The paper concerns a widely held belief that the ‘great’ Kano ‘mosque-tower’ was of considerable age when demolished in 1938 and that it dated probably from the nineteenth century, or even earlier. Apart from brief references in the Kano Chronicle (kc), (and in another Kano ‘king-list’ published by Hunwick), to the building of a ḥaṣūmiyā and mosque,during the reign of the Kano ruler, Muḥammad Runfā, (1463–1499), post-Runfā references to mosque building in the kc do not mention a ‘great’ tower, nor do nineteenth-century European travellers’ accounts. It was not remarked on at the time of Lugard’s conquest of Kano in 1903.
Evidential sources are presented showing that the ‘Mosque-Tower’ was built under colonial influence around 1911/12. It was anathema to the ‘ulamā’, in the light of the recorded views of the Shēhu Uthmān ɗan Fodio, hence its ultimate demolition.
Why did a seventeenth-century scholar translate a Fulfulde text, that had long served to divulge Islamic theology in West Africa, into literary Arabic, a language that was only understood by people who were already advanced in their studies of the religion? This article explores whether his prime concern was not a translation from one language to the other, but the translation of an oral work into a written text.
The following are some comments by a scholar of early Islamic Historiography on the intriguing stelae of the Royal Cemetary of Gao-Saney dating from 11th / 12th century (ce) West Africa. They depart from interpretations focusing on the integration of the stelae into the literary corpus of later Arabic ta’rīkh – works dealing with West Africa by proposing a spatial reconstruction of the ensemble of the tombstones. The resulting spatial arrangement can be intrepreted as reminiscent of the topography of the burial of the Prophet Muḥammad in Medina. It is proposed that the peculiar naming pattern on the tombstones of the recently Islamicized rulers of Gao-Saney replicating the naming pattern of the first three rulers of the ideal Islamic polity of early Islamic Salvation History did not necessarily form a replica of Islamic Salvation History in life, but certainly a replica in death establishing a marker of Islamic Salvational Geography in 11th / 12th century (ce) West Africa.