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If the person is a Nigerian and has names like ‘Dung’, ‘Gyang’, ‘Pam’, ‘Kachollom’, ‘Kangyang’ or ‘Chundung’, the chances that such a person is from the Berom tribe is ninety percent. As a matter of fact, if you have five friends from the Jos Plateau, there is high probability that one out of those five is from the Berom Tribe. This is because, of the Seventeen (17) Local Government Areas in Plateau state, Four (4) are predominantly Berom inhabited. These four Local Governments include; Barkin Ladi, Jos North, Jos South and Riyom Local Government Areas. The Beroms are also found in the border towns linking Southern Kaduna and the Jos Plateau (specifically around Manchok in Kaura LGA OF Kaduna State, Ganawuri to K-Vom axis in the Plateau). Consequently, because of their geographical spread and numbers, the Berom people are the largest indigenous ethnic group in the Jos Plateau region. Berom; a Tribe and a Language Berom (also spelt as Birom) refers to a tribe; the people of the Berom ethnicity. Berom also refers to a dialect; the language spoken by the Berom people. According to some historians and narrators of the Berom history, the Berom tribe migrated from Egypt and eventually settled around the Vom/Kuru axis (which is regarded by some as the Ancient Kingdom of the Beroms). The Beroms by nature have farming, mining and hunting as their profession and stock of trade. They are also warriors. Some Aspects of the Berom Tribe The Berom people are a people with a rich cultural heritage. This cultural heritage is manifest in their festivals, arts and culture, music and dance. Food: The Berom people have a native food referred to as ‘Rizgah’ which is a fingerlet-type crop that is cooked, peeled and eaten (without soup, stew or any ingredient, just like eating boiled groundnuts. Just boiled groundnuts. The major traditional food of the Berom tribe however, is called ‘Acha’ (Hungary Rice). The Beroms are one of major producers of acha in Nigeria. This ‘acha’ could be eaten in a variety of ways; jollof (mixed with ingredients), plainly boiled (like white rice) and eaten in combination with stew. It is also prepared as ‘Tuwon Acha’; ‘Tuwo’ is the northern version of ‘fufu’, ‘amala’ or pounded yam, but this time made with Hungary rice and eaten with some other soup. The Berom people however have a special local ‘draw’ soup, prepared from the bark of a particular tree and eaten when the soup is almost cold. Take note: Eaten when the soup is almost cold. Festivals: Their festivals for example stem all the way from the precolonial times, with the advent of some after the independence of Nigeria from the colonialists. Some of their festivals from the Pre-clonial times include Mandyeng, Mado, Badu, Worongchun, Behwol, Vwana, Nshok festivals,[1] while the post-colonial festivals includes the Nzem Berom, Wusal Berom and more recently the Zereh festivals. These festivals are usually celebrated with respect to the livelihood and world-view of the Berom people. Therefore, the festivals are usually farming/harvest, hunting, and belief system related. For example, the Mandyeng and Nshok festivals are celebrated to usher in the rainy season. The Mado and Behwol festivals are usually celebrated with respect to hunting season.
Berom Tribe
Cultural dancers at the Nzem Berom Cultural Festival in Jos.
The advent of Christianity and Western education has served to erode quite a bit of the previous beliefs and festivals. However, some of the festivals that stand-out amongst the Berom festivals these days include:
  • Nzem Berom: The ‘Nzem Berom’ could be translated as ‘Heritage of the Beroms’. Therefore, the festival is intended to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Berom tribe. It also serves to sensitize and re-entrench in the minds of the people, the culture and the tradition of the Beroms. The ‘Nzem Berom’ is actually a montage or combination of some of the pre-colonial festivals such as Mandyeng, Nshok, Worom Chun, and Vwana festivals.
  • Wusal Berom: Though this festival is tagged as a ‘prayer festival’. It also serves to re-emphasize the nature of the Berom people as very accommodating tribe; accommodating of other tribes. It is a festival intended to remind the Berom people of their virtues of kindness and hospitality.
  • Zereh: This is somewhat a more recent festival, intended to celebrate the beauty and ‘goodly’ attributes and virtues of the Berom girl or woman. This festival spans a whole week and includes beauty pageantry in which the most beautiful girl or the ‘Miss Berom’ is identified. The festival is also spiced with cultural displays, gala-dinner etc.
It might interest you to know that amongst the Beroms, a particular historical line or lineage can be traced through the person’s name. Such names usually have the prefix ‘Lo-’. For example, ‘Lo-Gyang’, ‘Lo-Bot’, meaning from the ‘Gyang’ or ‘Bot’ descent. (This is synonymous to the use of ‘Bin or Ibn’ in Arabic {like Bin Haman/ Ibn Haman-meaning ‘Son of Haman’} or ‘Ben’ amongst Jews, {like Ben Amin-meaning ‘Son of Amin’}). Leadership of the Berom People The leader of the Berom tribe plays a highly significant role, not only in the co-ordination and provision of leadership for his people, but also in ensuring cohesiveness and unity within the different tribes in the Jos Plateau (alongside the other Traditional Heads). From the time Da Rwang Pam became the head of the Berom people (1947-1969) till date, the Head of the Traditional Council or Tribal Council in Jos has been, (and is still) designated to the stool or throne of the Paramount ruler of the Berom people. The Paramount ruler is referred to as the Gbong Gwom Jos.       [1] Samuel, Dung Nyam. Berom Socio-cultural festivals and ceremonies: from the pre-colonial times to date. (np:BH publications, 2005.) 64.

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This article was first published on 7th 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.

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