Female traditional ruler in Adamawa completes installation rites

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

Nyagangwun Bintu Namda, the female traditional ruler in Dimgeb, Ganye Chiefdom of Adamawa State, North East Nigeria, has completed the traditional rites of installation as the ruler of the area, where for over 270 years only women rule.

The spiritual ceremony took place at Dimvan, which takes some three hours of trekking bare feet from her palace in Dimgeb.

The spiritual ceremony, which usually takes place at the Gangnwun Van, one to two years after the crowning of the female traditional ruler, also takes three hours walk from her palace.

According to Alhaji Ishaku Babidi, the Public Relations Officer at the Palace of the Paramount ruler of the Ganye Chiefdom, His Royal Highness the Gangwari Ganye, Alhaji Umar Adamu Sanda, the journey to the spiritual shrine and the ceremony that follows signifies the completion of the spiritual installation of the ruler.

IMG-20160622-WA0013(1)Alhaji Babidi said the ceremony was usually conducted by the Kingmakers, known as the Kamen and witnessed by the royal matrilineal clan and grandchildren of the female village ruler.

The venue of the spiritual installation of the female traditional ruler is also the resting place of the other female rulers in Dimgeb, located beyond a mountain known as Dimvan.

At the ceremony, only the kingmakers, matrilineal Clan, the Gangkun and the female ruler’s grandchildren witness the ceremony, while her followers stop at a certain point.

Although Nyagangnwun Bintu Namda was crowned in November, 2014 as the 16th female ruler to replace Nyagangnwu Astadikko Buba after her death, it took one year eight months before she is now being spiritually installed.

The Paramount Ruler of the Ganye Chiefdom, made up of three local government areas of Ganye, Jada and Toungo, the Gangwari Ganye, His Royal Highness Alhaji Umaru Adamu Sanda, says the Nyagangnwun has every rights of a village head.

“Tradition has it that whoever is the village head of Dimgeb, has the powers equivalent to that other places where men dominate. So she has every power that every village has in this chiefdom. So she performs all the traditional rites, day-to-day administration in that village area. She collects taxes and any other duties assigned to her, by either the traditional council or the district head,” said the Gangwari Ganye.

The village of Dimgeb is under the Sugu District of the Ganye Traditional Council, some five kilometers from Ganye town, the administrative headquarters of Ganye Local Government Area, Southern Adamawa State.

IMG-20160622-WA0014For over 270 years, only women have ruled in the village, where men submit to the authority of only female rulers, whose territory extends to seven villages, with a population of about two thousand people, who are mainly small scale farmers.

It was gathered through oral history, that the decision to crown a female ruler came about because men rulers die soon after being crowned, but the female rulers survived for years.

To date, 16 women from the Gangkun matrilineal clan have ascended the throne and ruled in the Chamba culture and tradition.

According to the Gangwari Ganye, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Sanda, only women who have reached their menopause and widowed are crowned.

“She has to be an elderly person most of them I think reach almost the age of 60 above. Most of them are elderly, some of them have married, may be the husband died, but in general she has to be an elderly person women, a very responsible one who is respected and who knows the tradition and culture of the people. That is why the selection is a very competitive one and has a lot of factors to be considered before appointing the Nyagangnwun of Dimgeb,” said His Royal Highness, the Gangwari Ganye.

IMG-20160622-WA0016Although the Nyagangnwun rules from the top, she is assisted by men.

One of the men is Malam Atiku Gende, who has served six other female rulers at the Nyagangnwun palace in Dimgeb.

Malam Gende says with the popularity the Nyagangnwun is receiving from outside the chiefdom, it will be good if her palace and the area is upgraded to give the female ruler the respect she deserves in the midst of male rulers in the area and even the country.

“I want to appeal to the government to come and develop Dimgeb, because the only government presence in the village is an old primary school. There is no hospital here and we carry the sick among us on our backs or shoulders to get to nearby health facilities or the hospital in Ganye. We want the government to help us also in upgrading the palace of the Nyagangnwun, so that people coming in will fine a respectable place for her, Mallam Gende said.

The Gangwari Ganye is now calling on governments at all levels and cooperate entities to invest in the area, so that positive development will take place in the area, which will in turn lead to the development of the country.