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Kano is the state capital of Kano Statemarker in northern Nigeriamarker. Kano has an estimated population in 2007 of 2,359,248. The principal inhabitants of the city are the Hausa people. The city's traditional ruler is the Emir of Kano, and the current Emir, Ado Bayero, has been on the throne since 1963.


Foundation and Hausa rule

In the 7th century, Dala Hill, a hill in Kano, was the site of a group of a community that engaged in iron-working; it is unknown whether these were Hausa people or speakers of Niger-Congo languages. Kano was originally known as Dala, after the hill, and was referred to as such as late as the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th by Bornoan sources.

The Kano Chronicle identifies Barbushe, a priest of a Dalla Hill spirit, as the city's first settler. (Elizabeth Isichei notes that the description of Barbushe is similar to those of Sao people.) While small chiefdoms were previously present in the area, according to the Kano Chronicle, Bagaudamarker, a grandson of the mythical hero Bayajidda, became the first king of Kano in 999, reigning until 1063. His grandson Gijimasu (1095-1134), the third king, began building city walls at the foot of Dalla Hill, and his own son, Tsaraki (1136-1194), the fifth king, completed them during his reign.

Muhammad Rumfa ascended to the throne in 1463 and reigned until 1499. During his reign, he reformed the city, expanded the Sahelian Gidan Rumfa (Emir's Palace), and played a role in the further Islamization of the city, as he urged prominent residents to convert. The Kano Chronicle attributes a total of twelve "innovations" to Rumfa.

According to the Kano Chronicle, the thirty-seventh Sarkin Kano (King of Kano) was Mohammed Sharef (1703–1731). His successor, Kumbari dan Sharefa (1731–1743), engaged in major battles with Sokotomarker.

Fulani conquest and rule

At the beginning of the 19th century, Fulani Islamic leader Usman dan Fodio led a jihad affecting much of northern Nigeria, leading to the emergence of the Sokoto Caliphatemarker. Kano was the largest and most prosperous province of the empire. This was one of the last major slave societies, with high percentages of enslaved population long after the Atlantic slave trade had been cut off. Heinrich Barth, a classical scholar who spent several years in northern Nigeria in the 1850s, estimated the percentage of slaves in Kano to be at least 50%, most of whom lived in slave villages.

The city suffered famines from 1807-10, in the 1830s, 1847, 1855, 1863, 1873, 1884, and from 1889 until 1890.

From 1893 until 1895, two rival claimants for the throne fought a civil war, or Basasa. With the help of royal slaves, Yusufu was victorious over Tukur, and claimed the title of emir.

British colonization and rule

British forces captured Kano in 1903 and made it the administrative centre of Northern Nigeria. It was replaced as the centre of government by Kadunamarker, and only regained administrative significance with the creation of Kano State following Nigerian independence.

From 1913 to 1914, as the groundnut business was expanding, Kano suffered a major drought, which caused a famine. Other famines during British rule occurred in 1908, 1920, 1927, 1943, 1951, 1956, and 1958.

By 1922, groundnut trader Alhassan Dantata had become the richest businessman in Kano, surpassing fellow merchants Umaru Sharubutu Koki and Maikano Agogo.

In May 1953, an inter-ethnic riot arose due to southern newspapers misreporting on the nature of a disagreement between northern and southern politicians in the House of Representatives. Thousands of Nigerians of southern origin died as a result of the riot.

Post-independence history

Ado Bayero became Emir of Kano in 1963.

In December 1980, radical preacher Mohammed Marwa Maitatsine led riots in Kano. He was killed by security forces, but his followers later started uprisings in other northern cities.

After the introduction of sharia in Kano State in 2000, many Christians left the city. 100 people were killed in riots over the sharia issue during October 2001.
Kano Mosque.
In November 2007, political violence broke out in the city after the People's Democratic Party (PDP) accused the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) of rigging the November 17, 2007 local government elections. (The ANPP won in 36 of the state's 44 Local Government Areas.) Hundreds of youths took to the streets, over 300 of whom were arrested; at least 25 people were killed. Buildings set on fire include a sharia police station, an Islamic centre, and a council secretariat. 280 federal soldiers were deployed around the city.


Kano is largely Muslim. The majority of Kano Muslims are Sunni, though a minority adhere to the Shia branch (see Shia in Nigeria). Christians and followers of other non-Muslim religions form a small part of the population, and traditionally lived in the Sabon Gari, or Foreign Quarter. Christians alone comprise about 1% of the population.


Kabo Air, an airline, has its head office on the grounds of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airportmarker in Kano.

Layout and geography

Elaborately dressed horseman returns after paying tribute to Emir of Kano during the Durbar of October 2006
Kano is situated at . It has long been the economic centre of northern Nigeria, and a centre for the production and export of groundnut. Kano houses the Bayero University and a railway station with trains to Lagos routed through Kaduna, while Mallam Aminu Kano International Airportmarker lies nearby. Because Kano is north of the rail junction at Kaduna, it has equal access to the seaports at Lagos and Port Harcourtmarker.

Formerly walled, most of the gates to the Old City survive. The Old City houses the vast Kurmi Market, known for its crafts, while old dye pits – still in use – lie nearby. Also in the Old City are the Emir's Palace, the Great Mosquemarker, and the Gidan Makama Mosque. Kano has six districts. They are the Old City, Bompai, Fagge, Sabon Gari, Syrian Quarter, and Nassarawa.

As of November 2007, there are plans to establish an information technology park in the city.

The city is supplied with water by the nearby Challawa Gorge Dam, which is also being considered as a source of hydro power.

Durbar Festival

The Emir of Kano hosts a Durbar to mark and celebrate the two annual Muslim festivals and Eid-ul-Fitr (to mark the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (to mark the Hajj Holy Pilgrimage). The Durbar culminates in a procession of highly elaborately dressed horsemen who pass through the city to the Emir's palace. Once assembled near the palace, groups of horsemen, each group representing a nearby village, take it in turns to charge towards the Emir, pulling up just feet in front of the seated dignitaries to offer their respect and allegiance.


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