The first written account of Katsina dates from the fifteenth century. Leo Africans, the mediaeval explorer and historian, left eye-witness stories of cities established in trans-Sahara trade. Katsina, a sweet sounding name in any language, was founded, as legend would have it, by a descendent of the snake-slaying hero from Baghdad who married the Queen of Daura. (Nigeria Magazine No. 50, 1956, ).
In local tradition the followers of the snake-slayer are referred to as “Arabs” and most authorities accept the legend as a memory of a Berber invasion at the beginning of the twelfth century. The Berber migrations resulting from the period of great desiccation which led to the enlargement of the Sahara and the consequent shrinkage of the pastures surrounding it. (Nigeria Mag No. 50, 1956.)
By the end of the fifteenth century Katsina is said to have been converted to Islam, the credit going to the famous Sheikh Muhammed Al Maghili of That. This is about the time that Leo Africans visited the city. He speaks of desert trade and of the commercial value of the city. (Nigeria Mag #51)
The Katsina Royal Palace ( Sarkin means king) is a huge compound built in 1348 AD in the center of the ancient city. It is a symbol of culture, history and traditions as Katsina is known as the cradle of knowledge. The Emir’s residential quarters is built in the typical Hausa traditional architecture.
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