THE BASSA NGE NUPE PEOPLE by Áma Ndagi Abdullahi
The Bassa Nge people are a Nupe people through and through , Any discussion on the origin or history of the Bassa Nge people must start on this premise , namely , that they left Central KinNupe as a Nupe people relatively not long ago .
So many people have migrated out of KinNupe on exoduses and the Bassa Nge are most probably one of the last people to do so since they actually left Central KinNupe in recent historical times .
ALSO SEE: The History Of Nupe People
The Bassa Nge people begun to leave Central KinNupe in the days of the bitter rivalry between Etsu Jimada and Etsu Majiya when the Nupe kingdom broke into two rival kingdoms at the end of the 18th century .
Etsu Jimada was the Etsu Nupe of the Eastern Nupe Kingdom with his palaces at Gbara and Zhima while Etsu Majiya was the Etsu Nupe of the Western Nupe Kingdom with his palace at Zugurma .
The rivalry between the two contending Etsu Nupes led to incessant and continued internecine wars between the two Nupe kingdoms .
These internecine civil wars led to population displacements within and outside KinNupe one of which was the migration of the people who we today refer to as the Bassa Nge .
The Bassa Nge didn’t migrate out of KinNupe in one fell swoop or in a single exodus. It was simply a continuous stream of refugees fleeing the wars within KinNupe .
Though there were documented instances of large collection of families leaving Gbara , the capital city of the Eastern Nupe kingdom under Etsu Jimada , en masse in those days .
These movements of Nupe people out of KinNupe and towards the southeast eventually led to concentration camps of refugees who eventually coalesce to form the people that eventually came to be known as the Bassa Nge .
ALSO SEE: The History Of Niger State
Interestingly Bassa Nge was not their name when they left KinNupe .
In the days that these people left KinNupe at the end of the 18th century they were known specifically as the Ibara or generally as the Nupe .
Captain F. Byng-Hall , who was among the first Colonial authorities to meticulously study the Bassa Nge , wrote that the original name of the Bassa Nge was Ibara .
And Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther wrote that they actually continued to be known and referred to as the ” Nupe ” even long after they have left KinNupe and have settled among the Bassa people of today’s Kogi State .
That the Bassa Nge were originally known as the Ibara is not surprising at all for the simple fact that at the end of the 18th century when they were migrating out of Central KinNupe the Nupe people were still generally known as the Ibara .
ALSO SEE: The Brief History Of Lokoja
The Nupe people were generally known as the Ibara , also on the authority of Professor Roger Blench , and it was only in the first half of the nineteenth century that the national name ” Nupe ” became popular as it was used by the Hausa-Fulani Jihadists in their official documents of communication and their city chronicles .
Ibara was a national name of the entire Nupe Nation in prehistoric times when there , once upon a time , flourished an ancient Nupe kingdom of Ibara or Bara here in Central KinNupe .
This Bara kingdom was also known as Gu-Ibara or Gu-Bara and was the same that was identified as Gubar by Ibn Battuta as a superpower empire that dominated the Central Nigeria of ancient times .
The Nupe people continued to be referred to as the Gubara , Bara , or Ibara right unto historical times as documented by Professor Roger Blench .
In any case the Nupe people known as Bassa Nge today left Central KinNupe at the end of the 18th century due to civil war going on between the two Nupe kingdoms in those days .
In the beginning they were only settled along the banks of the River Niger mostly in today’s Kabbaland not far away from Central KinNupe .
But then the rise of the various Nupe-Fulani emirates throughout KinNupe and the consequent internecine wars further drove the Ibara people out of KinNupe proper .
ALSO SEE: The Arrival Of British In Nigeria
In the 1840 to 1850 period a serious Civil War broke out in KinNupe between the sons of Etsu Tsado the Terrible .
This Civil War threw the entire Nupe Nation into a convulsive tumult and forced the Ibara Nupe people to cross the River Niger to sought for asylum under the Attah of Igala .
The Attah of Igala gave these Nupe people stretches of land in the Bassa country .
That was how these original Nupe people from Central KinNupe first came across the Bassa people and the Bassaland of today’s Kogi State .
To differentiate the new arrivals from the old Bassa Komo people these Ibara Nupe people began to be referred to as the Bassa Nge .
Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther reported seeing these communities of Nupe people accommodated in Bassa country by the Attah of Igala .
ALSO SEE: The Arrival Of British In Nigeria
The population of the Bassa Nge people began to expand geometrically as they settled down into a life of farming and peasantry in Bassa land under the Attah of Igala .
At a time their expanding population became a threat to the Igalas and there ensued a war between the Bassa Nges and the Igalas .
But the Bassa Nge defeated the Igalas and, consequently , asserted their independence from the Attah of Igala .
While the Attah of Igala was trying to reassert his sovereignty over the Bassa Nge the Colonial White man arrived on the scene and , with his divide and rule stratagem , supported the Bassa Nge against the Attah of Igala. The Colonial White man claimed that the Attah of Igala was too harsh and tyrannous over the Bassa Nge .
Colonial authorities consequently granted the Bassa Nges some measure of autonomy from the Attah of Igala and this became the norm when the Colonial Government became firmly established .
Anyway , the Bassa Nge became very close, and even acculturated , with the Igalas .
Due to their minority status in Kogi State the Bassa Nge people are facing all manners of humiliation and oppression in the political setup of Kogi State .
A former civilian Governor of Kogi State was alleged to have declared in the public that he can do without the political clout of the Bassa Nge at the electoral polls because the entire population of the Bassa Nge “ cannot even fill a pick-up van ”.
The marginalization and neglect of the Bassa Nge people is aptly illustrated by the fact that the Bassa Nge have for decades yearned for a bridge to be built across the River Niger from Lokoja to Shintakun , a major Bassa Nge town , but successive Kogi State administrations have flatly refused to construct this lowcost bridge for the simple reason that the Bassa Nge have not the political or economic clout to persuade these administrations to build the bridge .
A bridge from Lokoja to Shintakun across the Niger will bring instant economic and sociocultural development to the Bassa Nges .
The Bassa Nge today are a very progressive and highly determined people who want to be reconnected with the main body of Nupe people back here in Central KinNupe .
One major way to achieve this will be the creation of Edu State of course. The proposed map of Edu State actually included today’s Bassa Nge land in Kogi State. In other words the Bassa Nge part of Kogi State has been incorporated into the map of Edu State .
OTHER BASSA NGE HISTORY source from : The History Of Bassa Nge People
A comprehensive treatise on the Bassa Nge people has been provided in Yakubu ( Yaakh ) Habi’s groundbreaking book entitled, “The People Called Bassa Nge” Reference : Habi , Y.H. ( 2006 ). The People Called Bassa Nge .
Tamaza Publishing Company United: Wusasa Zaria , Nigeria .)). The book asserts that the people called the Bassa Nge are Nupe .
They originally inhabited Gbara , the ancient capital of Nupe Kingdom and they later migrated from their motherland following a dynastic feud , about 1820 .
The Bassa Nge were the largest of the Nupe groups ( about 15,000 people ) that scattered all over Nigeria; the other Nupe groups are Kakanda , Ebe , Zitako ( or Dibo ), Kupa and Cekpa .
The Nupe language belongs to the group of Sudanese languages of the Kwa group of West African Languages .
Nupe Kingdom reached its zenith during the reign of Etsu Mu’azu (1778 – 1795) .
Immediately following Etsu Mu’azu’s death, internal trouble broke out .
The claim of Mu’azu’s son , Jimada , the legitimate heir to the throne , was disputed by his father’s brother’s son ( cousin ), Majiya II .
This led to a division of Nupe Kingdom into a Western and Eastern half: Jimada reigned in the Eastern Nupe Kingdom and built his palaces at Gbara , the ancient capital of Nupe Kingdom ; Majiya II reigned in the Western Nupe Kingdom built himself a capital in Raba along the coast of the River Niger .
Later on , Majiya II solicited the assistance of the Fulani jihadists and gained the friendship of Mallam Dendo and the Fulani group in Nupe , and with them on his side , he became by far the more powerful and soon snatched the other half of Nupe Kingdom from Jimada , his rival .
According to History by Bassa-Nge people , Majiya ll defeated Jimada in the war , killed him at Ragada , near Jengi , and thus made himself the undisputed King of Nupe , about 1820 .
Consequently, Idrisu, Jimada’s son , fled with the rest of his followers to Labozi and later across the River Niger , to Egga where he stayed an exile and fugitive , powerless against Majiya II’s army .
Given the physical impact and the political consequences of the war , the followers of Jimada then decided to move out of the Nupe Kingdom .
They started to move southwards and reached Bunuland where they dispersed in family units among the Bunu people .
The dispersed followers of Etsu Jimada were , therefore , originally Nupe , who are today called Bassa Nge .
That the Bassa Nge people are Nupe is evident in many facets of their identity .
Linguistically , the Bassa Nge and Nupe people understand each other despite some variations .
The Bassa Nge people are essentially bilingual as they understand and speak Nupe from childhood almost without being taught .
The Holy Bible was translated into Nupe language and it is used by both the Nupe and the Bassa Nge people .
In addition to speaking a common language , the Bassa Nge and Nupe people also have the same culture , including , but not limited to , their kingship system and traditional music .
The Bassa Nge people’s path of movement was through Koro , Yagba , Bunu and Lokoja .
The initial social interaction between the migrants and the Bunu ( in the former Kabba Division of Nigeria ) was very cordial as evidenced from their inter – tribal marriages between the two communities .
However, this cordial relationship was short – lived due to some inconsistencies on the part of the host community .
This was when the migrants , who were predominantly farmers , were subjected to starvation as a result of denial of adequate accessibility to farmland , coupled with unjust socio – economic and political marginalization .
The strained relationship between the indigenes and the migrants resulted into a natural urge for independence by the latter ( Bassa Nge people ).
This then pushed the migrants to move until they finally settled at a virgin land at Eti Patti Lukongi ( translated “ On Top Of The Mountain Of Doves ”), the present day , city of Lokoja .
ALSO SEE: The History Of The Gbagyi People
Historical records indicate that the further movement of the Bassa Nge people was brought about as a result of the persistent Massaba raids , popularly referred to as “ Eku Anupe ” ( literally , “ Nupe Wars ”) of the early 1840s , which was occasioned by the inability of the fleeing migrants to pay tributes to Bida , the current capital of the ancient Nupe Kingdom .
Massaba , The Emir of Bida , marched down with an invading army and encamped on the site of the present – day city of Lokoja from where the Nupe migrants ( Bassa Nge people ) abandoned the territory for another settlement on the eastern bank of the River Niger , their present abode of Bassa Nge land .
The present abode of the now called Bassa Nge District was said to have been discovered by a famous hunter called Eshida .
While the Nupe migrants ( Bassa Nge people ) were living at Mount Patti in present day ( Lokoja ), this hunter , Eshida , used to cross the River Niger to hunt for game in the forests on the river banks .
Through this , he discovered the land and decided to settle there , by the rocks called Takun Kporo ( Eriwota Rock ) – the weathered sculptured phenomenon that has left three rocks delicately balanced on top of each other a spot still marked by Eshida’s grave and decorated with his hunting trophies .
Having created a living home around the Eriwota Rock , Eshida then persuaded all the people ( kpata zazi ) to cross over and join him in his new land , which he named Kpata , meaning “ all the people ” should come to the new town .
The people indeed heeded Eshida’s call and agreed to cross over to settle in one city , Kpata .
Eshida’s aim was to implore “ all the people ” ( kpata zazi ) to come and settle at a place he considered to be “ a nice place ” ( baboge / baage or babossa ) .
By a historical coincidence , the Bassa Komu migrants and Nupe migrants ( namely, Bassa Nge ) had almost simultaneously migrated and settled in the same geographical area called Bassa Province .
The Bassa Komu crossed at the confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue in the 1840s , whereas the Bassa Nge crossed the River Niger in the 1850s .
These emigrational movements brought the people now called Bassa Nge and Bassa Komu close together in the same geographical area ; otherwise , the two groups of people have nothing in common in their origin , culture or history. While the Bassa Nge are a Nupe speaking tribe from Gbara in Nupe Kingdom , the Bassa Komu are a Bassa tribe from Gumna in Zozo Kingdoms of Fulani Bororo .
Linguistically, Bassa Komu belong to the Benue-Congo branch which Bassa Nge , being Nupe speaking , belong to the Kwa branch of Nigeria-Congo languages .
Unfortunately , with the coincidence of these two distinct ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical Bassa Province , the name , Bassa , invariably became erroneously applicable to both of them .
This somehow accounts for the white colonial officials lumping together of otherwise separate communities with a common name , Bassa .
The colonialists had indeed taken the community ( Bassa Nge ) to be the same with the Bassa Komu and they were so commonly referred to as Bassa – a case of mistaken identity ! However , even with the imposition of a common identity with the generic term , Bassa , the colonialists were conscious of the differences between the two tribes ; therefore , they designated each of them with a linguistic suffix , “ Nge ” and “ Komu ,” to denote “ Bassa-Nge ” and “ Bassa-Komu ” respectively .
The Bassa Nge people now occupy the eastern side of the confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue although some of them still live on the side of the River Niger at Lokoja , present-day headquarters of Kogi State , Nigeria .
The population of the Bassa Nge according to the 2006 census was about 140,000 Bassa-Nge kingdom in located in Bassa Local Government Area of Kogi State in Nigeria , and has three (3) districts , namely , Gboloko , Kpata and Eforo , The Bassa Nge kingdom has its headquarters in Gboloko ; it covers some 100 square kilometers , which is bound to the north by the River Benue and Mozum district ; to the east by Bassa Komu , Dekina and Biraidu districts ; and to the west by the River Niger .
The kingdom inhabits the low lands of the River Niger and its entire length faces Lokoja with a most important port at Shintaku , where people cross the River Niger by ferry and outboard boats to and from Lokoja .
History was made on May 28, 2016 , when the BNC donated Over the Counter ( OTC ) medicines to the clinic in Gboloko , headquarters of the Bassa Nge Kingdom at a special event that was well publicized in advance .
Over 200 Bassa Nges attended and directly benefited from this event .
This event was made possible through the generous donations of members of BNC , who believed strongly that they should give back to the land of their birth. Prior to this momentous event , the BNC members of the Medicines Donation Task Force ( Mr. Ezekiel Tsado , Mr. Gambo Afubu and Mrs. Roseline Ekuta ) had obtained the permission and blessings of the Etsu Bassa Nge, His Royal Highness, Alh. ( Brig. General ) Abu Ali Mopah III ( Rtd ) ” Bagadozhi “. Other eminent leaders who were contacted prior to this event included the Imam of Gboloko and the Pastor-l in Charge of the Anglican Communion in Gboloko , both of whom helped to disseminate relevant information regarding the donation to their members. Mrs. Victoria Ajoka , Head Nurse at the clinic in Gboloko , received the donated medicines on behalf of all the patients who needed them .
On the date of this event , each patient received a physical examination prior to any medicine being dispensed .
This donation would be the first of many more charitable activities to follow , some pictures from this event are provided here .
On May 26-28, 2017, BNC held the 2017 Annual Convention in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , USA , to discuss the Community’s progress to date and strategic vision for the future .
About 54 members and guests attended this convention .
Difference Between Bassa Nge & Bassa Komu Language Speaking People of Kogi State
BASSA-NGE are a Nupe speaking people originating from Gbara in Nupe Kingdom , while BASSA-KOMU on the other hand is a Bassa language originating from Gumna in Zozo Kingdom of Fulani Bororo .
Bassa Nge belongs to Kwa Branch of Niger-Congo group of Languages while Bassa-Komu belongs to the Benue-Congo group of Languages .
The both tribes are entirely different from one another having absolutely nothing in common , but were lumped together under the Bassa Kingdom by the colonial masters , and were both called ” Bassa ” with the suffixes ” Nge ” and ” Komu ” to distinguish them .
The people of Bassa-Nge & Bassa-Komu are found in Bassa Local Government Area of Kogi State, and share the Local Government ( Bassa LGA ) with people of the Ebira Mozum ethnic group .
The Bassa- Nges are also found in Lokoja , Ajaokuta , Dekina among others .
ALSO SEE: The First Professor In Nupe Land
History of the Bassa-Nge People on ( How they defeated the Igalas in a battle ).
The Bassa Nge’s of today are Nupe’s who migrated from Gbara in south-west Bida just a little over hundred years ago .
Their first place of settlement was in Kaaba which is today occupied by the Okun’s ( Yoruba ) in Kogi State .
The place Kabba was named by the Bassa settlers because they intended to use it as a maize farm ( kaba means maize ).
The Nupe’s now Bassa had to leave because of the incessant slave raiding in the area .
Subsequently they moved to mount Patti and became the first settlers on Mt Patti in Lokoja .
The name ” Patti ” is the Nupe word for Mountain .
After victory over Muhammadu Maikarfi of Katsina , the Nupe’s crossed the Niger River in 3 batches .
the first batch headed by the Lerama family called on the others by saying ” E Dabe Kpata ” which means ” Come All ” in the Nupe tongue , thus Kpata became the first settlement across the River .
The crossing was made through ” Am Kpata / Kpata Nuwo ” meaning ” river bank ” in Nupe’s which is currently the kpata market area of lokoja .
The Second batch who crossed the river were headed by the Mopa family .
The Mopas returned to invite their brothers who were left on Patti , non returned because they had discovered a fertile swampy bank which decided to settle in , they named it ” Ndaduma ” meaning ” Swampy Land “. this name was later adulterated to ” Gadumo ” now in Lokoja After due consultations the last batch were asked to split into 3 groups , since they were the traditional warrior .
When they did , two groups crossed under the watch of the other group who were to remain behind to watch over ” Lokoja ” meaning ” Uniting Place “.
ALSO SEE: The NUPE TIMELINE By Áma Ndagi Abdullahi
The third group adviced the Mopas to ” follow this path and enter ” meaning ” dawn kolo ” or ” Let the remnants follow here and enter ” meaning ” adawn kolo ” in the native Nupe language which is now the ” Adankolo ” in Lokoja .
Of the two groups that crossed in the last batch , on reaching Kpata , the Lerama’s told them of the occultic Igalas at ” Ogboloku “.
warriors as they were , they set forth for their traditional duty to fight the Igalas giving them a decisive defeat .
the Lerama’s in order to show a sign of total defeat to the Igalas moved to Gboloko to establish a palace with the traditiona Nupe heritage title of Etsu .
The Igalas however rallied themselves and threatened to attack the new king ( Etsu ), so quickly , warriors were sent to scout the area .
They camped near the only sweet water ” Amonoku ” because the igalas had poisoned all the other sources of water .
When they returned , they informed the Etsu that the igalas were camped at Dekina .
so the Etsu took it upon himself to be in the battle field to ensure a total annihilation and defeat of the igalas .
Before leaving , the Etsu made an agreement that in case of death , the Mopas should continue the Etsuship of ” Bassa ” land At a decisive battle , the Nupes of this newly found ” Bassa Land ” defeated the igalas thoroughly at a place east of the ” sweet waters ” ” Amonoku ‘ and all the land was littered with igala blood .
The Attah of igala barely managed to escape alive upon which reaching Idah , he cursed any of his people who will marry from the new Nupe people that such a person will die in poverty .
( note that the curse was because he was defeated and this new people seemed to be more industrious , although the Igala’s of today have tried to change this narrative to suit their egos ) After defeating the Attah igala , the Etsu left an order that one of the warrior groups remain behind as eastern guards while the other follows him back to Gboloko Before he left however , one of the guards asked what to do with the dead bodies of the slain Igala’s .
He replied thus ” Effiwn Etu Emi Ajugu ” meaning ” Sweep It And build The House Of The Chief Guard ” and that marked the beginning of Effin people and why their leaders are originally from Emi Ajugu .
While new Nupes in the area prepared to invade Dekina , the Igala’s seeing that they were at their wits end invited the white man ” Mr Cook ” or ” Masta kooku ” as the people called him to assist them .
Because of superior weapon from the white man and bravery of the New Nupe’s people , the battle of the ” Black Stone “ meaning ” Zhintaku / Takunzhiko ” ( Shintaku ) ended as stalemate .
The white man came from Idah using modern boats .
Because he couldn’t defeat the Bassa people , he requested that they leave out of free will .
They told him that they had no plans of leaving as the land was ” Baa sa ” Meaning ” fertile “. Mr. Cook then registered the land and the people as ” Bassa ” in his diary which was later to be used as an official document for naming the Bassa or Bassa Nge in 1983 by the Shagari regime . ( see Longman atlas or Collins atlas both of 1982, you will see Bassa land captured as Nupe ).
LISTS OF ETSU BASSA-NGE FROM IT INCEPTION
1. Emitso Eshida
2. Emitso Etan
3. Emitso Nyakpa
4. Etsu Amkpolo Nyakpa
5. Etsu Mayaki Etan
6. Etsu Eri Etan
7. Etsu Mopa Mayaki
8. Etsu Anaja Udjo
9. Etsu Lerama Amkpolo
10. Etsu Ali Mopa
11. Etsu Umaru Eri
12. Etsu Abdullahi Anene
13. Etsu Umaru Eri
14. Etsu Abdullahi Ajo
15. Etsu Adama Lerama
16. Etsu Abu Ali
NOTE: At first , the rulers were known as Emitso , because , the migration to the area ( Kpata ) was not done in mass , nor was it spontaneous , or even simultaneous .
All the early settlements in these area were done on family or clan basis .
ALSO SEE: The Hairstyles In African Culture
Crisis began in Nupe land when Etsu Muhammad died in 1805 .
He was a Nupe man .
Dendo whose real name was ( Muhammad Bin Fate ): He was a Fulani man from Kebbi state , he lived in Nupe land for sometimes , thereafter he went back to Kebbi to pick his wife , Adama three children , Muhammad Majigi Abdul Gboya and Usman Zaki .
When Dendo arrived in Nupe land with his family , he began to move from one resident to another , preaching and performing asiri ( Secret Act ).
He had numerous herbal medicines that he used to cure many sicknesses .
Afterwards , he arrived at village named Tyabo Nupe village in Niger state .
Dendo demanded to see the village head .
The village head sent someone to check who the visitor was .
The person sent went back and told the village head that the visitor was ” Man Na De Yan Dondo Nan” It means ” A Imam Who Had Everything On Him ” It was the statement in Nupe that was shortened to ” Dendo ” He was also nicknamed ” Manko ” meaning ” Great Imam “. Dendo went back to Bida .
While he was at Bida , Dendo was invited by the etsu of Jima to where he was received by the etsu .
He was shown the place where crocodile caught Jima’s son subsequently many crocodiles came out from the river , including the one that swallowed etsu Jima son .
Dendo got married to Fatima ; a Nupe woman .
NOTE: don’t mistake Jima for Jimada .
The crisis started when etsu Muhammad died in 1805 , as we mentioned in the first paragraph .
Yikanko assumed the role of Etsu Afterwards , Jimada and Majiya came to claim the throne .
Each of them established himself at his capital .
Yikanko established himself at Mokwa , Jimada established himself at Gbara , and then Ragada and Majiya at Raba .
The Nupe kingdom was divided into three part .
Thereafter , Yikanko was killed at Mokwa . The remaining two rival dragged for the etsu throne .
Majiya seeks for support from Dendo .
Majiya and Dendo conspired and killed Jimada .
He was killed at Ragada when his army went for expedition at Yagba land in 1820 (19th.Century ).
Jimada’s subjects who had stayed with Jimada at Gbara , but later move to Ragada .
They fled to Bunu in Kaba in the present place Kogi state in order to avoid another attacks .
Majiya became the Etsu Nupe Later , Dendo betrayed and killed Majiya , Dendo the Fulani who has a Nupe wife as his second wife became Etsu Nupe .
Thereafter , the language became adulterated in Kaba .
Subsequently , they migrated to Lokoja .
Source : * History Of The Emirate of Bida by Sule Mohammed .
* Oral interview .
Afterwards,Eshida;a brave hunter led the Bassa-Nge people to Kpata after chasing the former inhabitants of Kpata.The word ” Kpata ” was said to be a Nupe word mean ( All ) .
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