Ndi Igbo Communities /Nri Kingdom
Most scholars have argued that Igbo society was “stateless” and that the Igbo region did not evolve centralised political institutions before the colonial period. “According to this theory, the relatively egalitarian Igbo lived in small, self-contained groups of villages organized according to a lineage system that did not allow social stratification. An individual’s fitness to govern was determined by his wisdom and his wisdom by his age and experience. Subsistence farming was the dominant economic activity. Land, obtained through inheritance, was the measure of wealth. Handicrafts and commerce were well developed, and a relatively dense population characterized the region”.
Despite the absence of chiefs and kings, “some Igbo relied on an order of priests, chosen from outsiders on the northern fringe of Igboland, to ensure impartiality in settling disputes between communities. The Igbo stateless theory is however challenged by archaeological evidence pointing to an Nri Kingdom, which appears to have flourished before the seventeenth century. The Nri Kingdom was relatively small in geographical extent, but it is remembered as the cradle of Igbo culture”.
The Northern Kingdoms of the Savanna
“Trade was the key to the emergence of organised communities in the savanna portions of Nigeria. A string of dynastic states, including the earliest Hausa states, stretched across the western and central Sudan. The most powerful of these states were Ghana, Gao, and Kanem, which were not located within the boundaries of present-day Nigeria but which nonetheless had an indirect influence on the history of the Nigerian savanna. Ghana declined in the eleventh century but was succeeded by Mali, which consolidated much of the western Sudan under its imperial rule in the thirteenth century. Songhai emerged as an empire out of the small state of Gao in the fifteenth century. For a century, Songhai paid homage to Mali, but by the last decade of the fifteenth century it attained its independence and brought much of the Malian domains under its imperial sway. Although these western empires had little political influence on the savanna states of Nigeria before 1500, they had a strong cultural and economic impact that became more pronounced in the sixteenth century, especially because these states became associated with the spread of Islam and trade. In the sixteenth century, moreover, much of northern Nigeria paid homage to Songhai in the west or to Borno, a rival empire in the east”.
“Borno’s prosperity depended on its stake in the trans-Sudanic slave trade and the desert trade in salt and livestock. The need to protect its commercial interests compelled Borno to intervene in Kanem, which continued to be a theater of war throughout the fifteenth and into the sixteenth centuries. Despite its relative political weakness in this period, Borno’s court and mosques under the patronage of a line of scholarly kings earned fame as centres of Islamic culture and learning. By the eleventh century, some of the Hausa states–such as those at Kano, Katsina, and Gobir–had developed into walled towns that engaged in trade and serviced caravans as well as manufactured cloth and leather goods. Millet, sorghum, sugarcane, and cotton were produced in the surrounding countryside, which also provided grazing land for cattle. Until the fifteenth century, the small Hausa states were on the periphery of the major empires of the era”.
“According to tradition, the Hausa rulers descended from a “founding hero” named Bayinjida, supposedly of Middle Eastern origin, who became sarki (king) of Daura after subduing a snake and marrying the queen of Daura. Their children founded the other Hausa towns, which traditionally are referred to as the Hausa bakwai (Hausa seven). Wedged in among the stronger Sudanic kingdoms, each of the Hausa states acquired special military, economic, or religious functions. No one state dominated the others, but at various times different states assumed a leading role. They were under constant pressure from Songhai to the west and Kanem-Borno to the east, to which they paid tribute. Armed conflict usually was motivated by economic concerns, as coalitions of Hausa states mounted wars, against the Jukun and Nupe in the middle belt to collect slaves, or against one another for control of important trade routes”.
“Fulbe pastoralists, known in Nigeria as Fulani, began to enter the Hausa country in the thirteenth century, and by the fifteenth century they were tending cattle, sheep, and goats in Borno as well. The Fulani came from the Senegal River valley, where their ancestors had developed a method of livestock management and specialization based on transhumance. The movement of cattle along north/south corridors in pursuit of grazing and water followed the climatic pattern of the rainy and dry seasons. Gradually, the pastoralists moved eastward, first into the centers of the Mali and Songhai empires and eventually into Hausaland and Borno”.
“Some Fulbe converted to Islam in the Senegal region as early as the eleventh century, and one group of Muslim Fulani settled in the cities and mingled freely with the Hausa, from whom they became racially indistinguishable. There, they constituted a devoutly religious, educated elite who made themselves indispensable to the Hausa kings as government advisers, Islamic judges, and teachers. Other Fulani, the lighter-skinned pastoral nomads, remained aloof from the Hausa and in some measure from Islam as well, herding cattle outside the cities and seeking pastures for their herds”(http://countrystudies.us/nigeria/5.htm)
From these well researched and independent accounts, it is obvious thatthe make-up ofpresent-day Nigeria already had effective systems of governance, viable economies and a system of checks and balances that were subservient to the cultures and traditions of the peoples prior to the arrival of the British. We have all it takes to emerge a strong and united states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Let’s speak the truth to each other, right the wrongs and unite behind a common flag. It’s possible. Just believe!