There is a lot of road construction going on in Kano, which brings hopes of smoother traffic in the future, but in the meantime makes for terrible go-slows. Another side-effect of the road construction has been the demolition of structures in an attempt to widen the roads. From what I’ve seen, the widened roads are creeping quite close to the edges of the ancient nearly thousand year old Kano wall, although there do seem to be efforts along BUK road to construct iron fences between BUK road and the wall. (According to the Kano State Tourism website, construction on the wall began in 1112 AD.) I didn’t think too much of it until today, when I read an upsetting story in the Weekly Trust by Jaafar Jaafar, Naziru Idris Ya’u and Mubarak Hassan Usman describing the destruction of one of the fifteen ancient city gates embedded into Kano wall by a road construction company.
An old monument of the ancient city of Kano, Kofar Na’isa, was demolished by a construction company in order to pave way for the ongoing road expansion in the state. Many metropolitan roads in Kano state are now undergoing expansion and reconstruction. Withstanding the greatest winds and rains of history for about five centuries ago, Kofar Na’isa stood firm without interference until last week when the construction firm rolled out its bulldozers against the gate.
The article continues:
Lamenting the destruction of the gate, the curator of the National Museum, Gidan Makama, Malam Aliyu Abdu, said the demolition has serious consequences on the cultural authenticity of Kano city walls, saying it is an infringement on a cultural site undergoing preparations for the World Heritage listing.
“The gate is over 500 years. Whatever kind of road that will be constructed, the sanctity of the old relic must be respected,” said the curator.
According to him, the museum cannot stop road construction but the gate should either be bypassed or let be. “We are supposed to be notified so that we direct how the monument would be carefully restructured but not to be demolished completely without our consent,” said the curator.
Continuing, he said: “the destruction of the site also constitutes a grievous setback to the conservation plan adopted by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the stakeholder committee on Kano city walls towards the preservation of the heritage sites of this great city.”
Malam Abdu said the NCMM in conjunction with the state government was preparing to submit Kano city walls and associated sites to UNESCO for enlistment into the World Heritage List.
“Already this demolished gate had been included in Nigeria’s tentative list and is receiving favourable attention as one of the sites with great potentials for the World Heritage enlistment,” he lamented.
While calling on government and private companies to desist from destroying the monuments, he said the museum will drag the construction company to court for wanton destruction of a national monument.
Also lamenting the destruction, the present lord of the demolished gate, Malam Abdullahi Usman, expressed displeasure with the destruction of the historical architectural piece. “The gate was demolished on April 19, without my permission as the custodian of the gate, nor the permission of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero,” he said.
He further said the construction company desecrated the historical relic, saying Emir Bayero has convened an emergency meeting with the district heads and those who are responsible to look after the gates. “The emir was really bitter about the demolition,” said the lord of the gate.
Unfortunately, the Weekly Trust article does not list the name of the construction company which bull-dozed the gate, or information on who would have given the go-ahead to destroy a national monument “protected by law under the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) Act, CAP 19 of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, vol X Chapter 19.” However, when I went in search of more information, I found another article in the SundayTrust of 11 April 2010 describing the demolition, meaning the news is over a week old now. Right before I posted this post, I also heard from another source that the name of the construction company that demolished the gate was Kano-based Triacta Nigeria Limited.
The demolished gate is pictured on the Kano Tourism website here, along with a colourful story about the construction of the gate:
Emir Suleiman received a complaint from the nomadic Fulani that they were attacked by a group of thieves who took away their cattle. The Emir directed his son, Abubakar Mai Unguwar Mundubawa to go along with the complainants and capture the thieves at all cost. At the end of the mission, the son of the Emir returned late and was disallowed by the gatekeeper to pass through the Kofar Dogo with his people. There and then he decided to break a part of the wall close to the then Kofar Dogo (Dogo Gate). It took them five days to complete the new entrance. He then ordered the removal of the metal gate of Dogo, and fixed it at the new one called NA’ISA and blocked Kofar Dogo. The gate was renamed Kofar Na’isa by Emir Suleiman.
A October 9, 2008 Daily Sun article describes other Kano City Gates that have been sacrificed to road widening exercises:
Owing to the pressures of traffic, it became necessary to expand or “dualize” some major roads in Kano. Thus, some of the antique gates had to give way. Among the gates, which proved too narrow, were “Kofar Nassarawa,” “Kofar Mata” and “Kofar Wambai.” Unfortunately, the original clay structures were replaced with massive concrete gates. However, Hambolu seven years ago commended those who handled the renovation for their wisdom in incorporating elements of Hausa traditional architecture into the design of the new gates.