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Major cities of Hausaland. Modern borders are in red.

The Hausa Kingdoms were a collection of independent city-states situated between the Niger River and Lake Chad.


Hausa Bakwai

The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states with a shared mythology with its founders being the sons of a Queen. They are known as the Hausa Bakwai meaning Hausa Seven. The states included:

Banza Bakwai

The growth and conquest of the Hausa Bakwai resulted in the founding of additional states with rulers tracing their lineage to a concubine of the Hausa founding father, Bayajidda. Thus they are called the Banza Bakwai meaning Bastard or Bogus Seven. The Banza Bakwai adopted many of the customs and institutions of the Hausa Bakwai but were considered unsanctioned or copy-cat kingdoms by non-Hausa people. These states include:

  • Zamfara
  • Kebbi
  • Yauri (also called Yawuri)
  • Gwari (also called Gwariland)
  • Kororafa (a Jukun state)
  • Nupe (of the Nupe people)
  • Ilorin (a Yoruba state)


The Hausa Kingdoms emerged in the 13th century as vibrant trading centers competing with Kanem-Bornu and the Mali Empire. The primary exports were leather, gold, cloth, salt, kola nuts, animal hides, and henna. Except for minor alliances, the Hausa city-states functioned independently. Rivalries generally inhibited the formation of one centralized authority.


Despite relatively constant growth, the city-states were vulnerable to aggression and, although the vast majority of its inhabitants were Muslim by the 16th century, they were attacked by Muslim jihadists from 1804 to 1808. In 1808 the last Hausa state was finally conquered by Usuman dan Fodio and incorporated into the Sokoto Caliphate.




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