Category: NEWSROYALE Written by Ismaila Lere Hits: 1592
Beside the Royal Palace of Gidan Rumfa situated in the central part of ancient city of Kano, there are other sub royal palaces located in difference areas within the city or emirate.
They serve as alternative palaces where the emir can go and settle for a while. Almost all of these palaces were built by the Fulani emirs of Kano. They are Nassarawa, Dorayi and Fanisau palaces that are located in the present metropolitan Kano, and are visited annually during Sallah durbar, the emir visit them on a horse back. Nasarawa, in particular, receive the emir on each Sallah durbar, thus, twice a year and he normally went there every Sunday to have rest and to pray for his ancestors that were buried there. Interestingly, four late emirs of Kano Abbas, Abdullahi Bayero, Inuwa and Muhammadu Sanusi were all buried in Nassarawa.
Other sub royal palaces are Wudil and Takai royal palaces. The Wudil palace still exists and it will be recalled that, the late Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi settled there from 22nd February 1979 to his death in 1991. However, Takai no longer exist. It was converted into the palace of the district head of Takai.
According to Kano chroniclers, the Nassarawa palace was built by Emir of Kano Muhammadu Abbas, where as Wudil and Dorayi were built by Emir Abdullahi Bayero son of Abbas. No more sub royal palaces were built by the subsequent emirs after Abdullahi Bayero, but the ones still existing have been transformed by subsequent emirs.
However, Gidan Rumfa otherwise known as Kano Palace, constructed by the twentieth King of Kano during the Habe dynasty, Muhammadu Rumfa son of Yakubu between 1479 and 1482, is arguably the largest and oldest existing royal palace in West Africa. It covers approximately 14 hectares and surrounded by walls of 6-9m height from outside and average of 5 m height from within the palace complex.
Fascinatingly, the Gidan Rumfa could be described either as a house, hamlet or quarters, or even a town, due to the large number of houses therein, and the numerous wards and facilities, including hospital, school, cemetery and court.
Fundamentally, palaces, living rooms and labyrinth or entrance hall in Kano Palace are all called Soro. All eight Soro or, Soraye in plural form, have names given to them. For example, Soron Rumfar kasa or Soron Sarki is referring to living, in this case of the emir, Soron Fadanci is referring to the royal court rooms, Soron Kofa is referring to the gate, and Soron Jakadiya refers to entrance hall. Each Soro except the one leading to the outer part - where the royal slaves houses are but enclosed into the walls of the palace and accessible by the public - of the palace is under the custody of a female slave, Jakadiya, a female errand. The ones leading to the outer part of the two sections of the palace are managed by a male slave (Sarkin Kofa).
The eight Soraye, namely, Soron Giwa, Soron Bello, Soron Ingila, Soron Rumfar Kasa, Soron Zauna Lafiya, Fadar Waje, Sabon Soron Fadanci, and Soron Fadancin, also serve as quasi-palaces or royal courts where the emir conducts the royal court sessions and other emiral functions. These quasi-palaces were built over a period of time by different emirs and for different reasons. According to Kano historians, Soron Bello was built because the emir was going blind and he is having difficulty going to the palace because is far, as such he built a Soro named after him to reduce the distance.
The Soron Giwa, according to historians, was the oldest, having being built since the reign of Habe kings, this Soro is still as it is - nothing was changed except doors and windows and the painting. Also built during the Habe era was the Soron Zauna Lafiya and is purposely used by the emir for turbaning new district head. Apart from turbaning ceremony, the Soro is to this moment use as a waiting room for district heads before the emir comes out for court session
Next is Soron Bello which was constructed by the emir of Kano Muhammadu Bello son of Dabo (1883 – 1892). The Soro was used for seeing palace visitors before Soron Ingila was built.
The Soron Ingila, according to Malam Ibrahim Bala Hassan, a Kano historian, was erected by emir of Kano Muhammadu Abbas in 1903. He was the first emir appointed by colonial masters, perhaps was the reason why he named the Soro after their country. He uses the Soro for meeting with the British colonial officials. However, Emir Abdullahi Bayero son of Abbas started rebuilding the Soro in 1934 and finished it two years later. Records say that when he came back from England he stayed in the Soro for people to pay homage and welcome him back. But Bayero never used Soron Ingila for royal court session but he utilized it for meeting and consultation and for hosting visitors. This tradition continues in this direction till date.
“The present Emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero has played host to several world leaders, monarchs and other official visitors in Soron Ingila. And again, Emir Sanusi hosted the Queen Elizabeth of England there,” said Ibrahim Hassan.
Soron Ingila has two parts and two entrances, the rear part has a door from inside the house (emir’s palace) and is the old part with the aforementioned function, and the fore part was built or rather extended by Emir Sanusi is the one with the door linking to outside thus, an entrance for the visitors. This part is used for by emir for consultation with his council members.
The Rumfar Kasa was built by emir Abdullahi Bayero, it was built in such a way that emir can see outside straight so that he view any person coming to him without being prevented from seeing him. Bayero conduct all aspect of royal court sessions like gaisuwa, court session at Rumfar Kasa. Emir Abdullahi Bayero has thus, rebuilt two palaces Zauna Lafiya and Soron Ingila and added a new palace Rumfar Kasa.
The Fadar Waje, which was built by Emir Muhammadu Sanusi in 1954, was constructed at the outer part of the palace for people to have access to him without any hitch or difficulty,
The Sabon Soron Fadanci was built by Emir Ado Bayero, it is situated north of Soron Zauna Lafiya, it was built because of the increase in number of the traditional title holders of the emirate and in a similar vein, the population of Kano people was increased in such a way that old Rumfar Kasa can accommodate it at all. Thus, it is done to ease the process of the royal court session. Here Emir Ado Bayero followed the foot step of his fore fathers as his brother did, in fact since the time of Emir Abbas it was on record that only Emir Usman and Inuwa that did not add one or two palaces.
Interestingly, Soron Fadancin Dare is the only palace situated in the northern part of the palace. It is expected to be the oldest among the palaces, as established by history that palace businesses in the olden days were conducted at this part of the palace before extending to the other part. Now the palace is only used for Ramadan greeting, moon sighting of Ramadan and two Eids in Shawwal and Zul Hajj as well as council members greeting on the Sallah day after the first durbar procession has ended.
It is again in the tradition of palace in Kano that the Emir would always be received on his way out of his inner chambers by some palace slaves, namely, Magajiyan Gwanso, Turakin Soro and Galadiman Zagi. After greeting the Emir, Turakin Soro will then present the Tagwayen Masu (Twin Spears) to the Emir and Galadiman Zagi would lead the way through the courtyard. Magajiyan Gwanso and other jakadu (female slaves) would announce to all that the Emir has alighted from Rumfan Kasa, while pouring encomiums on him, chanting: “Takawa lafiya jikan Alu majefen mashi; Lafiya magajin Rumfa; Lafiya jikan Dabo; Lafiya jikan Sarkin Shanu Hassan; Lafiya jikan Dan Lawan Yusufu; Lafiya jikan Usman Maje Nassarawa; Lafiya jikan Abdullahi Maje Karofi; Lafiya jikan Muhammadu Maje Takai; Lafiya jikan Galadima Yusufu Maje Garko; Lafiya jikan Abdullahi Mai bindiga; Lafiya jikan Wambai Muhammadu Dankande; Lafiya jikan Sarkin Shanu Datti; Lafiya jikan Waziri Ahmadu Maishahada; Lafiya jikan Dan Iya Gajere; Lafiya jikan Dan Maje Zakari; Lafiya jikan Sarkin Kano Tukur!” The Emir would then move to Soron Bello where Babban Zagi, Shamaki, Dan Rimi, Sarkin Lema would be waiting. Before he proceeds to the next Soro, which is Soron Ingila, the Emir usually have a brief sojourn in Soron Bello.