Why 'Etsu Nupe' and Not 'Etsu Bida' - by Ndagi Abdullahi - Loadedgists
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Why ‘Etsu Nupe’ and Not ‘Etsu Bida’ – by Ndagi Abdullahi

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Many people are asking why the ‘Etsu Bida’ is being referred to as the Etsu Nupe while all other Etsus are referred to in reference only to their particular Emirates.

There are many reasons why the Emir of the Bida Emirate is referred to as the Etsu Nupe and not as the Etsu Bida. Let’s discuss the reasons one after the other in the following sections.

Difference between Etsu and Emir
First, we should note that there is a difference between the terms ‘Etsu’ and ‘Emir’. The Etsu is the traditional kingship title that has been around since the time of Tsudi (Tsoede). But ‘Emir’ (actually ‘Amir’) is the Islamic title for the head of the emirate. So, these are two different titles that we are wont to be confuse one for the other in modern times.

So, and in the beginning, the offices of the Etsu Nupe and Emir of Nupe were separate ones occupied by different individuals. The first Emir (or Amir) of the entire Nupe Nation was Usman Zaki the second son of Mallam Dendo. At the same time that Usman Zaki was the Emir of the whole of KinNupe the Etsu Nupe was Etsu Majiya II of the Dendo dynasty. So, we can see that the office of the ‘Etsu Nupe’ and ‘Emir of Nupe’ used to be two separate offices occupied by two different peoples.

The problem, however, came about in an historical manner when the ancient Nupe people refused to recognize the power of the Emir Usman Zaki as the supreme ruler of the entire Nupe Nation for the simple reason that the office of the Emir of Nupe, at Raba, was new and had never ruled over the entire Nupe Nation in those days. Instead it was the Etsu Nupe who was the overall ruler of the entire Nupe Nation in those days.

But while there was only one Emir of Nupe in those days, there were different contenders to the office of the Etsu Nupe in those days. Etsu Majiya II was vigorously challenged by Etsu Idrisu, also known as Etsu Isa, who was the son to the late Etsu Jimada who was killed by Etsu Majiya II at the disastrous Battle of Ragada.

Thus the Emir of Nupe, in the person of Usman Zaki, was able to play the different contenders of the Etsu Nupe throne against one another in such a manner that he became the most powerful ruler of the Nupe Nation. But his problem was that the Nupe people will not recognize him as the paramount ruler of the entire Nupe Nation unless he has the ancient Tsoede regalia of kingship with him. Unfortunately for Emir Usman Zaki the Tsoede regalia were in the possession of the various contenders to the Etsu Nupe throne.

The Dendo dynasts soon realized that there was a strong need to combine the two offices – the Emir of Nupe and the Etsu Nupe – into one by officially and formally investing the Emir of Nupe with the ancient Tsoede regalia of Kingship.

From that time on the Dendo dynasts at Raba, starting with Emir Usman Zaki himself, struggled and fought vigourously to collect or even seize the ancient Tsoede regalia of kingship from the various Etsu Nupe contenders of those days.

Emir Usman Zaki, however, failed in fully getting the ancient Tsoede regalia from the Etsu Nupes. If the truth is to be told Usman Zaki actually died an Emir of Nupe and not as the Etsu Nupe; this for the simple reason that Emir Usman Zaki couldn’t get the Tsoede regalia from any of the ancient Etsu Nupes.

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Masaba the Great, however, was the first person to combine the two offices of the Etsu Nupe and the Emir of Nupe all in himself.

Combining the two Offices into One
And that brought us to the second reason, namely, the transition from the Tsoedean dynasty to Dendo dynasty. Etsu Masaba was able to combine the offices of the Etsu Nupe of the whole of KinNupe and the Emir of Nupe of the whole of KinNupe in himself because the Bida Emirate was the only emirate, of all the other emirates in KinNupe, that was able to collect the Tsoedean dynastic regalia of the Etsu throne from the Tsoede dynasts.

The Dendo dynasts collected the regalia of the Etsu throne from Etsu Mu’azu Yisa in those days when Etsu Mu’azu Yisa was reduced to powerlessness in Bida with the Dendo dynasts as the de facto powers of the entire KinNupe, that is after the defeat of Etsu Majiya at the Mugba Mugba War and also the subsequent defeat of Etsu Idrisu.

Now we have to mark the fact that all the other emirates in KinNupe – including Agaie Emirate, Lapai Emirate, and others – did not get these ancient Tsoedean regalia of the Etsu throne from the Tsudi dynasts. The regalia were in the possession of Etsu Majiya II and only the Dendo dynasts of Bida Emirate were able to collect them from the Tsoedean dynasts in the person of Etsu Mu’azu Yisa. It is on this note that the Dendo Dynasts of the Bida Emirate contend that they are the only true custodians of the Etsu Nupe title because nobody else, not even the descendants of Tsoede in Patigi today, except the Dendo dynasts of the Bida Emirate are in possession of the Etsu regalia today.

The Patigi Factor
A point that must be clearly delineated here is the fact that the dynasty in Patigi today is a direct line from the Tsoede dysnaty of old, thereby making the Patigi ruling family a pure and pristine line from Tsoede – far purer than the Nupe-Fulani rulers on the throne at Bida today.

But then there are a lot of reasons and problems why the Patigi rulers, headed by the Etsu Patigi, cannot be referred to as the Etsu Nupe. The first, and most important reason being that the Etsu Patigi is not in possession of the ancient Tsoede regalia which are the symbol of authority of the Etsu Nupe as far as the history of the Nupe Nation is concerned.

As we have discussed before, the Patigi ruling dynasty lost the ancient Tsoede regalia of kingship to the Nupe-Fulani rulers at Bida in the days that Etsu Mu’azu Yisa was helded captive at Bida by the Dendo dynasts. It was while Etsu Mu’azu Yisa was held captive by the Nupe-Fulani Dendo dynasts in Bida that Emir Masaba collected the Tsoede regalia from Etsu Mu’azu Yisa and began to refer to himself as both the Emir of Nupe and the Etsu Nupe at the same time. In effect Etsu Masaba was the first to combine both the offices or thrones of the Emir of the whole of the Nupe Nation and the Etsu of the whole Nupe Nation in one.

And Masaba was able to refer to himself as both the Emir of Nupe and the Etsu Nupe at the same time for the simple reason that he collected the ancient Tsoede regalia from the captive Etsu Mu’azu Yisa at Bida.

In any case Etsu Mu’azu Yisa and his people continued to refer to him aas the Etsu Nupe but the very fact that he was no more in possession of the ancient Tsoede regalia of kingship seriously undermined his claims to the de facto position of the Etsu Nupe of the entire Nupe Nation.

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People began to refer to Emir Masaba as Etsu Nupe because he had collected the ancient Tsoede regalia from the captive Etsu Mu’azu Isa. In fact Etsu Mu’azu Isa died a captive in Bida without being allowed to go back to Gbara. Etsu Idrisu Gana succeeded his father Etsu Mu’azu Isa as the de jure Etsu Nupe since Masaba was now, for all practical purposes, the Etsu Nupe of the entire Nupe Nation. In fact Etsu Idrisu Gana was only Etsu Nupe in name since he was also held a captive at Bida. And when Etsu Masaba died in 1872 he was succeeded by Umaru Majigi as the new Etsu Nupe of the entire Nupe Nation.

Umaru Majigi came unto power with the proclamation that he was the Etsu Nupe of the entire Nupe Nation, that is, he was both the Emir of Nupe and the Etsu Nupe at the same time. This, of course, was a dead blow to the erstwhile Etsu Idrisu Gana who was still held captive under the Nupe-Fulani dynasts in Bida.

The Patigi dysnats, who are the direct descendants of Tsoede dysnaty, lost out in this complex power-play to the Etsu Nupe throne when the Nupe-Fulani rulers at Bida seized the ancient Tsoede regalia of kingship from them in the days of their captivity at Bida. The Nupe-Fulani Dendo dynasts were able to lay claim to the office of the Etsu Nupe of the entire Nupe Nation because the Dendo dynasts seized the Tsoede regalia from the Patigi dynasts, to this very day, the Nupe-Fulani Dendo dynasts are, of all the Etsu Nupes in the whole of the Nupe Nation, the only custodians of the ancient Tsoede regalia of kingship.

Other points undermining the Patigi factor is the fact that the Patigi dynasty is not the only Nupe dynsty that can trace its line directly back to the ancient Tsoede dynasty today. To this very day the Etsu Jimada side of the Tsoede dynasty is also still in existence at Zugurma and it is also legitimately a direct and pristine line back to the ancient Tsoede dynasty. The dysnaty at Zugurma today has the same right and legitimacy to the Etsu Nupe throne as the dynasty ruling at Patigi today.

And, even more complicating, is the fact that there are remnants of the ancient Tsoede dynasts left scattered in different parts of KinNupe to this very day some still in power as ruling dynasts and some no more in power. Handy examples here will be the ruling dynasty at Tsaragi today. Most people are not aware of the fact that the ruling dynasty at Tsaragi today is also directly descended from the ancient Tsoede dynasty of old. As a matter of fact if the true history of the Nupe Nation is to be unraveled in its minutest detaisl today we may be shocked to see that the ruling dynasty at Tsaragi today might as well turn out to be the purest stock of the Tsoede rulers thereby making the Tsaragi dysnaty the most legimate claimants to the position of the Etsu Nupe.

Thene also we should mark the fact that there are also many royal descendants of the ancient Tsoede dysnaty who are no more in power. A very good example here will be the Gbidigi people descendants of whom we still see today at Baddegi, Jebba and Mokwa. The people of Baddegi, Jebba and Mokwa are mostly direct descendants of ancient Tsoede dynasties yet today few people are aware of this.

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The Colonial Factor
On the 5th of February 1897 the new Colonial Government of the British formally signed a treaty officially and formally recognizing the Emir of Bida as the Emir of the whole of the Nupe Nation. This, of course and in very categotical terms, meant that the Nupe-Fulani Emir of the Bida Emirate is the Emir and Etsu of all the Nupe people in all parts of the world as far as the British Colonial Government is concerned.

The British were not coming up with anything new. The Sokoto Caliphate, with authorities from Gwandu, have similarly given flags to Mallam Dendo’s sons just before his death to the effect that the Nupe-Fulani rulers at Raba, later Bida, are the only ones recognized as the Emir of the whole of the Nupe Nation as far as the Sokoto Caliphate was concerned. The flag of authority that Maman Majigi, and later his brother Usman Zaki, obtained from Gwandu was backed by a Conference at Raba whereby all the emirs and etsus in Nupeland were convened and told that the Nupe-Fulani Dendo dynasts are the ones recognized by the Sokoto Caliphate as the rulers of the whole of the Nupe Nation. All other emirs and etsus are recognized as far as the territorial boundaries of their emirates and kingdoms extended only.

In any case the British signed a treaty on the 5th of February 1897 to the effect that the British Colonial Government officially installed Etsu Makun as the Emir and Etsu Nupe of the whole of the Nupe Nation thereby making every Nupe man anywhere in the world a subject of the Etsu Nupe sitting on the throne at Bida.

The Nigerian Constitution Factor
Though the Colonial administrators categorically regarded the Emir of Bida as ‘Etsu Nupe’, even if ceremonially, of the entire Nupe Nation we should note the fact that the modern Nigerian Constitution does not see the Emir of the Bida Emirate as superior or higher than any other Emir or Etsu within the Nupe Nation. As far as the Nigerian Constitution is concern all the Emirs and Etsus in Nupeland are the same – none is superior above the other despite the gradation in their staffs of offices as first, second or third class emirs variously.

Conclusion
The discussions above will show that the other emirates in KinNupe cannot claim the Etsu Nupe title because none of them is in possession of the ancient Etsu Nupe regalia of Tsudi or Tsoede. It is only the Bida Emirate that can claim the office of the Etsu Nupe because it is only the Bida Emirate that is today in possession of the Tsoede regalia of the Etsu throne.

In conclusion I would like to point out the fact that our elders and the kingmakers of the various emirates in KinNupe are fully aware of these details and facts and that is why we don’t see anybody among them arguing or complaining about the ‘Etsu Nupe’ position that the Bida Emirate is in custody of today. And that is why all of our emirs and etsus are in affable and amiable relationship with one another. They don’t see anyone of them as being inferior or second class to one another as some as some of our youth, who are not aware of the details above, are trying to insinuate.

3 thoughts on “Why ‘Etsu Nupe’ and Not ‘Etsu Bida’ – by Ndagi Abdullahi

  1. Was mallam dendo part of nupe then? And what is his relationship with the Nupes? Especially the zugurma people.

  2. What a wonderful historical chronicle, keep it up pls,but I want you to give details about link between Tsaragi Rulers and Tsuede

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