Apart from oil and agriculture, tourism has huge potential as a revenue earning industry and there is no doubt that some reforms in the sector will bear fruits. ANDY ASEMOTA writes.

It is true that tourism is an important economic sector. Many countries in the world today harnessed tourism as a source of revenue and the truth of the matter is that nations such as Egypt, India, Republic of South Africa, Dubai, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, to mention but a few, are witnessing huge revenue from properly harnessed tourism potentials.

The irony of what we are witnessing in the country is manifestation of many years of rot, lack of appropriate policies and concrete actions that could have generated revenue from tourism in Katsina State and indeed Nigeria.

Looking at the identified tourism potentials across Katsina, the executive director of the State History and Culture Bureau, who is also an associate professor of Hausa Cultural Studies, Department of Nigerian Languages, Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina, Dr Bashir Aliyu Sallau, noted that tourism in the state, if properly harnessed, would attract the attention of tourists from other states of the nation, Africa and the world at large.

According to him, the state is endowed with a lot of tourism potentials and sites including natural and man-made, that could be properly harnessed to complement existing revenue sources, create jobs and wealth.

The tourism potentials of the state, he said, could be categorised into four: monuments, traditional arts and craft, festivals and entertainment, as well as food and cuisines.

As an alternative source of revenue for sustainable development, Katsina State can explore and harness, among other things, many monuments that are either natural structures or man-made in many communities with direct relationship to the history and values of each community.

In the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari, Daura, for instance, Kusugu Well is located not too far from the popular Emir of Daura Palace. Other attractions in the ancient city include Kofar Gabas, leather works and decorative calabashes. Similarly, in the state capital, some of its identified monuments include the famous Old Katsina College, Emir’s Palace, Gobarau Minaret, Kofar Yandaka Gate, National Museum, state-owned gallery at Mamman Sheta theatre, traditional arts and crafts, pottery and ceramics.

Buttressing the historical importance of Kusugu Well, the Sarkin Askar Yariman Katsina explained that the well located in the ancient town of Daura was discovered in the 7th century during the reign of Queen Daurama, who was said to have shifted the capital of Daura Kingdom from Tsohon Birni to the present Daura town as a result of the new found source of water, that is Kusugu Well.

The significance of Katsina Emir’s palace comes from historical accounts which says that it was built in 1348 AD by Muhmmadu Korau, who is believed to be the first Muslim Ruler of Katsina. The Katsina Royal Palace, Gidan Korau, is a huge complex located in the centre of the ancient city and it’s a symbol of culture, history and traditions of Katsinawas.

“This explains why it is traditionally referred to as Gidan Korau (House of Korau). It is one of the oldest and among the first generation palaces in Hausa Land,” said Sallau.

Another palace in the state is a beautiful edifice located at the centre of Daura. Traditions indicate that the palace was built by Magajiya Daurama shortly after she moved the capital of the Kingdom from Tsohon Birni (old city) to the present Daura town.

“The palace is constructed in the typical Hausa architecture, using sunbaked bricks, mud, local rafters and colorant. The palace contains large zaure (main entrance) and several inner apartments or chambers,” the renowned historian revealed.

Another important historic monument of the socio-economic development of Katsina Kingdom is Gobarau Minaret. Built in the late 14th Century, the Gobarau minaret was part of a mosque linked to the introduction and spread of Islam in Hausa land based on historical accounts.

This space will not permit me to highlight various monuments in the state but I can’t help adding that the old Katsina College was the first institution of higher learning in Northern Nigeria. The famous Alma Mata of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria and many other Nigerian leaders, was built in 1921 and officially opened by then governor general of Nigeria, Clifford. “In 1938, the college was transferred to Kaduna as Kaduna College. From Kaduna it was moved to Zaria where it was named Barewa College (which later produced former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon and many important personalities). On April 23, 1959, the federal government declared the old Katsina College as a national monument,” Sallau disclosed.

 

Festivals and entertainment

As far as festivals and entertainment is concerned, Hauwan Sallah festival in Katsina and Gani festival in Daura are the highpoint festivals in Katsina State. From the introduction of Islam into the Hausa land, Gani annual festival celebrated in the ancient city of Daura took a new form of Islamic festival with colourful durbar led by the Emir of Daura amidst drumming, singing, dancing acrobatic display and comedy during Eid-el-maulud, the chief executive of Katsina State History and Culture Bureau explained.

On the other hand, Hauwan Sallah festivities takes place during Eid-el-fitr and Eid-el-Kabir as a colorful durbar led by the Emir of Katsina. Hawan Sallah is regarded as a mark of joy, happiness on Sallah day and to entertain people on the cultural and historical heritage of the people of Katsina.

“Besides this, it is regarded as a mark of heritage and loyalty by the district heads to the Emir. The durbar also served to unite the people bring them closer to government and give them opportunity to listen to policy statement at firsthand,” Sallau said, who also asserted that Hawan Sallah was introduced in Katsina Kingdom by Ummaru Dallaje, the first Fulani Emir of Katsina that reigned from 1807 to 1835.

A post-harvest youth cultural festival in the agrarian state, kallon-kowa, otherwise known as Kalan-Kuwa, usually marks a successful completion of cropping season and provides leisure, entertainment and promotes cultural traditions after a long period of farming.

According to historic accounts, Kalan-Kuwa provides an opportunity for youths to choose marriage partners. The annual festival which dates back to 1935, features drama, traditional wrestling, boxing, singing and dancing, although traditional wrestling, otherwise known as

 

Kokowa, is regarded as one of the oldest traditions in Hausa land.

On the other hand, local boxing (Dambe) widely held in Katsina, especially after every raining season, meets the need for leisure after the day’s work for relaxation as well as provide material gain and fame for boxers.

Katsina State has, for years, been enriched with Sharo or Shadi, a traditional game associated with Fulani, one of the two predominant tribes in the state. History has it that Sharo affords young girls the opportunity to choose a potential husband and also teaches youths the art of combat, self-defense, fearlessness and bravery right from 17th and 18th century when the earliest Fulbe (Fulani) settlers arrived in the state.

 

Indigenous food, cuisines

You cannot come to Katsina State without having a feel of Kilishi, Fura de Nono, Kosai and Tuwo among others. If I have fuelled the passion in you, do not hesitate, when the opportunity presents itself to visit the state. However, you will see copious of Kilishi at different boarding points to Katsina from Lagos or Abuja, they are no doubt elegant but wait until your savour Kilishi from Kauyuki and other Katsina communities.

Looking at the identified tourism potentials of Katsina, it pertinent to affirm that the sector can boost internally generated revenue of the state. It was against this background that the state government in collaboration with Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and fiscal Communion (RMAFC) recently organised the all-important conference on alternative sources of revenue for sustainable development at the state and local government levels, where Dr Sallau gave insight into Katsina’s tourism goldmine. Stakeholders rose from the talk shop with the resolve that the first line of action is for the government of the state to establish a new ministry that would be responsible for culture and tourism for revenue generation as practiced in most states of the federation.

The second step proffered by Dr Sallau and warmly accepted by participants, emphasised the need to rehabilitate all existing monuments in such a way that they would be more beautiful in the eyes of tourists.

To harness festivals and other aspects of tourism, the government is to collaborate with the Katsina and Daura Emirates including other stakeholders in the entertainment industry to design an elaborate audience development plan.