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  Ibrahim Dabo was a pious Islamic scholar and one-time student of Emir Suleimanu, one of Dabo’s works Kaff al-Ikhwani has been recovered and was later published. He was known to have written out the Qur’an and had three daughters and several sons.
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Dabo was the leader of the Fulani Sullubawa in Kano and the founder of the eponymous Dabo dynasty. His progeny has lasted over two centuries reigning as Muslim rulers of the ancient city-state of Kano. The dynasty has become synonymous with the ancient city-state in affectionate sayings such as “Kano ta Dabo Cigari”. They have independently ruled the Kano Emirate from 1819 until the Battle of Kano in 1903 which as a result of British colonization transformed into the Kano Emirate Council. Dabo reigned as Emir of Kano from 1819 to 1846. He embarked upon policies to centralize the administration and raise revenue. During his reign, he was responsible for establishing several ribats, including Fanisau and Waceni. His centralization saw the revival of old royal slave titles which he exploited to consolidate his power. Dabo invaded the Ningi chiefdom but was defeated by Gwarsum at Basshe. In order to re-establish his authority and independence, Dabo re-introduced the elaborate court and regalia of the Bagauda dynasty after the Kano Emirate was invaded by Muhammad al-Kanemi of Bornu who was looking to seize the city-state as a buffer zone between the Bornu Empire and the Sokoto Caliphate, his army was subsequently annihilated by the Emir of Bauchi after having failed to breach the ancient Kano city walls.

Death and succession

He was appointed Emir of Kano on 23/24 Dhul Qa’ada 1234 AH (21 September 1819) by Sultan Muhammad Bello fulfilling the wish of Emir Suleiman.
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He died on Friday 9th Safar 1262 AH (9 February 1846) and was succeeded by his elder son Usman I. (Ado-Kurawa 1989: 53 and Last 1966: 468-9).


He made war on Birnin Sankara and Birnin Rano, took the town of Rano, and lived in the house of Sarkin Rano. After this exploit, he shaved his head. He never shaved his head except he sacked a town. When the Kano towns saw that Dabo would not leave any town unconquered, they all submitted to him, and his power exceeded all other Sarkis. He had a friend whose name was Ango. When the Galadima Sani died, he made Ango Galadima, and as Galadima the latter reached great power through his pleasant manner and his persuasiveness. In Dabo’s time, there was no foreign war and people had food in plenty. Dabo conquered and spoiled Yasko. He had many war captains, a few among whom may be mentioned as Berde, Kano Buggali, Sarkin Dawaki Manu, Sarkin Jarumai Dumma, Sulimanu Gerkwarn Karifi (he was who killed Tunari, the son of Sarkin Sankara), Juli Kuda, Lifidi, Maidawakin Gawo and many others. These warriors of Dabo’s time had no fear of war. When Dabo mounted to go to war no such dust was ever seen, so many were his horses. The dust was like the Harmattan.
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He ruled Kano for 27 years and 3 months and 9 days, his reign ending on the 9th of Safar. Reference  Miers, Suzanne; Klein, Martin A. (1999). Slavery and colonial rule in Africa. Frank Cass. p. 169.  University of Wisconsin–Madison. African Studies Program; Boston University.  African Studies Center (2005). African economic history. African Studies Center, Boston University. pp. 27–30.  Kopytoff, Igor (1987). The African frontier: the reproduction of traditional African societies. Indiana University Press. p. 199.  Boyd, Jean (1989). The caliph’s sister: Nana Asma’u, 1793-1865, teacher, poet, and Islamic leader. F. Cass. p. 78. Featured Image Source: Murya Yanci
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This article was first published on 30th June 2022 and updated on July 4th, 2022 at 6:06 pm


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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