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Building on Legacy: Alhassan Dantata’s Influence on Aliko Dangote

Building on Legacy: Alhassan Dantata’s Influence on Aliko Dangote 


While Dangote has become a household name in Nigeria, across Africa and on the Global business landscape, his success story actually begins with his great-grandfather, Alhaji Alhassan Dantata. Dantata is a prominent figure in the history of Nigerian commerce, and his legacy has helped shape Dangote’s own success. 

Alhaji Alhassan Dantata was born in 1877 in Bebeji, Kano Emirate in the Sokoto Caliphate. He is one of the several children of Abdullahi and his wife, Amarya. Abdullahi was the son of Baba Talatin, who brought the family from Katsina to Madobi in Kano Following the death of his father, Ali. 

Abdullahi traded from Madobi until 1877, when he set out on a journey to Gonja, the center of the kola nut trade in Ghana. On this journey, his wife gave birth to Alhassan, who was born at the campsite (Zango) of Bebeji. After returning from his journey, Abdullahi decided to abandon Madobi and move his family to Bebeji permanently. He later died in Bebeji around 1885. 

Abdullahi was the son of two wealthy Agalawas, a hereditary group of long-distance traders in the Hausa empire. And since his children were still very young to manage his considerable wealth, they all received their portion according to Islamic laws when he died. 

Amarya, like her mother-in-law, was a trader of wealth in her own right. After her husband’s death, she decided to leave Bebeji for Ghana, where she had commercial interests. She left the children in Bebeji, in the care of an old slave woman named Tata. The servant, whose name was Tata, was the reason young Alhassan became known as Dantata- meaning “son of Tata” in Hausa.

Not only was Alhassan Dantata a successful businessman, but he was also a devoted family man. Dantata lived in Kano with his two wives, Umma Zaria and Maimuna, and had many children, including Mamuda, Ahmadu, Sanusi, Aminu, Mudi, and others. He married his first wife in 1949, and his family grew to be large and prominent in Kano. 

Sanusi married and had two children, including Mariya Sanusi Dantata and Alhaji Abdulkadir Dantata, who became one of Nigeria’s wealthiest and most popular businessmen in history. Mariya Sanusi Dantata married Mohammed Dangote, a business associate of her father. Mariya gave birth to Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa. But it was Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, Mariya’s grandfather and Aliko Dangote’s great-grandfather who in 1929 took a phenomenal step that would resonate through generations.

The Bank of British West Africa, known today as First Bank Nigeria, was started in the country. Among the people who took advantage of this opportunity was Alhaji Alhassan Dantata. With his bold steps, he established himself as a visionary who would help define the course of the Nigerian banking sector for generations to come.

In those days, banking was a novel concept in Nigeria, and many were wary of entrusting their wealth to these unfamiliar institutions. However, Alhaji Alhassan Dantata was not just any businessman, he was a trailblazer, a man of foresight, and a symbol of progress. He arrived at the bank with a sight that would leave anyone astounded—not bags of paper money, but 20 camel loads of shimmering silver coins.

This act was more than just a deposit; it was a symbol of trust, an investment in the future, and a statement of faith in the potential of the Nigerian banking system. Alhaji Alhassan Dantata became the first businessman to deposit money into a bank in Nigeria, a pioneer who laid the foundation for the financial giants we know today.

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