By Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu
Sabon Gari Kano has always been a melting pot – drawing multiple nationalities and ethnicities who converge in the settlement and make it truly unique. Prof. Adamu Baikie’s “Sabongari: The Simmering Melting Pot of Kano State” is the latest addition to the literature on the area. Having grown up in the area, Prof. Baikie gives a unique ethnographic account of the place and its development.
More of a personal recollection from a resident, than a rigorous archival excavation of community history, Baikie’s Sabongari [sic – that is exactly how he spelt it throughout the book] provides additional fascinating information about other developments in Kano. In particular, Education, in which Prof Baikie also released a companion book, “Nigerian Education: Ivory Towers & Other Issues.” It’s a pity that the few pictures included in the Sabongari book did not come out too well, being black and white and blurry.
Prof. Baikie’s discourse on Sabon Gari (my preferred spelling) is similar to Neil Skinner’s “Alhaji Mahmudu Ƙoƙi – Kano Malam”, in which the subject provides a primary participant observer’s insight about the development of either events, or in this case, a community. It is truly fascinating.
There were, of course, other works on Sabon Gari Kano, long before this. The most monumental was Ahmed Bako’s “Sabon Gari Kano: A history of Immigrants and Inter-group Relations in the 20th century” (UDUS Press, 2006) and based on his groundbreaking PhD thesis, “A Socioeconomic History of Sabon Garni Kano, 1913-1989” submitted to Bayero University in 1990. Prof. Baikie approaches the study of Sabon Gari from the perspective of ‘son of the soil’ who lived in the neighborhood, playing footer, attending Church service there and interacting with the waves and waves of Nigerian and West African immigrants who settled in the borough as neighbors and friends.
Prof Adamu Baikie mentored both me and my father at various stages of our careers, so I certainly don’t mind plugging this wonderful memoir. This is not a review, as I am sure Dr Shamsuddeen Sani will be doing the honors soon enough [on Facebook]. It is just to let people know that the book, launched on 20th August 2023, is now available at Zamani Bookstore, Sabon Gari at the cost of ₦3,500. It is another addition to our understanding of the history of Kano.