Alh Umaru Sharubutu.
The grandfather of umaru sharubutu, known as Abdulmumini, was born in the dallaje area in the present day Bindawa district of Katsina mirate in Katsina state. Travelling through the area in 1851, barth describe it as one of the finest landscapes he had ever seen (Barth 1965; I: 471). Sharubutu’s ancestors were said to have originally come from Wadai and settled in Katsina. They claimed to be of Arab descent. Abdulmumini had many children, but the most outstanding among them were abubuakar and umaru dallaje.
Abubakar had considerable wealth. The family lived as a single unit until the outbreak of the 1804 jihad in the area. Umaru dallaje, the younger brother was more enthusiastic and quickly joined the jihad on the side of the Shehu Usman Danfodio. While umaru dallaje travelled to sokoto to join the jihad, and later returned to help lead the jihad in the local area, his older brother Abubakar was not so enthusiastic, even though he was himself a religious teacher. Indeed following the overthrow of the traditional Hausa dynasty of Katsina in 1807, Abubakar left the area, taking with him his family members, animals, and other properties.
Abubakar and his encourage travelled to Kano, where he sent greetings and gifts to emir Suleiman. The emir granted Abubakar the right to settle on a fertile tract of land in the area, on the condition that neither he nor any member of his group would seek political office in kano. From this base, Abubakar was able to organize trading missions to Gumel, exchanging natron for kola nut and cloth. In time, Abubakar grew and was able to secure a piece of land at Koki, within the city wall, from emir Ibrahim Dabo (suleiman’s successor) in 1836. However, he maintained his original settlement outside the city; and it was here that his son umaru sharubutu was born in 1855.
Umaru sharubutu grew up inside the city of kano, and his early life was like that of many Hausa children. His father’s religious knowledge was a strong influence, and he learned the qur’an more extensively than most of his peers. From a very early age he began helping with the family business. At the age of twelve he accompanied his father to lagos on a trading mission, by way of Bida. Several of sharubutu’s siblings also travelled on such caravan trips. These included his brothers, namely Inuwa, Ibrahim, Adamu Mai – unguwa, and na Alhaji.
In 1883, when he was thirty years of age, his father passed away. Though he was not the eldest son, he was the wealthiest, and had accumulated extensive business connections with such far-flung trading centres as Borno, ibadan, Lagos and Accra. Because of these qualifications, umaru assumed the leadership of the family “company”.
Sharubutu was a general trader. When he travelled from kano to Lagos, he took necklaces, earrings, cloth and other locally produced or obtainable goods and sold them on his way south, using the proceeds of these sales to buy kola nuts which he sold on his return home. By 1912, he was one of the wealthiest merchants in Kano. In 1913, sharubutu was officially invited by the European traders to help them in purchasing groundnuts. He accepted the offer, but over the course of the next two years, he only lost money in this venture. Because of those losses, umaru left the groundnut business. Hence, sharubutu’s wealth continued to decline. For one, the attention of the European traders and the emir was now focused on cash crop production. Rather than being assisted by the authorities, the long distance kola traders were more harassed than encouraged. For another, the markets were increasingly limited to Kano and Borno. Thus local traders could no longer transport their merchandise outside the city because the slaves and servants who had previously staffed the operation were, in the wake of the British conquest, allowed to go free. With twenty-six children to provide for, sharubutu’s wealth was stretched thin. His share of business in Kano was increasingly taken over by newcomers such as Alhassan Dantata (who had greater fortunes with groundnut buying) and Maikano Agogo (Bello 1983:112). Despite such threats to his status, sharubutu managed to hold his title as one of the tajiran Kano (wealthy men of kano) until his death at the age of 92 yrs.
Soon after his death, sharubutu’s heirs began to sell off his holdings in Borno, Bida, llorin, Lagos, Lokoja, and Accra. The last to go were sharubutu’s six large houses located in the foremost business district, the Kantin-kwari area of Kano.