This web site began as an exhibition at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at Indiana University, and I am indebted to the museum and its staff, Geoffrey Conrad, Director; Judith Kirk, Assistant Director; Ellen Sieber, Curator of Collections; Elaine Gaul, Co-Curator of Exhibits; Matthew Sieber, Co-Curator of Exhibits.
The exhibition was visited by Waziri H. Ahmadu, a Margi whom I met in 1973 when he was a boy. During his tour, as reported in the Bloomington Herald Times, he remarked “that it would be a great thing to show the photographs in Gulak.” It was that comment that inspired this web site. It is my attempt to show the people of Gulak and other Margi the way it was.
Funds for the site were provided by Indiana University's Office of International Programs and African Studies Program. In particular, I wish to thank the Dean of International Programs, Patrick O’Meara and Assistant Dean, Roxana Newman, who incidentally visited me in Gulak in 1974, John Hanson and his assistant, Maria Grosz-Ngaté of African Studies. I would like to add that the African Studies Program was a locus of intellectual activity during my long association with Indiana University from which I profited greatly.
The web site was designed by Kyle Haskins, Interactive Art Director in the Office of Creative Services of Indiana University, and I am very indebted to him for both his talent and his patience in dealing with a too-anxious author. Several valued friends have read earlier versions of the site and made corrections as well as helpful suggestions. If errors remain, they are mine alone.
It was Tony Kirk-Greene, the eminent historian of Northern Nigeria, who first uttered the word Margi to me as we talked in Deering Library at Northwestern University. He has been a devoted friend and colleague all these years. I owe him a great debt.
I am also indebted to numerous government officials, scholars, missionaries, and the occasional stranger for undeserved help, cooperation, and kindness.
It is not possible to express adequately the debt of gratitude that I owe the people of Kirngu and Humbili as well as other Margi elsewhere. The support they have given me is truly beyond measuring. I will mention by name only those who were my Field Assistants in chronological order: Ojo Shuwa (later Sanusi Shuwa, District Head), M. Sikamu Simnda, Malam Bulama Birdling, Wampana Ibrahim, and Usman Ibrahim. Malam Bulama not only assisted me immeasurably, but as a teacher in the local Church of the Brethren Primary School, he instilled a sense of pride in local history and culture in his students that was truly admirable. Many, many others also gave particular help, but I find them too numerous to list.
Anthropologists who speak of “their” people or “their” villages are often ridiculed for their paternalistic airs. But once I overheard a Margi from another village ask my friend Ijidi why he was revealing to me the meaning of a public ritual we were all observing. Ijidi promptly replied, “It is all right; he is our white man.” And so it is, I am theirs, and they are mine.