The Sukur kingdom is a notable cultural landscape with its palace, terraced fields, ritual features and villages whose sustained frame has survived centuries. Sukur Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on a hill above the village of Sukur on the highest plains on Mandara Mountains in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State in North-Eastern Nigeria.It is situated in the Mandara Mountain, close to the border with Cameroon. Sukur’s cultural heritage, material culture, and the naturally-terraced fields made it Africa’s first cultural landscape to receive World Heritage List inscription in 1999.
The cultural landscape of Sukur is an expressive submission to a sturdy, ongoing spiritual and cultural tradition that has endured for many centuries. The mountain dwellers seem to be living a prehistoric life as they go about half-naked and seem to be very far from civilization.
At the foot of the kingdom are two gates of varying sizes, one small and one big. The big gate is for general use while the small gate is solely for the king. The Sukur people uphold the strong belief of the king being too sacred to share the same passage with ordinary people; therefore the king has his own passage in most of the gates. The guard in charge of the small gate and the king’s grave yard is not at liberty to see the king face-to-face as if that happens, “something dreadful” would befall the king or the people.
Sacrifices are offered at the gate by slaughtering a goat. The bones of the goat get buried in the middle of the road and the skin of the goat is tied from end to end by a special method. The gradual disappearance of the spread-out goat-hide is taken to be a sign of appreciation from the gods and also signifies an assurance from the gods concerning protection from all evil and an additional blessing in all that they do.
The atmosphere at the kingdom is calm and breezy. Inside the kings compound there is a small hut meant for the king to sit and watch all activities taking place in his domain. According to Sukur tradition, only the first wife of the king prepares his food. The rest of his wives serve their duty as ordinary wives to the king.
Few steps away from the king’s hut lies a shrine and seats for the king’s men. The shrine is known as Medala. Medala houses a very deep hole into which their local wine is poured every year as a form of sacrifices done to ascertain the possibility of a good harvest of crops. If the hole is still filled up when it is opened after a year, it indicates having a good harvest but if the hole is empty, the omen is that of a bad harvest. The community is made up of mostly farmers, hunters and blacksmiths. They grow crops like millet, maize, rice and many others.
Tourists do not leave the kingdom by the same gate by which they gained entrance to the palace; there is an exit. At the exit gate there is a forbidden stone. The stone is placed so that it separates the passage for ordinary people and that of the king. If anybody touches the stone, small rashes like chickenpox are believed to appear on the person’s body and are without cure unless a sacrifice is offered to the gods.
More wondrously, the people of Sukur kingdom do not have a specific deity that they call god, however, they believe that there is someone up in the sky that is special.