Kano Durbar Festival: Nigeria's Most Spectacular Horseparade

A celebration of northern Nigeria's cultural treasure

By Tour Nigeria

A celebration of northern Nigeria's cultural treasure
The Kano Durbar is the largest procession of colorful horses in the world. It has evolved with the history, culture and tradition of the people of Kano over a period of time. It marks the Islamic holidays Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha.

The Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

The word 'Durbar' comes from Hindi-Urdu 'darbar' - dar meaning door and bar meaning entry or audience.

Argungu Festival by Tour NigeriaTour Nigeria

The location: the city of Kano
Kano is located in northern Nigeria, bordering Jigawa from the north and east, Katsina from the west, Kaduna from the southwest and Bauchi from the southeast. Kano is home to over 3 million people - the Hausa speaking Sunni Muslims, the Kanawa of Hausa and/or Fulani ethnicity and settlers. The city of Kano is known for hosting the most spectacular Durbar Festival each year.

Kano, Center of CommerceTour Nigeria

The history
The Durbar festival dates back to over 200 years when horses were used in warfare to protect the Emirate. Each noble household was expected to defend the emirate by performing a regiment. Once a year, the regiments would gather for a military parade to demonstrate allegiance to the Emir, by showcasing their horsemanship, readiness for war and loyalty.

The Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

Symbols of royal linage
The procession is strictly men only dressed in magnificent robes and turbans, many with one 'ear' or two sticking out denoting their royal linage.

Kano Durbar procession by Tour NigeriaTour Nigeria

Turbans
The turban is a symbol of prestige and royalty. The men at the Durbar festival adorn themselves with different colors of turbans.

Horse man at the Kano Durbar festival by Tour NigeriaTour Nigeria

Music and rhythm
The Durbar festival is filled with spectacular traditional bazaar of African music. Rhythm of the traditional music instruments fill the air.

Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

Hawan Sarki
The Durbar Festival unfolds over four days of grandeur, horsemanship and equestrian parades. Beginning with Hawan Sallah - the Festival Riding, Hawan Daushe, Hawan Nassarawa, and ends with Hawan Doriya. Hawan Daushe is the most intriguing and impressive part of the Durbar celebration, it also features the 'Jahi' the focus of spectators from around the world.

The Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

Hawan Daushe
The Hawan Daushe commences as the Emir and his entourage ride out of Gidan Rumfa - the Emir's Palace, through Kofar Kwaru to Baddan Daki - the palace of the Queen Mother, where he pays homage to his mother.

The Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

Baddan Daki
The Emir arrives Baddan Daki, He disembark from his horse and enters the house that is hosting his mother for special greetings. Visitors from far and near enter to greet the Emir.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi IITour Nigeria

Cultural Display
The energetic performance by traditional dancers, drummers, masquerades, musicians and stunt men add color and excitement to the festival.

A masquerade performing at the Durbar festivalTour Nigeria

Sustaining Tradition
Young and old participate to ensure tradition is sustained through generations.

Young horseman and his fatherTour Nigeria

The Jahi
The Emir and his entourage ride through a series of quarters that are home to historically important families and then return to the palace at the Kofar Kudu gate for the Jahi - the salute by the horsemen.

The Emir arrives at venue of the Durbar festivalTour Nigeria

Paying respect to the Emir
The Emir take his position on arrival at the front of the gate facing outward.

Waves of riders charge towards him, only to pull aside directly in front of him in a cavalry salute.

Horse men at the Kano Durbar festival by Tour NigeriaTour Nigeria

Loyalty and Valor
The district heads, their families and entourage begin the traditional greetings in a hierarchical order. Spectators and riders display their loyalty and valor before the Emir.

The Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

District Heads
District heads in Kano attend the Durbar festival to pay homage to the Emir and to reaffirm their loyalty to the emirate. The Durbar festival unites the people, bringing them together in a cultural and historical heritage celebration.

The Kano Durbar FestivalTour Nigeria

Gun Salute
After the Jahi, the Palace guards march into position where they fire several gunshots into the air, signifying the end of Hawan Daushe Durbar.

Royal guards at the Kano Durbar by Tour NigeriaTour Nigeria

Credits: All media
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