WUDIL PRE-COLONIAL POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Wudil is located in the East-central part of Kano State situated within the central area of Kano Region, 43 kilometres away from the Kano municipality. Wudil covers an area of 362 square kilometres; it is located at latitude 11°,8’ and longitude 8°,5’E of the Greenwich Meridian. The town is sandwiched between Gaya, Garko, and Warawa to the east, south, and north/west respectively. It is advantageous, bordering River Hadejia. The town experiences four climatic conditions like dry and warm season, wet and warm season, dry and hot season, and finally, the dry and cool season.
During the hot season, day time temperature could rise to 40° Celsius especially in the months of March – May. The rainy season normally starts from late May and last up to the end of September. Rainfall is normally heavier in the months of July and August and often characterised by thunderstorms. The harmattan season is usually a cold windy and dusty period subject to dry sandy winds blowing from the Sahara. Wudil lies in the Savanna region with average annual rainfall of 39.8mm. The rainy season crops include millet, sorghum, rice, cowpeas, groundnuts, maize. Dry season crops include wheat, tomatoes, pepper, onions, and many others.
Wudil is one of the most densely populated towns in Kano state. The 2006 National Population Census puts the town population at 150,602 with Hausa and Fulbe constituting nearly 90% of the population. Other ethnic groups of significant proportion include the Igbo’s from Southern Nigeria, Kanuri from North Eastern Nigeria, who are mostly farmers, traders, cattle rearers, and small-scale cottage industrialist, Yoruba from Western Nigeria and other people from Niger Republic.
The backbone of Wudil economy is agriculture with 75% of the total working population involved in it. The major river providing water resources for fishing and dry season irrigation activities is the Hadejia River. Other important activities include livestock rearing, pottery, embroidery, blacksmithing, etc. The significance of Wudil was not only in her numerical size or in the extent of her prominence but also in her historical significance and context.
Pre-Colonial Experience and the Emergence of Wudil:The Habe Dynasty
Records show that the early beginning of Wudil dates back to the 9th Century AD when Abagayawa from the present-day Gaya, 16 kilometres away from Wudil on their way to the foot of Dala Hill to excavate iron ore, briefly settled in Wudil near the river bank. Abagayawa settled at the place now referred to as Kukar Dafi, 90 years before Bagauda came to Kano in 1060 AD. This went on to show that for more than 10 centuries inhabitants of Kano province in which Wudil is an integral part were capable of producing riches because of the mastery of skills to technologically invent farm implements, defence arsenals, grow food and extract minerals iron deposits from the soil.
As Abagayawa left Wudil for Kano, historical traditions assert that a community of hunters camped at Garin Dau and later on, moved into the present Wudil town. These hunters grouped themselves into communities of farmers, fishermen, and blacksmiths. Hence, the emergence of political structures of Gidan Sarkin Noma (Residence of the head of farmers), Gidan Makera (house of blacksmiths) and later Unguwar Makera (Blacksmiths’ Ward) Unguwar Magina (Pottery Ward).
From then on blacksmithing became one of the famous technological expressions of Wudilawa (Wudil people) practised by early residents which continue to date. The discovery of iron gave rise to blacksmithing. Fishing is one of the prominent professions in Wudil which produced fishermen including Danbiri, Yaro Uban Namaduka, Maibirgi, Uzairu Fasa Ruwa. These fishermen use local fishing materials such as birgi, yan zube, tanka, gora, kalli, koma etc (Musa and Osi, 2011). Fishing is an ancient economic activity that gave rise to remarkable profitable value in the pre-colonial period. Trade in fish became popular among the people. Fish of different types are smoked or dried to preserve them for sale. Fresh fish is generally sold in short distance markets as a result of their perishable nature.
Fishing is made a specialised activity typified by special skills, in canoes, paddles, nets, and boat constructions, coupled with the development of an array of local fishing methods. Fishing in pre-colonial Wudil stimulated migration attracting many fishermen from their original settlements for better opportunities.
Prominent among the group that permanently settled in Wudil were Daudu, Disai and Kwaiwa. Daudu became an informal leader uniting and integrating the already settled group within the framework of justice and equality based on shared common traditions in order to prosper and rise to eminence. More fundamental is the leadership of Dan Daudu (the son of Daudu) and hence, the retention of the title Dan Daudu afterwards. The ancestors of Daudu that became rulers make great impact in both political and economic spheres.
A well-defined and highly-structured system of administration was put in place introducing roles and positions in the form of Sarkin Kogi (head of the river basin); Sarkin Ruwa (head of water resources), Sarkin Komi (head of canoes and passenger transport); Sarkin Gado (Head of large volumes of goods transport across the river); Sarkin Kasuwa (Head of Market); Sarkin Fawa (Head of the Butchers); Sarkin Kira (Head of Blacksmiths); Sarkin Aska (Head of Barbers). These administrators respected each other’s function with no interference in duties and responsibilities assigned to any of them (Garba, 2011). Production is mainly carried out by families, communities and guilds or professional groups.
The first market in Wudil was established during the Habe (non-Fulbe) rule. Market activities (businesses) during this period were mainly predisposed by abundance in the people’s agricultural and non-agricultural production. Commodities of varied nature were supplied to the market. Merchandise brought to the market was departmentalized in an orderly manner. The market day was and still is on a weekly basis. Goods were transported in a well-organized and planned approach with relatively little or no hindrance to production.
It is contended that Wudil pre-colonial economy was beyond subsistence level since the production of agricultural products is beyond family consumption. Consequently, there was huge exchange based on the division of expertise or specialisation. Wudil played an active role in the trans-Saharan long distanced trade before colonialization. During that period land, capital and labour were effectively utilised and organised for production. Huge production warrants expansion of markets at a multilateral and bilateral level within and outside the Wudil region.
As a simple manufacturing society in precolonial Nigeria, it had its peculiarities providing economic institutions and principles. Essential elements such as crafts and agricultural activities thrived. The prospects for greater personal riches and standing, which Wudil represented over the years, were in drawing different ethnic groups and classes of people.
In Wudil, before the emergence of Fulbe as overloads, Dan Daudu became a figure evolved by the laws and customs of the people and was, therefore, part of the people’s cultural heritage. Leadership practised by the then Wudil community can be defined as a hereditary system of government in which an individual performed executive, legislative, and judicial roles. The powers exercised by the monarchs were absolute, constrained by the customary or religious institutions, which performed roles such as appointment, removal of office holders, and superintending within the system.
The administrative residence of Dan Daudu was at first located at ‘Yan Daudu named after the previous leadership. Moreover, for the purpose, an efficient and effective administration the chiefdom, the official residence of the Dan Daudu was relocated to the central area of the town, the present official residence of the District Head (Makaman Kano). When the Fulbe came into power in the early 20th century, the colonial authority directed them in the 21st century to relocate to their presiding Districts, Dan Daudu as Village Head was ordered to move to a nearby house for the Fulbe to occupy the strategically located Dan Daudu house as District Head official residence . During the pre-colonial times, the District Heads collected taxes through their Jakadu (agents)
District Head Official Residence
- Dandaudu Muhammad Baki ( – 1838)
- Dandaudu Adamu Makiyayi (1838 – 1839)
- Dandaudu Zakariyau (1839 – 1866)
- Dandaudu Salihi (1866 – 1868)
- Dandaudu Umaru (1868 – 1881)
- Dandaudu Muhammad Kunta (1881 – 1891)
- Dandaudu Muhammad Manzo (1891 – 1894)
- Dandaudu Lawan (1894 – 1924)
- Dandaudu Zakari II (1924 – 1934)
- Dandaudu Shehu (1934 – 1934)
- Dandaudu Amadu (1934 – 1954)
- Dandaudu Muhammadu (1954 – 1987)
- Dandaudu Abba Muhammad (1987 – 2019) were enthroned Village Heads of Wudil titled Dandaudu
The wealth of Wudil rests on agriculture, manufacturing, and commercial industries. The fertile land supported the cultivation of a variety of crops including guinea corn and groundnuts. There was considerable livestock rearing including cattle and goats. Crafts skills evolved in a number of spheres: iron ore processing; dyeing; and pottery making. Elements of technological development were evident notably in water transport stimulating commerce with near and far communities. Wudil was able to teach the outside world and was flexible enough to receive new techniques in return.
The area known as Wudil flourished in the ancient times and up to today attracts merchants, craftsmen, and scholars. A great deal of impact on the economic activities in the area was made through interactions with the outside world making the town wield significant influence over its neighbours, and the town excelled in the field of commerce, handicrafts, metal works, fishing, embroidery, and agriculture. These economic activities paved the way to present day development of the town.
Pre-Colonial Experience: The Fulbe (Jobawa) Dynasty
The Jihad (Muslim holy war) led by Sheikh Usman Ibn Muhammad Ibn Fodio in 1884 to restore the Islamic legal law and personal status, and to establish the authority of Allah, based on Islamic injunction, ended up in building the greatest political empire in sub-Saharan Africa with extensive social and political reforms, Fodio stimulated intellectual tradition. He built an empire he was able to maintain without a standing army but with a mere strength of his moral force. The empire consumed Kano generally and Wudil specifically. A delegate of five learned minds including Malam Suleimanu (the first Fulbe Kano King); Malam Ibrahim Dabo (the second Fulbe Kano King); Malam Bakatsine (the first Fulbe District Head of Wudil); Malam Jibir (the first Fulbe District Head of Danbatta); and a lady Malama Biba went to meet with Sheikh Fodio in Sokoto to identify with the Jihad and to carry on the Jihad struggle to Kano region.
On their return to Kano, Suleimanu (1804 – 1819) was made the first Emir of Kano and after him Ibrahim Dabo who was the youngest member of the Emirate Council to take the mantle of leadership becoming the second Emir. From then on the descendants of Ibrahim Dabo continued to be traditional rulers of Kano to date. It is believed that Suleimanu prayed fervently for his family not to be made rulers after him. Bakatsine and Jibir were made King Makers and appointed controllers and overseers of Districts on behalf of the Emir.
The family of Malam Bakatsine, the son of Umaru (famous Islamic scholar who was of Jobawa ancestry), held the position of Makaman Kano. Bakatsine and his comrades (Suleimanu, and Jibir) thus were occupying royal positions, lived a modest life, and were always remembered for their simplicity and godliness.
Makama as the spiritual and administrative head of Wudil District assigned specific duties to a number of subordinates and institutional heads. There was always unflinching obedience to all rules and regulations designed to support, sustain, and maintain the Fulbe administration. The Makama then, used to have the powers to punish offenders. He was also engaged in such duties as the general maintenance of law and order, acting as the chief custodian of communal laws and natural resources by operationalising the Emirate System before British colonial intrusion, and portrayed human and resources management to better the community through development.
The individuals crowned District Heads of Wudil are:
1. Mandikko (1820 – 1830),
2. Isa (1830 – 1852),
3. Abubakar (1852 – 1878),
4. Haruna Isa (1878 – 1890),
5. Isma’ila (1890 – 1893),
6. Falailu (1893),
7. Iliyasu (1894),
8. Hamza (1894 – 1895),
9. Umaru Dan Maisaje (1895 – 1905),
10. Abdulkadir Magili (1905 – 1907),
11. Dahiru I (1907 – 1917),
12. Aminu (1917 – 1923),
13. Isa(1923 – 1926),
14. Dahiru II (1926 – 1940),
15. Muhammadu(1940 – 1954),
16.Dokaji (1954 – 1954),
17.Dankadai Muhammadu (1954 – 1963),
18.Alu Dandarman (1963 – 1981),
19.Ibrahim Chigari (1981 – 1992),
20.Sarki Abdullahi Ibrahim (1993 – 2019)
21.Abba Muhammad (Dandaudu) (2019- till date) Now promoted to the rank of a District Head of Wudiil and Dokajin Gaya
Abdulkadir Magili (1905 – 1907), was the first District Head to reside in Wudil.
Wudil continued to flourish under the Fulbe making the town a leading commercial centre. Weaving, dyeing, tanning, pottery were improved a great deal. Embroidery and tailoring were remarkably enhanced. Other chief articles in the market were hoes, leather products, mats, hide and skin exported to faraway lands in Bornu (North-Eastern Nigeria), Adamawa province, Cameroon Republic and to the North as far as Tripoli.
Embroidery a money spinning venture came into Wudil during the Fulbe pre-colonial administration and witnessed steady growth. Qur’anic scholars introduced the occupation as a means of subsistence. These scholar’s way of life was dedicated completely to the study of the Holy Qur’an. Embroidery has today become the occupation of all inhabitants of Wudil. Embroidered materials from Wudil are found in places in distant lands within and outside Africa. Export of hide and skin is a long standing commercial activity during the century long Fulbe reign. Haruna Zango, and Suleiman Uwalili maintains outstanding positions over many decades. Aska biyu, Aska takwas, Aska tara, Yar Madaka, Mai Takalmi, Mai talatin, Uwar Wudil, Yar Kamaru, Balakura, Kwado da linzami are some of the wellknown styles made.
This went on to show that Wudil was more than a vital trade and communication centre which bridged the Kano City to the trans-Saharan trade route. It is a town on the banks of the River Hadejia that was and still deeply flourished with an intellectual life cantered on learning. Its article and cattle markets became international, with large volumes of goods for both import and export exchanging hands. Instant hospitality and friendliness of the ordinary people towards all strangers, notwithstanding differences in tribe or language, made Wudil prosper.
Different range of taxes were collected from personal income tax, to cattle tax to build infrastructures such as roads, market stalls and houses for administrative convenience. Teachers with Islamic knowledge were supported to improve both the character and learning of pupils. All categories of learners were considered, from young pupils to adults. Women were not left behind in the quest to improve their intellectual capacity. The Emir of Kano guaranteed that policing, prisons, courts, treasuries, and revenue collections work efficiently.
Author: Murtala Muhammad is a lecturer in the School of General Studies with Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano-Nigeria