Destination North: Sokoto
After Ramadan comes the big three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast! It’s a religious holiday where everyone come together to traveling, have big meals with family and friends, exchanges presents, and generally have a lovely time.
Or if you are not Muslim, you have the public holiday off work and school Don’t be square, pick up your map and visit some parts of Nigeria you are yet to see…
Sokoto is a city located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River. The ancient city is a tourist heaven. Whether you are interested in going on a pilgrimage or just interested in seeing more of Nigeria, Sokoto city and its environs are places to enjoy.
The people are made up of two ethnic groups namely, Hausa and Fulani. Culturally the state is homogeneous as the people are Muslims and the Islamic religion provides them with a code of conduct and behaviour which is also evident in their mode of dress. They celebrate two major festivals in the state every year and these are, Eid-el-Fitri and Eid-el-Kabir.
Sokoto is safe, culturally and historically rich and a fun place to be. Apart from the regular interesting sites like hotels and public offices, there are lots of places of interest in the city that you will be glad to experience, such as the markets, universities, museums, art gallery etc.
while in the city, be prepared to do a lot of legwork as there is no public transport system. Transport within the city (when not by foot) is mainly by mopeds which operate as one-person taxis. Buses and taxis are infrequent and are generally used only for transport between cities.
Exciting places to visit in Sokoto
1. Sultan of Sokoto Palace
It is an imposing and magnificent ancient structure built by Sultan Bello in 1808. The palace is home to the Sultan of Sokoto, the traditional and spiritual ruler of the Sokoto Caliphate who historically holds the most important Muslim position in Nigeria. The building has drawn Muslim pilgrims and tourists alike to Sokoto.
The sight of the grand ancient architectural masterpiece, palace guards fitted in multi-colored regalia and robes to the Sultan’s famous trumpeters who perform praises for the Sultan during special ceremonies, and relics of former eras might just be what you need.
So head to the Sultan’s Palace to pay homage to the Sultan armed with your head shawl and camera to capture your visit.
2. Tomb of Usman Dan Fodio
Also known as The Hubbaren, this is the resting place for Islamic scholar and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate Usman Dan Fodio, his disciples, and companions, Sultans after him and his descendants.
The tomb is located alongside Usman Dan Fodio’s personal building. This site contains hundreds of graves of Sokoto’s elites and figures in the Sokoto Caliphate. The grave of Shehu Dan Fodio is in one small room, decorated and covered with a black cloth with Arabic inscriptions. It is in the same room that his two sons, Hassan Dan Shehu and Sambo, were buried. Here also, is where the Shantalin Shehu is found. This is the traditional long cup which Dan Fodio reportedly used to drink water. Also in the compound is the school of Dan Fodio where he taught his students from far and near. This is a revered and almost sacred site for the Fulani locals as evidenced by the people who come here for spiritual healing, blessings, veneration, and prayers.
At the entrance, the person greets the Wakili who is designated custodian of the tomb before proceeding inside. It is important to note that women cannot enter inside the tomb, but can look through the windows. If you are a female, follow the local customs and cover your hair before heading out…
3. Surame Cultural Landscape
Surame is largest ancient built stone walls in the whole of Africa (P.K Darling). An ancient city created in the 16th Century by its first king Muhammadu Kanta Sarkin Kebbi and was later abandoned in the 1700s when the empire’s capital was moved to Birnin Kebbi.
There were 14 gates to Surame City. These gates were categorized as seven great gates and seven smaller gates. The great gates connected the city with the outside world, while the seven smaller gates connected different sections of the city. Six hundred years after it was destroyed some of the gates are still standing at the site.
Surame is regarded as one of the world’s wonders of the human civilization, ingenuity, and creativity. It was declared as an ancient Nigeria’s National Monument in 1964 and added in the Cultural and Natural category of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2007.
So, come with your sun shades and a hat with a bottle of water to visit the old ruins.
4. Goronyo Dam
This was commissioned by the Federal Government in 1992. The dam encloses the Rima River in Goronyo, this is 21m high sand-filled dam is an important structure as well as a major reservoir used in controlling floods in the surrounding villages and releasing water in the dry season for the surrounding areas to provide irrigation for farmers.
The view from the top is a must-see. The contrast between the blue river on one side and the arid land on the other is a marvel and shows the best of man and nature in collaboration. The villages around are quite receptive to foreigners so you don’t be surprised to find yourself on camelback riding and making friends with the kids.