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Ethnic Groups In Nigeria: Yandang People

Introduction and Background

They Yandang people dwell in Gorobi; a beautiful scenic terrain that is surrounded by rock formations, undulating hills and tabletop mountains. The clans settled around the “Gorobi” mountain range, building their houses in the valleys and on the plateaus of the mountains which provide natural fortification against slave raiders and invaders.

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The Yandang people are believed to have originated from Egypt alongside their Mumuye counterparts. They first settled in Yoro, then migrated to the current geographical location in Adamawa/Taraba state in Nigeria. They live in the northern part of Nigeria, in the northeast and north-central (the middle belt). Mayo-Belwa in Adamawa state, Lau in Taraba state and Ardo Kola and Gasol in Taraba state.

Socio-Cultural Aspects

They dress uniquely depending on the occasion. On special occasions like funerals, they wear cream and brown or ash striped handwoven fabric called “langtang.” During naming ceremonies, infants are usually named according to the situation of their birth. There are stories and deeper meaning behind most names. A name like Bonzinbaba, means “there’s no more guinea corn”. This name is given to a person born during a bad harvest year. A name like Tansiye means ‘Goodnews’, another like Yegosibe, means ‘it is finished’.

About their Food, the Yandang have various traditional delicacies. One of them is “vuu“, popularly called kunun geda in the North. It is a peanut milk gruel that is sometimes made with rice. It is a popular breakfast delicacy. For lunch or dinner, swallow made from millet is eaten with draw soup called “son hoot”, or “dargaza” in other parts of the North. The local drinks are “bhi“, “loribi” and kunu. “Bhi” is locally brewed beer made with millet, while “loribi” is beer that isn’t fully fermented and can be drunk by children too. “Kunu” is the sweeter, non-fermented version of the two.

Marriage rites

Traditionally, marriages are the joining of two families, so parental consent is the most important thing. When a man sees a woman he wants to marry, he gives her a “mou“, a valuable iron used in making hoes and weapons. If her parents accept it, then he can bring his family to see her parents.

The engagement price, known as “hinlengki“, is paid to the parents. The suitor then builds a hut for his mother-in-law or pays the monetary equivalent. This rite is called “wah-konag“. The suitor is also expected to help his in-laws on their farms or pay the monetary equivalent. These services are further accompanied by the payment of a fully grown ram and two he-goats as bride price. The rest of the bride price consists of 28 items which can include a variety of items such as yams, beer, guinea corn, hoes, and “kansuki” ( a rod held by women during dancing). In recent times, the marriage rites have undergone a lot of changes, but the constant/ compulsory payment is a full-grown ram and two he-goats and whatever the bride’s family stipulates as bride price.

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Identity and heritage

In Yandang culture, a first child, (marrah), belongs to the mother and her people. This means that a “marrah” child traces their lineage matrilineally. If the first child is male, he grows up with his maternal relatives and is taught to hunt and farm by them and when the time comes, initiated into manhood by them. When a firstborn son is getting married, his mother’s family organises his wedding and they help him pay the bride price. When he dies, he is also buried by them.

A firstborn daughter is not required to grow up with her mother’s people, but she is expected to run errands for them whenever she is called upon to do so. When she is getting married, it is to her maternal relatives that her bride price is paid to, and they’re responsible for buying the household items for her new home. When she dies, they who bury her too. The “marrah” system creates a balance of power between families and helps in strengthening kinship ties. As a result of this system, a sister who is the firstborn is from a different clan and village from the rest of us.

Yandang Cultural and Religion Festivals

Some Yandang continue to worship the god Rubi and his son Va-Lerubi. Many think the Nyandang still worship the sun god, Rubi, but it is the force of what makes the sun (Rubi) stand that is, the creator of the sun, that the Nyandang worship. The solar deity is worshipped along with the spirits of the dead ancestors.

An annual festival, “herra yawhithi” or “Yandang day”, is held at the foot of our ancestral mountains on the first week of May. The festival is done to usher in the rainy season and to pray to the ancestors for a fruitful farming year. Another festival that is held is the “bhoki tuka“, which loosely translates as the tying of the knife. It’s a circumcision festival held every four years to initiate young boys into manhood.


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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.

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