This chapter is centered on the introductory part of the whole essay. It shows brief historical background of the Yukuben language speakers. As a matter of introduction to a general survey of the study of the Yukuben language morphology, on attention is drawn to the family head of the various sub-sections of the language which is the Jokon. Yukuben is closely related to the Kogon and as a matter of fact, reviewing the genetic classification of Africa languages, Yukuben is a language from the Jokonoid family. The Yukuben are majorly found in the eastern edge of Nigeria, which is in the Western part of Africa (West Africa).
This chapter will give the reader a brief introduction on the speakers of Yukuben language and the language itself. The historical background of the language and its speakers, genetic classification, the method used in getting our data for analysis and lots more are some things that will be treated in this chapter.
1.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE YUKUBEN
The Yukuben were said to have migrated from a village called ‘Ideu’ in Taraba in the North neighbouring Cameroon. That was several years ago. They claimed to have been in existence before the death of Jesus Christ (BC). This movement was said to have been caused by the British merchant. These merchants trade on slaves. They buy slaves in thousands, claim them and lead them to their heavy ships, where they will be taken to Britain where they will be used as slaves to work in their sugar cane farms. The name Yukuben means “the child in which the spirit lives” or “a spiritual being”.
A female slave refused to work, so the British slave trader ordered her to be beaten. While beating the female slave, a swain of bee busted out from no where and sting all the slave traders. With this, they believe God was on their side and the other slaves believed God his living in them.
Another version indicates that the Yukuben migrated from their initial kingdom due to the on-ending territorial war with the Kuteb. The Kuteb claimed to be the owner of the territory and that the Yukuben should leave and find or create their own territory. The only solution to this misunderstanding then, was that the Yukuben should leave the Koteb territory which they later did after a lot of pressure.
The native speakers of Yukuben refers to themselves as Uhomkiji. They believe this should be their real name. They call also be called names like Nyikobeu, Nyikobe, Ayikibeu, Boritsu, Balaabe, Balaabeu, Oohom, Uohom, Uuhom-Gigi and Uhomkhegi.
The interaction they had with other neighbouring communities brought different languages to the Yukuben community. They call these languages stranger languages. Lufu, Malam-SLie, and Kapia are some of these stranger languages. They are said to have migrated from the Jokon speaking communities.
Apart from the territorial misunderstanding that splitted the Yukuben people from the Koteb, there arouse another misunderstanding that led to another blood shedding war. This war was majorly on leadership and chieftaincy titled. The Kuteb claimed to be the head over the Yukuben people. They wanted to have the king while the Yukuben should be lead by an ordinary chief. The Kuteb does not want the Yukuben to have a king of theirs so as to keep their own territory as the headquarter and have the central head.
1.2 GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION AND POPULATION
The Yukuben are particularly located in the Northern part of Nigeria, in West Africa. They are regionally located in the North West province; Taraba state to be precise. In Taraba state, the speakers of this language are located in Takom local government area, between Katstina Ala-and Gawana rivers. The speakers are found in more than 20 villages in Nigeria and few villages in Cameroon.
Cameroon is the second country with the highest member of speakers of Yukuben language. with three hours, we can get to Cameroon from Taraba state in Nigeria.
As given by “Ethnologue:- Languages of the World”, in 1992, the speakers of Yukuben language had a total population of 15,000 in Nigeria only and about 1,000 in Cameroon. In 1994, another population census was conducted, and the result given was that, the speakers of this language was 23,000 in Nigeria and 2,000 in Cameroon and other countries of the world. We had another census, and the native speakers of Yukuben language claimed to have increased. As given by the informant, he said they are now more than 500,000.
As a result of inter-tribal marriages, the population of the speakers of Yukuben language increased. With this, the population of the native speakers of Yukuben language; according to the first report, was about 25,000, while the later report which was a recent report which could be probably be present approximated population of the Yukuben says it has increased to half a million.