Who Are I Tiv?

Tiv, also known as Tivi, is an ethnolinguistic group of people in West Africa. The ethnic group constitutes about 7% of the people in Nigeria and amounts to over 3.5 million people living in Cameroon and Nigeria. As at 1991, over 2.2 million people living in Nigeria talked about Tiv. Most of Tiv’s language speakers live in the state of Benue, while others live in Cross River, Nasawara Taraba and Plateau states in Nigeria.

History of Tiv people

The ethnic group of Tiv is said to have migrated from the southeast to their current position. The Tiv wandered through central and western, southern and south-central Africa before they arrived in the savannah lands of western Africa’s Sudan through Cameroon Mountain and the Congo River. Their first meeting recorded with Europeans was in 1852 on the banks of the Benue River which they occupied until 1950. The Tiv community came into contact with European culture during the colonial era. A Nigerian regiment under Colonel Hugh met the Tiv community during the month of November 1907 in the spring of 1908. Hugh brought many gifts to the tribal chiefs of Tiv. The colonialists later built roads that helped establish commercial ties between the Tiv and the Europeans.

Tiv social organization

Tiv’s tracks date back to their ancestors from an ancient individual known as Tiv, who was blessed with two children named Pusu and Chongo. The members of this group are Ipusu or Ichongo which are further divided into numerous branches. These branches are subdivided into sub-branches called Ipaven. Sub-branch members (ipaven) live together in a local kin-based community called “tar”. This type of social organization refers to the segmentary lineage that is common in many parts of the world.

Political organization

The Tiv group had no leaders, councils or divisions; in fact, leadership was based on affluence, influence and age. Their leadership function was there to resolve disputes, provide security and lead the community in internal and external affairs. The socio-political organizations of the group made it difficult to colonize them by the colonialist and even their indirect government strategy, which had worked on neighboring communities like Fulani and Hausa, did not work in the lower Benue. Therefore, in 1934 the English divided the tribe into different family groups and clans and appointed leaders for each division.

What tools did Tiv use for communication?

During the old days before civilization, most African tribes had their own ways of conveying messages to the entire community. The Tiv have used different musical instruments for both ceremonial and political communication. The kakaki was a royal trumpet used by most West African tribes to convey messages from their leaders. Tiv used the Kakaki to help gather the population in the ceremony square. The Ilyu is a wooden instrument used to inform people of a meeting in the royal palace or in the market. Ilyu’s breath also informed the community of the death of one of the members. Akya is used to request visualization of their Tiv culture.

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