Easter: Why Tangale Christians go to the Hill to Worship and Pray

By Iliya Kure

To Christians, Easter is the most significant event in the Christendom.

Christmas which marks the birth of Jesus is not the most significant event defining Christianity, as many non-Christians would have assumed.

Easter is the foundation upon which the Christian faith is formed, because according to the Bible, the death, the shedding of blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ is what brought about salvation to mankind (1 John 2: 1 & 2; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8-9).

The Bible in Hebrews 9:22; and Leviticus 17:11 says without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. In effect, the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ is what brought about forgiveness of sin and reconciliation of man back to God.

As many would have known, Good Friday marks the day Jesus died (crucified on the cross, then later taken to the tomb); Easter Sunday is the day that marks His resurrection (coming out of the tomb), giving hope to Christians that they too will rise from their graves when Jesus returns to take them to heaven.

For many Christians, Easter Monday is marked as a solemn remembrance of the whole eater events (Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection), and is marked with an outdoor procession.

When he arose, Jesus immediately started revealing Himself to His disciples, and the news of the resurrection got to all of his followers scattered in many towns and provinces.

His appearance to His disciples and followers was the culmination of the event surrounding His resurrection – It gave room to all to meet Him face to face.

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The Bible is clear in Matthew 28 that Jesus stayed with them for extra 40 days after His resurrection, explaining further, issues of the kingdom of God to them, before he ascended to heaven.

According to the Bible over 500 of His disciples witnessed all these events, and they became the first set of people to spread the news of the happenings, despite the pressure on them by authorities not to do so.

Easter Celebrations

All over the world Christians mark Easter in many ways. In some denominations, the commemoration starts 40 days to Easter with prayers and fasting.

Others start from the Palm Sunday; the Sunday before Easter, which marks the day Jesus entered Jerusalem – the week He was to die.

Still yet, other Christians start commemoration from Good Friday, which is the day marking his death.

Tangale people coming down from hills during 2017 Easter
Easter Monday procession in Billiri, Gombe state of Nigeria

Generally, Christians go to church to conduct church services, or mass, where they worship God through songs of praises, bible readings, sermon and celebrating God’s faithfulness together.

Easter in Tangale Land, Northeast Nigeria

The celebrations marking Easter takes the same pattern in Tangale land; many start commemorations at any of the three different points as stated above.

However, on easter Monday, Christians living in Tangale land wake up at around 4am and head to a particular hill (Tudun Calvary, or Tudun Ya tashi), outskirt of Billiri town to worship and pray.

During his reign as Mai Tangle (the paramount traditional ruler of Tangale), HRH Abdu Buba Maisheru II, has always been there personally, to worship with the Christians on the hill.

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Some of the worship activities on the hill include rendition of songs of worship, sharing of testimonies, sermon presentation, prayers for peace to reign in Tangale land, Gombe state and Nigeria in general.

Thereafter, the worshippers will come down singing songs of praises to God through the main road in Billiri until the come to the major intersection in the town and move towards the market square.

The major stop points are the former Billiri motor park (present Kasuwan Kantoma) and the market square, where preachers will admonish people on the need to live in accordance with biblical standards of living and holiness.

What stands out in Tangale land is the number of Tangale sons and daughters that troop home for the Easter celebrations; the land, beginning from Billiri to all the major Tangale towns and villages become filled up with indigenes, who come home to mark the event.

It is very clear from testimonies that the Worship On The Hill is what attracts majority of the sons and daughters to come home.

In a recent statement, the Acting National President of Tangale Community Development Association (TCDA), Mr. Agur Sankace, has stressed the need for Gombe state government to lift the current curfew imposed on Tangale land (following violence over Mai Tangle tussle) to allow for Christians to worship God freely. The Secretary of Tangale community Overseas (TCO), Lamela Umaru Lakorok, has also in a statement made a similar call.

According to them, peace has been restored to the land and there was no need to continue to prolong the curfew seeing the religious festivals (both Easter and Ramadan) approaching.

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Their calls may not be unconnected with the high number of Tangale people that visit home to participate in the Easter celebrations.

The governor of Gombe state has a lot to weigh – whether to lift the curfew, or not – one thing is sure, religious issue is a very delicate one, especially here in Nigeria.

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic scare did not prevent people from undertaking what they believe is their right to perform a religious rite, would the curfew stop them?

For those who do not have an idea of what transpires during the Easter celebrations in Tangale land, may this piece be an eye opener.

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