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A Short History of Egbira Tribe Chapter 1

A Short History of Egbira Tribe


Since the egbira like the kingered tribes claim their ancestry from the jukun, mention must be made of the jukun kingdom of kwararrafa.
The jukkun state system very similar to those of other sudanic states was based on the benue near ibi and its capital was wukari. The jukuns were ruled by Aku, a divine king who was surrounded by complex round of ceremonial occasions. They claim affinity with the kanuris of borno state, saying that they came from yemen with them before they parted from them in borno.

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Very little is known about the ancient kingdom of kwararrafa, traditionally one of the banza bakwai as they were called by the Hausas. The kingdom of kwararrafa was attacked by yaji, king of kano 1349-1385 for refusing to pay tribute to him. 

  Later, amina!! Queen of aria conquered kwararrafa in the fifteenth century. The jukuns later became militarily powerful and conducted raids on the Northern cities, terrorizing and killing with their long spears. They rode horses and thus became mobile and dangerous. They conquered and pillaged across hausaland and rarely occupied it. 

   In their military drive across the North, they invaded kano in 1653 and attacked both kano katsina in the year 1671. Even they besieged mai umarmi of borno in 1680, but later, they were driven ogg and a treaty was signed between the two powers. In the treaty a permanent jukun representative was sent tp Ngazargamu, while borno send a zanna (a high title holder) to kwararrafa. 

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  This title “Zanna” was usually given to a representative sent to a tributary state. This indicated the beginning of the decay of the kwararrafa kingdom. The title of zanna given to the kanuri representative at the jukun court was that usually given to the kanuri representative at the jukun court was that usually given to the kanuri official at the court of a tributary ruler. Thus: by the end of seventeenth tributary to borno.

  Yet, at the height of the power of the jukuns, their influence had been left in kan and zaria. Along the rivers they controlled idoma, egbira, igala and nupe areas. It has even been suggested that their soutward influence reached the cross river state, making the jukuns to have access to coastal trade with Europeans.

   The reasons for rthe decline of the jukuns kingdom of kwararrafa were many and varied. It declined rapidly in the eighteenth century and completely in the nineteenth century. Among the reasons for the decline was lack of effective political control. 

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  Their capital, wukaro was too farther away from the hausaland over which it was difficult to effect control. It has no major trade routed and was blocked by borno through which it could have access to sahara. The jukuns lived by plunder rather than by trade. Worse still the religious ritual strangled the ability of the Aku to lead his people. 

  There were struggles for power among the noble citizens. The dynastic struggles is evidences by the tradition that wukari was founded b a newly-appointed aku who fled kwararrafa to escape the jealous wrath of his brothers. The fulanies on the other hand, subjected the jukuns to attack while also the chamba and the tivs made incursions into the kingdom in the nineteenth century.

There are conflicting reports as the names of cities associated with the egbira tribe. One of such cities was byri or bira said to be a capital of the jukuns and situated on the upper gongola river. It is even said that the name egbira may have originated from byri or bira, but there are no firm records to indicate the truth of this.

   Other records claim that there was yet another ancient city in the kwararrafa kingdom of the jukuns and was called api or apa from which the egbiras migrated. Again, the story has not been substantiated by other records. In any case, the egbiras as a tribe had definitely co-existed with the other tribes which claim ancestry from the jukuns of wukari.

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