Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Dangote / Dantata Dynasties: How a Family of Billionaires was built ( Exclusive )







  • How do you go from being an almajiri to spawning a dynasty of billionaires that includes some of the richest people in Africa?




  • Well, that's exactly what Al-Hassan Dantata did. By dint of sheer hard work he went from being an Almajiri to being the wealthiest man (of any race ) in West Africa at the time of his death in the 1950s.




  • Below is the story of the Dantata/Dangote dynasty.







  • (This is an update of a thread that I created on March 12, 2012).


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  • Re: The Dantata/Dangote Story: How To Create A Dynasty Of Billionaires (2020) by naptu2: 1:56am



  • Part 1




  • Alhaji Alhassan Dantata





  • (1877-Aug 17th 1955). The wealthiest man in West Africa.




  • Alhaji Alhassan Dantata was a Nigerian businessman who was the wealthiest man in West Africa at the time of his death.







  • Ancestors and Heritage




  • Dantata’s father was Abdullahi, a man from the village of Danshayi, near Kano. Dantata was born in Bebeji in 1877, one of several children of Abdullahi and his wife, both of whom were traders and caravan leaders.




  • Bebeji was on the Kano to Gonja (now in northern Ghana) and Kano to Lagos routes. The people of Bebeji, at least those from the Zango (campsite) were great traders. Bebeji was considered a miniature Kano. There was a saying which went “If Kano has 10 kolas, Bebeji has 20 halves” or in Hausa: “Birni tana da goro goma, ke Bebeji kina da bari 20”. The town attracted many people of different backgrounds in the 19th century, such as the Yorubas, Nupes, Agalawas, etc. It was controlled by the Sarki (chief) of Bebeji who was responsible for the protection of Kano from attack from the southwest.




  • Alhassan was born into an Agalawa trading family. His father was a wealthy trader and caravan leader; Madugu Abdullahi while his mother was also a trader of importance in her own right enjoying the title of Maduga – Amarya. Abdullahi, in his turn, was a son of another prosperous merchant, Baba Talatin. It was he who brought the family from Katsina, probably at the beginning of the nineteenth century, following the death of his father, Ali.




  • Abdullahi already had a reputation of some wealth from his ventures with his father and therefore inherited his father’s position as a recognised and respected madugu. Like his father, he preferred the Nupe and Gonja routes. He specialised in the exchange of Kano dyed cloth, cattle, slaves and so on for the kola of the Akan forest. Surprisingly, he had added cowries brought to the coast by European traders to the items he carried back to Kano.




  • Abdullahi continued to operate from Madobi until 1877, one of our few fixed dates when having just set out for a journey to Gonja, his wife delivered in the Zango (campsite) of Bebeji. The child was a boy and after the usual seven days, he was named Alhassan. Abdullahi purchased a house in the town and left his nursing wife and child to await his return from Gonja. On his return, he decided to abandon Madobi and moved to Bebeji. Some say that the house that contains his tomb is still held by the family. The date of his death is unknown, but it was probably about 1885 when Alhassan was between seven and eight years of age. By then he had brothers and sisters – Shuaibu, Malam Jaji, Malam Bala, Malam Sidi and others.







  • Early life




  • The children were too young to succeed to their father’s position and to manage his considerable wealth. They all received their portion according to Islamic law. Maduga Amarya, like her mother in law, was a trader of wealth in her own right. Indeed she was known to be such a forceful character that nobody in the Zango would take her to wife. She therefore decided to leave the children in Bebeji, in the care of an old slave woman, while she moved to Accra where she became one of the wealthier Hausa traders.




  • The slave was known as “Tata” from which circumstance young Alhassan became known as Alhassan Dantata because of her role as his ‘mother’ (” Dantata” means “son of Tata”).




  • Alhassan was sent to a Qur’anic school (madrasah) in Bebeji and as his share of his father’s wealth (as so often happens), seemed to have vanished, he had to support himself. The life of the almajiri (Qur’anic student) is difficult, as he has to find food and clothing for himself and also for his malam (teacher) and at the same time read. Some simply beg while others seek paid work. Alhassan worked and even succeeded at the insistence of Tata in saving. His asusu, “money box” (a pottery vessel) purchased by Tata and set in the wall of the house can still be seen.




  • When he was about 15 years of age, Alhassan joined a Gonja bound caravan to see his mother. He purchased some items from Bebeji, sold half of them on the way and the rest in Accra. When he saw his mother, he was very delighted hoping she would allow him to live without doing any work since she was one of the wealthier local traders. After only a rest of one day, she took him to another malam and asked him to stay there until he was ready to return to Kano and he worked harder in Accra than he did in Bebeji. After the usual reading of the Qur’an, Alhassan Dantata had to go and beg for food for his malam, and himself. When he worked for money on Thursdays and Fridays, Alhassan Dantata would not be allowed to spend the money for himself alone, his malam always took the lion’s share (this is normal in Hausa society). After the visit, his mother sent him back to Bebeji where he continued his studies. Even though now a teenager, Tata continued to insist that he must save something everyday.










  • Upheavals and slavery




  • When he was still a teenager, great upheavals occurred in the Kano Emirate. This included the Kano Civil War (1893-1894) and the British invasion of the emirate. During the Kano Civil war, Alhassan and his brothers were captured and sold as slaves, but they were able to buy back their freedom and return to Bebeji shortly afterwards.










  • Business career




  • Alhassan remained in Bebeji until matters had settled down and the roads were secure, only then did he set out for Accra, by way of Ibadan and Lagos (Ikko) and then by sea to Accra and then to Kumasi, Sekondi and back to Lagos. Alhassan was one of the pioneers of this route. For several years, he carried his kola by sea, using steamers; to Lagos where he usually sold it to Kano bound merchants. By this time, he was relatively wealthy. In 1906, he began broadening his interests by trading in beads, necklaces, European cloth, etc. His mother, who had never remarried, died in Accra around 1908 and he thereafter generally restricted his operations to Lagos and Kano, although he continued to visit Accra.




  • Thus far in his career, with most of his fellow long distance traders, he continued to live in one of the towns some distance from Kano City, only visiting the Birni for business purposes. Before Alhassan settled in Kano permanently, he visited Kano City only occasionally to either purchase or sell his wares. He did not own a house there, but was satisfied with the accommodation given to him by his patoma (land lord.). It was during the time of the first British appointed Emir of Kano; Abbas (1903-1919) that Alhassan decided to establish a home in Kano. He purchased his first house in the Sarari area (an extension of Koki). At that time there were no houses from the house of Baban Jaki (at the end of Koki) up to Kofar Mazugal. In fact the area was called Sarari because it was empty and nobody wanted that land. Alhassan built his first house on that land and was able thereafter to extend it freely.




  • In 1912, when the Europeans started to show an interest in the export of groundnut, they contacted the already established Kano merchants through the Emir, Abbas and their chief agent, Adamu Jakada. Some established merchants of Kano like Umaru Sharubutu, Maikano Agogo and others were approached and accepted the offer.




  • Later in 1918, Alhassan was approached by the Niger Company to help purchase groundnuts for them. He was already familiar with the manner by which people made fortunes by buying cocoa for Europeans in the Gold Coast. He responded and participated in the enterprise with enthusiasm, he had several advantages over other Kano business men: he could speak some English because of his contact with the people on the coast, thus he could negotiate more directly with the European traders for better prices. He also had accumulated a large capital and unlike other established Kano merchants, had only a small family to maintain, as he was still a relatively young man. Alhassan had excellent financial management, was frugal and unostentatious. He knew some accounting and with the help of Alhaji Garba Maisikeli, his financial controller for 38 years, every kobo was accounted for every day. Not only that, Alhassan was hard working and always around to provide personal supervision of his workers. As soon as he entered the groundnut purchasing business, he came to dominate the field. In fact by 1922 he became the wealthiest businessman in Kano. Umaru Sharubutu and Maikano Agogo were relegated to the second and the third positions respectively. When the British Bank of West Africa was opened in Kano in 1929, he became the first Kano businessman to utilize a bank account when he deposited twenty camel loads of silver coins. Shortly before his death, he pointed to sixty “groundnut pyramids” in Kano and said, “These are all mine”.












  • Alhassan became the chief produce buyer especially of groundnuts for the Niger Company (later U.A.C). It is said that he used to purchase about half of all the nuts purchased by U.A.C in northern Nigeria. Because of this, he applied for a license to purchase and export groundnuts in 1940 just like the U.A.C. However, because of the great depression and the war situation, it was not granted. Even Saul Raccah lost his license to export and import about this time because he did not belong to the Association of West African Merchants. In 1953-4 he became a licensed buying agent (L.B.A) that is, a buyer who sells direct to the marketing board instead of to another firm. However, Alhassan had many business connections both in Nigeria and in other West African countries, particularly the Gold Coast. He dealt, not only in groundnuts, but also in other merchandise. He traded in cattle, kola, cloth, beads, precious stones, grains, rope and other things. His role in the purchase of kola nuts from forest areas of Nigeria for sale in the North was so great, that eventually whole “kola trains” from the Western Region were filled with his nuts alone.




  • When Alhassan finally settled in Kano, he maintained agents, mainly his relations, in other places. For instance Alhaji Bala, his brother, was sent to Lagos. Alhassan employed people, mainly Igbos and Yoruba’s and the indigenous Hausas, as wage earners. They worked as clerks, drivers, and labourers. Some of his employees, especially the Hausas, stayed in his house. He was responsible for their marriage expenses. They did not pay rent and in fact, were regarded as members of his extended family. He sometimes provided official houses to some of his workers.







  • People’s opinion of Alhassan Dantata differed. To some people, he was a mutumin kirki (complete gentleman) who was highly disciplined and made money through hard work and honesty. He always served as an enemy to, or a breaker of hoarding. For instance, he would purchase items, especially grains, during the harvest time, when it was abundant at low prices. He would wait until the rainy season, (July or august) when there was limited supply in the markets or when grain merchants started to inflate prices. He then moved to fill the markets with his surplus grains and asked a price lower than the current price in the markets by between 50 – 70%. In this way, he forced down prices. His anti- hoarding activities did not stop at grains and other consumer goods, but even to such items as faifai, igiya, babarma (Mat), dyed cloth, shuni, potash, and so on. However on the other hand, according to information collected in Koki, Dala, Qul-qul, Madabo, Yan Maruci e.t.c Alhassan was viewed as a mugun mutum (wicked person). This was because some people expressed the view that Dantata undercut their prices simply to cripple his fellow merchants.




  • He founded, with other merchants (attajirai), the Kano Citizens’ Trading Company, for industrial undertakings. In 1949, he contributed property valued at ₤10,200 (ten thousand, two hundred pounds) to the proposed Kano citizens trading company for the establishment of the first indigenous textile mill in Northern Nigeria. Near the end of his life he was appointed a director of the Railway Corporation.







  • Real estate




  • He started to acquire urban land as early as 1917 in the non- European trading site (Syrian quarters) when he acquired two plots at an annual fee of ₤20. All his houses were occupied by his own people; relations, sons, servants, workers and so on. He never built a hotel for whatever purpose in his life and advised his children to do like wise. His numerous large warehouses in and around Kano metropolis were not for rent, rather he kept his own wares in them.







  • Business with women




  • Because of his Islamic beliefs, Alhassan never transacted business with a woman of whatever age. His wife, Hajiya Umma Zaria, (mother of Aminu) was his chief agent among the women folk. The women did not have to visit her house. She established agents all over Kano city and visited them in turn. When she visited her agents, it was the duty of the agents to ask what the women in the ward wanted. Amina Umma Zaria would then leave the items for them. All her agents were old married women and she warned her agents to desist from conducting business with newly wedded girls. Umma Zaria dealt in the smallest household items, which would cost 2.5 d to sophisticated jewels worth thousands of pounds.


  • The manners of Alhassan Dantata








  • Though Alhassan became the wealthiest man in the British West African colonies, he lived a simple life. He fed on the same foodstuffs as any other individual, such as tuwon dawa da furar gero. He dressed simply in a white gown, a pair of white trousers (da itori), and underwear (yar ciki), a pair of ordinary local sandals, and sewn white cap, white turban and occasionally a malfa (local hat). He was said never to own more than three sets of personal clothing at a time. He never stayed inside his house all day and was always out doing something. He moved about among his workers joking with them, encouraging and occasionally giving a helping hand. He ate his meal outside and always with his senior workers like Garba Maisikeli and Alhaji Mustapha Adakawa. Alhassan met fully established wealthy Kano merchants when he moved to Kano from the Kauye, like Maikano Agogo, Umaru Sharubutu, Salga and so on. He lived with them peacefully and always respected them. Occasionally he visited the senior of them all Umaru Sharubutu to greet him. The eldest son of Umaru Sharubutu became an important employee in his commercial enterprise. He avoided clashes with other influential people in Kano. He hated court litigation. He was in court only once, but before the final judgment the case was settled outside a Lagos court (it was a ₤10,000 civil suit instituted by one Haruna against him). He lived peacefully with the local authorities. Whenever he offended the authorities he would go quietly to solve the problems with the official concerned.







  • Health




  • Alhassan enjoyed good health and was never totally indisposed throughout his active life. However, occasionally he might develop malaria fever and whenever he was sick, he would go to the S.I.M clinic for treatment. Because of his simple eating habits, ordinary Hausa food two or three times a day and his always active mode of life, he never developed obesity. He remained slim and strong throughout his life. Alhassan had no physical defects and enjoyed good eye sight.







  • Religion




  • Alhassan was a devout Muslim. He was one of the first northerners to visit Mecca via England by mail boat in the early 1920’s. He loved reading the Qur’an and Hadith. He had a personal mosque in his house and established a qur’anic school for his children. He maintained a full time Islamic scholar called Alhaji Abubakar (father of Malam Lawan Kalarawi, a renowned Kano public preacher).




  • He paid zakkat annually according to Islamic injunction and gave alms to the poor every Friday. He belonged to the Qadiriyya brotherhood.







  • Pilgrimage and presentation to the King




  • Soon after the First World War he went on the pilgrimage to Mecca, via Britain, where he was presented to King George V.







  • Education




  • Alhassan Dantata respected people with qur’anic and other branches of Islamic learning, and helped them occasionally. He established a qur’anic school for his children and other people of the neighbourhood. He insisted that all his children must be well educated in the Islamic way. He appreciated also, functional western education, just enough to transact business (some arithmetic, simple accounting, Hausa reading and writing and spoken English).




  • Alhassan backed the establishment of a western style school in the Dala area for Hausas (i.e. non-Fulani) traders’ children in the 1930’s. The existence of a school in Bebeji (the only non-district headquarters in Kano to have one in the 1930’s) was probably due to his influence, although he could neither read nor write English. Alhassan could write beautiful Ajami, but could not speak or write Arabic, although he could read the Qur’an and other religious books with ease (this is very common in Hausa society). Most of the qur’anic reciter’s could read very well, but could not understand Arabic. Alhassan Dantata knew some arithmetic-addition and subtraction and could use a ready reckoner. He also encouraged his children to learn enough western education to transact business, the need of his time. He established his own Arabic and English school in 1944, Dantata Arabic and English school.







  • Politics




  • He never became a politician in the true sense of the term. However, because of his enormous wealth, he was always very close to the government. He had to be in both the colonial government’s good books and maintain a position very close to the emirs of Kano. He was nominated to represent commoners in the reformed local administration of Kano and in 1950 was made a councillor in the emir’s council- the first non- royal individual to have a seat at the council. Other members of the council then were: Madakin Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa, Walin Kano, Malam Abubakar Tsangaya, Sarkin Shanu, Alhaji Muhammadu Sani, Wazirin Kano Alhaji Abubakar, Makaman Kano Alhaji Bello Alhaji Usman Gwarzo, and the leader Alhaji Abdulllahi Bayero. Alhassan therefore was a member of the highest governing body of Kano in his time. He was also appointed to mediate between NEPU and NPC in Kano in 1954 together with Mallam Nasiru Kabara and other members. He joined no political party, but it is clear that he sympathised with the NPC.







  • Death




  • In 1955, Alhassan fell ill and because of the seriousness of the illness, he summoned his chief financial controller, Garba Maisikeli and his children. He told them that his days were approaching their end and advised them to live together. He was particularly concerned about the company he had established (Alhassan Dantata & Son’s). He asked them not to allow the company to collapse. He implored them to continue to marry within the family as much as possible. He urged them to avoid clashes with other wealthy Kano merchants. They should take care of their relatives, especially the poor among them. Three days later he passed away in his sleep on Wednesday 17th august, 1955. He was buried the same day in his house in Sarari ward, Kano. When he died in August 1955, he was the wealthiest man of any race in West Africa.







  • Heirs




  • It was and is rare for business organizations to survive the death of their founders in Hausa society. Hausa tradition is full of stories of former successful business families who later lost everything. In Kano city alone names like: Kundila of Makwarari, the wealthiest man at the end of nineteenth century, Maikano Agogo of Koki Ward, Umaru Sharubutu also of Koki Ward, Baban Jaji, Abdu Sarki of Zaitawa Ward, Madugu Indo of Adakawa, and others too numerous to mention here, were some of them. The question is, why this sorry state of affairs?




  • M.G Smith suggested that three reasons were responsible as follows: the amount of money spent by the wealthy Hausa man on religious and social obligations was so great that only large fortunes could survive. Secondly, he was, after the introduction of the colonial economy, dependent for credit facilities on good relations with expatriate firms and stable groups of reliable agents and thirdly, under Islamic law, his estate was subdivided on inheritance.







  • He further suggested that only Alhassan of Kano was likely to leave able heirs to continue his business in a grand way. This observation was made in 1949 before Alhassan’s death. The reasons for this, Smith argued, was that his heirs were interested in keeping the family name going and the employment of modern methods of book keeping, the only local merchant to do so at that time. Another observer, Tahir (1919-75) has the opinion that business ventures in Hausa society often collapsed upon the death or retirement of the founder because the heirs were not trained before the death or retirement of the founder. Alhassan Dantata’s entire estate was subdivided according to Islamic law among the eighteen children who survived him.










  • Alhassan’s descendants include Alhaji Aminu Dantata (son), Sanusi Dantata (son), Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata (grandson), Hajia Mariya Sanusi Dangote (granddaughter), Alhaji Aliko Dangote (great-grandson), Alhaji Tajudeen Aminu Dantata (grandson), Alhaji Sayyu Dantata (great-grandson) and Halima Dangote (great-great-granddaughter).









  • Alhaji Aminu Alhassan Dantata





  • (May 1931-)


  • (Aliko Dangote’s granduncle)



  • Alhaji Aminu Alhassan Dantata (CON) is a wealthy Nigerian businessman and philanthropist from Kano.

  • Dantata And Sons





  • Dantata And Sons




  • Alhaji Aminu Dantata was born in Kano to legendary businessman Alhassan Dantata and Amina Umma Zaria. He began his career in 1949 as a produce buyer in the family business of Alhassan Dantata and Sons Limited. His father died in 1955 and the shares in the business were subsequently distributed to the children. In 1958, Dantata became the deputy managing director of the business while his brother, Ahmadu, was the managing director. When Ahmadu died in 1960, Aminu Dantata became the chairman and managing director of the company, a position he holds till date.







  • Businesses




  • However, in the late 1960s, he worked with the newly created Kano State as a commissioner. He left in 1972 to partake in the nation’s industrial drive and was known to have bought shares in major companies including Mentholatum, Raleigh Industries, SCOA, Nigerian Pipes, Northern Nigeria Flour Mills and later, Kano State Oil Mills. During the period, the Dantata business expanded in the North, supplying fertilizer, jute bags, rice and cement to various state governments. It also expanded its importing ventures by bringing in building materials and automobiles, in the case of the latter; it was a distributor of Mercedes Benz cars in the country.




  • The business also invested in large scale farming, with holdings in Asada Farms. The building and construction division of the firm was responsible for building the Defence Academy in Kaduna, extension of the Ahmadu Bello University and building the Nigerian Civil Aviation College in Zaria. The technical division traded in WARD generators and Barford construction equipment and the firm also maintained a terminal at the Warri Port. Alhaji Dantata was a member of the Steering Committee of the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank Limited, and served as a director of the bank between 1962 and 1966. He has led several trade missions to several countries across the world. Alhaji Dantata is the founder of Express Petroleum & Gas Company Ltd and he is also a director on the board of Jaiz Bank, Nigeria’s first Islamic bank.







  • The Donation Circuit




  • He was noted, together with Chief M.K.O Abiola, as being one of the wealthiest Nigerians in the 1970s, 1980s & 1990s. Alhaji Dantata was a part-time member of what I call the “Donation Circuit”. The donation circuit was not a formal organisation, but it’s the way that I refer to a phenomenon that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s (the Babangida era).




  • Some of Nigeria’s wealthiest men in Nigeria were often invited to specific events in which they donated large sums of money. These events included fund raising in churches and mosques, university convocations, book launching and fund raising activities by universities, secondary schools, community development associations and charities.




  • It was usually the same set of people that were invited to these events. The president was usually the special guest of honour (when he was invited), the governor was usually the chief host, the head of the institution was usually the host, Chief M.K.O. Abiola was usually the chief launcher and other members of the donation circuit were usually special guests.




  • There was a day that I watched the 9 o’clock news and there was an advert for one of these events and the invited guests were listed. There was another advert immediately after and the list of invited guests was almost exactly the same as the list in the previous advert.




  • The members of the donation circuit included Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaji Aminu Dantata, Chief Sunny Odogwu, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, Chief Razak Okoya, Prince Adedapo Tejuosho, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, Prince Adekunle Ojora, Chief Onwuka Kalu (Onwuka Inter-Biz), Alhaji Ahmed Mai Deribe, Chief Michael Ibru, Dr Alex Ibru, Chief Sunny Okogwu, Chief Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo, Alhaji Grema Mohammed, Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Alhaji Isyaku Rabiu, Dr Olusola Saraki, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, etc.




  • Sometimes, when the event was a book launch, one of the members of the donation circuit would buy a large number of the books and donate them to the libraries of all universities in Nigeria (or the libraries of all secondary schools in Nigeria).




  • There was a funny incident that occurred at one of these events. Alhaji Aminu Dantata was often invited to these events, but he was not a regular member of the donation circuit. He only attended the events occasionally. I remember what happened at an occasion that he attended.




  • Chief Abiola had already announced his donation before Dantata was invited to make his donation. Alhaji Dantata’s donation was slightly higher than Chief Abiola’s. Sometime later Chief Abiola came back to the microphone and announced that he was going to pledge more money later.





  • The past and the present: Seated is the acclaimed richest man in Nigeria in the 1970s, Alhaji Aminu Dantata and squatting in front of him is the current richest man in Nigeria, Alhaji Aliko Dangote (Aminu Dantata’s brother’s grandson).







  • Philanthropy




  • He is currently the Chancellor of Katsina Islamic University and the patron of the Kano State Foundation. The foundation engages in the provision of social services and credit to Kano State indigenes. He donated the Alhassan Dantata Haemodyalysis Center to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (it is one of the best hospitals for the treatment and management of kidney diseases in Nigeria). In 2019 he also donated ₦50 million, toilets & boreholes to Government Girls Secondary School, Dala in Kano and then he donated another ₦50 million to the Old Girls Association of the school. In 2018 President Muhammadu Buhari commended him for his philanthropic gestures after he donated an inclusive lying-in-ward, Amenity Rooms and the Intensive Care Unit at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dala, Kano State. Alhaji Dantata was a former member of the Kano Provincial Loans Board.





  • Alhaji Aminu Dantata and President Muhammadu Buhari.







  • Alhaji Dantata has also held several public offices, including Chairman, Board of Trustees, Islamic Forum of Nigeria, Aminu Kano Memorial College, Kano. He is the proprietor, Dantata Memorial School, Kano; Life patron, Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Kano, National Council of Farmers and the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industries among several others. He was associated, earlier in his life, with some Tijaniyya scholars, including Mohammed Kafanga.










  • Aminu Dantata’s visit to Abuja Centenary City in 2019 (he is being shown round the project by Alhaji Baba Alhassan Dantata (in brown traditional attire), the developer of the project).






  • Alhaji Aminu Dantata, his wives, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren and his great-great-grandchildren.



  • Part 3




  • Sanusi Dantata

  • (Aliko Dangote’s grandfather)








  • Sanusi Dantata (1919-1997) was a Nigerian entrepreneur and son of Alhassan Dantata.







  • Alhaji Sanusi Dantata only completed four years of studies at Dala Elementary School before leaving because his father preferred a career in trading to Western education for his children.




  • Businesses




  • When he was 16 years old, he was given a share of his father’s cattle business, the purchase of cattle in the north and transport by rail to Lagos for sale. Thereafter, he added groundnut produce buying and transport and haulage as part of his enterprise. However, he was forced to sell much of the transport and cattle business by 1947 and later added on real estate. He was in the real estate and groundnut business when his father died in 1955. His father left a will to be shared among his nineteen children and three wives following Maliki law. Dantata’s share of cash from the will was over $12,000 but he was already wealthy by that time. He used the inheritance to revive his transport and lorry business. In the 1960s, he was the largest licensed produce buying agent of groundnut in Nigeria. Alhaji Dantata was also a director of the Nigeria branch of Shell B.P. However, by 1980, he had relinquished some of his business interest to his sons, including the eldest, Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata, who co-founded Dantata and Sawoe and Asada Farms.







  • The Dantata family operated their businesses partly through a patrimonial system of credit allocation, trade and business transfers to kin, household and other members of their clientage. At one point in time, both Sanusi and his brother, Aminu controlled about 200 agents involved in buying Kola nut, Livestock, Ground nut and Merchandise. The system involved about five autonomous level of associates, agents, and farmers. Some members of these system engage in buying goods from restricted rural areas and transporting it to the city where another group of agents in the Urban area buys the goods and store them in stead for Dantata. Also the Dantata family through marriage and credit extension is linked with a few independent trading families in Kano and Northern Nigeria.





  • Alhaji Aliko Dangote (first left) with his grandfather, Sanusi Dantata (second left). The aircraft behind them belonged to Nasiru Dantata, owner of DantaCola soft drinks.







  • Islam




  • Sanusi Dantata was a personal friend of the Qadiriyya scholar, Ali Kumasi and supported some of the latter’s religious works in Kano. His support for Ali Kumasi led him into conflict with Nasiru Kabara, the leader of the Qadiriyya movement in Kano and West Africa and a former tutor of Sanusi. Both Kumasi and Dantata tried to promote an independent Qadiriyya scholarship and religious authority, challenging the leadership of Kabaya. However, by the early 1970s, both men joined the Kabara faction of Kano Qadiriyya.







  • Philanthropy




  • Sanusi Dantata was also charitable, by 1963, he was spending about 40,000 pounds each year in credit to friends and the poor and provided funds to each of his children and in-laws.


  • Part 4




  • Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata.











  • September 1 1945- February 7 2012 (Aliko Dangote’s uncle). He gave Aliko Dangote a business loan with which Dangote started the Dangote Group







  • The late Alhaji Dantata was born in Sarari Dantata Quarters in the ancient city of Kano to the famous Dantata family on September 1, 1945. He was the eldest son of Sanusi Dantata, son of business mogul and patriarch, Alhassan Dantata, but by dint of hard work, he built a stupendous fortune for himself.




  • Not even the family’s renowned business and trade patrimony, which had already guaranteed him a financially secure future, could stop the late Dantata from knowledge acquisition. This took him first to Sudan and then Kumasi, Ghana, where he obtained a certificate in advanced Islamic studies in 1956. Four years later, he returned to Nigeria to complete primary education at Kuka Primary School, Fagge in Kano. Unlike some of his peers, a thirst for knowledge nudged him on to acquire the Grade Two Teachers’ Certificate in 1968 before he joined the family business of cotton, groundnut and other agricultural products. In fact, the family business line was the largest licensed produce-buying agent of groundnut in Nigeria in the 1960s.







  • BUSINESS




  • Alhaji Dantata would not be content with that; he needed to express himself as he established his Dantata Land and Sea, a company that was into transportation, civil engineering and farming. The business initiatives further crystallised into one of the biggest construction firms – Dantata and Sawoe (founded in 1975) – which he partnered with German interests. As chairman of various business interests including the Asada Group, Brunelli Construction Co. Ltd, WJ Syndicate, Goguwasia Trading Company, Beijing-China, the sky was his limit. His business empire traversed construction, shipping, farming, trading and manufacturing.




  • Long before he died on February 7 this year, he had deservedly earned for himself the national award of the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) for his industry and contributions to the development of the country.




  • President Goodluck Jonathan led tributes to Alhaji Dantata when he passed away in 2012. A stream of eminent personalities and well wishers at his burial could have indicated his disposition to people and life generally. Dantata’s health challenges may have cut short his other taller ambitions, but he would remain a beacon of hope and inspiration to budding businessmen.











  • President Jonathan mourns Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata







  • Mariya Sanusi Dangote (nee Dantata)








  • Billionaire businesswoman, Mariya Dangote, is the daughter of Sanusi Dantata and granddaughter of legendary businessman Alhassan Dantata. She was married to Mohammed Dangote (a business associate of Alhassan Dantata) for whom she had Aliko Dangote, a multi-billionaire businessman. Her brother is Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata, one of the founders of Dantata & Sawoe Construction Company and Asada Farms.




  • She sits on the boards of numerous companies, including MRS Oil and Gas, Mentholatum Nigeria Limited and the Dangote group. She is also known for her philanthropy, donating a hospital, which she built at Rijiya Lemu, to the Kano State Government in 2003. She also built a mosque, known as the Danladi Nasidi Juma’at Mosque, in Kano State in 2017 and she also feeds an average of 5,000 people daily.








  • Mariya Sanusi Dangote and friends with the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II during the commissioning of a mosque that was donated by Hajia Dangote.





  • APC governors on a courtesy visit to Hajia Mariya Sanusi Dangote in 2017.



  • Part 6




  • Alhaji Aliko Dangote











  • Aliko Dangote was born in the northern Nigerian state of Kano on April 10, 1957 into a wealthy Hausa-Muslim family. His mother Mariya Sanusi Dantata was the granddaughter of legendary businessman Alhassan Dantata, and his father Mohammed Dangote was Dantata’s business associate.




  • Dangote had an early interest in business “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.” He attended the Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt (the oldest university in the world) studying business studies, before working for his uncle Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata who eventually gave him a business loan at the age of 21.







  • Dangote Group




  • Dangote started trading commodities and building materials in Kano in 1977. He moved to Lagos that summer and, encouraged by the success of his business ventures so far, incorporated two companies in 1981




  • The Dangote Group, originally a small trading firm founded in 1977, is now a multi-trillion-naira conglomerate with operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia, South Africa and Togo. Dangote’s businesses include food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group dominates the sugar market in Nigeria: it is the major sugar supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to Nigeria’s largest industrial group, including Dangote Sugar Refinery (the most capitalized company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, valued at over US$3 billion with Aliko Dangote’s equity topping US$2 billion), Africa’s largest Cement Production Plant: Obajana Cement, Dangote Flour amongst others.




  • Aliko Dangote has a knack for seeing opportunity that others can’t see. He approached the Nigerian Ports Authority with the idea of leasing an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, where he subsequently built facilities for his flour company. When other flour companies protested, the chairman of the NPA, Chief Olabode George stated that Dangote was the one who came up with the idea. Similarly, in the 1990s he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses.




  • Today Dangote Group dominates the sugar market in Nigeria and Dangote Sugar Refinery is the main supplier (70% of the market) to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioners. It is the largest refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Dangote Group also owns salt factories and flour mills and is a major importer of rice, fish, pasta, cement and fertilizer. The company also exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. Dangote Group also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas. It employs over 18,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa.




  • Dangote is branching into telecommunications and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria. He was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.




  • “[Nigerians] can be even bigger than me, ” he said “you just have to believe that yes, there is a future in this country of ours and I can tell you right now, I don’t believe we have even started doing anything in Nigeria because the opportunities are so enormous. I don’t even know where to start.




  • “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.”




  • The Dangote Group is currently building a refinery in the Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos. It will have a capacity to process about 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil when it is completed and it will be the largest single-train refinery in the world. The refinery was initially to have been built in Ondo State and it was scheduled to begin production in 2016, but negotiations with the host communities broke down and the project was moved to Lekki in Lagos and it is scheduled to begin production in 2021. The project site in Ibeju Lekki is larger than Victoria Island and it has its own deep sea jetty and will also include a fertiliser plant that is scheduled to begin production in 2020.







  • Political contributions and associates




  • Dangote played a prominent role in the funding of Obasanjo’s re-election campaign in 2003, to which he contributed over N200 million (US$2M). He gave N50 million (US$0.5M) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”, and contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These controversial gifts to members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party have contributed to concerns over continued graft despite highly publicized anti-corruption drive during Obasanjo’s second term. Alhaji Dangote was also one of the major players in getting President Umaru Yar’Adua elected.




  • Nigerians are generally proud of Dangote’s achievements, but many insist that his business acquisitions were unfairly gained due to his links with Nigeria’s ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo and that his virtual monopoly over much of Nigeria’s commodities is stifling competition. “I am close to people in government because I am one of the big businessmen in Nigeria,” he said. “If we don’t have the right people there then all the money I have is useless”.




  • The recent increase in cement prices, an industry dominated by Dangote Group, forced the government to allow cement imports in the hope that the competition would lower prices, much to the annoyance of Dangote. Dangote’s unanimous election as president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange further led to accusations of unfair business practice as two of his businesses are listed on the exchange.







  • Wealth




  • Worth $3.3 billion in 2008, Dangote was the richest black African to appear on Forbes’ Billionaire list and beat Oprah Winfrey to become the world’s richest black person. Alhaji Aliko Dangote has been a major player in Nigerian commerce since the 1970s and his business empire controls the import and export of a variety of products in West Africa. This led to speculation that he was the wealthiest African in the world, but he said, “I think I have to be rated by Forbes magazine first before I can be [called] the richest man in Africa.”




  • Dangote got his wish in 2008 when he debuted as the first Nigerian on the annual Forbes’ Billionaires list with a $3.3 billion fortune, and became the richest black person on the planet taking the title from media mogul Oprah Winfrey ($2.5 billion). He was ranked No. 334 in the world (No. 1 was America’s Warren Buffet with $62 billion), and although Egypt (The Sawiris family: $32 billion) and South Africa (The Oppenheimer family: $5.7 billion) had richer men, Aliko is the first African billionaire of fully Black African ancestry to be listed.




  • Sub-Saharan Africans were usually absent from Forbes magazine’s annual compilation of the world’s 1,000+ billionaires. Past African presidents like Congo’s Mobutu and Nigeria’s Sani Abacha probably became billionaires after pocketing their country’s wealth, but Forbes did not confirm or legitimise their money.




  • Dangote was the first verifiable Black African billionaire, with Patrice Motsepe of South Africa also on the list with $2.4 billion from his mining company. Forbes reportedly wanted to feature Dangote on the cover of the 2008 magazine but he politely declined.




  • He said he was grateful to God for the achievement: “The signs are very good for Nigeria. Next year, I expect at least five Nigerians to be on the list.”




  • But that was not to be as the 2009 list showed the effects of the global recession with many billionaires making huge loses or dropping off the list altogether. Aliko’s wealth fell to $2.5 billion owing to a 70% fall in share prices, but he moved up the world ranking to No. 261. The 2009 list also featured another Nigerian, oil magnate Femi Otedola with $1.2 billion.




  • Dangote controls much of Nigeria’s commodities trade through his corporate and political connections. With an estimated net worth of around US$ 2.5 billion (2009), he was ranked by Forbes as one of the richest black African citizens and the third richest person of African descent in the world behind Mohammed Al Amoudi ($9.0 billion) and Oprah Winfrey ($2.7 billion.).




  • In 2011, Dangote was ranked as the richest person of African descent, with an estimated worth of $13.8 billion, relegating Mohammed al Amoudi (12.3 billion) and Oprah Winfrey (2.7 billion) to second and third places respectively.




  • In the 2012 Forbes list, Dangote was ranked number 76 with a net worth of $11.2b. As of November 2019, he had an estimated net worth of US$8.9 billion and is ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 136th-richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa. He peaked on the list as the 23rd-richest person in the world in 2014.







  • Philanthropy




  • Alhaji Aliko Dangote has made the following donations:







  • ⚫ ₦2.5 billion to the national fund for flood victims in 2012.




  • ⚫ ₦430 million to Kogi flood victims.




  • ⚫ ₦100 million to Sokoto flood victims.




  • ⚫ $2 million to Pakistan’s flood victims.




  • ⚫ ₦120 million to fight famine in Niger.




  • ⚫ ₦600 million to women empowerment and free school feeding schemes in Kano State.




  • ⚫ 500 student capacity hall at Kano State University.




  • ⚫ ₦10 million annual scholarship for Benue students.




  • ⚫ $2 million to African Young Leaders fellowship in conjunction with the Forum For Young Global Leaders.




  • ⚫ $1 million towards education and women empowerment in Tanzania.




  • ⚫ ₦1 billion to states suffering from the Boko Haram insurgency.




  • ⚫ 1,000 bed hospital in Kano,




  • ⚫₦1.2 billion students hostel at the Ahmadu Bello University.




  • And many more.




  • In 1993 he established the Dangote Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Dangote Group, where yearly he spends millions for worthy causes such as contributions to educational and healthcare institutions, sinking of boreholes and giving of scholarships.




  • The Dangote Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have jointly pledged to donate huge sums of money towards the eradication of polio in Kano State.




  • He also established the Dangote Academy.


  • Alhaji Tajudeen Aminu Dantata.











  • Alhaji Tajudeen Aminu Dantata is the son of Alhaji Aminu Dantata and he was born in 1965.




  • Alhaji Tajudeen Dantata attended Saint Thomas Secondary School Kano, Victoria College in Alexandria Egypt and Manaret College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia before attending West London University, where he bagged a B.Sc in Business Studies in 1988.







  • He started his business career in the Dantata group as a group director in 1988 and was appointed the Group Managing Director in 1994. He has held the position since then, consolidating the group to what it is today- a conglomerate of successful companies.

  • Apart from his accomplishments in the Dantata group, Alhaji Tajudeen has also been representing the interests of the group in several Nigerian companies including Electric Metre Company of Nigeria (EMCON) of which he is the chairman and others like, Virgin Nigeria Airways, Mentholatum Nigeria Limited, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria and NAL Bank Plc where he is a director. He was also appointed chairman of the board of Starcomms, a leading CDMA telecommunications provider and he is currently the chairman of the board of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO).



  • As Group Managing Director of Dantata Organization, he has gathered a wealth of experience for over a decade in various sectors of the economy, which include oil exploration, manufacturing, banking and finance, import and export, farming as well as merchandising and commodity trading.

  • As a government appointee, he held various positions including Chairman, Kano State Tourism Board and Chairman, Kano State Housing Corporation. He is a member of the board of trustees of the American University of Nigeria (AUN). He has attended various courses both in Nigeria and overseas, one amongst many is the Petroleum Technology and Operations Overview (1992), in Houston, Texas, USA.

  • Alhaji Dantata presently serves as the President for TAMIDAN Group Nigeria Ltd, the parent company for Dantata Foods & Allied Products Ltd (DFAP).


  • Alhaji Tajudeen Aminu Dantata is a keen polo player.

  • Part 8

  • Alhaji Sayyu Dantata


  • Alhaji Sayyu Dantata is the great-grandchild of legendary Kano businessman, Alhaji Alhassan Dantata and he was born in 1969. He studied mechanical engineering and business administration in the United States, having attended Morris Brown College, Atlanta Georgia.

  • He started his career as the chief executive of Dangote Transport, the logistics division of the Dangote Group.

  • He realised the potential for diesel marketing when he found it difficult to procure fuel for the company’s huge fleet. The Nigerian government was the sole importer of diesel and there were chronic shortages of the product. Sayyu studied the complex allocation process and launched M.R.S Oil in 1993 with about ₦5 million start up capital. He started buying diesel from African Petroleum, Unipetrol and the Kaduna Refinery, but it took some time for the company to get a foothold in the market. At the initial stage, M.R.S even had to buy diesel from foreign firms who received allocations even though they had no offices in the country.

  • The company got its big break when it was hired by the NNPC in 1998 to evacuate Low Residue Stock, a by-product of the refining process. This was followed by a major order from Wale Tinubu, who gave him a big contract to supply diesel.

  • M.R.S had an annual turnover of ₦10 billion and shipped about 50,000 tonnes of diesel a month. The company stunned the industry when it acquired Chevron Texaco’s downstream assets for $1 billion (it was bidding against Femi Otedola’s Zennon Oil). The M.R.S group employed about 800 people.

  • Sayyu Dantata is very close to Aliko Dangote and Dangote backed him during his dispute with Femi Otedola, which led to some friction between Dangote and Otedola.


  • Alhaji Dantata served as the chairman of Chevron Oil Nigeria PLC from 03/2009–08/2012 and the chairman and CEO of MRS Nigeria PLC from 08/2012–07/2017. He has been the chairman of MRS Holdings since 2017. MRS Holdings group of companies include the likes of Corlay Global SA, Ovlas Trading SA and Ovlas Services Geneva. He is also a director of Hydro Alternative Energy, Inc.


  • Sayyu Dantata speaking about MRS Oil and Gas in 2012.


  • Social life and toys

  • Alhaji Sayyu Dantata was a regular on the celebrity pages of newspapers and magazines in the early and mid-2000s due to his relationship with Linda Mesrob.

  • Alhaji Dantata was in the news again in 2012 when Chris Brown stayed at his house on Banana Island. Chris Brown had come to Nigeria for a concert and the organisers had booked a suite at Eko Hotel for him, but he was not happy with the suite, so the organisers put him up at Sayyu Dantata’s house and he was really impressed. He took to Instagram to post about this big house that he was in in Nigeria (see the news HERE 
  • Sayyu Dantata also grabbed the headlines on all the blogs in 2019, during the massive Apapa traffic jam, when he flew himself to his Apapa office in a helicopter. This is a video of his staff hailing him as he landed in his helicopter.



  • Sayyu Dantata is a keen polo player and he plays in tournaments all over the world.


  • And this is what he does when he’s late for polo practi
  • He also arrived the Kaduna Polo Club for the Georgian Cup Competition in a helicopter, but there was almost a tragedy when he was leaving the club because the crowd refused to give enough space for the helicopter to take off and some people actually hung on to the helicopter’s landing skids as it took off. See the video below.

  • Part 9

  • Halima Aliko Dangote



  • Halima Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian businesswoman, philanthropist and entrepreneur. She is Aliko Dangote’s daughter and she holds a bachelors’ degree in marketing from the American Intercontinental University, London, United Kingdom (2005), and a masters’ in business administration obtained from Webster Business School, London, also in the United Kingdom (2006).

  • She is the Group Executive Director, Commercial Operations of Dangote Group. She also serves on the boards of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) and the National Salt Company of Nigeria (NASCON).

  • She started her career as a Business Analyst with KPMG Professional Services, Lagos, Nigeria, in 2007, and was primarily involved in business performance improvement processes, development of strategy and models for financial and operational improvements, policy formulation and implementation for public and private sector clients.

  • In 2008, she joined DIL as a Management Trainee, where she demonstrated competence that led to her being assigned the role of Special Assistant to the President/Chief Executive, with a wide span of responsibilities including attending all meetings—both local and international—with the President/Chief Executive, providing strategic support, and advising on strategy and management decisions.

  • Halima, who was later appointed pioneer MD/CEO of MHF Properties Limited, Lagos, Nigeria, in 2011, was responsible for setting up and managing the company. She was elevated to the position of Executive Director at NASCON, in 2013, and Executive Director, DIL, in 2014, with specific responsibilities that include: enhancing performance of DIL’s subsidiary companies by ensuring shared services across companies; supporting capital raising initiatives; and putting in place, Group-wide human resources and administration policies and systems.

  • She is, in addition, responsible for new business development and project management; working closely with the President/CE and other members of the Executive Team to develop geographic and sectoral expansion plans for the Group. She currently serves as a member of the project management team that is overseeing the development and financing of the Group’s newest businesses including an $8billion refinery and a $1.5billion fertiliser plant, both in Nigeria where she scrutinizes and monitor systems, process and outcome. She also represents DIL on the board of directors of NASCON, which generated revenues of $82million and profit after tax of $17million in 2012; focusing on quality, safety, performance and effective governance systems.

  • Halima was appointed a Trustee of the Dangote Foundation in 2011 with specific mandates that include helping to develop and shape the vision of the Foundation, and working closely with the head of the foundation to define the Foundation’s strategy, set annual targets, monitor performance and impact of grant recipients.


  • She has attended a number of high profile leadership development programmes both within and outside the country. Some of them include Programme for Leadership Development (PLD) of the Harvard Business School (ongoing); Executive Development Programme, Kellogg School of Management (2013); Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Executive, Columbia Business School (2013); and Company Direction Course, Institute of Directors Lagos, Nigeria (2012).

  • Halima is bringing her diverse international exposure to the business, which is currently at the cusp of a major expansion drive designed to position the Group as a Fortune 100 


  • Halima Dangote and her sisters, Fatima and Mariya.

  • Lessons from the Dantata/Dangote story:

  • 1) Do not get involved in partisan politics, but make sure you are close to the authorities (Chief MKO Abiola would have benefited from this advice).


  • 2) Do not be overly flamboyant or ostentatious (it breeds jealousy, envy and hatred). Again, Chief Abiola would have benefited from this advice.


  • 3) As a family unit, you gain more from cooperation than from conflict (he advised them to continue to marry within the family and to take care of the poorer members of the family). Note that Aliko Dangote worked for Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata and got a business loan from him. Sayyu Dantata worked for Aliko Dangote and got his business idea while serving as chief executive of Dangote Transport. Witness what is happening in the Abiola and Ibru families.


  • 4) Education is important. Make sure you know about the business you are involved in and that you have broad knowledge that would assist you in future. Alhassan had an advantage over other Kano merchants because he understood basic english and basic accounting, enough to help him in his dealings with others.

  • 5) Volume trading: As much as possible, make sure you are the dominant player in your area of business, such that you can control events and prices within that sector.

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