top of page

Traditional Hausa Sports: Dambe & Kokowa

An interesting part of any culture are the sports people engage in. I didn’t experience any sports during my time in Kano but it seemed like a largely unknown aspect that would be great to talk about.

In Hausa, boxing is called Dambe, it is also referred to as martial arts. The participant’s hands are wrapped by cloth and tightly covered by a knitted cord.

There are three rounds. The aim is knock your opponent down or get them to concede. A player can also win by getting their opponent too weak to continue participating. In the olden days, dambe was practiced in preparation for war. Today, it is done as a sport for entertainment and during festivals.

Another sport at the heart of Hausa culture is Kokawa, which means wrestling. So many other ethnic groups in Nigeria also have local wrestling as a sport. What makes wrestling more interesting in Hausa culture is that Kokawa is still used today as a means to get married. The men compete and only the strongest man is allowed to marry. I’m really curious about how this works.

I hope one day I can see experience some of the traditional sports for myself. There are a lot of competitions during festivals in different parts of the country.

Photo credit: Salamba4U

The other two pictures were taken by me in the Gidan Makama museum in Kano.



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.

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
bottom of page