The Old City Ruins of Alkalawa, Sabo Birnin, Sokoto

The story of the largest ethnic group in Sub-Sahara, the Hausa people.

The Ancient City Ruins of Alkalawa are what remain of the former city, and capital, of Gobir, people who were believed to have come from Arabia during the 10th century. However, the lineage can only be traced back to the 11th century, which is as far as the dynasty's lineage can be traced. The Hausa people are the largest ethnic group in Sub-Saharan Africa, and are a diverse, yet culturally homogeneous, group of people. The Hausa at one point acted as a separate political entity in what is now northern-Nigeria. Alkalawa was the capital of the Hausa city-state of Gobir, which is now located in northern-Nigeria.1 Gobir, a city-state, was founded in the eleventh century, staying under Hausa rule for nearly 700 years. Gobir is particularly remembered best as being the chief opponent of Fulani Islamic reformer Usman dan Fodio.2 Usman dan Fodio, who was a jihadist, carried a message of justice and morality which rallied the outcasts of Hausa society, targeting the rulers of several Hausa city-states, including Gobir who were accusing the rulers of the Hausa city-states of being pagans.3 Alkalawa fell when dan Folio defeated the ruler of Gobir, Yunfa, at the capital. This lead to the fall of the city in October of 1808, marking the end of the Fulani rule in the region. This fight was known as the Fulani War, and led to a new rule that was a hybrid of Hausan ideals and Islam beliefs. The name of this new order of rule was the Sokoto Caliphate. Introduced under this new order of rule was an Islamic administration, Muslim judges, market inspectors, and prayer leaders. Along with these appointments, there was also an introduction of an Islamic tax and land system which was instituted with revenues on the land considered kharaj and the fees levied on individual subjects called jizya, as in classical Islamic times.4 Gobir, upon defeat, was partially absorbed into the Fulani empire. The Fulani, who were initially cattle herders before this change in rule, also transitioned to sheep and goat-herding in an attempt to bring them under the rule of Muslim law. Sufism, the inward dimension of Islam, became widespread as a result of this change in rule.

What remained of the Gobir resistance was led by Sarkin Ali dan Yakubu and Sarkin Mayaki in the north-east and, with some help, managed to build a new Gobir empire in Tibiri in 1836.5 The old lineage of the Gobir continues to this day, in present day Niger, but it not as powerful as it once was.

Presently, the Alkalawa ruins are located in the Sabon Birnin local government area of Sokoto, and exist in this area along with several other ancient city ruins, such as that of Surame, a ruined city of the Kebbi kingdom. Referring to modern photos of Alkalawa can garner understanding of some of the structures that still remain after the city was sacked and defeated by Jihadist dan Fodio and the Fulani people. Still standing are some of the remains of the large walls that surrounded the city, along with what appears to be doorways to buildings.6 The buildings within the ruins, or what remains of them, appear to be overgrown after the large amount of time that has passed since the Gobir's defeat.