Bayajida Destroys a Snake and Marries a Queen

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(Hausa/Niger, Nigeria)

Abuyazidu, a mythic hero, was the son of the king of Baghdad, who was engaged in a war. During that war, the Baghdadi army split into forty groups, of which Abuyazidu led twenty. He marched with his army until they reached Bornu in northern Nigeria; he remained there, helping the sultan of Bornu defend his territory. He became known as Bayajida.

He married Magira, the princess of Bornu, and became famous and powerful. The sultan of Bornu, envying him, conspired to kill him. Bayajida's wife became aware of the plot, and they moved west to Garum Gabas. After a time, Bayajida left his wife, Magira, in Garum Gabas, where she was to deliver a child, and went to Daura, then ruled by a woman whose name was Daurama. There he stayed in the house of an old woman, Ayana, and asked her for water to drink. He was informed that there was a scarcity of water because there was but one well in the town, and it was inhabited by a huge snake called Sarki. Nobody could draw water from it until Friday at a gathering of the entire community. Bayajida went to the well, threw the bucket into it, and drew water with the snake grasping the rope tied to the handle of the bucket. He caught hold of the head of the snake, cut it off, put it in his sack, threw the rest of the body by the well, drank some water out of the bucket, and took the remainder to his hostess, the old woman, who was surprised by his bravery. All these events took place that night. Early in the morning, as people passed the well, they saw the dead body of the snake and notified the Queen of Daura, Daurama, who came to the well and declared that the one who produced the head of the snake would be given half of the town to rule. Many claimed to have killed the snake, but they could not produce the head. The old woman told of her guest who had drawn water from the dreaded well the previous night. Bayajida was summoned to the queen; he produced the head of the snake. When offered half of the town, he refused; instead, he requested the hand of the queen in marriage, and she consented. They were married and lived happily. In time, they had a son, Bawo, who ruled the town after their deaths. Bawo's six sons later became the founders and rulers of six of the seven Hausa states. See also: Abu Zayd, Dodo, Korau.

Subjects: Religion.

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