My sense of adventure and quest for knowledge took me to Kano on February 24, 2014. What exactly was I looking for in Kano? Information on their vibrant Handicrafts sector. A few weeks prior, I had done some research on the internet and started with the National Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC), a government Council. Much to my utmost surprise there was a functional website with information and current contact details of the Directors of the Zone and State Councils. I promptly called the NCAC Director of Kano, Alhaji Umar introduced myself and told him I would like to visit his office. He was amenable and we scheduled a meeting. I set off for Kano from Ibadan a few weeks later and touched down at the Mallam Aminu Kano airport under the cover of darkness due to flight delays. I picked an airport cab and when the driver asked where I was going, I said Sabon Gari! I mentioned where I had a meeting the next morning and asked whether Sabon Gari was close by. He said "No" it wasn't exactly close by. He then proceeded to drive me past my meeting venue and then indicated there was a hotel within walking distance and If I didn't like the hotel at that location, he would take me to Sabon Gari. I liked the hotel. During the taxi ride, the driver and I talked about various issues including the state of security in Kano. He was an indigene of Kano.
The following morning I strolled to the NCAC office and met with Alhaji Umar. I introduced myself and stated my mission. He called in his Research Officer, Bello Aliyu and generously shared information about the state of the sector and which communities were well known for which crafts. He was fascinated that I would travel all the way from Ibadan to learn more about their culture in Kano. I was thrilled that he gave me a warm reception and gave me insights on the rich culture of handicrafts in Kano. The Directors warm reception is something that isn't too common in the public sector where people view your requests or interests with suspicion. It was disheartening to learn that in some communities the crafts culture was dying. Lack of funding to provide programmes and market access to ensure sustainability. I saw this first hand when in the company of the Research Officer I visited some of the communities and saw only elderly men weaving. The younger generation aren't interested! I wondered what would then happen after these old men became too old to weave anymore. My hope and prayer asI thought about the future was that this sector should not be allowed to die. I bought the colorful handwoven fabrics straight off the loom to complement the woven waterhyacinth to create tableware accessories with a unique story.
I want to thank Alhaji Umar and Mallam Bello Aliyu for making my 3-day trip to Kano a VERY fruitful one. They gave an inquisitive stranger a beautiful insight into the people of Kano and their Crafts culture.