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Gate to the Kano Royal Palace ‘The Gidan Rumfa’. Source : creativecommons.org

The Kano Civil War was a war fought between the followers of two Kano royal cousins over the throne of Kano Emirate from 1893 to 1894. The two cousins who were the Grandchildren of Emir of Kano Ibrahim Dabo were Emir of Kano Tukur and Galadiman Kano Yusufu. Before the end of the Civil War, Galadima Yusufu died and his younger brother Alu Babba continued with the struggle and finally defeated the Sarkin Kano Tukur after they killed him.

The Kano Civil War has been and remained a turning point in the history of the Kano Emirate in which political alteration took place.

Background to the Kano Civil War

After the death of the Emir of Kano Abdullahi Maje-Karofi in 1885, nearly all the people of Kano wanted his elder son Yusufu to succeed him. However, due to some political reasons, the Sultan of Sokoto Umaru who has the authority refused that and instead chose Yusufu’s uncle Bello as the new Emir of Kano. Yusufu was told to be patient and the Sultan of Sokoto promised to him that whenever the Emir Bello died he would be the next Emir of Kano.

After eight years, Emir of Kano Bello died and now the people of Kano expected and became hopefull that Galadiman Kano Yusufu was to be chosen. Unfortunately, the Sultan of Sokoto Abdurrahman refused to fulfil the promise of his predecessor of making Galadima Yusufu the Emir of Kano. Instead, Tukur who was the son of Emir Bello was made the Emir of Kano. This brought disagreement and the Galadima Yusufu, his other brothers, and their followers refused to acknowledge the new Emir and therefore migrated to Garko in the southeastern parts of Kano Emirate. Later, they declared war against the new Emir, hence the beginning of the Kano Civil.

The War

While staying in Garko, the Galadiman Kano Yusufu received homage and supporters from all over Kano Emirate and additional warriors from Ningi, Gumel, and other Kingdoms. After accumulating substantial armies and weapons, the armies of Galadima Yusufu known as ‘Yusufawa’ set out for Kano city. Sadly, before leaving Garko Galadiman Kano Yusufu fell ill and died. Therefore, a leader for the war must be chosen. At last, Yusufu’s younger brother Alu became the leader of the mission.

On the other hand, the Emir of Kano Tukur received the news that Yusufawa was approaching Kano city for a war. Therefore, he ordered the preparation of an army for the possible Kano Civil War.

On the other hand, the Yusufawa armies under Alu finally reached the wall of the Kano city. The armies of the Emir of Kano Tukur encountered with the Yusufawa, but, the Yusufawa overcame them. Emir Tukur with many of his armies fled westward to the Kano-Katsina border. However, the Yusufawa chased him and eventually killed the Emir at village town called Tafashiya.

Alu became the new Emir

After the Yusufawa won the Kano Civil War by killing the Emir of Kano Tukur, Alu became the new Emir of Kano. Emir Alu who later earned a war name ‘Maisango’ was later deposed after British Conquest of Kano in 1903.


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