AskDefine | Define kano

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  1. canoe (a small long and narrow boat)

Extensive Definition

Kano is the administrative center of the Kano State and the third largest city in Nigeria, in terms of geographical size, after Ibadan and Lagos. In population, it is the second most populous city (with a population of 3,848,885) in the country after Lagos. 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

In the seventh century, Dalla 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. Kano was originally known as Dalla, after the hill, and was referred to as such as late as the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth by Bornoan sources. 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.)
According to the Kano Chronicle, Bagauda, a grandson of the mythical hero Bayajidda, became the first king of Kano in 999, reigning until 1063. (Small chiefdoms were previously present in the area.) 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. as he urged prominent residents to convert. The Kano Chronicle attributes a total of twelve "innovations" to Rumfa.
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

see also Fulani Jihad At the beginning of the 19th century, Fulani Islamic leader Usman dan Fodio led a jihad against Kano, removing its Hausa king and reforming the government and religious authority. Since then the Fulani emirs have remained traditional leaders of Kano.
The city suffered famines from 1807-10, in the 1830s, 1847, 1855, 1863, 1873, 1884, and from 1889 until 1890.
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.

British colonization and rule

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. Other famines during British rule occurred in 1908, 1920, 1927, 1943, 1951, 1956, and 1958.
In May of 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. Thousands of Nigerians of southern origin died as a result of the riot.

Post-independence history

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.
After the introduction of sharia in Kano State in 2000, many Christians left the city. 100 people were killed in riots over the sharia issue during October of 2001. (The ANPP won in 36 of the state's 44 Local Government Areas.) 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.


Kano is largely Muslim. The majority of Kano Muslims are Sunni, though a minorty 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. 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.
As of November 2007, there are plans to establish an information technology park in the city.

Durbar Festival

The Emir of Kano hosts a Durbar to mark and celebrate the two annual Muslim festivals and Eid-El-Fitr (to mark the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan) and Eid-el-Kabir (to mark the Haj 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.


Further reading

  • Urban Growth and Land Degradation in Developing Cities: Change and Challenges in Kano, Nigeria
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