Post Image
Once many people hear that someone is from the Northern part of Nigeria, they simply assume that person is ‘Hausa’. If that’s your viewpoint too, permit me to use the voice of Chief Honorable Zebrudaya alias ‘4:30’ to say, “FaFaFa, Foul.” Of course, not everybody in the North is Hausa, most people there have their own indigenous languages, tribes and ethnic groups. But then, you could be excused too, especially if your knowledge of Nigeria is from the ‘amalgamation’ map that had just three regions: North, East and West. That map enabled the belief everybody from the East, is Igbo, everyone from the West, is Yoruba, and everyone from the North, is Hausa. Anyway, to cut the long story short, the Babur tribe are from the North and they are not Hausa. The Babur Tribe Historical Background
A Babur artifact.
If it’s in Adamawa, then you will find the Babur people majorly in Gombi (not Gombe) Local Government Area of Adamawa state. If it’s in Borno state, then you will have to go to about 5 Local Governments to find the Babur people. These include; Biu, Hawul, KwayarKusar, Shani and Bayo Local Government Areas. However, the Babur people are settlers in Nigeria. It is stated historically that, they reached the Sudan and Sahara at around 600A.D. as a result of a mass migration from Yemen in the Middle East, via Sudan through the Chad Basin-the Kanem of Borno region. The Babur people are however sparsely found in Gombe and Yobe states. Names and Identification The average Babur person has an intonation and accent peculiar to the Babur tribe. This usually provides an easy means of identifying a Babur person in a crowd. Another means to identification are the names they bear; the usually bear a clan name or individual names. Some of the prominent clan names amongst the menfolk include names like; Mshelia, Balami, Mshel’izah, Wakawa, Malgwi, Mbaya, Shallangwa, Tarfa, Bassi, Mshelbila, Mshelbara etc. Some prominent feminine clan names include names such as; Kwatamdia, Zoaka, Hindi etc. Some prominent individual names include names such as; Kucheli, Hyelsinta, Hyelni, Hyeladzira, Yaskirahyel, Mbursa, Zharakahyel, Machabiri etc. Language The Babur tribe are also referred to as the Bura tribe, or the Babur Bura. The language of the Babur people is referred to as Bura, Babur, Mya Bura, Kwojeffa, Huviya and some other variants. The language is of Chadic origin[1] and also classified as Afro-Asiatic. It also has very great similarities with Marghi, Kilba, Bazza, Chibok and Higgi languages. Religious Beliefs
Impressive Figurine of Nigeria Ganza Babur/Bura.
Prior to the coming of missionaries, the traditional beliefs of the Babur people was referred to as Hyel or Hyel-Taku. The gods were represented by objects such as stones, water, mountains etc. The day of worship or special day was Saturday, since it was the day set aside for sacrifices to the gods by the Chief Priest. Interestingly, the term ‘Hyel’ is used to refer to ‘God’ by the Babur tribe. Marriage The Babur people have a very interesting way of initiating and conducting marriage. The principle is simply this: once a female child is born and a suitor wants to indicate interest, he gets a leafy branch of a certain tree and throws it into the mother’s hut. If his advances are accepted, he is allowed and expected to give the girl gifts as she grows up. He also commits himself by working on her Father’s farm. When the girl is finally of age to be married, he organizes his friends to capture her and bring to his house. From this point, the marriage plans take a new turn; the remaining dowry is settled and the marriage ceremony proper is concluded. When the marriage is consummated, it is expected that the bride will produce a white cloth that is stained with blood as a proof of her getting married as a virgin. A failure to do this will bring shame to her Parents and family.
Babur statues. This pair was exhibited on the Parcours des Mondes 2012. The pair is made from wood, 78 cm high and approx 80 years old.
Other Aspects of the Babur Tribe The Babur people are mainly farmers and have quite a lot of cultural similarities with the Hausa in their modes of dressing and meals, especially because of their close interactions. Some delicacies that are unique to the Babur people include; ‘shaptangkadana’, kavila and taraku. They also are well known for their voracious appetite for ‘gauta’ (a green coloured variety of garden egg, usually smaller in size with a slight bitter taste).It is also interesting to know that the Babur man does not eat with his parents-in-law; this is a mark of respect for them.   [1] ‘Bura’ in ‘Ethnologue, (18th ed., 2015).

You might also like:
This article was first published on 11th November 2018


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.

Comments (90)

90 thoughts on “Tribes In Nigeria: The Babur People of Borno And Adamawa States”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *