SPLENDOURS OF NIGERIA: KANO-THE ANCIENT GEM OF THE NORTH
I still wonder why Nigeria has not yet broken into the league of the highest tourism earners in Africa. Having traversed this beautiful country from north to south, I have always found pleasant surprises when I visit a state after some time. The excuse of tourism operators and drivers of the travel industry in Nigeria is security and infrastructure. Agreed, we may not be the best when it comes to these but a look at some the countries that have made a goldmine of tourism should make us think again.
In my humble opinion, the problem with domestic tourism in Nigeria is not security or infrastructure. And definitely not a lack of tourism attractions. It is simply a problem of story telling and marketing communications. We need to begin to share our positive experiences and attractions first with our fellow Nigerians and then with foreigners.
Consider Kano state for instance. A state with a rich heritage woven from threads of conquest, history and artistry. A state that boasts of attractions as colourful as the Durbar, exciting as her fishing festivals, amazing as her arts, crafts and artifacts, and awesome as her history and monuments.
The Magnificent and Colorful Durbar
The Durbar is probably the first thing that comes to mind when I think about Kano. I am simply a sucker for all the razzmatazz and splendour that the Durbar represents. What is more, every Durbar tells a story. A story of conquest and gallantry as old hundreds of years. The modern day Durbar is held usually to honor visiting presidents or dignitaries and at the culmination of the Id-el Fitri and Id-el Kabir festivals, but it started out in the ancient times as a parade by the different districts or regiments in the Emirate. The parade demonstrates their horsemanship and preparedness for war as well as their loyalty to the Emirate.
The sight of hundreds of colourfully dressed horsemen galloping at full speed with swords raised can be…. Go see a Durbar and find out!
Perhaps when you are checking out the Durbar you can take out time to see the Kofar Mata Dye Pits, said to have been founded as early as 1498. These circular pits, filled with water infused with indigo are used by the traditional dyers to create beautiful designs good enough for kings. Indeed, they are situated close to the royal palace and their designs have been adorned by Kano’s traditional rulers from inception.
The leatherwork in Kano is also as unique. The craftsmen here are often offspring of a long lineage of skilled leather craft masters who will stop at nothing to ensure quality and uniqueness of every item.
The Emir of Kano Out for a Royal Ride in The Royal Roll Royce
Any visit to Kano will be incomplete without seeing the palace of the Emir of Kano. As usual with Islamic architecture, the Emir’s palace tells a tale of history and architectural ingenuity. The Gidan Makama Museum, not far away from the palace also houses a unique historical and ethnographic collection of Hausa civilization.
The Gidan Makama Musuem
For a souvenir you may want to visit the Kurmi market which is one of the oldest local markets in Africa. Considering how famous Kano trading has been, it should not be too hard to imagine how rich an experience you will have with a visit to this market or any other market in Kano for that matter. Remember the groundnut pyramids? That’s also Kano.
Other attractions you can expect to enjoy in Kano include the Baturiya Birds Estuary, the Kazaure Rock Ranges, the Folgore Game Reserve and the famous Tiga Dam. There’s of course the Ayanduwa Fishing Festival if you happen to be around when it is being celebrated.
When next you make any travel plans for Kano do not fail to dedicate a day or more to seeing some of these amazing sites. For accommodation you may try the Central Hotel kano along Bompai Road or the Tahir Guest Palace Hotel along Ibrahim Natsugune Road or Prince’s Hotel on Tamandu Road. To hang out or have a meal, try the La Locanda along Sultan Road or Friends Café Bar or Spice Food right inside the Tourist Camp on Bompai Road.
The city’s importance is also underscored by the number of airlines that have flights into Kano. Most recent is Dana Air, which flies daily into Kano with its fleet of Boeing Mac Douglas aircrafts which guarantee a comfortable cruise into the ancient city.
Please do me a favour, when you go, please share the word. Tell a friend to tell a friend how lovely the ancient city of Kano is. I just told you so.