The Tinor People of Southern Kaduna: the Priestly Caste

The Tinor People, common as Koro or otherwise referred to as the Jijili or Jili in other literatures are found in present day Kagarko, Karu and Obi, and Tafa Local Government Areas of Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger States, respectively and also parts of Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territories.

The over 500, 000 Tinor are divide into two major subgroups, the Waci and the Myamya with two slightly different dialects which do not preclude inter-comprehension without learning the other dialect. Some literatures, however, often treat many of these as a combination of different tribes under the same name. Their language is closely related to Gbagyi (Gwari) and Gwandara.

Tinor language (Koro Waci) is spoken in some 20 villages among the three Chiefdoms (Koro, Kagarko and Jere) of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State and it forms part of a larger cultural grouping with the Ashe or Za. Common Tinor villages are Uner (Dogon Kurmi), Utur (Itur), Ravura (Kabara), Nebi (Kadanyu), Wogon (Kagarko), Gesebere (Kasa Bare), Uhuca (Kubacha), Usam (Kusam), Marke, Pankori (Pankore), Rafin Kimba, Sabon Gida, and Sabon Ice.

It is often claimed that the tribal name Koro came from a Hausa corruption of the term Ofro which is a type of bag still made by the Jijili people. Other sources, however, say the term Koro is the Hausa word for “drive away” which was given to this group of people because they had suffered continuous raids as a result of which they were always driven away to new places.

Koro DancersKoro MaskThe vast majority of Tinor claim to have originated from Yamil, East of Mecca and migrated into Nigeria through Present day Borno State. Some say they were living at Kano under Hausa leadership, though the Hausa did not have a full control over them. It took Hausa alliances with the Kanuri to be able to dislodge the Tinor people.

After being driven away from Kano, they escaped southwards towards Lafia (Nasarawa State), Kubacha (Kaduna State) and others went to the Suleja and Kafin-Koro areas in Niger State. Those who came to Kubacha are believed to have earlier settled around Zaria from where they were driven away by the queen’s (Amina) forces. There is a disputed claim by the Jijili people that the first wife of the Emir of Kano (grandfather of Ado Bayero) and the first wife of the Emir of Suleja were both Jijili.

Another twist to the evolution of the Tinor people is the claim by some scholars that the race is generally identified with the Jukun people of present day Taraba State, as the remnant of the great Kororofa tribe who conquered the whole of the Hausa land since the seventeenth century. They are also referred to as the priestly caste, which headed the Jukun power that dominated the policies of Northern Nigeria between the eleventh and seventeenth century before the advent of Othman Danfodio in the seventeenth century.

The Tinor people have never been under a single traditional head. For example, while the paramount ruler is called Ere by the Koro Waci in Kagarko, he is referred to as the Choazie by the Jijiri in Kafin Koro. The present day Koro Chiefdom of Kagarko was created on the 15th September 2000 with the Ere-Koro as the paramount ruler.

Koro Masquerades...In the Traditional Koro Tinor religion, Osi is the name for the Almighty one who lives in heaven and is not involved in human affairs. Okpili is the deity that is directly involved with men often represented by a masquerade. Okpili has the power to heal the sick and to protect from harm. Uvwechi is the oracle that collects offerings brought to Osi and Okpili.

The Ile deity makes rain and can also cause excessive rain to stop. When there is too much or no rain, the priest or elders make a paste of ashes and pour it into a pot inside the Ile shrine. At times like this the priest abstains from water for a period between three and four days after the sacrifice to stop the rain has been made. If he does drink, rain will commence again.

Ogatugba is an oracle that is consulted through Ozekpiliaga (his priest) for solutions to a variety of problems. Onyotugba has the ability to cause disability to both humans and animals; so it needs to be pacified with sacrifices. At different times of the year, festivals of the various gods, which exclude strangers from participation, are held at various times of the year.

Today, a significant majority of the Tinor people profess Christianity as their religion with the remaining identifying with Islam and Traditionalists.

The people of Kagarko Local government are predominantly Tinor. The Tinor people are mostly farmers. About 70% of ginger produced in Kaduna State comes from Kagarko Local Government.

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