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Nigeria Table of Contents Throughout Africa societies that had been predominantly rural for most of their history were experiencing a rapid and profound reorientation of their social and economic lives toward cities and urbanism.
The northern savanna cities grew within city walls, at the center of which were the main market, government buildings, and the central mosque.
Around them clustered the houses of the rich and powerful.
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In the north, the great urban centers of Kano, Katsina, Zaria, Sokoto, the early Borno capitals (Gazargamo and Kuka), and other cities served as entrepts to the Saharan and trans-Saharan trade, and as central citadels and political capitals for the expanding states of the northern savanna.
They attracted large numbers of traders and migrants from their own hinterlands and generally also included "stranger quarters" for migrants of other regions and nations.
Cities are not only independent centers of concentrated human population and activity; they also exert a potent influence on the rural landscape.
In many of the northern cities, these areas were separated between sections for the distant, often non-Muslim migrants not subject to the religious and other prohibitions of the emir, and for those who came from the local region and were subjects of the emir.
The former area was designated the "Sabon Gari," or new town (which in southern cities, such as Ibadan, has often been shortened to "Sabo"), while the latter was often known as the "Tudun Wada," an area often quite wealthy and elaborately laid out.
What is distinctive about the growth of cities in Nigeria is the length of its historical extension and the geographic pervasiveness of its coverage.
Nigerian urbanism, as in other parts of the world, is a function primarily of trade and politics.