Before the construction of the Gidan Rumfa, the present palace of the Emir of Kano, the city’s seat of authority was in the Gidan Makama, located opposite it. Built in the 15th century, it is today a museum housing the city’s heritage since the 7th century.
The Gidan Makama was raised by Emir Abdullahi Burja as living quarters for his grandson, Rumfa, who held the title of Makama Kano—heir apparent to the throne—from where the complex took its name. After Rumfa became Emir and moved to the new palace, the Gidan Makama remained in the use of subsequent Makamas.
The Gidan Makama complex has three sectors. The western one is the museum, the central one is the Makama’s quarters, and the eastern one contains educational institutions.
At the museum frontage, there are pots and canons in exhibition, the latter of which are believed to be British. Inside the museum, there is a performance stage used by the Koroso dance and drama group.
The Gidan Makama Museum contains 11 galleries. The first contains Hausa traditional architecture. The second contains a map of Kano’s walls and the Kofar Kabuga gates, through which the British entered and conquered the city. The third gallery contains the story of the first invaders of Kano and a traditional religious history of the city in pictures. The fourth gallery: the arrival and influence of the Fulani from the 19th century. The fifth gallery: the story of the Kano Civil War.
The sixth gallery contains the story of Kano’s old economy and the Durbar, a festival of horse-riding. The seventh tells of the colonial period and 20th century political figures. The eighth gallery: the city’s Islamic heritage.
The ninth gallery shows professions in Kano, including farm, basketwork, and textile instruments. The tenth gallery: music instruments. The eleventh gallery: the traditional Hausa bride’s room.
The Gidan Makama Museum runs a range of educational programmes, from organized school visits, an annual school debate, and a Saturday art club for children to regular guide tours and Sallah fanfare for families.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Editor of Folio Nigeria, where he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: art, business, entertainment, activism, health, food. He is a writer, journalist, curator, media consultant, former academic, and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Open Country Mag, a new online platform covering African literature. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.