It was said the ancient Kano City walls and gates which were originally 16 in numbers are today less than 10 and even at that, many of them are seriously in ruins and may possibly collapse in the nearest future.
A palace source who pleaded anonymity, said that, ‘we want this heritage to be maintained. We are proud of our cultural heritage.”
Going down memory lane, he disclosed that the first wall and gate was Kofar Kansakali. “It was the first wall and gate which was built in 1112 AD. Its foundation was laid by Sarkin Kano Giji Masu. “It was named after the first son of the Kano ruler (after whom the city was named) a blacksmith.Today, the gate is located at Tudun Yola quarters in Ungogo Local Government Area of the state.”
‘Another city wall and gate is Kofar Waika. It was learnt that immediately after the completion of Kofar Kansakali, the king moved a little distance for the building of this gate which was named after Waika, the king’s second son. The gate of Waika is situated off Aminu Kano Way behind Goron Dutse today.
‘Another city wall and gate is Kofar Dawanau: This gate was initially named after the third son of king called Makeri (who was also known as Dan Kwai). Then there is Kofar Ruwa and this was the fourth city gate built by Sarki Usman Dan Warisi.
‘Then there is Kofar Mazugal and Kofar Lunkwui located along Gwammaja road etc.
A resident of Kano, who gave his name as Mahmood Mansur, noted that these walls and gates were constructed to provide security to the growing population of the ancient city . According to him, Sarki Giji Masu was the first ruler of Kano to start the construction of the wall and was subsequently completed in the middle of 14th Century during the reign of Zamnagawa.
He said, ‘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 today, Mansoor disclosed that the ancient Kano City walls were of spiritual, historical and cultural significances to the people of Kano. He said the ancient Kano city walls were a cultural landscape that the people were still proud of. The site can compare with other sites like Zaria city wall,and Daura City wall , he argued.
Also, a palace source who pleaded for anonymity remarked that the walls helped in monitoring the movement of people in and out of the city. He also said that they were constructed to protect the citizens against invaders.
However, findings gathered that today, the city has long taken a modern and cosmopolitan hue, the real identity of Kano can best be felt in old area of the city. Even though, the mud houses with distinct Hausa local architectural dexterity and narrow roads that were meant for only men and their domestic animals are still there, but unfortunately they are gradually being lost as the ancient structures give way to modernity.
‘If you go to Kano today, the relics are gradually being wiped away by both man and nature, he lamented. But while the government agencies are working, some individuals including indigenes don’t seem to appreciate the importance of the move to rehabilitate the walls.
A young man in his twenties and a student of Bayero University Kano who pleaded for anonymity queried in this 21st century what is the significance of these walls to our living. ‘We are not fighting wars, we need development. To expand the tiny road, provide water, build structures, he said.
However, his opinion was not in tandem with that of a Kano resident, Ibrahim Kaulahi, who noted that currently, these walls and gates are facing serious degradation.
According to him, if concerted effort were not made, they would go extinct very soon, adding that in the next couple of years, the Kano traditional walls and gates might all be lost. Recently, it was reported that one of the gates was demolished by a road construction company to pave the way for the road expansion and reconstruction.
It is against this backdropthat the state government is working towards making the walls World Heritage Site.
To this end, the Kano State Government has awarded contract for the upgrading of Kano City ancient wall as part of plan to make the state capital a mega city.
The Permanent Secretary, Kano State Bureau for Land Management, Alhaji Muhammad Yusuf, said this while awarding the contract to Messrs Tamidan Nigeria Limited in Kano. Yusuf said the state government was determined to beautify and upgrade Kano to become a mega city. He said the contract included the grading and sand-filling of the space by the walls from Gadon-kaya gate to Kofar Na’isa gate. The Permanent Secretary called on the residents of the state capital to cooperate with the contractor.
He also urged the contractors to ensure timely completion of the project, saying, ‘the walls built in the 11th century, were under threat as a result of human encroachment and these structures, which are known across the world as the ‘famous Kano city walls and gates’ would not be allowed to go into extinction.
‘The Kano state government under the leadership of Umar Ganduje would do everything within its power to preserve these rich cultural heritage for the benefit of our children and the future generations yet unborn.