The Durbars of Kano and Katsina – Part 2

Monday, after breakfast, we boarded the buses for a short 20 kilometer trip to Dawakin Tofa, a local pot making village.  An “old woman” demonstrated the pot making techniques as she collected clay, water, and sand and kneaded it into a dense ball, and then beat it into a pot shape with a mortar and pestle, using her hands and feet to maintain its shape.  She marked the pot with her symbolic design, and it was ready for firing in the ovens.    Her 10 year old granddaughter apprentice watched, knowing that she would inherit the responsibility some day.  The firing pits are simple enclosures where fire embers and ashes are pilled upon the pots to harden them.

Making the pot with a foot and two handsFinished pot


After observing the local pot making, we traveled to Aleku, a rural village of traditional weavers and cloth makers.  There we watched men spin thread by rolling a stick on their legs and weavers working hand looms that were little more than twigs and sticks, creating beautiful cloth runners that are then hand sewed into larger pieces of fabric.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and then split into 2 groups, as the women who wished to visit the Emir of Kano’s wife and Harem went off early, while the rest of the group made their way to the Emir’s palace grounds in Kano.  These palace grounds enclose the parade field and the crowd was already beginning to gather along the surrounding roads and along the Palace fences.  We entered the grounds and were similarly escorted to the Official Viewing Stands, again sharing the area with officials and dignitaries.  In a while, the women showed up from their tour with one of the Emir’s wives. She was his second wife, Hajiyya Abba, a trained teacher who has been married to him for 49 years, with 6 children (3boys and 3 girls) and 27 grandchildren.  The Emir of Katsina was actually her nephew and she was raised in the Royal House of Katsina.  As such, she was good personal friends with Paulette and her graciousness and hospitality were appreciated by all. As a female member of the Emir’s family, she is not allowed outside the Harem in daylight, unless she is traveling abroad.  She bid farewell to her quests as they make their way to the Durbar viewing stand. 

The second wive of the Emir of Kano

The Kano Durbar was a more scripted and controlled environment, with more elaborate costumes and decorations, and more formal proceedings. As in Katsina, the different regiments parade in a counter clockwise direction past the viewing area and take up areas on either side of the parade grounds.  The crowds pressed into the fences, and every available tree limb, sign or vantage point became quickly occupied to watch the spectacle.  In Kano, the newly elected governor with us in the viewing-stands, is well liked by the present Emir, Ado Bayero and the crowds were even larger than usual to support the respectful meeting of these two leaders. After ~2000 horsemen and 5000 men had filed past, the arrival of the Emir is announced by ancient musket fire from the Emir’s guards, and the procession of his family, wives vacant horses, guards, and the Emir himself proceeded down the center.  After the usual pleasantries, the ceremonial charging of the horses with swords flashing was re-enacted, before the Emir returned to his Palace, and we traverse the crowd to our buses and returned to the Prince Hotel.

Kano DurbarKano DurbarKano DurbarKano Durbar - Young prince with palace guardsEmir of Kano - under the large umbrella