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Exiled Kano emirs and their privileges



Emir Sanusi II at Lagos residence

Nasiru Wada Khalil

I was motivated to write this piece in order to correct some notions and set the record straight regarding how a former emir should appear, as well as narrate how the two previously exiled emirs related with people.

It was on Sallah day that a group of people in one of the social media platforms came across Emir Sanusi II holding a gaisuwa session in his residence in Lagos while in royal regalia and a dogari (Turakin Sallama) was by the side anchoring the gaisuwa for him. They all commented thinking that such a session should not ideally be held.

Hence, I decided that there is the need to recollect previous practices of exiled emirs with similar fate as Sanusi II in order to correct the perception of people outside the domain of royalty on the pre-existing cultural practice by the dynasts of Kano.

Therefore, anything outside cultural privilege is not within the purview of this mini article.

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In this regard, two examples will be cited to justify the conduct of Emir Sanusi II.

The first example was the first deposition or dethronement of an Emir after the Danfodio Jihad and establishment of Ibrahim Dabo dynasty in Kano.

This was the case of the British colonialists’ deposition of Emir of Kano Alu (1897 – 1903) immediately after their conquest of the Emirate, which brought an end to his reign.

Emir Alu was first exiled to Yola in present Adamawa State and later to in Lokoja of the present day Kogi State along with other emirs who suffered similar fate.

He resided there until his death in 1926 during the reign of Emir of Kano Abdullahi Bayero.

The emirs that were exiled alongside Emir of Kano Alu were: Malam Aliyu Dan Sidi (Emir of Zazzau); Malam Abubakar (Emir of Bida); Muhammadu Aliyu (Emir of Gwandu), and Abubakar Abubakar (Emir of Gumel).

These emirs died while in exile in Lokoja and were all buried there.

The second case was that of the abdication of Emir of Kano Sir Sanusi KBE (1953 – 1963).

Sanusi was instrumental to the success of the ruling party, Northern People’s Congress (NPC).

Later his relationship with the NPC Northern Regional Government became strained particularly with the Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto), who was his distant cousin.

The Government instituted a Commission of Inquiry, which indicted him and was forced to abdicate in April 1963 and immediately exiled to Azare in present Bauchi State.

These two examples in the history of Ibrahim Dabo Dynasty in Kano influenced the conduct of the former and exiled Emir Sanusi II.

Exclusive privileges of Kano Emirs

It is however important to recall the exclusive privileges of a serving emir that he does not share with anyone and which the exiled emirs never exhibited.

When an emir’s position is vacant, the Shamaki who is the chief slave official will take the custody of the takalmin gashin jimina (ostrich feather shoe), twagayen masu (the twin spears), figini (ostrich feather fan) and wukar yanka da kwari da bakan Dabo (Dabo’s knife, bow and arrow) and hand them over to the head of the king makers, Madaki, for the adornment and usage of the new emir.

This also clearly shows that, these items are the exclusive regalia of a serving emir that he does not share with any dynast.

The two exiled Emirs of Kano (Alu and Sanusi I) dressed in the normal emir’s regalia as when they were emirs but without the exclusive regalia.

A good example was the appearance of Emir Sanusi I while in exile at Azare.

Rukayya B. Makama his granddaughter and biographer in her book titled Sir Muhammadu Sanusi Sarki Na Goma Sha Daya a Daular Fulani provided his pictures in this regards.

First of all, the picture on page 175 shows Emir Sir Sanusi KBE seated not on a normal chair but on Karaga (royal bed) dressed in full regalia.

Karaga is also part of apparatus that a former emir can enjoy for the rest of his life.

Similarly, on page 192 he was seated reading the Holly Qur’an in his full royal dress.

People should now know that wearing turban with the two rabbit like ears and babbar riga (a flowing gown) and Alkyabba (gown) is never categorized by anyone as exclusive preserve for the serving emir.

Maghili explained the wisdom behind the appearance of the emir in the second chapter of The Crown of Religion Concerning the Obligations of Princes – it is all about dignity – and dignity should or must be maintained even after losing the throne.

We have seen the documentary film on Emir Sanusi’s relocation to Wudil from Azare where he led Jumuat prayer in Azare with his white Alkyabba covering his head (rufe kai da kokuwar alkyabba) just like every serving emir going for a congregational prayer in Kano.

This appearance is an exclusive privilege of a former emir.

No royal family member either with title or without can dress in such form but dressing in full royal regalia with kunne biyu and hanging sword (rataya takobi) is applied even to former or retired district heads talk less of former emir.

Dan Iya Ado Sanusi and Danburam Abubakar Bayero are good examples of appearance in full regalia by dynasts after deposition.

In 1926 Emir of Kano Abdullahi Bayero went to Lokoja and paid a visit to his uncle and father in-law, the deposed Emir of Kano Alu. On Alu’s outing to receive his guest – Abdullahi Bayero – he came out not only in full royal regalia (without the exclusive items) but also with courtiers chanting Takawa Sannu a normal practice of Coded Communication guiding the dynast and royal family.

This incidence justified the mini royal court session held in Lagos on the Sallah day for Sallah greeting.

Another example just like Emir Alu, Emir Sanusi KBE also both in Azare and Wudil often came out under the guidance of kiran lafiya (coded communication by the royal slaves), Isa Kwatagwam (a eunuch who died in Azare) and female jakadu (singular: jakadiya) such as Jakadiya Dala, Jakadiya Yarinya, Jakadiya Biya-biya and later Jakadiya Ai, all of them escorted him right from his house chanting kiran lafiya just like the practice for the serving Emir in Gidan Rumfa.

On a similar note, a former emir is entitled to be serenaded with palace musical instrument except Kakaki (long trumpet) and Tambari (A ‘royal’ hemispherical drum).

The case of Kakaki as exclusive preserve for an emir only applies in Kano, but in other emirates Kakaki is not for emir alone.

Once an Emir…

In the end, it is natural that when an Emir is deposed or retired, it is not expected of him to become a gyartai (cobbler) in his day to day conduct, there must be elegance and dignity in his conduct.

He is still an emir in all ramifications only that he has no territorial control.

He is entitled to all the cultural privileges of an emir to the end of his life.

In the traditional system of Kano, emir remained an emir for life irrespective of where he is stationed, this can be understood if we refer to Kano Palace language, in which when referring to Emir of Kano Alu after his exile up to now he is referred to as ‘Sarki Mai Tafiya’ (emir who travelled) meaning an emir who reside outside the emirate.

This is why a former or retired emir when he passes away, will be buried amongst emirs just like what happened to Emir Sanusi I in Kano.

His remains were buried in Nassarawa Palace alongside Emir Abbas, Emir Abdullahi Bayero and Emir Muhammadu Inuwa.

The same scenario in recent history took place in Sokoto.

When Sultan Dasuki died in Kaduna, his funeral prayer like all other sultans who died on the throne was held in Sultan Bello Mosque in Sokoto with the entire sultanate king makers around and he was subsequently buried in the Hubbaren Shehu Dan Hodiyo.

From these practices, it is hereby concluded an Emir of Kano no matter his condition retains some privileges for life.

Therefore the conduct of Emir Sanusi II does not violate any known Kano palace intangible cultural heritage.

Nasiru Wada Khalil researcher on palace cultural heritage can be reached at

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Unusual signs may emerge on Laylatul Qadr – Alakarmawi



Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi

Nasiru Yusuf

A renowned Islamic scholar in Kano Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi said it is sometimes possible to witness unusual signs on Laylatul Qadr.

Kano Focus reports that Sheikh Alkarmawi revealed this while delivering his Friday sermon.

He said Laylatul Qadr is one of the most sacred nights in Islam found in the last ten days of Ramadan.

According to him it is sometimes possible to witness unusual signs on the night.

Some of the signs highlighted by the Imam is the night is serene, quiet and shining where the temperature is neither hot nor cold and the moon shines clearly.

Sheikh Alkarmawi said Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him used to double effort in the last ten days of Ramadan aimed at witnessing the night.

He described as a weak a narration wich declared twenty seventh night of Ramadan as Laylatul Qadr, and urged adherents to seek the night in the last ten days of the holy month.

On the recommended acts in the night, Sheikh Muhammad Nazifi Alkarmawi cited a hadith narrated by Nana Aisha which prophet taught Muslims to recite ‘Allahumma innaka afuwun, tuhibbul afwa, fa’afu anna.

He also admonished faithful on supplication, forgiveness, upholding good deeds and assisting the needy.

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Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu at 65



Professor Abdalla Adamu

By Ibrahim Sheme

On this day, April 25, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, clocked 65 years.

He was the VC of NOUN from 2016 to February 11, 2021. When his tenure ended, he returned to his former duty post at Bayero University, Kano, but then took sabbatical work as Visitor at Kaduna State University (KASU), Kaduna, on March 1, this year.

Born in Kano City on April 25, 1956, Adamu is unarguably one of the leading academic lights in Nigeria. He obtained a professorship each in Science Education and in Media and Cultural Communication, both from Bayero University, in 1997 and 2012 respectively. Indeed, he is one of very few academics in the country to have attained the feat of a double professorship.

Adamu is an international scholar, having taught media and science education courses in many Nigerian universities and around the world, including serving as a European Union Visiting Professor at University of Warsaw, Poland, in 2012, visiting professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey, and visiting professor, University of Florida in 2010. He was also Fulbright African Senior Research Scholar in 1991.

One other remarkable achievement he recorded was the development of ‘hooked’ Hausa language character font sets (ɓ Ɓ ɗ Ɗ ƙ Ƙ), which were not present at the advent of the Internet. The emergence of these fonts, which he created as part of his various extracurricular activities, has helped many authors, publishers, scholars, students and ordinary users in conveying the Hausa language in a way that it should be written.

Two years ago, on a day like this, I penned a birthday tribute to Professor Adamu to help celebrate his 63rd anniversary. In that write-up I did not dwell on his unfolding accomplishments at NOUN in the area of infrastructural development of the university because others had done so already. Instead, I emphasised on the then VC’s human relation, which I have always found unique. And I wrote: “On that score Prof. Abdalla has remained the same person I have known for about two decades – easy-going, humorous and understanding towards all. I think this essence is a great contributory factor to the achievements he is making as a leader and chief executive.

“His approachability is rare. I know chief executives who are ‘feared’ – and consequently loathed – by those working under them because of their stiffness and unbendability. Some, you strictly need an appointment to see them, and their secretaries become lords because they emulate the ‘man inside’.  Not Baba Prof (as we used to call him). He runs an open door policy, with a  secretary (Esther) just as approachable and nice as he is.

“Once you get into his office, you immediately feel at home. He has a joke for everyone. You will never find him mirthless or sad as if the whole world rests on his shoulders. If it is lunch-time, he offers you his food.

“That sense of humanity, for me, are as important as the infrastructure he is putting on ground at NOUN. That sensibility, plus the infrastructure and the policy transformation, will no doubt count as his best legacies when his tenure ends in February, 2021.”

I daresay many at NOUN would remember him for such virtue. Happily, his successor as VC, Professor Olufemi A. Peters, is another approachable chief executive who doesn’t put on airs. Even though the two men do not necessarily share the same character traits, one can say there are several points of convergence that one can easily point at – but that is a story for another day.

Meanwhile, I’d like to use this opportunity to wish Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu happy birthday and many happy returns.

Sheme is the Director, media and publicity at National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja

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Remembering Ja’afar Mahmud Adam



Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga

Sheikh Ja’afar foresaw the imminent monster called Boko Haram, but was brutally silenced by the assassins bullets!

Today marks the 14th Anniversary of the assassination  Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam, who was fatally shot by yet to be identified gunmen on April 13, 2007. His death was like a defoliation of the tallest tree in the forest of knowledge. He was one of the greatest preachers that ever lived; he was a scholar par excellence. In fact, he defies all the superlatives that you can ever find in  the dictionary.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was not only famous for his erudition, but also for his amazing ability to foresee an imminent danger(what today becomes known as Boko Haram). He posed the most potent intellectual challenge to the outlandish and poisonous extremist ideas of Muhammad Yusuf, the notorious Boko Haram founder. He advised Yusuf, his former student, to renounce those dangerous ideas and apologize to his blind followers for misleading them.

Caught between ego and doing the right thing, Muhammad Yusuf rejected the advice because he didn’t want to lose face by admitting to his brainwashed followers that he was wrong. The rest is history. We are today paying heavily for his stubborn resistance to reason. His poisonous ideas have so deeply settled in the hearts and minds of his credulous Boko Haram  followers that they thought God is on their side and that  any Muslim  who opposes their violent extremism is automatically an infidel or an enemy.

Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmud Adam was thus vindicated; the grave danger he foresaw is now consuming us, destroying lives, schools and disrupting our social and economic life. Since 2009, more than 15,000 lives were destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorism. Because extremism paralyses a man’s capacity to think and reason, the terrorists are not even perturbed by the consequences of their atrocities, let alone give a moment’s thought to compassion and humanity.

I won’t challenge anyone who thinks Boko Haram had a hand in Adam’s death because putting two and two together, it is impossible not to reach that conclusion. Because of their extreme brutality, taking out a scholar who represented the greatest intellectual challenge to their poisonous ideas is not beyond them.

May the soul Adam continue to rest in peace! May Allah  forgive his shortcomings and eternally  reward his great deeds! Amin!

NOTE: I originally wrote this tribute to Sheikh Jafar Adam on April 13, 2018. As we mark the 14th Anniversary of his dastardly assassination today, I find it worthy to reproduce the tribute. He was an extraordinary scholar that deserves such honour.

Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga is a media consultant at Atiku media organization

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