Hausa Kingdoms

The Hausa Kingdoms, in northern Nigeria go back to 1000 AD. Most of her history is taken from the Kano Chronicle. The dates are not too accurate. The first recorded king or sarki was Bogoda of Kano.

City States

According to Hausa legend the Hausa people had their origins with the coming of an Arabian prince--Bayajidda from Baghdad. Bayajidda freed Daura from a serpent imprisoning the people of the city state. Bayajidda is said to have married the queen of Daura. Their union produced a son named Bawo , who then begot seven sons who founded the seven Hausa kingdom.

But scholars believe that the Hausa cities came about, due to the agrarian nature of Hausa people. Farming would develop and cities served as a means of bringing produce to market. From cities manufactured goods were sold. Craftsmen plied their skills. Farmers also sought protection from the cities. Taxes were paid to cities for this valuable function. Eventually a mechanism of leading head family would rule called the sarki or king. City states extended their jurisdiction via diplomacy and warfare. Hausa states never unified and never acquired territories like most empires.

Hausa Kingdoms

The city states Biram, Daura, Gobir, Katsina, Kano, Rano, and Zaria became the most prominent. Between 1100 to 1500, Kano and Katsina became the most powerful commercial centers. After the 1400s, Kano eclipse all. It became a major center of manufactured goods, cotton cloth. It provided most of the cotton to the western Sudan. Kano became more important than Timbuktu and Gao, in terms of trade.  

Center of Trade

Hausa cities served as major trans-regional hubs of trade. They connected, transported goods from the forest, coastal kingdom to the western Sudan, and North Africa. They mainly traded with Yoruba in the Forest Zone, whose goods were transported to the western Sudan, and across the Sahara to North Africa,  while acquiring goods from those regions.

Islam's Arrival

Islam was slow to make headway into Hausaland. Arab merchants nevertheless visited Hausaland. Hausas eventually adopted their scripts and used it to write the Hausa language. Very few writings of old survive. Some attribute it to Fulani jihadist destruction in the 1800s. By the 1400s, most of Hausaland became muslim. Besides adopting Islamic script, they adopted method of rulership, standing armies, requirement of free labor for land cultivation, building of palaces. This brought great prosperity to Hausa states.

Sokoto Caliphate

More Info: Sokoto Caliphate

Growing resentment of Hausa taxation and the Hausa aristocracy by Fulani herdsman and Hausa townsmen saw the rise of charismatic religious teacher Usman Dan Fodio. Usman tried to bring about a purer form of Islam among Fulani herders and Hausa townsmen. He became very influential in the Hausa city states of Gobir and Kebbi, to the point that the Gobir Saki Yunfa tried to assassinate him. The attempt led to Usman declaring jihad, with support from Fulani herdsmen and Hausa townsmen. Gobir was the first to fall. By 1808, all of Hausaland was under Usman's control. The Hausa aristocracy was replaced with a Fulani aristocracy, which became Hausa in culture. Sokoto, near Kebbi, became the capital of the caliphate. Usman's successor Muhammad Bello expanded the empire. Under Bello the Sokoto caliphate extended west to Songhai, east to Kanem, and South to include Nupe and Yoruba state of Ilorin.

Hausa Sword

Works Cited

Davidson, Basil, Buah, F. K. ,and Ajayi, J.F. Ade(1966). A History of West Africa. Doubleday:New York, pp. 87-91. Library of Congress Card #66-24317.

Shillington, Kevin(2005). History of Africa, Rev. 2nd Ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 225-226, ISBN 0-333-59957-8.

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