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The World of the Maguzawa: animism on the verge of extinction


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Kamilu Hassan Hamza
Al Fitra Academy, Kano, Nigeria

Respondent: Nicolas Salazar Sutil

This event is sponsored by Sadler Seminar programme,  Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute, University of Leeds

This event explores the spiritual and cultural world of the Maguzawa, or Hausa animists of Northern Nigeria. Kamilu Hassan Hamza is a local oral historian, author of the book “The World of the Maguzawa,” and he has been studying Hausa animism and oral traditions for over twenty years. This presentation will feature the showing of a short film by the same name, co-directed with Nicolas Salazar Sutil. Following the film showing, Mr Hassan Hamza will explore the way in which stones and trees, for instance, are incorporated into ancestor related performance practices (music and dance), and how beliefs in the spiritual world animating all things, organic and inorganic, can be transmitted through cultural practices in the Maguzawa context. Hassan Hamza will debate what animism proposes as an alternative to organised religion in terms of a co-participation of humans in a spiritual world that is ecological and ethically tied to the life of nonhuman beings. Hassan Hamza will also question what the potential extinction of animist beliefs in Northeastern Nigeria means in terms of a loss of traditional ecological knowledge, and environmental sensitivity, and what this loss means in times of ecological crisis.