The evolution of most African countries came through the historical abattoir of the imperialist tendencies of 1884/1885 Berlin Conference in Germany, where the pre-colonial kingdoms, empires and other ethnic nationalities were thriving for their greater development abruptly were disintegrated within margins clearly defined based on the overriding imperialist interest, and the wherewithal intentions for the colonialist administrative control. This milieu was in earnest the direct enterprise of economic viabilities which later birthed the political supremacy and control of Nigeria since the imperialist contact with the coastal region. This however, brought to their domain in 1861 Lagos as colony, which later saw the annexation of other western, southern, eastern and subsequently by 1900 the entire northern part of the Niger-area fall to the colonialist and consequently by 1914 the amalgamation of the entire Niger area was brought into single administrative control where Nigeria was firmly mortgaged to the chagrin of indigenous citizens.
The patterns employed by the colonialist to run their affairs in the north was fashioned out of the pre-existing rulership that existed in the area – where the hegemony of the Hausa dominance via their islamization process from Usman Danfodiyo was that of constant forceful warfare against other ethnic nationalities.
This is why from the establishment of the Sarauta System in Zazzau from 1450-1850, through the Emirate System from 1816-1903 to the Native Authority System from 1903-1960 and beyond, Southern Kaduna ethnic groups had been subjected to alien forms of control through the imposition of alien forms of administration through coercion. The intensity of ethnic resilience to these alien forms of control has triggered very powerful centrifugal tendencies bordering on separation. Because of the presence of the multifarious ethnic and linguistic groups, there has been separation from the Hausa dominance as a factor of political freedom in the Southern Kaduna over time.
Imperatively, the ethnic groups constitute a cultural and a social minority cum the people of the emirate state system of the upper north in that they are predominantly non-Moslems and natively non-Hausa speaking people most of whom have histories and traditions which favoured small-scale or highly decentralized para-democratic forms of political organization. It is not surprisingly that the gradual devolution of constitutional powers to the Northern Region government stimulated the rise of political movements amongst these people for autonomy.
The emergence of Southern Zaria now Southern Kaduna should be fathomed not from the Emirate System of 1816-1913 but from Sarauta System from 1450-1850. The legendary Hausa Bakwai with their interrelated nature provided the milieu for social corporation and responsibilities where Zaria was saddled with the role of supplying slaves to her sister Hausa states. In order to fulfill her obligations to her more northerly Wushishi, the southernmost vassals i.e. Lafia, Doma, Nassarawa, Kwotto, Keffi, Bagaji, Lapai and Jema’an Dororo were used as stations to further raid the ethnic nationalities to subjugate and enforced the taxation and loyalty intended for the Emir of Zaria. The internal dynamics of reshaping of the vassals states mentioned above were dismembered to suit the purpose of the emirate system.
By 1902, the British removed the chiefdom of Keffi, kwotto, Jema’a and Doma from the control of the ruler of Zaria and established them under a separate provincial administration of Nassarawa as punishment to Zaria Province for the death of Capt. Maloney who was killed by order of the Magajin Keffi, and the latter then fled northwards through Zaria to Kano. The British felt that the ruler of Zaria was responsible for Maloney’s death and the Magaji’s escape.
The Zaria Province boundaries covered Kaduna and areas like Wushishi and Zungeru districts of present Niger State. Until the adjustments of 1907 Wushishi and Zuneru were detached from Zaria and merged with Niger Province. Although, Jere, Janjala and Kagarko districts were later transferred to Nassarawa Province but with the abolition of Nassarawa Province and the subsequent creation of a Plateau Province out of Bauchi in 1927, Jere, Janjala and Kagarko went back to Zaria while Jema’a was merged with Plateau, Jema’a remained with Plateau Province until 1954 when it was returned to Zaria as a federated territory.
With the dismemberment of the former southern vassals or southern domains of the Zaria Emirate, the new provincial boundaries for Zaria stopped at the Jema’a, Kagarko, and Kachia district boundaries. The new Zaria province was now reconstituted into two, divisions namely; the main division with headquarters based on Zaria city and the southern division the progenitor of Southern Zaria with its headquarters based variously at Kajuru, Kachia and Zango Kataf.
During the territorial reorganization that occurred at the end of 1907, Zaria was divided into 32 districts. These 32 districts were subsequently reduced t 22 by 1920. The Southern Division of the province which, metamorphosed into the Southern Zaria comprised of the following districts; Kajuru, Kauru, Chawai, Lere, Kagarko, Kachia, Chikun, Zango Kataf, Kagoro, Maroa, Jaba, Jema’a, Gwantu, Ayu, Bishini and Birakatu. Southern Zaria now referred to Southern Kaduna as a geopolitical entity came into official parlance consequent to the creation of this Southern Division by the Colonial Administration in 1904. Colonial literature endorsed this creation by referring to the Southern Zaria communities as distinct tribes. But even before this time, the area has gained some recognition and notoriety for asserting its claims and authority over all the territory situated between latitude 70 and 100 North and Longitude 50 and 70 East. This claim to autonomy is borne out by such remarks that when the British conquered Zaria in 1901, the pagan tribes occupying this South Central Territory of the Emirate were in a perpetual state of revolt against Zaria.
The colonial administration did not only recognized this marked division between northern and Southern Zaria now Southern Kaduna, but it legitimized it through the institutionalization of the division.
Nevertheless the institutionalization of this Northern Zaria-Southern Zaria dichotomy was not manifested in this apparent British neglect of Southern Zaria alone but was demonstrated in the currency of the official reference to those two divisions as Northern and Southern. The frequency of the official usage of the concept conferred on the concept a connotation that transcends the mere geographical or locational garb. By its usage, the term Southern Zaria now Southern Kaduna has come to mean; geographical region, a culture area, a religious group, a subordinate community, and economic and political minority zone, an appendage community, a geopolitical entity, etc.
Historians like M. G. Smith, endorses the geographical connotation of its usage. He observes that, “Zaria is a rolling orchard bush country at a general elevation of 2,000 feet, interspersed by thickly wooded watercourses infested b tsetsefly, and broken y clusters of rocky outcrops particularly in its Southern half with Northern Zaria populated by Muhammadan hausa and Fulani, while the rest Southern Zaria members of some thirty or more tribes who are distinguished as pagans. Excluding the few settlements of non-islamised Hausa known as Maguzawa in Northern Zaria, the entire pagan population occupies areas in the Southern and Western half of the territory which has heavier rainfall and denser woodland than the more open and closely settled north.” Geography and history in this context clearly demarcate the two sub-zones.
However, the Southern Kaduna is further observed to “constitute a culture complex of its own”, as well as “all those tribes within the Katab culture complex area are culturally linked by several features; language, forms of dwelling, dress, adornment, tribal markings, social organization, religious beliefs and practices, occupation, etc”. as posited by C. K. Meek. The impact of geographical factors on social forms predetermined the evolution of culture complex in the Southern Kaduna area. The effects of favourable geographical environment of a rugged mountains terrain complemented by some considerable gallery forest accorded these Southern Kaduna tribes more independent and individualist character. This accounted for he marked absence of any central or territorial authority beyond the village, the clan if the two are conterminous with the tribe.
However, the description by British records reads “that in pre-British days, Northern Zaria was populated by Muhammadn Hausa and Fulani while the entire pagan population occupied Southern Zaria. Throughout this area predominantly pagan population, the Hausa are found in enclaves, walled towns or open villages.” This connotes the use of Southern Zaria as a religious group. Evidently, Sir Ahmadu Bello the Premier of the North shortly before he died was said to have visited this strong Christian area of Southern Zaria.
But it is the reference to Southern Kaduna as a subordinate community that appears to have gained greater acknowledgment. This assertion is held by Sherwood Smith’s description of the then Emir of Zaria, Ibrahim, who pledged to be loyal to the colonial policies but had strong misgivings as to how he would comply with such policies “when it is generally believed that the pagans of Southern Zaria were of inferior stock”. M. G. Smith’s depicts this subordinate status of Southern Zaria communities in this wise that the immigrant British, together with the Ibo and Yoruba from Southern Nigeria were distinguished as Christians from the pagan tribes of Southern and Western Zazzau, who have traditionally formed the legitimate target for slave-raiding, the exaction of tribute, whose inferior technology, smaller settlements, and peculiar modes of organization have left them relatively defenseless and had forced them to subordinate themselves under Zazzau”. This account synchronized neatly with the colonial records veneer of thinking namely, that of idolizing the political and social institutions of the centralised states and denigrating that of the smaller decentralized politics of the Southern Zaria Communities.
Consequently, the perpetuation of subordinate status to the Southern Zaria Communities became more institutionalized during the devolution of political power characterized by the Richards and the Macpherson’s Constitutions of 1946 and 1951 respectively. The first Regional Elections held in 1951 took place on a provincial basis. In Zaria province, one member was made a “special member” to represent the pagans of Southern Zaria who were otherwise not represented in the Hausa, thus confirming the Southern Zaria institutionalized subordinate status.
Various writers however have further confirmed the veracity of the system used to carving out the Hausa communities within the area predominantly pagan populated. These Hausa communities are found in enclaves, garrisoned and walled towns of Kagarko, Kauru, Kajuru, Kachia, Lere or open villages, which are foci of economic, political and administrative life. In order to further subordinate the Southern Zaria area economically and politically, in the latter years of the 19th C, slaves generals with large forces were stationed in the centre of Southern Zaria to protect the local caravan routes and control the nearby pagans.
The concept of Southern Zaria is not as imaginary as some spectrum of un-intellectual opinion would want the world to believe. It is a real concept and derives its legitimacy from the existence of a geopolitical entity of a Northern Zaria. The mere existence of a Northern Zaria recognized and letimised by the Emirate System 1846-1903, the Indirect Rule System 1903-1960 and the Post independence Administrations 1960, the Creation of Kaduna State 1967 and the subsequent carving of Katsina out of Kaduna by 1987 legitimizes the existence of a Southern Zaria now Southern Kaduna.
Based on the current population by a greater number of Hausa/Moslems and Southern Kaduna tribes/Christians has seems to provide a natural boundary between Northern and Southern Zaria i.e. River Kaduna linguistic and cultural milieu have also left their imprint on the demarcation of Kaduna settlements, while Northern Zaria appears linguistically and culturally homogenous inhabited predominantly by the Hausa Fulani and pagan Habe Maguzawa, Southern Zaria appear linguistically heterogeneous inhabited by a congeries of ethnic clusters all of which constitute a culture area with a common myth of origin, common linguistic and family group, geographical and climatic conditions, settlement patterns, types of occupation, common traditional political organization and common religious beliefs and practices.
For obvious racial, linguistic, historical, religious and cultural reasons, Southern Kaduna is more than just a concept. It is a geographical region, a culture area, a religious group, a subordinate community, an economic and political minority group, a reservoir of middle level cadre manpower, a geopolitical entity and above all, a people, a human community.
Notably, therefore in the geographical compactness of ethnic settlements in Southern Kaduna has favoured the emergence of ethnically homogenous semi-urban compact settlements; Kagoro township for the Oegworok, Manchok township for the Asholio, Zonkwa for the Bajju, Samaru for the Atyap, Kwoi for Ham, Kafanchan for Fantsuan, Kamuru Station for the Bakulu, Fadan Kamantan for the Angan, Fadan Watai for the Aninka, Kufana for the Adara, Gure for the Gbiri, etc. This geographical compactness of ethnic settlements accompanied by contiguous geographically dispersed settlement around those major compact town-like settlements has reserved and nourished culture are uniquely Southern Kaduna through their assured continuous socialization by traditional agents of the family, clan, the religion, etc.
It is however paramount to state that, the watershed that forced Southern Kaduna communities ascend the curve of a separatist group identity in a drive towards ethnic self-assertion is the size of these ethnic groups and their compact area of settlements in Adaraland, Atyapland, Bajjuland, Hamland, Oegworokland, Agbiriland, Fantsuanland, Numanaland, etc, the strength of their historical tradition, their cultural cohesion. While bearing the discriminatory behavior by the core or dominant group, prejudicial attitude by the core group or behavior not receptional, conflicts on issues involving value and power in public or civic life, delayed institutional dispersion into the political power structure because of superior/inferior relationship have combined to fuel the perception of being unique by Southern Kaduna Communities.
The democratic nature of Southern Kaduna people alongside their historical antecedents will however continue to be agitated so long as the outright subjugation and non-federalist nature of the dominant north or government, dismal denial enforces government policies on the people.
Therefore, the Southern Kaduna today consists of thirteen Local Governments which includes Chikun, Jaba, Jema’a, Kachia, Kauru, Kajuru, kaura, Kagarko, Kaduna Southe, Kaduna North, Lere, Sanga, and Zango Kataf.