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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23 Responses to The Bajju People of Southern Kaduna: The Baranzan Race

  1. Abigail Kahuwai says:

    Very informative and beautiful piece. Some of the local words are familiar, having heard them from my grandmother. Weldone.

  2. kumai s awan says:

    am 40yrs and have heard of this naratives i am of Akat lineage.well done .but from bauchi ‘kufai’what about the ealiar migration port.

  3. Simon b Kato says:

    Thanks for the information given to the general public but I wish you guys would have come up with the story right from the tower of babel where languages were given Genesis 11 meaning after that happens Bajju journey started to where we are today. Please check your story and put it right please.

  4. john isaac says:

    Gud piece….. proud to be a Bajju man

  5. Bakut tswah Bakut says:

    SIMON B. Kato, you can help us fill the gaps. But the History of the Bajju people like all people of African descent can be traced from the civilisation of Nubia (name for ancient Upper Egypt -covering present day Ethiopia and Sudan). Nuba was in existence before Joseph was sold to Egypt leading to the 400 years slavery of the Hyksos (Jewish) people from whom Moses wrote the story of the tower of Babel. Sadly, moses did not tell us where the Africans come from. BUT, he was born in Egypt (Africa) and also married an African woman. Read Ancient African history and Egyptology and establish the link between the ‘ba’ as in the plural of Banyet (people in Jju) and ‘ka’ as in Kabyen (land in Jju).

  6. NEHEMIAH MAMMAN FROM DIBIYI THE HOST WHERE THE GADO KAJJU IS says:

    THE MASCURATE IS CALL AKURUSAK NOT ABUSAK PLS

  7. Bakachat Didam says:

    NYC piece n tanx 4 giving me a brief history of my pple

  8. Danjuma Bello Sarki says:

    This is indeed informative and incisive. Kudos to Ben Bidi and his team. This is absolutely commendable. More grease to your elbow and God bless you for helping us retrace our history.

    Thank you Sir, the erudite Dr. Bakut tswah Bakut for giving credence to this piece.

  9. Kwasu says:

    Wonderful nice one keep it up.

  10. Isah Bature Farman says:

    This is an explicit write up. I like it

  11. Nathan.P says:

    For a start?!….. This is great!!!…..n I know there will always be room for improvement

    • Sunday Kantiyok says:

      Impressive and instructive. I we can come modern costumes and some cultural programs that will be peculiar to us. I wish to partner with you. We can make an appointment.

  12. vera says:

    Wow wow Bajju

  13. Kamuru says:

    Very informative piece, indeed. Perhaps the most insightful piece on the subject that i have read. The connection between us and the miango and jarawa ppl is interesting. Our plateau kinsmen always came to bajju land for kwadigbo mid to late in the raining season as it was reported that the women did most of the farming there. I thought linguistically, we are closer to atyep (kataf) than atakat? Therefore, i would have thought awai gave rise to the kataf? This is speculative without any sound anthropology behind it except for the linguistic closeness between jju and tyep. Hopefully more will be uncovered by future researchers in this very interesting subject. .

  14. ibrahim Ishaya Yani says:

    I am proudly of Bajju man

  15. James joshua says:

    Nic 1,,,but we more purification most especially in d way we the BAJJU..conduct our traditional marrige rite in our land..

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