Northern Nigeria

Northern Nigeria

Northern Nigeria is a geographical region of Nigeria. It is more arid and less densely populated than the south. The people are largely Muslim, and many are Hausa. Much of the north was once politically united in the Northern Region, a federal division disbanded in 1967.



Hausa States

The Hausa States or Hausa Kingdoms were a collection of independent city-states situated in what became Northern Nigeria. Although, the people have been muslims for many centuries, traditional beliefs and paganism were often mixed with the practice of Islam. In the early 1808, Usuman dan Fodio, the head of the Sokoto Caliphate warned the Hausa rulers that if they don't separate religion from paganism, a war will be waged against them. By failure to cleans Islam from the pagan practices, the Hausa state was finally conquered by Usuman dan Fodio and incorporated into the Sokoto Caliphate. The leadership of Sokoto has helped unite the people into a centralized state. The second and the most obvious leadership of Sokoto was to unite people so people become responsible to each other and to avoid ethnic violence.

Arrival of the Hausa

Between 500 CE and 700 CE Hausa people, who had been slowly moving west from Nubia and mixing in with the local Northern and Central Nigerian population, established a number of strong states in what is now Northern and Central Nigeria and Eastern Niger. With theo, {sic}[clarification needed] who had previously controlled Central and Northern Nigeria between 800 BCE and 200 CE, the Hausa were able to emerge as the new power in the region. Closely linked with the Kanuri people of Kanem-Bornu (Lake Chad), the Hausa aristocracy adopted Islam in the 11th century CE. By the 12th century CE the Hausa were becoming one of Africa's major powers. The architecture of the Hausa is perhaps one of the least known but most beautiful of the medieval age. Many of their early mosques and palaces are bright and colourful and often include intricate engraving or elaborate symbols designed into the facade. By 1500 CE the Hausa utilized a modified Arabic script known as Ajami to record their own language; the Hausa compiled several written histories, the most popular being the Kano Chronicle.

The Fourteen Kingdoms

The Hausa Kingdoms emerged in the 13th century as vibrant trading centers competing with Kanem-Bornu and Mali. The primary exports were leather, gold, cloth, salt, kola nuts, animal hides, and henna. Except for minor alliances, the Hausa city-states functioned independently. Rivalries generally inhibited the formation of one centralized authority.

There were fourteen Hausa Kingdoms: The "Hausa Seven" and the "Bastard Seven"

The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states with a shared mythology with its founders being the sons of a Queen. They are known as the Hausa Bakwai meaning Hausa Seven. The states included:

  • Daura ? - 1806
  • Kano 998 - 1807
  • Katsina c. 1400 - 1805
  • Zazzau (Zaria) c. 1200 - 1808
  • Gobir ? - 1808
  • Rano
  • Biram c. 1100 - 1805

The growth and conquest of the Hausa Bakwai resulted in the founding of additional states with rulers tracing their lineage to a concubine of the Hausa founding father, Bayajidda. Thus they are called the 'Banza Bakwai meaning Bastard Seven. The Banza Bakwai adopted many of the customs and institutions of the Hausa Bakwai but were considered unsanctioned or copy-cat kingdoms by non-Hausa people. These states include:

Fulani Empire and Bornu Empire

Usuman dan Fodio led a jihad against the Hausa States and finally united them into the Muslim Fulani Empire. The Fulani Empire was under the overall authority of the Commander of the Faithful, all of whom after Usman dan Fodio also used the title Sultan of Sokoto. Under him the Empire was bicephalous and divided into two territories each controlled by an appointed vizier. Each of the territories was further divided into autonomous Emirates under mainly hereditary local Emirs. The Bornu Empire was initially absorbed into the Fulani Empire of Usman dan Fodio, but broke away after a few years later.

Royal Niger Company Territory

Initially the British involvement in Northern Nigeria was predominantly trade-related, and revolved around the expansion of the Royal Niger Company, whose interior territories spread north from about where the Niger River and Benin River joined at Lokoja. The Royal Niger Company's territory did not represent a direct threat to the powerful Fulani empire.

Protectorate of Northern Nigeria

History of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria

Map of Nigeria, 1909

Northern Nigeria was a British colony formed in 1900. The basis of the colony was the 1885 Treaty of Berlin which broadly granted Northern Nigeria to Britain, on the basis of their protectorates in Southern Nigeria.

Britain's chosen Governor, Frederick Lugard, with limited resources, slowly negotiated with ,and sometimes coerced, the emirates of the north into accepting British rule, finding that the only way this could be achieved was with the consent of local rulers through a policy of indirect rule which he developed from a necessary improvisation into a sophisticated political theory. Lugard left the protectorate after some years, serving in Hong Kong, but was eventually returned to work in Nigeria where he decided on the merger of the Northern Nigeria Protectorate with Southern Nigeria in 1914.


See also

  • Agricultural sustainability in northern Nigeria

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