History of Kano

Published on 15th May 2007

Kano is the administrative center of the Kano State and the third largest city in Nigeria after Lagos and Ibadan. It is located on Northern Nigeria, on Jakara River. With a population of approximately 3.5 million, the city is the trading and shipping center. It is the major industrial center of N. Nigeria.


The city was traditionally founded by Kano, a blacksmith of the Gaya tribe who in ancient times came to Dalla Hill in search of iron. The discovery of stone tools indicates prehistoric settlement of the site, which was selected as the capital of Hausa state of Kano in the reign (1095–1134) of King Gajemasu. The present city wall, replacing a 12th-century structure, probably dates from the 15th century. Inside the old walled area along the Jakara river is the central Kurmi market, a main caravan terminus.


After the Fulani jihad (holy war, 1804–07), the city was chosen to be the capital of an emirate centered on the city. The main medium of exchange was Cowrie shells. In return for Hausa leatherwork, cloth, and metalwares, Kano received kola nuts from Ghana; salt from the Sahara; slaves from the Bauchi and Adamawa emirates; natron from Lake Chad; and sword blades, weaponry, silk, spices, perfumes, and books brought from Europe by the trans-Saharan camel caravans.


At the beginning of the 19th Century, Fulani Islamic leader Usman dan Fodio led a jihad against Kano, removing its Hausa Emir and reforming the government and religious authority. Since then, the Fulani Emirs have remained traditional leaders of Kano. British forces captured the city in 1903 opening the railway from Lagos in 1912 hence changing the direction of trade south to the Gulf of Guinea.


Kano was replaced as the centre of government for the Northern Region of Nigeria by Kaduna, and only regained administrative significance with the creation of Kano State following Nigerian independence.


Modern Kano is a major commercial and industrial centre. Exports include peanuts, hides, skins and a considerable livestock trade. The city's food products are baked goods and pasta, processed meat, crushed bone, canned food, peanuts, vegetable oils, soft drinks, and beer. Light manufactures include textiles, knit fabrics, tents, bedding, foam rubber products, clothing, and cosmetics among others while heavy industries manufacture asbestos, cement, concrete blocks, metal structural products, bicycles, automobiles, trucks, and chemicals.


The population is mostly Hausa, mainly Kano (Kanawa), but also includes the Abagagyawa, who claim descent from Kano's original inhabitants, and Fulani. The city is subdivided into about 100 unguwa (“hamlets”), each with a mosque and a market.


Kano hosts Bayero University, Kano State Institute for Higher Education, an Arabic law school, several teacher-training institutes, a state polytechnic college, and an agricultural (peanut) research institute among others. The British Council Library and Kano State Library are located in the city too. The city is served by the railway network between Nguru and Lagos and Port Harcourt. There is also an international airport in the city.







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