The Ancient City Walls of Kano. Described, at a time, as “the most impressive monument in West Africa,” the Ancient Kano City Walls were defensive walls built to protect the lives inhabiting the city of Kano. Built in the year 1095 through 1134 and completed in the middle of the 14th century, the wall, during those days, did not only serve as a fortress of protection to the people of Kano, it was also a source of pride to them.
The construction of the Ancient Kano City Walls foundation was laid by Sarki Gijimasu, the third king in the chronicle of Kano, in 1095. But it will take another three hundred years to complete the wall, during the reign of Zamnagawa. Now known as a tourist attraction, the Ancient Kano City Wall which was built to provide security for the then growing population of Kano is a 14km radius earth structure with gates as old as the wall itself.
It was these gates that were used to control the movement of people in and out of the city. Each of the gates used to have a gatekeeper known as (Sarkin Kofar) and houses were provided for them and their families inside or around the gate: It is said that in those days whenever the gatekeepers saw enemies advancing towards the city, they would rush to inform the king, and he would arrange his armies to meet them.
According to historians, In 1903 when the British forces captured the ancient city, Sir Frederick Lugard, then High Commissioner of the British Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, said: “The extent and formidable nature of the fortifications surpassed the best informed anticipations of our officers, needless to say that I have never seen or even imagined anything like it in Africa.” The walls are among the major tourist attractions in the city.
However, the Ancient Kano City Walls which used to guard the city is no longer outside Kano city as they were in those days. They are now inside the city and this has made it possible for people to constantly tamper with the walls, in the course of developmental activities and congestion in the area. Even ditches that were made close to the walls in other to make it difficult for invaders to get through before mounting the walls have been turned to ponds where the walls are sited inside Kano city.
Sadly, part of the walls can be said to be largely in ruins… but this does not alter the fact that the Ancient Kano City Walls and other associated sites still retain their spiritual, historical and cultural significance.
There is no telling how long the walls have left to stand. What can be said is that it is advisable for every lover of art and culture to find time and go get a view of the Ancient Kano City Walls before that which is left of it is lost to the careless hands of Westernization.