Sokoto: Wikis


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Sultan's Palace
Sokoto is located in Nigeria
Location in Nigeria
Coordinates: 13°04′N 5°14′E / 13.067°N 5.233°E / 13.067; 5.233Coordinates: 13°04′N 5°14′E / 13.067°N 5.233°E / 13.067; 5.233
Country Flag of Nigeria.svg Nigeria
State Sokoto State
Population (2006)
 - Total 583,039

Sokoto is a city located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River. As of 2006 it has a population of 583,039.[1] Sokoto is the modern day capital of Sokoto State (and its predecessor, the Northwestern State).

The name Sokoto (which is the modern/anglicised version of the local name, Sakkwato) is of Arabic origin, representing suk, 'market'. It is also known as Sakkwato, Birnin Shaihu da Bello or "Sokoto, Capital of Shaihu and Bello").

Being the seat of the Sokoto Caliphate, the city is predominantly Muslim and an important seat of Islamic learning in Nigeria. The Sultan who heads the caliphate is effectively the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims.



Sokoto is in the dry Sahel surrounded by sandy savannah 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.[2] 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.[2][3] 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 free grassland 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 Shehu's death.

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-settled zone around. The rivers, rather than long-distance trade. In the city's economy. The trade of Sokoto is at present inconsiderable, owing to the disturbed state of the 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 Shehu.

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 state.

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[citation needed] 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 since 1804.

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 attires.

Economic activities

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 Market

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 million.

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.

10 km 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 commerce.

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 another product.

See also


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 Danfodiyo University Sokoto.

7 *

8 *

9 *

10 *

11 *Abubakar, S; Aspect of Urban Phenomenon, Sokoto and its hinterland,1950.

12 *Balogun, I.A.B; Life and Works of Uthman Danfodiyo, Ibadan 1981.

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.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SOKOTO, an important Fula state of west central Sudan, now a province of the British protectorate of Nigeria. The sultan of Sokoto throughout the 19th century exercised an overlordship over the Hausa states extending east from the Niger to Bornu and southward to the Benue and Adamawa. These states and Sokoto itself, known variously as the Sokoto or Fula empire and Hausaland, came (c. 1900-1903) under direct British control, but the native governments are maintained. The province of Sokoto occupies the north-west corner of the British protectorate, and is bounded west and north by French territory. South and east it adjoins other parts of the British protectorate. Bordering north on the Sahara, it contains much arid land, but south-west the land is very fertile. Running through it in a south-westerly direction is the Gublin Kebbi or Sokoto river, which joins the Niger in 112° N. 4° E. On a tributary of this river is the town of Sokoto.

The Sokoto or Fula empire was founded at the beginning of the 19th century. The country over which the Fula ruled has, however, a history going back to the middle ages. Between the Niger and the kingdom of Bornu (q.v.) the country was inhabited by various black tribes, of whom the Hausa occupied the plains. Under the influence of Berber and Arab tribes, who embraced Mahommedanism, the Hausa advanced in civilization; founded large cities, and developed a considerable trade, not only with the neighbouring countries, but, via the Sahara, with the Barbary states. The various kingdoms which grew up round each large town had their own rulers, but in the first half of the 16th century they all appear to have owned the sway of the Songhoi kings (see Timbuktu). On the break up of the Songhoi empire the north-eastern part of Hausaland became more or less subject to Bornu, whose sultans in the 17th century claimed to rule over Katsena and Kano. In this century arose a dynasty of the Habe, a name now believed to be identical with Hausa, who obtained power over a large area of the northern portion of the present British protectorate. The Hausa, whose conversion to Mahommedanism began in the 12th century, were still in the 18th century partly pagans, though their rulers were followers of the Prophet. These rulers built up an elaborate system of government which left a considerable share in the management of affairs to the body of the people. Dwelling among the Hausa were a number of Fula, mostly herdsmen, and these were devout Mahommedans. One of the more cultivated teachers of this race, named Othman Dan Fodio, had been tutor to the king of Gobir (a district north of - Sokoto). He incurred the wrath of that king, who, angered at some act of defiance, ordered the massacre of every Fula in his dominions. The Fula flocked to Fodio's aid, and in the battle of Koto or Rugga Fakko (1804) the king of Gobir was utterly defeated. Thereupon Fodio unfurled the green banner of Mahomet and preached a jihad or religious war. In a few years the Fula had subdued most of the Hausa states, some, like Kano, yielding easily in order to preserve their trade, others, like Katsena, offering a stubborn resistance. Gobir and Kebbi remained Unconquered, as did the pagan hill tribes. The Fula were also defeated in their attack on Bornu. In most places they continued the system of government which had grown up under the Habe, the chiefs or emirs of the various states being, however, tributary to Dan Fodio. This sheik established himself at Sokoto, and with other titles assumed that of Sarikin Muslimin (king of the Mahommedans). As such he became the recognized spiritual head of all the Mahommedans of west central Sudan, a headship which his successors retained unimpaired, even after the loss of their temporal position to the British in 1903. On the death of Fodio (c. 1819) the empire was divided between a son and a brother, the son, famous under the name of Sultan Bello, ruling at Sokoto, the brother at Gando. All the other Fula emirs were dependent on these two sultanates. The Fula power proved, before many years had gone by, in many respects harmful to the country. This was especially the case in those districts where there was a large pagan population. Slave-raiding was practised on a scale which devastated and almost depopulated vast regions and greatly hampered the commercial activity of the large cities, of which Zaria and Kano were the most important. The purity of the ancient administration was abandoned. The courts of justice became corrupt, administrative power was abused and degenerated into a despotism controlled only by personal considerations, oppressive taxes destroyed industry and gradually desolated the country. Soon after the Fula had established themselves Europeans began to visit the country. Hugh Clapperton, an Englishman, was at Sokoto in 1823 and again in 1827, dying there on the 13th of April of that year. Heinrich Barth made a prolonged stay in various Hausa cities at dates between 1851 and 1855. To Barth is due a great deal of our knowledge of the country. In Barth's time American merchants were established on the Niger, bartering goods in exchange for slaves. This traffic was carried on through Nupe "to the great damage," says Barth, "of the commerce and the most unqualified scandal of the Arabs, who think that the English, if they would, could easily prevent it." The over-seas traffic in slaves did not continue long after the date (1851) to which Barth referred, but slave-raiding by the Fula went on unchecked up to the moment of the British occupation of the country. At Sokoto the sultanship continued in the hands of Fodio's descendants, and the reigning sultan concluded in 1885 a treaty with the Royal Niger Company (then called the National African Company) which gave to the company certain rights of sovereignty throughout his dominions.

In 1900 the rights of the company were transferred to the Crown. In the course of the years 1900, 1901, 1902, British authority was established in the states bordering to on the Niger and the Benue and in Bornu. The northern states declined to fulfil the conditions of the treaties negotiated with the Niger Company or to submit to the abolition of the slave trade, and in 1902 Sokoto and Kano openly defied the British power. A campaign was undertaken against them in the opening months of 1903 in which the British troops were entirely successful. Kano was taken in February 1903, and Sokoto after some resistance made formal submission on the 22nd of March following. From that day British authority was substituted for Fula authority throughout the protectorate. The emir of Sokoto took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown and Sokoto became a British province, to which at a later period Gando was added as a subprovince - thus making of Sokoto one of the double provinces of the protectorate.

The double province thus constituted has an area of about 35, 000 sq. m., with an estimated population of something over 500,000. It includes the ancient kingdoms of Zamfara on the east and Argunga or Kebbi on the west. The dominions of the emir of Sokoto have suffered some diminutions by reason of British agreements with France relating to the common frontier of the two European powers in the western Sudan. The emir felt deeply the loss of territory ceded to France in 1904 but accepted the settlement with much loyalty. Like the emir of Kano the new emir of Sokoto worked most loyally with the British administration. The province has been organized on the same principle as the other provinces of Northern Nigeria. A British resident of the first class has been placed at Sokoto and assistant residents at other centres. British courts of justice have been established and British governors are quartered in the province. Detachments of civil police are also placed at the principal stations. The country has been assessed under the new system for taxes and is being opened as rapidly as possible for trade. After the establishment of British rule farmers and herdsmen reoccupied districts and the inhabitants of cities flocked back to the land, rebuilding villages which had been deserted for fifty years. Horse breeding and cattle raising form the chief source of wealth in the province. There is some ostrich farming. Except in the sandy areas there is extensive agriculture, including rice and cotton. Special crops are grown in the valleys by irrigation. Weaving, dyeing and tanning are the principal native industries. Fair roads are in process of construction through the province. Trade is increasing and a cash currency has been introduced.

The emir of Gando, treated on the same terms as the emirs of Kano and Sokoto, proved less loyal to his oath of allegiance and had to be deposed. Another emir was installed in his place and in the whole double province of Sokoto-Gando prosperity has been general. In 1906 a rising attributed to religious fanaticism occurred near Sokoto in which unfortunately three white officers lost their lives. The emir heartily repudiated the leader of the rising, who claimed to be a Mandi inspired to drive the white man out of the country. A British force marched against the rebels, who were overthrown with great loss in March 1906. The leader was condemned to death in the emir's court and executed in the market place of Sokoto, and the incident was chiefly interesting for the display of loyalty to the British administration which it evoked on all sides from the native rulers. (See also NIGERIA; FULA; and HAUSA.) See the Travels of Dr Barth (London 1857); Lady Lugard, A Tropical Dependency (London, 1905); P. L. Monteil, De Saint Louis a Tripoli par le lac Tchad (Paris, 1895); C. H. Robinson, Hausaland (London, 1896); The Annual Reports on Northern Nigeria, issued since 1900 by the Colonial Office, London; Sir F. D. Lugard, "Northern Nigeria," in Geo. Journ. vol. xxiii., and Major J. A. Burdon, "The Fulani Emirates," ibid. vol xxiv. (both London, 1904). Except the last-named paper most of these authorities deal with many other subjects besides the Fula. (F. L. L.)

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Simple English

File:Sokoto State
Map showing the modern state of Sokoto in red.

Sokoto is a city in the northwest of Nigeria, near to where the Sokoto River and Rima River meet. The people in Sokoto are mostly Muslims. Sokoto was the capital city of Gobir from the 10th century. Sokoto was made as a caliphate, an Islamic state, in the 19th century.

From around 1900, the British took control of Sokoto, which then made up a large part of the north-west corner of Nigeria. Sokoto became a province (area) of the British colony of Nigeria.


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