The fall of Kano in 1903
Wrote By Jaafar Jaafar
On January 27, 1903, Colonel Thomas Morland (later lieutenant-general) led British expedition against Kano with 37 British officers, one British sergeant, 16 European civilians and 1,060 men of the West African Frontier Force from their base at Zaria.
On their way to Kano, Morland (nicknamed Mai Madubi by the natives) faced resistance at Bebeji but his troops overpowered the natives, killing the emir, Jibir, and some of his lieutenants.
Arriving at Kano Tuesday, February 3, 1903, Morland’s troops sustained hours of shelling before breaching one of the Kano gates. At least 300 people fell to Morland’s artillery power while defending Kano in the epic fight.
Morland’s mounted cavalry and foot soldiers then advanced into the city to the Emir’s Palace. They were told the emir, Aliyu Babba (Mai Sango), had left Kano with about 1,000 horsemen on February 2. The emir, nicknamed Mai Sango for “inventing” a kind of musket (sango) that discharges explosives, had (before the expedition) given the colonial administrators tough resistance. First by resisting indirect rule and second, habouring Magajin Keffi dan Yamusa, who was wanted for killing Captain Maloney, the British resident at Keffi.
After the fall of Sokoto on March 15, 1903, the emir was arrested by Anglo-French border officials near Illela, Sokoto, trying to cross border to Niger Republic. He was first taken to Zungeru (then capital of Northern Nigeria) later Yola and finally Lokoja where he died as a political prisoner in 1926.
SOURCES: London Daily News (Saturday 22 August 1903), Aberdeen Press and Journal (Thursday 28 May 1903), Illustrated London News (Saturday 01 August 1903), London Evening Standard (Tuesday 31 March 1903).
Pic. 1: Captain Morland
Pic. 2: Emir Aliyu Babba with his wives and concubines.