HISTORY OF IGBO ENTERPRISES IN KANO, NIGERIA, 1960 – 2007

HISTORY OF IGBO ENTERPRISES IN KANO, NIGERIA, 1960 – 2007

ABSTRACT

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 Kanasewa (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. The catalytic actions of the umbrella Igbo Community Association (ICA) in Kano, which, to some extent, provided the people with much needed protection and voice on matters of interest to them, are discussed.  This work identifies some of the cases of violent attacks on the Igbo which led to loss of lives and destruction of businesses, including the Nigerian civil war. Policies adopted at both the federal and state levels, which tended to emasculate and stifle the enterprising spirit of the Igbo, only served to raise their motivation. The large population of Kano and huge potentials offered by same, huge investments already made in the city and the drive to succeed, were major pull factors that kept them in Kano. A minority of the Igbo were occasionally not cautious in their actions and speeches which sometimes exacerbated tension. With the disposition of the Kanawa, Igbo enterprises in Kano continue to be at the risk of attack and destruction at the slightest perceived provocation.  In addition, despite the varying degrees of success and dominance attained by many Igbo entrepreneurs in Kano, through means already stated, many of them  are still unfavourably inclined toward adopting modern business practices, such as insurance, e-commerce and modern banking transactions.The submission of this study is that Igbo entrepreneurs in Kano are hardworking and  resilient and consequently, many of them attained good success. They  discovered and took advantage of opportunities that came their way. They pooled their resources to develop Kano as useful members of the society. Their relationship with the host community was generally cordial but was occasionally punctuated by violent social upheavals  The Igbo also helped many Kanawa apprentices set up their own businesses which are the major focus areas of this study.