To many people in Kano state and neighbouring Northern communities, Gidan Dan Hausa is only a symbol of colonial administration; it was there that the first education secretary of the Kano province lived, and it was there that the second western school was established after the Nagarta Schools established in Sokoto in 1905.
Before the coming of colonialists, Gidan Dan Hausa was a zoological garden, the first of its kind in the history of Hausa civilisation. It was set up by Sarkin (Emir of) Kano Abdullahi Maje Karofi in 1855, and was to later become the residence of Sarkin ban Kano, district head of Nassarawa.
This exotic traditional architectural design was to draw to itself so much attention due to its fabulous and aesthetic beauty, and its closeness to the emir's resting palace in Nassarawa further added to its significance to the royalty of the traditional institution.
When colonialists came with new policies of administration for the emirate, the house became vacant, and for years it stood unoccupied until the deployment of the chief education officer of the Kano province, Mr Hanns Vischer (known as Dan Hausa), who was attracted by the unique beauty of the building and demanded that he be allowed to use it as his residence.
It was Resident Kargil that first introduced the posting of district heads outside the city with the creation of new districts in the emirate. This led to many of Kano's district heads leaving the city to resides in the newly created districts, they are to serve as colonial heads in those areas under the new indirect rule.
Later, Hanns Vischer converted the building into the first Hausa cultural institution and centre for administrative studies to provide clerical training to upcoming colonial manpower that was then needed so quickly.
The house, therefore, became the mother and centre of the present Hausa vowels where the alphabets A, B,C....were converted to Aa, Ba Ca, Da etc.
It was Mr Hanns, through his school enrolment in 1909, who introduced the Hausa literary tradition using Latin the script.
In March 1909 the first students who enrolled for the study came from the various provinces of the northern region, including Adamawa, Mubi, Niger, Borno, Benue/Plateau, Ilorin, Sokoto and Kontagora.
By 1913 the school enrolment grew to 209, when almost all administrative provinces in the region sent their students to Gidan Dan Hausa for clerical, administrative and cultural studies.
The house was divided into several schools that included the chiefs' children's school, the school for Malams, were Islamic scholars were taught how to write Ajami and farming skills as well as English and Arithmetic.
This crop of students was to later become the nucleus of the colonial surveyors who worked as land surveyors for the colonial masters.
Additionally, a craft school was also established as well as a secondary school, all within the compound of Gidan Dan Hausa.
The expansion and consolidation of the colonial administration and the growing number of administrative centres brought about the need for increase in schools and training centres. The Katsina Middle, Alhudahuda and several other schools were then established in other parts of the northern region.
These changes and school expansion reduced the burden on the Gidan Dan Hausa School; and by 1913 Dan Hausa himself was transferred from Kano.
This notwithstanding, studies continued to be conducted in the centre until 1930 when almost all provinces acquired their schools.
From then up to 1960 when Mr Nelson took over the affairs of the school, the place continued to serve as a centre for educational development and skills acquisition.
Hajiya Aisha N. Shehu is the Director of Research and Documentation at the history and culture bureau of the Kano state government and she told Sunday Trust that the historical significance of Gidan Dan Hausa has gone beyond the boundaries of the state.
She said that the nucleus that formed the house was so significant to colonial administration and the formation of literary Northerners at the initial stage of the colonial administration, that the bulk of the clerical and other supporting staff that worked in various provinces were products of the house.
According to her, it was from the house that so many things, as far as western education was concerned, began and it was to become a centre of northern education soon after the colonialists came.
The director said there is no way the history of modern Hausa literature can be written without mention of the contribution of Gidan Dan Hausa, adding that although it was not the first school that was established in the region, it was ideally the first institute in Hausa studies as well as other subjects.
"There was what was known as the 3 Rs that became the focal point of teaching in Gidan Dan Hausa, i.e writing, arithmetic and reading", she said
The director further explained that Gidan Dan Hausa was, before the coming of the colonialists, one of the royal houses hosting Sarkin ban Kano.
"During the jihad period, Kano Emirate was known for its war campaigns and had so many palaces outside the city and so it happened that Nassarawa area also has a palace, while the Emir also move with all his title holders, Gidan Dan Hausa was then used by Sarkin bai", she said.
Hajiya Aisha further explained that apart from being significantly important to the educational history of the region, it houses several significant historical monuments being also a museum and house to the Kano Hall of Fame. Presently, according to her, Gidan Dan Hausa also serves as the headquarters of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau.
In the Gidan Dan Hausa museum, there are many historical artefacts dating back to 800 BC. For example, standing in the middle of the museum is a giant clay pot of 100 centimetres height and 88 centimetres width with a radio-carbon 14 confirmation that it was moulded between 800/ 500 BC.
These giant pots were excavated in 1987 in Fagge local government within the city; many believed it is one of the pots used by the famous Kano legends, Dala and Barbushe.
Several other kits of the Kano's famous emirs were also preserved at the house, including the staff of office of Sarki Muhammad Abbas and Sarki Sanusi.
The museum also houses various historical facts about wartime including a drum that is believed to be over 300 years old.
Within this historical building is the Kano Hall of Fame, a cubic building that houses personal belongings of Kano's famous leaders including ancient and modern ones.
Portraits and pictures of formers emirs, governors, colonialists as well as indigenes that excelled in their chosen careers are placed as a mark of honour and recognition.
The executive director of the Bureau, Alhaji Abdu D. Muhammad, said the Hall is used to preserve the names of those whose contribution has made positive impact on the state through their various endeavours while they were alive.
However, not only those who have died were honoured in the hall; several other personalities who are still alive also dot the Hall.
According to Alhaji Abdu, the place will soon be provided with several other facilities including a village centre so that the traditional village set up will be erected to enable tourists have a first hand experience of village life in Kano.
"We are doing this to boost the tourism potentials of the state through providing a unique experience to people who are here to see the history of our people", he said
He further explained that being one of the most significant cultural institutions in the region and even beyond, the Bureau is working in conjunction with the state government to give the place a deserving fixture worthy of serving as a centre of attraction for international tourists.
Gidan Dan Hausa now serves as a compendium of history and film making site as hosts of filmmakers, especially from Kannywood, frequent the area for their filming activities.
"We have been hosting several foreign tourists here who come to have a look at the history of our people, our architecture and the museum hosting several historical facilities", Alhaji Abdu added
As Gidan Dan Hausa continues to attract both local and foreign tourists as well as researchers into the history of Kano and Hausa culture, authorities maintain that the place will soon receive a facelift with the hope of boosting its tourism potential to international standard.