Tatsuniya: A Traditional Hausa Folklore

Written by Khadija Garba

A graduate of English Language, Khadija Garba grew up in a small town in Zaria. She is a writer whose random thoughts and beliefs get penned down. Not to mention she derives happiness and fulfillment going through her own published works. Khadija has an addiction for early morning cup of black coffee, Japanese 2D animations (anime), manhwas then finally, English novels. Romance remains her favourite genre.

August 25, 2020

As someone who grew up not having grandparents around, I remember looking forward to nightfall one time a cousin came visiting. Then, I and my brother will crawl onto the bed beside her, it was fun having someone who enjoyed a childhood with grandparents in the village come stay with us.

Tatsuniya is an oral Hausa tradition that is orally passed down from generation to generation. It is the Hausa version of folklore or fairytales and it goes as far back to the history of Hausa land itself. Tatsuniya is a fabricated story that usually has a lot of exaggerations in it passed down to the younger generation to educate and instill in them morals. The appropriate timeframe for these ordeals is night falls, especially nights with moonlight to illuminate the crowd since it is the most time outdoor activity. Its participants consist of an elder person(majorly females) who is usually the storyteller and the spectators consisting of both young boys and girls.

Features of Tatsuniya

Tastsuniya is mostly done at night to improve the dramatic effect. Children, family, and the storyteller—Mostly an aged grandmother or any other experienced storyteller in the family— sit in circles around a outside a full moon. The storyteller starts by saying; “Ga ta nan ga ta nan Ku” while the audience responds with “Ta zo mu Ji ta.” This is the equivalence of “once upon a time in fairy tales, while the audience responds with eagerness indicating they are ready to hear. The storyteller then delves into the story, often employing the use of hands, voice, and facial expressions. The stories are told with emotions and are acted for more entertainment.

Read: 150 Great Hausa Proverbs You Want To Remember

Stories always involve antagonists and protagonists. The characters often used include, an ill-treated but faithful daughter (an equivalent of Cinderella), a pious Malam, a corrupt judge, A disobedient child, The arrogant prince, The Gwari man. Sometimes animals are also used, and they include the clever hare, The Malamin Dawa, Jackal (learned one of the forest), a Coward Hyena, The courageous Zaki (Lion); the king of animals, The trickster Gizo, his partner koki and the evil monster “Dodo.” The trickster Gizo is often noted for his cunning, resourcefulness, laziness and greediness is often used as the main character. The story is most times accompanied by a song for more effect—just like the Disney films. At the end of the story, “Kurungus kan kusu” is mentioned.

An Example of Tatsuniya in English

Gizo asked some birds to take him to the treetop which was in the middle of a river to eat fruit. The birds agreed and lent him som feathers to enable him to fly. On reaching the treetop, Gizo prevented the birds from eating any. So when he was asleep they took away their feathers and left him stranded. When he woke up he fell down to the bottom of the river. There he claimed to be the relative of the ‘yan ruwa’ (water spirits) he found there. He was given shelter and then he was taken up to the shore.

On land, an animal ate the fish Gizo had got from the river. Annoyed, Gizo tricked him, tied him up, and branded him with an iron bar. The animal on being released later looked for Gizo in order to punish him. When they met, Gizo managed to escape by trickery.

Example of a Typical Tatsuniya

Storyteller: Ga ta nan ga ta nan ku.
Audience: Ta zo mu ji ta.
Storyteller: Gizo ne da Botorami. Sai ran nan Botorami zai yi tafiya, sai ya ce, To Gizo, ga
amfanin gonata nan, zan yi tafiya ƙauye. Ga shi nan amana duk abin da ya yi ka kwashe mini ka
kai mini gari.
Sai Gizo ya ce,To, sai ka dawo
Sai daman da Botorami sai ya tafi sai ya ce; To ka sake hali ka san ka tafi ƙauye.
Shi ke nan, Gizo sai ya noma kayansa mai kyau. Shi kuma Botorami
hatsinsa ya fara yi bai yi ba, ya dai fara fitar da kai. Sai Gizo sai ya yanke masa duk ya je ya
ajiye. Haka ya samu audugarsa ma haka duk bata yi ba, sai ya sa ta. Wacce ta isa ya yayyaɗa a sama ya ɗaure. Gero haka, dawa haka, maiwa
haka, duka dai. Shi ke nan sai ya kai rumbu sai ya ajiye.
Gizo kuma nasa ya yi sharsharshar, ya yi kore shar. Sai ya kai rumbu ya ajiye.
Sai ran nan Botorami sai ya dawo. Sai ya ce, sai ya ce da Gizo; Au ! Har ka gyara kayan
amfanin gonar?
Sai ya ce, eh, Je ka ga amfanin gona.íí
Sai Botorami sai ya je ya ga ta sama mai kyau. Sai ya ce, To na ga amfanin gona, na
gode, na gode, madalla.
Sai ya ce, To shi ke nan.
Sai ran ran gidan Botorami zai yi girki. Da ya je ya buɗe dawa sai ya ga duk ba ta yi ba,
ta sama ce ta kawai ta yi kyau. Ya buɗe gero haka, ya buɗe dawa haka, ya buɗe gyaɗa haka.
Sai ya ce, To shi ke nan.
Sai ya ɗebe mai kyan, marar kyan sai ya bar ta a rumbu sai ya bunka mata gobara.
Shi ke nan sai ya je ya fara kuka, ya ce, Lailaha illallahu, Gizo ba ka san abin da ya same
ni ba.
Sai ya ce, Ban sani ba.
Ya ce, To duk kayan nan nawa mai kyau duk sun ƙone, na yi gobara.
Sai ya ce, To shi ke nan, Allah ya kiyaye, Allah ya tsayar nan.
Da safiya ta yi sai ya ce, To, a je a duba amfanin gona.
Sai ya ce, To shi ke nan.
Sai kai kuma Botorami sai ka zuba kuɗi.
A tona, sai kuɗi. A tona, sai kuɗi, a tona, sai kuɗi.
Sai Gizo ma sai ya ce, To ni ma bara na ƙone nawa ko ni ma zan samu kuɗi.
Duk sai ya ƙone nasa mai kyan. Da ya kone nasa mai kyan,
sai ya je ya sa wa Botorami kuka.
Ya ce, Ni ma na yi irin taka.
Sai Botorami ya ce, To Allah ya kiyaye.Ya ce, To sai a je a duba amfanin gona.
Shi ke nan, aka je aka dudduba duk ba a samu kuɗi ba sai toka. Sai Gizo ya sa kuka.
Botorami sai ya ce da uwassa, ìTo kin gani zan miki ɗan ɗaki in ce kin mutu, in ba ki
kuɗi duk in mun zo gaishe ki da ni da Gizo ki dinga watso mini kuɗi.
Tace, To shi ke nan.
Sai ya je ya sa wa Gizo kuka, ya ce, Gizo ba ka san uwata ta mutu ba?
Sai ya ce, Wallahi ban sani ba, Allah ya jiƙanta, Allah ya rahamshe ta. Ai sai mu je
gaisuwar kabari.
Da suka je, in ta – Gizo ya ce, Ina kwana?
Sai kuɗi.
ìIna gajiya?
Sai kuɗi.
Ya kwanciyar kabari?
Sai kuɗi.
Allah ya sa – Allah ya sa ki cika da imani – Allah sa kin huta.
Duk sai kuɗi.
Kuɗi suka kare.
Kai kuma Gizo da ka shiga gida, sai ka je sai ka samu uwakka sai – ka dau itace ka
dinga maka ma ta.
Shegiya kin girma, kowa uwarsa tana mutuwa tana ba shi kuɗi ke kin ki mutuwa!
Ya kashe ta da itace ya kai ta kabari. Ya zo ya sa wa Botorami kuka, ya ce, Uwata ta
mutu, Botorami!
Shi ke nan. Allah jiƙanta, sai ya je gaisuwar kabari.
Botorami ya ce, ìIna kwana?
Ina gajiya?
Duk dai sai aka yi gaisuwa.
Sai ba ta zubo kuɗi ba, sai ya dau itace ya bude kabari ya dinga ɗumatta, ìShegiya, in
kin mutu sai ki farko. Ke ba kya watso mana kuɗi. Uwar Botorami ta zubo mana kuɗi.
Ƙurunƙus kan kusu

Benefits of Tatsuniya

1. An Element of Culture

Culture is the way of life. Every society comes with its unique way of living life. What makes societies different are those accepted norms which sum up their way of living. Tatsuniya is an integral part of Hausa speaking communities. Along with Karin Magana (proverbs), Zaurance, Almara (riddles), Waka (poetry), and the rest— it remains an important part of Hausa tradition and literature. It used to be the tactical way of disciplining the younger generation on how to live a positive life.

Read: 100 Funny Hausa Proverbs That Will Make You Laugh Hard

2. A Tool for Entertainment

Before the advent of western civilization which brought about the Internet, radios, television, etc. Tatsuniya was used as a medium to instill liveliness within the Hausa society. The human mind usually gets excited about new things plus it never forgets to find solace in stories. The Tatsuniya is a case of exaggerated stories (fiction) thus, it always appears strikingly extraordinary to the innocent minds.

Read: The First Female Author From Northern Nigeria

3. It Is Educative

The whole significance of tatsuniya is shrouded in its ability to educate the young ones while keeping them entertained. It inculcates in them values, a sense of morality and responsibility. Every tatsuniya has a theme (greed, humility, patience, kindness, etc.) As the story reaches a climax, the aftermaths of each action become more pronounced. This in turn teaches the children “certain things will result in certain situations”. It is a subtle way of impacting children’s wisdom without having them learn and grow through the gruesomeness of personal experiences.

4. Deepening of Bonds

Tatsuniya connects the older generation with the younger ones. Children look forward to spending time with their grannies and older relatives because storytelling is something the average parents barely have time for (in-between catering to the needs of these kids than themselves, the day ends with them exhausted). Friendships are built; children from the whole community and sometimes different communities come together to participate in tatsuniya. In the nearby future, these friends end up reminding each other why they shouldn’t walk some lanes (concerning lessons learned from tatsuniya).

5. Prevents waywardness

As a rule, Tatsuniya is never told in daylight. This ensures all children stay at home and look forward to the nighttime where they enjoy the stories. For children who are of the habit of going out at night, Tatsuniya prevents them from doing such. It ensures children stay at home at night and become responsible kids towards their parents.

Sadly, the emergence of western civilization (education, industrialization, and technology) has made tatsuniya a dying Hausa culture. Generation Z has no idea what the concept of tatsuniya is because televisions shows, English fairytales have taken over. In-between going to classes, watching TV, and attending to their phones, the younger generation has no time to spare for verbal storytelling. Some even find it boring and childish (the fabrications and exaggerations). The older generation who are supposed to continue with this oral tradition too has mostly let it slide and moved in favor of books, and Tv shows and programs.

Even in the research institutions and universities where such culture needs to be showcased, they are more interested in prose writings, dramas, troupes performance, and songs. This dying yet important part of the traditional culture needs to be revived and imbibed on the younger generation. If anything, they don’t contain the immoralities common with stories and fiction nowadays.

You May Also Like…


Leave a Reply

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest