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History of Igbo Enterprises in Kano, Nigeria, 1960 – 2007

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History of Igbo Enterprises in Kano, Nigeria, 1960 – 2007.


The Igbo live in the South-Eastern and some parts of the South-South geo-political zones of Nigeria. However, for a number reasons, the people are found all  over  the country,  and  indeed, the world. The emergence of the Igbo in Kano owed much to British colonial policies.

The early Igbo migrants, in the 1910s, were part of the labour force implementing the British colonial transport policy of railroad construction. These naturally left the city after the completion of the rail lines. However, actual Igbo migration to Kano began in the 1930s, attracted this time around, by the prospects of employment in the colonial service of the Kano Province.

Here, the Igbo spirit of enterprise and competition enabled them discover areas of need of their host community and went about filling them. This work focuses on Igbo enterprises in Kano between 1960 and 2007, with emphasis on luxury bus transportation, automobile parts, patent medicine dealership and school proprietorship.

The  study demonstrates how many Igbo people in Kano, were able to attain varying degrees of success  and clearly dominated in most of the areas of the focus of this work. These heights were  attained through hardwork, resilience, risk-taking, and the communal ethos of achievement- motivation, among other factors.

It examines the impact of Igbo enterprises on Kano and the Kanawa (indigenes of Kano), which was largely positive and beneficial. It also captures the relationship between the Kanawa and the Igbo (which was generally cordial but occasionally punctuated by violent conflicts), and  its effects on the latter’s enterprises.

It is the contention  of this work that, despite the contributions of Igbo entrepreneurs to the development of Kano and improving the lot of many Kanawa, their success has  usually attracted  the  envy of the  host community, who at the slightest provocation, attacked them and their businesses.


It has been stated that the emergence and development of entrepreneurship is an important phenomenon in contemporary economies. It is strongly linked to small and medium- size/enterprises. Among the enterprises include those set up by dispersed/migrant  peoples which will increasingly shape the economic destiny of mankind. 2.

Ambitious as the above assertion may seem it has proven true  in  Nigeria,  where various peoples, of the country have established and continue to exercise great influence in certain specific enterprises or ventures. In the places they have dispersed to some of Nigeria’s more populous ethnic groups in Nigeria namely the Hausa, Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba  have shown acumen in various entrepreneurial or economic activities.

For example, the Hausa have been associated with the trade in trinket and leather works, while the Fulani have assured mastery in the art of cattle rearing. The Yoruba have also established  their  presence  in kolanuts and cocoa trade.Among the Igbo, businesses, such as automobile parts, luxury bus, patent medicine school proprietorship among others, were dominated by them.

All these are without prejudice  to their status as migrants. The resilience, hard  work  and  drive  of  the  Igbo  in  Kano  led them to establish the businesses in mentioned among several others, automobile parts, patent medicine, and school proprietorship. About running them  and  the  general dominance  which are the major focus of this study.


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Adamu , U., Confluence and Influence: The Emergence of Kano as a City State, Kano: Murnawa Books Foundation, 1999.

Adejo (ed) The Nigerian Civil War, Forty Years After: What Lessons? . Makurdi: Aboki Publishers, 2008.

Ademoyega, A. Why We Struck. Ibadan: Evans Brothers, 1981.

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CSN Team.

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