SOKOTO, NIGERIA

BEHOLD
Located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, Sokoto is the seat of the Sokoto Caliphate, and home of the Sultan of Sokoto, regarded as a spiritual leader to many Nigerian Muslims.

The proud and orderly town has a rich and colourful history. The Fulani are thought to have migrated there from Mali in the 13th century. In 1807 Usman Dan Fodio’s jihad led to the creation of the caliphate.

Historical sites of interest include the Sultan’s Palace, Shehu Mosque and Bello Mosque on Sultan Bello Road. The Waziri Junaidu History and Culture Museum on Alli Akilu Road is also worth a visit. The colonial era room contains fascinating – and amusing – artefacts including a throne given to the Sultan by Queen Elizabeth with a carving of a naked boy on it. The culturally insensitive chair had to be redesigned before the Sultan could sit on it.

BUY
Opportunities for shopping are limited although roadside stalls sell a range of textiles and food. One would be better off ambling through Sokoto Central Market, an adventure in itself.

BON APPETIT
The Young Shall Grow bus terminal serves good Nigerian food. There is also a supermarket and Middle Eastern restaurant called Double 7 on Abdulahi Fodio Road. Don’t expect to find alcohol. Northern Nigeria is an Islamic region with strict restrictions on nightlife and alcohol consumption.

BED TIME
There are four or five hotels on and around Kano Road however service and amenities are not of a high standard. These include Giginya Hotel (060 231 262, Bypass Road) and Shukura Hotel (060 230 006, 10 Kano Rd)

HIP TIP
Time your journey to coincide with the legendary Argungu fishing festival, easily the world’s most visually explosive fishing event. Participants, of which there are thousands, compete to catch fish in the Matan Fada river. They dive in with their bare hands and wrestle fish, some weighing upwards of fifty kilos. Fringe events include wrestling and a parade.

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