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Ethnic Groups in Nigeria: The Kambari People

The Kambari people are a very unique ethnic group. One of the things that make them very unique is the fact that they are one of the ancient rural communities in Nigeria, found predominantly in Niger state, who still practice and pride in living in the natural created state. In other words, nudity. But in addition to this, they are also a reclusive people; a people that pride themselves as being as independent from the government as possible.

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Socio-Cultural Background

Kambari is a remote community in Birnin Amina in Rijau Local Government Area in Niger state. But beyond being a community, they are also a people. The Ashingin, or Kambari, people, are mainly found in Agwara, Magama and Mariga LGAs in Niger State. Some live in Rijau, Wushishi and Borgu LGAs. They are also found in Ngaski and Yauri LGAs of Kebbi State. The Kambari are farmers growing millet, guinea-corn, groundnuts and yams. Their language is Kambari and it is grouped into three dialects. The three dialects are Tsishingini, Tsikimba and Cishingini. Not all the dialects are mutually intelligible. Many Kambari people seem have a negative attitude to modern ways. The elite class among the Kambari feel that the traditional authorities have not approached this well and the authorities blame the elite for failing to cooperate with them.

The authorities have tried by gifts and decrees to get the Kambari to conform to the national culture but this has been misunderstood and suspected because the authorities did not take the Kambari culture and world view into account. In most places the Kambari people are ruled by non-Kambari chiefs and their elite have began to oppose this. Most parents are against sending their children to school, feeling that it is a waste of time when the children could be doing farm work. The literacy level in Kambari land may be 3%.

Generally, the Kambari people are very friendly to strangers in their midst unless they deride their culture and religion. Social amenities like roads, healthcare are very inadequate in all Kambari land but especially south of Niger. Social gatherings like weddings and markets draw huge crowds and many celebrate Islamic festivals. Social vices in the land include drunkenness and sexual immorality. Stealing is not common.

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Way of life

The Kambari people largely do not speak English or Hausa, but speak their native Kambari. They stay in their small communities and only interact with others when they have to go to the farm and market. Nudity as a culture was passed down to them by their ancestors and its continued practice seems they aren’t willing to let go of it. However, when the people go to the market to sell their farm produce, the women cover the lower half of their bodies with wrappers while the men do the same. Donkeys provide the only means of transport for a largely agrarian and nomadic people.


As part of the Rijua local council area, the Kambari people produce a large percentage of the crops consumed by the entire people of the area. The most popular crops produced are corn, millet, peanuts, beans and rice. Nearly all of the locals keep chickens and goats for meat while the richer ones have cattle.


In Kambari, marriage is celebrated by slaughtering goats and cows for food while the parents of the bride cook food for the groom. Once the food is eaten, the marriage is contracted. According to the community chief, what attracts men is not the nudity of the women but how they plait their hair, good manners and the tattoos the young women have.


The Kambari people are not entirely Christians or Muslims like most of northern Nigeria. Instead, they are traditionalists who worship a god called Magiro. They also believe strongly in witchcraft and magic.


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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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