Daily Trust Saturday
The practice called Bori, which involves trances, exorcism and other supernatural elements in Hausaland is being obliterated by Islam, colonialism and modernity, as Daily Trust found out.
Since the advent of civilization, human societies emerged with the gradual evolution of their cultures and religious practices which give every human society its identity. As time went on, more advanced cultures and civilizations inundated and gradually obliterated various aspects of the cultures and religious practices of other societies which they dismissed as primitive or heathen.
Hausaland, for instance, over the ages preceding the advent of Islam and colonialism, evolved Bori as its sole religion and one of its main identifying cultures. It is divided into two: Bori the religion and Bori the cure.
Bori the religion was characterized by the worship of Jinn (Aljanu or Iskoki in Hausa) described as supernatural spirits, as the deities. Bori worshippers believe that the Jinn possess all the powers possessed by God or Allah. They believe that these supernatural spirits give or withhold health, offspring, rain and bountiful harvest, peace and security and all forms of powers and fortunes and unleash wrath in the form of epidemics on their adherents if and when they sin against them.
It is said that a little population of Bori worshippers still exist in Hausaland to this day.
The culture of Bori the Cure is practiced principally for the cure of ailments. This practice takes place for various reasons and at various times such as during specific seasons, festivities and wedding, naming or other ceremonies with the ‘Yan Bori (those possessing the spirits) performing abnormal or ‘supernatural’ feats when they are possessed by the spirits, following provocations by specific music or panegyrics. Supernatural
There are, however, numerous other reasons, such as protesting or revolting against any decisions carried out against him or her for the individual Dan Bori or ‘YarBori to get provoked into the supernatural situation with the intention of attracting appeasement for, or the reversal of the decision by whoever is responsible.
Bori approves, or disapproves of marriage between a man and a woman. Thus, for example, to facilitate wedding between a spinster and her suitor, the parents of the spinster can be heard to say: “Bori ya hadasu” (‘the Jinn has joined them together’, implying that their marriage is approved), or “Bori bai yarda da auren ba” (‘Bori does not approve the marriage’).
Even a passerby Dan Bori or ‘YarBori can be provoked to collapse instantly with the seizure of Bori by the simple hearing of music that is provocative to the Jinn he or she possesses. He or she may instantly be seen performing the abnormal feats of the spirit.
The reasons for the individual Dan Bori or ‘YarBori to be provoked into getting possessed by his or her spirit in the daily life of the people are so numerous in the broad gamut of the social life of Hausaland. Under the Bori culture, it is believed that each Jinn has its name.
For example, there is the Barahaza (the Fulani milk maid), the Babule (the one which sets locations or objects ablaze), the Arne (pagan of heathen), the Kuturu (leper), ‘Yarmairo (which shares out sugary items), the Nakada, and so many others spread across the different parts of Hausaland and its neighbours sharing such common cultural practices.
It is characterized by the belief that the Dan Bori (the male) or ‘YarBori (the female), during the festival, event, or any other time and for whatever reason, is possessed by the spirit, which moves him or her behave or speak abnormally and in that situation, perform some mysteries.
In this situation of possession by the spirits in whatever circumstances, it will be said of the ‘Dan Bori’ ‘Ya hau Bori’ (he has been provoked into a Bori trance, implying that he is possessed by the spirits). For example, it will be said: ‘Ta hau Barahaza’ (she has been provoked into the trance of Barahaza, implying that she has been possessed by Barahaza, the Fulani milkmaid).
Any ‘Dan Bori’ provoked into the situation of the Jinn ‘Kuturu,’ which implies that he is possessed by the Jinn ‘Kuturu,’ will be heard speaking nasally or gutturally like the leper and seen to fold his fingers so tightly that no other ‘ordinary’ person, however powerful, can straighten them. The fingers can only be straightened when the spirit leaves the Dan Bori, freeing him into normalcy.
Both forms of Bori are magical and declared by Islam as heathen practices. The advent and rapid propagation of Islam in Hausaland, the colonization of Hausa land from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, heralding modernity and the current massive descent of modern technology on all cultural practices of traditional societies seem to have obliterated Bori in most Hausa communities and reduced its practice greatly.
Dr. Muhammad Tahar Adamu, the Deputy Director, Literature and Folklore at the Ibrahim Yaro Yahaya Centre for Research in Nigerian Languages and Folklore of Bayero University Kano, is a leading authority on Bori. “Bori is a form of traditional religion. Before the advent of Islam the world over, every people had a deity they worshiped. We in Hausaland worshipped the Jinn - people regarded them as deities. But with the advent