupe, also for his own second term in 1859.
Gogo Habiba at Baddegi
In all these Gogo Habiba received praise, commendation and laudation as the ‘iron lady’ who brought the Dendo dynasts back to power. Under the renewed reign of her two brothers Usman Zaki and Masaba she became so famous and such a respected woman in KinNupe that she practically became the Paramount Queen of the entire Nupe Nation.
Actually Gogo Habiba didn’t go to settle at Bida with her brothers when they, both Usman Zaki and Masaba, decided to make Bida the new capital city of KinNupe. Instead she also left Raba but settled at the little village of Baedigi Lapai just some 15 kilometers away from Bida.
Gogo Habiba’s relocation from Raba to Baedigi Lapai instantly transformed the erstwhile village of Baedigi Lapai into a cosmopolitan town and a formidable seat of political power. The instant fame of Baedigi Lapai as the city of Gogo Habiba the Great also shortened the name of the settlement from Baedigi Lapai to just Badigi or Baedigi. In fact it was this very shortened form Baedigi that the colonial sribes came and Latinize as Baddegi which is the way we now write it in modern day Nigeria.
Gogo Habiba’s great fame and power of course immediately transformed Baddegi into the second capital city of KinNupe. Her fame and power attracted all manners of traders, Mallams, warriors and mercenaries, and all sorts of enterprisn and ambitious peoples to Baddegi.
Being on very good terms with her brother Masaba, Gogo Habiba’s fame and power actually transformed her into parallel ruler of KinNupe to her uncle Masaba during the days of his second term at Bida as the Emir of Nupe beginning in 1859.
Gogo Habiba was a highly gifted business woman and a greatly talented warrior. She had a standing army of her own that engages in battles of conquest every now and then and she her business enterprises extended in all directions to as far away as Kano, Lagos, Timbuktu and beyond.
In fact it was Gogo Habiba who transformed her cousin sister, Madam Tinubu, into the most wealthy business entrepreneur of Lagos in those days. The family of Madam Tinubu continues to be famous and powerful one to this very day in Lagos. The former Governor of Lagos Alhaji Bola Tinubu is a great grandson of Madam Tinubu the great Nupe woman who was a cousin sister to Gogo Habiba.
Now then, the great wealth from her extensive business enterprises and war booties transformed Gogo Habiba into the richest woman, if not the richest person, in KinNupe in the 1860s. She was practically as rich as, if not richer than, her uncle Masaba who was the Emir of Nupe in those days. And her standing army was almost the same in size as Masaba’s.
Gogo Habiba actually became so powerful that she ended up setting up her own ruling cabinet and royal council at Baedegi Lapai side by side with her brother Emir Masaba’s royal council at Bida. She had her own Shaba vice emir, Ndeji prime minister, and all other cabinet and royal council members as her uncle Masaba who was then reigning as the Emir of Nupe.
Before long Baddegi began to assume dimensions and powers paralleled to that of Bida. In other words Gogo Habiba, unexpectedly, became a further threat to Emir Masaba back at Bida. It was rumoured that Gogo Habiba’s standing army at Baddegi even became larger and more organized than Emir Masaba’s army at Bida. This simply means that Gogo Habiba’s army at Baddegi was the largest and most powerful in the whole of KinNupe.
Of course Emir Masaba back at Bida, just fifteen kilometers away, became further scared of Gogo Habaiba’s unchecked and growing power. With an army larger than his own Emir Masaba knew very well that his overambitious sister Gogo Habiba could at any moment match on Bida, sack Bida and kill him.
But, and not surprisingly, Gogo Habiba’s excessive fame and power became a threat to her brother Emir Masaba’s power and reign as the Emir of Nupe. The lifelong cordial relationship between Gogo Habiba and her brother Masaba then began to deteriorate as her brother Emir Masaba became more and more uncomfortable with her growing fame and powers.
Gogo Habiba at Bida
Etsu Masaba eventually asked Gogo Habiba to come and stay with him at Bida. This was to forestall any ambitious plan on the part of Gogo Habiba against Masaba. So, and against her wish, Gogo Habiba was forced to relocate to the Bida. She didn’t actually settled inside the walls of Bida, that is Banin Bida, but chose to form her own settled immediately beside the northwestern part of the city wall of Bida. That settlement she formed became known as Bantigi Gogo. To this very day there is a place call Bantigi Gogo inside Bida metropolis as it has since been engulfed by the expanding city of Bida.
Gogo Habiba’s relocation from Baddegi to Bida drastically affected Baddegi in a negative manner. Almost overnight Baddegi became a desolated ghost town as all the prominent people and powers that be at Baddegi fled the town in fear of Masaba’s reprisal attack on the town.
Actually Gogo Habiba simply moved her court and her army from Baddegi to Bantigi Gogo at Bida. And to the chagrin of Etsu Masaba the fame and power of Gogo Habiba continue to grow even after she had relocated to Bida and was now fully under his own watchful eyes.
Gogo Habiba was a very ambitious and totally independent person and everybody who knew her very well will suspect that with her excessive fame and power she can at any moment attack and overthrow her brother Masaba from power.
In the end Emir Masaba suddenly arrested Gogo Habiba on the claim that she was caught red-handed plotting to overthrow him from power. She was alleged to be involved in a secret plot, together with Etsu Baba of the ancient Tsoede dynasty, to organize a sudden attack on Bida and to catch and overthrow Emir Masaba in order to for her to assume the office of the Emir of Nupe and Etsu Tsado to become the Etsu Nupe so that the two of them, Gogo Habiba and Etsu Baba, can rule KinNupe in a bicameral manner.
Of course Gogo Habiba denied these charges and maintained her innocence. She said she was the victim of a frame-up by her brother Masaba who saw her great wealth, fame and power as threat to his own power. But Masaba insisted that Gogo Habiba was really plotting to overthrow him.
To avoid humiliation in the hands of her ruthless brother Masaba, Gogo Habiba suddenly committed suicide.
The sudden and unexpected suicide of Gogo Habiba generated such anger and tension among her supporters and the masses in general that it almost cost Masaba his seat as there was a general mood of rebellion in the air. Some people alleged that Gogo Habiba didn’t actually commit suicide but that she was secretly poisoned to death by Masaba.
Baddegi after Gogo Habiba
Even long after the death of both Gogo Habiba and Etsu Masaba the town of Baddegi continued to be a famous town due to the historical role it played as the town of the Nupe Queen Gogo Habiba in the 1860s, Gogo Habiba the greatest woman in the history of the Nupe Fulanis.
In the late 1970s the National Cereals Research Institute shifted its national headquarters to Baddegi in consideration of the fact that Baddegi is actually located in the most fertile place, as far as cereals farming is concerned, in the whole of not only Nigeria but the whole of West Africa. The research data are that KinNupe can actually feed the entire African continent with rice if only the cereals potentials of the Nupe Nation are adequately explored by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In recent times the initial 15 kilometers between Bida and Baddegi have been reducing as both Bida and Baddegi expand towards each other. There is no doubt that in the very near future, say ten or so years from now, Baddegi and Bida will certainly merge into one greater Bida metropolitan area. This even more so due to the fact that there are plans on ground to build a Greater Bida City that already has the Baddegi general area incorporated into part of its master-plan.
In any case Bida and Baddegi people are one and the same people – being made so some 150 years ago by Gogo Habiba the Great.