July 2020 -- An age ago in 1995 and 1996 we wrote two papers entitled "Constructing a historical ethnography of Sukur ... Parts I: Demystification and II: Iron and the classless industrial society. They were published in Nigerian Heritage, a new journal published by the National Commission on Museums and Monuments. Unfortunately the printer made a real hash of it and the papers were full of typos, omissions and other errors. The journal, which no longer survives, is not widely available. And yet our papers contain a lot of important material on Sukur history and on its remarkable iron industry and market that is not available anywhere else. Therefore we have decided to republish them on the Library page of this website. The new 2020 editions have the same substantive content as the papers originally submitted. We have made only minor editorial changes, including updating the spelling of sakun words. ND has also added one correction: we no longer believe that Sukur-type batch furnaces are capable of producing cast iron.
June 2020 -- The Tourism page is now up. This consists at present of a critique of a number of papers published between 2005 and 2019 on various aspects of Tourism and Cultural Heritage as they relate to the Sukur WH Cultural Landscape.
March 2020 -- We are in the middle of a major refurbishing of sukur.info. In the first stage we are standardizing (to the best of our ability) our spelling of Sukur words with that developed by linguist Dr Michael Thomas whose 2014 PhD thesis for U. Colorado, Boulder, represents the first extended study of the Sakun language. At the same time we have widened the page from 840 to 1000 pixels, reflecting today's larger screens while mindful that many Africans do not have access to the monsters available in the First World. We have also replaced the old Comic Sans font with Charis SIL which provides both serif elegance and the few International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) characters needed, and (nerds please note) we have changed the charset to UTF-8 so that these characters display properly.
Simultaneously we are doing a thorough revision of the pages while updating their ethnographic and other content as needed. For example, research we carried out among the Cameroonian Mofu-Gudur in 2004-05 has led us to the conclusion that the migration that brought many Gudur kin groups to the western Mandara mountains may have been much more recent than previously believed, that is to say mainly in the later 18th and earlier 19th centuries rather than from the 16th century onwards. See the Clan histories page in the Society section of the website and on the Library page. Once this major revision is complete we plan to add new pages and topics.
December 2017 -- Several pages and sections have been updated to take account of further Boko Haram activity, the listing of the Sukur cultural landscape on the World Monuments Fund's 2018 Watch List and initial discussions between Nigeria and Cameroon regarding the possible creation of an International Mandara Mountains Peace Park (not necessarily under that name). Significant changes have been made to the Home and Intro pages, and to the Montagnards and Library sections.
October 2016 -- The Home page has been updated to take account of the Boko Haram insurgency as this has affected Adamawa state and Madagali Local Government Area in particular. The page describing Boko Haram's assault on Sukur is now labeled BokoHaram.htm. The Library page has been updated and a digital .pdf version of the edited volume Metals in Mandara Mountains Society and Culture is now available for download. We hope soon to be able to update the now 8-year-old Sukur bibliography.
February 2015 -- Index and Home pages have been changed in response to Boko Haram assaults on both Lower and Upper Sukur. Also a page added describing the Boko Haram Victims Relief non-profit corporation that is being set up, and which will eventually migrate to its own website. The original Home page is still available.
As there is, despite the present disastrous political situation, renewed interest in the concent of an International Mandara Mountains Peace Park, we are also posting a PowerPoint presentation converted into a .pdf file on that topic: MandaraPark2010.pdf.
March 2014 -- A draft paper entitled 'In lieu of community archaeology: Mandara Archaeological Project (1984-2008) outreach and involvement in cultural heritage' by Nic David and Judy Sterner has been uploaded and can be accessed here.This contains in its second part a discussion of the process whereby Sukur was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape in 1999 and of the consequences. This paper is to be discussed in a Workshop on Community Archaeology and Heritage organized by Professor Petere Schmidt and to be held at the University of Florida in March, after which it will be revised.
December 2013 -- English and French versions of a Powerpoint presentation of a proposal by J. Sterner and N. David for an International Mandara Mountains Peace Park (2007) are now available in the Montagnards section of this website. The text of a paper by these authors presenting a case for the Peace Park is available in the Library section.
April 2013 -- A revised version of the Hidi Midden report uploaded. This corrects mistakes made in the analysis of the glass beads with consequent modifications in the relevant section of the conclusions. Otherwise there are no substantive changes
March 2013 -- At long last the report on our 1993 test excavation in the Hidi Midden is available. This report describes the site, the stratigraphic sequence and archaeological remains before drawing conclusions about the dating of the midden and its significance in the history of Sukur. Is the midden really associated with the chief? Read this report (now revised see above) and find out!
December 2012 -- The Hamman Yaji Files
I have uploaded three files as part of a larger project on the history of slaving in the Mandara Mountains region:
A new film on Sukur "The 13 Months of Sukur: Africa's first World Heritage Cultural Landscape" is now available at a very reasonable cost. Two thirds of the net proceeds go to the Sukur Development Association.
Time to add some substantive materials. Hamman Yaji is a figure who fascinates and at the same time horrifies Sukur. When we took Vaughan and Kirk-Greene's (1995) publication of Hamman Yaji's diary to Sukur in 1996, everyone who could read wanted to read it and everyone else wanted it read to them.Vaughan and Kirk-Greene's book is the definitive source but in 1993 we photocopied the original in the Nigerian National Archives Kaduna and later had it transcribed. This version has now been updated - see the December 2012 additions.
After several years during which I have been busy with other things and various changes have taken place on the server, sometimes unfavorably impacting the site, I am doing some repairs and updates.Most of the main files have been modified. One change made across files is that the Sukur word for chief, formerly spelt "Xidi", is now transcribed for non-specialist purposes as "Hidi". This is explained in the Language section.
We have received a message from Éva Faragó, a geologist working for the Borno State Rural Water Supply Agency, which provides useful information for visitors.
We welcome such information. Nic
David wishes also to apologize to the person who sent him an interesting
email about a visit to Sukur -- one which sadly ended unhappily when he
was robbed when on the main road on the way home. Unfortunately I deleted
the message by mistake and could not retrieve it.
Also on the Authors page, we have added a link to ND's
by now somewhat dated PowerPoint presentation on "African
development: the view from the grassroots" presented at the 2002
G8 Pre-Summit conference: Sustaining Global Growth: Prosperity, Security
and Development Challenges for the Kananaskis G8. http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/conferences/2002/calgary/program.html
We have added links on the Montagnards page to our proposal for an International Peace Park extending on both sides of the Nigeria-Cameroon border and extending from Sukur and Rhoumsiki in the south to the northern tip of the western Mandara mountains.
A .pdf version of Anthony Kirk-Greene's (1960) seminal paper "The kingdom of Sukur - a Northern Nigerian Ichabod" has been added to the Library page by kind permission of the author and the editorial board of the Nigerian Field.
The archive of Sukur images previously promised has been initiated by the presentation of David C. Woolman's photographs and account of his visit to Sukur in late 1966.
A substantial new page has been added describing the institution of title holding in Mandara montagnard societies and its expression at Sukur. This is supplemented by another more analytical page on the origins of titles, how title holders are appointed at Sukur and the benefits that accrue to them.These pages constitute some of the material required for a study of Sukur politics present, and more especially, past.
June and July 2004
We were in the field during this period in Cameroon but were able to visit Sukur and will, when time allows, be reporting on that trip. Following on the World Heritage citation, there have been developments that are both consistent with the nature of the site and that benefit the Sukur. I doubt I will be able to do much more before November though I hope to make some corrections to the music page suggested by Roger Blench.
A first version of the Music section has been completed; this links to three pages on different kinds of instrument and singing. These are illustrated with audioclips. Later versions will exploit materials in our video recordings.
A page on the clans of Sukur emphasizes that they are institutions in process; nonetheless there is essential continuity from the first records of 1935 to the 1990s. Another page deals at length with clan histories from which and from other data is inferred a four phase scheme of Sukur historicl development. These pages are supported by a map showing Sukur wards and neighborhoods and a table of Sukur households by clan and ward.
I have added a large scale map showing Sukur and its neighbors. This is accessed through the map on the home page. As it takes time to load, you are advised to leave it open for easy reference during your visit.
I hope soon to be able to add something on the geography of the plateau.
If there is anything you would particularly like to see or learn about, let me know.
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