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Traditional Hausa Clothing and my visit to the Kofar Dye Pit in Kano

Today, it’s easy to mistake Fulani or Kanuri clothing for Hausa or vice versa. So when I spoke to the historian in Kano, clothing was one of the main questions I asked. He told me in order to see undiluted Hausa culture, I’d have to look at the Maguzuwa. That word was the answer to the questions I had been asking and searching for over a year. The Maguzuwa are a significant Hausa population who refused to convert to Islam. So people began calling them, "Maguzawa" meaning “those who ran away from Islam”. Islam came to Kano around the 15th Century under the Hausa Emir, Muhammed Rumfa. The Magazuwa ran away to rural areas on the outskirts of Kano and Katsina to avoid being converted.

Today, so much of Hausa culture in the cities has been replaced with Islamic culture. The clothing is no exception. The style of clothing hasn’t changed that much but the fabric has. In the past, Hausa women wore a blouse, zani (wrapper) and hair tie like in the black and white picture. Today, they still wear the same thing but the blouse may now have long sleeves and the fabric will be atampa or ankara. Most also wear a scarf or hijab over their head tie.

For Hausa men, they wear the babaringa which is similar to the agbada worn by the Yorubas. They wear this with a hula (the colorful embroidered cap, which is originally Kanuri) or with an alasho (turban) depending on their rank.

In the past, all Hausa people were identified by their tie and dye indigo cloth adorned with traditional symbols. Other ethnic groups who came in contact with the Hausas used to refer to them as “the bluemen”. This is why when I got Kano, I knew I had to visit the Kofar Motar Dye Pit to explore the local cloth and the techniques used to make it.

The Kofar Motar Dye Pits are over 500 years old. In the video below, the guide explains the process of dyeing the cloth. You also see one of the women who ties the fabric teach me some techniques. They also showed me the finished fabrics, they have on sale. Watch my entire experience at the Dye Pit below

I posted a fun reel on instagram of my visit, watch it here

I bought one of the fabrics, which I made into a dress for my birthday. The other half of the dress is Adire fabric made in Abeokuta. The fabric says, "Abeke" which is my oriki and middle name.

What are your favorite styles of tie and dye?



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.


In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.


That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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