Mumuye people

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The Mumuyes are a people of Nigeria. They speak the Mumuye language. They constitute the largest tribal group in Taraba State of Nigeria and form the predominant tribes found in Zing, Yorro, Jalingo, Ardo-Kola, Lau, Gassol, Bali and Gashaka, all of which are local government areas of the state. Mumuyes are also widely found in many parts of the neighboring Adamawa State.

The Chiefdom of Kwajji[edit]

Introduction[edit]

The chiefdom of Kwajji is a traditional administrative area created in the year 2005 by law of the Taraba state house of assembly along with a number of others in the state.

It forms with its counterpart the Mumuye chiefdom, a political territorial administrative area called Yorro local government council.

As a third class chiefdom, Kwajji is relatively little known both within the state and outside in greater Nigeria.

Kwajji in the chiefdom sense is a name connoting the amalgamation of several cultural, traditional and administrative areas into one entity. This comprises three distinctive clans of the Mumuye ethnic group namely Kwajji, Manang and Mika. The areas occupied by people of these three clans form the territorial entity of the chiefdom of Kwajji. In this light, it may be noted that the chiefdom derives its name from that of one of its component clans.

The chiefdom comprises three districts which in turn go by the clan names Kwajji, Manang, and mika that occupy the distinctive areas. By this development therefore, the name Kwajji may refer to either the district or its mother chiefdom. The persistence of this name Kwajji has its strength from the political evolution of the area that dates back the British colonial times. When they established at the beginning of the 20th century, all forms of administrative contact with this area in reference was centered in Kwajji village. It was from here that governance radiated to the two other clan areas of Manang and Mika.

The name[edit]

By way of historical analysis, several factors probably came into play for the adaptation and establishment of the name Kwajji.

The settlements of Kwajji clan people lay on the ancient Muri to Adamawa road cited by Ajayi Crowther in the 19th century. This made them an obvious point of contact with travelers of various nature, who came this way since those days.

Kwajji clan people were relatively the more docile and forthcoming in the area in government perception. This attracted the administration to use the village as a contact point being located on the plains near the Mumuye hills which by then was defined as a “closed territory”.

On being used as an administrative point it was natural that all areas around Kwajji as one were given its name to identify the whole area administratively. This is not new since the British used such policy elsewhere. For instance “Lagos protectorate”, defined almost all of the old Oyo Empire, as Prof. Elaigwu et al cited. Adamawa Province also at the early time was known as Yola Province etc.

Being also ethnologically half-Zing and half-Pugong in origin and language affiliation, Kwajji as identified by the British anthropologist CK Meek, at the time served as a convenient balance in administrative circles.

This status quo was not upset even when in later colonial days the area came under various administrative spheres like Muri Fulani (“indirect rule”), Zing district, Mumuye district, Kwajji district etc.; over historical periods.

With the formation of Kwajji district in 1937,and its headquarter sited at Kwajji village, the name became an indelible political dispensation as a reference to the area of this present day chiefdom.

Other later developments also were instrumental in engraving the name Kwajji to the whole the area. Such as:-

The location of schools of various nature in this place thereby making it a center of learning for generations of people of other areas.

A short-lived government Elementary school was brought along to Kwajji village with the creation of the district in late 1930s.

Then as well the Sudan United Mission (S.U.M) Christians arrived in the 1940s and 50s raising a church outpost there preaching their gospel.

The Roman Catholic Mission also came to establish a school in Kwajji in the late 1950s. This served as a center of learning to the neighboring people.

Muri local education Authority also raised a school several years later which drew pupils from all over the two other clan areas.

An area court, a police outpost and agricultural input/output center were located in the area all bearing the name Kwajji and which controlled all the areas. This made the name Kwajji more prominent record-wise, And a finality.

These historical antecedents however make no difference to the people of the chiefdom in terms of their unity and brotherliness. The identity of these people lies more on the traditional and cultural heritage they share which is more solid and dates back to times immemorial.

Territory[edit]

The area covered by the chiefdom of Kwajji is estimated at about 80 km square. It is approximately some 8 km from east to west, along the Zing-Jalingo road from Kan-iyaka mika to Dideleng near Yorro junction (mararaba Yoro).Then on the north –south axis from Dandikulu to Danzang is about 12 km. Manang has the territorial area in the north, Mika in the south and Kwajji in the west of the chiefdom.

The chiefdom is bounded by Zing local government area /chiefdom to the east. Along the Kunini river to the south is the Mumuye chiefdom. Finally there is the Apawa to Mayo-lope area of Lau local government/chiefdom to the north.

The chiefdom headquarter is now located at Pupule town (pop.4, 000) which is about 30 km to the north of Jalingo, along Zing road. The palace of the chief of Kwajji is sited there. Pupule was over time purposely selected away from the village of Kwajji because of its relatively central location nearer to mika and Manang areas and the district headquarter was moved there after a palace was hand built by local masons in 1954. The name Pupule “ bu pule ” meaning “hill of the jar of water weed”(comelina weed) which was abundant in that area of Kwajji cultivated by the Bolong, Laweki, and Dossa families. The name “Bu-pule” was corrupted in pronunciation by the British, Hausa/Fulani administration to “Pupule”. Even today the area of the palace location is known to Kwajji people as “Dan ja bu”.

When the palace was moved to Pupule there was already a small settlement around a local market organized by one Dossa clan elder named “Tukuru”. The old trunk “A” road passed through Kwajji by the Chief’s Palace and through the market in Pupule to Zing and onwards. Other secondary roads link Pupule to other areas of the chiefdom like Manang, mika and Danzang. On the Manang road, the road passes through Boli, Lakware, Jika, Mabang and ends up at Dandikulu the farthest town on that side of the chiefdom.

On the Mika side the road rings round from Zogimba market at Mararaba, through Tsohon gari, Layang koro, Danzang and back to Pupule. All these roads are motor able throughout the year.

The main population centers of the Chiefdom are Pupule, Lakware, Jika, Mabang, Sabongida-mika, Tsohongari Mika, and Old-Kwajji. All these have local weekly local markets of significance in the local government area.

The three areas of Manang, mika, and Kwajji respectively form the three councilor wards out of the eleven in Yoro local government area of Taraba state. The area of the chiefdom is located within confines of longitudes 11°33’ to 18°40’ E and latitudes 8° 55’ to 9° 15’ N. Pupule town on an elevation of about 1,240m above sea level, with a bearing of 11°36’E and 09°02’N.

Population[edit]

The statistical digest of the ministry of Economic Development, Yola (1978), gave the population of then Kwajji District the precursor of Kwajji chiefdom as 25,559. This was based on calculations with reference to the 1963 census. The same authority projected the population of the area by 1980 to a figure of 38,891 people.

The 1991 census is a controversial matter in the old district/chiefdom and indeed the entire LGA. This is because the LGA officially lodged a petition against the figures to the National Population Commission to the effect that many areas in the LGA, including then Kwajji District were not fully registered and counted. Therefore the 1963 census remains the only reliable to used for projections. In this light the population of the chiefdom by 2013 stands probably at 83,516.

Kwajji chiefdom is Mumuye ethnically, traditionally, and culturally. This 3rd class chiefdom along with the 3rd Class chiefdom of Mumuye and the 1st Class Chiefdom of Zing form the three main entities that cover the Mumuye land proper. Overwhelmingly, the population of Kwajji chiefdom is made of ethnic Mumuye people. Kwajji generally is on a balancing position in Mumuye land. In geographical terms, it is mid way between Zing in the East and Pugong in the west. Their language is a mixture of Zing, Yakoko, Pugong or so, in dialectical similarity. They tend to understand all the two extremes of Mumuye language even when the others don’t. In material culture they have adopted a balance of the variations found across the land, e.g. in wrestling, hunting festival Mantau, man hood ritual festival of Javah etc.

Not withstanding, there are like in other parts of Nigeria, traces of other ethnicities that dell amongst the people in the chiefdom. This community of settlers mostly around Pupule includes Hausa/Fulani, Jenjo, Chamba, Jukun, Bachama, Kilba, Ibo etc. each of them several families at a given time.

It should be noted that the three main clans of Kwajji, Manang and mika also have other Mumuye clansmen dwelling amongst them such as Zing, Yakoko, Pugong, Sagbe, Gomla, with households here and there. Most of these non-indigene ethnicities were attracted to the chiefdom especially around Pupule which came to be a widely known produce market in the north-east region of Nigeria. The brand of yam derived from this market is among the most cherished all over.

The people in this chiefdom are mostly small scale peasant farmers that produce such crops as yam, maize, g/corn, millet, g/nuts, rice, beans, and other cereals typical of this region.

Kwajji chiefdom is populated with people that are generally quite amiable and friendly. Their manners contributed to the attractiveness of the area and its settlements to earlier governments, since colonial times which gave rise to the area being among the first to be “opened” in Mumuye land. For its openness to visitors, this chiefdom was at the earliest of times connected to the main trunk ‘A’ road that linked the south to the north-east region of the country.

Early History[edit]

The Mumuye people of the Kwajji chiefdom, like their brethren elsewhere in zing, Yoro, and further wide; claim that the place where their ancestors originate is Yoro. This place Yoro is located high in the mountains of south eastern part of present day Yoro local government area of Taraba state. There are some theories that they might have originated from further away out of places like “Kam Hills “Cross river region”, etc. However, the most historically recent and undisputed place of origin for all Mumuye is Yoro.

Written records starting from the beginning of the twentieth century establish this later fact, from elders’ narrative and oral tradition. This coincides also more or less with scientific research on people of this region which confirms that they indeed are among the dwellers of these lands and region since ancient times.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century when intertribal and jihadist warfare was rife, written records of the time and analysts show that like others of the Mumuye group all over they were never conquered or subject to anyone. They lived in their hill country, cultivating crops and foraging the jungles for game animals. Being warriors by nature, the clans frequently clashed among themselves. The Mumuye nonetheless came together collectively to fend off attacks from neighboring tribes. Oral history says that at different times there were clashes with Chamba/Dakka, Bachama, Fulani, etc. who later became friendly and partners in trade as well as marriage.

In terms of social organization Mumuye people were ruled by clan elders or extended family heads that also doubled in functions as the custodians of the traditional religion of “Vah”. When C K Meek a British Government Anthropologists toured the Mumuye land in the late 1920s he picked the Mika people extensively as a case study to represent Mumuye social organization and community life of that period. The clan heads in this chiefdom like all others in Mumuye land owed allegiance to the High Priest of Vah at old Yoro. They would from time to time visit to pay homage and consult.

This was the state the British found the people of Kwajji chiefdom when they arrived these lands to completely colonize Nigeria at the beginning of the twentieth century. The very first contact with British administration came when that much flaunted expeditionary force led by Dr Cargill and Capt Ruxton passed through here from Yola to demand the submission of the Emir of Muri (Hassan) at Jalingo in October 1901.

Under the British[edit]

The end of the year 1901 brought the two Fulani Emirates of Adamawa and Muri on the north east and west, of Mumuye land respectively, firmly under British colonial hands. No attempt at the moment to interfere with the Mumuye people here was made by the new power and so they simply labeled them as “closed territory”. Captain Ruxton Resident in charge of Muri wrote that

“…it may be thought that a solution of the question of including the tribes within the Emirate after they had been well ‘reduced’ by military force, … whether such a policy would be right or not, … am sure the Emir Muri has neither the means nor organization to keep tribes in order and to compel them to pay their land taxes.”

This would remain the case for over a decade to come until the year 1914 when Nigeria where we are today came into the political identity we now know it.

Readjustments that led to the birth of Nigeria reached as far as the Mumuye land. Zing District was created as the first arm of government extending into the area. The main settlements of Kwajji being in close proximity to Zing were co-opted to the Chief of Zing for the purpose tax collection. This gave rise to the appointment of people of the Punya –Zing clan of Kwajji to serve as Village Heads. Punya-Zing of Kwajji were distant cousins of the ruling Kpana/Kodele clan in Zing.

By this extension of the administration of the chief of Zing[placed under Numan Division in Yola Province]he mandated the kpantis of Kwajji to collect taxes from Manang, Mika, Kwajji as well as in Pugong areas like Lacheke and Dila across the river. By 1926 all the Mumuye people were united and placed under Muri Division. However Zing District was raised to the status of a subdivision directly ruled by British officers, while Kwajji and Pugong areas were merged into one District – Mumuye District with headquarters at Pantisawa, under the indirect rule of the Muri Emirate.

The district on the insistence of the British was headed by the Rainmaker the Chief Priest of Mumuye tradition at Yorro. There was said to be a lack of enthusiasm to this position on the side of the Rainmaker and administration of the District faced difficulties.

In 1937, Kwajji District was carved out of the Mumuye District and its headquarters was established in Kwajji Village. The first person to head the district was Kpanti Yawai Sholoba a man from the Punya-Zing clan. He held court at Kwajji with assistance of the other two ward heads of Manang and Mika which comprised the area of the district. Kpanti Sholoba was deposed by the British in 1945. For five years no replacement was found from among the line of lineage of his clansmen. In their place the Emir of Muri sent down several caretakers [Wakilis] to man the district. In 1950 Kpanti Bello Toga from the household of Punya-Zing was appointed to take over the district. He oversaw the transfer of the palace and district office to its present location in Pupule.

Under Independent Nigeria[edit]

When the British departed, leaving the country independent in 1960, not much had changed in the social order of the area now known as the chiefdom of Kwajji. Within the decade of the 1960s however, Pupule was transformed slowly from a hamlet to a market town visited by many travelers. A mission [RCM] school was opened in 1958 in Kwajji and later transferred to Pupule in 1969. An Area court was established, with a Native Police [Dandoka] outpost. Later a health dispensary was built and an agricultural input and extension services office was also located there. There came a Works department road maintenance camp, cattle route rest house as well placed on the outskirts of town. The District was one of the favorites and the most peaceful in Muri Division and Emir Umaru Abba Tukur frequented it during the Civil war years.

District administration continued as it were under the British indirect rule. However now there was a semblance of democracy being that councilors were appointed to represent the interest of the various districts, peoples and clans such that there was one representative each for Manang, mika and Kwajji in the native Authority in Jalingo.

When General Murtala Mohammed seized government in Nigeria in 1975, the great purge of the public service he embarked upon was felt everywhere including Kwajji district. The district Head Bello Toga was removed from office under reasons beyond his people’s comprehension; shrouded by the mystery and secrecy that usually surrounds the pervasive power of government.

After a period of search for the successor of chief Toga, in 1976 Buba Nyala an area court judge of Mika extraction was appointed and filled the seat of the District Head. He too served under the tutelage of the Emir of Muri.

The creation of Gongola state out North Eastern State in 1976, Kwajji district fell under the new Jalingo local government area along with Pantisawa, Sunkani, Kona etc.

When the second republic was ushered in 1979, Abubakar Barde a popular Mumuye man, became the state's first elected Governor. The area of this chiefdom was represented politically in the Gongola state house of assembly by one member [Pupule constituency]. In the four year life of the House, the elected member Umaru Garba from Pupule served as the House committee chairman of finance and Appropriations.

In further development of infrastructure in the area within that period, a tarred trunk ‘A’ road which passed on the outskirts of Pupule replaced the former laterite one that bisected the town. Bore holes were sunk for the first time to serve the town all in the period of the first Republic.

In 1982, a new local government area and council was created to cover the area of Kwajji and Mumuye districts. This however was short lived as it was disbanded with other newly created ones in Gongola state when Gen. Muhammad Buhari and his government overthrew the second republic in 1984.

The status quo was reversed with Kwajji district falling back under Jalingo LGA.

The Buhari government gave way to General Ibrahim Babangida's regime in August 1987 with little or no change in the area.

Change came when Taraba state was created in August 1991. With this, a new Yorro LGA was created by incorporating Lau district to Kwajji and Mumuye with the headquarters at Lau. Not long after however there was a sigh of relieve when Lau was given its own LGA and the old Yorro LGA with its 1982 boundaries was re-established. Before the former LGA of Yoro was disbanded, a prominent Politian Mr. Ayuba Alkali from Manang in the chiefdom became the first elected chairman in Lau.

Kwajji district was still represented by a member in the new Taraba state house of assembly in Jalingo. There still remained the three council wards of Manang, Mika, and Kwajji to represent the district in the present Yoro LGC.

When General Sani Abacha seized power from the ill-fated third republic, he embarked on reforms in the political system nationwide among which deprived the Kwajji area of its representation in Taraba state house of assembly. It also knocked out many polling units in the area which have never been rectified up to date.

The creation of Taraba state brought government so to say nearer to the people. Subsequently Kwajji and other traditional institutions experienced rapid development. The election as Governor of an illustrious Mumuye man Rev. Jolly T. Nyame on various term periods brought untold progress to the Mumuye people’s quest for emancipation. In his first tenure the palaces were given befitting face lift. District Heads were for the first time allocated motor vehicles. He capped this with a masterstroke when he at last in the year 2005 gave the Mumuye full autonomy culturally and traditionally. In his administration’s reorganization of the state’s traditional institutions, he upgraded 3 Mumuye areas to various ranked graded chieftaincy positions. Kwajji district was upgraded to third class chiefdom with headquarters at Pupule.

The palace was again given a befitting outlook and people celebrated. The promoted chief Alhaji Buba Nyala was handed the staff of office at last in the year 2008 after a protracted personal difficulty with the state Government.

In their memorandum submitted to the Danladi Baido committee that considered the reorganization of the traditional institutions, the Kwajji people pleaded that they be granted their own chiefdom to enable the people obtain their autonomy and promote the affairs of their tradition and culture as guaranteed by Nigeria’s constitution.

Since the formal presentation of staff of office to His Royal Highness, the chiefdom operates on skeletal mode. Fiscal constraints probably have influenced the lack of full implementation of the appendages of the districts, under Kwajji chiefdom, as well as the statutes to guide its traditions.

Some statistics and facts about the Chiefdom of Kwajji:

  • Status – Third Class
  • HRH Alhaji Buba Nyala - Chief of Kwajji
  • Ethnicity – Mumuye
  • Main language – Mumuye
  • Headquartera – Pupule
  • Districts – three (Kwajji, Manang, and Mika)
  • Villages/wards heads – twenty three
  • Councilor wards – three (pupules "A", "B", "C")
  • Main markets – Pupule (Saturdays), Zogimba Mika (Wednesdays)
  • Main occupation – farming
  • Main crops/livestock – yam, nuts, maize, cassava, millet, beans, bambara nuts, goats, sheep, cattle, fowl
  • Health care – five Maternity clinics, ten dispensaries
  • Schools – five senior secondary, twenty universal basic primary
  • Courts – one
  • Police posts – four
  • Civil defense post – one
  • Water resources – twelve integrated boreholes, twenty simple boreholes
  • Mineral resources – precious stones, uranium ore, iron ore, limestone, two petroleum stations
  • Industries – local crafts, pottery, zana mat, traditional clothes (Lantang)
  • Traditional festivities – hunting (Mantau), ritual dances (Java & ba Shawa), harvest/yam festival, thanksgiving (samo/sesse), Christmas and Easter festivals, Id/Sallah festivals
  • Phone services – GSM (MTN)

Contributing Sources:

-Nigeria National Archives materials

-Oral Traditions

-Official current/contemporary documentation.

References[edit]