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Thus ruled Emir Abbas

selected cases from the records of the Emir of Kano's Judicial Council

Judicial Council Kano (Nigeria : Emirate)

Publication Year: 1994

Thus Ruled Emir Abbas is an important new research tool that reveals much about daily life in Kano, the wealthiest and most populous emirate of the African Sokoto Caliphate. It contains a selection of Kano Judicial Council documents, as well as their English translations, that deal with matters such as land disputes, tax collection disputes, and theft. These documents are invaluable resources that reveal much about Kano social, economic, and political life before the region came under the influence of colonial institutions, law, and language. This selection of records for more than 415 cases, along with their translations, will become essential reading for those interested in Nigeria’s past and will certainly become a standard work in the field of Nigerian history and anthropology.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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p. vii-vii

Kano Emirate and Its Neighbors (Map)

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p. viii-viii

Glossary of Arabic and Hausa Terms

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pp. ix-xiii

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pp. xiv-xv

In transcribing Arabic, I have followed the system used by the International Journal of Middle East Studies. The text includes a great many Hausa names and words written in 'ajami, the Arabic alphabet with certain modifications to adapt to Hausa phonetics. The text often provides vocalization of these names and words, but does not do so for Arabic names and words. I have transcribed ...

Calendar Conversion Table

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p. xvi-xvi

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Currency and Dates

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p. xvii-xvii

In 1913-1914, Northern Nigeria was undergoing a transition from cowrie shell currency to British-introduced coinage. At the time, the exchange rate was about 40,000 cowries to the British ...

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pp. xviii-xx

This work is part of a larger project for the translation of African historical sources, initiated by David Robinson of Michigan State University, and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project has its roots in a recognition of the importance of primary sources, both as a teaching tool, and as a foundation for further research. In the case of Africa, there is ...

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pp. 1-20

The history of northern Nigeria in the colonial era has been studied largely through the written documents of the British administration and through oral data. There exists, however, a large body of documents in Arabic, case registers of the allcali (Arabic: qacji) or Muslim judge's courts, and of the emir's judicial councils. Scholars of the region with a command of Arabic have been ...

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1. Establishing and Maintaining Rights to Land

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pp. 21-45

There exists a long-standing debate as to whether land in Northern Nigeria at the onset of the colonial period was held individually, and could be freely transmitted through inheritance, sale, loan, pawning, and gift-giving, or whether it belonged to the rulers, to dispose of as they saw fit, either on their own or through their authorized agents. The Land and Native Rights Proclamation of ...

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2. The Land Rights of Travelers and Emigrants

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pp. 46-59

...agriculture. But to envision it as a collection of isolated farming villages inhabited by people forever rooted to one place would be wrong. The broad, open savannah beckoned to travelers and traders. Export-oriented craft production, especially of dyed cloth, was interwoven with the rural economy (Shea 1975). Imports from the forests to the south, from the desert, and from ...

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3. Selling, Pawning, Loaning, and Donating Land

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pp. 60-70

Disputes over the ownership of land bulk large in the records of the judicial council. But these cases are sparse in the sort of detail which would illuminate the motives, strategies, and resentments which lay behind the disputes. Some cases involve simply a statement of conflicting claims to a piece of land, followed by a decision in favor of one litigant or the other, without any ...

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4. Houses

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pp. 71-79

House ownership within the walled city of Kano (Hausa: bimin Kano; Arabic: hasr Kano) was subject to stricter regulation and rather different rules than applied to land. Most strikingly, the sale of houses was subject to authorization. Emir 'Abbas regularly invalidated (fasakha) unauthorized sales. In some cases, the authorization of the ward head ...

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5. The Return of Property Seized During the Basasa

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pp. 80-91

In earlier chapters we frequently encountered the problem of how to define the respective rights of royal power and individual property holders over land and houses. A particularly difficult problem arose when a property holder ceased to occupy a house or piece of land, but later he or his heirs reclaimed it. At what point, and under what circumstances did an owner relinquish his ...

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6. The Sale and Ownership of Animals

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pp. 92-97

Disputes involving the sale, inheritance, and ownership of animals are relatively uncommon in the records compared to those involving their theft or loss. While the latter cases involved a question of public order -- one of the council's domains -- the former were usually consigned to the ...

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7. Animal Theft

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pp. 98-112

...livestock made up an important part of people's wealth in Kano emirate. For the rich and powerful, the horse was a symbol of their status, one of the most expensive single items one could own (see Chapter 6). Though no longer used in warfare and raiding, the horse remained crucial for rapid transport and communication. And too, the man on horseback easily intimidated those of the ...

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8. The Redemption and Emancipation of Slaves

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pp. 113-130

Slave raiding and slave labor played important roles in the Sokoto caliphate prior to the arrival of the British. The forces of the Muslim emirates raided for slaves in a number of pagan areas, including border areas between emirates, the hills to the south, and Adamawa, in the north of present-day Cameroon. The Muslim subjects of the emirates were not themselves immune ...

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9. The Conditions of Slaves: Options and Resistance

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pp. 131-139

Many slaves had little prospect of a legal escape from their condition through manumission or redemption, or by virtue of their date of birth. This chapter is concerned with some of the courses taken by these slaves, and the One option was to attempt escape. But escape to where? Some may have returned to the homes where they had once been enslaved. For many, ...

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10. Theft of Goods and Money

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pp. 140-163

Colonialism is a disruptive force, but the symptoms of disruption can vary from one case to another, and they can be concealed by a colonial administration wishing to promote the notion that all is quiet and in good order. In Kano Emirate in the early colonial period, the most striking symptom of disruption was a virtual epidemic of theft. Adamu Fika has made passing ...

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11. Violence and Fear

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pp. 164-192

The Kano judicial council had often to deal with questions of violence --incidents resulting in death or injury. While homicide was a far more serious question than injury, the two were closely entangled, for the usual weapons were sticks, cudgels, knives, and bows and arrows. Victims of assault who died often survived for days or even weeks after the event. Such cases raised the ...


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pp. 193-204

Original Texts (Photocopies arranged in chronological sequence)

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pp. 205

E-ISBN-13: 9781609172688
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870133596

Page Count: 310
Publication Year: 1994