Just like the revered Benin kingdom, Kano is also known for its ancient civilization. But where there is almost nothing to speak of the great past of Benin, the Gidan Makama Museum, to some extent, give testimony to the glory days of Kano.
Founded in 1953, the Gidan Makama Museum is located in a 15th-century historical building in Kano and is recognised as a National Monument by the Government of Nigeria.
The museum is partitioned into nine galleries (each called zaure), with each gallery showcasing a particular aspect of the ancient Kanawa (people of Kano) life.
They include makuba, a kind of soil additive used as cement and paint by the ancient Kano people. There is azara, palm trees used for thatching roofs, and some other materials used for building.
In addition, the other side of the gallery houses the olden day’s gate of Kofar Waika. It is a very big iron gate, and attached to it is a metal slate with some Arabic inscriptions believed to be a charm for protection.
Into the next gallery, one is welcomed with the history of Kano city from its pagan period to the present day. There’s a shrine of an idol called Tsumburbura, which could be seen on top of Dala hill with a picture of worshippers under the hill.
The exhibition of ancient farm implements and hunting instruments are also there for visitors to see in other galleries, as they help explain the types of crops grown at that time; crops like millet, sorghum, cowpea, and groundnut.
There are also samples of war instruments such as iron and leather shield, sword and gun that are exhibited in the next gallery.
In summary, the galleries include the Zaure or the main entrance hall with displays of traditional materials, city walls, and maps of Kano, the history of statehood, Kano in the 19th century, the Civil War, economy, industry and music.
It is, however, important to note that the Gidan Makama Museum is renowned also for its traditional architectural excellence: The galleries are the rooms and courtyards of the old Makamas, and they depict the style of a traditional residence of a Kano aristocrat.
When to visit the museum?
The museum is open to visitors at all time. And it is usually visited by many people for varied reasons.