Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hausa (Haussa, Houssa), one of the great nations of Central Soudan, whose domain extends from the west frontier of Bornu westwards to the Niger, and from the Benue river northwards to the Sahara. Here are situated the so-called Hausa Bokoi (" Seven Hausas"), that is, the seven original Hausa States, which were overthrown at the beginning of the present century by the Fulah conqueror, Othman dan Fodio, and which now form part of the Fulah empire of Sokoto. [Fulahs.] But the Hausas have preserved their nationality intact, and are gradually absorbing their Fulah rulers. Thanks to their intelligence and commercial spirit their language has become the chief medium of intercourse from Lake Chad to the Gulf of Guinea, and the Hausas appear destined to become the dominant people throughout Central and West Soudan. They are Mohammedans of a mild type, thus holding an intermediate position between the fanatical Fulahs and the pagan Negro populations. The national traditions, physical type and language show that they are not full blood Negroes, but a Negroid race profoundly modified by long contact with the Hamitic Berbers and Tibus of the Sahara. The hair is woolly, and the skin dark, but the features are mostly regular, with a cheerful, pleasant expression contrasting favourably with the somewhat brutal appearance of their Kanuri (Bornu) neighbours. Their soft melodious language differs greatly from the Kanuri, and shows certain Berber and Tibu affinities, confirming the general impression of their mixed descent from the Soudanese and Saharan populations. The national name Hausa appears to be of recent origin, being unknown to Leo Africanus or any other writers earlier than the 16th century.

It is probably connected with the term Ausa applied by the Berbers to the region east of the Niger in opposition to Gurma, the region west of that river. But there are two forms, Hausawa and Ba-Hauche, the prefix of the latter being identical with the collective prefix ba of the Bantu peoples in the southern half of the continent. As enterprising traders and skilful craftsmen the Hausas have acquired a marked superiority over all the surrounding populations, a superiority which is independent of political fluctuations, and which has survived their own political ascendency. They have always been friendly to the English, and most of the native troops in the service of the Crown and of the British chartered companies are raised in the Hansa States. They were of much service in the Ashantee war. Recently (1892) an association has been formed in London for the study of the Hausa language, which is spoken with remarkable uniformity by probably not less than 20,000,000 natives of Central and West Soudan (Denham and Clapperton, Travels and Discoveries, 1826; Barth, Travels, 1857; Baikie, Observations on the Hausa and Fulfulde Languages, 1860; Rev. F. Schoen, Grammar (1862), and Dictionary (1877) of the Hausa Language.)