Triple heritage: The appointment and coronation of Kano emirs since 1807 | Dailytrust

Triple heritage: The appointment and coronation of Kano emirs since 1807

  The Gidan Rumfa, sometimes called the Gidan Sarki, is the palace of the Emir of Kano. It is located in the city of Kano
The Gidan Rumfa, sometimes called the Gidan Sarki, is the palace of the Emir of Kano. It is located in the city of Kano

The coronation of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Bayero, today, July 3, 2021, marks another milestone in the history of Kano.

The coronation and succession by the Emir symbolize the ‘triple heritage’ in Kano viz: Hausa, Islamic and British. In 1903, the British introduced coronation with the presentation of Staff of Office to emirs as they do not wear a crown.

The succession to emirate began in 1819. Then Sarkin Musulmi Muhammadu Bello represented Shehu Usman Danfodio at Birnin Gada where he appointed Mallam Sulaiman as the first Emir of Kano in 1807.

Before this appointment, Kano was an independent Kingdom ruled by the Kutumbawa Dynasty (named after Sarkin Kano Kutumbi 1623-1648).

The process of appointing the Sarki was reformed by Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Rumfa (1463-1499) with the introduction of the Tara ta Kano and the Tagwayen Masu the official staff of the Sarki.

Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Rumfa was the culmination of Hausa tradition in Kano and the first component of the ‘triple heritage’.

The first Emir brought by the Jihad was Sulaiman (1807-1819), and its Islamic legitimacy is the second component of the ‘triple heritage’.

Sarki Sulaiman recommended Ibrahim Dabo to Sarkin Musulmi (caliph) Muhammadu Bello for an appointment as Emir. Kano lost its independence with the jihadists’ overthrow of the Kutumbawa Dynasty (1623-1807).

The caliph was aware of the animosity in the jihadists’ camp and therefore directed that his letter of appointment of Ibrahim Dabo should be read in Yolawa quarters in the presence of Mallam Jibir, the patriarch of the Yolawa clan.

Since then the Madaki, the leader of the Yolawa clan became the head of the kingmakers who select the emir for the approval of Sokoto.

When Ibrahim Dabo assumed the emirship he decided to designate only representatives of four clans (Yolawa, Jobawa, Sullubawa and Dambazawa) out of the nine prominent jihadist clans (Mundubawa, Yolawa, Jobawa, Sullubawa, Dambazawa, Danejawa, Hausawa, Jallubawa/Gyanawa and Yaligawa).

Uthman, the eldest son of Ibrahim Dabo, succeeded him in 1846. He was also succeeded by his brother, Abdullahi in 1855 and then Bello in 1882, all of them sons of the same mother, Shekara, the celebrated lady of Hausaland. The caliph appointed all of them based on consultations.

In 1893 Caliph Abdurrahman appointed Muhammadu Tukur, son of Sarkin Kano Bello (1882-1893), who was not popular amongst the Kano ruling elite, dominated by the descendants of Sarkin Kano Abdullahi (1855-1882).

He was later forcefully removed in a bitter civil war and since then (1894) Sokoto Caliphate lost its authority of appointing an Emir for Kano.

The British conquered Kano on February 3, 1903. They declared the emir deposed. They consulted the resident Arab merchants led by Alhaji Abande, who did not support the appointment of Abdu Lele, the son of Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Tukur (1893-1894) as the new emir.

Abdu Lele was in the British contingent that captured Kano and he was committed to vengeance because of the way his father was forcefully removed by the Yusufawa in 1894.

Meanwhile, Wambai Muhammadu Abbasi, the elder brother of Sarkin Kano Aliyu Babba (1894-1903), led the remnants of Kano troops who fought the British at Kwatarkwashi and who had decided to surrender and accept British overrule.

He sent a message to Lugard that he was returning to Kano with his troops to formally surrender.

Sarkin Kano Aliyu Babba had fled and Waziri Ahmadu, the most senior titleholder had been martyred hence his posthumous sobriquet of ‘Mai-Shahadah’. This made Abbas the leader of the Kano ruling elite.

Lugard, after consulting Alhaji Abande, not the kingmakers, appointed Wambai Abbas as the Emir but on probation.

Lugard’s decision to consult Abande, the leader of the Arab merchants, was probably because of his racial philosophy or because he believed they were neutral.

It is also possible that Lugard knew Abbas served as the intermediary between the Yusufawa and the Arab merchants led by Abande during the Kano Civil War of 1893.

Captain Abadie, who was the first Colonial Resident (Administrator) appointed by Lugard to administer Kano, sought the support of the Arab merchants who organised their households to grind cereals for the British military contingent mobilised for the final assault against the Sokoto Caliphate.

Therefore, the initial relation between the British and the Arabs was symbiotic and Alhaji Abande, the Arab leader, used it to get the throne for his friend.

The British introduced coronation, not with the symbolic crowning, but the presentation of Staff of Office, which was first handed to Sarkin Kano Abbas in 1904, after completing the probation.

Sarkin Kano Usman (1919-1926), the elder brother, was the second emir appointed by the British.

This appointment was based on the advice of Wazirin Kano Gidado, the grandfather of Waziri Sa’adu Shehu (current Waziri), who was the most influential emirate official.

The kingmakers and other chiefs did not have much influence at that time as the British were nurturing their colonial administration and at one time even contemplated dynastic change as they did in Daura and Katsina.

The British appointed Abdullahi Bayero in 1926, and from 1926 to 1953 that coincided with the heydays of the British colonial domination and the subsequent emergence of the Nigerian political elite.

Muhammadu Sanusi, his eldest son, who became the Emir (1953-1963) was the greatest supporter of the leading political elite of the northern region as acknowledged by John Paden, the authorized biographer of Ahmadu Bello, the premier of the Northern Region (1954-1966).

Since then, the indigenous political elite, successors of the British colonialists, have always determined who becomes the emir.

Sarkin Kano Khalifah Sir Muhammadu Sanusi abdicated in 1963. The Northern Regional Government appointed Muhammadu Inuwa Abbas in 1963.

His reign did not last long and then they appointed Alhaji Ado Bayero on October 11, 1963. His long reign witnessed the creation of Kano State.

Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the Governor of Kano State, appointed Muhammadu Sanusi II as the successor of Alhaji Ado Bayero on June 8, 2014.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje deposed Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II (2014-2020) on March 6, 2020 and appointed Aminu Ado Bayero, who was previously the Emir of the newly created Bichi Emirate.

The British introduced Coronation. The post-colonial state retained it as an elaborate ceremony during which the emir takes the oath of office administered by the Chief Imam of Kano.

The Madaki, who is the head of the kingmakers usually leads the coronation process during which the leading palace officials: Shamaki and Dan Rimi – robe the emir with ‘Alkyaba’, place the sword on his shoulders and hand over to him the Tagwayen Masu (Twin Spears).

On his appointment by the governor, he immediately receives the Tagwayen Masu and other regalia but they are again presented at the formal coronation ceremony.

The climax of the coronation is the presentation of the Staff of Office by the governor.

The coronation of Sarkin Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi in 1954 is well documented. Madaki Shehu Ahmed led the traditional processes; he also did it for Sarkin Kano Inuwa and Sarkin Kano Ado Bayero.

He is the only Madaki in the history of Kano that has been involved in the installation of three emirs.

The coronation of Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero will be the second by Madaki Yusuf Nabahani Cigari. The ceremony will hold at Kofar Mata in Sani Abacha Stadium, where it was held in 1954 and 1964.

The coronation of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi by Governor Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was held at the Coronation Hall of the Kano Government House.

After the presentation of the Staff of Office, the Coronation Durbar commences from the venue to Emir’s Palace to terminate at Kofar Kudu.

The Durbar is very important, being the largest procession of colourful horses in the world and the costumes reflect the “triple heritage” of the Emirate.

The procession is based on the participation of the clans in the Jihad in Kano (of 1805-1807).

The creation of additional Emirates in 2019 by the Kano State has reduced the number of titleholders in Kano Emirate as well as the number of participants in the Durbar procession.

The formalities of appointment and coronation of the emir are influenced by the “triple heritage” of the society.

The sarauta (kingship) is of Hausa origin and it is the source of Tagwayen Masu (Twin Spears) and most of the titles of the emirate.

The jihad led by Shehu Usman Danfodio, which was Islamic, is the source of the legitimacy of the emir and all emirate officials.

The post-colonial state, which now appoints the emir and even minor chiefs, is a legacy of British colonial domination.

The Staff of Office, which the governor hands over to the emir is a British creation and symbolizes the end of the caliph’s authority and is the third component of the ‘triple heritage’.

Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa (  is the Editor of Nigeria Year Book and Who is Who

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