Alhassan Dantata

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Alhassan Sanusi Dantata (ca 1880-1955) was a businessman in the British West African colony of Nigeria.

Early life and early career

Dantata was born into an Agalawa trading family in his childhood town of Bebeji in what is now Kano State, both parents were traders, his father was Mallam Audu from the Madugu merchant family in Bebeji who became a prominent member of the Kano trading community at the end of the nineteenth century along with other traders such as Adamu Jakada, Umaru Sharabutu, Maikano Agogo and Alhaji Derma. His mother was in the cloth and Kola trade

Alhassan Dantata started trading at an early age and soon became a major kola nut trader (1903-1906?) apprenticing under his mother and later becoming an itinerant trader in long distance trade. The first goods he traded were poultry and eggs and then he considered buying and selling goats. While accompanying his mother on caravans in the trade routes to Ghana, he sometimes engaged in trading some of the caravans goods mostly cloths for which he was compensated, he also did odd jobs in Ghana. He later became and independent trader in Kola, cattle and and cloth, as an independent trader, he mastered the tacit but yet efficient method of transporting goods from Kano through Ibadan-Lagos and finally to Accra, Ghana. He was one of the pioneer merchants using this route and was fairly successful trading kola from Kano/Bebeji. By 1912, he had already acquired extensive business interest in Kumasi, Ghana. Soon After, Dantata dabbled into trading in western clothes, beads and necklaces and continued to enjoy relative success, a trading network was later developed in which imported goods were distributed for further sales within local agents and clients. In 1912, the start of the Kano railway gave Dantata an incentive to stay in Kano and trade in the potential lucrative business of Groundnut.

Groundnuts and other ventures

Around the time of Abbas, Emir of Kano (1903-1919), Dantata decided to leave Bebeji and make Kano his home. This gave him a wider exposure to the political charlatans of the era. In 1918 he became a groundnut produce agent for United African Company of Nigeria PLC. He chose to work with the company for different reasons, one was the successful precedent set by cocoa produce merchants in the Gold Coast. He later became the major Nigerian licensed buying agent in Northern Nigeria through this relationship. Dantata's success was enhanced because of the need of the European merchants who bought groundnuts to have Hausa middlemen with networks or knowledge of the producers. Many of the notable middlemen were given advances to purchase groundnuts and some succeeded in bargaining for the produce and pocketing the difference and importantly, they were able to negotiate agreements that wil give them a large proportion of the produce. Some of Dantata's agents that succeeded in generating increasing goods where rewarded with gifts or increased income.

Later in his career, Dantata was a board member of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and was a member of the Kano Chamber of Commerce