Jangare: Haj Ali Glimpses the Mythical City of Spirits

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(Hausa/Niger, Nigeria)

There is a world of spirits that are more or less inimical to human beings unless propitiated. They are called Bori, and are a mixture of ancestors, jinn, local deities, and marabouts. Each person has a familiar Bori of the same sex and generally one also of the opposite sex, in constant attendance. The spirit world of Jangare, the mythical city in which Bori spirits are said to live, is the place from which they move like the wind when they wish to intervene in the lives of mortals. Jangare is governed by a king, and he is surrounded by a royal court. There are twelve houses in Jangare, each headed by a super-natural spirit, iskoki: Sarkin Sulemanu, Sarkin Aljan Biddarene, Malam Alhaji, Kuturu, Sarkin Filani, Sarkin Aljan Zurkalene, Sarkin Aljan Shekaratafe, Mai Dawa, Sarkin Arna, Sarkin Gwari, Barkono, Batoyi. Jangare is said to be in the Red Country, between Aghat and Asben. No living person has ever seen this city close, but all travelers know of its whereabouts and, should anyone enter it, he will never be heard of again.

One day, Haj Ali, while going across the desert to Hausaland, halted for a few minutes, and, on proceeding again, he saw four caravans going in different directions. He did not know which was his, for all appeared to be alike, but he chose that which he thought was taking his own route, and started to follow. All at once, he heard the lowing of cattle, the beating of drums, and the sounds of a great city, and looking up he saw Jangare far ahead of him. As he knew it immediately, he hurriedly retraced his steps, and soon saw some of his own people who had been sent back to find him. The Bori come at night, it is said, and call people from a caravan by name, and if they answer and go, they will be lost, just as will be stragglers in the daytime. Often in the early morning, travelers will hear cocks crowing nearby, and sounds of a city awakening, but when they arise they will see nothing, and they will know that they have been sleeping near the city of Jangare. See also: Dodo, Jinn.

Subjects: Religion.

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