The Bajju People of Southern Kaduna: The Baranzan Race
With an estimated 600, 000 native speakers, the Bajju, commonly referred to as Kaje, constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in Southern Kaduna. The Bajju are particularly found in Zangon-Kataf, Jemaa and Kachia Local Government Areas of Kaduna State.
The Bajju people have established chiefdom with its administrative headquarters based in Zonkwa in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area where their paramount ruler, the Agwam Bajju, is based. The Bajju speak the Jju language and the land occupied by the Bajju is called Kajju.
The story of the Bajju people is the story a people who migrated from hills of present day Bauchi State and settled on hill called the Hurruang on the Jos Plateau, displacing the original Jarawa occupants. The Jarawa were a faction of a larger Miango tribe. Because of their linguistic and cultural affiliation the Bajju, Miango, and Jarawa tribes still called themselves Dangi (meaning ‘people of same stock’).
A story is commonly told of how two brothers – Zampara and his younger one Awai – left a village, called Dangi on the Jos Plateau and migrated southward in search of a better hunting ground hundreds of years back.
While Awai, who is believed to be the ancestor of the Atsam (Chawai) people settled in a place where he named Chawai, his elder brother Zampara settled at a placed called Hurruang , present day Ungwan Tabo. Zampara had two sons, Baranzan and Akad, who turned out to be the ancestors of the Bajju and the Atakat people, respectively.
After the demise of their father, Akad move to live by the hills in present day Fadan Atakar while Baranzan chose a place by a riverside called Duccuu Cheng in a place called Kajju. The name Kajju was derived from the name which Baranzan gave the new settlement, which was Kazzu. Available evidence suggests that the Bajju have been in their current location as early as the 1800s.
Because of the historical relationship that exists between the Atakat and Bajju people, intermarriages between the two were a taboo. However, a few continued to intermarry until the widespread death of 1970 thought to be caused by defaulters. The law prohibiting marriage between the two tribes was finally abolished in the seventies after the incidence.
One unique cultural value of the Bajju traditional institution that has withstood the rigours of time is the respect for traditional institution. The Gado (leader) plays a special role in the affairs of an entire community in that he has to be consulted before farming, hunting, marriage, festivals, gathering and worship rites. The Gado is so different that he doesn’t wear shoes or cut his hair or nails. He only puts on the kpa (animal skin).
As a traditional hunting community, before going out for a hunting escapade, the Bajju are expected to seek the blessings of the Gado who then administers specially formulated portions on both the hunters and their arrows. It is a serious taboo to go close to a woman afterwards until the hunting is over.
Another remarkable festival among the Bajju is the Swa Nakan or Yanakan (end of farming celebration) for which every grown up man in the community is obliged to donate a big chicken and also contribute to the making of a local drink, Nkwa. Only men are allowed to go in front of the traditional pot and kneel facing southward, before drinking. Men in the community drink one after the other to signify the end of farming year.
It is believed that the traditional portion that usually accompanies the drink is the source of strength for the next farming season.
All the gizzards removed from the chickens are gathered and donated to the Gado, who eats them alone – though may give to any other person he wishes to. The meat is normally used to cook Gbaam (local porridge), which everyone will eat before the drinking starts.
To mark the beginning of a new farming season, Gado normally moves to the farms in the night when the rain starts. He plants in all the four corners of the community. After one or two weeks, he tells the people of the community what will happen next year, including the harvest. It is a taboo for anyone to start farming before Gado.
A council of elders known as the Bagado is saddled with the responsibility of punishing or sanctioning defaulters. This is usually achieved by either suspending them from attending meetings or banishing them from the community all together.
Another remarkable practice by the Bajju was the Tyyi Tson (to administer hungry rice). Hungry rice was considered the most sacred and perhaps the most elite food. This practice involved offering an elderly woman poisoned hungry rice referred to as the Kasap to end her suffering of physical infirmity similar to present day Euthanasia. It was usually accomplished by one of her children or her sister.
The Bajju are known to have resisted early Christianity and the white colonialists because they did not come directly, saying they came instead through the Hausa-Fulani traditional institution and the then Native Authority. The term Kaje was a prerogative name given to the Bajju by the Hausa meaning, ‘to go and fight them ( the whites)’ because the Bajju people refused to compromise.
Though predominantly Christians today, the Bajju worshipped a god called Abvoi, with the Gado Abvoi the high priest. The Magajin Abvoi is the one who translates the messages of Abvoi to the people. The celebrations usually involve dances by masquerade called Akurusak, symbolic of the Abvoi spirit. The Akurusak danced with women and discipline them by beating them.
The Bajju people are mostly farmers, blacksmith and petty traders. They are also known to be very humorous people with many awkward stories associated with them.
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