With over 250 ethnic groups around the country, the culture of Nigeria is very diverse. Learning about the lifestyle culture of some of these ethnic groups will give you better understanding of them. Join me as we explore the lifestyle culture of Tiv people of Benue State, Nigeria.
Lifestyle Culture: Tiv People
Tiv ethnic group constitute approximately 3.5% of Nigeria’s total population, and their language is spoken in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau States. The Tiv say they emerged into their present location from the southeast. It is claimed that the Tiv wandered through southern, south-central and west-central Africa before arriving at their present location via the River Congo and Cameroon Mountains.
Most Tiv have a highly developed sense of genealogy, based on their father’s family lineage. Ancestry is traced to an ancient individual named Tiv, who had two sons, Chongo and Pusu. All Tiv consider themselves a member either as descendants of Chongo or descendants of Pusu. Their form of social organization is called segmentary lineage, where every part of the society is held together by the same values.
The Tiv had no administrative divisions and no chiefs nor councils. Leadership was based on age, influence and affluence. The leaders’ functions were to furnish safe conduct, arbitrate disputes within their lineages, sit on moots and lead their people in all external and internal affairs. These socio-political arrangements caused great frustration to British colonial attempts to subjugate the population and establish administration on the lower Benue.
Tiv National Attire
According to Wikipedia, the Tiv national attire is the black-and-white-striped material known as anger. When the Tiv people arrived at their current location several centuries earlier, they discovered that there were no zebras to hunt there. They used to hunt zebras for its meat and skin. After learning the skill of the loom, they decided to honour their heritage by weaving a cloth with black-and-white stripes, reminiscent of the zebra skin. Eventually this became the preferred national attire.
Initially, it was a simple cloth to be draped around the torso. Nowadays, it is made into elaborate robes, such as those worn by the traditional rulers and elders. They also decided to include black-and-white colour necklaces to the attire of the traditional rulers to match the robes.
Tiv National Dish
Tiv people love yam, whether they are roasted, boiled or fried! Most people will eat yam in these forms early in the morning or as a nightcap. Roasted yam is usually roasted with the skin, and it is usually eaten with red palm oil with a little bit of salt. The most popular staple meal in any Tiv home is pounded yam (Ruam) eaten with pawpaw soup.
When it comes to food, the typical Tiv person does not hold back, as it is said. “You have cooked” is the translation of the simple phrase, u yôô. The Tiv people traditionally say that after a meal because there is never a need for ‘Thank you.’
Some Musical Instruments in Tiv Land
Kakaki – a royal trumpet used in many parts of West Africa. This is an instrument used to convey special messages to the people of the community. With the birth of the King’s child and his naming ceremony, the crowning of a new king, or to gather people together during the marriage ceremony of the king or the king’s son, the Kakaki is used.
Indyer – A heavy wooden instrument carved out of mahogany tree trunk. The Indyer is not played for secular purposes except for special occasions as sanctioned by the elders. It is used to communicate the death of an important personality in the community or to communicate a serious happening in the community.
READ MORE: Lifestyle Culture of Major Nigerian Tribes
Agbande – a set of crafted wooden drums used mainly at festivals. They are particularly large and are played by the young men of the community. Special drum beats communicate special messages and music for the festivals to come. They are regularly used during royal occasions such as the coronation of a King and funerals.
Some Tiv Festivals
Ivom feast – a prestigious marriage dance festival. it is an age mates competition where each member of an age group strives to out-dance his mates. The feast is to display wealth and in so doing, score a point against the financially less privileged members of an age group.
To participate in this festival, each participant must be married to dance the Ivom with his wife. He must also have celebrated “tsantic”, a ritual considered to be a preamble to the celebration of the Ivom proper. Finally, the Council of Elders must approve him before he can participate. It usually takes place between January and April with lavish entertainment comprising of “burukutu” (local beer), food and meat.
Kwagh-Hir Puppet Festival – a dramatized folklore of the Tiv people with intense use of masquerades, puppets and marionettes. This festival is used as a means of handing down information, opinions beliefs and customs through the oral and narrative means. Also, it has offered visual metaphors for understanding and resolving social conflicts.
This annual festival is most popular during the dry season from October to April. Festival themes are woven around economic and social conflicts, problems of the people, traditional and historical issues in Tiv land and contemporary work in general.
Biem And Toho Yilam – a festival of hunting wild games among Tiv people. The bush is allowed to stay for a period of five to ten years in burnt condition preparatory to the festival. Elders of the clan are involved in organizing the hunting expedition and feasting.
The hunters, who usually use local hunting tools like bows/arrows, cutlasses, sears, matches, and Dane-guns, all wait patiently at the mapped out area. This festival is accompanied by all kinds of dances and takes place between December to April.
Akata Fishing Festival – This is a fishing festival popular among the Akata people located in Katsina-Ala LGA of Benue State. Tiv, Etulo and Jukun fishermen competes during this annual fishing festival. It is celebrated between the months of March and May in Katsina-Ala, Benue State. The festival depicts fishing techniques. Prizes are given to the fishermen that come out with the biggest catches.
As we have seen, the lifestyle culture of Tiv people in Benue State, Nigeria is very interesting. Did you enjoying reading about the lifestyle culture of Tiv people in Benue State, Nigeria? What do you think about the lifestyle culture of Tiv people? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.