Ground Nut Pyramids

Kano, Nigeria

Dismantled 1970s

The Disappointed Tourist: Ground Nut Pyramids, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The groundnut pyramids were structures made from sacks of groundnuts (peanut) built in Kano and other northern Nigerian cities. Their characteristic shape was the invention of Alhassan Dantata, a prominent groundnut trader. They were valued as tourist attractions and as a symbol of the prosperity brought by the groundnut industry. They were even featured on a postage stamp. They disappeared in the 1970s as the economy transitioned from agriculture to oil production. Since 2014, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have been working on restoring the groundnut industry and on rebuilding the pyramids. President Goodluck Johnson reiterated the government’s desire to rebuild the pyramids in a bridge dedication speech in 2015. The painting is based on an uncredited photograph from Wikipedia.

Requested by Anon.