The ancient Kano city walls were ancient defensive walls built to provide security to the growing population of the ancient city of Kano. The wall was initially built from 1095 through 1134 and completed in the middle of the 14th century. The Ancient Kano City Walls were described as “the most impressive monument in West Africa”.
The Ancient Kano City Walls were built as a defensive wall with the construction of the foundation laid by Sarki Gijimasu (r. 1095–1134), the third king of the Kingdom of Kano in the Kano Chronicle. In the mid 14th century during the reign of Zamnagawa, the wall was completed. In the 16th century, the walls were further extended to their present position. The gates are as old as the walls and were used to control movement of people in and out of the city. Though, most of them are largely in ruins.
According to historians, the then General-Governor of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, Fredrick Lugard, wrote in a 1903 report about the Kano Walls that he had “never seen anything like it in Africa” after capturing the ancient city of Kano along with British forces.
The Ancient Kano City Walls are made up of Dala Hill where it was founded, Kurmi Market and the Emir’s Palace.
Dala Hill is an archaeological site of an ancient settlement dating back to the 10th century AD. It is the source of the evolution of Kano City and a vital reference point in the development of Hausa Kingdoms, societies and cultures which greatly influenced the early indigenous civilizations in the savannah zone of the Western African sub region.
Kurmi Market is one of the oldest and largest local market in Africa. It used to serve as an international market where North African and some European goods were exchanged for domestic goods through trans-Saharan trade. The market was, and still is, laid out’ in lanes. Each lane consists of traders, who trade in identical good, e,g leatherwork, textiles, iron and brass work, spices etc.
Emir’s Palace was built by Muhammadu Rumfa who ruled Kano from 1463 to 1499. The palace has 3 gates namely Kofar Kwaru, Kofar Fatalawa and Kofar Kudu. The palace is divided into 3 sections. At the south are the Administrative buildings with rooms (Soran Zauna Lafiya, Soron Giwa and Soron Bello and Rumfar Kasa). The central part houses members of the emir’s family and at the northern parts are the stables and the servants’ rooms.
Ancient Kano city Walls and associated sites are places of spiritual, historical and cultural significance. Dala Hill was the place of the first settlement in Kano city and it formed the nucleus for the peopling of the rest of the city and was the foundation of its economic and political development. The site bear testimony to local craftsmanship and ingenuity as is evidenced in the materials used for the construction of the walls and palace.
The ancient Kano city walls and associated sites is a cultural landscape that the people still pride themselves in. On the other hand, Kurmi market has retained its preeminence in the sale and marketing of traditional crafts in leather, local textile materials and clothing etc. The site can compare with other sites like Zaria city wall, Kufena archaeological site and Daura City wall in the northern part of Nigeria.
The Ancient Kano City Walls originally had an estimated height of 30 to 50 ft and about 40 ft thick at the base with 15 gates around it.