Detailed History And Amazing Facts About The Zuma Rock

The history of Zuma rock is older than the history of Zuba and the Koros that settled around the Zuma Rock. It had been known that by the 15th century the Kwararafa (Kororofa) had started to spread all over the northern areas of Nigeria. We, the people of Zuma today were part of the Kwararafa that are called or identified today as Koro.

Our history says we are part of the Jukun that are in diaspora. Our forefathers spread from the Kwararafa Empire, travelled to the western direction through Lafia (but Lafia was not there as at that time), then through Keffi area (but there was nothing like Keffi as at that time), then into the old Abuja area which was not in existence then too. But before they reached the Zuma Rock, their soothsayers told them that they are not to settle down permanently until they reached one wonderful rock, far ahead of them. They continued to move approaching the Zuma rock till they came to meet the Zuma rock in the middle of a thick forest. When they entered the forest, they settled within a mile radius around it and founded settlements like Shinapa (where their leadership was), Chaci, Luki, Esa, Zumwa, Yeku,Huntu,Wagu  of the upper and Wagu of the lower land.
When they got to the Zuma rock, they found out that the rock had got strong spirits. This group of Koros, that is, our forefathers were purely pagans and therefore they took over the ownership of the rock and began to worship it. When they made sacrifices, wonderful things used to happen. It became the strongest idol in the old Abuja area (there was nothing like Abuja as at that time i.e in the 15th century). Whatever thing that tried to displeased them, they would immediately visit the Zuma Rock and make sacrifices. So also anything pleasing, they would go and make sacrifices to the Rock as Thanksgiving. As at the time they were making the sacrifices, they were seeing positive results and if the war was to take place, once they visited the Zuma rock with sacrifices, automatically the war was won. It is one of the reasons, since our forefathers established near the rock, no war against Zuba by any group, has ever been successful, both within and outside Zuba chiefdom.

In the forest, they found there were many Guinea-Fowls around the Zuma Rock, and started to hunt them and named the rock, “Zumwa”, meaning “The place of catching Guinea-Fowls”. Initially, in the Koro language, it was called “Ezumwa ba” that is, “Place of catching Guinea-Fowls”. That is how the rock got its name originally as “Zumwa” when it became shorten, not “Zuma” as people know it today. Our forefathers gave the rock the name as early as the time they settled near the rock. There was no history of the settlement of any other people around or by the Zuma Rock. We were the first people to come into the forest and near the Zuma-Rock.

As they were calling the rock “Zumwa”, when the Hausa people started coming around, they could not pronounce “Zumwa” so they just say “Zuma”. The Europeans too, when they came, they could not also pronounce it right as “Zumwa”, they also used the Hausa pronunciation, “Zuma”. So the popular name that went into the literature was “Zuma” instead of the original name in koro, “Zumwa”.

As they continued to live, Shinapa (where the leadership was), found a safer place called “Dubwomu” where they moved to, while others remained by the Zuma-rock. Dubwomu is not far away from Zuma-Rock.

There used to be yearly sacrifices led by the Chief of Shinapa who was now in Dubwomu. Then it happened again that the Dubwomu people shifted a little to where there was a lot of Guinea-Fowls which they called “Aba-Ezu”, which means, “Guinea-Fowls Place”. That is where they got the name “Zuba”.

As the first Koro settlers lived by the Zuma-Rock, their kith and kins in Kutumbawa, Kano, by the 16th century heard of their existence. The Kutumbawas moved from Kano through Zaria, and when they reached Zaria, Zaria people told them their brothers and sisters were living by one wonderful rock. So they came down and met them at Dubwomu. The Kutumbawa Koros, before they came, they have already accepted Islam in Kano and as such, they brought Islam into Zuba. The place called Dubwomu is a depression surrounded by uplands. With the arrival of the Kutumbawas, the space at Dubwomu became insufficient. There was forest south-west and near Dubwomu which many Guinea-fowls were found. As space at Dubwomu became insufficient, the people at Dubwomu moved into the forest. The forest was known as Guinea-fowl’s place, in Koro, “Aba-Ezu” and therefore, the settlement in the forest came to be named “Zuba” shorter form of “Aba-Ezu” (in English, Guinea-fowl’s Place). With the coming of the British Colonial Rule, some modern infrastructures particularly motorable roads came into being. As a result, Old Abuja-Kotonkarfe-Lokoja road was constructed. With this road put in place, it encouraged Zuba people to move from Old Zuba to the present place which is even closer to the Zuma-Rock during the reign of HRH Salihu (Mijin-Gbako) in 1931.

The leadership at Zuba continued to lead every sacrifice through the chief-priest called “Padan-Zumwa” who is in charge of Zuma-Rock and lives in Zumwa (Zuma) settlement. Padan-Zumwa was so prominent in Zuba palace when sacrifices to the Zuma-Rock were prominent before Islamic Religion recently stopped it in the 20th century. Even when Islam came into Zuba through the koros from Kutumbawa, Kano, as early as 16th century, still the traditional religion was very much respected by the communities and the leaders. The Chief of Zuba and Padan-Zumwa would go to where the sacrifices were made, at the southern part of Zuma-Rock to perform sacrifices. Whenever sacrifice was done, there used to be miraculous results. That was why Zuba became so prominent near and afar and no group could face Zuba in terms of warfare. The sacrifices to the spirits of the Zuma-Rock were part of the people’s traditions that was very important. They believed that the spirits of Zuma-Rock were helping them to prosper.

When the Jihadists in 1804 outed the last Habe King of Zaria, HRH Muhammadu Makau with some few Hausas of Zazzau (Zaria), they could not get survivor till when they reached Zuba. Zuba people received them, gave them cover and fought wars against the jihadists which were all won. The jihadists could not penetrate into Zuba chiefdom and environs because of the powers of Zuba. One of the sources of power of Zuba was the power of Zuma-Rock. Sacrifices were often made at the Zuma-Rock and positive results manifested. Apart from Zuma-Rock power, individual and collective powers were used in the wars against the jihadists which Zuba each time became victorious. When the wars were won, HRH Muhammadu Makau with his few subjects that came along with him were given shelter at Zuba and later given a place to settle which came to be named Abuja (now Suleja).

When the British imperialists arrived in 1900, Zuba people did not fight the war with them but rather the chief of Zuba, HRH Muhammadu Bawa made friend with their leader, Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard when he was in Lokoja. Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard gave a letter of authority and the British Union Jack (British Flag) to a chief of Zuba which form part of Zuba Royal Regalia today. In the process of establishing Indirect-Rule, in the old Abuja Division by the British, Zuba leadership HRH Muhammadu Bawa and his council of chiefs did not get close to the British Officials and did not allow the headquarters of the Division to be at Zuba but rather pushed it to Abuja (now Suleja). Abuja leadership got closer to the British Officials and along the line, Abuja leadership became the Paramount chief in the Division. When Abuja leadership eventually became the paramount chief, now higher than the chief of Zuba, the chief of Zuba used to collect black cow from the Emir of Abuja to make a sacrifice to the Zuma-Rock, when there was a need. It was done for the protection against evils that would befall on the Division. This practice continued and ended during the reign of HRH Musa Angulu, Emir of Abuja, who reigned between 1911-1944, when Islamic religion became strong to stop such sacrifices.

So, that is the history of Zuma-Rock and up till date, no any other group or persons in the old and new Abuja area can lay claim to the Zuma-Rock apart from, first, the Agora of Zuba, and then the Koro communities, because it happened too that many of the settlements within the forest also resettled elsewhere. Some very far away while some still close and others fused into Zuba. The settlements that remained within the forest area of Zuma-Rock up till date, are Chaci and Zumwa. Many of the Koros that were in the Zuma forest have left to found settlements like Abuchi, Tuci, Numwa, Iwa, Laka, lafu, Gwazunu, Wagu, Kwau and others.

Some part of the Huntu is the one that moved to Jere (Jere was not yet there then), then moved to found Kafin-Koro, Zuba Kpere and others which were called the Koro Huntu. Some from Jere area (Jere was not there then), moved to Kagarko area (Kagarko was not there then) and then spread over where they are today in Southern Kaduna. Some further spread into Panda Development Area in Karu Local Government, Nasarawa State. That is why we have identical masquerade which they called the forest masquerade and Zuba people called it “Kuki-Kusa”. They are all identical from Zuba to Kubacha, Dogon-Kurmi, Akote, Katulga, Kurmin-Jibrin, Shada-Lafiya and others in Southern Kaduna. Even the Koros in Panda Development Area, in Kube, Shinkafa, Kukui and others have gotten these masquerades. That is the Masquerade of the Forest. All the Kaduna Koros and even that of Nasarawa near Panda i.e within Keffi area, when they are praising the masquerades you hear them calling Zuba, indicating that they originated from Zuba.

Before now, no any tribe could go into the forest of the Zuma-rock and speak in any language apart from Koro language because it was said if one supposedly spoke any other language apart from Koro, such person would die. This one, even the paramount chief of Abuja now Suleja during the colonial era could not go into the place where sacrifices were made and if anybody did break the law had to die. If one could not speak Koro then he/she had to remain silent when moving in and out of the forest. Therefore, today the Zuma-Rock remain traditionally under the Zuba leadership, the Agora of Zuba and the only people that can go to the Zuma-Rock to make sacrifices are the Agora of Zuba and Padan Zumwa. It is a fact and remained a fact that religion has broken down the potency of the spirits, the small gods, the masquerades, that is the reason why today the Koro of Zuba and its surrounding are no longer worshipping the Zuma-Rock as they used to do the earlier time. So, one can see everybody now moving into the vicinity of the Zuma-rock anyhow and nothing happens.

image: Google

There were still signs at the time when the express-road passed close to the Zuma-Rock. Certain mysterious things were still happening. But they have been broken down because nobody cares about appealing to the spirits of Zuma-Rock.

The traditional owners of Zuma-Rock by Zuba can never be disputed by anybody and nobody can try and succeed.

In history, there was the coming into old Abuja Area (when Abuja had not come into existence) by second Koro settlers which are called Koro Nulu. The Koro of Zuba areas calls them “Afiki”(Koro of the North) because when they enter into the area, they settled North to them. They are the Koros of Ija-Koro, Dogon-Kurmi ( Niger State), Igu, Shere, dutse-Alhaji, Kau, Wuse, Asokoro, and others. These second Koro settlers in old Abuja area recognize that the Zuma-Rock is traditionally owned by the Koros led by the Agora of Zuba.

With the coming of the FCT, and at the time FCT was carved out, it was well known that the physical boundary of FCT dissected the Zuma-Rock, where we have the larger part falling into Niger State while the smaller part into FCT. Therefore, geographically it is in-between Niger State and FCT. Traditionally, Zuma-Rock remains for the Koros led by the Agora of Zuba and all other Koros in FCT, Niger and others states know that really the Zuma-Rock is under the Agora of Zuba.


The top of the Zuma Rock catches fire during the raining season. It does this when it is raining.
In those days a clear audible strange sound of door opening and closing is heard. When this happens, sooner, news about the death of a big personality is heard.
It is believed by our forefathers in those days that Zuma Rock is the home of the deads i.e. when people die they believe that their spirits go to the rock.
It was believed by our forefathers that all masquerades come from Zuma rock since masquerades are believed to be spirits of the deads.
No spirits at any place around or afar that are as strong as those at Zuma rock.
It was believed by our forefathers that Zuma rock is the umbilical cord of the earth.
Our forefathers believed that Zuma rock is sitting on a very large source of underground water, that if the rock is pulled down, the water that will come out of it shall submerge an unimaginable expense of land.
Our forefathers believed that before the end of time, Zuma rock shall be at the centre of a very large and densely populated settlement. With the movement of Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja and recent developments at Zuba, Madalla, Chaci, Zuma, Suleja, Gauraka, Kaduna Road, Dokwa, Dei-dei, Kubwa, and others are confirming the local belief.

Culled From Abuja Facts

Become a Shareholder!

Leave a Reply