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Kano Bans Durbar Festival Amid Royal Dispute And Hardships

KANO, Northern Nigeria’s largest city, has sparked widespread outrage after police banned its renowned Durbar festival due to an ongoing dispute between two traditional royals.

On Thursday, police in Kano announced the suspension of the colourful annual horse procession led by the traditional emir and his courtiers to mark the Muslim Eid celebrations of sacrifice. This decision follows a contentious dispute between two rival emirs, both claiming the right to the city’s traditional throne.


The conflict intensified when the state assembly sacked the incumbent emir and the state governor reappointed his predecessor, leading to a legal battle between the two factions.

Community reaction

The ban has caught Kano residents by surprise, coming just days before Eid in a city that is the de facto capital of Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north. ‘This is outrageous, how do we celebrate Eid without the Durbar?’ Anas Ahmad, a 32-year-old butcher told AFP. ‘Without the Durbar, Eid will be like tea without sugar because Durbar is what makes the Eid glamorous and exciting.’

Economic and social impact

Nigerians are already facing tough times due to government reforms that have caused petrol and food prices to soar and the naira to plummet against the dollar. Many Kano residents, preparing for Eid, were already struggling to afford a ram for their religious sacrifice.

‘People cannot buy a ram for the feast because they have no money and now the Durbar that entertains them has been cancelled. How do we then celebrate Eid?’ asked Usman Ahmad, a 48-year-old resident. ‘This is sad and unfortunate. I can’t imagine Eid without meat and Durbar.’

Security concerns

Police cited security concerns as the reason for banning all Durbar activities. This is only the second time in a decade that the traditional horse carnival has been suspended. In 2015, the Durbar was cancelled due to security fears after Boko Haram militants attacked the central mosque outside the emir’s palace in November 2014, killing around 200 worshippers.

Cultural significance

The Durbar festival attracts people from across Nigeria and Western tourists. The event features a colourful procession of horses, with royals and courtiers displaying their equestrian skills as part of their homage to the emir. Over three days, the emir tours the city on horseback, with residents lining the streets to witness the spectacle.

The suspension of the Durbar festival has left many Kano residents disappointed, highlighting the deep cultural and social significance of the event. As the city grapples with economic and security challenges, the loss of this vibrant celebration adds to the community’s hardships.

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