Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State.
Today we will be examining the Jukun people of Nigeria, their past historical account and how they came to where they are today.
Jukun are an ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in West Africa. The Jukun are traditionally located in Taraba, Benue, Nassarawa, Plateau, Adamawa, and Gombe states in Nigeria and parts of north western Cameroon. They are descendants of the people of the Kwararafa kingdom.
Kwararafa (Kororofa) Kingdom to have existed during middle ages between 1500– 1840, the kingdom was Located in the Benue River valley in what is today called central Nigeria. The kingdom was believed to have been founded by the jukuns whom were said to have migrated from the Arabian peninsula, Yemen to be precise, They entered into the present day Nigeria through the mandara hills and the lake Chad. After establishing a stronghold at a place called Ngazargamu, they moved their base to upper Gongola valley, before finally settling in the middle Benue valley.
In another Account, C.Eyutchae suggests the possibility of Jukun origination from Agulu in Anambra state, acording to his account, “Aku was the fourth son of Agulu whose pregnancy were the Jukuns. The Jukuns as a result of their assertion of their monarchical sovereignty moved North-East of the Middle Belt area. They adopted a kingship tradition that is based on the lgbo abuana (puffada) life cycle. As the puff ada is said never gives birth naturally, but that the young ones bores through its mother which dies in process, the Jukuns kings live very short lives, dying untimely after about seven years when there are signs of maturity of a successor.
The Jukuns greet their kings after his coronation as Agaba Iduu meaning” Iduu Field Marshal whereas in their ancestral lduu land, Agaba Iduu does not refer to the king but to a war lord. Traditionally, the Jukun king’s title is Annum Agaba or Ojogwu Oji Agaba. The Jukun separation from Iduu kingship tradition followed the battle of Nando waged against their relations, the Aguleries. It ended in the Jukuns settling up coronation spot in Wukari. Thus the Nandos in Wukari, in the Middle Belt are presumed to be relations to Ikem, son of lgala in Benue State, and the Nandos in the present Anambra Local Government Area.”
The Jukuns are not the only tribe in Nigeria which has been given account of Middle Eastern migration. The Igbos of Nigeria are also battling with such migration stories which the Igbo academia described as non existent as no historical account suggests that such migration occurred.
Most of the tribes in the north central/ Middle-belt of Nigeria trace their origin to the Jukun people and in one way or the other relate to the Jukuns. If not for the coming of both Christianity and Islam, the Jukun people were traditionalists. Most of the tribes; Alago, Agatu, Rendere, Gumai in Shendam, and others left Kwararafa when it disintegrated as a result of a power tussle.
The Jukuns are divided into two major groups; the Jukun Wanu and Jukun Wapa. The Jukun Wanu are fishermen residing along the banks of the River Benue and Niger where they run through Taraba state, Benue state and Nassarawa state. The Wukari Federation, headed by the Aku Uka of Wukari, is now the main center of the Jukun people.
1900 picture of Jukun chief from Wukari.
The population speaks a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo family. The people comprise a congeries of many smaller groups, each organized on a different basis, although polygynous extended families seem to be the dominant unit.
The Jukun traditionally possessed a complex system of offices, which had both a political and a religious aspect; the priesthood practiced an involved form of religion marked by diurnal and annual rounds of ritual and sacrifice. The king, called Aka Uka, was a typical example of a semi-divine. This is similar to the Obol Lopon institution in Yakurr Cross River state and Nri in Anambra state (a King/Priest).
The jukuns who are the remnant of the lost kingdom can be found in states like Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Adamawa, Katsina, Gombe, Kogi, Western Cameroon and Chad. Other minorities in the North and North central have traced their ancestry to the kingdom and believed to have left after the collapse.
During the thriving days of Kwarafa kingdom, the people who inhabited the kingdom were very peaceful, and historically were against human violation and Socio-Economic injustice of any kind.
In spite their peaceful nature, They were never conquered and resisted every attempt by Usman Danfodio to make them a conquered people. The never took the flag from the jihadist as a sign of surrender. Rather, they were the belligerents themselves, who invaded several territories. It was recorded that they invaded, defeated and took over territories in places like Kano, katsina, Kaduna, etc.
Culturally and religion wise, the people before the advent of Christianity and Islam were core traditionalists and some are still are. in fact they resisted Islam with disdan, but rather accepted Christianity with open arms. That’s why most states in the North Central are core Christians states even some minorities in the North East and North West.