Dala hill is considered the first settlement of the ancient Kano people. Legend has it that the hill top served as a worship ground for the Maguzawa (first inhabitants of Hausa land).Barbushe, the then Chief priest in charge of the ground, was said to be the mediator between the people and Tsumburbura, the goddess to whom they owe reverence.
Remarkably, Dala hill still holds some of that awe till date, the people are not allowed to climb the hill, they could only stand at the foot of it for any deification service as only Barbushe was virtuous enough to climb the hill. Dala owes its name to a man who was a hunter. Lore has it that Dala used to frequent the hill to source for raw materials for his craftsmanship.
The belief among the Maguzawa reckons that wherever they see a rock, there is the prospect of wealth like aluminum metal and so on especially for metal crafts. Being the one prominent figure most associated with the location, the Hausa designation Dutsen Dala [Dala’s hill, in English] gradually stuck as a name for a site that was to serve as aplace of worship and economic importance.
According to history, any sacrifice offered to Tsumburbura is taken up by Barbushe. Barbushe though, only leaves the hilltop for other businesses far from Dala once every year. Whenever he does that, it is believed he goes for hunting. The animal he hunts mostly is the elephant which he carries all by himself to the top of the hill.
Although nobody can really say what Tsumburbura looks like, it is believed by many that the she deity was something that has to do with their living and culture. The chief priest is also the soothsayer who foretells the future with the help of the gods. This was popularly believed to have kept the people on guard against marauding invaders of that time. The advent of Islam changed everything because when Islam was accepted in Kano, idol worship stopped. The Arabs, through the Trans- Saharan trade brought with it longer venerated as a worship site. Dala hill remains one among the ancient monuments of Kano. It is preserved and protected under the Kano History and Culture Bureau. It is also patronized by the Kano Tourism Board by taking tourists and students in both domestic and international circles.
One fascinating aspect about Dala hill is that you get to see both the old and the new city of Kano. Modernity has ensured that climbing to the top of Dala hill no longer poses the strain of the past to discerning visitors, as a flight of 120 [yes, I counted all the way!] steps have been constructed to take one to the top of it. While at the top you could notice the tunnel dug by the ingenious Maguzawa meant to ensure steady water supply downtown during the rains. If you are in Kano but yet to visit Dala hill, you could well have just been beating a talking drum without a sound
By Aisha Saleh