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Tangale Tribe

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Tribes in Nigeria: The Tangale Tribe

The Tangale tribe is one of the tribes in Northern Nigeria, located in Gombe state. According to some sources, the Tangale people got their name from “Tangal”, a chief of Billiri, in the present Gombe state of Nigeria. It is believed that Tangal was instrumental in organizing the clans under his leadership and because of this, the people under him were referred to as the Tangale (as it was customary in many African communities to name a land or ethnic group after their leader).[1]

History of Settlement: Historical claims are that the Tangale people are migrants from Yemen through Egypt and then to the present Borno state. However, due to constant inter-tribal conflicts,they had to keep migrating from one place to another. They settled in at least seven different locations before they came to their presently known settlement. A list of some of those places the settled at include;SanumKude (also known as Big San) near Ngazargamu and Kupto. Kupto was like the Biblical ‘Corinth’; a place were different tribes and groups came together to co-exist and co-habit. At Kupto, the Tangale’s lived together with the Lunguda, Kare-Kare, Tera, Waja, Bolewa, Songom and other neighbouring tribes. It was from Kupto that they further migrated to find new shelter; mostly mountainous areas which most felt were safer from the frequent raids and attacks they encountered from marauders.

Tangale Tribe

Language and Religious Inclinations: The Tangale tribe speak a language that is also called ‘Tangale’. But because of the location of the tribe in Northern Nigeria, a good population also speak the Hausa language fluently.A majority of the Tangale speaking people are found across areas like Ture, Kwame, Billiri, Kaltungo and Shongom in Gombe state. As regards their religious beliefs, an overwhelming population is Christian, with a small percentage practicing Islam and African Traditional Religion.

Dressing: In times past, most Africans dressed in animal skins, especially the males, with the females dressing in like manner or using knitted leaves to cover certain parts of their bodies. The Tangale tribe was no exception. In modern times and with the advent of technology however, fabrics and textiles have taken over.

Food: The Tangale tribe has certain unique delicacies. One of these is a special soup called ‘Arbayo’. This soup is made with ‘daddawa’-a traditional form of Seasoning like Maggi, but prepared from the locust bean seed. This soup is the special delicacy of the Tangale of the Kaltungo extraction. Another delicacy is the ‘Ed Mammu’, which is prepared with Guinea corn and grounded beni seed. Other delicacies include ‘Kwaksak’ and ‘Shinga’. There are certain fruits that are of great interest to the Tangale tribe; fruits like ‘langdongdong’, ‘wulot’,’kwalak’, ‘la awe’, ‘sha we’, ‘tuje’etc. which forms part of the desserts for  typical Tangale table. The Tangale tribe are meat lovers too, given that they had/have an ancestry line of hunting and livestock farming. The average Tangale person makes no distinction in the selection of the meat they consume, with some having a voracious appetite for pork and dog meat too.

Tangale Tribe

Festivals:The Tangale tribe has two very important festivals; the Eku Festival and the Tangra Festival. The Eku festival is usually celebrated as a harvest festival while the Tangra festival is usually done in preparation for the planting season. There are also festivals related to hunting expeditions, though in recent times, such a festival has been declining from prominence. Another festival of importance to the Tangale people is the marriage festival, which is usually elaborate and of great significance to the Tangale people. Attention is also paid to festivals related to the demise of loved ones.

Tangale Economy:The mainstay of the Tangale economy is Agriculture; they farm the following crops in commercial quantities; guinea corn, maize, groundnut and beans. They also cultivate rice but on a much smaller scale, accompanied with livestock farming. There is also huge presence of local or small scale trading amongst the Tangale people.

Traditional Leadership Structure: The Tangale people are divided into seven major clans-Bangaje, Kalmai, Nathe, Tal, Tanglang, Tangaltonga and Todi- each with their own chief. These clan chiefs in turn submit to the Paramount ruler of the Tangale people. The paramount ruler of the Tangale people is referred to as the Mai TangalemKude (The Big Tangale Chief). The current Chief’s palace is in Billiri, Gombe state.

Interesting to know is the fact that, some researches have ranked the Tangale tribe amongst the first twenty one major ethnic groups and languages of Nigeria.[2]

[1] ‘A Brief History of the Tangale People’ in ‘Teach yourself the Tangale Language’,Samaila Kure.­­_people/history.htm accessed 04-11-2018.

[2] Accessed 05-11-2018.

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.



  1. Avatar

    Lydia Danzaria

    27th May 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Thank you so much for this brief history of my own people, am educated, entertain and am now knowledgeable about my history. God bless you.

  2. Avatar


    27th January 2020 at 11:08 am

    The tribal division here is as obtained in Biliri not all of Tangale land. I think it will be good if you specify.

  3. Avatar

    Ezekiel Wokkoun

    28th January 2020 at 11:49 am

    This really brief and incomplete. The Tangleh are the first to settle in the present known Gombe. It should be made clear.

  4. Avatar

    Mailaukungo Morris Mai

    24th February 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Weldone Job in adition the name tangale is from two words taga and le taga is caw in our language and le is what hausa said sannu. Our people greet fulani as taga le which sinple in Hausa meaning sannu shanu and they started calling us like that that is the origin of our name the tangale people called themselves Mammu which means our own.

  5. Avatar

    Nayako Ephraim

    18th March 2020 at 12:48 am

    Good job only That Tangal who you mentioned as chief of billiri, is not proper as billiri is only a small portion in tangale of which have other six to make it seven. Thank you

  6. Avatar

    Jedidah Kereng

    20th March 2020 at 9:12 pm

    I was so happy and proud reading this awesome piece
    Thank you so much for the wonderful piece

  7. Avatar

    Holmes Steve

    28th May 2020 at 1:18 am

    I have read some of your works but this one is merely brilliant.
    There are not many stuff I would suggest to everybody else.
    The last time it had been And that I shall certainly want
    all my friends to read work also. Thanks a great deal, it turned into a true joy.

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