Sunday, 12 May 2013

All About my Tribe - origin, superstition, taboos and witchcraft.


As I mentioned in my 2012 post titled 'My Tribe', I come from the village of Zonkwa, and the name of my tribe is Bajju (pronounced 'ba-joo') while the dialect is called Jju (pronounced 'joo'). The tribe is located within the Southern part of Kaduna State of the country Nigeria. The tribe's territories share boundaries with Kataf, Kajuru, Kagoma, and Kafanchan tribes.
Bajju are found in Zango Kataf, Kachia, and Jama'a Local Government Areas.

The following information is culled from Amina B. Peter Dambo (2011). Bajju Tradition. Kaduna, Nigeria: Kenyi Prints.


According to oral history, the origin of the Bajju can be traced as far as Bauchi state where a group of people loved in hill caves and had watchers atop the hill to watch for enemies.These people were called 'mutane duwatsu' (literary translation in English is 'stone people'). It was beleived that their migration was for the search of better hunting grounds. They migrated from Bauchi state to Plateau state and settled on a hill called 'Hurruang'. The hill was already occupied by a tribe called the Jarawa, but the Jarawa people left and lived on another hill called 'Tsok-kwon'.
The Jarawa were a faction of a larger tribe called 'Miago'. The Bajju, Miago, and Jarawa tribes collectively called themselves 'Dangi' (meaning 'those of same stock') because they share cultural and linguistic similarities.
Three brothers named Baranzan, Chawai, and Atakat, are said to have left Dangi settlement and migrated South of the Plateau.
The Chawai and Atakat people of today are the descendants of the Baranzan brothers.

Zampara and his younger brother, Awai, migrated from the Dangi settlement also. Awai settled at a place called Chawai, and that was how the Chawai people have an affinity with the Bajju.
Zampara migrated further and settled at Hurbuang , which is presently called Ungwan Tabo. Zampara gave birth to two sons namely Baranzan (who I am named after) and Akad. When Zampara, their father died, Akad told his elder brother, Baranzan, that he would like to leave and stay near the hills. He did so and later found the Atakat people. That is how the Atakat tribe are associated with the Bajju. It was because of this close relationship that the Atakat and Bajju people made it a tradition and a religious law never to intermarry.
However, some stubborn Bajju and Atakat people intermarried, and this caused the widespread death of 1970. The Gado of Bajju, along with his people, met with the Gado of Atakat, along with his people, to discuss the crisis of frequent deaths of people of both tribes as a result of the intermarriages.
They reached a decision to abolish the law religiously and traditionally so that there would not be any consequence for the intermarriage. That was how the Atakat and Bajju people began to intermarry freely.

The previously mentioned Baranzan (son of Zampara, and brother of Akad) left Hurbuang and cleared a place by a riverside called 'Duccuu Cheng'. He settled the Kajju there (Kajju was the initial name of the Bajju). The name 'Kajju' was derived from the name which Baranzan gave the new settlement, which was 'Kazzu'.
Although it is unclear from oral history when the migration occurred, but evidence suggests that the Bajju were in their current location since the early 1800s.


Because of the existence of many rites (rain, farming, harvest, new house, pregnancy, child naming, etc.), I shall only discuss rites of bizarre nature.

Tyyi Tson (Euthanasia): Tyyitson means 'to give hungry rice' (hungry rice was a type of rice which the Bajju thought of as the most sacred and perhaps elite). This practice involved offering an elderly woman poisoned hungry rice (called 'Kasap') to end her suffering of physical infirmity. It was usually done by one of her children or her sister.

Nkut: (witchcraft) This is the power to exert spiritual influence over another person. People who use Nkut are referred to as 'Akut', and are beleived to have a second set of eyes. The first set allows one to see the physical, while the other is used to see into the spiritual realm.

Gajimale (water spirit): A gajimale comes out of rivers, or streams to seduce its victims by transforming into a good looking opposite sex of the victim. It was a belief that many rich people got their wealth from Gajimale, and in return, they gave children to it. Epliepsy (known as 'rong ncen' meaning 'fire of the river') was believed to be caused by the Gajimale.

Abvoi: The Bajju worshipped the god Abvoi. The leader of the Abvoi shrine was called the 'Godo Abvoi' or 'Dodo'. The 'Magajin Abvoi' is the one who translates the messages of Abvoi to the people. The celebrations involved masquerade dances.

Masquerades (Abusak): They represented the spirits in Abvoi celebrations. The Abusak danced with women and disciplien them by beating them.


- Were not to eat eggs;
- Were not to eat meat offered to them at other households, for it may be Nkut meat;
- Were not to go out in the heat of the midday sun, for they may accept food from Akut.

- Were not to eat eggs, for they would be 'eating' their own children. Also not allowed to eat chicken and birds in general;
- Were not to cook or carry out farm activities for 7 days following child birth;
- Were not allowed to hit the wall with their hands or feet; for they would be calling the Abvoi;
- Were not allowed to hit people with brooms, especially men; for they would be sweeping away all of his charms and power (including the power to impregnate a woman);
- Pregnant women were not to eat sugarcanes; for their babies would grow too fat;
- Women were not to eat animal heads.

- Were not to allow their hair shaved halfway; for a spirit would come to finish the job, and cause the man to go mad;
- Were not to eat food prepared by menstruating women; for they would be exposed to blindness or bad luck in hunting;
- Were not to share secrets of the ancestor cult with women.

General taboos:
- Spirit snakes should not be killed. It may be the spirit of a person sleeping or having a fever;
- Do not whistle at night; for it would call a spirit;
- Do not whistle in the house of a hunter; for his charms would stop working;
- Do not blow food to cool it;
- A visitor must not eat food alone. A person from the visited household must eat with the guest to prove the food is not poisoned;
- People were not to talk while eating. Even though a stranger came in, they should not greet until they finished eating;
- One should not answer a call at night; for the person might die;
- One should not step over arrows;
- A cock that crows between dusk and midnight must be killed; for it calls the spirits.

- men are buried facing east (direction of Bajju origin) while women were buried facing west.
- Those who died as a result of falling off a tree, falling off the roof of a house, or shot during hunting, were buried where the incident took place, and do not receive a burial ceremony.
- Women who died during child birth were buried at the backyard of their home.
- Someone with small pox was isolated because they believed he was a wizard. They are not given a burial ceremony after dying.
- Before drinking, elders were to pour a few drops on the ground for the ancestors.
- The Bajju believed in reincarnation.
- The Bajju believed that when a shooting star passes, a great man has died somewhere and is going to land somewhere else for reincarnation.

Men could swear the following oaths:
- Sshi anok: To swear on one's hoe. The oath was 'If I did this, may the hoe cut my leg'.
- Sshi kata: To swear on one's bow.
- Sswa mbyin: To swear on a drum. A drum was kept with each village's gado (village head) and was used for matters affecting the entire village and used to settle local disputes.

Men could swear the following oaths:
- Sshiabyve: To swear on one's headboard (the item used to rest loads atop women's heads). If her oath was false, her child birth would not be a safe delivery.
- Sswa a abubvo: To swear on one's skin. The skin is the piece of clothing used to secure a child on her back. If the oath was false, the child in the skin would die.
- Sswa katssong: To swear on one's axe. 'May her axe cut her if her oath is false'.

Dambo, A.B.P. (2011). Bajju tradition. Nigeria: Kenyi Prints.

1 comment: