Kano City


Kano State Official website: http://kanostate.net

Kano is the capital city of Kano state in the northern Nigeria, on the Jakara River. It was traditionally founded by Kano, a blacksmith of the Gaya tribe who in ancient times came to Dalla Hill in the locality in search of iron.

The discovery of stone tools indicates prehistoric settlement of the site, which was selected for the capital of the Hausa state of Kano in the reign (1095–1134) of King Gajemasu. The present city wall, replacing a 12th-century structure, probably dates from the 15th century; it has 14 gates, is 12 1/4 miles (20 km) long, 40 feet (12 m) wide at the base, and 30 to 50 feet high.

Inside the old walled area along the Jakara River is the central Kurmi Market, a main caravan terminus. After the Fulani jihad (holy war, 1804–07), Kano was chosen to be the capital of an emirate centred on the city. Its market became the chief emporium of the western Sudan savanna and desert area extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Nile River. Cowrie shells were used as the chief medium of exchange. In return for Hausa leatherwork, cloth, and metalwares, Kano received kola nuts from Ghana; salt from the Sahara; slaves from the Bauchi and Adamawa emirates; natron from Lake Chad; and sword blades, weaponry, silk, spices, perfumes, and books brought from Europe by the trans-Saharan camel caravans. The city’s capture by the British in 1903 and the opening of the railway from Lagos (715 miles southeast) in 1912 changed the direction of trade south to the Gulf of Guinea.

kano_wallsModern Kano is a major commercial and industrial centre. Peanuts (groundnuts), a local subsistence crop and now the prime commodity, are bagged and stored in huge pyramids before being sent to Lagos for export. The second most important traditional export is that of hides and skins. There is a considerable livestock trade. Pigs, raised on local farms managed by non-Muslims, are shipped to Lagos. Eggs also are supplied to other parts of Nigeria. Traditional industries include leather tanning and decoration, mat making, metalworking, tailoring, and pottery manufacture. Local dye pits for cloth and leather have been used for centuries.

Much of the city’s industry is centred in the industrial estate at Bompai. The city’s food products include baked goods and pasta, processed meat, crushed bone, canned food, peanuts, peanut and vegetable oils, soft drinks, and beer. Light manufactures include textiles, knit fabrics, tents, bedding, foam rubber products, clothing, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, soap, candles, polishes, plastics, leather goods, metal and wood furniture, hospital and office equipment, containers and packing cases, wire products, tiles, and enamelware. The heavy industries manufacture asbestos, cement, concrete blocks, metal structural products, bicycles, automobiles, trucks, and chemicals. There is also a steel-rolling mill and a printing plant.

Dalla Hill (1,753 feet [534 m]) and Goron Dutse Hill (1,697 feet [517 m]) dominate the old city, which has lowland pools and borrow pits, source of the mud for building its square, flat-roofed houses. The population is mostly Hausa, mainly Kano (Kanawa), but also includes the Abagagyawa, who claim descent from Kano’s original inhabitants, and Fulani. The city is subdivided into about 100 unguwa (“hamlets”), each with a mosque and usually a market. The oldest building is the 15th-century Gidan Rumfa (now the emir’s palace), next to which is the central mosque (1951), Nigeria’s largest. Also facing Emir’s Square is the Makama’s House, among Kano’s oldest structures and since 1959 housing a museum of Hausa and Fulani artifacts.

kano_sabuwar_kofa_gateBesides the old walled area (recognized as Kano city in 1961) and Bompai, Kano has four other districts: the Fagge, inhabited by “stranger” Hausa people; the Sabon Gari, housing migrants from the south and east; the Syrian Quarters and adjoining Commercial Township (1912); and the Nassarawa, site of modern government buildings and exclusive European and African residences.

Kano is the seat of Bayero University (1977), Kano State Institute for Higher Education, an Arabic law school (1934), several teacher-training institutes, a state polytechnic college, a commercial school, and an agricultural (peanut) research institute. The British Council Library and Kano State Library are located in the city. Kano is served by the railway network between Nguru and Lagos and Port Harcourt; it is also a crossroads for highways traversing Kano state. There is an international airport in the city. Pop. (2005 est.) 2,993,000.


Brief History of Kano 999 to 2003 by Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

kano_cityThis section surveys the history of Kano from 999 Christian Era to the present period. This date was chosen because Kano was transformed from a community to state with the establishment of the Bagauda dynasty.

The Earliest Settlers of Kano
The earliest settlers of Kano were Hausa speaking people, whose language belongs to the Chadic Family of the Afro-Asia Phylum. This earliest settlers were known as Abagayawa who migrated from Gaya and settled at Dala Hill. Their ancestor was known as Kano. They lived in communities headed by their chief priests. The most celebrated of the chief priests was Barbushe and he was a grandson of Kano who lived around Dala where the famous shrine of the people was located. This people worshiped spirits just like the Maguzawa (Hausa non-Muslims) who are still found in some rural areas of Kano.

The pre-state communities depended on hunting and gathering. Barbushe was a great hunter and he established the Tsumburbura cult, which remained the spiritual focus of the community until the advent of Islam. Every year Barbushe presided over a ceremony at the shrine during which the spirits inform him of the events of the next year and beyond. It was at one of such occasions that he informed his people of the arrival of the Bagaudawa who will take over the political authority and establish a dynasty [1].

Establishment of the Bagauda Dynasty
The Bagauda family, were believed to immigrants of Semitic decent. The Bagaudawa conquered the inhabitants of Kano. It was under them that the area was transformed into a state with centralized authority. They began the process of uniting several communities under their kingship, which has since became known as sarauta with its hierarchies of masu ungwani, (ward heads) sarakunan kauye (village chiefs) and ya’yan sarki (royalty) with the Sarki (King) as the ruler (and Sarkin Kano was the title of the King of Kano) [2]. The Bagaudawa were engaged in serious struggles of unifying the communities. One of the most notorious was the Santolo community, which was amongst last to be subjugated.

Kano_mosqueThe Bagaudawa rulers of Kano were very politically ingenious and they continuously created public offices under the sarauta system. The earliest titles created had the prefix of Dan and they were assigned to members of the nobility who were descendants of Bagauda’s followers. The first of these titles instituted during the reign of Sarkin Kano Waris (1063-1095/455-488) the successor of Bagauda were Dan Isa and Dan Buram whose parents came with Bagauda. Sarki Kisoki (1509-1565/914-972) who was an innovator created the title of Dan Iya and made him a member of the Tara ta Kano after expelling Barde [3]. Dan Iya has since remained the most Dan title that was ever created (See the Table of the Hierarchy of Titles). Kano rulers has since maintained the habit of introducing new titles and given them preference to existing titles.

The Reign of Muhammadu Rumfa and Al-Maghili’s Influence
The opinion of historians on Muhammadu Rumfa is divided some are of the opinion that he came to Kano and took over power and established his own dynasty while others are of the opinion that he descended from the Bagauda family. One of the reasons of those who believed he established was because he was referred as Balaraban Sarki (the Arab King). Rumfa would forever be remembered in Kano because of his political and social innovations, which have remained ever since and every Kano King (Sarki) since his time is referred to Magajin Rumfa (Successor of Rumfa). The Kano Chronicle noted that: “He can have no equal in might from the time of founding Kano until it shall end” [4].

He made twelve innovations. The most notable political innovation was the institution of Tara ta Kano (Kano Nine) which was the council of state made up of nine titled officials. This council experienced several metamorphoses. The first council was made up of three categories of officials, the first category of three were known as uku ta fi sarki (three are higher than the king) meaning that they could depose the king if they wished. They were [5]; galadima, madaki and wambai (always a slave) by [6] followed uku dai dai take da sarki (three are equal to the sarki) makama, sarkin jarumai [7] and sarkin bai (always a slave) and the last three who were considered less than the sarki were: barde [8], sarkin dawakin tsakar gida and turaki [9].

Kano_gate2Rumfa was also the first Sarki to confer titles on eunuchs [10]. Likewise he was the first to enhance the image of the Sarauta by introducing majestic practices such as Hawan Sallah (procession on the days of Muslim festivals), Dawakin Zage (spare horses for the Sarki during battles and processions), Kakaki (trumpet), Figini (Sarki's fan), Takalmin jumuna (Ostrich sandals) Tagwayen masu (Twin spears). These regalia of Rumfa have remained part of Kano heritage ever since. The greatest legacy of Rumfa is not materialistic but social and intellectual which have remained relevant ever since. This legacy guided the social and political responses of Kano even during the most traumatic British colonial enterprises. The Kano leaders were guided Rumfa’s legacy of hard work, good sense, courage, confidence and above all faith [11].

Shaykh al-Maghili was perhaps the first scholar who lived in Kano and wrote in Arabic during the time of Sarkin Kano Rumfa [12]. All-Maghili’s descendants are found in Sharifai quarters of Kano city named after them. The Sharifai are the descendants of the Prophet (SAW), they are highly revered as noble people by Hausa Muslims and they have a seat up to this day at the Sarki’s (Emir’s) palace (majalisar sarki) with the title of sarkin Sharifai for their chief who is a descendant of al-Maghili. He was a great Maliki Jurists and Political Theorist. He wrote Ta'’if fi ma yajib al-Muluk (The obligation of the Princes) [13] and Mukhtasar mimma yajuz li ’l-hukkam fi radd al-nas an al-haram (summary of permissability of turning away people from unlawful acts by those in authority) [14] to guide Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Rumfa. It is not clear whether he wrote his al-Mughni al-nabil fi sharh Mukhtasar al-Khalil (A commentary on Mukhtasar Khalil) in Kano.

In chapter six of Taj al-Din fima yajib ala al-Muluk (The Crown of Religion Concerning the Obligation of the Princes) [15] al-Maghili enumerated "the obligations of the ruler concerning justice in legal judgments". He advised the emir to be neutral in all his dealings and that he should not discriminate between two disputing parties in adjudicating, such as in their order of entering the court, sitting arrangement, looking and talking to them and they must all be allowed to speak. The emir should neither be harsh nor easy going so as not to frighten people or lose respect. Presentation of witnesses must be according to Islamic legal procedure and only witnesses of sound mind and character should be accepted. He emphasized thorough investigations and deliberations before any judgments. He stipulated that verdicts must be according to one of the four orthodox schools and any judgment not based on any of the four schools should be regarded as ""unjust and unrighteous" and therefore it should be reversed [16].

The Jihad in Kano and the Establishment of the Sullubawa Dynasty
Shehu Usman Danfodio who had been preaching against injustice and innovation in the Deen of Islam in Hausaland made Hijra from Degel to Gudu in February 1804. The Hijra marked the turning point in the career of this great reformer and his followers all over Hausaland. The Gobir authorities who were the overlords of the area pursued him and after series of battles and encounters his followers defeated the Gobir Kingdom and established a government based on Islamic precepts and it became known as the Sokoto Caliphate [17].

Shehu Usman’s followers in various Hausa Kingdoms rose and defeated the authorities and took their legitimacy from Shehu’s Caliphate by pledging allegiance to him as the Amir al-Mumin (lit. Commander of the Faithful). These previous autonomous Hausa Kingdoms became Emirates under the Sokoto Caliphate. Before the Jihad in various locations, the followers of the Shehu who became known as the Jama’a collected a symbolic flag from the Shehu and their leaders became flag bearers and Emirs of the Caliphate. In Kano the Jama’a were made up of various Fulani Clans and a section of the Hausa community led by Mallam Usman Bahaushe who became the first Qadi of Kano when the Emirate was established. The Fulani clans were based in different locations of the Kano Kingdom before the Jihad. The Yolawa (Ba’awa) led by Mallam Abdurrahman and his brother Jibril, the Danejawa led by Mallam Danzabuwa, the Sullubawa led by Mallam Jamo, the Danbazawa led by Mallam Dabo and the Yarimawa led Mallam Dantunku were in the Western part of Kano and were under the leadership of Mallam Dangabuwa who was martyred during the Jihad campaigns and he was succeeded by Mallam Danzabuwa. The Jobawa led by Mallam Bakatsine, Jullabawa (Gyanawa) led by Mallam Salihu and the Yaligawa led by Salihu Dan Lawal were based in Eastern part Kano. After series of battles in several locations the groups merged and defeated the Kano army under Sarkin Kano Alwali the last Sarki of the Kutumbi Dynasty [18].

Muhammadu Bello represented Shehu Usman Danfodio at meeting of the Jama’a representatives at Birnin Gada during which he appointed Sulaiman as the Emir of Kano after consultations with the leaders of the Kano Jama’a who were present [19]. Sulaiman was the first Emir of Kano and he ruled up to 1819. He was faced with several challenges but he is always remembered for his simplicity and piety. During his reign Ibrahim Dabo succeeded Jamo as the representative of the Sullubawa in the Emirate Council and he participated actively the quelling of rebellions. Therefore when Sulaiman died Dabo who was the youngest member of the Emirate Council was appointed the new Emir by Sarkin Musulmi Muhammadu Bello.

Ibrahim Dabo was even faced by more serious challenges including the dissent of Kano people who felt the Jama’a were too simple and they exploited the situation. This led Dabo to seek the permission of the Sarkin Musulmi to restore some of the practices of the previous dynasty that did not contravene the Shari’ah that enhanced the prestige of the office. Shamaki Dan Rimi two most slave officials of the previous dynasty advised him to restore these practices. Dabo’s long reign enabled him to establish his sons and supporters in various offices. This made it easy for his son Usman to succeed him more especially because it was during the reign of Sarkin Musulmi Aliyu Babba who was a believer in dynastic succession unlike Shehu Usman and Sarkin Musulmi Muhammadu. In some emirates where there were successions during Bello’s time many people from different families were appointed for example as in the case of Zazzau. But in Kano Dabo outlived Bello.

From Dabo’s time his descendants became the ruling family of Kano. Successions of his three sons, Usman, Abdullahi and Bello one after the other was smooth until when Bello was succeeded by his son Tukur. Abdullahi Majekarofi who was Bello’s elder brother ruled for over twenty seven years during which he made many of his sons title holders and he was connected to all the influential families of Kano through marriage. When Bello succeeded him he tried to undo the influence and establish his own sons but his time was too short and he antagonized the sons of Abdullahi Majekarofi. He gained the favor of Sokoto by sending gifts and the bravery of his son Tukur who fought gallantly in encounter in which the Sarkin Musulmi was nearly annihilated if not for the bravery of Tukur. This Sarkin Musulmi had promised the Emirship of Kano to Yusuf the eldest son of Abdullahi Majekarofi but he changed his mind when Bello died and he appointed Tukur who was less popular than Yusuf.

Yusuf his brothers and followers left Kano after the installation of Tukur as the Emir by the Wazirin Sakkwato who was in Kano. All attempts to persuade them to return failed and they were determined in their rebellion and they became known as Yusufawa. Sarkin Tukur was encouraged by Magatakarda Aminu to be brutal to the remaining sympathizers of Yusuf who remained and many of them were executed. The Yusufawa established their base at Takai where Abdullahi Majekarofi had established a fortress and a palace for his raids against the Ningawa. They moved gradually with the assistance of Gumel, Damagram and resident Arab merchants they were able to defeat the forces and sympathizers of the Emir of Kano, who were known as the Tukurawa. But Yusuf died at Garko before their final victory and he left a will to the powerful slave officials and those from the Jama’a families who were in his camp that Aliyu must be made his successor because apart from his learning Aliyu was a grandson of Sarkin Musulmi Aliyu Babba this will make it difficult for Sokoto to be against their course once they defeat the Tukurawa.

Sarkin Kano Tukur was driven out of Kano and he fled to Katsina and Aliyu took over the reigns of the Emirate. But the final battle between the Tukurawa and Yusufawa took place later and Tukur the brave warrior made a charge into the Giwa Sarki (Emir’s Guards) of Aliyu with the hope of meeting his rival face to face, his horse slipped on to a stone and he fell. Barde Abdu Nagwangwazo moved and struck him while Aliyu was calling on them to capture him [20]. He died shortly because of wounds [21]. His grave is in Gurin. Aliyu remained the Emir of Kano until when Kano was taken over by the British in 1903.

The British Conquest and Colonial Rule
There have been several contacts between Europeans and Sokoto Caliphate generally and Kano Emirate as well. Amongst the earliest European visitors or spies to Kano were Clapperton and Hienriech Barth. Their journals have remained primary sources of 18th century history of the area. Their expeditions were fact-finding missions for the future conquest of the area. Some European missionaries also studied Hausa at Tripoli before their visit to Hausaland. The most prominent missionary who visited Kano on an imperial fact finding mission before the European conquest was Dr. Walter Miller who later established his mission station at Wusasa Zaria, which became the nucleus of Hausa and Fulani Christians. Sarkin Kano Aliyu ordered that Miller and his to be executed but his elder brother Wazirin Kano Ahmadu intervened and the missionaries ordered out of Kano immediately.

Sarkin Kano Aliyu (Alu) who was returning from Sokoto learnt of the British conquest of Kano at Birnin Goga. The British used the pretext of the asylum Sarkin Kano Alu granted to Magaji of Keffi Dan Yamusa to attack Kano. The Magaji had killed Captain Maloney in an encounter in Keffi. Captain Maloney had intended to capture or kill the Magaji but the latter took the initiative and killed the former. The British met a stiff but uncoordinated resistance in Kano. Many of the Kano warriors wore their funeral shrouds and went out to fight the British. There were off course people who were ready to serve as mercenaries for the British in Hausaland and many of them were recruited into the imperial army. One of the British agents later wrote a treatise in support of the British conquest. The British conquered the Sokoto Caliphate, the Borno Empire and all the independent communities of what later became the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria and Fredrick Lugard was the governor. He initiated the policy of indirect rule in the region based on previous British colonial experiences and the fact that he had very few political officers to administer the vast area.

The purpose of colonial rule was to exploit the resources of the colonized people for the benefit of the colonialists and transform the colonized society into a perpetual economic and culture dependency of the colonial power. The economy was monetized by the introduction of monetary taxation and metal currency. Previously taxation was in the form of the commodities produced and most of it was in the form of the Zakat, the Islamically authorized tax, Jizya the tax paid by the bon-Muslims under the protection of the Muslim polity, the land tax and other taxes paid by merchants and craftsmen. The British introduced a modified poll tax payable in cash by adults.

Under the British indirect administrative structure the Emir was the sole Native Authority subordinate to the supervision of the British Colonial Resident. Hakimai (Chiefs) assisted the Emir in the administration of the Emirate and under a re-organization by Dr. Cargill the Resident of Kano province the Hakimai were posted out of the capital to the Districts as District Heads. During the pre-colonial area the Hakimai had fiefs scattered in the Emirate from where they collected their taxes through their Jakadu (agents) but the Cargill re-organization made each Hakimi to have a contagious territory where he resided at the headquarters and administered on behalf of the Emir and the Jakadu were eliminated [22]. The powerful slave officials were also not given any territories and their previous possessions were given to the free born Hakimai most of whom belonged to the Sullubawa ruling clan with one each from the Yolawa, Jobawa, Danbazawa, Sullubawan Tuta who became the Kingmakers that appoint the Emir.

The British encouraged the production of commodities for export as raw materials for British industries. In Kano groundnut and cotton were encouraged. The peasant farmers had little or no choice of producing these commodities because they were compelled to pay tax in cash, which could only be generating by selling these commodities. Later Kano Province became the largest producer of groundnut in Nigeria and by the 1960s during good harvest it was producing about half million tons of the commodity. The export of cotton was not as high as groundnut because the local textile craftsmen used it until later when their products became less competitive compared to imported items. The railway was a great facilitator of colonial economic transformation. It reached Kano in 1912 and it helped the province to maintain its economic edge over other provinces. Apart from the easy of transportation it also brought many migrant laborers and semi-skilled people from other parts of Nigeria and they formed the nucleus of Sabon Gari a new district created for them outside the city of Kano. In this area they were free to enjoy their libertarian life that contravenes Islamic law. Beer parlors and brothels have since then remained in that location.

Socially the colonial society had to find a way of reproducing itself and this was possible through its educational system. Prior to the advent of the colonial rule, education in this part of the world was Islamic and life long process and not only for employment it was a religious duty. They also abolished the social welfare system that took care of the destitutes and Qur’anic pupils this led to the persistence of beggary and solution is yet to found [23].

The colonialist transformed education into an institution for the sake of employment and secular education was introduced as the formal system [24]. Dr. Hans Vischer who was nicknamed Dan Hausa established the first school in Nassarawa. The products of this school amongst whom, were Mallam Ahmadu (who later became the Magajin Mallam of Kano) and Mallam Muhammadu Inuwa (who later became Dan Kade of Kano) became the teachers of the first elementary school known as the Kano Provincial School. The products of the provincial school gained admission into the first secondary of Northern Nigeria established at Katsina in 1921 and they were Ahmad Mattedan, Abubakar Waziri, Bello Dan Barwa, Sani Dan Chiroman Yola and Umaru Dan Sarkin Kadeni [25]. They graduated from Katsina College in 1927. Abubakar was the first headmaster of Kano Middle School in 1927 to 1931 and Bello 1931 to 1948 [26]. The Kano Middle School became the Kano Provincial Secondary School in 1954.

The progress and acceptability of western formal education in Northern Nigeria was slow largely because the majority of the people regarded it as a Christian education. Even though the Christian missionaries had their separate schools partly funded by the colonial administration from the tax of Muslim peasants. The colonialists were also more interested in producing clerical manpower for their system. Up to the 1960s there was only one secondary school in Kano Province offering science subjects and only three indigenes of Kano were medical doctors (late Abubakar Imam, Datti Ahmed and Sadiq Wali) and only two were engineers (late Balarabe Ismaila and late Salihi Iliyasu) during that period and all of them were products of Barewa College (at Kaduna and Zaria) from where they proceeded for their university education.

Another area that the colonialist set to transform was the legal system, which was based on the Shari’ah as interpreted by Maliki School. Even before the conquest of Kano and most other parts of the Sokoto Caliphate Lugard made the "The Native Court Proclamation" of 1900, to provide "For the better regulation and control of the native Courts". The intention of the British despot for making the proclamation was very clear, it was to gradually phase out the Shari’ah. Lugard had wanted the Shari’ah “gradually be destroyed” and replaced with a “hybrid based on English law” [27]. The observation of Kumo was therefore correct when he suggested that the proclamation introduced fundamental changes to the Shari’ah [28]. By the time of the independence the British had secured using economic pressure and blackmail from the Northern leaders that the Shari’ah Criminal Law be replaced with the Penal Code, a hybrid of Shari’ah and Pagan Laws [29].

The Emirs who served under the British tried to preserve their Islamic heritage and they refused to follow the British in its attempt to abrogate the Shari’ah through Siyasa, (politics) Sarkin Kano Abbas and his son Abdullahi Bayero used every available opportunity to promote Islamic values. The British had wanted Abbas who was the first during the colonial rule to use his discretion in judgments instead of the Shari’ah but he refused [30]. And it has even been shown that he used the means at his disposal to protect the rights of women and orphans [31]. Abdullahi Bayero promoted Islamic learning through his close association with the Ulama (Islamic Scholars) of Kano [32].

The Post-Colonial State
After the second World War there were it became clear to the British that they must de-colonize partly because of economic reasons, the empire was not profitable and it has reached a stage that neo-colonial rule was more profitable. Nationalist activities were also intensified by the Western educated elites many of whom wanted to become African masters in place of White masters. In Northern Nigeria two parties emerged, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), which was radical and anti-colonial rule, and the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), which was conservative and pro-ruling class it was made up of mainly descendants and clients of the traditional rulers [33].

There were series of constitutional conferences that culminated in an independent Federation of Nigeria made up of three regions, East, North and West. The structure was parliamentary with the Prime Minister as the head of government and a governor general but by 1963 a republican constitution was adopted and the governor general became the President. There were also regional governments headed by premiers and provincial governments at the provinces but the Native Authorities were retained as the local governments.

Kano Province was the richest province of the Northern Region and the Emir Sir Muhammadu Sanusi was also very influential in the formation of the NPC. But very soon there was class of interest between the regional government under Sir Ahmadu Bello and the Kano Native Authority. The Northern regional government took the opportunity to remove Sarkin Kano Sanusi by triggering a financial crisis in the Kano Native by recalling a loan guarantee it had granted the Kano Native Authority. The loan of 600000 pounds was used by the Sanusi led Native Authority to establish Bompai Industrial Estate the first industrial estate in Kano. This pioneering innovation helped Kano to maintain its commercial edge in Northern Nigerian. The regional government and even later the Federal Government of Nigeria were less interested in locating industries in Kano the only industry ever located by either governments was the Fiat Commercial Vehicle Assembly Plant established by the Federal Government but has since closed down. The regional government appointed Mr. Muffett as the sole commissioner to investigate the finances of the Kano Native Authority under Sarki Sanusi. Mr. Muffett later recommended that Sarki Sanusi should resign and the Sarki abdicated in 1963. His uncle Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa who ruled for nine months and died in October 1963 succeeded him and the present Emir Alhaji Ado Bayero was appointed [34].

At the federal level there were a lot of crisis partly because none of the parties had outright majority. Abubakar Tafawa Belwa who was the head of the NPC at the Federal Parliament formed the federal government because his party had more seats and he invited other parties to join the coalition national government. The Action Group (AG) led by Chief Awolowo refused to join but the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by Dr. Azikwe the coalition lasted until 1964 when it broke up. The NPC sought another partner in the West and it forced its way by rigging the elections leading to the collapse of the first republic in a bloody military coup in January 1966 led by mainly Christian Igbo soldiers who assassinated the Prime Minister, the Premier of Northern Region, and their ally Samuel Akintola the Premier of Western Region along with military officers of northern origin who were both Muslim and Christians. There was a counter military coup in July 1966 led by northern officers in which General Ironsi the Head of State an Igbo man and his friend the Governor of Western Region were assassinated. Yakubu Gowon, a Christian from minority northern tribe became the head of state and there was mass retaliation against the Igbo to avenge the murder of the northern political leaders this led to a pogrom and eventually the Eastern region under Col. Ojukwu declared itself independent Republic of Biafra. There was a civil war from 1967 and the General Gowon led Federal Government defeated the Biafran army led by Ojukwu in 1970. The Federal Government declared that there is no victor or vanquished and it went about re-integrating the Igbos into the Nigerian state. But before then it had earlier abolished the regional structure and created twelve states from the former three regions and Kano was amongst those states created in 1968.

Kano in the Federal Republic of Nigeria
The first Military Governor of Kano State was Police Commissioner Alhaji Audu Bako and he had a broad based cabinet that represented all shades of opinions. He used the solid financial base of Kano to execute many development programs especially in the area of construction of dams and infrastructure development in the capital of the state. Most of the landmark structures in the state capital were built during his administration. And as an appreciation for his services the state government secretariat and the school for agriculture were named after him.

General Yakubu Gowon’s administration was toppled in a bloodless coup in 1975 and General Murtala Muhammed a Kano indigene became the Head of State. Colonel Sani Bello replaced Alhaji Audu Bako as the Governor of Kano State. His administration is best remembered for its achievement in education with the establishment of many secondary schools and proper attention to tertiary institutions and the science secondary schools, which became a source of pride not only to Kano but Nigeria as a whole. Murtala was assassinated in February 1976 but he became the most popular Nigerian leader ever since because of his sincerity and commitment to justice.  There was a transition to civil rule program, which was religiously followed by his successor General Olusegun Obasanjo and it was under this program that military administrators replaced the military governors in 1978 with Ishaya Shekari as the administrator of Kano.

Partisan politics was legalized in 1978 and five parties, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) were registered by the electoral commission and they contested the elections in 1979. The NPN, which was a broad based national party won Presidential elections but was challenged by the UPN led by Chief Awolowo with South Western stronghold. Eventual the Supreme Court declared Alhaji Shehu Shagari the winner of the Presidential Election and he was sworn as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on October 1st 1979. And in Kano the PRP under the leadership of Mallam Aminu Kano and his veteran NEPU loyalists won the gubernatorial elections and their candidate Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi was sworn as the first elected Governor of Kano State also on October 1st 1979.

Since the PRP was established under the foundation of the NEPU its first duty was to abolish poll and cattle taxes and it set about implementing its socio-economic programs most of which were socialists in orientation within the limits allowed by the constitution. Many laudable projects were executed by the Rimi administration especially in the area of rural development but there was tension in the society. There were two bloody civil unrests. One was by the Maitatsine religious group, which was largely caused by the socio-economic conditions of the polity. And the other was caused by the alleged attempt by the government to remove the Emir of Kano. The PRP also became split with a faction led by the governor and another under the leadership of Mallam Aminu Kano who died before the 1983 elections but his faction won the elections with its candidate Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo becoming the Governor. Rimi resigned from the governorship and contested the elections under the NPP he handed over to his deputy Alhaji Audu Dawakin Tofa.

The civilian rule was terminated by the Military in December 1983 and Air Commodore Hamza Abdullahi was appointed Military Governor of Kano State in January 1984. He ruled the state until another military coup in 1985 when General Ibrahim Babangida became the Military President of Nigeria. During Babangida’s reign, Ahmad Dako, Ndatsu Umaru and Idris Garba served as Military Governors of Kano State and each of them contributed his quota to the development of the state. A characteristic of that era was the prevalence of riots in the name of religion and Kano had its fair share of riots and the military administrators with the help of the society’s leader Alhaji Ado Bayero were very able in containing the situation. Another civil experiment was tried in 1991 with the two government parties Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republic Republican Convention (NRC). Alhaji Kabiru Gaya was elected the Governor of Kano State in 1991. That civil experiment was terminated in 1993 because of a military coup that toppled the interim national government of Chief Ernest Shonekan, which was formed after the annulment of June 12 1993 elections and the stepping aside of President Ibrahim Babangida. General Sani Abacha an indigene of Kano became the Head of State and he appointed Military Administrators. Colonel Abdullahi Wase was appointed the Military Administrator of Kano and he died in a plane crash in 1996 and was replaced by Colonel Dominic Oneya who remained until the death of General Sani Abacha in 1998 and General Abdusalam led government appointed its Military Administrators with Colonel Aminu Isa Kontagora as the administrator of Kano State. There was an election in May 1999 and another civilian administration replaced the military rulers at the state and federal levels. In Kano the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the elections and Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso served as the governor from 1999 to 2003. He executed many civil and building projects but he was allegedly reluctant in implementing the Shari’ah. Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), which became popular in this part of Nigeria because of General Buhari, defeated Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in the governorship elections of April 2003.

Since the establishment of Nigeria Kano has been transformed politically and economically. Politically it was transformed from an Emirate to a province and then to a state. Jigawa State was even created out of Kano State in 1991. The Emirates of Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure along with nine districts from Kano Emirate carved out as Jigawa State. The four Kano districts of Ringim, Jahun, Garki and Bubura became Ringim Emirate under the new Emir Alhaji Sayyadi Ringim a descendant of Sarkin Kano Shehu (1919-1926) and the other Kano districts of Dutse, Birnin Kudu, Gwaram, Jahun and Aujara became Dutse Emirate under the Sarkin Dutse Muhammadu Sanusi who was elevated to the status of Emir. There were also several local government reforms which began in 1968 with the expansion of the Emirate Council to include none titleholders and also another reform in 1976 that created Local Government Areas in place of the previous Administrative Area Councils. By 1999 there were forty-four local government areas in Kano each with a chairman councilors and a district head.

Economically Kano has been transformed by the Nigerian state from a province that depended on crafts and trade. It produced ten million sandals per annum and was a celebrated center of textiles with its product competing with those of Manchester in the pre-colonial period. But now it depends on trade and a few manufacturing companies especially tanneries and textiles for its formal private sector economy and the state depends on revenue from the federal government whereas in the 1960s it generated 95% of its revenue locally. The system has not been able to maintain the revenue independence and now it is at the mercy of oil.

The people of Kano

By Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) - Previously written also for www.kanoonline.com, which was sponsored by Kano Forum (Inuwar Jama’ar Kano), Kano, Nigeria

Majority of the people who regard Kano as their only home are Muslims who speak Hausa language as their first language or mother tongue. The Kano identity has come a long way since the settlement of the Abagayawa in the area. The earliest settlers were Hausa speaking and all those who came later adopted it as their language.

The Hausa

The Afro-Asiatic phylum of African languages is divided into the Berber, Coptic, Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Chadic [1a]. The most prominent Afro-asiatic family found in Nigeria is the Chadic, and "it includes Hausa, the most widely spoken language in West Africa, and perhaps as many as a hundred other languages spoken by much smaller populations". Chadic languages have been divided into nine sub-groups as follows: (1) (a) Hausa, Gwandara, (b) Bede-Ngizim, (c) (i) Warjawa (northern Bauchi) group, (ii) Barawa (southern Bauchi) group, (d) (i)Bolewa group, (ii) Angas group, (iii) Ron group; (2) Kotoko group; (3) Bata Margi; (4) (a) Musgoi group, (b) Marakam group; (5) Gidder; (6) Mandara - Gamergu; (7) Musgu; (8) Masa-Bana group; (9) Eastern Chadic, (a) Somrai group; (b) Gabere group, (c) Sokoro group, (d) Modgel, (e) Tuburi, (f) Mubi group [2a].

From the above linguistic classification there are clear evidences of unity and diversity amongst Nigerian tribes and linguistic groups. Linguistically the Fulani, who speak Fulfulde, are closer to Niger-Congo languages than to Hausa and Kanuri. Whereas the Angas group are closer to the Hausa than to the Birom, Tiv, Jukun and other "middle belt" languages. Likewise the Hausas are also closer linguistically to Angas than to the Fulani, because apart from the fact that both Angas and Hausa are members of the Chadic family they also belong to the same sub-family. The closer a language is to another in these classifications the greater the possibility of their common origin before divergence. The adoption of certain tendencies, which contain racist elements such as pula`aku by the Fulbe may be the result of external and migratory influences. Linguistically they are closer to their Niger-Congo brethren than to the Semites.

Hausa identity is closely linked with Islam. Mahdi Adamu made a brilliant attempt of defining Hausa culture and the Hausa person when he wrote thus:

The person should be fluent in the Hausa language, and in all his dealing with Hausa people should use it as first language. . . . the prospective assimilant should either be a Muslim or bear a Muslim name, at the very least he should use a name, which was distinctly Hausa. . . . He should dress in the type of garments which were usually associated with the Hausa people. . . .The person should have historical claim to Hausa ethnicity. [3a]

Apart from Islamic identity the Hausa have distinctive clothes especially the babba riga (Gown) for males and zani (wrapper) for women. They are also very proud of the Sarauta (Kingship) and paraphernalia of which the Kano style is the most prestigious with the Sallah procession of horses called Durbar that was instituted in Kano by Sarki Muhammadu Rumfa. The Kano Durbar is the largest procession of colorful horses in the world.

The Hausa of Kano also have distinctive ceremonies of naming a newborn baby called suna, of wedding called biki and the funeral rites. Islam modified all of these but some people practice certain customs that are not in conformity with the teachings of Islam. Some Western educated elites have also adopted some Christian customs in their weddings for example the reception after the solemnization of the marriage contract instead of the Walimah feast encouraged by the Sunnah after consummation. The Hausa cuisine has also been transformed over time especially by the importation of several North African dishes.

The Fulani

Fulani is a Hausa plural word with the singular Ba-Fillaci of the people who call themselves Fulbe (singular Pulo) in their own language of Fulfulde. In French, they are called “Peuls or Peulhs” while in Arabic they are known as Fellata with masculine singular Fellati and ferminine singular Fellatiyya [4a]. Fulfulde belongs to the West Atlantic family of languages in the Niger-Congo phylum of African languages.

The Fulani distinguish themselves from other ethnic groups by specific distinguished personal virtues, which are collectively known as Pulaaku. There are several components of Pulaaku but Catherine Vareecke has listed ten of them namely semteende (shyness, reserve), munyal (patience, endurance), ngoru (bravery), marugo na'i (owning cattle), en'dam (kindness), ne'd'daku (dignity), ardungal (leadership), daraja (honour or prestige obtained through position) and ndottaku (honour acquired with age). And later when most of Fulbe became Muslims dina and juldamku (Islam and Islamic peity) were included in Pulaaku [5a]. The Hausas and Fulani who cannot speak Fulfulde call the virtues of the Fulani, Fulatanci.

The Fulani scholars first came to Kano during the reign of Sarkin Kano Yakubu (1452-63). The Kano Chronicle has reported that: "in Yakubu's time the Fulani came to Hausaland from Melle, bringing with the books on divinity and ethymology". The Hausa Mallams were more conversant with books on Law and Hadith (traditions of the Prophet peace and blessings of Allah are upon him). The exact time during which the Bororo came to Kasar Kano is hard to determine but it might have been earlier than the time of the arrival of the scholars. Before the jihad led Shehu Usman Dan Fodio there were many Fulani clans in Kasar Kano and most of their leaders were Islamic Scholars.

Prior to the 19th century the Fulbe or Fulani were scattered all over Northern Nigeria. Their life style at that time was parallel to the present day Bororo. Economically they were nomadic cattle herders. Politically their leadership was egalitarian; their community was governed by the elders and in some few cases by the ardo'en (chiefs). They were socially based on patri-clans which were genealogically wives’ giving units. They were also racially conscious thus they encouraged group endogamy (teegal bandiriga) in which marriage to closest relative is most desirable [6a].

There is an apparent melting of Fulani and Hausa identity in most parts of northern Nigeria including Kano were most of the descendants of the followers of Shehu Usman Danfodio cannot speak Fulfulde the language of their ancestors. Members of the traditional ruling classes still identity themselves as Fulani even though they cannot speak the language as observed below:

Ethnic identity is not necessarily the same thing as the language one speaks. Fulani families, which speak Hausa, but not Fulfulde, still retain a strong sense of Fulani identity and some Kanuri, such as the “Lafia Beriberi”, speak only Hausa. Apart from Adamawa and Gombe even the Emirs, all of unexceptionable Fulani stock, do not know Fulfulde today. In Nupe, Mohamedu, who died in 1915, was the last Etsu to speak Fulfulde, and it was already so exceptional that he was called the Etsu with tongues [7a].


[1] For of the transformation of Kano see Adamu 1999

[1a] This paragraph and the next paragraphs were adopted from Ado-Kurawa 2000

[2] For more on the state formation in Hausaland see Smith 1970

[2a]Greenberg 1981: 302

[3] For more information see Palmer 1928

[3a] Adamu, Mahdi 1976 'The spread of Hausa Culture in Africa' Savanna 5: 5-6 as cited in Isichei 1983: 4

[4] Palmer 1928

[4a] See Hunwick 1966: 36-37 for these explanations.

[5] This analysis is from Ado-Kurawa (nd)

[5a] Ibid pp. 93-106

[6] Fika 1978: 9 while according to C. W. Temple (Resident Kano) 1909: "Notes on the history of Kano" p. 3 the following were the remaining six: (second group) makama, sarkin dawaki, sarkin bai followed by (third group) ciroma, dan iya and sarkin dawakin tsakar gida. This precedence might have been altered during the emirate period and barde was moved upwards see below appendix.

[6a] Vereecke, Catherine 1986 'Pulaaku ethnic identity among the Adamawa Fulbe' Annals of Borno vol. iii., p.

[7] later displaced by the sarkin dawaki (Fika 1978: 9)

[8] Later displaced by the dan iya (Fika 1978: 25 note 40)

[9] Later displaced by chiroma (Fika 1978: 25 note 40) the last three according  C. W. Temple (Resident Kano) 1909: 3 were ciroma, dan iya and sarkin dawakin tsakar gida

[10] This paragraph is also based on Ado-Kurawa (nd)

[11] Yahya, D. 1985: "The Legacy of Muhammad Rumfa (1463-99) Since the British Conquest of Kano 1903"

[12] The analysis below is also based on Ado-Kurawa (nd)

[13] Arabic text has been edited by Wazirin Katsina Muhammad Zayan published in Beirut 1931. English translation is Baldwin, T. H. 1932 The Obligation of the Princes Beirut

[14] Quoted extensively by Shaykh Usman Danfodio in his Tanbih al-Ikwan which is translated by Palmer, H. R. 1915 ‘An Early Fulani Conception of Jihad’ Journal of Asiatic Society 1914-15 xiv, 53-9 but the analysis below is from Ado-Kurawa 2000

[15] Bedri, K. and Starratt, P. E. 1977 (Translation of) ‘Taj al-Din Fima Yajib ‘ala al-Muluk or The Crown of Religion Concerning the Obligation of Princes’ Kano Studies (New Series) (2) 1974/77

[16] Ibid

[17] For more information on the Sokoto Caliphate see Last 1977 and Sulaiman 1986

[18] For more information on the Jihad in Kano see Ado-Kurawa 1989

[19] Ado-Kurawa 1989: 45 and Last 1966: 468. Smith 1997: 211 refuted Gowers 1921:12 who stated that Sulaiman was Danzabuwa’s servant who was appointed in Sokoto when Sokoto was not built at the time of Sulaiman’s appointment. Bello also confirmed the Birnin Gada meeting as reported by Alkali Zangi (Smith 1997: 267 note 71 where Arnet’s translation of Bello’s work was cited.)

[20] Smith 1997

[21] For a detailed account of the Kano Civil War see Fika 1978 and for a participant’s account of the pre-colonial Kano Ferguson 1973 is very useful

[22] For a detailed account of political transformations brought by the colonial rule see Fika 1978

[23] Garba 1999

[24] Yahya 1993 and Adamu 2003 for a critique of the colonial educational system

[25] Paden 1972: 422

[26] Danyaro et al 1997: 11

[27] Naniya 2002: 21 where he cited Lugard 1965: 556

[28] Kumo: 1993

[29] The Sardauna confirmed the blackmail that the North will not attract foreign investment if it does not accept the British inspired legal reforms in his autobiography (Bello 1962 My Life London pp. 217-218)

[30] Abun-Nasr 1996

[31] Christelow 1991: 139

[32] Yahya 1986 and Ado-Kurawa 2003

[33] For more on the NEPU and Mallam Aminu Kano see Feinstein 1987 and on the Sardauna and NPC see Paden 1986. There is also Dudley 1968 on the parties generally.

[34] For his authorized biography see Ibrahim 2001



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