BLAST FROM THE PAST: Alhaji Mamman Shata & His Group – Sarkin Kabira Na Galadima

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Alhaji (Dr) Mamman Shata (born in 1923 in Musawa, Katsina State, Nigeria, died on 18 June 1999) was a Nigerian singer.

He was a well-known griot/musician among the Hausa people of West Africa. His vocals were often accompanied by talking drums, known as kalangu. He performed for the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria and even non-Hausas for more than half a century.

Shata acquired his sobriquet of ‘Shata’ from a man called Baba Salamu, a relative of his. Shata as a young man was engaged in selling kola nuts and after the sale he would share the profit to people he met on his way home or in the market and came back empty handed. When asked what he did with the money he made, he would answer, “Na yi shata da su,” i.e. he had given it away. As a result, Baba Salamu would be calling him ‘Mai-Shata’, meaning one who fritters away his gains.

Later, he went into the trade of selling sweets (‘alewa’).

Shata began singing with other youth for fun at the village square (“dandali”) after the evening meal. His prowess grew until he outshone the other youngsters. But he was doing that not for any monetary gain. It was merely a vocation for the youngsters.

Later he abandoned both the sweets-selling trade and embraced music or praise-singing full-time. This vocation took him to many villages in the Musawa area. Finally, he settled in Bakori after his benefactor, Abdullahi Inde, a prince of Musawa who was working there as a Native Authority official in charge of buying cotton and groundnuts, asked him to move other there. In Bakiri, Shata married his first wife, Iya, whose real name was Binta. They had a daughter, Amina, who died in infancy. From his base in Bakori, Shata traveled with his band to places as far away as Katsina and Kano, which he first visited in the late ’40s. In 1952 his stardom began to manifest in Kano after he performed at a wedding party known as “Bikin ‘Yan Sarki” (Wedding of the Princes) where some 12 notable Kano princes married. In 1960 he moved to Funtua, a more cosmopolitan town not far from Bakori. Shata made Funtua his home for about forty years – up until his death.

Mamman Shata was one of the best selling Polygram artistes from the north from the 1950e up till the 1980s. He was a highly respected folklorist. He spent about 50–60 years in the music industry.

Shata could not recall or remember how many songs he produced. Many of his songs, especially those he produced in his teens, were not recorded.

He visited many countries, especially in West Africa. Outside the continent he was in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage but he also visited the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America.

Shata was famed to have sung for every topic under the Hausa land’s sun: agriculture, culture, religion, economy, politics, military, morality and etiquettes, animals, trade, etc.

He received many awards, including those from the Federal Government (which gave him the Member of the Order of the Niger, MON), the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), the Kano State Government, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, University of California, Los Angeles, and an honorary doctorate degree by Ahmadu Bello University in recognition of his contribution to both national development and letters.

His relationship with other musicians was mixed. He had serious disagreements with some, such as Amadu Doka and Mammalo Shata and Musa Danbade, but generally he maintained a cordial relationship with most singers, who regarded him as a leader.

Some of his notable benefactors were the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Usman Nagogo, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, Mammada Dan Sambo, Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero; Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Maccido; Jarma of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Adamu Dankabo; and Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris.

Alhaji Mamman Shata & His Group released the album- Sarkin Kabira Na Galadima in 1991 under PolyGram Records (now Premier Records Ltd). Get the album below on boomplaymusic.com:

  1. Sarkin Kabira Na Galadima
  2. Umaru Pisau
  3. Lami Shagami
  4. Sahabi Liman Kaura

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