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Driving Factors of Continuity for Kano Emir Palace towards Safeguarding its Cultural Heritage

Bashir Umar Salim, Ismail Said, Lee Yoke Lai and Raja Nafida Raja Shahminan

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 29, Issue 3, September 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.3.09

Keywords: Community-conservation approach, cultural heritage, driving factors, Kano Emir Palace, living heritage

Published on: 27 September 2021

Preservation and safeguarding cultural heritage juxtaposed with a living dimension have become a global concern in heritage studies. Traditional palaces in the Hausaland of northern Nigeria are conceived in earthen form, featured with continuity of tradition, and embodied with a living community. Thus, its conservation intervention prompts the Palace to renewal, reconstruction or expansion, to facilitate current needs. The interventions contravene the Eurocentric principles of conservation that oblige the prevention of changes on monuments’ materialism and the spaces it occupies. In contrast, the contemporary approach is a more socially inclusive approach that embraces community engagement. Despite the richness of living heritage sites in the country, research aiming to conceptualise conservation approaches in Nigeria is deficient. Hence, this paper aimed to explore the driving factors of continuity for Kano Emir Palace towards safeguarding its cultural heritage. A semi-structured interview was conducted with 12 traditional builders and analysed with NVIVO 12. It is found that driving factors are embodied with mediating, deteriorating, and reviving dimensions that prompt the Palace transformation whilst safeguarding its cultural heritage. The paper concludes that the heritagisation of Kano Emir Palace entails assigning values unto spiritual content and decreed spaces of its monuments for the continuity of the inherent function, regardless of material lost and transformation. Besides, a ‘location-based conservation approach’ is suggested as a supplementary paradigm of heritage studies. The framework can be designated in heritage policy for living heritage sites, including functioning traditional palaces in Africa.

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