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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kano is located in Nigeria
Map of Nigeria showing the location of Kano
Coordinates: 12°00′N 8°31′E / 12°N 8.517°E / 12; 8.517
State Kano State
 - Governor Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP)
Population (2007)
 - Total 2,359,248
  estimated [1]
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+1)

Kano is the state capital of Kano State in northern Nigeria. 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

1850 steel engraving of Kano

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.)[4] While small chiefdoms were previously present in the area, according to the Kano Chronicle, Bagauda, a grandson of the mythical hero Bayajidda,[5] became the first king of Kano in 999, reigning until 1063.[6] [7] 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.[7]

Gate to the Gidan Rumfa in 2005

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,[8] as he urged prominent residents to convert.[9] The Kano Chronicle attributes a total of twelve "innovations" to Rumfa.[10]

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 Sokoto.

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 Caliphate. Kano was the largest and most prosperous province of the empire.[11] 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.[11]

The city suffered famines from 1807-10, in the 1830s, 1847, 1855, 1863, 1873, 1884, and from 1889 until 1890.[12]

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.[13]

British colonization and rule

Kano in December 1930. Air photo taken by Swiss pilot and photographer Walter Mittelholzer.

British forces captured Kano in 1903 and made it the administrative centre of Northern Nigeria. It was replaced as the centre of government by Kaduna, 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.[14] Other famines during British rule occurred in 1908, 1920, 1927, 1943, 1951, 1956, and 1958.[12]

By 1922, groundnut trader Alhassan Dantata had become the richest businessman in Kano, surpassing fellow merchants Umaru Sharubutu Koki and Maikano Agogo.[15]

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.[16] Thousands of Nigerians of southern origin died as a result of the riot.[17]

Post-independence history

Panorama of Kano from Dala Hill

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.[18]

After the introduction of sharia in Kano State in 2000, many Christians left the city.[19] 100 people were killed in riots over the sharia issue during October 2001.[20]

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.[21] (The ANPP won in 36 of the state's 44 Local Government Areas.)[22] 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.[23]


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.[20]


Kabo Air, an airline, has its head office on the grounds of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano.[24]

Layout and geography

Elaborately dressed horseman returns after paying tribute to Emir of Kano during the Durbar of October 2006

Kano is situated at 12°00′N 8°31′E / 12°N 8.517°E / 12; 8.517Coordinates: 12°00′N 8°31′E / 12°N 8.517°E / 12; 8.517.[25] It has long been the economic centre of northern Nigeria, and a centre for the production and export of groundnuts. Kano houses the Bayero University and a railway station with trains to Lagos routed through Kaduna, while Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport lies nearby. Because Kano is north of the rail junction at Kaduna, it has equal access to the seaports at Lagos and Port Harcourt.

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 Mosque, and the Gidan Makama Mosque. Kano has six districts. They are the Old City, Bompai, Fagge, Sabon Gari, Syrian Quarter, and Nassarawa.[26]

As of November 2007, there are plans to establish an information technology park in the city.[27]

The city is supplied with water by the nearby Challawa Gorge Dam, which is also being considered as a source of hydro power.[28]

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.


  1. ^ ""The World Gazetteer"". Retrieved 2007-04-06.  
  2. ^ Iliffe, John (2007). Africans: The History of a Continent. Cambridge University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0521864380.  
  3. ^ Nast, Heidi J (2005). Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace. University of Minnesota Press. p. 60. ISBN 0816641544.  
  4. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press. p. 234. ISBN 0521455995.  
  5. ^ Okehie-Offoha, Marcellina; Matthew N. O. Sadiku (December 1995). Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Nigeria. Africa World Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0865432833.  
  6. ^ "Kano". Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.  
  7. ^ a b Ki-Zerbo, Joseph (1998). UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. IV, Abridged Edition: Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century. University of California Press. p. 107. ISBN 0520066995.  
  8. ^ "Caravans Across the Desert: Marketplace". AFRICA: One Continent. Many Worlds.. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Foundation. Retrieved 2007-05-06.  
  9. ^ "50 Greatest Africans - Sarki Muhammad Rumfa & Emperor Semamun". When We Ruled. Every Generation Media. Retrieved 2007-05-05.  
  10. ^ Nast, p. 61
  11. ^ a b Lovejoy, Paul (1983). Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 195.  
  12. ^ a b Milich, Lee (1997-07-17). "Food Security in Pre-Colonial Hausaland". College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Retrieved 2007-10-26.  
  13. ^ Stilwell, Sean (2000). "Power, Honour and Shame: The Ideology of Royal Slavery in the Sokoto Caliphate". Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, (Edinburgh University Press) 70 (3): 394–421. doi:10.2307/1161067. Retrieved 2007-10-26.  
  14. ^ Christelow, Allan (1987). "Property and Theft in Kano at the Dawn of the Groundnut Boom, 1912-1914". The International Journal of African Historical Studies (Boston University African Studies Center) 20 (2): 225–243. doi:10.2307/219841. Retrieved 2007-10-26.  
  15. ^ Dan-Asabe, Abdulkarim Umar (November 2000). "Biography of Select Kano Merchants, 1853-1955" ( – Scholar search). FAIS Journal of Humanities 1 (2). Retrieved 2007-10-09.  
  16. ^ Ernest E., Uwazie; Isaac Olawale Albert and G. N. Uzoigwe (1999). "The Role of Communication in the Escalation of Ethnic and Religious Conflicts". Inter-Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution in Nigeria. Lexington Books. p. 20. ISBN 0739100335.  
  17. ^ Uwazie et al., p. 73
  18. ^ Hunwick, John Owen; Ibrahim Gambari (chapter author) (1992). "The Role of Religion in National Life: Reflections on Recent Experiences in Nigeria". Religion and National Integration in Africa: Islam, Christianity and Politics in the Sudan and Nigeria. Northwestern University Press. p. 90. ISBN 0810110377.  
  19. ^ "Nigeria's Kano state celebrates Sharia". BBC News. 2000-06-21. Retrieved 2007-11-04.  
  20. ^ a b "Kano: Nigeria's ancient city-state". BBC online (BBC). 2004-05-20. Retrieved 2007-07-12.  
  21. ^ "Army patrols Kano after clashes". (BBC News). 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2007-11-21.  
  22. ^ Karofi, Hassan A; Halima Musa (2007-11-21). "ANPP Sweeps Kano LG Polls". Daily Trust online. Retrieved 2007-11-21.  
  23. ^ Shuaibu, Ibrahim (2007-11-21). "Kano Death Toll Rises to 25". Thisday online (Leaders & Company). Retrieved 2007-11-21.  
  24. ^ "Contact Us." Kabo Air. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  25. ^ ""The Gazetteer"". Retrieved 2007-04-06.  
  26. ^ "Kano". Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2007.  
  27. ^ "Nigerian city of Kano plans IT park". Panapress (Afriquenligne). 2007-11-04. Retrieved 2007-11-04.  
  28. ^ PROF. ABDU SALIHI, FNSE (11TH - 12th May, 2009). "Hydropower Development at Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams, Kano State, Nigeria". International Network on Small Hydro Power (IN-SHP). Retrieved 2009-10-02.  

Further reading

  • Maconachie, Roy (2007). Urban Growth and Land Degradation in Developing Cities: Change and Challenges in Kano, Nigeria. King's SOAS Studies in Development Geography. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9780754648284.  

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Kano is a city in Northern Nigeria and the capital of Kano State.

Kano Market
Kano Market

Kano is the largest city in northern Nigeria. It has a population of around 9 million giving it a busy atmosphere. It is an ancient trading city inhabited for well over a thousand years. Despite the international airport there is little tourist trade, but there are still surprisingly many attractions to visit and, as with the rest of Nigeria, the joy is in the people and the buzz of the streets.

The city is predominantly Muslim with a small percentage of Christians and traditional religions. Sharia law was introduced around 2001 but only applies to Muslims and punishments are rare. There have been sectarian riots, but this is mainly due to political tensions and is not targeted at foreigners.

Foreign currency is not usually accepted so get some Nigerian Naira at a bank or an ATM.

Electricity brownouts are a common problem and don't expect the cleanest of streets.

The official language is English, but the language of the street is Hausa.

Get in

Visitors from outside Nigeria will need a visa. This costs around $70 and you should apply to the relevant Embassy or High Commission at least four weeks in advance. They will need proof that you can support yourself financially and may ask for a letter from your employer.

You will need vaccinations against yellow fever, cholera, medication for malaria and other diseases.

By plane

Kano has an international airport, the first in the country. Even though It is only a shadow of what it used to be it still has international flights coming in from Amsterdam (KLM), Egypt, Libya and some other airlines.

By train

The train lines to Kano are essentially abandoned for passenger traffic, although the government hopes to change this.

Get around

Yellow and blue coloured taxis can be hired on the roadside, ensure you agree a price before leaving. More common are the motorbikes where travellers sit behind the driver. There are also some motorised rickshaws introduced for Muslim women who do not want want to sit up close to a motorbike driver.

Ancient Dye Pits
Ancient Dye Pits

The dye pits of Kano are over 500 years old and privately owned. Indigo is mixed with potassium and ash and fermented for a month before being ready to dye cloths. You can get a short tour around the pits and they will be happy to sell you cloths and clothes dyed blue in a variety of tie dye patterns.

The old Kurmi market sells textiles from around the world.

The Gidan Makama museum is in the centre of town.

Kano History Museum
Kano History Museum

The Kano State History Museum at Gidan Dan Hausa house has a collection of artefacts from stone age to present day within the collonial house of the governor from the 1900s. A friendly tour guide will explain all the objects for you.

The Great Mosque is in the centre of the city and on Fridays over 50,000 people will worship there.


Climb the old hill in the centre of the city. It is where the city started and is now an underground water reservoir.


Bayero University Kano has a range of courses.


The state government is investing heavily in the computing industry and has built a new ICT park.


There are a few supermarkets but in the daytime it is more exciting is to buy from one of the formal markets around town. At dusk and until about 2 in the morning you can buy from any of the hundreds of stalls along the sides of the major roads. You will also be offered items to buy whenever you stop while driving.



Buy food from any stall along the road sides. Masa are ground corn buns, they are often dipped into pepper soup.


Restaurants are all over the centre of the city selling African dishes, fried chicken or Chinese food.

  • Golden Palace Surprisingly good Chinese food. Not too expensive and serves beer (five of us ate far too much for around N 15000). No pork, so only try the dumplings if you like the idea of beef in your dumplings.
  • Lebanese Club Fantastic Lebanese fare (hummus, kebabs, falafel, etc). Serves beer. Members only, but visitors can pay N200 to get in -- negotiate if you are just visiting town.


Sharia law means alcohol is hard to find. Most hotels, with the exception of Prince Hotel do not serve alcohol on the premises but for a small fee you can easily get a staff member to buy some bottles of beer for consumption in your room (most hotel rooms in Kano have fridges). The area called Sabongeri has many bars and nightclubs where alcoholic drinks are freely available and many stores where you can buy wine, or other alcoholic drinks. There are malt drinks in cans with beer branding which are an acquired taste. There are few dairy products in the area but some milk based drinks are available. Western brands such as Coca Cola or Nescafe are common.


Important warning: Like almost all hotels in Nigeria, you will be required to pay for your room up-front. Typically 125% of the room rate before you get the key. Ask for a receipt. The advance paid will be deducted from the bill on checking out.

  • Prince Hotel, Tamandu Rd, Kano, 064 200601 (), [1]. $100 plus.  edit Prince Hotel is a favourite for expats and NGOs.Security is good. Standard rooms are small but with A/C. WiFi internet available for about $7 for 24 hours. One of the few hotels in Kano where you can have a drink. Calypso restaurant on the same premises, decent food, continental and lebanese. Room service available.

No gym. Not sure about the pool either. Have never seen it.

  • Tahir Guest Palace, 08050298537, [2]. around $100.  edit

Tahir Guest Palace is a sprawling complex of buildings containing probably the largest number of guest rooms in Kano. Security is OK. Rooms are all very large, a/c, fridge, easy chairs, large double beds, fridge. The best gym in Northern Nigeria for about $7 per session. Restaurant with buffet service at night,OK but not outstanding. Room service, laundry service and bakery across the road. Small shop and travel agent in the hotel. No alcohol. Good breakfast. Internet free of charge.

  • Royal Tropicana Hotel. around $70.  edit

Tropicana is a large hotel similar to the Tahir. The standard rooms are cozy but well kept with a/c, tv, fridge, etc. Internet is excellent and free.

Stay safe

Kano is a largely safe city and theft or violence to foreigners is rare. Keep valuables in a zipped pocket and do not wear overly revealing clothes. When buying outside shops you will probably need to haggle, walk away if you are unsure of the deal. People may try to swindle you so check your prices before agreeing and if anyone asks for money feel free to walk away. Do not use internet banking from anything but private computers.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

Kano is a city in Nigeria. It is the center of the Kano State. Kano is the third largest city in Nigeria, after Ibadan and Lagos. About 3,626,204 people live in Kano.

It has long been the economic centre of northern Nigeria, and a centre for the sale of groundnuts. Kano is known for the Bayero University and a railway station with trains to Lagos, moving through Kaduna, while Kano International Airport can be found nearby. Kano has long been a centre for Nigeria's Islamic culture; one of the country's finest mosques lies in the city.

It is also the site where the Kano river project was developed. This is a large irrigation scheme.


The city of Kano was founded around A.D. 1000 as an Hausa city of its own. Kano remained a big emirate, or Muslim kingdom, until the making of the country, Nigeria, in 1903. Kano became known for its trade in gold, leather, ivory, salt and slaves within the area. This perhaps is the reason for the city's wealth and power in the 14th century, when Islam gained a growing following. By the 15th century, the first Central Mosque had been built in the city.

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