In the northern part of Nigeria lies two epic cities, Kano and Katsina, both famous for Durbar festivals.
The Durbar is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, Eid el-Fitr, and at the start of the pilgrimage to Mecca, Eid el-Kabir.
In Northern Nigeria, the Durbar dates back 200 years when horses were used in warfare to protect the Emirate. Each noble household was expected to defend the Emirate by forming a regiment. Once a year, the regiments would gather for a military parade to demonstrate allegiance to their ruler, by showcasing their horsemanship, readiness for war, and loyalty.
Historians say the Hwan Daushe Durbar was introduced to the Kano emirate during the reign of Muhammadu Rumfa in the 1400s, others say it was introduced to Nigeria by colonial administrators with political objectives in mind.
The word Durbar is of Persian origin and is also linked to ceremonial assemblies marking the proclamation of Queen Victoria as the Empress of colonial India in 1877.
Whoever or whatever introduced it, we are very grateful, as the Durbar is the most colourful thing you might ever experience.
A typical Durbar fest has a procession of horsemen, acrobats, and musicians parade in front of the crowd in a myriad of different costumes of every colour you can imagine. Purple turbans, metallic swords glisten in the sun, women dressed in royal robes pass by (Kind of reminds you of medieval Europe).
After nearly all the men in the world and their horses file past, the arrival of the Emir is announced by ancient musket fire from the Emir’s guards.
The procession is lead by his family, wives, horses, bodyguards, servants and the Emir himself.
Finally, horsemen brandish their swords and charge at full gallop to stop only feet away from the Emir. Crowds cheer and rush onto the parade grounds flinging whatever they carry, then the Durbar is over.