Kano, Nigeria: Visit 1000 Years of History

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Kano, Nigeria: Visit 1000 Years of History

If you are someone that loves African history and antiques, then a trip to the Gidan Makama museum in Kano, Nigeria will no doubt interest you.

Located in the popular Kano State (450km from Abuja) the museum is without a doubt one of the most visited places in the whole region at this time.

The place not only contains some of the oldest antiques in Africa, but also holds a lot about the history of the continent including information on the origins of the people and the monarchical system of the famous Kano City.

The start of the exciting trip to Gidan Makama begins from Kano International Airport as the taxi takes you through the ancient city’s combination of mud and brick houses.

If you’re like me, then you can sit for hours on end with the young food sellers outside Gidan Makama and engage your taste buds on this amazing African adventure in a historic city filled with lots of exciting history...


‘Badala’ is the name for Kano’s inner city, which houses the museum. The area has existed for nearly 1000 years. I personally was taken to a house that is 800 years old just metres from the museum.

I still remember that particular house vividly, from its traditional African ceilings to the old pictures of some of the former inhabitants; it was immensely enlightening.

Kano State has one of the largest populations on the continent (~16 million people) and it has some of the most enterprising people on the face of the earth. This is one of the things the museum showcases as visitors will get to see some of the oldest farming equipment invented in Africa.

For Sani Sani, a one-time visitor to the famous museum, what he still holds dear is the amazing architectural history that he saw during his visit.

“I have always loved architecture so for me to see how it all began for an ancient city like Kano was exciting and it’s also nice to see that many of the houses still maintain that look today despite modern intrusions.”

At the museum, the tour guides are always on hand to show and tutor visitors on all of the items they get to see. Kano’s history is intertwined with that of Niger, Mali and Chad, which means some of the antiques, tools and other materials that you will see are related to many of the West African nations.

The place isn’t far away from another famous venue, the ‘Kurmi’ market, which is believed to be over 500 years old.


Kano Market

In essence, there are many people who love issues related to history and Africa, which is believed to be the origin of man. If you’re one of such people, then I assure you that you’ll enjoy the trip to Kano’s Gidan Makama museum as it contains a lot about the history of the continent.

The British Council in Kano is a few meters from the place and has organized several events for foreigners who want to learn more about the city’s history.

Another visitor who enjoyed the Gidan Makama is Kanayo James, who said it was the highlight of his trip to Kano when he visited two years ago.

“I travelled to Kano for an assignment two years ago and even before then I’ve been hearing a lot about Gidan Makama and what it stands for, so when my trip came around I promised to visit the place.”

“I saw things I didn’t know existed and how the people that existed centuries ago lived their lives with so much simplicity, I enjoyed the journey,” he noted.

Just outside Gidan Makama are young sellers of various African foods of Hausa/Fulani origins.

These include Tuwo da Miya (mashed corn or rice with soup), Dambun Zogale (moringa leaves with spices) and other amazing African delicacies.


Kano Meat

There are some that prefer this aspect of the trip because, unlike their hotels and lodges where they eat only European dishes, here they can really taste Kano City.

Eating what the people of a place eat is something I have always enjoyed during my trips to different places, and I’m sure it’s like that for many people.

I still remembered my first taste of ‘Amala and Ewedu’ in Southern Nigeria, and how I still hold it as one of the best dishes I have enjoyed to date.

If you’re like me, then you can sit for hours on end with the young food sellers outside Gidan Makama and engage your taste buds on this amazing African adventure in a historic city filled with lots of exciting history and a unique architecture.

For more on Nigeria, check out Ikeja.

Mansur Abubakar

Mansur Abubakar

Mansur is a journalist with Nigeria's most respected newspaper, Daily Trust, and also contributes for UK based True Africa.co. He loves travelling and meeting new people.

1 Comment

  • Erika

    Sounds like a very interesting place!

    June 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm