Alhassan Dantata (1877 –1955)
Alhassan Dantata is an ancestor of today’s Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.
Regarded as the richest man in the British West African colonies, in 1929, Dantata was reported to have deposited 20-camel-loads of silver coins in the newly opened Kano branch of Bank of West Africa.
He traded in groundnuts, kola, cattle, clothes, beads, precious stones, grains, ropes, and other merchandise across the region.
Although Dantata was one of the wealthiest men in the British West African colonies, he lived a simple life. He fed on the same foodstuff as any other individual. With other businessmen, Dantata was said to have founded the Kano Citizens’ Trading Company, established for industrial undertakings and in 1949, he donated property worth ₤10,200 to establish the first indigenous textile mill in the North.
By all accounts, Dantata was hard-working, frugal and unpretentious in his habits. He was also a good financial manager. He had the good sense to employ Alhaji Babba Na Alhassan, who served as his chief accountant and Alhaji Garba Maisikeli as his financial controller for 38 years. Dantata was involved in the work itself with his workers.
In 1955, Dantata fell ill. Because of the seriousness of his 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 & Sons). He asked them not to allow the company to collapse.
Three days later he died in his sleep on Wednesday, August 17, 1955. He was buried in his house in the Sarari ward.