The Hausa are one of the largest Islamic people groups in west Africa. The Hausa language is a linga franca for trading and commerce within the Sahel. Historically based around 7 kingdoms in Northern Nigeria and Niger, the Hausa were one of the largest ethnic groups to use the takouba, with an emphasis on heavy cavalry. Hausa cities like Kano were centers for the mounting of blades and exporting takouba to the entire Sahel region. While Kano imported blades, other cities like Damagaram (Zinder) had good quality iron ore deposits nearby and produced good quality sword blades and even cannon.