The chapter introduces us to the general background, historical background, socio-cultural profile and genetic classification of the Gùngáwá people. It also includes the scope and organization of study, theoretical framework, data analysis and a review of the chosen framework.
Introduction to the History of Gùngáwá People and Language.
Gùngáwá is an adopted name for the Bàrèshe people by their Hausa neighbors which means Island dwellers because of their nearest to rivers and lakes.
The people call themselves Bàrèshe, Tsureja or Yáúráwa but officially called Gùngáwá. The names of the language are Gùngáwá, Gùngácí.
The Gùngáwá people are mostly found in Northern part of Kebbi State, and around Islands in extreme Sokoto State few of them were also in Niger State especially Kontangora area and Borgu Local Government Area and a recent funding in Kaiama Local Government Area of Kwara State.
The tribe Gùngáwá or Bàrèshe can be found in the Northern part of Nigeria in Southern Kebbi State (Yàúrí Local Government) few of them are also in Borgu Local Government Area and North of Borgu in Niger State.
The Gùngáwá are mostly concentrated in Kebbi State in Yàúrí Local Government. The Gùngáwá people are the original inhabitants of Yàúrí according to Muazu Bagudu a native of the town.
A source had that the Gùngáwá were decendents of 17th century warrior called Kisira or Kachin who allied himself with the Hausa Soldiers to gain territory in the extreme North who eventually settled with his co-fighters in present Yàúrí town.
Another source told us of their trace to a songay warrior who came from Mali to seek territorial control and their eventual settlement (with his supporters) in Yàúrí and parts of Lopa and Laru (Gùngáwá neighboring areas).
According to Apollos Aagamalafiya, a native of Gùngáwá from Rèkúbá»lá» area in Yàúrí belief that the Gùngáwá people came from Kabuwa that they are hunters from Katsina State.
He (Apollos) explained further that some say they are from Shagana, Kambari, Kabbawa or Sarkawa. These are mixed up tribes that constitute the Yàúrí emirate.
As regard this histories, the actual place of origin is not clear, and it remain debatable among Gùngáwá people. Although, the Gùnganci language is closely related with that of the Lopa and Laru people in term of lexical items and Noun Affixes. No matter how related these people might be with the Gùngáwá tribe; however, they (Gùngáwá) still remain divergent in historical root.
Present Gùngáwá People
As explained ealier, the Gùngáwá are the original inhabitants of Yàúrí. They fled to the nearby Island of the Niger State in the mid 19 century and eventually return to a new site called Yelwa or Gungu in Yàúri.
During the British regime, the status of Yauri as an emirate and of Yelwa as the seat of the Emir of Yàúrí were confirmed (Hogben 1966: 259), both Yàúrí and Yelwa have become hausarized as a result of contact with Hausa People (especially through marriage).
The British create an emirate because of the multi ethnic groups in Yàúrí however; the Gungu district of Yàúrí Local Government is now the centre of the Gùngáwá population.
The Gùngáwá live in Islets and shores of the Niger above Busa until the creation of lake Kainji in 1974 which disrupt their settlement and living outside Illo and Shabanda in Kebbi State.
Population of Gùngáwá People
The Gùngáwá people were about 40 to 60 thousand in population about 60% lives in Yàúrí in Kebbi State, 35% lives outside Yàúrí town, 9% in Kontogora, North of Busa and Borgu Local Government and 1% in Kaima area in Kwara State. The population of the speakers in Yàúrí is referred to as Yàúrawá or Reshewa’.
According to Apollos, Queen Amina of Zaria called them Yàúrawá but generally they are called Gùngáwá.
Among the Gùngáwá in diaspora, they sometimes call themselves Bárèshe (plural) or Úrèshe (singular).
Those that live in the riverside fields were onions, and for their canoe building and fishing along the Niger are called Sórko or Sórókó. They may be related to the Bozo of Mali, a western Mande group who are professional fishermen.
However, Sórókó is now a name used to designate professional fishermen on the Niger river.
1.4 Socio-cultural Profile of the Gùngáwá People
The Gùngáwá has a social and cultural background that is unique and typical of an African values especially in the area of marriage, profession and communal work.
Also, the Gùngáwá wrestling performed in the central plain ground at Yelwa district did not only attract the peoples and passersby alone but an avenue for tourism.
Also, they make their way of live so simple according to Muazu but very similar to the Hausas, their lifestyle is centered on the Emirate system.
At this junction, the socio-cultural background of the Gùngáwá people shall include their social, cultural, and political system it will also include their profession or occupation, marriage, naming, clothing, foods, festival, religions, burial ceremony.
The sociolinguistic aspect shall include language use and attitude, language shift and the status of the language ( Gúngáncí ).
The Gùngáwá lives a life similar to the Hausa as a result of long time contact, only in the aspect of occupation they differ.
The Gùngáwá wear loose rope and relax with friends communal work is peculiar among them on their farms. They create a round seat when eating especially at leisure joints or during festival celebration, naming, wedding or sallah.
Their market is a social avenue where idle chatting and trading activities take place. They are grounds for making friends and dating according to Muazu Bagudu.
The markets are exhibition centre where mats, canoes, and fish caught were display for prospective buyers. They are craftman according to Muazu.
The Gùngáwá people are highly cultural people this reflects in their greetings, clothing, profession and boldly adornment, like heavy tribal marks on the women face and leg tatooing during wedding ceremony. However, the following are aspects of their cultural life.
The Gùngáwá people are mostly farmers, their chief crops include guinea corn, beans, onions, they are also fishermen who use suru and Hauwuya to catch fish. They are subsistence farmers (they eat most of their farm produce), they make canoes and mat.
Marriage is a bit complex. The boy seas a lady and inform his own parent about the lady. The boy’s parent inform the lady’s parent of their son interests in their daughter, before consent is given, the boy must inform his in-law to be before final consent is given.
However, the farming duration is not specified. After the farming period is over, the in-law formally notify their relatives of their daughter relationship with the boy and it became an awareness to other who may further show interest on the lady, later the wedding day is chosen.
The marriage and engagement is based on Islamic rites. The bride price (Zadaki) according to Muazu Bagudu is paid which is the guinea corn.
The marriage ceremony is fun and full of merry making. Guinea corn palp is served in the morning,rice with fish soup and Bùrùkùtù (local gin) at dusk. They normally seat round eating, the Gùngáwá people also intermarry with the Hausas. It was initially a one man one wife, but now they can marry more than two wives.
A child is born and named after seven days his hair is shaved and 10 years later the child is circumcised. corn food or rice food are served during the naming ceremony.
The Gùngáwá people wears animal skin in the olden days but now Babanriga is their traditional dress for the men while loose covered clothing with local embroidery and scarf or Hijab for women is tie around their body to wade off the sun.
Heavy tribal marks are characterized by the Gùngáwá women who occupy almost their face.
The Gùngáwá like Guinea corn palp. It is their food, almost all of them prefer eating it (Guinea corn foods) than selling it in the market. Guinea corn palp is served in occasions like wedding, naming and festival period.
Also bùrùkùtù (local gin) is their favourite drink served at their leisure or relaxation time.
They celebrates the Idembe festival (Millet festival) and Anipo festival. During the festival animal blood like goat or bush meat are sacrifice to their high god called ‘Ujigo’ – god of thunder.
Most of the Gúngáncí speakers are Muslims about 70% are Muslim, 30% traditional and less than 1% are Christian.
Corpse are laid bare naked into the ground both youth and old. They are covered with leaves like other tribes do.
Aged people are celebrated and young people are mourned sudden or unusual deaths are investigated, an oracle is consulted for the cause of the death. The killer is killed by the deceased spirit. Oracle Consulted is Újígó. This practice is peculiar with old indigenous Gúngáwá people.
Political System and Administration
They adopted the emirate system like the Hausas because Yàúrí is a multiethnic area consisting of Lopa, Laru, Gùngáwá, Yàúrí Kambari, Dukkanchi peoples that coexist with them.
The palace of the Emir is in Yelwa (The Gùngáwá are the first settlers in Yàúrí). The British colonization gave the recognition of Yàúrí Emirate and Gungu (Island) district of Yàúrí Local Government is now the centre of Gùngáwá population.
Succession is not by heredity, the Emir is appointed (although, the first Emir of Yàúrí is Gùngáwá).
The Emir to be must be elderly, famous and respected among the ethnic groups that made up Yàúrí and turbaning is done for the new Emir with celebration and plenty búrúkútú.
The Emir rules the territory with local chiefs called “Sariki” in areas like Toro, Banha, Zamari, Rekubolo, Jalabubu, Gungunsariki etc.
However, Local Government Chairman has been holding the executive function of the Yàúrí area now and other Governmental works are executed by the Kebbi State Government.
Most Gùngáwá people are bilingual in Gúngáncí and Hausa but majority speaks Hausa (especially the Youths) at home only the few old people at home speaks Gúngáncí living the status of the language to be endangered.
The language of the emirate is Hausa with high prestige.
1. Youth use Hausa rather than Gúngáncí .
2. Educated people prefer Hausa to Gúngáncí .
3. Muslim clerics encourage the use of Hausa than Gúngáncí .
4. Parent do not use Gúngáncí more frequent as before so children pick Hausa than Gúngáncí .
5. Peer group use more Hausa in their conversation discussions, marketing etc.
Before we left the people, many of them consider a change of attitude many are encouraged and started using their language to their children many are asking for literacy books and classes for their villages, most of the Youths are happy to be called Báràshe unlike before and hoping start a literacy classes if books are provided.