Katsina State Customs & Traditions


Traditionally, the people of Katsina State have quite a number of unique norms, values and customs inherited and passed from generation to generation.

The marriage customs involves various stages. When a young man sees a girl and falls in love with her, he makes known his feeling by either speaking to her directly, or if he is shy to do it, he may ask his friends to do it on his behalf. If the response is favourable, he offers her some presents. From then on, he and his friends visit the girl in the night for “Zance” which is a kind of discussions between the girls and the boy. Mats are spread on the floor of the entrance for the boy and his friends to sit. When it is time to part, the boy may at will give her presents.

Later, the boy informs his parents, and the parents formally contact the parents of the girls. In some areas the boys father in company of his friends or relations take some specific amount of money to the girl’s parents. The acceptance of this money is signal to an agreement that the marriage can take place in the future.

The suitor continues to visit the girls at home taking along some presents from time to time. After sometime, the suitor’s parents consult the parents of the girl on a possible date of the engagement. The date may be months ahead and this gives the suitors time to make necessary preparations for the event. The first thing he does it to buy portmanteau in which he puts gifts of clothes, dresses, soap and perfumes for the girl. This is considered as very important in marriage customs. In the past “Baiko” a kind of minor engagement was arranged between the boy and the girl. The purpose of this was to send away any other person who may wish to seek the girl’s hand in marriage, and to confirm to the suitor that he is definitely the one to marry the girl.

On the day of the marriage ceremony, friends, relatives and neighbours assemble at the home of the girl. The boy’s father or his representative asks the girl’s hand in marriage on behalf of the groom to be. He pays the dowry and accepts the conditions and responsibility of marriage, which include feeding the girl, education and housing her. Kolanuts are then distributed to the people and prayers are offered for the success blessing of the marriage.

In the night the bride accompanied by her friends and one or two older women, escort her to the groom’s house. On Sunday late in the night, the groom’s friends escort him to the bride. At the end of the ceremony, the parents of the bride bring foodstuffs and some money to groom to help him during the first weeks of the married life.

Child naming ceremony takes place on the 7th day of delivery. On the eve of the day, the father of the child invites neighbours, friends and relatives to the ceremony. He buys kolanuts and a ram. Early in the morning the next day, the people gather in front of the father’s house. Kolanuts are distributed and prayers are said. The child is given a name and a ram is slaughtered. For a male child the name us usually one of the twenty-five names of Prophets, e.g. Muhammad, Isha, Musa, Yusuf e.t.c. It can also be one of the names of the Companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.) e.g. Umar, Usman, Hamza, Aliyu, Abubakar e.t.c. The name can also be one of the ninety-nine (99) names of Allah (S.W.T.) preferred by the word “Abdul” which means servant. For example, Abdullahi, Abdul-Samadu, Abdul-Jalil e.t.c. These are religious names.

Beside the above, children are also named after the day they were born e.g. Danladi (male) Ladi (female), in case of those born on Sunday. Jumeor Jummai (female) or Danjuma (male) for those born on Friday, etc. Some people also give name to their children according to the time, season or circumstances of their birth e.g. Ciwake or a Tumu for those born during beans and millet harvest. Malka and Dare for those born at the height of the rainy season and during night time respectively.

In the evening of the day, relatives, friends and well-wishers gather at the house where entertainment is provided and various gifts are presented to the mother of the baby.

These are purely traditional names. In addition, even though these names are in use, the people bearing these names still have their religious names.

Traditional form of circumcision is still in existence particularly in the rural areas. The circumcision is carried out at the height of cold season when harmful bacteria likely to affect the wound is believed to be scarce. Female circumcision is very rare.

On the appointed day, the Barber arrives early in the morning and the child brought forward gripped in the hands of the father or a close relative. The Barber digs a small hole with his knife and the child is seated with his penis directly over the mouth of the hole. The boy’s eyes are then covered by the hands of one of the people holding him. The Barber gets hold of the penis, draw the fore skin tight and make a cut. The blood is allowed to drain in the hole and some herbal medicine is applied on the cut. Then he finds some pieces of cornstalk and arranges them in a triangular shape and a strong string passing through them. The boy’s penis is passed inside the triangle and the two ends of the string are tied at the back of his waist. The purpose of this is to avoid contact between the penis and the testicles.

The child is then separated from other boys. He lives and sleeps with his supervisor. He must also sleep completely naked, and since it is very cold at this time, a fire is kept burning throughout the night.

During the healing period which varies from one to five weeks, the child is well fed and well looked after. His meals include “Kunu” (gruel) cooked or roasted chickens, well spiced and well buttered. Relations and friends of the family come to see the boy and dash him with dishes and various gifts. The Barber who performed the circumcision is paid for his services and paid in accordance with the financial position of the boy’s parents.