Kano: An Emir is for the Commoners By Umar Mukhtar
The history of Kano, beyond being an ancient city, but a renowned heritage of continental repute is majorly due to its coveted Emirate system, leading eras of booming trade, communal security, feudalist agrarian economy and effective administration. Sarkin Kano was from time immemorial and is till this day regarded as top class in the class of high level traditional rulers in Africa. However, the might and power was most practicable in pre-colonial days, shrinking with the advent of indirect rule and somewhat disappearing with the Local Government Reforms of 1976.
Most of Kano’s living and active population grew to see late Sir Ado Bayero as Emir of Kano, a stool he sat on for 51 years. It is indeed documented in history that Late Emir Bayero’s emergence as Emir of Kano in 1963 was greeted by dissent coming from mostly the youthful locals. He went on to be one of the most loved men in Kano’s history, of course with a number of attempts on his life, and a number of embarrassing outings in which he was pelted and jeered. No doubt, Late Sir Ado Bayero, upon whose soul the whole of Kano continuously craves God Almighty’s mercies and blessings; personified a grandiose regal posturing, excellent connection with locals, patience and unequalled charisma.
A requisite quality for any Emir Kano will have is connection to the locals. People of Kano took Late Sir Ado Bayero as a kingly father due to his legendary connection with Kano’s local people as well as his astute preservation of the Emirate in the mould that his predecessors bequeathed to him. This ingrained a firmament of his idolization as a symbol of heritage and prestige for Kano’s citizens worldwide. Sir Ado Bayero witnessed a massive overhaul in the fortunes of Kano’s face and substance as well as numerous governments and challenges, where some were protagonist to a fault for the Emirate, and some were antagonistic to a fault against the Emirate. One thing that history can never take away from Late Sir Ado Bayero is that indeed he was an Emir whom Kano’s commoners envisioned as theirs.
Losing Sir Ado Bayero was a monumental gap divinely ordained at a time when Kano’s journey to revival was manifesting in all obvious measure. The announcement of his successor, Sarki Sanusi II (his grand-nephew and son-in-law) was greeted with angst within the metropolis. Kano was said to feel that the new Emir had usurped the throne from Late Sir Bayero’s son, Ciroma Sanusi. However, Kano forgot that Late Sir Bayero did not inherit the throne from his father directly too, but from his uncle and father-in-law (Sarki Inuwa). There certainly was no case of usurpation as Sarki Sanusi II is a bonafide scion of the Sullubawa ruling clan, and a direct descendant of Ibrahim Dabo.
Knowing Kano and its people well, a high degree of the emotion related to the new Emir’s selection comes from the constituency from which Sarki Sanusi II is believed to have emerged. There is widespread belief that he was only made Emir because he became friends with relevant politicians in the times of his foray outside of Kano, using such potent network to his advantage. The aforementioned for genuine Kano locals is seen as a slight on the institution. Another issue of angst is believed to be the new Emir’s obvious disconnect with Kano locals by way of not holding any traditional title for most of his adult life until after he became CBN Governor; the death of Madaki Sanusi led to the elevation of Danmaje Yusuf Mahmoud to Madaki, thus creating a vacancy for a new Danmaje. Certainly the death of one great Sanusi (Madaki) led to the emergence of another.
Furthermore, the celebration of Sarki Sanusi II across the world while he was CBN Governor had led to some apprehensions in Kano; his open declaration of interest in Kano’s Emirship in an interview few years ago was also taken to be an affront by many locals especially the elderly. Some also feel he was only appointed to spite President Jonathan. It is indeed certain by those who know and understand Kano and its locals that Sarki Sanusi II is not celebrated in Kano as much as he is idolized the world over, probably because Kano sees him more as ‘ordinary’. Unlike the new Emir, Late Bayero did not even hold a title before he was made Emir; however he also never openly declared interest in becoming Emir.
It is obvious that Governor Kwankwaso in settling for Sarki Sanusi II as Emir of Kano considered the dynamic re-emergence of the city-state and the efforts towards attainment of global acclaim on which he has invested massively. It certainly was a difficult decision as the Governor also confessed; it is one decision whose wisdom is inherently noble, one that must be wilfully preserved. As an institution and a profound heritage, Kano has risen and calmed, we remain rest assured that the Dabo dynasty is being led by one who is versed in theology, economy and jurisprudence, one who has championed widespread financial inclusion and wealth creation, one who has let the lid off unprecedented thieving by vested interests. My humble message to the Emir is in one sentence; Your Royal Highness, an Emir is for the Commoners.
Umar Y. Mukhtar
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