The Baatonu (Bariba/Borgu) and the Kisra tradition. Serving as possible identity for the Yoruba

Discussion in 'Black History Main Forum' started by ilevi, May 30, 2017.

  1. ilevi

    ilevi Active Member

    In what is , in my beliefs, considered one of the most suppressed traditions of a people that signifies migration from Arabia and probably a much earlier designation. One of the earliest forms of origin written about the Yoruba people was by Samuel Johnson, and he traced the Yoruba to Arabia and subsequently to a person named LAMURUDU. Overtime, the name became synonymous with NIMROD. Nevertheless, the traditions of Borgu seems to show a relationship between them and the Yoruba entity to a certain extent.


    “The Kisra legend does not solely concern the foundation of the political kingdoms of Bussa, Nikki, and Illo in Borgu. Kisra is the legendary figure in the historical accounts of many neighboring peoples, for example, the Achifawa, the Yoruba, the Guruma, the Bedde of Southern Bornu, the Kwararafa, and the Wukari, and a strong relationship between them and the Boko-speaking peoples of Borgu is suggested.

    A brief synopsis of the legend is that Kisra lived at radar, near to Mecca, in the time of the Prophet Mohammad. Mohammad repeatedly sought to convert Kisra to the Muslim faith, but he refused. Eventually Mohammed launched a war against Kisra and his people in which they were badly beaten, causing them to flee from Arabia. After traveling through many lands, and staying for different lengths of time at various places, Kisra and his people finally reached the River Niger, Kisra settled on the west bank, where his descendants established themselves as rulers at Bussa, Nikki, Illo.

    The legend has many controversial dimensions and reactions to it have varied from it being dismissed as total fabrication to accepting it as a valid historical event. The struggle between Kisra and Mohammad has never been empirically verified, although, of course, resistance to Islam was common in many parts of the Western Sudan for political as much as for religious reasons. But there is no historical evidence for the existence of Kisra himself. Why then not dismiss the legend as mythology, or argue that the emphasis given to Kisra in the twentieth century is due to misplaced European perceptions that no state could be founded in the interior of Africa without the help of outsiders, in this case of Arabian descent? It is surprising, given Kisra is so strongly associated with Bussa, that the Lander brothers made no direct reference to him commenting on the antiquity and origins of the kings of Bussa. They remark that the king “is still favorable towards the religion of his fathers, which is blended with Arab fables and traditions (for the Mohammedan creed in its purity is unknown here), and these form the foundation and superstructure of his faith. “They add that: “It is somewhat remarkable that in Haussa the people have a tradition that the name of OUR great forefather was Adam…. The mother of the human race is called Ameenatoo in Haussa.” The reference to Adam is not uncommon. Telco, the griot, begins his Tarikh with the history of the origin of man by listing the children of Adam. Only in the twentieth century, is there a specific reference linking Kisra to Borgu. Constance Larymore remarked that:

    “Another theory about the Borgus, which, to the best of my belief, is entirely erroneous, is that their supposed connection with early christianity. Major Mockler-Ferryman remarks that “they (the Borgus) themselves assert that their belief is in one Kisra, a Jew, who gave his life for the sins of mankind.” I was much astonished to find that this idea is utterly fallacious, and is not even known to the people. In the first place, Kisra or rather Kishra, is buried close to Bussa, and his tomb can be seen by anyone, which immediately disposes of the possibility that the Borgus, in honoring him, refer in any way to Jesus Christ.

    Kisra was a Mohammedan pure and simple; he lived—so the tradition runs—in Mecca, during the life-time of Mahomed, and beginning to prove himself positively a rival to the Prophet, was driven forth, with his large following, and apparently drifted down to Borgu. His memory is deeply honored and revered, but entirely as a warrior king, and in no sense as a pioneer of any special religion. Certain rites and ceremonies of the frankly Pagan description are still performed at his burying place, the site of which is well-defined and as visible to all.”

    It can be seen that Kisra’s identity is anomalous.

    pg. 495-496

    “According to notes collected from the Sarkin Illo and his Council, the Bussawa formed part of a big migration from the Kingdom of Badar, near Mecca, their King Kishira* having opposed Muhammad the Prophet. It appears that they journeyed across the Sudan to Asben, where they broke off into many sections—the Bedde (Badr) settling down in Bornu, while others, under the leadership of Kishira’s descendants, came further west, and a large body settled under the chieftainship of three brothers at Bussa, Illo and Nikki. Another section, the Yoruba, continued southwards. Buss was the eldest of the brothers, and received presents from the other two (Nikki was a brother-in-law to the others), and on the accession of each new chief they performed the offices of coronation one for the other.

    A somewhat similar account is given by the people of Bussa and Sarkin Karissen. They say that Kishira was driven out of the “Haibirra” by Muhammad as the result of a religious dispute. He fled with his people, and was pursued until he crossed the Niger near Illo (then a much smaller stream), putting it as barrier between him and his enemies; from which time until the twentieth century no chief of Bussa was ever permitted to recross the Niger. One of Kishira’s brothers settled at Karissen (Sakaba); another, Waru, at Illo; whilst a third, Sheru, branched off from the main camp, which was then at Gaunji, to Nikki; and Kishira himself turned eastward and founded the town of Bussa, building a wall which extended from Gani Kasai to the mouth of the River Mene.”

    *Kishira in Kissira (or Kosroes) Anishirwan the Persian Monarch who conquered Yemen after it was evacuated by the Abyssinians (H. R. Palmer).

    “Here he received a deputation from the Prophet asking him to return, which he would not agree to do, but he consented to receive a Mallam to instruct him in the Mohammadan religion. After a brief interval, however, he reverted to his pagan ways, His followers settled all over the Bussa and West Bussa Districts, the principal men in and around Bussa itself—hence their name—and the poorer people (the Talakawa) extending westwards. They are known as Borgawa.

    At the rise of the Songhai power the three kingdoms, Bussa, Illo, and Nikki were attacked by Mamara at the head of the Zabirmawa, but on his death Sarkin Nikki conquered Songhay. He now reigned over the greater Borgu, his kingdom extending northwards to Illo, south to Ilesha, and east of Kaiama. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the allied Chiefs successfully withstood the Filane invasion, except in the extreme north.”

    pg. 152

    “Finally, the Kisra legend links Borgu to the Yoruba ruling group. Lamerudu, the eponymous ancestor of the Yoruba, is believed to have been the King of Mecca, who died in an unsuccessful effort to combat the Prophet Muhammad, but whose son escaped westward with his followers to Bornu and from where he became the founder of Gobir, Yukawa, and Yoruba. Kisra left the east soon after the death of Lamerudu, and joined with the group led by Lamerudu’s son, in Bornu. Together they left Bornu and moved westward, until they reached the River Niger, when the Yoruba moved southwest crossing the river in the region of Lokoja. Kisra continued to travel westward across the river and settled at Bussa.

    While the Arabian ancestry claimed for Lamerudu is mythical, the historical connection between the Borgu and the early rulers of Oyo, in the fourteenth century or earlier, while still largely undocumented, has more substance. According to Agiri, “the story of Oranyan as recorded in Oyo tradition is very much a Borgu myth of conquest into which accounts of Nupeinfluence have been woven.” He further suggests that the Oranyan dynasty which replaced that of the lineage of Basorun, “was from Borgu and the traditions of its origin in Old Oyo emphasize this link.” Agar argues that Borgu had become a strong political state by the fifteenth century, and had established satellite dynasties in the Yoruba towns across its border, such as at Oyo. He even suggests that Bussa’s domination extended as far south as Ife. However, Borgu was not strong enough to prevent Old Oyo from being defeated by the Nupe. When this occurred, the defeated Yoruba dynasty, in the person of Ofinran, fled to its place of origin in Borgu. Ofinran’s mother is said to be from Borgu so he fled to where his mother’s people resided, probably in the sixteenth century. The next Alafin, Abipa, sought the help of the Borgu cavalry under the command of Kitaku and other chiefs to defeat the Nupe and drive them out of Yoruba territory. This event is preserved in Yoruba mythology by the god, Sango, who is represented as a rider on horseback. In return for their help, the Alafin Abipa permitted some of the Borgu chiefs to replace the rulers of some former Yoruba settlements such as Kishi, Igboho, and Igbetti. Over time these outsiders became indistinguishable from the local populace.”

    Agar, “Early Oyo History Reconsidered”, History in Africa, A Journal of Method
  2. ilevi

    ilevi Active Member

    These sources aren't the only kind that exist on the Borgu people. Also, the claims of their story being mythic by the writers can be ignored. It is important to note that the Yoruba are indeed Erhverh but, the narrative of Lamurudu only applied to the Oyo people. Today, most of the clans of Yoruba acknowledges the link, but also ODUDUA as progenitor. Shalom.
    Last edited: May 30, 2017

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