They once the creme de la creme of the Hawan Nasarawa, the most popular stage of Kano’s Iconic Eid Durbar that sees the Emir visiting the Highbrow area of Nassarawa GRA and paying homage to the Provincial Secretary.
But in 1999, something happened. These rich high-class girls suddenly vanished from the scene sending ratings for the Nassarawa Durbar plummeting to the abyss. With the girls gone the guys soon followed and Hawan Nassarawa became any other Kano Durbar full of Yaku Bayi and elder men clad in traditional armour.
But this year, the prospects of Hawan Nassarawa returning to fashion are high as these Yan Matan GRA returned to the scene in droves. It’s difficult to understand what brought the girls back, but bets are going for the New Emir of Kano who’s recent tug of war with the conservative Governor saw him taking a much more feminist stance and thereby wining the affection of the sophisticated girls.
“I came to see mai martaba (the Emir)” Umma Shehu who’s on vacation from the US told me as she sat on top of her convertible Mercedes C class in order to get a better view.
“I’ve never been here before but I came for him” she said.
From sending his daughter to represent him at an official capacity to calling for monogamy, the many modernist firsts of the Emir of Kano has might just be winning unlikely allies for the traditional institution.
But not everyone is as impressed. Malam Uwa Kabo a female islamic preacher believes the girls are out there to get boyfriends. “Don’t believe them, they just want to get boy friends and are using the durbar as a pretext”
But conservative Wahabi clerics like Kabo have never really been fans of Kano’s Durbar which even at the height of Shariah Mania under the puritan Ibrahim Shekarau, still witnessed the free mixing of the sexes. Uwa and her radical Salafi sect have been trying as much as they can “to sanitize” the institution which so far has proved impossible. Kabo might also not be a big fan of the Emir, his calls to reform Islamic legal tradition has been vehemently opposed by Salai sheikhs like leader of the dreaded Hisba- Kano’s religious police. The return of Yan Matan GRA to Hawan Nassarawa will certainly raise alarm bells within conservative circles, are other liberal traditions soon to follow?