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Part of the Gidan Makama Museum

[By Bolutife Fakoya]

Walking through the rooms, I noticed was that each room had eight pillars that supported the walls and peaked at a really tall roof. Four of those pillars were smooth and bland whilst the other four were intricately carved. The curator explained that each of the pillars represented the wives and concubines of the emir. The smooth walls represented his four concubines and the carved walls represented his four wives. Looking at my mum, he asked her if she knew the difference between the two. We simply laughed and walked on.

I liked the exhibit on the ancient farming tools used by the Hausas. Many of them are still used today by gardeners and builders. I found it interesting how some technology stays the same over millennia, whilst others, such as their drums which they used to communicate over long distances, become redundant very quickly. I also marveled at the grinding stones in the bride’s quarters of the museum. Such grinding stones required immense physical effort, with very little to show for it. Thank God for blenders and microwaves!

After that, we went into the gift shop where I persuaded my mum to buy some artifacts and books that would commemorate our visit. We then asked the Curator if he knew where the old wall was, because we felt our trip was yet incomplete. His colleague offered to take us there in our taxi, because really, seeing the walls formed a part of the tour of the museum. We drove for about 15 minutes and caught our first glimpse of the wall!

The walls, we learnt, were built between the 11th and 13th century AD. To think that these mounds that the old women rested their baskets of produce on so casually actually predated King Henry VIII! The walls we gaped at rose as high as the average two-storey building and it was 7ft thick in some places. We were told that it ran for 25km. Sturdy and elegant, they looked like effective royal guards on ‘forever’ duty.

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At each of the main gates into Kano, we stopped and took pictures and I found it very interesting that the ancient narrow streets of old Kano within the wall could merge so easily with the wide, lit motorways that encompassed the wall.

After our tour, we dropped our guide back at the museum and made our way to Jifatu Stores to buy supplies. Jifatu Stores is a whole three floors packed full of wide range of stuff from end to end. We made our way to the 2nd floor to look at the fabrics that we’d heard so much about. At this point, I was close to exhaustion, but I persevered because my mum wanted to go and I had sort of made her go to the museum. After about 1 ½ hrs of sorting through beautiful Ankara fabrics, we made our purchases and returned to the hotel.

I spent the rest of the trip watching the news channels re-telling the story of Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. News and MTV were really the only things that I could watch because most of the channels were either in Hausa or Arabic. I wasn’t looking forward to the trip back to Abuja. I was really enjoying Kano, and I wanted to go back to the museum and explore it in greater detail.

As the saying goes: “All good things must come to an end”. We left Kano three days later.

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