Agadasawa is a famous quarters in Kano city. It is renowned not just because of the number of rich people who reside there, or the beautiful structures erected in the area by the occupants. Rather, it is famous because of the name the inhabitants have made for themselves through the processing of Kilishi. For about 200 years, Kilishi processing has been the famous business of the traders of Agadasawa, Daily Trust gathered.
Visitors to Agadasawa need not be told that the area is a home of Kilishi. The moment one steps into the area, he will be greeted by varieties of Kilishi that are stocked in transparent boxes along the busy road that cuts through the area.
Alhaji Magaji Yusuf Zakari, Chairman of Agadasawa Kilishi Processors Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society, explains “my late grandfather Alhaji Zakari was a Kilishi maker and he died when he was over 100 years. His father (my grand-grandfather) Alhaji Audu Mai Wuya was also into the business. This is to tell you that this business has been in existence in Agadasawa for a very long time. I am sure a man of my age cannot trace the actual history of Kilishi in this area.”
Kududdufin Kilishi, as the name implies, is a location in the heart of Agadasawa quarters where people converge on daily basis to process Kilishi. In the day and night hours, you will find a group of young men or adults conducting one aspect of Kilishi processing or the other at Kududdufi. All the activities taking place at Kududdufi are carried out by males, Daily Trust, observed.
However, women do contribute their quota in the processes from their respective matrimonial homes. They are the producers of ingredients of Kilishi which include spices, pepper powder, grinded groundnut and Tiger nut powder ,among others. They are also the processors of Dambun Nama as well.
Daily Trust learnt that Kilishi was said to have been initiated for emirs and warriors. It was being processed for them as a reserve meal whenever they are going to war. It was done in a form of beef steak. The processes included slicing of the beef to sizes, mixing it with powdered groundnut and other ingredients , that were already mixed with a small quantity of water, and then this is dried under the sun. Once, it dries, it can be preserved for a very long time without showing any sign of decay.
The Agadasawa Kilishi, if kept in a dry place, can be preserved for one year without decaying, Daily Trust gathered. In a bid to meet the demand of their customers, the people of Agadasawa process various types of Kilishi, which includes sugary Kilishi, salty Kilishi and Tiger nut Kilishi. They are also producing another type which is neither salty, nor sugary for diabetes patients.
In Agadasawa, Kilishi is processed with cow beef, according to Zakari “In Agadasawa, we make Kilishi with real beef, largely sourced from the following parts of cow; Chuck, Round and Brisket. Even at that, we only select tip steak, rump roast, round steak, top blade steak and pot roast for Kilishi. These are the suitable portions of beef we the Agadasawa are using to make Kilishi.”
Alhaji Amadun Baita Mai Kilishi Agadasawa, 65, is also among the processors that have spent years in the business. He said initially Kilishi was thicker than what it looks like now, adding “but gradually, people began to reduce its size to its presence form .Only the Almighty knows what it will look like in the future ,because our children and grandchildren might come with new innovations that will change its face again.”
Unlike before when it was only meant for emirs and combatants, Kilishi is now for everybody that wishes to taste it. It is being sold to any interesting buyer irrespective of his/her status in the society.
According to Zakari, nowadays Kilishi is being transported to various African and western countries. He said their forefathers started taking it to some African countries such as Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Niger and Chad among others. It is also being exported to UK, USA, China, India, Japan, Bubai, Argentina and Germany, among other countries across the globe.
Zakari said he started the business of Kilishi at the age of eight. Thus far he has spent over 30 years in the business “Kilishi means everything to me; through it I obtained my Diploma certificate and I am sponsoring my children’s education. I have depended on this business right from my childhood. So all I have obtained in life, I got it through the business of Kilishi.”
Turning to the Co-operative Society, he said it was established during Ibrahim Babangida’s regime with a view to improving the business of Kilishi, saying “so far we have gone digital in this business. Nowadays, customers can put their order through phone, send the money through e-banking and then collect the product at motor parks or airports.”
He explained that every day they slaughter three to five cows at Kududdufi to process Kilishi when the market is booming ,and when there are not many customers available, they only slaughter one or two cows in a day.
“We sell much Kilishi in the rainy season than in any other season ,even though we face some difficulties in processing it because of the rain,” he noted.
On the activities of the union, Zakari said its main objective is to improve the business of Kilishi and the welfare of its members. He stated that before the establishment of the union, processors of Kilishi were scattered and everybody was on his own. They were conducting the business without focus or a leadership to control them.
However, with the coming into existence of the union, processors are now modernizing the business with new innovations, noting “in the past, we were selling it on trays, but now we are wrapping it in papers for travelers and exporters. We are also stocking it in transparent boxes that are being kept along major roads, junctions and other strategic places in Kano and neighbouring states, for onward sale to buyers.”
Rabi’u Salisu Muhammad is an apprentice at Kududdufin Kilishi. A student of Kano State College of Arts and Science and Remedial Studies (CAS), Muhammad, said he has been into the business for 10 years, and he is about to complete his internship.
“I started since I was in Primary school, and now I am studying in a tertiary institution. I am doing my National Education Certificate (NEC) in CAS. I sponsored my education with the little earnings from this business. When I was in primary and secondary schools, I only came here on weekends and holidays. But now I do come to work whenever I don’t have lectures,” he said.
He explained that his late father was also a Kilishi processor. Kilishi processing is a family business among members of his family. He said he had a plan to introduce new innovations into the business after graduation.
According to him “With the level of my education, I am sure I can bring some changes that can improve the business. Kilishi has done everything for me in life, so, I will not leave the business for the rest of my life. I will ensure that my children also practice it. I never think of abandoning this business, no matter what I may become in the future.”
Alhaji Amadun Baita Mai Kilishi Agadasawa, has been into the business for over 20 years now, adding that the business pays him more than he had envisaged; “I got a house, married two wives, and I am sponsoring the education of my children courtesy of Kilishi. I am a full time Kilishi processor. I have trained all my children on how go about the business. Currently, I am supplying Kilishi to three famous stores and malls in Abuja, Kaduna and Kano states. They always place their orders with me, I supply them with the quantity they demand,” he stated.
He encouraged Agadasawa youths to seek for knowledge before engaging in the Kilishi Business, saying “If you educate yourself, you will then embark on any business, but if you are not educated, you will reach to a point when you cannot even continue with the business. Everything nowadays is going side by side with the level of your education. So, our youths should first educate themselves before going into the business of Kilishi, or any other business of their choice.”