Saturday, February 3, 2018 9:51 am
By Babafemi Ojudu
I had a rare peep into the inner recess of the palace of the Emir of Kano. I have been to the Palace many times in the past and have been welcomed in the outer part. I never knew it was that extensive. The recent visit was different as the Emir, Lamido Sanusi, ushered me and some of my younger colleagues in The Villa to this massive living room that doubles as a library.
It was not only gorgeous but a forest of books . I have not seen any private library so rich as that in Nigeria since I have traveled around and been to places as a journalist and public official
I learnt of the famed library of the Odemo of Isara in the 60s but I am not too sure his collections could have rivaled what I saw in Kano last night.
The Emir told me what I saw was not all, that he still has close to 14,000 collections in his house in London that he is planning to bring back home. Some I could see were still in cartons in some rooms in the palace. Well displayed and subject classified there is no topic on Africa that is not covered.
The Emir informed me that his goal is to build a huge library in the Palace that will be accessible to researchers . Where they are now is only accessible to family members.
He regretted a situation where vital documents and rare books collected by his predecessors were in the past lost to fire or stolen. His ambition is to build a solid library that will, in 100 years time, house millions of books and documents that would have been collected by him and Emirs that will come after him.
Acquisition and production of knowledge has been fascinating to some ruling houses in the northern part of Nigeria. Some months past when I visited the Sultan of Sokoto I was given a set of books the Sultan has written by himself or commissioned. The book , The Sultans Of Sokoto, was particularly informative. It gave me a rare insight into the history, culture, philosophy, palace intrigues of the Sultanate and literary accomplishments of some of the Sultans.
In Kano, I sat down with Emir Sanusi and discussed politics and the economy for hours. He was so forthcoming as well as forthright. It was a no hold barred lecture on the state of the economy and what should be done. By the time I left at a little past midnight, I could not but be amazed at his wealth of knowledge and perspectives on issues. Thank you Emir Sanusi for a night well spent.