Hausa or Haussa both: hou´sə, –sä [key], black African ethnic group, numbering about 23 million, chiefly in N Nigeria and S Niger. The Hausa are almost exclusively Muslim and practice agriculture. Their widespread trading activities have contributed to making their language a lingua franca in much of W Africa. In earlier times the Hausa were organized in the Hausa States. Long the vassals of Bornu , the states were conquered by the Songhay in 1513 and by the Fulani in the early 19th cent. In colonial Nigeria the traditional Hausa-Fulani social and political structure was largely maintained under the British policy of indirect rule. The Hausa remain a major force in Nigerian politics.

See I. Madauci, Hausa Customs (1968); P. Hill, Rural Hausa (1972) and Population, Property and Poverty (1977); W. S. Miles, Elections in Nigeria (1988).

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