kano nigeria



{Flowing white robes worn with a turban, a small round white cap or red fez are popular with the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria. The turban is a useful head-dress because it affords protection from the dust storms which at certain times of the year blow down from the Sahara Desert.

The illustration shows a District Head from Kano wearing the Riga Na Aiki (dress for work). This is the usual dress worn by the prosperous classes. Formerly, it was only allowed to be worn by an Emir’s family. The patterns around the neck and front follow conventional standards and denote the region of the wearer. The patterns in this illustration show that the District Head could only come from the Kano, Zaria, Sokoto or Katsina areas.}


{Dan Lepide in olden days acted as the Emir of Kano’s champion; he was supposed to challenge to fight any who spoke evil of the Emir.

The scarlet and green of his robes denote that he is one of the Emir’s servants. Dan Lepide’s helmet is an elaborate structure made of brass and copper padded below to protect the head, and decorated on top with ostrich feathers. The shirt and shoulders are protected and edged with ostrich feathers. The sash supports long silk tassels and a sword. The riding boots are made of  soft Kano leather.}


{The Sulke is a bodyguard to the Emir of Kano and the dress illustrated is worn on all ceremonial occasions whether he is on horse-back or on foot. Over the Sulke’s white cotton dress is a coat of chain mail said to date from the time of the crusades and to have been brought to Nigeria from the Arab countries to the north. It is probably of Arab manufacture and of great age.

The sword has been made in Kano and is a typical example of Kano metal work. An interesting and unusual feature of the dress is the long, pleated cuffs which partly conceal the hands. A wine-coloured sash and cummerland complete the dress.}



{Yaro Sarki Inuwa is the Emir of Kano’s Senior Messenger. It is a purely honorary post today, and on ceremonial occasions Yaro Sarki  Inuwa is gorgeously clad in rich costly robes containing many yards of rich brocade. The vast turban is of a metallic blue colour, the effect being obtained locally by dipping white cotton cloth in indigo dye and beating it with flat sticks when still wet.

The bright yellow riding boots with long toe caps are locally made, as is the sword and scabbard. Kano has long been famous for its fine quality leather. The special feature of dress is the long sleeves covering the hands. The embroidery on the sleeves is of local work but the brocade, tassels and sashes are of imported materials.}



“Muslims throughout the world are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan. Observant Muslims participate in fasting (sawm), one of the five pillars of their faith, this entire Lunar month.  Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity is prohibited from dawn until sunset. Along side restraining from bad intentions,desires, and superficial needs. The fast is broken at sunset with the evening meal called Iftar. Local customs define varying traditions, including differing types of food used to break the daily fast. Children, women in pregnancy/menses, sick/poor health individuals, and those traveling do not have to fast. During this time, Muslims are also encourage to read the entire Quran, to give freely to those in need, give charity,seek forgiveness and strengthen their ties to God through prayer. The fasting is meant to teach a person patience, humility, sacrifice, and empathy for the poor. After the month long fast, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan.”

1. Hui Muslim women prepare food to break their fast during Ramadan at a women’s only Mosque  in Sangpo, Henan Province, China. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)

2. Filipino Muslims pray outside Mindanao’s first ever pink mosque at Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province, as they observe the start of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.(Jeoffrey Maitem/Inquirer Mindanao)

3. A child recites the Quran under a teacher’s instruction during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a Madrassa in Nairobi, Kenya.(AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

4. A Malaysian Muslim family breaks their fast on the first day of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

5.  Thai Muslim women offering prayers as they gather at the central mosque at the start of the month of Ramadan in Thailand’s restive southern province of Pattani. (Tuwaedaniya Meringing/AFP/Getty Images)

6. People eat at the breaking of fasting of the second day of Ramadan, in the premises of the Seeds of Solidarity (‘Graine de Solidarite’) association in Bordeaux. Founded in 1986, Seeds of Solidarity gives away free meals all year in the streets of Bordeaux, and serves up to 300 meals every night during Ramadan, to homeless and deprived people, regardless if they are Muslim or not. (Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images)

7. A Mesharati (Ramadan drummer) beats his drum (under a plastic containder] during the Ramadan month and awakens people for suhoor by shouting their name in Cairo, Egypt. Children walk with Mesharati around the neighborhood (Getty Images/ Anadolu Agency)

8. A Kashmiri Muslim worshipper reads Islam’s holy book, the Quran at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine during the holy month of Ramadan in Srinagar.(TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

9. Muslim family saying prayers before breaking their fast during the holy month of Ramadan in Kano, Nigeria. Fasting is a physical and mental exercise meant to draw worshippers closer to God and increase empathy for the poor. (AP Photo/Sani Maikatanga)

10. A street vendor plugs in decorations for Ramadan  in Amman, Jordan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon) 

Towns and ports involved in the Arab slave trade

The 1st wave of the Arab Slave trade involved the following towns and ports

North Africa

  1. Tangier (Morocco)
  2. Marrakesh (Morocco)
  3. Algiers (Algeria)
  4. Tripoli (Libya)
  5. Cairo (Egypt)
  6. Aswan (Egypt

West Africa:

  1. Aoudaghost (Mauritania)
  2. Timbuktu (Mali)
  3. Gao (Mali)
  4. Bilma (Niger)
  5. Kano (Nigeria)

Central Africa

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. Burundi

East Africa and Swahili Coast:

  1. Bagamoyo (Tanzania)
  2. Zanzibar (Tanzania)
  3. Kilwa (Tanzania)
  4. Sofala (Beira, Mozambique)
  5. Mombasa (Kenya)
  6. Rwanda

Horn of Africa:

  1. Assab (Eritrea)
  2. Massawa (Eritrea)
  3. Nefasit (Eritrea)
  4. Zeila (Somalia)
  5. Mogadishu (Somalia)
  6. Kismayo (Somalia)

Arabian Peninsula:

  1. Zabīd (Yemen)
  2. Muscat (Oman)
  3. Aden (Yemen)
  4. Socotra (Indian Ocean)

Indian Ocean:

  1. Debal (Sindh, Pakistan)
  2. Karachi (Sindh, Pakistan)
  3. Janjira (India)
  4. Surat (India)

NIGERIA, Kano : Emir Muhammad Sanusi II © passes in front of his palace, February 8, 2015, in Kano during a Durbar ceremony in honor of his coronation. Sanusi, a former Nigeria central bank chief, was appointed as the emir of Kano, the ancient kingdom on June 8, 2014, following the demise of his predecessor Ado Bayero who ruled for 51 years.   AFP PHOTO / FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR


8 Views of Urban West and Central Africa, c. 1650—1850.

Captions (from top):

Loango, in present day (p.d.) Angola, 1660s, via D. O. Dapper

Benin City, in p.d. Nigeria, 1660s, via D. O. Dapper

Kano, in p.d. northern Nigeria, 1850s, via Hermann Wagner

Kumasi, p.d. Ghana, 1800s

Caravan arriving at Timbuktu, p.d. Mali, 1840s, via Heinrich Barth

Benin City, p.d. Nigeria, 1730s, via Thomas Astley

Timbuktu terrace, p.d. Mali, 1850s, via Dieudonné Lancelot

Adum Street, Kumasi, p.d. Ghana, 1817


100 things that you did not know about Africa - Nos.26 - 50

26. West Africa had walled towns and cities in the pre-colonial period. Winwood Reade, an English historian visited West Africa in the nineteenth century and commented that: “There are … thousands of large walled cities resembling those of Europe in the Middle Ages, or of ancient Greece.”

27. Lord Lugard, an English official, estimated in 1904 that there were 170 walled towns still in existence in the whole of just the Kano province of northern Nigeria.

28. Cheques are not quite as new an invention as we were led to believe. In the tenth century, an Arab geographer, Ibn Haukal, visited a fringe region of Ancient Ghana. Writing in 951 AD, he told of a cheque for 42,000 golden dinars written to a merchant in the city of Audoghast by his partner in Sidjilmessa.

29. Ibn Haukal, writing in 951 AD, informs us that the King of Ghana was “the richest king on the face of the earth” whose pre-eminence was due to the quantity of gold nuggets that had been amassed by the himself and by his predecessors.

30. The Nigerian city of Ile-Ife was paved in 1000 AD on the orders of a female ruler with decorations that originated in Ancient America. Naturally, no-one wants to explain how this took place approximately 500 years before the time of Christopher Columbus!

31. West Africa had bling culture in 1067 AD. One source mentions that when the Emperor of Ghana gives audience to his people: “he sits in a pavilion around which stand his horses caparisoned in cloth of gold: behind him stand ten pages holding shields and gold-mounted swords: and on his right hand are the sons of the princes of his empire, splendidly clad and with gold plaited into their hair … The gate of the chamber is guarded by dogs of an excellent breed … they wear collars of gold and silver.”

32. Glass windows existed at that time. The residence of the Ghanaian Emperor in 1116 AD was: “A well-built castle, thoroughly fortified, decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having glass windows.”

33. The Grand Mosque in the Malian city of Djenné, described as “the largest adobe [clay] building in the world”, was first raised in 1204 AD. It was built on a square plan where each side is 56 metres in length. It has three large towers on one side, each with projecting wooden buttresses.

34. One of the great achievements of the Yoruba was their urban culture. “By the year A.D. 1300,” says a modern scholar, “the Yoruba people built numerous walled cities surrounded by farms”. The cities were Owu, Oyo, Ijebu, Ijesa, Ketu, Popo, Egba, Sabe, Dassa, Egbado, Igbomina, the sixteen Ekiti principalities, Owo and Ondo.

35. Yoruba metal art of the mediaeval period was of world class. One scholar wrote that Yoruba art “would stand comparison with anything which Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece and Rome, or Renaissance Europe had to offer.”

36. In the Malian city of Gao stands the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a weird sixteenth century edifice that resembles a step pyramid.

37. Thousands of mediaeval tumuli have been found across West Africa. Nearly 7,000 were discovered in north-west Senegal alone spread over nearly 1,500 sites. They were probably built between 1000 and 1300 AD.

38. Excavations at the Malian city of Gao carried out by Cambridge University revealed glass windows. One of the finds was entitled: “Fragments of alabaster window surrounds and a piece of pink window glass, Gao 10th – 14th century.”

39. In 1999 the BBC produced a television series entitled Millennium. The programme devoted to the fourteenth century opens with the following disclosure: “In the fourteenth century, the century of the scythe, natural disasters threatened civilisations with extinction. The Black Death kills more people in Europe, Asia and North Africa than any catastrophe has before. Civilisations which avoid the plague thrive. In West Africa the Empire of Mali becomes the richest in the world.”

40. Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.

41. On a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 AD, a Malian ruler, Mansa Musa, brought so much money with him that his visit resulted in the collapse of gold prices in Egypt and Arabia. It took twelve years for the economies of the region to normalise.

42. West African gold mining took place on a vast scale. One modern writer said that: “It is estimated that the total amount of gold mined in West Africa up to 1500 was 3,500 tons, worth more than $­­­­30 billion in today’s market.”

43. The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold.

44. Mali in the 14th century was highly urbanised. Sergio Domian, an Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: “Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated”.

45. The Malian city of Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000 - 5 times larger than mediaeval London. Mansa Musa, built the Djinguerebere Mosque in the fourteenth century. There was the University Mosque in which 25,000 students studied and the Oratory of Sidi Yayia. There were over 150 Koran schools in which 20,000 children were instructed. London, by contrast, had a total 14th century population of 20,000 people.

46. National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.

47. Many old West African families have private library collections that go back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private collections in Niger. Finally, in Timbuktu, Mali, there are about 700,000 surviving books.

48. A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends - he had only 1600 volumes.

49. Concerning these old manuscripts, Michael Palin, in his TV series Sahara, said the imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years … Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”

50. The Songhai Empire of 16th century West Africa had a government position called Minister for Etiquette and Protocol.

Part 1. 1-25

Part 2. 26-50

Part 3. 50-75

By Robin Walker 

Robin Walkers book When we ruled is one of the best books Africans and African Diaspora can use firstly as a introduction to African history and secondly a good source to become proficient with precolonial African history.

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