The skies cool down after Asr prayers in the Northern city of Kano. It’s actually Ramadan, the muslim month of fasting, but as the more saudi-inclined strew towards the masjid to listen to the tafsir (commentary of the Quran), a bunch of young ladies and men quietly walk towards a large play ground in Dala, a suburb of the ancient city.
The ladies form a cycle, each unveils a fine neatly carved wooden mallet called tabarya and as the men soon engage the drums, the women fall into this ritual – like dance, invokinh amongst others some of the long forgotten ancient spirits of the Hausa. The Dance itself is called Wasan Tashe, and just a few years ago when the city was under siege from persistent BokoHaram attacks, no one would have dared to dance in public, let alone during Ramadan.
It’s not as if there’s been a revolution, it’s actually a rediscovery. Kano has since the 1990s seen a rise in the spate of extremist Wahabi activity. From riots to extremists sermons it finally culminated in a series of attack from 2012-13 launched by the extremist group BokHaram.
But today things are changing, “I tell my father I am going wassan Tashe during Ramadan ad he tells me Ki rikke Al’ada” or hold on to tradition, Aisha, one of participants tells me.
“Many people who would have previously been against this now simply turn away their heads, some of them even encourage us” she added.
Mansura, the lead girl told me how on the first of Ramadan, the Imam of a mosque tried to stop them but was “rudely chased away” by the suburbs elders.
“they told us to do whatever we liked, that they and their parents also did the same”.
It seems that in the ancient city, the elderly people who’d witnessed the BokoHaram crisis have had a moment of introspection. They’ve questioned the vile nature of the Wahabi ideology which fuelled the rise of BokoHaram, and they’ve decided the only way forward is towards the same traditions that shaped them and their parents before them.