BAUCHI, a province in the highlands of the British protectorate of Northern Nigeria. It lies approximately between 11° 15' and 9° 15' N. and 11° 15' and 8° 30' E. Bauchi is bounded N. by the provinces of Kano, Katagum and Bornu; E. by Bornu, S. by Yola and Muri, and W. by the provinces of Zaria and Nassarawa. The province has an area of about 21,000 sq. m. The altitude rises from 1000 ft. above the sea in its north-eastern corner to 4000 ft. and 6000 ft. in the south-west. The province is traversed diagonally from N.E. to S.W. by a belt of mountain ranges alternating with fertile plateaus. Towards the south the country is very rugged and a series of extinct volcanic craters occur.
Amongst the more important plateaus are the Assab or Kibyen country, having a general level of upwards of 4000 ft., and the Sura country, also reaching to elevations of from 3000 to 5000 ft. Both these extensive plateaus are situated in the south-west portion of the province. Their soil is fertile, they possess an abundance of pure water, the air is keen and bracing, and the climate is described as resembling in many respects that of the Transvaal. They form the principal watershed not only of the province of Bauchi, but of the protectorate of Northern Nigeria. The Gongola, flowing east and south to the Benue, rises in the Sura district, and from the Kibyen plateau streams flow north to Lake Chad, west to the Kaduna, and south to the Benue. The soil is generally fertile between the hills, and in the volcanic districts the slopes are cultivated half-way up the extinct craters. The climate in the western parts is temperate and healthy. In the winter months of November and December the thermometer frequently falls to freezing-point, and in the hottest months the maximum on the Kibyen plateau has been found to be rarely over 85°.
The population of Bauchi is estimated at about 1,000,000 and is of a very various description. The upper classes are Fula, and there are some Hausa and Kanuri (Bornuese), but the bulk of the people are pagan tribes in a very low state of civilization. Sixty-four tribes sufficiently differentiated from each other to speak different languages have been reported upon. Hausa is the lingua franca of the whole. The pagan population has been classified for practical purposes as Hill pagans and Plains pagans, Mounted pagans and Foot pagans. The Foot pagans of the plains were brought under the Fula yoke in the beginning of the 19th century and have never cast it off. The Hill pagans were partly conquered, but many remained independent or have since succeeded in asserting their freedom. The Mounted pagans are confined to the healthy plateaus of the south-west corner of the province. They are independent and there is considerable variety in the characteristics of the different tribes. The better types are hardy, orderly and agriculturally industrious. They are intelligent and have shown themselves peaceful and friendly to Europeans. Others are, on the contrary, disposed to be turbulent and warlike. Amongst the different tribes many are cannibals. They all go practically naked. They are essentially horsemen, and have a cruel habit of gashing the backs of their ponies that they may get a good seat in the blood. They are armed with bows and arrows, but depend almost entirely in battle on the charges of their mounted spearmen.
The native name "Bauchi," which is of great antiquity, Signifies the "Land of Slaves," and from the earliest times the uplands which now form the principal portion of the province been the hunting ground of the slave raider, while the hill fastnesses have offered defensible refuge to the population. So entirely was slavery a habit of the people, that as late as 1905, after the slave-trade had been abolished for three years, it was found that, in consequence of a famine which rendered food difficult to obtain, a whole tribe (the Tangali) were selling themselves as slaves to their neighbours. Children are readily sold by their parents at a price varying from the equivalent of one shilling to one and sixpence.
The province of Bauchi was conquered by the Fula at the beginning of the 19th century, and furnished them with a valuable slave preserve. But the more civilized portion had already, under enlightened native rulers, attained to a certain degree of prosperity and order. Mahommedanism was partly adopted by the upper classes in the 18th century, if not earlier, and the son of a Mahommedan native ruler, educated at Sokoto, accepted the flag of Dan Fodio and conquered the country for the Fula. The name of this remarkable soldier and leader was Yakoba (Jacob). His father's name was Daouad (David), and his grandfather was Abdullah, all names which indicate Arab or Mahommedan influence. The town of Bauchi and capital of the province was founded by Yakoba in the year 1809, and the emirate remained under Fula rule until the year 1902. In that year, in consequence of determined slave-raiding and the defiant misrule of the emir, a British expedition was sent against the capital, which submitted without fighting. The emir was deposed, and the country was brought under British control. A new emir was appointed, but he died within a few months. The slave-trade was immediately abolished, and the slave-market which was held at Bauchi, as in all Fula centres, was closed. The Kano-Sokoto campaign in 1903 rendered necessary a temporary withdrawal of the British resident from Bauchi, and comparatively little progress was made until the following year. In 1904 the province was organized for administration on the same system as the rest of Northern Nigeria, and the reigning emir took the oath of allegiance to the British crown. The province has been subdivided into thirteen administrative districts, which again have been grouped into their principal divisions, with their respective British headquarters at Bauchi, Kanan and Bukuru. The Fula portion of this province, held like the other Hausa states under a feudal system of large landowners or fief-holders, has been organized and assessed for taxation on the system accepted by the emirs throughout the protectorate, and the populations are working harmoniously under British rule. Roads and telegraphs are in process of construction, and the province is being gradually opened to trade. Valuable indications of tin have been found to the north of the Kibyen plateau, and have attracted the attention of the Niger Company.
Bauchi is a province of special importance from the European point of view because, with free communication from the Benue assured, it is probable that on the Kibyen and Sura plateaus, which are the healthiest known in the protectorate, a sanatorium and station for a large civil population might be established under conditions in which Europeans could live free from the evil effects of a West African climate.
The emirate of Gombe, which is included in the first division of the Bauchi province, is a Fula emirate independent of the emirs of Bauchi. It forms a rich and important district, and its chiefs held themselves in a somewhat sullen attitude of hostility to the British. It was at Burmi in this district that the last stand was made by the religious following of the defeated sultan of Sokoto, and here the sultan was finally overthrown and killed in July 1903. Gombe has now frankly accepted British rule.
(F. L. L.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)