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It is La Bénoué in French, but to the anglophones, it is ‘The Benue’ or the River Benue or Benue River. The water body is the major tributary of the Niger River and runs approximately 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) long. It is also almost entirely navigable during the summer months. As a result, it is an important transportation route in the regions through which it flows. But did you know that this all-important water body in Nigeria was previously known as the Chadda River or Tchadda?

The river rises in the Adamawa Plateau of northern Cameroon, from where it flows west, and through the town of Garoua and Lagdo Reservoir, into Nigeria south of the Mandara mountains, and through Jimeta, Ibi and Makurdi before meeting the Niger River at Lokoja. Large tributaries associated with it are the Faro River, the Gongola River and the Mayo Kébbi, which connects it with the Logone River (part of the Lake Chad system) during floods. Other tributaries are Taraba River and River Katsina-Ala.

Other Important Facts about the Benue River

Besides its interesting previous name, did you know that?

  • At the point of confluence, the Benue exceeds the Niger by volume.
  • The mean discharge before 1960 was 3,400 cubic metres per second (120,000 cubic ft/s) for the Benue and 2,500 cubic metres per second (88,000 cubic ft/s) for the Niger. During the following decades, the runoff of both rivers decreased markedly due to irrigation.
  • The Benue River flooded in October 2012, resulting in a large increase in the population of venomous snakes in the Duguri District, Alkaleri Local Government Area, Bauchi State.
  • Benue River also spelt Bénoué, river in western Africa, is the longest tributary of the Niger, about 673 miles (1,083 km) in length. It rises in northern Cameroon as the Bénoué at about 4,400 feet (1,340 m) and, in its first 150 miles (240 km), descends more than 2,000 feet (600 m) over many falls and rapids, the rest of its course being largely uninterrupted.
  • During flood periods its waters are linked via the Mayo-Kebbi tributary with the Logone, which flows into Lake Chad. Below the Mayo-Kebbi the river is navigable all year by boats drawing less than 2.5 feet (0.75 m) and by larger boats for more restricted periods.
  • A considerable volume of imports (particularly petroleum) is transported by river, and cotton and peanuts (groundnuts) are exported in the same way from the Chad region.
  • Between Yola and Makurdi the Benue is joined by the Gongola, and it then flows east and south for about 300 miles (480 km).
  • A sandbar crosses the Benue at its confluence with the Niger, allowing only about 2 feet (0.6 m) of water when the flow is minimal. River traffic moving upstream from the delta is frequently delayed at Lokoja, Nigeria, waiting for sufficient depth of water, and is obliged to return before the level falls too low.


Featured Image Source: Youtube

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This article was first published on 13th July 2019


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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