KANO CHRONICLE: 19 LANDMARKS OF THE START OF MODERNISATION AND EXPANSION OF OLD KANO

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Those aged over 50 years and who lived in Kano up till early 1970’s, may recall with nostalgia, the existence of some, all or more of these landmarks: (1) The first formal hotel accommodation within the city walls was USMAN MEMORIAL HOTEL. The building and logo still stand at Sabuwar Kofa, but the facility ceased to function since the early 70’s. There is no record of another hotel inside the city till date. (2) The first and only traffic light in Kano up till early 70’s is the one at Lagos Street/Airport Road Junction. Children from the city used to walk there or hire bicycle to go and watch ‘this electronic wonder doing the work of traffic wardens’. It is still functional. Now there are several hundreds spread all over. (3) The first and only public swimming pool within Kano city up till early 70’s was at Shahuci, almost adjacent to Ado Dandawaki’s house. There was adults section, deep side, which attracted a fee of 1 penny per hour and children’s section, shallow side, at half-penny per hour. Since its closure in the early 70’s to provide expansion space for Murtala Hospital, there is no record of another swimming pool at any other location in the city. It was built by the colonialists to replace pond swimming by kids from where many were contracting bilharzia and other diseases or risked drowning. (4) Up till early 70’s, there was only 1 Friday Mosque in Kano which catered for the city and its environs. The City Mosque, near the Emir’s Palace, tended to the needs of all the existing 8 metropolitan LGAs. At that time, LGAs were non-existent. What is now Municipal was just an area covering many quarters while Nasarawa comprised of some quarters and nearby villages. Gwale, Dala and Fage were just quarters while Tarauni, Ungogo and Kumbotso were just nearby villages. On Friday mornings, people from those places and other nearby villages trooped to the city for prayers and weekly shopping. Today, there are over 150 Friday mosques (and still counting) doing what only 1 mosque was doing in the early 70’s. (5) In the early 70’s, there was only 1 Eid prayer ground for the 8 and even more LGAs located at Kofar Mata. Today there over 50. (6) In the early 70’s, there was only 1 standard hotel in Kano (Central Hotel). Later Daula, Tiga Dam and Bagauda Lake Hotels were built. Today, there are many and more keep springing up. (7) In the early 70’s, there were only public and missionary schools in Kano. The only private school was Corona Trust School, predominantly for white kids and a few black technocrats’ children. Local kids used to go and stand at the school fence, watching white kids during breaktime riding bikes, swings and playing football. The same school is now known as Kano Capital School at Magwan. Today, there are several hundreds of private schools in Kano. (8) Kano Post Office in the early 70’s used to be our largest newspaperstand (it still is). The main dailies then were New Nigerian, Daily Times and Gaskiya tafi Kobo while magazines were Drum, Sadness and Joy. Today, there are countless publications. (9) There used to be only 2 major hospitals; City (for the natives, now known as Murtala Specialist Hospital) and Waje (for Whitemen, now called Abdullahi Wase/Nasarawa Hospital). Private clinics were virtually non-existent. Today, even the authorities do not know the exact number of clinics in operation. (10) The first and only drycleaning company in Kano in the early 70’s was Comet on Ibrahim Taiwo by Civic Centre Roads junction. It used to be patronised by Whitemen and a few Black technocrats. It is still functioning. There is no count of drycleaning companies operating in Kano today. (11) The first and only Cinema ever within the four walls of Kano City was Palace Cinema, located opposite Jakara Police Station. Many residents objected to its siting inside the city due to bad influence, but it survived until the early 70’s. Today, it has given way to Sabo Bakinzuwo Maternity. (12) Up till early 70’s, Kano had its only City Hall, a theatre built by the colonialists to provide an avenue for filmshows, drama, general meetings and so on, located near the Emir’s Palace. It was later used as the temporary State House of Assembly in 1979. Now it serves as Asiya Bayero Paediatric Hospital. (13) Chinese Restaurant culture started in Kano in the early 70’s with the establishment of the first one at Bompai Road called Pink Peacock (which was locally called FIFIKO in Hausa). It still is functional. Now Kano has more than 10 Chinese eateries either independently or attached to international standard hotels. (14) Even though Kano (and Nigeria in general) was under British control, the French noticed its strategic importance in West African and Northern Nigerian commerce and established its businesses in the ancient city long before independence. They set up SCOA, CFAO, UTC, UTA (French Airline), etc. It was in this spirit that some French businessmen established the first standard Western restaurant called Hotel de France, located at Tafawa Balewa Road. It has since been taken over by Nigerians and raised from a restaurant to a full hotel. (15) The first standard pharmacy established by an indigene in Kano was Aminci Pharmaceutical Company, located on Beirut Road. It remained in business till late 70’s. It is now part of Lawal Atana Mosque. (16) The first Industrial Area in Kano was set up since colonial days at Bompai. It remained so till after the early 70’s when others sprang up at Sharada, Tokarawa, Dakata, etc. (17) The only Western style recreation spot for the local boys in Kano up till the early 70’s was Younis Ice Cream, a Lebanese canteen located on Ibrahim Taiwo Road, near Comet Drycleaners and opposite Criss Cross Club. It was ever thronged by the city boys, who would hire bicycles, dress up and rush there to buy ice cream (which was not commonly available then) on Sallah days and other festive occasions. A petrol filling station now stands in its place. (18) The first revolving chicken roasting grill was brought to Kano by the Lebanese in the early 70’s. Kids used to go to Beirut Road restaurants to watch ‘a machine which made chicken roast itself by itself’. Now every roadside eatery has a revolving chicken grill by its entrance. (19) The only stone blasting site near Kano City from the pre-independence days up till the early 70’s was at a place in Tarauni called Fandaudu, off Maiduguri Road. Kids from the city used to go and watch how dynamite was used to blast rocks. The abandoned site is now surrounded by residential buildings. Therefore Kano has come a long way in the last 45-50 years.
Culled from Facebook page
Author: unknown

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