1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zaria

ZARIA, a province of the British protectorate of Northern Nigeria. It lies approximately between 5° 50′ and 8° 30′ E. and 9° 20′ and 11° 30′ N. It has an area of 22,000 sq. m. and an estimated population of about 250,000 . The province, of which a great portion consists of open rolling plains, is watered by the Kaduna affluent of the Niger and its many tributaries, and is generally healthy and suitable for cultivation. The chief towns are Zaria, the capital of the emirate, 87 m. S.W. of Kano, and Zungeru, the headquarters of the British administration for the whole of Northern Nigeria. The British station at Zaria town, with an elevation of 2150 ft., has so far proved the healthiest and most agreeable point of occupation in the protectorate. The climate here for a great portion of the year is bracing, and in the cold season there is frost at night.

The British capital at Zungeru, in the south-western corner of the province, less fortunate than Zaria, has only an elevation of about 450 ft. above the sea. The climate, though better than that of Lokoja, is still relaxing and trying for Europeans. The site of Zungeru, 6° 9′ 40″ E. 9° 48′ 32″ N., was selected in 1901. By the summer of 1902 brick houses for the public departments, a residency, a hospital , barracks and a certain number of houses for the civilian staff had been erected, and the town is now a flourishing settlement, having all the appearance of an English suburban town with shaded avenues and public gardens clustering on either side of the river Dago, over which several bridges have been thrown.

Zaria is not a great grain-producing province. Its principal crop is cotton, of which the surplus is available for purposes of trade, and among the Mohammedan population there is a growing demand for cloth, agricultural and culinary implements, Birmingham goods, soap, oil, sugar and European provisions. The construction of roads, telegraphs and other public works consequent upon the British occupation of the province makes somewhat heavy calls upon the local labour supply and accentuates to some of the large landowners the inconvenience resulting from the abolition of the slave trade, but the practice of owning domestic slaves is not forbidden, and it is the policy of the administration to render the transition from slave labour to free labour as gradual as possible.

The ancient state of Zaria, also called Zeg Zeg by the geographers and historians of the middle ages, was one of the original seven Hausa states. It suffered all the fluctuations of Hausa history, and in the 13th and early 14th centuries seems to have been the dominating state of Hausaland. At later periods it underwent many conquests and submitted in turn to Kano, Songhoi and Bornu. At the end of the 18th century it was an independent state living under its own Mahommedan rulers; but, like the rest of northern Hausaland, it was conquered in the opening years of the 19th century by the emissaries of the Fula Dan Fodio. It remained a Fulani emirate paying allegiance to Sokoto up to the period of the British occupation of Nigeria, January 1900. Early in 1900 a British garrison was placed at Wushishi, a town in the south-western corner of the emirate which marks the limit of navigation of the Kaduna river. The emir of Zaria professed friendliness to the British, and at his own request British troops were quartered at his capital, in order to protect him from the threatened attacks of Kontagora. In March 1902 the province was taken under British administrative control. Throughout that year it was found that, notwithstanding his friendly professions, the emir of Zaria was intriguing with Kano and Sokoto, then openly hostile to Great Britain, while at the same time he continued, contrary to his undertaking in return for British protection, to raid for slaves and to perpetrate acts of brutal tyranny and oppression. He was deposed in the autumn of 1902, and after the Sokoto-Kano campaign of 1903, which assured the supremacy of Great Britain in the protectorate, another emir was appointed to Zaria. The new emir, Dan Sidi, took the oath of allegiance to the British crown and accepted his appointment on the conditions required of all the Nigerian native rulers. He afterwards continued to act in loyal co-operation with the British administration.

The province has been organized for administration on the same system as the rest of the protectorate. It has been divided into four administrative districts, each under a British assistant resident. A good cart road suitable for wheeled traffic has been constructed between Zungeru and Zaria, and the Kaduna has been handsomely bridged at a point near Wushishi, which is the meeting-point of main caravan roads, and whence there is at certain seasons of the year uninterrupted water carriage to the mouth of the Niger. The development of trade was further facilitated in the early days of the British occupation by the building of a light railway from Barijuko, a point on the Kaduna river below Wushishi, to Zungeru. This line was superseded by the construction, in 1907–1909, of a 3 ft. 6 in. railway from Baro, a port on the lower Niger, to Zungeru, whence the line was continued to Zaria.

The taxation scheme introduced by the British administration works satisfactorily, and the revenue shows a regular surplus. Courts of justice have been established in the administrative districts. In 1904 Zaria suffered from the misfortune of a famine, but excellent harvests restored prosperity in the following year, and the province shows every sign of contentment under existing rule. The main artery of commerce which runs from Zaria to Wushishi has been rendered not only safe and peaceful, but has been made so much more commodious by the construction of a good road and by the bridging of the river that the north and south trade is steadily increasing. The local movements of trade throughout the province are also greater.

A large portion of the province is occupied by pagan tribes, especially in the south and the south-west. These districts require more direct British supervision than the Fula districts, in which the native administration, under British control, is fairly efficient. The creation of an administrative division at Kachia with a British station and garrison at Kachia town had an excellent effect, and the resident was able to report in 1905 that “the inhabitants of the once dangerous pagan districts now buy cloth, kolas and salt from the traders in exchange for mats, rubber, palm oil and corn, instead of seizing these articles as they formerly did.”  (F. L. L.)