Sokoto State, the seat of the Islamic Caliphate has been in existence since 1804 under the leadership of the universally acknowledged Islamic scholar, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, who sought to establish a political state system that was based on principles of universal justice.
The state was conquered in 1903 by British forces who organized a British rule in the state – although the region was then known as the Northwestern State, it was formerly reconstituted in 1976 to form Sokoto State and Niger State. Later, Kebbi and Zamfara States were carved out of the territory in 1991 and 1996 respectively.
The original Arabic name used to be Sakkwato, but it was refined to Sokoto under the British influence. The Sultan of the state heads the caliphate and he is the spiritual leader of all Muslim faithful in Nigeria. The state is also the main seat of Islamic education in Nigeria. Sokoto State has a population of about 4 million people and 23 local government areas
There are many places of interest to visit in Sokoto State, and these include the following:
1. Palace of Sultan of Sokoto
Considering the fact that the Sultan of Sokoto is the spiritual head of all Muslims in Nigeria, his palace in Sokoto symbolizes the unity of the Nigerian Muslim Ummah. The palace is of great cultural and artistic excellence, very rich in ancient architecture with modern improvement. Hundreds of traditional palace guards can be seen protecting the palace in their multi-coloured robes and turbans.
2. Tomb of Usman Dan Fodio
The tomb of the Islamic scholar and the acknowledged founder of the state, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio is located within the state. It is situated on Sultan Bello road, close to Shehu’s Mosque and not far away from the palace of the Sultan. The area is dedicated to the tombs of Usman Dan Fodio and his relatives.
3. Shehu Kangiwa Square
The Shehu Kangiwa Square used to be known as Gingiya, meaning palm tree. It is the site of an ancient battle between British troops and local Sokoto forces led by Sultan Attahiru in 1903. It is an open square outside the city wall and today a square to behold, as well as the center of local trade and commerce.
4. Waziri Junaidu History and Culture Museum
The Waziri Junaidu History and Culture Museum was established in 1973. The museum has an assortment of over 500,000 historical treasures that tell the story of the Sokoto people. There are various displays of the cultural relics and artifacts of the local people archived for public consumption when visitors come into the museum; and it is a place where school children and senior students can learn a lot about the past ways of the people.
5. Goronyo Dam
The Goronyo Dam was built in 1981 along River Rima with the objective of boosting farming and irrigation in the area. It is reputed to be one of the largest dam in West Africa and a great help to agricultural initiatives within the state – boosting local commerce and income from wide-scale farming produce.
6. Surame and Akalawa
The Surame is the ancient ruins of the headquarters of the old Kebbi kingdom built in the 16th century by King Muhammadu Kanta. The wall of the ruins is said to be about 19 kilometers and located just 4 kilometers from Binji LGA. Akalawa is also the ancient ruins of the capital city of old Gobir kingdom. Located in Sabon-Birnin LGA, the Akalawa ruins is a sight to behold when visiting the region.
7. Sokoto Museum
The Sokoto museum is a national museum that tells the story of the old Sokoto caliphate. The museum is dedicated to the life and times of Usman Dan Fodio, and it features his personal items such as scriptures, Koran, maps, throne, and other artifacts and monuments from around the state.