…1st World Heritage site in Nigeria.
By Aisha Saleh Michika
A three hours’ drive away from Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, would lead to a kingdom not particularly worth envying by the standards of 21st century living; a world heritage site and listed among the seven wonders of Nigeria.
Located between Madagali and Gulag, and politically under Madagali local
government of Adamawa state, lies Sukur Kingdom. More journey hours await as climbing the mountain where in spreads the actual realm is as challenging as it is amazing. Reason? You wonder how these people created a foot path of stones from the foot of the mountain to the peak—much like modern interlocking (it would be hard to swallow if modernity did not actually get its idea from them). It could be a joke but, who knows?!!!
The initial thoughts of this reporter were that it would be easy given the existence of a foot path leading up the mountain, but perhaps, I got it all wrong. It was not easy at all. The scorching sun added to the anguish because the climb was in the mid-afternoon which is just not the right time. “You have to be early not to find the climbing too torturous,” Simon, my guide said as a suggestion for the best time to engage in the venture. The heat contributed to me throwing up along the way. I totally lost hope when we reached a resting point. Simon sought to know if I really wanted to do this to which I responded, “Yes.”
Armed with belief I said to myself in a strong voice: “I shall make it to the
top”. That was how I managed to reach the first gate with the courage derived from the two friends-cum- escorts that accompanied me—Maxwell and Aliyu. Astoundingly, the first gate had its own story to tell, which is amazing to me. Does that mean each step we take has its own uniqueness? I wondered. At the first gate were two entrances of visibly varying sizes: big and small. The big gate, I gathered, is for everybody’s use while the small gate is for the king only. The Sukur people have a belief that the king is not supposed to share the same passage with ordinary people; therefore the king has his own passage in most of the gates. Sacrifice is also being offered at the gate by slaughtering a goat. The bones of the goat get buried in the middle of the road and the skin of the goat is tied from end to end by a special method. Gradually, the extended goat-hide disappears and this is taken to be a sign of appreciation from the gods. Another thing is that it signifies an assurance from the gods concerning protection from all evil and an additional blessing in all that they do.
At this point, I was already weak but because I want to see more about this kingdom with the wonderment feeding on my mind as to what is next, I got the courage to move on. On getting to the second gate, things became more interesting. It was like these people really have a uniqueness that makes their dwelling recognised as a world heritage site. At the second gate we met a guard known as Daikarba, he is also the chief blacksmith. His duty alternates between guarding that very second gate and also the king’s grave yard. The puzzling thing about this Daikarba is that he is not at liberty to see the king face-to-face as if that happens, “something terrible” would befall the king or the people. Once it is late, Daikarba allows nobody passage beyond this point—no matter who. Daikarba has his house not far away from the gate and there he lives with his family. That is hardly incredible but at the house one could behold two different trees with plenty of awe to their existence. The trees share a single root which the Sukur people believe is not normal and they call it the forbidden tree. They hold the belief that anybody who touches the tree is bound to become a transvestite; having male and female organs. I could not believe it. “It is just a tree,” I said to myself.