The Gwandara of Nigeria, numbering with more than a hundred thousand, are engaged yet un-reached. They are part of the Chadic people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc. This people group are only found in Nigeria but traveled across the globe in search for greener pasture.
Their (Gwandara) primary language is Gwandara. The primary religion practiced by their fore-fathers is animism.
Note: that Animism is the belief system or worldview that non-human entities (animals, plants, inanimate objects) possess a spiritual essence or soul. Animism encompasses the belief that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical world and that spirits exist not only in physical objects but also in phenomena such as thunder, wind and shadows; it’s a religious worldview that natural physical entities including animals, plants, and even inanimate objects possess a spiritual essence.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Gwandara have lived in close contact with diverse ethnic groups in the Benue basin region and culturally resemble both the Gede, Yeskwa people as earlier known. They often marry with the Yeskwa, Gede, Koro; however, their dances and religion are similar to those of the Arago, Koro and Gede as well. Most Gwandara are subsistence farmers with their farms located in the bush outside of their villages. Huts are built in a circle to form the compound that houses an extended family. There is only one entrance into each compound because each hut is connected to the next by a corn bin or granary. Each village has a chief who is responsible for handling village affairs and settling village disputes. Gwandara men usually wear Hausa-style gowns. Most women wear cloths, although some wear loose strings around their hips with bundles of leaves hanging in front and in back. Palm oil is important to the Gwandara because of its many uses. Therefore, a fair amount of it is obtained and kept in each village or sold in markets. Another major product sold in the market is locust beans (Dadawa – in Hausa language), mats (which takes days to make), groundnuts seeds and oil. etc!
Traditional drinks such as that of sorghum, palm wine and tobacco are both important in the accent Gwandara’s life, however, most Gwandara neither smoke pipes nor drink in excess, like many other groups in this part of Africa. Young Gwandara men work on their fathers’ farms until they marry, which is usually around age seventeen or older. Girls are betrothed as young children, but before reaching marriageable age, they have the right to break off the engagement, in which case the bride price is returned to the suitor.
Ritual dances are an important aspect of the Gwandara society. One dance is the “good and evil” dance. Old men sit in a circle and the personification of the spirits of good and evil-concealed under a long sack and wearing a high conical hat-whirl around them. Stepping to the beat of a drum, he tells the elders to get up and follow him. When the personified spirit dances, they all dance, and if anyone is struck by the knob that hangs from the spirit’s hat, evil will surely befall him or his family. Another similar circular step-dance called Aranga “joy” is also practiced after the dead of an old Gwandara son or daughter – usually for seven days. The rhythm for this dance is made by the ornaments worn on the arms and legs of the dancers.
Reference: Joshua Project Data | Edited & Posted by: Musa Muhammed-Mustapha.