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The Kingdom of Kano was a Hausa kingdom in the north of what is now Northern Nigeria that dates back before 1000 AD, and lasted until the proclamation of the Sultanate of Kano by King Ali Yaji Dan Tsamiya in 1349. The kingdom was then replaced by the Sultanate of Kano, under the suzerainty of a Muslim Sultan The capital is now the modern city of Kano in Kano State.[1]

Sarautar Kano
Ad Daulat Al Kano
Anthem: Busar Bagauda
Drum of Bagauda
StatusTribal Kingdom
(999- ???)
Common languagesHausa (official), Arabic
Hausa Animism Islam
GovernmentAbsolute Monarchy
List of Kings of Kano 
• 999
Bagauda (first)
• 1349
Ali Yaji Dan Tsamiya (last)
Grand Vizier 
• ???–????
shamaki (first)
• ???
??? (last)
LegislatureTaran Kano
House of Nine
• Founded
???? 999
800 Circa
??? 1349
CurrencyDirham, Salt, Gold, Cowries
Preceded by
State of Dala
State of Kurmi
Santolo Theocracy
Kingdom of Dutse
Kingdom of Santolo
Today part of


Kano lies to the north of the Jos Plateau, located in the Sudanian Savanna region that stretches across the south of the Sahel. The city lies near where the Kano and Challawa rivers flowing from the southwest converge to form the Hadejia River, which eventually flows into Lake Chad to the east. The climate is hot all year round. Rainfall is variable, ranging from 350mm to 1,300mm annually with the mean around 950mm, almost all falling during June–September period. Traditionally agriculture was based on lifting water to irrigate small parcels of land along river channels in the dry season, known as the Shadouf system. At the time when the kingdom was flourishing, tree cover would have been more extensive and the soil less degraded than it is today.[2]

Early historyEdit

Our knowledge of the early history of Kano comes largely from the Kano Chronicle, a compilation of oral tradition and some older documents composed in the nineteenth century, as well as more recently conducted archaeology.

In the 7th century, Dala Hill, a hill in Kano, was the site of a community that engaged in iron-working. It is unknown whether these were Hausa people or speakers of Niger–Congo languages.[3] Some sources say they were Hausa speaking hunter/gatherers known as Abagayawa who migrated from Gaya.[1] The Arab geographer al-Yaqubi, writing in 872/873 CE (AH 259), describes a kingdom called "HBShH" with a city named "ThBYR" ruled by a king called "MRH" (none of these words are vocalized, so their actual pronunciation can vary), located between the Niger Bend and the Kingdom of Kanem.[4] If the kingdom's name is vocalized as "Habasha" it would correspond with other Arabic language texts that also appear to refer to the Hausa, and would be the earliest reference to the Hausa region.

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.[5] The Kano Chronicle identifies Barbushe, a priest of a Dalla Hill spirit, as the city's first settler.[6] (Elizabeth Isichei notes that the description of Barbushe is similar to those of Sao people.)[7] According to the Kano Chronicle, Bagauda, a grandson of the mythical hero Bayajidda,became the first Hausa king of Kano in 999, reigning until 1063.[8][9][10][11][12] His grandson Gijimasu (1095–1134), the third king, began building city walls at the foot of Dalla Hill, and Gijimasu's son, Tsaraki (1136–1194), the fifth king, completed them during his reign.[11] The Bagauda family steadily extended the kingdom through conquest of nearby communities. They established numerous sub-rulers, with titles starting with "Dan", of which the most important was "Dan Iya".[1][13]

Ali YajiEdit

Ali Yaji (1349–85) presided over the introduction of the Abrahamic religions in Kano, he brought in holy men from Wangara, presumably Mali. He extended Kano's reach and launched an unsuccessful expedition into the Kwarafa region.[14] He became the Last king of Kano when in the 1350s, after conquering Rano and Santolo he made Islam the state religion and proclaimed an end to the Kingdom, Kano from then on became an Islamic sultanate and its leaders took on the Title of Sultan.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa. "Brief History of Kano 999 to 2003". Kano State Government. Archived from the original on 1 May 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  2. ^ Kabiru Ahmed. "The Kano Physical Environment". Kano State Government. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  3. ^ Iliffe, John (2007). Africans: The History of a Continent. Cambridge University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-521-86438-0.
  4. ^ al-Ya'qubi, "Tarikh" in Nehemiah Levtzion and J. F. P. Hopkins, transl, Corpus of Early Arabic sources for West African History (Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 21.
  5. ^ Nast, Heidi J (2005). Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace. University of Minnesota Press. p. 60. ISBN 0-8166-4154-4.
  6. ^ "Kano Chronicle" ed. H. R. Palmer in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 38 (1908) p. 63
  7. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press. p. 234. ISBN 0-521-45599-5.
  8. ^ "Kano Chronicle" ed. H. R. Palmer,pp. 64-65.
  9. ^ Okehie-Offoha, Marcellina; Matthew N. O. Sadiku (December 1995). Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Nigeria. Africa World Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-86543-283-3.
  10. ^ "Kano". Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  11. ^ 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 0-520-06699-5.
  12. ^ H. R. Palmer, ed. and trans. "The Kano Chronicle" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 38 (1908), p. 65.
  13. ^ "Kano Chronicle" ed. Palmer, pp. 66, 67.
  14. ^ "Kano Chronicle," ed. Palmer, pp. 70-72.