Sokoto is a city located in
the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the
confluence of the Sokoto River and the
As of 2006 it has a
population of 583,039. Sokoto is the modern day capital of Sokoto State (and its predecessor, the Northwestern
The name Sokoto (which is the modern/anglicised version of the
local name, Sakkwato
) is of Arabic origin, representing
, 'market'. It is also known as Sakkwato, Birnin
Shaihu da Bello
or "Sokoto, Capital of Shaihu
seat of the Sokoto
Caliphate, the city is
predominantly Muslim and an important seat of Islamic learning in
The Sultan who heads the caliphate is effectively
the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims.
Sokoto is in the dry Sahel
surrounded by sandy
and isolated hills.
With an annual average temperature of 28.3 °C, Sokoto is one
of the hottest cities in the world, however the maximum daytime
temperatures are most of the year generally under 40 °C, and
the dryness makes the heat bearable.
The warmest months are February to April, where daytime
temperatures can exceed 45 °C.Highest recorded temperature is
47.2 °C, which is also the highest recorded temperature in
Nigeria.The rainy season is from June to October, during which
showers are a daily occurrence. The showers rarely last long and
are a far cry from the regular torrential showers known in many
tropical regions. From late October to February, during the 'cold
season', the climate is dominated by the Harmattan
wind blowing Sahara
dust over the land. The dust dims the
sunlight, thereby lowering temperatures significantly and also
leading to the inconvenience of dust everywhere in the house.
The region's lifeline for growing crops is the floodplains of the
Sokoto-Rima river system,which are covered with rich alluvial soil
. For the rest, the general
dryness of the region allows for few crops, millet
perhaps being the most abundant, complemented
by maize, rice, other cereals, and beans. Apart from tomatoes, few
vegetables grow in the region. The low variety of foodstuffs
available has resulted in the relatively dull local cuisine.In
terms of vegetation, Sokoto falls within the savannah zone. This is
an open Tse-tse fly
suitable for cultivation of grain crops and animal husbandry.
Rainfall starts late and ends early with mean annual falls ranging
between 500 mm to 1,300 mm. There are two major seasons
in Sokoto namely wet and dry. The dry season starts from October,
and lasts up to April in some parts and May extend to May or June
in other Parts. The wet season on the other hand begins in most
parts of the state in May and lasts up to September, or October.
The harmattan, a dry, cold and fairly dusty wind is experienced in
the state between November and February. Heat is more severe in the
state in March and April. But the weather in the state is always
cold in the morning and hot in the afternoons save in peak at
harmattan period.The topography of the state is dominated by famous
Hausa plain of northern Nigeria. The vast fadama land of the
Sokoto-Rima River systems dissects the plain and provides the rich
alluvial soil fit for variety of crops cultivation in the state.
There are also isolated hills and mountains ranges scattered all
over the state.
Historical development of Sokoto
Sokoto had been used as early as October 1804 by the Shehu Usmanu
Dan Fodiyo as the venue for the meeting with Galadima, Yunfa's
Vizier. Subsequently, it was used by Muhammad Bello as a staging
post for an attack on Dufua in the spring of 1806. Bovil suggested
that the area/district may have been known as Sokoto as early as
seventeenth century. In historical perspective, Sokoto was founded
as ribat (military camp or frontier) in 1809 When Shehu Usmanu was
at Sifawa. It later became the capital of the caliphate after
In the 1820s, Sokoto was at peak of prosperity coinciding with the
peak of its `rulers' powers at the center of the caliphate,
receiving annual tribute from all the fiefs before a long period of
decline. The explorers Hugh Clapperton (1827) were highly impressed
by this prosperity and its effects on the city.
“Clapperton noted the importance of Sokoto's close-settledzone
around. The rivers, rather than long-distance trade.In the city's
economy. The trade of Sokoto is at presentinconsiderable, owing to
the disturbed state ofthe surrounding country.........
By the time the explorer Heinrich Barth arrived in 1853 Sokoto was
thinly in habited greatly dilapidated. Barth in 1857, estimated the
population at only 20,000–22,000 but the market was still supplied
and attended, and a thriving suburb outside the wall was more
animated than Sokoto itself.
Bovil aptly described Sokoto that is position was strong, steep
escarpments from the east to the north-west and a small valley on
the west and the south west protected it against surprised cavalry
attacks. The town dominates the broad lowland where the two rivers,
Rima and Sokoto meet, being the junction of roads from Gobir in the
north. Kebbi in the south and Burmi Zamfara in the east.
In the early 19th century, the town (Sokoto) was divided into
wards. Such wards include Magajin Gari ward, Waziri ward, Sarkin
Musulmi ward, Sarkin Adar ward, Magajin Rafi ward, Sarkin Zamfara
Ward. Although at this time the wards were rounded with wall which
was so small, and comprise of the mosques of Sultan Bello and
Shehu, Sultan Palace and other building as well as the compound of
In 1818, the wall was extended up to the extent that it has gates
that come in an and out of the Birni wall. Such gates are
Kofar-Kade, Kofar-Kware, Kofar-Rini, Kofar-Dundaye,
Kofar-Taramniya, Kofar-Aliyu Jedo, Kofar-Marke.
The area of the present Sokoto was the home of many empires and
Kingdoms of the pre-colonial western Sudan. These include Gobir and
Kebbi kingdoms as well as the world renowned caliphate whose
spiritual and political capital is the headquarters of the
Following the conquest of the caliphate by the British in 1903, its
various components were made autonomous and joined into the
government of Northern Nigeria. The northern region was thus made
up of mainly parts of Sokoto caliphate and Kanem-Bornu
Empire. This continued up to January
1967 when states were created to replace regional Governments by
General Yakubu Gown. Sokoto became the headquarters of the
north-western state created in 1967. In 1976 following the creation
of Niger state out of North Western state, Sokoto state emerged
with its headquarters. Yet in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states were
carved out of Sokoto, in 1991 and 1996 respectively.
Sokoto metro-polis has thus been the capital of various Governments
since its establishment by Caliph Muhammad Bello in 1809.
People and culture
Sokoto state has a projected population of 3,666,999 million people
based on 2006 census made up of two ethnic groups namely,
Hausa and Fulani. Sokoto town the capital of Sokoto state has
approximately 2.5 million populations. Apart from Hausa and
Fulani, there are of course the Zabarmawa and Tuareg minority in
the border local government areas. All these groups speak Hausa as
common language. Fulfulde is spoken by the Fulani.
Hausa people in the state are made up of Gobirawa, Zamfarawa,
Kabawa, Adarawa and Arawa. The Fulani on the other hand are of two
main groups; the town Fulani (Fulanin Gida) and the Nomads. The
former includes the Torankawa, the clan of Shehu Usmanu Danfodiyo,
Sullubawa and Zoramawa. The Torankawa are the aristocratic class
Culturally the state is homogeneous. The people of the state are
Muslims and Islamic religion provides them with a code of conduct
and behavior. Their mode of dressing is also of Islamic origin. Two
major festivals namely, Eid-el-Fitri and Eid-el-Kabir are
celebrated in the state every year. The former marks the end of
Ramadan fast, while the later features the slaughtering of Rams in
commemoration of the act started by the Prophet Ibrahim.
Traditional wrestling (Kokawa) and boxing (Dambe) are the two
sports enjoyed by the Hausa while the Fulani and the Sullubawa
entertain themselves with Sharo and Doro respectively. Important
visitors to the state are usually treated to the grand or mini
durbar and event involving the parade of heavily decorated horses
and camels mounted by men in full traditional military and cultural
Over eighty percent (80%) of the inhabitants of Sokoto practice one
form of agriculture or the other. They produce such crops as
millet, guinea corn, maize, rice, potatoes, cassava, groundnuts and
beans for subsistence and produce wheat,cotton and vegetable for
cash. Local crafts such as blacksmithing, weaving, dyeing, carving
and leather works also plays an important role in the economic life
of the people of Sokoto as a result different areas like Makera,
Marina, Takalmawa and Majema areas became important. Sokoto is also
one of the fish producing areas of the country. Thus a large number
of people along the river basin engage in fishing as well.
Sokoto is equally endowed with natural and mineral resources. Agro
allied industries using cotton, groundnut, sorghum, gum, maize,
rice, wheat sugar cane, cassava, gum Arabic and tobacco as raw
materials can be established in the area. Large scale farming can
also be practice in the state using irrigation water from Goronyo
Dam, Lugu, Kalmalo, Wammakko and Kwakwazo lakes among others.
Minerals such as Kaolin, gypsum, lime stones, literate, Red mills,
phosphate both yellow and green, shade clay, sand etc, are
available in commercial quantities. Mineral based industries using
these raw materials could be established in the state.
The Tse-tse fly free open grass land has made animals both wild and
domestic venture in the state. There are all kinds of animals both
wild and domestic in the state. Sokoto ranks second in livestock
production in the country's animal population of well over eight
The availability of these economic potentials provides good
investment opportunities, particularly in agro-allied industries
such as flour mills, tomatoes processing sugar refinery, textile,
glue, tanning, fish canning, etc.
Sokoto lacks a public transport system. Transport within the city
(when not by foot) is mainly by mopeds which operate as one-person
taxis. Buses and taxis are infrequent and are generally only used
for transport between cities.
south of Sokoto there is an international
airport with regular connections to Abuja, Kano and Lagos.
In August 2008, an agreement was signed for the construction of a
cement works in Sokoto.
Urbanization has a very long history in Hausaland.The process
started when certain strategic areas of hausaland developed from
Kauyuka to Birane. Yet one of the major consequences of the
Jihadist was the speeding of this phenomenon not only in Hausaland
but also in all areas affected by the caliphate administration. New
towns sprang up and the older birane entered into a period of
unprecedented growth, some as new areas of commercial activities
others as both Emirate capitals centers of administration and
One of the aspects of urbanization in the history of the Sokoto
caliphate started with establishment of Sokoto city (the
headquarters of the caliphate), in the prejihad period, the area
between the Gobir Kingdom and Kebbi was the area that were commonly
referred to as “nomand land”.But with the success of the Jihad led
by the Shehu usmau dan Fodiyo (1804–1808) and subsequent victory of
the Jihadists over the rulers of Hausaland, the Sokoto city
(headquarters of the caliphate) was build by Muhammad
Bello.Moreover as observed by Abdul-Razaq Shehu in his book
“Sakkwato Birnin Shehu”) the Sokoto city was designed on paper by
Muhammad Bello even before it was built. Bello son of the Sheikh,
was among his fathers lieutenants and war commanders. he fought the
hardest and longest wars and was the architect of the caliphate
Sokoto Birnin Shehu
The Sokoto city as designed by the architect Muhammad Bello
consisted all the characteristic features of any modern city
including roads, bridges, market, Ganuwa (fortification round
centers of town) and as well as the administrative and commercial
centers. Among the administrative centers designed by Muhammad
Bello includes Kanwuri, Binanchi, Galadanci, Alkalanci, Dogarawa
and so on. However, apart from the central market popularly known
as Yardole, other commercial areas designed by Muhammad Bello
include Makera, Madinka, Marina, Siriddawa, Takalmawa, Runji and
Jirgawa, in addition, among other things no any town in either
pre-jihad or 19th century Hausaland could developed into urban
center without effective fortification (Ganuwa). This was built
with about many strong areas like, Kofar Aliyu Jedo, Kofar Dundaye,
Kofar Marke, Kofar Rini, Kofar Kware, Kofar Taramniya and this
paramount development attracted many people to migrate from their
locality into Sokoto city for survival.
From the above observation on how caliph Muhammad Bello designed
the city of Sokoto we will see that Sokoto witness more immigrants
that have interest in the act of blacksmithing leather works,
pottery etc. For example, some of these people either engage in the
business of blacksmithing or other related business as in Makera
Assada, there are people who use to travel to different parts of
present Nigeria and even in neighbouring countries to buy damage
iron materials like damaged vehicles, cars, lorries, aircraft etc
iron pipes, oil tanks in order to break them into pieces and sell
them for anybody who wants to put them into use or modify it to
4 * FallingRain Map - elevation = 272m
5 *Sokoto State Government Dairy 2002, Ministry of Information,
youth, sports and culture, Sokoto.
6 *Tsoho U.H, Growth and History of the establishment of Makera
Assada in Sokoto Metropolist to the year 2007.2008 B.A project,
History Department, Usmanu
11 *Abubakar, S; Aspect of Urban Phenomenon, Sokoto and its
12 *Balogun, I.A.B; Life and Works of Uthman Danfodiyo, Ibadan
13 *Bovil, E.W; The Golden Trade of the Moors,London,1963.
14 *Boyi, U.M; Tanziynul Waraqat, Hausa Translation of Abdullahi
ibn Fodiyo work.
15 *Crowder, M; The Story of Nigeria,London,1962.
16 *Jibril, Y.H; Philosophy among the Sokoto Scholars, Benchmark
Publishers, Kano Nigeria,2004.
17 *Johston, H.A.S; The Fulani Empire of Sokoto,London,1968.
18 *Johston, H.A.S; The Fulani Empire of Sokoto,London,1968.