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acquire the new name of Yashikiru literally meaning “the tomb of the Faros animal”, referring to the tomb of Woru Kassakperegi. Umaru Bakatara was himself killed in 1879 by Saka Yeruma at Kusso where he was believed to have been dragged out to, using charms since nobody could attack and win him at Kali. Kpassi named ALBARKA SERE took over the ruler ship of Yashikira in 1876. In the year 1896, Sabi Kpassi resigned his appointment after himself and his brother failed to ascend to throne of Nikki. He earlier went to invite his brother Ojo from Gbedebereru to come and take the throne in Nikki. Ojo also known as Woruyoru then ruled Yashikira from 1896 to 1903 when he became Sabi NAINA, King of Nikki from 1903-1910 the British unsuccessfully imposed Yaru Sunon Kuma and later Massi Zabarma from 1910-1912 to rule Yashikira. Consequently from 1903-1912 there was mass movement of people from Yashikira to Nikki because they could not understand why Yashikira was ruled by the British while Nikki was placed under the French. SHERO DANRI, a nephew of Sabi Kpassi was appointed as chief of Yashikira in 1910 when Borgu was in the hand of One ABBA, a political agent from Yelwa. When Abba fell out with the chief of Kaiama he had the intention of making Sero Danri the paramount Ruler of West Borgu in place of Mora Tasude. Then Abba named Shero Danri SARIKIN YAMMA but he (Shero Danri) committed suicide in 1914. The gazetteer of Ilorin province reported, “The clean sweeps of the officials in Kaiama was completed by the tragic death of Shero. He had been summoned from Yashikira to give evidence against Mashi Zaberma. Some busybody informed him that he too would be imprisoned and he hanged himself”.

On October 7th, 1912 Mora Tasude, the British imposed paramount ruler of west Borgu died and according to the oral account Hamilton Browne Wrote to the secretary Northern Province on 26-4-1916, that “The proposal to put a Nikki prince on the throne would be merely reverting to following the family which they (the people of West Borgu) followed for generations before the British. As a prospective Nikki candidate, Hamilton Browne suggested, one ALBARKA” Once again, Albarka Sabi Kpassi was lobbied with trumpets and drums to take the ruler ship of Yashikira. Unsatisfied with his placement under Kaiama, Sabi Kpassi retired and moved to Alafiaru in 1932. His son Usman Sunon Lafia took the title of Sarki Yamma while taking over the throne of Yashikira in 1932. He and other district heads of Gwanara, Ilesha and Okuta obtained the dissolution of the Kaiama native authority in 1954. He then retrieved the trumpets given to his father by the British from Kaiama in 1954 and started the likes of the Gani Festival of Nikki in Yashikira. He passed away in October 1974. In 1975, Alh. Ahmed Sunon Lafia became Emir of Yashikira. He rose to the rank of second class emir in 2005 and passed away in August 2010. On 27th May, 2011, Alh. Umaru Sariki, son of Alhaji Usman Sarkin Yamma, became the 9th recognized Emir of Yashikira. He was upgraded First Class Emir on 18th July 2016 together with other three Emir of Baruten i.e. Gwanara, Ilesha and Okuta.

Emir of Yashikira on parade


Yashikira community is a confluence of diverse culture populated by Bariba (Batonu) people who are the principal inhabitants of Borgu in Benin and cofounders of the Borgu Kingdom of what is now northeast Benin and North West Nigeria. It comprises of Bariba (Batonu) people, Gando Fulani, Fulani, Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo and other numerous tribes from other states of Nigeria and part of West African countries. There are perhaps a million Bariba all over, where about 85% of them are in Benin Republic and they are the fourth largest ethnic group in the area comprising of approximately one-twelve of the population. They are concentrated primarily around the city of Nikki, which is considered the Bariba capital. They originally migrated from Kwara State of Nigeria and were renowned horsemen. One of their famous festival is the “annual Gaani festival of which horse riding is very much a part of and is engrained in their culture.

During the annual Gaani festival in Yashikira, the emir of Yashikira, his Royal Highness Alh. Usman Umaru Sariki (SabiKpassi II) with the higher ranking chiefs of the community and the subordinates chiefs alongside the “IBA of Kisi” as custom of the community demands, rode on horses to conduct prayers at the graves of their ancestors round the community. In the process, things like drums and trumpets were used to accompany them because the mother ancestral home of the Lafiaru people of Yashikira is Gwandu. This is the reason why the same instrument used by the people in the north to entertain their Emir is also found used in the community. After the tour, they finally returned to assemble themselves at the frontage of the Emir’s palace where most of the Batonu cultural performances and horse display by the chiefs were performed. This was done to honor the power and heritage of Yashikira community.


The high points of the Yashikira annual Gaani festival was the unique way “YONKOGI” shaves the heads of the princes and princesses at the frontage of the Emir’s Palace as a sign of initiation into royalty.

Yonkogi (The woman at the middle) who shaves the hair of both the Princes and Princesses

Social status and titles are inherited in families, but the status of a person may be given by the family’s nature of work. Notables’ subdivisions of the Bariba include the ruling Wassangari nobles, Batombu and Boo commoners, slaves of varying origin, Dendi merchants, fulbe herdsmen and other divisional ethnic groups. Islam is the popular religion practiced in the area followed by Christianity and traditional religion. Religion was introduced to Bariba people by Dendi traders who were preaching in the north. But because of the strong influence of Islam in the community, the culture is tailored along the norms and mores inherent in Islamic doctrines.

Kakaaki blowing men at the festival celebration ground

The indigenous peoples’ culture is predominantly Islamic as this is manifested in their cultural festival known as “annual Gani Festival” which is greatly celebrated and cannot be compared with, anywhere in the country. Many ceremonial activities mostly with religious aspects take place in the frontage of the emirs’


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