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The Origin of the Arewa Knot

The Origin of the Arewa Knot

The Origin of the Arewa Knot
The Arewa Knot. Image Source: Pinterest.

In pre-independent Nigeria, particularly in the 1950s as Nigeria began to prepare to pry itself out of colonial rule to become an independent nation, Sir Ahmadu Bello adopted the Arewa knot as a political identity for the North of Nigeria.

In Hausa, the logo is known as “Tambarin Arewa” and sometimes “Dangin Arewa.” It represents unity in the multitudes of diversity present in the region: the Hausa, the Kanuri, the Fulani, the Nupe, the Gbagyi and hundreds of other languages. The unity representation was critical to northern representation during the era preceding independence in Nigeria, to counter what seemed a dominant southern political occupation. Even though there is no dispute about it meaning unity in diversity, there are various accounts of its origin. Some historical accounts trace the origin of the logo to the Christians in the region, while others trace it to the Jews.

The Origin of the Arewa Knot
Arewa Knot. Image Source:

The Hausa state known as Gobir at the time is speculated to have been largely populated by christian Hausas, with one of their kings or leaders known as Sarkin Gobir Mai Sakandami. He was Christian as well, and believed to have been seen always wearing a version of the cross that bore a striking resemblance and similarities with what is now known as the Arewa logo. The people then adopted it as their logo, with the approval of the most revered Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

This account of history isn’t given much credence because the number of Christian Hausas in the region was very small compared to the Muslims.

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, The Origin of the Arewa Knot
Henry Anumudu.

The Jewish account which seems the more plausible has it that the knot seems to be a version of the six-pointed star Seal of Solomon. Accounts of history postulate that there were Jews who settled around northern Nigeria thousands of years before the region became a region, and that their descendants might have with time undergone modifications that made them Hausa thereby modifying the logo as well. The Jews are suspected to have settled in Nigeria when they scattered across Senegal, Cameroon, Niger, Mali and modern-day Mauritania.


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