One of the best known historical buildings in Kano

Posted by on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Under: Tourism, Travels & Tours


According to Daily Trust Newspaper of 23rd December 2012, it stated that a visit to Kano's famous museum reveals its delightful history, memorable galleries, and numerous challenges. One of the best known historical buildings in Kano, that had once served as a temporary palace of the emir before it now houses the city's collections of arts, crafts and other historical materials, is Gidan Makama (the house of Makama). The building, turned into a museum, appropriately called Gidan Makama Museum, is attracting tourists to Kano city on account of its excellent architectural design and the priceless collections it holds. Located in the heart of the city, the house is believed to have been built in the 15th Century AD by the then emir of Kano Abdullahi Burja for his grandson Rumfa. It was said that Burja decided to reward his grandson's show of bravery by building the house for him. It became Gidan Makama when the emir appointed Rumfa as the Makaman Kano. Rumfa lived in the house while he was Makama and also when he eventually became the emir of Kano. He was living in the house when he decided to build the present emir's palace, and he relocated to the new palace on completion.

However, his relocation did not change the position of the house as it continued to serve as a residential place for all subsequent Makaman Kano. It served as their resort whenever they were in the city, and most especially when they came to Kano city for the durbar during the Sallah.

Gidan Makama had also served as the abode of the colonial masters. When the British conquered Kano in 1903, the architectural beauty of Gidan Makama attracted their attention and they decided to have it as the residence of the colonial officers. When the then chief commissioner of Northern Nigeria Frederick Lugard (later Lord Lugard) came to Kano, he also lived in Gidan Makama.

A senior technical officer in the education department of the Gidan Makama Museum, Mr. Dominic Yerima explained how the building became a museum in an article by Halima Musa in the daily trust of 23 December 2012. “Lord Lugard had in a way played a role in converting it into a museum”. "Because Gidan Makama is such a very big edifice with beautiful architectural design, the then colonial governor Lord Lugard decided to split the house into three. One part of it was converted into Gidan Makama Primary School, the other part remains as residential area for the Makaman Kano, and the last part was made a museum in 1953," he said.

In a further explanation of the museum in the daily trust, it continued “As one enters the gate that leads to the museum, the sight of some gigantic pots on the outer premises of the museum welcomes the visitor. The pots are so big that a grown up person can enter into one and sit comfortably. The pots are said to have been excavated at the Kofar Kabuga, one of the gates around Kano city wall (ganuwa) through which the colonial masters entered and conquered Kano. There are various explanations as to the use of these pots, but a popular tradition states that they were buried along the city-walls by Kano kings for protection in the olden days.

Other exhibits at the entrance of the museum are two cannons which, according to Yerima, were abandoned by the colonial masters when they conquered Kano. They are believed to have been part of the arsenal with which the British conquered Kano in 1903. One is for long range shots while the other is for short range shots. Four of such cannons were discovered at a military barrack at Bompai area of the city but only two were deposited at the museum.

The Gidan Makama building is partitioned into nine galleries (each called zaure), with each gallery showcasing a particular aspect of the ancient Kanawa (people of Kano) life. Zaure is the main entrance of a typical Hausa building. Explaining what is exhibited in the first gallery, Yerima said they are items related to building materials of the ancient Kano. It is with these materials that the Gidan Makama was built. They include makuba, a kind of soil additive used as cement and paint by the ancient Kano people. There is azara, palm trees used for thatching roofs, and some other materials used for building. At the other side of the gallery is the olden day's gate of Kofar Waika (one of the Kano City Gates). It is a very big iron gate, and attached to it is a metal slate with some Arabic inscriptions believed to be a charm for protection.


In : Tourism, Travels & Tours 



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