Monuments: The Walls of Kano City

The preservation of the past must inevitably pose particular problems in a city which is literally a living monument to the Middle Age of African history, especially when its mud walls are crumbling and its gates are barely wide enough for animals, far less motorised vehicles. An article by John Lavers.

'A View of a part of Kano city', 1911 (New York Public Library)When, in 1903, British forces assaulted and captured the ancient city of Kano, Sir Frederick Lugard, High Commissioner of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, recorded that 'the extent and formidable nature of the fortifications surpassed the best informed anticipations of our officers. Needless to say, I have never seen or even imagined anything like it in Africa.' This impressive work of military engineering was then some 11 or 12 miles in length, 40 feet thick at the base and varying from 30 to 50 feet in height. A broad rampart walk ran behind the 4-foot thick loop-holed crest of the wall which was pierced by 13 gates, the whole further strengthened by a deep ditch.

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