Nature Of Social & Economic Development In Hausa Land 1500 – 1900 A.D
By 1500 A.D. the Hausa city-states operated autonomously. Tradition has it that the Hausa states descended from a common ancestor and therefore had blood relationship. There was hardly any feeling of national unity among them, nor did they create any empire to justify their oneness as each states was autonomous and from its fortified domain engaged in rivalries for trade and tributes with other states. Some of these states founded powerful kingdoms at different times but none of these kingdoms were powerful enough to use force or diplomacy to bring other states under its control and create an empire.
The location of the Hausa state greatly affected their social and economic development. States located at the open Savannah plains greatly participated in the Trans-Saharan trade and a lot of states raised revenue from taxes imposed on trade routes that passed through their territory. States in the hinterland region were greatly involved in agriculture, where goods and services were exchanged, including animal husbandry. Due to the factors of common ancestry, environmental location nd climate regime, as well as the incidence of social and economic development, the Hausa city-states evolved in ways that were very similar.
In their social life, the took great pride in the correct use of their language from which they take their names. The language belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language group and it appears to be easy to learn and rich in vocabularies but with the spread of Islam certain contexts in the language began to be influenced, thereby substituting Muslim words for some things. As such, their names were also influenced and they adopted the use of Muslim titles and words for many things.
The communities were structure into various forms ranging from the family unit which is headed by the eldest male in the family or father of the home called the Maigida. Closely related to the family structure is the neighborhood or ward (Unguwa) which is a compound of a group of compounds. The neighborhood or ward unit is the widest durable grouping with relationships of persons not connected to one another by kinship but can go into exchange relationships based on the household and the family units.
The society is based on different stratification and distinction, whereby people are treated in the society according to their social status. Primarily, there were two statuses: the free people and the slaves. Within the slaves there were further distinctions, for example, there was distinctions between domestic slaves and those that were purely economic objects to be freely bought and sold in the market. On general grounds the society was stratified into three groups; namely the chiefs (Sarakuna), office holders (Masu Sarakuna) and the commoners of the subjects know as the Talakawa.
The feudal nature of Hausa society helped to make the importance of these distinctions very easily felt. The emphasis on gender which determines the role of men and women played in the society is quite distinct, and on that account women were not given public roles, while the men in Hausa states are recognized. Age played an important role in their social development and the senior in age occupies a senior social position in the society. Old men without any political and social worth is known as Datipo, and also the head of the family known as Maigida, but me who are under thirty and not yet married are called Yaro or Amari. However, they are recognized as mere youth who are not yet socially mature.
The wealthy men who gets rich in either way through political power or trade is known as Mai-Azirik. wealth is highly regarded in Hausa community, although one could have wealth without prestige as found among butchers (who belong to the social class of the commoners). What the Hausa man consider as wealth is many wives and children, political security, high standard of living, good group yield, success in ones undertaking and high social recognition. A cult of spirit possessions which was founded by women known as Bori and existed in the community even though they were without strong organization and were political unstable. This cult was closely connected with prostitution.
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