Sukur boy - 921812c

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Click for the 2010 film, The 13 Months of Sukur ...

In 1999 UNESCO inscribed Sukur, located in the Mandara mountains of northeast Nigeria, on the World Heritage List. The citation calls it an exceptional landscape illustrating a form of land-use that marks a critical stage in human settlement and its relationship with its environment. The cultural landscape of Sukur is also eloquent testimony to a strong and continuing spiritual and cultural tradition that has endured, while constantly adapting, for centuries.       Click on the UNESCO document to read relevant sections.

The house of the chief 921419

Sukur is an anomaly among World Heritage sites in that it is virtually unknown beyond its immediate area. This website is being developed to introduce Sukur to the wider world by assembling as much information on its unique society and rich, self-reliant culture as is available in archives, publications, and the data collected by Nic David and Judy Sterner. Other materials, much hopefully contributed by Sukur, will be added as they become available.

! ! ! Sukur and Boko Haram ! ! !

In 2014 Sukur was, like many other Nigerian communities, towns and cities, brutally and viciously attacked by Boko Haram as is described here. In April 2015 the Nigerian military and allies succeded in driving Boko Haram out of Adamawa state (though not completely from neighboring Borno) and its inhabitants began to rebuild their houses, lives and communities. Their remarkable achievements over the past year and a half testify to the resilience and courage of the people affected. Nonetheless, since international and national aid has been limited and focused on the big refugee camps in Maiduguri, Yola, Minawao (Cameroon) and elsewhere, and since Boko Haram had destroyed much of the economic and social infrastructure, this has been a slow process. However in late August and early September 2016 Sukur was able to celebrate the biennial 'Ber ceremony, which was extremely well attended, with some 200 youths initiated into manhood. Although much remains to be done, including the rebuilding of schools and some World Heritage features, an important page has been turned.

Further information on the Boko Haram insurgency and the response to it is available at and through


The research upon which this web site is founded was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada in the form of grants to the Mandara Archaeological Project (1984-present). Judy Sterner's fieldwork was funded in part by the School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of London. Branwen Hennig and James Wade contributed photographs, and Ekkehard Wolff and Paul Newman provided wordlists of the Sukur language. We are grateful to the Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments and to their staff for permissions and assistance. Our greatest debt is of course to Hidi (chief) Gezik Kanakakaw of Sukur, to his people and to our Sukur assistants, all of whom graciously received us and made our stays at Sukur the supreme fieldwork experiences of our lives. Hanu vena!

We also thank the University of Calgary for its long term support of the Mandara Archaeological Project and for the hosting of this site.

Copyright notice

The material on this website is protected by copyright. Short extracts and up to five images may be freely used by individuals for personal and educational purposes without permission. More extensive use requires permission and fees are charged for commercial use, with the proceeds less expenses going to benefit the people of Sukur. All such requests should be directed to Nicholas David, Archaeology Department, University of Calgary, Calgary AB, Canada T2N 1N4, or by email to .

UNESCO World Heritage document


Left: the residence of Chief Gezik Kanakakaw of Sukur in August 1992.



Sukur's location in Africa Sukur map link

CLICK on the map above and a large scale map of Sukur will open in a new screen. It is a big file that takes time to load. Please KEEP IT OPEN and refer to it as needed while you visit the site.



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