Hausa is the name of an ethnic group
living mostly in Nigeria
, and the language they speak. Northwestern Nigeria and southern Niger are sometimes referred to as "Hausaland." The people are traditionally divided into wall
s. These city-state
s started forming in the 12th century between the Niger River
and Lake Chad
. They specialized in agriculture
networks which went as far as Algiers
, and Tripoli
on the Mediterranean Sea
Since the early 19th century's Fulani conquest, the Hausa have been much influenced by the Fulani; this is when most of them became permanently Muslim, although Islam had gained some earlier converts. Non-Muslim Hausa are called "Maguzawa" and they continue the traditional worship of nature spirits called bori or iskoki.
The Hausa langauge is a member of the Chadic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family and is spoken across West Africa by people who are not ethnically Hausa; about 24 million people are native Hausa speakers and another 15 million speak it as a second language. Unsuprisingly, there are many dialects of the language in different regions. It is written in either the older Ajami script, based on the Arabic alphabet, or in the Roman alphabet version called Boko.