History of The Legendary Kusugu Well in Daura

Updated: Jan 13, 2022
By Bello Abdullahi

Let us look at how one of the oldest artefacts in Nigeria became a well-known tourists attraction site. The Kusugu well, located in Daura, of Katsina State, is now synonymous to its people, how the story of the Kusugu well is tongue-tied to the history of Hausawa. The story of the Hausa people and at large Nigeria wouldn’t be complete without it.

The Daura Legend

In the Hausa mythology, Hausa communities have lived in different parts of the world, and after a while migrated to Central Sudan (much of modern-day Northern Nigeria & some part of Niger) for over 2000 years. Daura, which is a local government in today’s Katsina state was one of the largest Hausa cities at that time. Queens served as head of government, looking over the affairs of the people, having sworn oaths to never get married.

Queen Daurama’s Reign

In the 7th century during the reign of Queen Daurama – the queen in which Daura was named after, the major source of water for the people of Daura was the Kusugu well, which was dug a long time ago by hunters. But people were only allowed to fetch water once a week, which was Fridays because of a strange snake that harboured inside the well, called sarki (king).

According to the legend, when the people first got to the present-day Daura, the snake was there but did commandeer the well, it went on its daily dealings, so as the people. But due to the fear that the snake could harm them, it was decided that the snake would be offered ritual sacrifices and be hailed as a king in order to give them a chance to use them well. This was how the snake got the name Sarki, for he was being treated like a king.

The Arrival of Bayajidda

As time went on, the snake got used to the ritual offering as it became the tradition of the Daura people. And that was how people continued to endure the thirst starvation that this came with until the Baghdadi prince, Abu Yazid (popularly called Abu Yazidu) came. His name became Bayajidda because when he arrived in Nigeria, he couldn’t understand Hausa, and so was called so because it translates to “he doesn’t speak before.”

Abu Yazid came to Daura because he could not get the throne of his father after Queen Zidam conquered the city of Baghdad, the capital of modern-day. He fled the city fearing for his life with about 30 slaves and warriors to get to enter Nigeria through lake Chad.

How Bayajidda Killed the Snake

The prince after arriving Daura was very thirsty and he lodged in the house of an old woman called Ayyana, and requested water, which he wasn’t given enough. After complaining about more, he was told of the story of the well and how only on Fridays was it allowed to go there. As he still insisted, the old woman gave him a bucket and showed him the way to the well, warning him that he would be going there to his detriment.

With the level of his thirst, he figured he’d be dead either way and decided to go to the well, where he fought and eventually killed the snake. The Queen called Magajiya Daurama asked who killed the snake and when Bayajidda showed proof, he then asked for her hands in marriage, rejecting her offer of rulership of half of the town. After the marriage, because of the ritual rites that she had to do, gifted him with a concubine.

Where is Kusugu Well Located?

Kusugu well is located in Daura opposite Sarki Tafida house, Daura Katsina. It opens at 8 AM and is closed by 6 PM daily.

Kusugu Well as a Tourist Attaction

The well together with the sword that was used to kill the audacious snake, Sarki can still be seen by tourists today in Daura as it has become a site for tourism in Katsina in general. People within and outside the shores of Nigeria travel to see the well in which the snake commandeered as well as the sword the brave Bayajidda used to kill it.

The royal drums of his wife Magajiya form part of the displayed relics of the Daura empire, which are accessible close to the palace of the Emir. The well hasn’t dried up and people believe the water to have healing properties.

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