54 years after first publication, Premium Times Books launches new edition of The Sokoto Caliphate

54 years after first publication, Premium Times Books launches new edition of The Sokoto Caliphate

Premium Times Books will host a book presentation event to launch the Nigerian edition of The Sokoto Caliphate on Tuesday, November 23.

The event, scheduled for the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, will be chaired by the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmed Nuhu Bamali, with several other Nigerian dignitaries billed to attend.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, will be the special guest of honour while the Chairman of Casiva Limited, Nasiru Danu, will, in his role as chief presenter, unveil the book.

The Editor-in-Chief of 21st Century Chronicle, Mahmud Jega, will review the book after which there will be a panel discussion on the topic “The relevance of the history of the Sokoto caliphate to present-day Nigeria.”

The trio of Mukhtar Umar Bunza (a professor), Kebbi State higher education commissioner; Mohammed Junaid (a professor) of the Department of Education, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; and Mr Jega are slated to discuss the topic.

A former Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ohi Alegbe, will moderate the panel. He will also compere the entire book presentation event.

An initial mini presentation of the book was held November 1 in Sokoto as a part of events commemorating the 15th anniversary of the installation of the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad.

First published by Longmans, Green Co in 1967, The Sokoto Caliphate is the product of groundbreaking research by Professor Denis Murray Last when he was a PhD student at the University of Ibadan.

The book’s subject is the 19th century Sokoto Caliphate, the state that evolved out of the jihad led by Uthman dan Fodio. At the height of its growth, it stretched east-west from present-day Cameroon to Burkina Faso, and north-south, from Agadez to Ilorin. European colonialists, especially British and French administrators, referred to the state back then as the Fulani Empire.

Dan Fodio was a scholar, he and other members of the jihadi ruling class wrote and spoke Arabic fluently. Professor Last got to know about the books, legal monographs and letters written by these Fulani administrators during his first year at the University of Ibadan in 1961. The following year, he started research work on the intellectual and administrative traditions of the Sokoto Caliphate as documented in the written works of Dan Fodio and the Caliphate ruling class.

Professor Last’s thesis, which became the manuscript for, and was printed word for word as, The Sokoto Caliphate was the first PhD thesis approved by the University of Ibadan. This is one of many distinctions the book holds. Murray Last received his doctorate degree from the great Nnamdi Azikiwe who presided over the award ceremony in his capacity as President of Nigeria during the First Republic.

Being the first book about the history of Nigeria produced entirely from documents and records written by Nigerians and black Africans, the 54-year-old book was hailed for its bold vision and authenticity when it was published. It is still renowned for that reason because most books on pre-colonial African history relied on mainly oral accounts by Africans supplemented by often sketchy written accounts of European explorers, missionaries and mercenaries. They were thus derisively dismissed as folktales by American and European scholars.

The Sokoto Caliphate has been through several editions since it was first published, including the 1977 print, and later electronic editions, by the New York-based Humanities Press. Throughout the 20th century, it remained one of the most quoted books and best-selling titles on the history of sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2009, a Hausa edition was produced by the Centre for Hausa Studies at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto. Premium Times Books started work on the All-Nigerian edition in 2019, at that time and up till now, The Sokoto Caliphate is largely absent in bookshops across the country despite its status as a classic on sub-Saharan African history and its deep connection to Nigeria.

Premium Times Books aims to bridge that gap by distributing the book to all viable sales points across the country after the launch event on Tuesday.

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