A History Of Gusau In The Colonial Period 1903-1960

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A History Of Gusau In The Colonial Period 1903-1960


This research work is an attempt at reconstructing the history of Gusau in the colonial period, 1903-1960. Colonialism has been a major phenomenon in the History of many African societies. This is due to the impact that it made on the economy and society of the various territories through the implementation of its policies. However with the passage of time most of the gains that were made especially in agriculture, effective taxation, trade, and labour sectors have declined considerably.

Despite many post-colonial policies initiated by various administration in the country. It is in the bid to find solutions to the above issues of development in Gusau that we have decided to embark on a historical study of Gusau district during the colonial period. We argued that even though some of the colonial policies distorted the socio-economic and political life of the people of Gusau, however colonialism brought development to Gusau in the socio-economic and political spheres.

Chapter One

General Introduction

1.1 Background To The Study

This research is an attempt to study the History of Gusau district in the colonial period, 1903-1960. Gusau district is one of the Districts that emerged following the jihad movement of the nineteenth century in Hausa land, led by the legendary Sheikh Usmanu Danfodiyo. It was founded around 1799 by Mallam Muhammadu Sambo, (Dan Ashafa) a disciple of the sheikh. Gusau district only became prominent after the fall of ‘Yandoto in 1806.1

Since its emergence as an important settlement in the Sokoto Caliphate, Gusau town attracted attention as an important agricultural and commercial center. At any rate, the town and its surrounding areas had attracted large presence of agriculturists; farmers and livestock rearers, especially cattle owning Fulani.2

Gusau before the colonial period, was an agrarian society, agriculture was the backbone of the economy of the Gusau, the economic activity of the people during this period consisted mainly in farming with other minor supplementary occupation, Although, like most other Hausa town’s agriculture remained the main activity. In the area there were builders, thatches, butchers, blacksmiths, drummers, praise-singers, e.t.c.3

Gusau and the territory assigned to Mallam Sambo Dan Ashafa falls within the metropolitan section of the caliphate. In Gusau after the consolidation of Mallam Sambo with their Headquarters at Gusau had under the territories of Wonaka, Mada, Yandoto, Samri, Magami, Marabu, Mareri, Mutumji, Kwaren Ganuwa, Wanke and a group of villages around Gusau, like other parts of the caliphate.4

In territorial administration besides the fief holders in the outlying territory, the town was broken into five wards namely, Shiyar Magaji, Uban Dawaki, Galadima, Mayana and Sarkin Fada. They were the vital links between the people in their respective wards and the Sarkin katsina. They are the eyes and ears of Sarki. Gusau like other parts of the Caliphate send a share of its revenue to the caliph.5

The coming of colonialism brought about certain developments and transformations of the societies in Gusau. Colonial infrastructures such as tarred roads, railways, modern stores, businesses as well as modern manufactures were all brought to the town. Similarly, modern residences, offices, schools and hospital were added to the town which aided and further enhanced, its expansion and modernization process.6

However, there are colonial policies that were introduced by the colonial administration which changed the system of political administration. The Gusau area is something of an anachronism. It is not a division but is treated as such in all respects politically, in which respect it has the status of a touring area. During the colonial administration 1907, they introduced cattle tax (Jangali).7

During the colonial period agriculture remained the main economic activity of Gusau, with economic potentials and also is a predominantly agricultural society, Agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and was mainly undertaken in Damina with the cultivation of major crops.8

Gusau covers a total land area of approximately 3469 square kilometers. The area within which Gusau is located is interrupted by few little rocky outcrops, such as hills of Mareri and Dokau.Gusau enjoys a tropical type of climate largely controlled by two masses, namely the tropical and maritime.

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