Despite the fact that Emir Sanusi was caught in the web of his own contradictions. His emergence and eventual dethronement as Emir of Kano was one of those circumstances where fate and politics crossed each other’s path at the wrong point in history.
Looking at a man who invested ₦200million to purchase over 40,000 books and journals catalogued in his library shows the level of education, exposure and temperament he presides with over the 21st century nation-state but he chose to become an Emir whose authority and influence are largely symbolic and ceremonial.
Ever since his ascension to the throne, the stage was set for such implacable ending. This is because, the type of public role he envisioned and struggled to carve for himself was incompatible with royal life. This also includes his nostalgic decision to model his reign after the order of his grandfather, adopting the name and style of the latter which lead him to this fate.
Emir Sanusi’s collision with political power was actually inevitable which was why he was queried twice over disagreements with the state government in the few months he spent as Emir with Kwankwaso as Governor. It is obvious that Emir Sanusi’s biggest contradiction is his attempt to cast himself as a royal revolutionary, an activist Emir that is far ahead of his time
However, revolution and royalty don’t mix- it only explodes with the bearer. All over the world, even in constitutional monarchies, royals are expected to lead a life of relative quietude and discretion. To Emir Sanusi, he became an activist Emir who is not hindered by the traditional gag of the Amawali. The people are accustomed to seeing their Emirs rather than hearing them.
In spite of those contradictions, Emir Sanusi occupies a higher moral pedestal than his ‘dethroners’ will ever dream of. And above all, his vision of the society closely aligns with mine, and with that of all lovers of National Progress.
When he chose to speak the truth, I believe Emir Sanusi was fully aware of the potential consequences of his choices and actions. He was willing to pay the ultimate price; I guess he told after the fate of his grandfather. Even in the last few weeks of his reign when the reality of his dethronment began to manifest as Ganduje’s schemes appear unrelenting, he carried on with a sense of divine resignation.
More disturbing was the manner Ganduje went about his misadventures, by first balkanizing the Emirate into five smaller emirates and significantly eroding its royal reputation. The fact that any politician in power could depose a first-class Emir and disfigure a historic emirate with such ease and arbitrariness should send shivers down the spine of every northern royal. By that singular action, Ganduje delivered a blow from which the emirate will never fully recover.
Ganduje couldn’t have attempted or succeeded in this without the active connivance of rival members of the Kano royal family. Both sides of the royal family have their fair share of blame in this crisis, for allowing themselves to become willing tools at the hands of politicians. At the end, with the splitting of the emirate into 5 smaller emirates, they ended up losing the very emirate they were fighting so hard to rule.
For Emir Sanusi, this is obviously the beginning of another interesting chapter. Because even outside emirateship, Emir Sanusi will continue to divide opinions along very sharp lines. Many people see the Emir as a symbol of reform in a region wallowing in the abyss of poverty and underdevelopment. His supporters see him as a royal eccentric and reformer, who is out to redefine Emirship in the 21st century.
Caught in a web he could not break from, Emir Sanusi’s reign has ended before it started through politics. He paid a huge price as a royal revolutionary. If it were in the past when emirs had real power, he will make a great emir given his erudition and the visionary prowess to roll out reforms that are capable of pushing his backward subjects forward. But today, the reality is quite different, and he will be remembered more for his glittering reign than for his role in the history of Kano.
Even as the throne is taken away from him, Emir Sanusi’s reaction to his dethronment has become a royal class act that’s reserved for the history books. His manner of acknowledging his deposition letter and his video address to the people accepting his dethronment and calling for calm demonstrate. Those pristine qualities that transcends the realm of Emiral power is Emir Sanusi’s biggest victory as the Last Emir of a once united Kano Emirate.