On Sultan Bello Road in Sokoto, near the Sultan’s Palace and Masallacin Shehu Mosque, is the Hubbare. The compound, revered in Islamic tradition, holds the tombs of the Fulani scholar and jihadist Usman Dan Fodio and hundreds of his relatives and followers. It also contains the school where Dan Fodio taught his students. “Hubbare” is Hausa for “tomb.”
Born on 15 December 1754, in Gobir, Dan Fodio taught Islamic jurisprudence until 1802, when he led his followers into exile. In 1804, he declared his jihad against the Hausa city-states, defeated them, and created the Sokoto Caliphate, governed by his followers guided by Sunni Islamic law. He died on 20 April 1817, leaving behind over a hundred books on religion, culture, and government.
Women are not allowed into the Hubbare but could look in from the windows. Between the entrance and the tombs, there is a corridor, 200-metre-long, which leads the visitor to the Wakili, the custodian of the tomb.
Dan Fodio’s grave, in a dimly lit room with a chandelier, is covered with a black cloth with Arabic inscriptions. In the same room, his two sons are buried: Hassan Dan Shehu and Sambo. Also kept in the room is the Shantalin Shehu, the traditional long cup said to have been used by Dan Fodio.
Notable people buried in the Hubbare include Aliyu Jedo, Dan Fodio’s commander during the jihad and his grandson; Dan Fodio’s four wives: Hauwa’u, Shaturu, Gabdo, and Jinnu; Nana Asama’u, Dan Fodio’s daughter; Aishatu, daughter of Muhammadu Bello, Dan Fodio’s son and successor; and other children. A few of the graves belong to past Sultans: Ahmadu Rufa’i, Muhammadu Maiturare, Attahiru II, Hassan Dan Mu’azu, Abubakar Saddiq III, and Muhammadu Maccido, who died in 2006, in the ADC plane crash in Abuja. Maccido’s grave is located away from the rest.
A great number of Fulani Muslims come to the Hubbare to pray. It is also frequented by academics, tourists, and students. Some devotees traditionally also visit the Rijiyar Shehu well in the Sokoto metropolis, said to have been dug by Dan Fodio, and drink from it, in completion of their homage.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Editor of Folio Nigeria, he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: art, business, entertainment, activism, health, food. He is a writer, journalist, curator, media consultant, former academic, and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Open Country Mag, a new online platform covering African literature. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.