Adamu jakada ( ? – 1943)

Very little known about the early life of Adamu jakada. It is known that he was born in the Kantudun Madabo ward of kano, one of that city’s oldest wards. Jakada’s father was known as Abdu Baki, supposedly because he was very dark-skinned, typical of the Agalawa people. His mother’s name was Kwashenda. The family probably moved to kano from Daura around 1807, just after the fall of the city to the Fulani jihadists, and when the Daura and Katsina area was unstable due to the activities of the region expelled hausa rulers who had based themselves at Maradi and other places. Jakada’s parents were wealthy kola nut merchants. The family joined the caravans of the well- known Madugu indo from the city’s Adakawa ward in order to travel to gonja. On these trips they carried manufactured goods from kano and returned with kola nuts. At about the age of six, jakada was taken to a Qur’anic school at Madabo, where he spent about ten years. During this time he memorized the whole of the Qur’an and became well-versed in Islamic legal and religious knowledge.

            At sixteen, jakada began to accompany his parents on their trading missions to gonja. He worked primarily for his father. His mother provided him with items on credit. This allowed him to accumulate a small amount of working capital. Abdu baki died when jakada was thirty-two. As the senior male child, he took over as head of the family. This transition was simplified because Jakada’s experience of working for his father meant that he was experienced in the intricacies of trade, knew all the family’s business associates. The Gonja trade route, and what to buy and sell to turn a profit.

            At first jakada was successful as head of the family trading business. He continued to trade as usual and all the members of the family accepted his leadership. He was on his way to becoming a wealthy man when he and his business were struck by a disaster. According to sources, jakada was on a trading mission in the Bassa- Yawuri area when he lost all his goods either to robbers or dishonest agents. In such a situation, jakada could neither continue to Gonja nor return to Kano. Therefore, he decided to settle at Lokoja. Drawing upon his Islamic schooling, jakada became a religious teacher and took the job of leading prayers, practicing occultism, and giving private religious lessons to children in the growing Hausa community.

            In 1886, jakada left his position as a preacher and took up employment as messenger/interpreter and letter writer for Mr. Wallace of the royal Niger Company. He held this position until 1899 when the company’s charter was withdrawn. When the protectorate of northern Nigeria was declared in1900, the services of the administrative and military personnel of the Royal Niger Company were taken over by the new lugardian administration.  It was jakada who helped Lugard to recruit Hausas, particularly people from Kano, into the west African frontier force.

            Jakada’s first appointment as a political agent began on April 1, 1901 at the annual salary of 48 pounds. He was dismissed on June 30’Th of that year, but later re-insisted with no official break in his record of service (Protectorate of northern Nigeria Blue Book for 1902). Because of his knowledge of the route between Lokoja, kano, and other trading centres, jakada served as a valuable political agent for Lugard. In particular, he reported on the activities of the emirs and their relationship with the caliph in sokoto (Adeleye 1971:86). Jakada was particularly well suited for such a position, since he had earlier conveyed a tribute to the continued on behalf of Lugard. At one point in 1900, while taking the “Christian tribute” to sokoto, the emir of Zaria detained jakada in order to await the decision of the Sarkin Musulimi whether or not to accept the tribute (Adeleye 1971:86). Jakada also reported the movement of Rabeh Ibn fadallah and the French in the northern and eastern borders of Borno.

            According to my informant, jakada it was who conveyed lugard’s famous letter of 18-3-1901 to caliph Abdulrahaman of sokoto in which Lugard informed the caliph about the defeat of the emirs of Bida and Kontagora. Lugard implored the caliph to appoint new emirs in their places (Blackwell 1969:13-14). Abdulrahaman was angered by this letter, and made plans to execute the messenger – jakada. The waziri dissuaded the caliph from doing so because the prophet of Islam had prohibited his followers from executing messengers. To lugard’s letter, Abdulrahaman wrote his famous reply:


“From us to you. I do not consent that any one from you should ever dwell with us, I ill never agree with you. Between us and you there are no dealings except as between Muslims and unbelievers. Was as god (Allah almighty) has enjoined us. There is no power or strength save in god on high. This with salutation (Cited in Blackwell 1969: 13-14).”


The sultan then passed the letter to jakada and said “You, jakada (official messenger), take this letter to your master, nasara (Christian)” this is how jakada got the nickname of jakada. After Lugard received the caliph’s reply, he embarked on the final conquest of the sokoto caliphate. Once again, jakada supplied the British invading force with the crucial intelligence information.

yet the British also used maps and hints from European travellers journals.

            Following the conquest of Kano, the commercial centre of the caliphate, Adamu jakada was sent to locate wambai abbas brother of Aliyu, the emir of kano. However, Wambai Abbas had escaped with his army following news of the British occupation, jakada met him near Kwatarkwashi, where the waziri of kano had been killed while continuing to resist the British conquest. Abbas was not willing to take such risks, and jakada, in reporting the intension of the British, was able to persuade him to come to Kano. Some weeks later, Abbas was appointed emir, a position he held from 1903 – 1919. After the fall of Kano, Lugard sent jakada to Katsina with a letter calling for the surrender of the emir there.

            The emir conceded and surrendered peacefully. However, three years later the emir refused to continue his co-operation with the British, resulting in his being exiled to lokoja, where he died.

            By 1907, jakada had re-established himself in Kano. He continued to work as a messenger, interpreter, and political agent on behalf of the colonial officials, and at the same time renewed his former interest in the kola nut trade. It is said by my informant that emir Abbas used to visit jakada to seek his advice on how to deal with the British. The British even offered the emir ship to jakada but he declined the offer.

            The completion of the final portion of the Zaria-Kano railway in April 1912 brought new opportunities for jakada. It was through him that the European companies approached the Kano merchants to encourage expanded cultivation of such crops as groundnuts and cotton. They even provided credit to some wealthy merchants to further this end. Among them were Maikano Agogo, umaru sharubutu, and Baban Jaki Koki. Some of these merchants also became distributors of European manufactured goods.

            In the early years of British rule, jakada regained the prosperity he had so suddenly lost years before. However, by 193 he had once again lost his wealth thanks to large loans that he could not repay in the face of the worldwide depression of the 1930’s. jakada at this time embraced religion and abandoned all earthly matters. During this hayday of his business career, jakada had not been known for his piety. He was said to have been too busy for the obligatory prayers and fasting, during Ramadan. Upon retirement, jakada changed his ways. He established a mosque and made up for nine years of lost prayers and fasting. He fasted and gave handfuls of grain for every day he had missed. With his remaining savings he kept many Muslim scholars and their students in his houses free of charge. He gave some of these houses as charity. If a pauper died, jakada would provide a shroud. He gave alms everyday.

            Jakada died in 1943, he left behind five children, namely labaran, hamza gambo, bogili, and malka. None of them became wealthy. However, a grandson of jakada, Alhaji sani zawiya, has become a relatively wealthy kola nut trader based near zawiya mosque in Koki ward, Kano.