To understand the origin of the founders of Lere one would have to go back deep into history to the Takrur region of present-day Mauritania and Senegambia, where a kingdom once thrived under the Fulbe or Fulani. The original founders of Lere claim their ancestral home to Futa Toro, where they developed a strong presence around the Senegal river valley as far back as the 5th century. Oral traditions suggested a strong association in terms of intermarriages between them and other ethnic groups races such as the North African Berbers like Zenata, Zenaga and Sanhaja clans as well as Maqil Arabs which generated several conflicting theories as regard to their origin. Preceding all other claims, however, was a theory that linked the forefathers of the founders of Lere to the Fatimids in North Africa through Idris bin Abdallah, founder of Idrisid dynasty in Morocco. He traced his ancestry to Ali ibn Abi Talib and his wife Fatimah, daughter of Prophet Muhammad. Nevertheless, some historical records strongly suggested that they were a proto-Fulani clan of the Torodbe (Toronkawa) stock. This clan intermarried with the Sanhaja Arabs from Massufa in the Western Sahara, who founded the Almoravid or al-Murabitun movement in the eleventh century. From the Takrur, they migrated into Western Sudan settling in places like Kunta and Timbuktu. In Timbuktu, they played a significant role in the emergence of Askia Muhammad as emperor of Songhay at the fall of Mali empire in the 15th century.

After Askiya Muhammad defeated Sonni Barou at the Battle of Anfao in April 1493 which ended the reign of Za dynasty in Songhai, he re-organised the Songhay empire and appointed Umar bin Muhammad Naddi, who was a Sanhaja Arab as governor of Timbuktu, and the Askiya gave him the right to possess a drum as sign of his authority. Later the title of Timbuktu-koi or governor of Timbuktu was taken over by the famous Aqit family, a Torodbe-Sanhaja. The family produced several Qadi’s or governors until it reached Umar bin Mahmud Aqit, who lost it to the Moroccan Sa’dis following the fall of Songhay Empire in 1591 after the Moroccan invasion. The Aqit family were said to have been dispersed by the Moroccans who spread violence, cruelty and destruction upon the cities of Timbuktu, Jenne and Gao. Some members of the Aqit family together with their Torodbe cousins left Timbuktu at the fall of the empire. They moved across the Niger Bend into Niger republic and Burkina Faso in the early 17th century establishing several towns and settlements amongst whom are two separate towns sharing similar name of “Lere” in southwest of Timbuktu and at the Dendi region of present-day Burkina Faso. In their possession were three drums (Tambura) carted away from the ruins of their palaces in Timbuktu. These drums (Tambura) were part of the insignia of office for the governors of Timbuktu province in Songhay Empire. From the Niger territory, they drifted south-ward into present day northern Nigeria and settled at Zamfara, near Maru in a place now known as Tsohon Banaga. This Fulani clan was later identified as Fulanin Dawaki, because they were excellent horse-breeders. But they split into several sub-groups, mainly, due to their huge population and large number of cattle, camels, goats and horses.

Mallam Muhammad Dadi established himself in Maru and when Shehu Usman Dan Fodio flagged off the Jihad in 1804, he assisted the Shehu and defeated the Banaga Dan Bature of Morai. His son, Umaru was made the Banaga by Caliph Muhammad Bello and he went and established the present Maru town in 1810. But Muhammad Dadi’s other brothers, Muhammad Sambo, Muhammad Dabo (Titi), Yunusa and few others travelled southward to Zaria. Muhammad Sambo left his two younger brothers in Zaria and moved to Kachia country along with a very large contingent. Some of his offspring remained in sparse camps in Kangimi area and later Kawo and Tudun Wada in what was to become Kaduna metropolis. Muhammad Dabo (Titi) left his brother, Yunusa, in Jaji near Zaria and travelled to the south-eastern part of Zazzau to a place close to present day Dan Alhaji where he built his camp. Muhammadu Dabo was nicknamed ‘Titi’, a shortened Fulbe word for ‘Titiye’ meaning ‘the nomad.’ While still there, a group under Usman Biri, apparently tired of roaming around, broke up from the camp and travelled to the southern part of Bauchi territory. They fought, defeated and subjugated the Sayawa near present-day Tafawa Balewa, and built a walled town, naming it Leren-Zagezagi in the 1790s. The word ‘Lere’ could be translated to be the Fulbe phrase of ‘a permanent place’ or ‘station’. But according to Lere chroniclers, the name was derived from a daughter of Muhammad Dabo (Titi) who was married to Usman Biri. Nonetheless, the people of Leren-Zagezagi paid allegiance to the Habe ruler of Zazzau and it remained so until after the 1804 jihad in Bauchi when Mallam Yakubu, the first Emir of Bauchi fought and annexed the territory in 1810 and forced them to pay allegiance to Bauchi instead of Zazzau, which marked its renaming to Leren Bauchi. It is however instructive to note that in 1808 Muhammadu Dabo Titi picked Lere as the name for his newly established vassal state after his installation in Sokoto.

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