The Main Campus of Ahmadu Bello University is located in Samaru, a suburb of Zaria in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Samaru is situated on latitude 112o 12" N and longitude 07o 37" E, at an altitude of 550-700 meters. It is about 13km from Zaria-city on the Sokoto road, 8km to Shika and 7km from Bassawa. The Samaru town is the fourth and the most recent addition to the Zaria suburban area made up of Zaria-City, Tudun-Wada, the Government Reservation Area (GRA), and Sabon-Gari. Samaru evolved from a small colonial farming settlement to become a large community, a melting-pot, often referred to as "the University village". It is cosmopolitan in nature, drawing and fusing people of divergent national and international backgrounds.
Zaria itself is a very large, heterogeneous city whose 1.490,000 population comes from different parts of the world. It is second in size only to the State capital, Kaduna. Zaria is flasily accessible from different parts of the country by air via Kaduna, Kano, and Abuja and by rail and road via Kaduna, [os, Kano and Sokoto. Zaria is located on the high plains of Northern Nigeria, 652.6 Meters above the sea level, some 950km away from the coast (112 031N 7Q 42E). The Zaria region is characterized by gentle rolling plains dotted with groups of rocky residual hills developed on granite bedrock.
Zaria possesses a tropical continental climate with a pronounced dry season, lasting up to seven months (October - May). During the dry season, a cool period is usually experienced between November and February.' This emanates from the influence of the North-easterly winds (the Harmattan) which control the tropical continental air mass coming from the Sahara. This weather prevails over most parts of the country. The NE winds are characterized by hazy to dusty conditions and low temperatures, as low as 10o C at night. In the afternoons, up to 402C is sometimes recorded. The humidity also drops to less than 15% in December/January.
Zaria experiences a brief period of hot but dry weather in March and April, followed by a progressive incursion of tropical maritime air mass from the Atlantic Ocean which displaces the NE (Harmattan) winds. During this short period, the mean daily maximum temperatures are fairly stable, and they range from 38QC to 422C. After that, the South Westerly Monsoon winds laden with moisture bring the rain in thunderstorms and squalls with heavy fall of high intensities. The rainy season lasts from May to September/October with long-term annual rainfall of c.1040mm in about 90 rain days.
The relatively deep tropical ferruginous soils and climate conditions of Zaria are suitable for and sustain a good cover of savanna woodland (Northern Guinea Savanna) with a variety of grasses, woody shrubs and short trees. However, increase in human population with its concomitant demands for grazing, subsistent cultivation, fuel-wood, and poor land management have had great impact on the natural vegetation. Consequently, new plant communities are developing around the townships and the densely nested villages of Zaria. The present vegetation may thus be described as parkland with annual grasses/shrubby cover interspersed with trees of special food and economic values such as Parkia Clappertoniana Tamarinda indiana and shea butter trees.
The River Galma forms the main focus of the drainage systems in Zaria. Although the Galma carries water throughout the year, most of its tributaries such as the River Samaru dry up between January and June. The valleys of the streams to the North of Zaria are generally wide, shallow and not incised. To the west and north-west, the valley bottoms are alleviated and are singularly flat, wide and level. The soil in Samaru is made up of accumulated clay lying in a depth of between 36cm and 119cm.
Zaria As A Center of Learning
It was not by accident that Ahmadu Bello University was located in Zaria, a city that possesses different types of educational and research institutions. In terms of the diversity and size of student population, there is hardly any town in Nigeria which surpasses Zaria. The concentration of the institutions of higher learning has made Zaria famous regionally, nationally, and internationally. Indeed, this fame has its antecedent in the past when Birnin Zaria (Zaria-city) was a leading centre of learning in the Central Sudan.
Established in the fifteenth Century, Birnin Zaria is one of the oldest towns in Northern Nigeria. Zaria seems to owe its origins to the settlement of refugees who were uprooted by a series of raids launched from the expanding kingdom of Kano, but the status of the settlement was significantly elevated by its conversion into the capital of the emergent kingdom of Zazzau, Zaria's advantageous geographical location and its status as the capital city of a rapidly expanding kingdom ensured its steady growth. By the early part of the 16th century, Birnin Zaria had become sufficiently important to attract the attention of Leo Africanus, who described it as "a rich city with an extensive commercial network". This prosperity attracted immigrants from various parts of the Sudan, notably from Borno. By the 17th Century, several colonies of Borno immigrants were located both within and outside Zaria city. Other immigrants from the Western Sudan later joined these. By the 18th Century, the educational and Islamic activities of these immigrants made Zaria one of the leading centers of learning in Hausaland. Students and scholars from many places therefore frequented it. The location of the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria thus gives credence to the city's famous epitaph as the city of knowledge (Birnin llimi)