The Angas people, also known as the Ngas and the Kerang, are an ethnic group in Nigeria, identified as a section of the Benue-Chadic language group and a member of the Afro-Asiatic family. They have a history of migration and according to oral history, they are descendants from Sudanic groups from the Nile region. According to local folklore, the Angas migrated from Bornu passing through villages before settling on the highlands of Plateau State. In the course of migration, the groups splintered into sub-groups settling in Ampang, Amper and Kabwir districts. The settlers at Kabwir were led by a chief called Gwallam and the chief of the Ampers was Kendim. Later settlements populated the highlands of the Jos Plateau.
A Brief Overview of the Angas People
The Angas who predominantly live on the lowlands and the Southeastern edge of the Jos Plateau are the largest group in the Jos highlands. Their major city is Pankshin. The Gyangyan or Ampang district is dominated by hills and ridges, to the west of the ridges form the plains that constitute the lands of the Amper district. The soil of the plains of Amper are littered with granite and farmers in the district grow crops on terraced fields to plant cereal crops such as millet, guinea corn and maize. The people used the granite boulders as foundations and walls for their houses.
History, Economy and Religious Inclinations
The Angas are predominantly Christian though there exist significant number of Angas Muslims residents as well as Muslims from Hausaland and nearby communities. During the Jihad of Uthman Dan Fodio and a brief rule of the Bauchi Emirate, few Angas converted to Islam. However, through their history, the Angas have had to combat threat from without shaping their instinct for military readiness. In the 1900s, a group of missionaries under the leadership of T.E. Alverez came to Kabwir in Angas land to establish a Christian community. They sent emissaries to the Chief about their mission and after the chief had performed some local customs welcomed the Christian message. One of the advantages gained out of the missionaries was the establishment of educational facilities in the land. The colonial authorities also introduced educational facilities, a man-made lake and a hospital.
Farmers resident in Angasland usually find the area not conducive for farming so some have to use farmland faraway from their home. However, areas around Pankshin historically served as a fertile ground for iron works. The Angas practice an agriculture related astrological time system with cycles of five moons divided into Moons for Sowing, Weeding, transplantation, second ridging and harvest.
The Angas celebrate a major festival called the Tsafi Tar or Mos Tar. During the celebration, a brief event called ‘Shooting the Moon’ takes places to mark the end season and the beginning of a new season. The festival is usually celebrated during the time of harvest. In the early twentieth century, much literature on the area dealt with the hill refugee theme, whereby various groups in the Jos Plateau largely for defensive reasons use the barren hills to isolate themselves and fight off slave raiders.
The Angas of today are split into two groups: Hill Angas and Plains Angas.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Africana, 1st edition. New York: Basic Civitas Books,
Featured image source: www.yilngas.org
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