The Thonna Race of Southern Kaduna: a Historical Perspective

The Gwong people are the descendants of Thonna. They are found in Jema’a Local Government Area in the Southern Kaduna sub-region of Northern Nigeria, with their administrative headquarters in Fadan Kagoma.

The Gwong people, like many other ethnic groups in Nigeria, lack any formal documentation to back their origin, though it is common among the Gwong people that they share common ancestors with the Ham, Gworok, Bajju and Shalio people, their neigbours in Southern Kaduna.

They believe they relocated from present day Ghana via the Bauchi Plateau. Others still argue that they are a clan of the Jukun tribe of present day Taraba State. However, since there is no any documented record of migration and since no ethnic group has ever laid claims of Gwong Land, Gwong people believe very strongly that Num (the Almighty one) created them where they presently live.

The Gwong people are popularly known to the world as Kagoma. It is speculated that when the first Hausa traders visited Gwong land they could not pronounce Khi Gwong ( meaning Gwong land) so therefore coined the term Kagoma. This is how the “Kagoma” name all started.

Thonna is believed to have had three sons – Gwong, Nindem and Nyankpa. Gwong is believed to be the ancestor of the Gwong people with Nyankpa’s descendants scattered in parts of Southern Kaduna and NasaraWheh Gwongwa States, while Nindem’s descendants settled across the River Godo-godo. Gwong had a single son named Kamaáh who in turn had five sons namely – Nghat, Kogong, Kyot, Ndak, and Soh. Nghat stayed with his father at Nga-kyozi; Kagong (Dez) founded Bi-kot Gwong (Unguwar Iga); Kyot founded Fana; Ndak Founded Fadan Kagoma; and Soh founded Asso. Their decendants in turn founded the surrounding villages since they did not stray too far away from their parents.  It is also believed that the descendants of Gwong Thonna spread southward from Bi-fah clan, Bi-sat clan, and Asso clan to establish other clans and cities such as Kpadam clan and Kwagiri/Kussom Clan.

At Bisat, the historical and commercial hub of Kpaki (now Paki) was founded, likewise Bara which hosts the La Whop (a sacred lake were children born with deformities were dumped for reincarnation). The claim to the ownership of La Whop was once a contentious issue between the Gwong and the Ham nation. This was settled after the best divers, each from either tribe, were thrown into the La Whop and only the Gwong diver came out alive to prove ownership.

Though Christianity is now the predominant religion at Bisat, superstition and tradition also continue to uphold strongly with Gyashak (the masquerade) being the custodian.
The people still cherish and preserved their rich cultural heritage, the traditional rulers being its custodian.

The then stable Gwong traditional institution was threatened and compromised by earlier attempts by the Hausa-Fulani to obtained taxes and later by attempt by Europeans to establish their own rules. It is widely believed that Kpaki, through diplomacy, was the emissary delegated by his people to go Zaria and negotiate their cause with the emir. Kpaki was then made the traditional ruler (Uban Gari) by the Emir of Zazzau and was now responsible for giving horses to the emir as taxes on behalf of his people. On his return, a big feast was organized in his honour after he narrated what transpired between him and the emir of Zaria. Up to this moment Kpaki is still remembered as hero among the Bisat people in particular and Gwong people in general.
In fact the town “Paki” was named in honour of Kpaki, it was originally known as Dop.

Gwong DancersThe Gwong Chiefdom, as it is today, was created on 24th October 1994 by Colonel Lawal Jafaru Isa, then Military Administrator of Kaduna State with Mallam Aruwa Jatau, the then District Head of Kagoma, the first Kpop Gwong (Chief of Kagoma). Today, the Kpop Gwong is His Royal Highness Kpop Paul Zakka Wyoms, a retire colonel in the Nigerian Army.

The Gwong people celebrate their cultural day which they refer to as Khi-Tuk Gwong (Gwong Day) every first Saturday in the month of March. On this day all sons and daughters of Gwong Land, at home and in the diaspora, come together to showcase their rich culture heritage and to also discuss on issues bothering their land.

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5 Responses to The Thonna Race of Southern Kaduna: a Historical Perspective

  1. Alexander Nyekung Musa says:

    I really enjoyed the piece on the Thonna race. It was enlightening although some aspect of the history was distorted or left out. Maybe more research be made about this post and amendment made to the article. Thanks all the way. It was interesting.

  2. Nehemiah Madugu says:

    a good effort , though need to be improved.

    • Ben says:

      I know there’s always room for improvement. That actually why I have people like you.
      Please do contact me for any imput via the contact form, email, facebook, twitter, etc.
      Thank sir

  3. Nelson Richard nyeri says:

    Great job keep it up bro

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