HISTORY OF KOLANUT TRADE IN SOKOTO CITY: 1900-2014
Despite the economic revolutions which hit Nigerian vegetable products following the advent of Europeans occupation, the kolanut remains the only produce the value of which still seems to exceed the money paid for it.1
There are people in Hausaland who are addicted to kola: if they don’t eat it they feel like vomiting… the Hausa people are so fond of kola (goro) that it will buy anything a man can give it as payment and it will be accepted.2
Kola, a member of the family sterculiaceae, is a nut that comprises a large amount of caffeine and other substances like kolatin, kolanin, glucose, starch, fatty matter, tennins, catechins, bataine and protein that act as stimulants which may also be like coffee as it additive.3There are two major species of kola-cola nitida and cola acuminate. For nitida, the specie was originally found along the western coast of Africa from Sierra Leone to the Republic of Benin with the highest frequency and variability in the forest areas of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. These areas have been accepted as the centers of origin of Cola nitida.The areas remained for long the most prominent source of kolanuts (Gwanja kolanuts) to the West African trading routes. In the early twentieth century, kola trees were seldom planted, the nuts used for trade and local consumption being obtained from spontaneous trees.4
Cola acuminata, the second important commercial species of kola, has its original area of distribution stretching from Nigeria to Gabon. The Cola acuminata could be spontaneously in mountains areas of Angola, Zaire and Cameroun, while it has
1 O. Nzekwu, “kolanut”, ed. In Nigeria Magazine
2 P.E. Lovejoy, Caravans of kola the Hausa kola Trade 1700-1900 ABU Press 1980, p.1
long been in cultivation on the islands of Principe and Sao Tome. However, in Nigeria, the areas of Idanre and Ijare all in Ondo state are currently regarded as the place where Cola acuminate originated.5Meanwhile, kolanut has a long history in Sokoto city and the use of kolanuts among the people of Sokoto featured prominently in their religious, social and ceremonial activities. Kolanut is used during ceremonies relating to marriage, naming ceremony, as well as coronations.
The virtues of the kolanut were known to Sokoto people in Nigeria about three hundred years ago. Thus, the involvement of Sokoto kola merchants in long distance trade had been facilitated by the existence of exchangeable commodities for barter (such as salt, nitron, hide and skin, onion, grains etc). These exchangeable items served as the indigenous natural resources for trading and human use.6 The kolanut trade with other parts of West Africa by people of Hausaland according to history had been in existence even before the Sokoto jihad. Although, many products were traded between Sokoto and Asante (Gwanja) in present Ghana and Kurmi in the southwestern part of the country, but kola has usually been singled out as the commodity of most interest by Sokoto people.7
Thus after the Jihad of 1804, the spread of Islam had a particular advantage on the demand for kola. The nuts were the only readily available stimulant which Islam does not condemn; thus, as more people in Sokoto city recognized this trade in kola
5 According to Lovejoy, there are more than forty varieties of kola, and these four – cola nitada, Cola acuminate, Cola.verticillata and cola anomalan are important in the commerce of West Africa. Thus, Cola nitada was by the few the most important in terms of trade between forest and savannah. See also, P.E.
Lovejoy, “Kola in the History of West Africa”, Cuhiend etudes africaines, 77-78 Vol XX 1980 p.98.
6 M. Adamu, The Hausa Factor in West Africa History, ABU Press, 1976, p.36.
7 M. Adamu, Ibid. According to him, historically, it is very difficult to say with certainty when trade in kolanut started, but he believed that the introduction of kola into Hausaland predated the entire event before the Jihad of 1804. The more importantly by the beginning of the 14th century some Hausa traders had already reached the main source of kolanut in Volta Region which was regarded as precious commodity.
increased.8 The Sokoto kolanut trade along the Volta basin was one part of the larger West African trade in kola, and commercially, it was one of the most important sections. Each year in the nineteenth century thousands of people traveled over 900 kilometers from Sokoto caliphate to the markets of Asante to sell their products and purchase the commodity (kola).9By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Ashante set the political conditions on production and trade designed to protect its kola industry form being dominated by the foreigners and Islamic preachers also, to ensure that government officials benefited from the trade over other sectors of society.
This period is prior to the time when Yoruba of southwestern Nigerian production of Cola nitida became significant.10 Therefore, this policy introduced by Asante accompanied with the restriction within the city of Salaga (a suburb of Asante regions) where the caravan settled) as well as exorbitant tariff imposed on kolanut by Asante government shifted the attention of the Sokoto caravan to the Kurmi trading and boycotted trading to Gwanja.
In the present era, the southwest of Nigeria appears to be the leading producing areas of kolanut in Nigeria and the bulk of their products are being taken to northern Nigeria including Sokoto city at least, since the beginning of the 20th century by both Hausa and Yoruba traders. This internal transaction has paved way for more lucrative Kola business engagement among the traders then that of arduous long distance Gwanja trading.
8 P.E. Lovejoy, The Caravans of kola, op.cit. p131.
9 P.E. Lovejoy, Caravan of Kola, op.cit. p.5
10 Accordint to Agiri, the policy introduced by the colonial masters in the upgrading the kola seedling had started yielding a massive output in the production of Cola nitida in the southwestern part of Nigeria in this year. This Cola nitida have more universal recognition and acceptance in terms of qualities and physical appearance in the international markets. More explanations will be given in the subsequent chapters patterning to Asante policy that led to the end of Sokoto caravans movement to Gwanja which paved way to Kurmi trading
1.3Statement of the Research Problem
So many studies on long distance trade have been carried out on various articles of trade in different parts of Nigeria. These include (but not limited to) livestock, 11grains12, groundnut13, Salt14Palm oil, fruits and vegetables. However, there is no detailed study on kolanut trade in Sokoto city considering it significant role in the socio-economic and cultural life of the people. Although there are a number of literatures that emphasized on the nature of pre-colonial exchange and movement of people within the ecological zones of West African region such movements led to the formation of many settlements and socio-cultural religious diffusion over a period of time.15
Therefore, this research studies the origin, nature, development and impact of the kolanut trade in Sokoto city from 1900-2000. More importantly the role of the kola nut merchants in the transformation and integration of people in Nigeria through exchange of commodities. Meanwhile, the proposal provide additional contribution to existing studies. This we hope will highlight the significant position of this trade to the economy of the area.
1.3Significance and Justification of the Study
The work derives its justification and relevance form several arguments. Kolanut trade has been one of the earliest long distance commodity trade that existed in the city of Sokoto, but Scholars and researchers have over looked the significance of this trade to the socio-economic development of the city even though, it was extensively traded and consumed in the area right from the pre- colonial time to the period of this study. This
11 M.M Inuwa, “The History of Cattle in Birnin Sokoto 1903-1989” M.A History, Department of History, UDUS, Sokoto, 1989.
12 P. Clough, “The Social Relations of Grains Marketing in Northern Nigeria” In Review of AfricanPolitical Economic Volt Roape, Publications Limited, 1985.
13 M.O. Odey, Origin and Development of Groundnut Production and Trade in Benue Province, 1900-
1930”. in The Development of Cash Crops Economy in Nigeria lower Benue Province, 1910-1960.
14A.S. Alhaji, “A History of Salt Mining in Hoga Vally in 15th, 19th and 20th Century”, M.A Thesis U.D.U
15M. Kwaire Op cit
study will undoubtedly contribute immensely to the general economic history of Sokoto area of Nigeria.
Secondly, the work is to provide an analysis of the dynamic nature of the kolanut trade, immigration and settlement of the kolanut traders in the area which provided the most viable mechanism of integrating the people of Nigeria more then any other federal institutionalized programmers. Thus, this is what makes the study on kolanut trade in Sokoto necessary as it provides a detailed study on the origin and nature of the trade in the area which has not been properly documented. The out come of the research will be useful to both government and individuals in designing policies and analyzing the role of commodities and trade generally in the area.
1.4Aim and Objectives.
The main aim of this research work is to study kolanut trade in Sokoto city from 1900 –2014.Therefore, the study aims at achieving the following objectives;
a. to discuss the historical origin of kolanut trade in Sokoto city;
b. to examine the general trends in the organization of kolanut trade, transportation, distribution and consumption pattern;
c. to discuss the impact of economic policies adopted on kolanut trade;
d. to examine the influence of indigenous groups in kolanut trading activities in Sokoto city;
e. Analyse some of the problems involved in kolanut trade and marketing in Sokoto city; and
f. To assess the role of kolanut trade in particular, kolanut merchants and middlemen among the Yoruba producers and Hausa traders in the economic development of Sokoto city.
1.5Scope and Limitations
The primary aim of this proposal is to examine the kolanut trade in Sokoto city. The profound areas for the sale of kolanut like Shagon goro, Kara market, Kofar Rini, Kofar Atiku and Kanwuri area, Hungumawa, Gobirawa, Kalhu, Unguwar fatake all in Sokoto city shall be examined.
The study covers a period of 20th Century. (1900 to 2014) It begins from the termination of lovejoys work titled Caravans of Kola the Hausa kola trade1700-1900. The work examines entrepreneurship in the Kola importing business in the central Sudan which concentrates on the activities of major groups of traders i.e. Agalawa, Tokarawa, and Kambarin Barebari. These people contributions to the trade and the nature of their long distance journey to Gwanja (Ghana) will be observed and explained in details. . Moreover, the period (1900) witnessed a paradigm shift of special specie of nitida kolanut in areas of Yoruba land more particularly in Ota, Agege, Abeokuta, Ikorodu, and Ijebu-Remo that was in high demand by Hausa kolanut traders. Finally it has been conceded as a land mark for the Hausa immigrants’ settlement in Yoruba land not only for trade but for the cultivation of nitida specie in the area16.