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The Riders Wearing Robes and Holding Spears in the Celebration. VOA
  • Residents of northern Nigerian city celebrated an ancient traditional festival in order to pay respect to the ruler
  • The custom of Durbar celebration involved residents from villages and towns who dressed up in colourful robes and rode horses holding spears
  • The celebration saw gathering of more people than last year when people stayed indoor following an attack by the Boko Haram jihadists

Riders sporting warrior robes of bright colours and holding spears were again packing the streets of this northern Nigerian city, to greet their traditional ruler as the local residents celebrated a thousand-year-old tradition in a region hit by Boko Haram.

Last week the traditional ruler in Zaria city rode in a horse carriage to kick off the Durbar celebrations that mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Durbar is a custom dating back more than 1,000 years which involves warriors from villages and towns in Nigeria’s Muslim north travelling once a year to the emir’s palace to renew a pledge of respect to their ruler.

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But the thousands who packed the streets and minarets of mosques to watch were a far-cry from last year when many stayed indoors from fear following an attack by Boko Haram fighters that killed some 35 people in Zaria.

Man Dressed as a Warrior, Rides a Horse in the Durbar Festival, Nigeria. Wikipedia

Now, following a military crackdown on the militant group, Alhaji Shehu Idris, Emir of Zazzau, rode to his palace.

He greeted people lining the pot-holed streets of this dusty city as he passed by, Once at the palace, he watched with officials as each area of his traditional constituency presented their turbaned chiefs and warriors in a mark of respect.

Several men — wearing white, red, blue or yellow robes – demonstrated their horse-riding skills on the unpaved parade ground. But some women and girls also walked during the procession.

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The Nigerian military has retaken much of the territory lost to the Boko Haram jihadists. But police cars and gun-wielding police officers posted at the unpaved parade ground in front of the palace were a reminder that suicide bombs by the group remain part of life in the northern region of the oil producer. (VOA)



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