Kano City, the divorce capital of Nigeria: Why is divorce rate so high here?

Kano City, the divorce capital of Nigeria: Why is divorce rate so high here?

Divorce rates in Kano city, Northern Nigeria are very high. Hence, it is dubbed the ‘divorce capital’ of Nigeria. But there is a couple there, Mahmud Kabir Yusuf, 76 and Rabiatu Tahir (late sixties) who recently celebrated their 50 years of married life. What keeps them going? Why the divorce rates in that area is so high?

High divorce rates in Kano City

Kano City and Kano state in Northern Nigeria has acquired the nickname of the ‘divorce capital of Nigeria’. This is because the divorce rates in this most populous area of Nigeria began to rise in the 1990s and has continued to do so. The rise has not stopped.

Hassana Mahmud who hails from there is saddened to know about Kano’s nickname. She is 39 years old and five times married and divorced with four kids. She said:

My husbands were all nice and caring during courtship but changed after the wedding,”

Kano City
Kano City has high divorce rates (Source: Google Arts and Culture)

A 2022 survey of BBC with the local government showed that 32% of marriages in Kano collapse in 3-6 months. The shocking point was that people in 20-25 years age group already have had three marriages.

Reasons for high divorce rates of Kano

Most of the people in Kano marry young even before the stipulated age of 18. Therefore, they are ill-prepared for marriage. Many feel that the Islamic way of easy divorce is also responsible for the high divorce rates in Kano.

Moreover, Hadiza Ado, who founded the  organisation Women and Children Initiative opines:

“The troubling Nigerian economy is the number-one reason at the moment.”

“Husbands go out to make ends meet and sometimes come back home empty-handed, which causes rifts.”

Additionally, due to the predominant Muslim society, youngsters do not choose their partners but are matched by matchmakers. Hence, they know very little of their partner prior to marrying him or her. This also causes frictions post-marriage and separations.

Kano City
Nigerian women (Source: BBC)

Matchmaker Rabiu Ado says:

“A lot of people go into marriages with the wrong mindset, which is why they get disappointed after some time.”

He adds that most people do not take marriages in a serious way:

“I feel why divorce is high in Kano is because people feel I can always get another person after a divorce.”

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Islamic cleric Abdullahi Ishaq Garangamawa feels that young people of today misuse the ease of Muslim divorce for their selfish motives. He explains:

But in essence, unlike in some religions where it’s till death no matter the situation, Islam legalises divorce when things get out of hand.”

The love story of Mahmud Kabir Yusuf and Rabiatu Tahir

Though Mahmud Kabir Yusuf and Rabiatu Tahir are from Kano, but they have been happily married for the last fifty years. Mahmud attributes it to his wife’s generous nature:

“She is a very unselfish person and she overlooks a lot which has contributed to the success of our marriage,”

Rabiatu smiles and adds:

“He is a very patient man and I feel that was also key to our success,”

Kano City
Mahmud Kabir Yusuf and Rabiatu Tahir from Kano City celebrate 50th wedding anniversary (Source: BBC)

They respect and love each other and enjoy each other’s company. Mahmud elaborates:

Love is also key because when you love each other genuinely you tend to stay together.”

His advice to youngsters is:

“My advice to people getting married is not to get into it for selfish reasons but go into it with genuine intentions.”

Agreeing, Rabiatu adds:

“My own advice is that people wanting to get married have to be patient with each other – if one partner is angry, the other should be calm.”

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