Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season One, Episode 10

Share now
  • 36
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    36
    Shares

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series Enemy Circles - Season One

Jomo, a young nomadic man was betrothed to a fellow clan’s girl, Bonajo, and they were to be married during the merriment of reuniting at the designated reunion camp in mountains of central Africa. Unfortunately, a huge war campaign was to prevent that simple thing from happening until after more than three years.

THE GAMES OF POWER

Shamaki Dauda’s return to the city of Kano busied the kingdom council for the rest of the hours before sunset. King Baguji was happy with all reports he received. He used the whole signature thing to be a veil for an espionage mission. The sly Shamaki’s disguise as an emissary proved quite positive. They learnt that the emperor is desperate, hence weak in the face of the disaster facing the empire. They also learnt a great deal of the military capacity and the strategy the empire soldiers are drawing in the expected war.

“If the enemy is coming from the northwest, it means that we are well out of the parameters of this war.” King Baguji regarded the latest information. “We should have had this information before making a deal with the Songhai.” He lamented 

“It seems so, your highness.” Barde Musa Kana-Dawa, a pitch-black, six-plus footer and the war general of the Kano Kingdom said.

“However, that was not our concern, we knew from the beginning that we are not going to be facing this enemy at our gates, but a lot will have to change now that we know what is happening in Songhai.” Shamaki offered.

“Like what?” king Baguji asked, with elevated irritation. He hated being cheated in all kinds of bargains.

“We will have to expand the kingdom to augment our might and take back what we gave to Songhai and more. That way we will be able to face this enemy if it decides to take us next. We will have enough time to prepare – starting from now.”

The king made no sign of acknowledgement of Shamaki Dauda’s suggestion.

“Here is what I want.” King Baguji started, matter-of-factly.

“We will invade all kingdoms surrounding us and if Songhai survived this enemy it will be our time to take it down. I don’t care about this enemy.”

Barde Musa Kana-Dawa’s smirk was almost mischievous.

“We have to take Gobir, Katsina, Agadez and Zuru kingdoms for ourselves, that will give us more than handful advantages to deal with Songhai, if we ever have to.”  The suggestion came out of him naturally, like he was singing a sleeping song.

The king nodded in agreement before dropping the question: “How is that going to help us handle a magical weapon the Assids have, which I heard is very deadly?”

“First things first, my king. Like you said, let’s assume this enemy doesn’t exist for now” Shamaki picked up.

“Barde is right; we have to consolidate these kingdoms, manage their resources for ourselves and expand our influence to cover vast lands, using their able men and farms. Even the mighty Maghreb would not start invading another empire – because we will be building one, soon after it finished one.”

Enemy Circles on Memorila
Enemy Circles on Memorila

King Baguji loved the sound of making an empire, but wasn’t naïve to know that Shamaki’s crafty words were not equivalent to reality.

“You know this is going to be the biggest military campaign ever staged in the history of our kingdoms – from Gobir up to Kanem Bornu. What if we fail, we won’t have anybody on our side, not even the empire.”

“Songhai wanted to make allies with us, what happened?” Wazir Alma chipped in sagely.

“Alliances are formed and broken at the convenience of the parties involved. We don’t need to form any alliance in the fear and hope of getting it over our side in difficult times.  I say we take these kingdoms one after another, now that we don’t have the empire to worry about stopping us over. Even if the empire won the war we will be its equal by then. We might never get a similar opportunity.”

“We still need allies, no matter how few, though trusted beyond doubt they must be.” King Baguji was aware of the magnitude of their ambition, and wanted to taste the waters before he dived in. He looked at the big-headed officials, knowing very well that anyone of them can thrust a dagger into his heart to claim his throne when things turned against him.

“I agree with His Highness on that.” Wazir Alma continued. “Hadejia emirate is a good example, its farms would be useful, and alliance with Kanem Bornu would be facilitated through them.”

“I don’t trust the Kanuri people of Kanem Bornu.” King Baguji refused to be convinced completely. He could take Hadejia to ally with; they have been in good terms for a very long time, but not Kanem Bornu.

The whole council waited for the king’s final declaration of officially announcing the campaign or rejecting it, after all suggestions were heard.

“Let’s invade them.”

***

All prisoners in Kano city-state were converted to slave soldiers immediately after the decision of engaging into the extravagant military campaign of rampant conquering and invasion was made. The nearby Zaria was quickly and nearly out of habit, attacked without hesitation, to augment the number of the soldiers, horses and grains. Hadejia kingdom eagerly allied with Kano and invaded the likes of Kazaure, Katagum and some few pagan kingdoms within reach, as well as consulted with its neighbouring allies and gave Kano the formidable support that made the affair quite attractive at the beginning.

Barde Musa Kana-Dawa was in charge of military strategy, a very huge responsibility, considering the magnitude of the ambitious campaign. However, he was doing exceptionally good planning, a swift raid that was fast, and increasing his militart strength and securing him towns, food and animals. He divided the bulk of his soldiers largely into two. One half was sent to Katsina and the neighbouring Daura axis, one of the four axes viz: Hadejia, Zamfara, Katsina and Zaria axes, with great challenge. He made sure that the army was strong enough to take the fierce Katsina fighters within the very short possible time.

Past battles with Katsina proved not easy, a formidable army would have to be deployed if winning these proud warriors was to be expected. Barde was also to command it, as he believed defeating Katsina would be a sign heralding the overall success of the campaign. He might have gotten that notion from the ‘marabou’ priest he consulted with, as prerogatives of preparation. The goats he sacrificed on demand, his sword was allowed to spend a week, drenched inside blood. His own body preparation included a series of leather arm bracelet; a talisman and a waist band sanctify him as invisible, invincible and inevitably a victor. The ‘marabou’ even promised him that the spirits would fight with him in the battle fields, and he promised the ‘marabou’ he would cut his head if it turned otherwise.

The other half of the army was further subdivided into smaller groups, carrying out raids in the neighbouring towns and bullying Zaria at regular intervals. The idea was to gather a stronger army that will compensate the loss they would eventually suffer in the battles of Katsina, Daura and eventually Agadez, to enable the campaign form a strong front to take on the Gobir axis and as far as it can go. Everything has to be done swiftly, and Barde Kana-Dawa intended to continue to Gwandu and Zuru, before reaching Gobir as the final destination.

***

Barde Kana-Dawa might have heard the spirits promising the marabout to fight with him in the battlefields.  The problem, however, was that the Katsina army closed their gates and refused to come out to fight. Barde was not prepared for a siege as his supplies couldn’t last a week. He had no food and fodder, and had absolutely no siege materials. He was taken by surprise when the Katsina people refused to fight. It was very unlikely for them to hide away behind the walls.

Katsina, like Kano, had its walls built to serve a similar function of keeping aggressors at bay.  They were the same sun baked bricks, arranged thick at the base and tapered at the apex. There were gates at intervals surrounding the whole circumference of the encircling walls. Similar ditches collected pools of water at the feet of the walls.

The sun was scorching and the mud walls looked more brownish from the heat of the sun. Three days at the gates and Barde’s army was already starving – they were eating the abundant moringa leaves and making drinks from an even more abundant baobab fruits, but he knew that couldn’t last. He decided to play a risky trick.

If he had to beat time he decided he had to appear like he was withdrawing. He divided the army into three, and sent two thirds to the nearby Daura, to carrying on as planned, hoping and presuming that without the barricading walls, it would be easier to be taken. He sent them with all the horses so that even the infantry had a ride. That way they will reach Daura faster and get it done with, and return in case they might be needed. He remained with the one third in ambush, till when the Katsinawa would open the gates. They might be overpowered by virtue of their smaller number, but they also had the element of surprise on their side. Going by that was better than putting the mission into peril by being starved at the gates. He would attack unexpectedly if the gates were opened, with the enemy’s presumption that the hostility has gone. He would need luck, though, because if it went wrong even the spirits would not be able to save him from the Katsinawa.

***

The third night since the larger part of Barde Kana-Dawa’s battalion departed for Daura, when he and the remaining soldiers got genuinely frustrated from lack of food and not knowing what was happening beyond the gates of Katsina city, not to mention that some of his men were urging him persistently to move to Daura and reinforce the larger division and come back later, the gates finally cracked opened. Three soldiers came out, obviously scouting. The darkness of the night was only illuminated by the weak torch one of the scouting guards was holding. On the walls, Barde could see the silhouette of more soldiers watching.

Barde kana-dawa, though tied and cranky, was nonetheless ready when the opportunity came. He quickly commanded about three hundred men that now formed his troop to lay still and wait crouched, underneath the crisp yellowing grasses. Barde hated the feel of the dry thorny grass when it poked at his bare skin, it made him think of a scorpion. Several times his men were stung by the deadly insect and he didn’t want it near him, particularly now.

The scouts returned back after seemingly got satisfied with the immediate perimeter. Barde thought it not smart, and particularly when they entered the gates and left them wide open, unattended. If it was him, he would check up to more than a mile ahead before he would start making any assumptions. It had to be that more troops would be sent to do that.

Cowards! They could be stupid and cowards as much as they wanted, but Barde decided he was going to act now. If there were more men coming, it is better to fight them inside the walls so that there won’t be any one of them outside again. He yelled the order and his soldiers rushed to the gates stealthy but fast enough, without caring to cover or avoid flying arrows in case those came down. It turned out there were no flying arrows.

They reached the gates and surprised the few handful guards and soldiers; fight broke instantly as Barde’s soldiers tried to secure the entrance so all of them could get inside. More Katsina soldiers continued streaming from the screaming of the fighters. Barde’s soldiers were skilled and the battle was favouring them as they pushed and headed for the interior. The streets were empty except for the hurrying soldiers, spilling out from shadows. The whole idea of the attack was to surprise the unprepared Katsina soldiers and take the palace which to Barde’s knowledge wasn’t far from that gate. It meant that they must do that fast, otherwise, they would lose if they allow the enemy time to prepare and face them properly.

It took them less than twenty minutes to arrive at the palace from that strategic gate. Barde saw everything falling into place as he planned. They can send words to Daura tomorrow, leave representatives here, regroup and return to Kano for the next level of action, he mused delightfully. The most dangerous Katsina axis is done with in the most easiest of attack, and with the least number of soldiers.

He started getting battle drunk and was becoming frenzy with his spear. Then it happened and his excitement began to fall apart. Soldiers were pouring into the gallop field in front of the palace in thousands, clad in armour with tight formation precision. They were too many and too ready and fully alerted to assume that few minutes ago they were sleeping. He had no doubt they had been ready and organized a long time ago, he was too familiar with battle readiness to notice it at once. It was a trap, and trapped they were because the gates were locked.

Kano soldiers were falling like dead leaves during a windy harmattan. Barde Kana-Dawa called out loud to his soldiers to form a tight bundle, so as to minimise their loss, but inevitably giving their adversary chance to encircle them. Katsina soldiers stopped attacking, just kept their midnight transgressors at the middle. More were yet pouring into the battle field; Barde saw their brief victory blown away like a pollen grain in an outrageous storm.

“Surrender your weapons.”

A bulky man clad in leather armour, riding a huge war horse ordered Barde Kana-Dawa and his soldiers. “Perhaps I may let live.”

“Who are you?”

Barde asked, as if he needed knowing, labouring with his breathing.  He didn’t know what else to do. The bulky man trotted to where Barde Kana-Dawa was standing.

“You’re their commander, I can see. Don’t you think I should be asking you the same question? After all you attacked me in my house in the middle of the night. Or have you not been here a while ago, hiding like an old woman plotting schemes?”

He moved closer so Barde could see his face in the moonlight. The face was tattooed at both sides with vague geometric patterns.

“Or maybe I don’t need to ask that because I know. You are from Kano on a mission to attack us. You came with three thousand men since last week and had been waiting for us to open ours gates. Last four days two thousand of your soldiers left. But you stayed with one thousand.” The tattooed face bent down from the horse.

“Now comes the question, where are the rest? Where have they left for?”

At least he doesn’t know everything, Barde Kana-Dawa thought.

“None of your business…” He answered

A large noise came from the gates as the tattooed face began to say something. There was a loud sound of heavy ramming at the gates. Barde Kana-Dawa’s attention went to gates direction. Fires began leaping and screaming of unsuspecting men growing larger by the seconds. Katsina soldiers’ indecision was momentarily apparent before the huge man shouted orders sending a portion of the guards to the conflict’s way.

Whatever was happening at the gates was nothing serving Katsina’s interest, and Barde was fast to realize it was another chance. While he was searching for a weak spot within the ring of soldiers that encircled them, he heard slogans belonging to the Kano army, amidst fire and screams of men. He immediately understood what happened.

Barde shouted an attack order, and at the same time snatched a sword from the bulky tattooed man and lodged it in his sumptuous gut. Other captives followed suit. Fight broke at the palace gates again. The surprise has disorganized the Katsina fighters; and the momentary indecision by them made the invaders soon reached the palace gates in victory. Barde’s troops merged with the new arrivals and finally took the palace.

The following day, Barde counted four hundred and five losses – mainly the causalities of the fight before the arrival of the Daura division. He also learnt that they also lost fifty seven men in Daura. The daura mission was victorious.  It was a narrow escape for the mission in Katsina; if the Daura division hadn’t come it would have been a different story now. Barde was content that the mission was nonethe less successful. They could replenish the loss from the prisoners and slaves they now had in both Katsina and Daura in a hundred fold.

***

Kana-Dawa was surprised at the emptiness he was greeted on his arrival at the northern gates of the Kano city. It looked like the people of Kano had long gone. He had ample time to send great details of his success in Katsina and it would only mean that the success of the whole campaign was not far away. Why would King Baguji not be ecstatic about their achievement and decided to discourage the army by not showing support in forms of coming out to welcome them and later throw a befitting feast in the mission’s honour? Barde felt offended.

He made sure he imprisoned the Katsina king and all his relatives, hauled their grains and gold to display to his king. The news of this entirely he sent to king Baguji, was it not enough for the king to show appreciation? As Barde was about to gallop right inside the Kano palace and ask for explanations he saw what could only be described as unbelievable.

Katsina soldiers, leather-clad, in their thousands poured out of the gates with king Baguji mounted but chained like a luggage of hide. Barde’s surprise multiplied exponentially to what could only be described as impossible. A well-dressed soldier pulled out from the mass and stood not far away from the bewildered Barde.

“It’s a season of surprises, right?” He said smiling. When Barde said nothing, he continued. “My name is Kalla-Jaha, a prince from the royal house of Katsina.”

Barde struggled to make sense of it. Did he escape with this number of soldiers and attack Kano unexpectedly with all their army away, or what happened exactly happened?

Kalla-Jaha saw Barde’s bafflement and decided to ease him the effort. “We knew of your military campaign, and God, that was such a huge and ambitious campaign. We expected you long before you began marching to our city. The rest, of course you knew what happened better than your king here.

“How do you know?” Barde couldn’t help his curiosity.

Kalla-Jaha only smiled, as Shamaki Dauda came forward with a twin of the same smile pasted on his pitch black face.

Continue reading HERE>>

Series Navigation<< Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season One, Episode 9Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season One, Episode 11 >>

Related Post


Share now
  • 36
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    36
    Shares
  •  
    36
    Shares
  • 36
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Bashir Kabir

Born, raised and studied in Kano State, Bashir Kabir has a degree in Physics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Physics, all in Bayero University, Kano. He is married with a kid and currently works at Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Kano.

2 thoughts on “Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season One, Episode 10

  • March 4, 2018 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    This story eh! I can only imagine the amount of research that happened before the birth of the book.

    Making sense.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.