Mallam Aminu Kano, the man whom several structures are named after in Nigeria

Mallam Aminu Kano

A progressive Muslim, Mallam Aminu Kano, was not one to allow business as usual. In politics, he fought external colonial domination and helped achieve freedom for Nigeria.


He also fought internal oppression so that forced labor by the Emirs and subjugation by local oppressors got stopped.

He was also a lifelong advocate for female education working for their full political emancipation.

Thanks to his campaigns and advocacy, subsequent local government reforms ensured that traditional rulers were removed from direct administration and controlling the local courts, native police and the prisons.

With women in northern Nigeria not having the right to vote during the first republic, the 1979 Constitution of which Mallam Aminu was an architect, guaranteed universal adult suffrage for all, regardless of sex decades before the Beijing Declaration on Women.

For almost four decades he challenged colonial administration and the emirate system. He championed the cause of the common people and women through teachers’ organizations and other existing structures, then as leader of the main opposition party, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) from 1950 until the end of the first republic in early 1966.

After the long period of military rule (1966-1979), during which he was a voice of national unity, he again entered the political process as a constitutional committee member in the second republic and then as the leader and presidential candidate of th e Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), the true socialist party from the lot.

Kano was born to the family of an Islamic scholar, Mallam Yusuf of the scholarly Gyanawa Fulani clan, who was a mufti at the Alkali court in Kano.

He attended Katsina College and later went to the University of London’s Institute of Education, alongside Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

He earned his teaching certificate after completing his studies at Katsina College and subsequently became a teacher; he started teaching at the Bauchi training College.

In 1948, he became the head of the teacher training center in Maru, Sokoto and was also the secretary of the Northern Teachers Association. He established an organization to improve the quality of Qur’anic schools in the north.

He was one of the country’s delegates to the UN in the wake of Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

The upheaval that marked the First Republic ushered in a military coup on January 15, 1966. Kano later served in the military government of General Yakubu Gowon as Federal Commissioner for Health.

Thanks to Mallam Aminu Kano that people are no longer forced to farm any feudal land without pay. Taxes such asharaji (formal tax) and jangali (cattle tax) were abolished.

The children of talakawas could acquire education to whatever level they desired and political positions were opened to all; these were two privileges previously reserved for the aristocrats and feudal class exclusively.

Aminu Kano was found dead on April 17, 1983 by his wife Hajia Aishatu having suffered a stroke as a result of a bout of cerebral malaria.

He was buried according to custom on the same day in his house.

The 63-year-old left behind a house which is now the Centre for Democratic Research and Training under the management of Bayero University.

Fitting then as tribute, Prof. Chinua Achebe wrote “Nigeria cannot be the same again because Aminu Kano lived here.”

The Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Aminu Kano College of Islamic Studies are all named after him in Kano State.

Written by Michael Eli Dokosi


Biography of Ladi Kwali, the Woman on 20 Naira Note

Picture of Ladi Kwali at the back of Nigerian 20 Naira note
Nigerian 20 Naira Note

Twenty Naira (₦20) is one of the most commonly used Nigerian currency notes which leaves many Nigerians questioning the identities of the individuals appearing on it. At the front, there is Murtala Muhammed, a former Nigerian military head of state, and on the back is Ladi Kwali whose biography we bring you today.


The Biography of Ladi Kwali

Dr. Hadiza Ladi Kwali was one of Nigeria’s foremost and most prolific potters, as well as the woman at the back of twenty naira note.

Ladi Kwali was born in the small village of Kwali, in present day Abuja, in about 1925. Some historians argued that she was born in 1920.

Her first name “Ladi” means “born on Sunday” while her surname “Kwali” is the name of her village in which she was born.

She hail from a family with pottery background. Growing up, she learnt the art of pottery from her aunt using the method called coiling and pinching.

The Biography of Ladi Kwali
Ladi Kwali at work

During her early years as a professional potter, Ladi Kwali was moved by her traditional and cultural environment to produce pottery pieces that were influenced by the Gbagyi tradition and accentuated with personal idioms.

She made large pots used for storing water and cooking pots from coils of clay, beaten from the inside with a flat wooden paddle, decorated with incised geometric and stylised figurative patterns.

The Emir of Abuja, Alhaji Suleiman Barau, fell in love with Kwali’s works and bought a whole collection.

In 1950, an English studio potter named Michael Cardew saw her work at the Emir’s palace, he was surprised by the level of her proficiency, as a result he stayed back for the purpose of spreading her work to the whole world.

Michael found the first pottery training in Abuja, where he recruited and trained men. She was the first woman to be enrolled at the Abuja pottery Center where she learned wheel throwing, glazing, kiln firing, production of saggars, and the use of slip, eventually assuming the role of instructor.

Meeting Cardew changed her life. Ladi Kwali became known all around the world and became Nigeria’s best known potter.
Her works were displayed on Nigeria’s Independence Day in 1960.

Biography of Ladi Kwali

During her London famous tour, she showcased her pottery works and was honored the award of the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Despite having no schooling, she was honored with a doctorate degree by the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State in 1977; she was also a part-time lecturer and demonstrator at the university.

In 1980, the Nigerian Government (from the Cabinet Office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) invested on her with the insignia of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award (NNOM), the highest national honour for academic achievement. She also received the national honour of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 1981.

The woman at the back of twenty naira

The Abuja Pottery was renamed the Ladi Kwali Pottery in the early 1980s. Ladi Kwali is the only woman on the Nigerian 20 naira note which has late General Muhammed Muritala on its front.

Thanks for reading the biography of Ladi Kwali. OldNaija.