Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Lecturer, Department of History

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University
Performing Religion in Northern Nigeria: A Study of Religious Processions in Kano,1958-2016

The recent spate of violence in parts of northern Nigeria is deeply associated with religious processions. However, the phenomenon of religious processions as performative display of collective religious identities represents an interesting dimension of popular religiosity, remaking of sectarian identities and the intricate nexus between religion, peace and security in the region. Why do religious processions generate violence? How are public spaces negotiated between the state, the public and processional 'communitas' (Turner, 1975)? Using archival records, ethnography – "thick description" (Geertz, 1973), participant observation, semi-structured and in-depth personal interviews – phenomenology, this project seeks to map out the historical trajectories, goals, processes for internalization, and violence -related incidences associated with two popular annual religious processions in Kano metropolis: the Maukibi procession of Qadiriyya organized to celebrate the birth of Abd' al-Qadr, the founder of the Order, and the Muharram (Shia) procession, staged to invoke the grief of martyrdom and 'redemptive sufferings' (Ayoub, 1978) of "Imam" Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. The project hypothesizes that while the spatial and territorial stretches of these religious processions spatialize historical memories of religious icons and saints, revitalize religious identities, and reactivate religious networks, they also generate incentives for violence - the recurrent clash between 'Yan daba (Kano urban thugs) and Maukibi of Qadiriyya processions, the 2014, 2015 and 2016 police crackdown on Shia Muharram processions in some parts of northern Nigeria that turned processions spaces into bloodbath, being few examples - leading to them being banned by many states of northern Nigeria, including Kano.