The Middle Belt: Exploring The Rich Culture and History of The Beautiful Beroms of Plateau, Southern Kaduna States

  • The Beroms are found in Southern Kaduna, and are the largest tribe in Plateau state, amongst 40 tribes

The Berom, are the largest autochthonous ethnic group in Plateau State, central Nigeria, reside across four local government areas: Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi (Gwol), and Riyom. Additionally, they can be found in southern Kaduna State. The Berom people speak the Berom language, which belongs to the Plateau branch of the Benue–Congo subfamily of the Niger–Congo language family, distinct from Afro-Asiatic languages in Plateau State, such as Hausa.

Culturally rich, the Berom celebrate the Nzem Berom festival annually in March or April, along with other festivals like Nzem Tou Chun and Wusal Berom. They have a strong belief in a Judeo-Christian God named Dagwi.

The Berom have a historical narrative suggesting migration from Egypt to settle around the Vom/Kuru axis, regarded by some as the Ancient Kingdom of the Beroms. Traditionally, their main occupations are farming, mining, hunting, and they are known for their warrior spirit.

Regarding food, the Berom have a native crop called ‘Rizgah’ and a staple food known as ‘Acha’ or Hungary Rice, which can be prepared in various ways. They also have a special local ‘draw’ soup made from the bark of a particular tree.

Festivals are integral to Berom culture, primarily centered around agriculture and hunting. The Nzem Berom festival, held in the first week of April, consolidates various cultural displays, emphasizing music, dance, arts, and culture. Mandyeng, a festival welcoming the rainy season, and Nshok, associated with hunting and farming, are significant events in Berom communities.

In the pre-colonial era, hunting was highly valued among the Berom, reflected in names derived from game animals. Boys often have names like Pam, Dung, Chuwang, Gyang, while girls answer to names like Kaneng, Lyop, Chundung, reflecting different species of duiker.

Musical instruments play a role in Berom culture, including Yom Nshi, a two-string banjo, Yom, a straw string instrument, kwag or Gwashak, a scraper made from dry cactus, and Kundung, a xylophone made of cattle horns and cobwebs.

Leadership within the Berom tribe is crucial for cohesion and unity. The Paramount ruler, known as the Gbong Gwom Jos, holds a significant role in providing leadership and fostering unity among different tribes in the Jos Plateau, as has been the tradition since Da Rwang Pam’s leadership (1947-1969).

VIDEO: Thanks to Miriam Didio

IMAGE: Plateau reports

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