Hausa Music Review: Everything You Need to Know About The Biggest Underrated Afro Music Genre

I have been wondering lately why, despite being one of the most spoken languages in Africa after Swahili, Hausa people’s music (Hausa music) is still not acknowledged by the majority of those music streaming services.

In this article, we’re going to cover a thorough, unambiguous, and honest review of Hausa Music and point out the ultimate reasons why it must have its own playlist and independent genre on all major streaming services.

{tocify} $=title{Table of Contents}

But before diving in to what we have here for, let’s briefly describe the Hausa language, people, and music and their popularity in a few paragraphs.

Hausa Language

The Hausa language is a Chadic language that is primarily spoken by the Hausa people. It is predominantly spoken in the northern region of Nigeria, as well as Ghana, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Niger, Chad, and Sudan. Additionally, there are significant populations of Hausa speakers in Ivory Coast.

Belonging to the Afroasiatic language family, Hausa is the most widely spoken language within the Chadic branch. According to Ethnologue, approximately 47 million people speak Hausa as their first language, and another 25 million speak it as a second language, bringing the total number of Hausa speakers to an estimated 72 million.

It is commonly stated that Hausa speakers can be found from Dakar to Port Sudan and from Leopoldville to Fez. In the 1840s, the adventurer Heinrich Barth was said to have taken his first Hausa lesson in Tunis. Bishop Tugwell of the Church Missionary Society traveled to Tripoli in 1890 to study Hausa before beginning their missionary work in the emirates of the Sokoto Caliphate.

In Nigeria, the Hausa-speaking film industry is known as Kannywood, which has a branch in Kano State.

The above-mentioned estimated number of native and non-native Hausa language speakers was no doubt estimated from 2006's Nigerian population census data, but based on accurate statistical data that will come out of 2023's Nigerian population census, I am sure Hausa speakers are more than 100 million.

What is more interesting is the fact that serious linguistic research on the language began in the mid-19th century with the works of the German missionary J.F. Schön. Hausa has been taught outside Africa since 1885, when the first course was offered in Berlin. Today Hausa is taught on a regular basis throughout the world, mainly at universities that have a department specializing in African languages. – According to Britannica

Hausa People

“The Hausa people are a native ethnic group in West and Central Africa. They speak the Hausa language, which is the second most spoken language after Arabic in the Afro-Asiatic language family. The Hausa are a diverse but culturally homogeneous people based primarily in the Sahelian and the sparse savanna areas of southern Niger and northern Nigeria respectively, numbering around 76 million people with significant indigenized populations in Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Togo, Ghana, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea,Gabon, Senegal and the Gambia.

“Predominantly Hausa-speaking communities are scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route north and east traversing the Sahara, with an especially large population in and around the town of Agadez. Other Hausa have also moved to large coastal cities in the region such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Accra, Abidjan, Banjul and Cotonou as well as to parts of North Africa such as Libya over the course of the last 500 years. 

The Hausa traditionally live in small villages as well as in precolonial towns and cities where they grow crops, raise livestock including cattle as well as engage in trade, both local and long distance across Africa. They speak the Hausa language, an Afro-Asiatic language of the Chadic group. The Hausa aristocracy had historically developed an equestrian based culture. Still a status symbol of the traditional nobility in Hausa society, the horse still features in the Eid day celebrations, known as Ranar Sallah (in English: the Day of the Prayer). Daura city is the cultural center of the Hausa people. The town predates all the other major Hausa towns in tradition and culture. – (Wikipedia)

Hausa Music

The Hausa people are widely considered as one of the largest ethnic groups in various West and Central African nations, including Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Sudan, Cameroon, and more. Their folk music has undeniably played a significant role in the evolution of Nigerian music, incorporating unique elements like the Goje, which is a one-stringed fiddle. Traditional Hausa music can be broadly categorized into two distinct styles: rural folk music and urban court music. Moreover, they also paved the way for the emergence of African pop culture, which remains an immensely popular genre in modern times. 

Rokon fada, also known as ceremonial music, is primarily performed to display status and prestige, and the selection of musicians is often influenced by political considerations rather than musical talent. This type of music is commonly played during the weekly sara, an event held every Thursday evening where the emir asserts his authority. 

In the grandeur of Hausa  royal courts, an esteemed class of praise-singers, led by the legendary Narambada, were wholly dedicated to exalting the noble qualities and achievements of their patrons, including sultans and emirs. These musical performances were enriched by the accompanying sounds of kettledrums, kalangu talking drums, and the melodious notes of the kakaki, a long trumpet that traces its roots back to the cavalry trumpets of the Songhai Empire.

Rural folk music includes styles that accompany the young girls' asauwara dance and the bòòríí or Bori religion both well known for their music. It has been brought as far north as Tripoli, Libya by trans-Saharan trade. The bòòríí cult features trance music, played by calabash, lute or fiddle. During ceremonies, women and other marginalized groups fall into trances and perform odd behaviors, such as mimicking a pig or sexual behavior. These persons are said to be possessed by a character, each with its own litany (kírààrì). There are similar trance cults (the so-called "mermaid cults") found in the Niger Delta region.

“Popular Hausa music artists include Muhamman Shata, who sings accompanied by drummers, Dan Maraya, who plays a one-stringed lute called a kuntikii, Audo Yaron Goje, who plays the goje, and Ibrahim Na Habu, who plays a small fiddle called a kukkuma. – (Wikipedia)

International Broadcasting Services in Hausa Language

The Hausa language is one of the few in Africa that attracts the attention of several international radio stations. We have the Voice of America, VOA, Hausa Service, which has been transmitting news in Hausa for 41 years. Since 1957, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, Hausa Service, has broadcasted news in Hausa. (63 years). 

They are also available on "Capital TV" Ghana. In Germany, Deutech Welle Radio, DW Hausa service, has been broadcasting news in Hausa Language since 1953 (67 years), similar to Radio Moscos World Service, Hausa 1961; Radio Sin (China) International, Hausa, 1941; Radio Libya, Hausa; Radio Tehran (Iran) IRIB, Hausa; Radio TRT Hausa and Radio Muryan Alkahira, Egypt, and Radio France International 2007 and others.

Turkish Radio (TRT) has established and launched its first Hausa Service with the goal of covering positive news in Africa - business and employment prospects. There are cultural values, sports, advancements, and people working in artificial intelligence. TRT Hausa Service will cover these topics.

The Need of Recognizing Hausa Music as an Independent Genre on Music Streaming Platforms

Hausa music, like any other music genre, has its own unique characteristics and cultural significance. Here are some reasons why Hausa music deserves to have its own genre on popular music streaming services:

Unique Sound: Hausa music has a distinct sound that sets it apart from other genres. Its traditional version of music is characterized by the use of traditional instruments such as the kora, ngoni, and balafon, as well as the incorporation of traditional Hausa melodies and rhythms. Currently, it is seeing a surge in popularity with its own modern Hausa Pop, Rap, Praise, and Nanaye sub-genres.

Cultural Significance: Hausa music is an important part of the cultural heritage of the Hausa people. It reflects their values, beliefs, and way of life and is often used to celebrate important events such as weddings, births, and festivals and others.

Regional Diversity: The Hausa people are spread across West Africa, and each region has its own unique style of music. By having its own genre on streamin platforms, Hausa music can be more accurately categorized and recognized for its regional diversity.

Commercial viability: By having its own genre on streaming platforms, Hausa music can attract a wider audience and generate more revenue for artists and the industry. It can also provide opportunities for international collaboration and exposure.

Preservation of Tradition: By having its own genre, Hausa music can be preserved and passed down to future generations. It can also serve as a platform for the development and evolution of traditional music and modern music, while still maintaining its cultural roots.

 Abba Abdullahi Garba wrote from Zugachi, Kano, Nigeria. He can be reached via

Previous News Next News