Northern Nigeria’s most populous city, and the oldest city in West Africa, Kano is home to more than four million people. It was founded at a junction of ancient Sahara trade routes, and today it is the center of a major agricultural region where cotton, cattle, and peanuts are raised.
Northern Nigeria has been Muslim since the 12th century. While the nation’s constitution allows for religious freedom, including the practice of Christianity, the reality is that non-Muslims are strongly persecuted in the north. Anti-Christian riots in Kano in May 2004 killed more than 200 people, with many churches and other buildings burned.
Further rioting between Muslims and Christians took place in 2012. Sharia law has been imposed in the Muslim areas of the city. To further complicate the situation, Boko Haram leaders have vowed to take revenge on Christians. As a result, many Christian families have fled the area and moved to southern Nigeria.
While the situation in the north seems dire, Nigeria is home to the fourth largest number of evangelicals in the world. Catholics, Anglicans, traditional Protestants groups, and newer charismatic and Pentecostal groups are all growing.