Nigeria’s Richest men
Alhassan Dantata’s Biography
Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, born in Bebeji in 1877, in Kano, Northern Nigeria into the family of Alhaji Madugu Abdullah, a trader and caravan leader. His mother was equally an astute trader addressed back in the day as Fatima Maduga-Amarya. Alhassan Dantata is the grandson Baba Talatin, a successful merchant in his days, who brought the family to Kano from Katsina at the beginning of the 19th Century.
Dantata’s father, having already had a stint in his business dealings conducted alongside his father, inherited his father’s position as the Madugu. He exchanged dyed clothes, cattle and slaves for kola and cowries.
Alhassan Dantata’s father died when he was between the ages of seven and eight. With Dantata and his siblings still considerably young and their mother unable to find another husband owing to her wealth and influence, she left them with shares of their own inheritance and in the care of an old slave woman, and headed for Accra, Ghana, where she would further establish and earn a reputation as a shrewd businesswoman.
The slave in whose care young Alhassan and his siblings were left was known simply as Tata. It was from her own name that Alhassan’s other name, Dantata (loosely translated as “Tata’s son”) was derived.
After his own share of the inheritance had vanished, Alhassan enrolled into a Quranic school in Bebeji, Kano, in order to enable him earn some education with which to support himself.
When he was about turning 15, Alhassan followed a Gonja-bound caravan to visit his mom. His business acumen began to show when he bought items in commercial quantity from Bebeji and sold along the way and in Accra. Having stayed at his mom’s for a day, she handed him over to a mallam there in Accra for until he was ready to return to Kano. While at the mallam’s, Dantata would beg for food for both he and his mallam. He would work for money on Thursdays and Fridays, from which the mallam would take a sizeable amount, while he saved the rest. After a while, he was sent back to Kano by the mom and was asked to save some amount on a daily basis. During the Kano Civil War that lasted one year between 1893 and 1894, and coupled with the British invasion, both Alhassan and his siblings were taken as slaves but were able to buy back their freedom and return to Bebeji shortly thereafter.
After sometime, he began plying Bebeji-Ibadan-Lagos-Accra-Kumasi-Sekondi routes doing trade. He was a chief pioneer of the said route.
His mother later died in 1908, which would in turn restrict his business dealings to Kano and Lagos.
He first started dealing in Kola, and later expanded into beads, necklaces and trading European clothes. He later began trading groundnuts, dealing on behalf of the Niger Company (now UAC).
He contributed £10200 towards the establishment of the first industrial textile mill in Northern Nigeria. He would later venture into real estate. Alhassan Dantata is said to be the wealthiest man in West Africa at the time of his death.
Education: Madrasah, Bebeji
Foundation or organization founded:
- Alhassan Dantata and Sons
- Dantata Organization
- Kano Citizen’s Trading Company