Gobarau Minaret Katsina

Gobarau Minaret, part of the 18th century mosque.

The Gobarau Minaret (var. Gobirau, Goborau) is a 50-foot Minaret located in the center of the city of Katsina, Northern Nigeria. An early example of Muslim architecture in a city known a theological center, the tower has become a symbol of the city.


Gobarau is reputed to the first multi-storey building in West Africa; it is believed to have been built during the reign of Sarkin Katsina (King) Muhammadu Korau (1398-1408 AD) -- the first Muslim King of Katsina. Other sources date the structure from the 16th to 18th centuries, with a major reconstruction taking place in the early 20th century.

Originally built as the central Mosque of Katsina town, it was later used also as a school. By the beginning of the 16th century, Katsina had become a very important commercial and academic center in Hausaland, and Gobarau mosque had grown into a famed institution of higher Islamic education. Gobarau continued to be Katsina's Central mosque until the beginning of the 20th century AD, when Sarkin Katsina Muhammadu Dikko (1906-1944) built the famous Masallacin Dutsi, which is still used up to this day. The mosque and tower were renovated by Sarkin Katsina Muhammadu Kabir Usman (1981-2008).


A popular myth about the origin of Gobarau states that when Muhammadu Korau slew Jibda-Yaki Sanau the last pagan king of Katsina, he desired to construct a mosque. After the site was selected, there arose the problem of the direction of the Qiblah where the mosque must face. Muhammadu Korau consulted the Muslim scholars of that time, and they all agreed to a certain direction, except one Mallam Jodoma, who was a stranger. An argument broke out, and the other scholars insulted Jodoma of being a stranger who wanted to bring instability. Mallam Jodoma,becoming angry, pointed his staff at another direction, and there appeared the Ka'abah clearly. Gobarau was also used for spotting invading armies.

Muhammadu Korau was amazed, and made Mallam Jodoma his Chief Imam, much to the dismay of the other scholars, who jealously made Muhammadu Korau believe that Jodoma, becoming increasingly famous, wanted his throne. Jodoma was banished from Katsina, and he settled at Guga, a village in present day Bakori Local government in Katsina state, where he died.


Today Gobarau is a tourist attraction site, along with the Kusugu well in Daura.


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