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Surame Cultural Landscape

Date of Submission: 08/10/2007
Criteria: (i)(vii)
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
National Commission for Museums and Monuments
State, Province or Region:
Sokoto State, North West Nigeria
Ref.: 5172
Word File

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Surame ancient kingdom existed around the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a very unique site with a surface of about 9 kilometres, in which one third of the relics has some traces of human settlement in the form of Hausa foundations, remains of compound enclosures, wall rubbles, wells, potsherds. Other features of the site are the walls, Grates, Baobab tree, trench and ditches.

The walls partly standing still have relics of the fallen ones intact. The walls were made from millet stalks and are generally rectangular in shape. For the gates, they are of two types namely the small and great ones, which are seven in number each.

The defensive walling and the gates are made of rocks. Within the site, there is baobab tree (Kuka) which oral tradition has it that the nagging wife of kanta was thrown into its trunk in a feat of anger. While, the trench (Siradi) is the place where trial was being made to any offender in the Kingdom. If one falls inside the Siradi (trench) he is going into Wuta (hell) and anyone who escapes the Siradi is going to Aijanna (paradise).

Around the kingdom, ditches were dug throughout the circumference of the great walls and thorns were planted that made it difficult for invading army to gain entrance into the kingdom.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Surame Kingdom founded by Mohammadu kanta (the great warrior) could be said to be one of the wonders of human history, creativity and ingenuity. It is also probably the most massive stone - walled constructions in West Africa.

Mohammad kanta built fortresses to defend Surame Kingdom against Songhai reprisal attacks. The ruins of Kanta's ancient capital of 16th and 17th century Surame were the sites of 1991 archaeological excavations by Dr. Leseigang. According to oral tradition, the mode of construction of the Kingdom manifested organizational ability, the great power and authority of kanta. The labour that built the kingdom was mobilized by the king and they included slaves and his subjects.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Surame is a good example of Dry Stone monument and could be compared to Great Zimbabwe and Damboshava Stone structures of Zimbabwe and Botswana. This dry stone monument still has most of the features intact like those of Great Zimbabwe and Damboshava.