Yauri, Kebbi State, Nigeria

Yauri is the headquarter of Yauri traditional emirate, Kebbi state, northwestern Nigeria.  It is considered one of the most important states of the Hausa-speaking peoples and the chief trade center in north-western Nigeria.

The Yauri fish market is a major hub where fishermen and buyers meet on a daily basis. The market provides the largest quantity of fresh and smoked fish from natural water. During the dry season when the water level goes down, the pinnaces are parked, because they can no longer navigate. During the rainy season, 30 to 50 boats (pinnaces) are operating at Yauri fish market daily. Traders are coming from all parts of Nigeria to buy fish from Yauri. The market day is after every four days. Tens of vehicles loaded with fish every market day are heading to places like Ibadan, Lagos, Abuja, Kano and the eastern states. The activity is particularly intense when the nomadic fishermen come back with smoked fish from Mali and Niger after nine-ten months of fishing activity.

Some Nigerian fishermen who travel to Mali for the fishing season have set up the International Fishing Boat Drivers Association of Yauri, chaired by Malam Haruna Usman. Two catageories of fishermen engage in fishing seasons in Mali and Niger. While some settle, build their houses in a particular place (often inhabited islands) and preserve their fish by smoking or drying them, others are changing places regularly and sell fresh fish on local markets.

“We do not have a standard way of preserving our fish. We sell them as we arrive any town. When we start from Yauri, sometime we sail straight to Gao in Mali from where we will start fishing. When we leave Gao, we stop and sell fish at Mautu, Yahunte, Girie, Timbuktu, Tagaraso, Bamba, Afudu (Ansongo) and Labezanga all in Mali. From there, we enter Niger Republic through Ayoru to Niamey, Say then Gaya. From Gaya in Niger then we enter Dole-Kaina in Nigeria at the border between Niger, Benin and Nigeria. Anywhere we reach, we ensure we stop and sell our fish  at any of those towns I mentioned so that they do not spoil”. (Interview given to Daily Trust Dec. 2012)

“We have never experienced any form of attack on the water. There are no pirates this way. No thieves or armed robbery attacks. Our only problem is extortion of funds by security officers from the three countries that block us at intervals, collect our fish and money,” he said.

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For historical accounts about Yauri emirate, see Temple and  Salamone (written sources)

By Eric Hahonou