Boko Haram has claimed thousands of lives in Nigeria between 2009 till date but within 12 days, the Maitatsine uprising claimed 5,000 lives in the Northern part of the country.
The Maitatsine uprising was believed to be the forerunner of religious insurgency in the Northern part of Nigeria.
It was a period of sheer madness which was mixed with agonizing destruction as towns burned.
It witnessed untamed hordes of insurgents brandishing all sorts of primitive weapons like bows and arrows, dane guns, leopard skins to serve as bulletproof vests.
During this period, religious militants went from house to house in the state of Kano, looting, maiming, burning, assaulting women and killing as they wished.
PAY ATTENTION: Install our latest app for Android, read best news on Nigeria’s #1 news app
Who my successor will be - Buhari speaks to Nigerians in first tweet after lifting Twitter suspension
Despite the savage nature of their weapons, the uprising inflicted a brutal and complete destruction of lives and properties.
Ironically, the founder of the Maitatsine sect, Alhaji Mohammed (Muhammadu) Marwa was not a Nigerian. He migrated from the town of Marwa (Maroua) in northern Cameroon to Kano state in 1945.
In Kano, he was known for his controversial teachings of the Qur’an. He claimed to be a prophet and he rejected the hadith and the sunnah and regarded the reading of any other book but the Koran as paganism.
Alhaji Mohammed Marwa who was later known as Maitatsine condemned the use of western things like radios, watches, bicycles, cars.
He even spoke against possession of more money than necessary and eventually rejected the prophethood of Mohammed before declaring himself an annạbi (Hausa word for prophet).
Giving his radical teachings in Kano which has earned him a teeming followers, the British colonial authorities exiled him, but he returned to Kano shortly after independence
On his arrival back, he launched his own movement after Nigeria’s independence in 1960. His message was a straight forward one: rejection of established order.
He transformed himself to a terror that will turn Nigerian soil into blood stream. Gradually, he evolved into a three horned monster that gave birth to terror in Africa’s most populous nation.
Though, his family history was not much known, but he was said to be a polygamist who was also a loving and caring father and husband.
Information has it that he had a son named Tijani and his death was a turning point in the life of the man that would later turn Northern Nigeria to a bloody battle ground.
Tijani was said to have been killed while on an outing with his friends.
When the father saw the lifeless body of his son who was shot in an unclear circumstances, he was said to have cried in agony, saying: “Oh the people of Kano, what have I done to you to deserve this?”
He was said to have believed that the government was behind the death of his son and from that moment, the fate and death of thousands were sealed.
He became bitter and his wrath knew no bounds. And the tone of his preaching changed drastically. He became known for hate filled speeches against the Nigerian government and it was through this practice that he became known as Maitatsine.
He would reportedly say ‘whoever uses wristwatches, radios or ride bicycles, - Allah ya tsine maka albarka! This means ‘May God deprive you of His blessings!’
This eventually earned him the nickname of Maitatsine from the Kano people.
Maitatsine simply means ‘the one with curses ’ or ‘the one who curses’.
However, Nigerians and Muslims alike were shocked when the fiery preacher rejected the teachings of Islam and embraced his own form of Islam while condemning everything else.
To the surprise and fear of leaders in Kano, his scary teachings attracted followers of the jobless, labourers and loafers. And these set of people accepted his teachings, lapping into it like lost lambs in search of shepherds.
The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, (who incidentally was the grandfather of the present Emir of Kano) was shocked at Maitatsine’s audacity and was one of his most hated critics.
To be continued.
In the part 2 of this historical presentation, Legit.ng will bring you more serialized and simplified historical stories of the man who tried to alter the Quran and who ordered that Prophet Mohammad’s name should not be mentioned again in Kano.
The story has just started and it all led to deaths, destruction and birth of Islamic insurgency in Nigeria.