webAfriqa / Library / Anthropology

webAfriqa Custom Search Engine

George Peter Murdock
1897 — 1985

Professor of Anthropology, Yale University

Africa. Its Peoples and Their Culture History

New York. McGraw-Hill. 1959. 456 p.

Previous Home Next

Explore also (a) the SemanticAfrica Peoples Vocabulary
(b) the Plateau Nigerians mind-mapping diagram

Part Three
Sudanic Agricultural Civilization
— 13 —
Plateau Nigerians

The techniques and products of agriculture, after their elaboration by the Nuclear Mande, gradually spread eastward across 3,000 miles of the Sudan to Nubia and Ethiopia. They were not carried by a single migrating people but were transmitted by diffusion to successive peoples of different linguistic stocks—a slow and laborious process since each in turn had painfully to learn the complex new techniques of food production and to substitute these for the old familiar modes of food acquisition through hunting and gathering. The transition may thus easily have required a thousand years for its completion, a period probably roughly coinciding with the fourth millennium B.C. During the third millennium there occurred a second major process of diffusion in the reverse direction, ca rrying the Neolithic domesticated animals obtained through contact with the ancient Egyptians westward to the headwaters of the Niger. Only the animals themselves, however, were adopted at this time, not the associated milking complex, which diffused very much later and over a much more restricted territory.
The eastward diffusion of agriculture and the westward diffusion of animal husbandry probably followed practically the same path, though in opposite directions. Linguistic and distributional evidence allows us to reconstruct this route with a high degree of probability. Between the upper Niger and Northern Nigeria the carriers were clearly the Voltaic peoples. Between Lake Chad and the Nile they were as certainly the peoples speaking the Central and Eastern Sudanic languages, for the Maban, Furian, and Kordofanian speakers occupy areas much too small to have played a major mediating role. In Northern Nigeria and the adjacent section of Cameroon, however, two alternative routes are possible—a southern one through the mountainous plateau region and a northern route through the country now occupied by the great Hausa and Kanuri nations.

Tiv Girl with Characteristic Navel Scarification
Tiv Girl with Characteristic Navel Scarification.
(Courtesy of British Information Services.)

The geographical disadvantages of the southern route, coupled with the vastly more complex civilizational attainments of the peoples of the north, make it highly probable that the mediators in both the eastward and the westward diffusion were the Hausa and Kanuri rather than the Plateau Nigerians. To be sure, the cultural superiority of the former rests in large measure on two subsequent historical developments—the growth of the important caravan trade across the Sahara Desert with the peoples of North Africa and the spread of the Arabs and of Islam to the fringe of the Sudan during the past thousand years). These developments render it preferable to defer consideration of Hausa and Kanuri civilitation until Chapter 17.
In the present chapter, consequently, we shall confine our attention to the inhabitants of the central plateau region of Nigeria and adjacent Cameroon, which lies east and southeast of the Voltaic province. Even though the Plateau Nigerians presumably played no direct role in mediating the diffusion of either Sudanic agriculture or Neolithic animal husbandry, they certainly acquired both at an early date, for no traces of earlier forms of subsistence economy survive today. With rare exceptions, however, they did not assume the associated elements of a more complex civilization. They remain, so to speak, a cultural cul-de-sac characterized by a series of interesting archaic traits ranging from widespread complete nudity to certain utterly unique marriage practices.
The historical role of the Plateau Nigerians has not, however, been entirely negligible. Their southern tribes, at about the time of Christ, mediated the diffusion of Malaysian food plants from the east to the Guinea coast, effecting here a complete transformation of the local economy. From their midst, soon thereafter, came the Bantu, who penetrated the equatorial rainforest and ultimately most of the southern third of the African continent. One plateau tribe, the Jukun, evolved a complex state, that of Kororofa, which made extensive conquests in Northern Nigeria in the seventeenth century. In general, however, the Plateau Nigerians have been politically weak and defenseless. During the nineteenth century, in particular, they suffered heavily from incursions by the Fulani (see Chapter 55), who infiltrated large tracts of territory suitable to grazing, drove the indigenes into mountain enclaves or reduced them to subjection, and even here and there wrought some acceptance of Islam.
The Plateau Nigerians are typically Negroid in physical characteristics. Linguistically, however, they fall into several distinct groups. The largest of these comprises members of the Bantoid subfamily of the Nigritic stock. In the east and west live a few tribes of the Eastern and Kwa subfamilies of the Nigritic stock, and in the no rtheast are a considerable number of Negro people peaking languages of the Chadic subfamily of the llamitic rock. The latter differ notably from their ling uistic kinsmen of the great llausa nation to the northwest. Although for the sake of com·enience the peoples of the province are classified below according to language, it should be emphasized that in this region cultural and linguistic differences reveal an extremely low degree of correlation.

Bantoid Peoples

  1. Afusare (Fizere, Hill Jarawa), with the Anaguta (Naguta). They number about 30,000.
  2. Basa (Bassa), with the kindred Basakomo (Bassa-Komo) and Kaduna (BassaKaduna). They number about 50,000.
  3. Baru (Boko), with the Akonto. They number fewer than 2,000.
  4. Birom (Berom, Burum, Kibbo. Kibyen), with the Aten (Ganawuri, Jal, Ngell) and Pyem (Fem, Paiema, Pem). They number about 70,000.
  5. Borrom (Boghorom, Burmawa, Burrum), with the Basherawa. They number about 30,000.
  6. Butawa (Mbotuwa, Mburawa), with the Kudawa and Ningawa. They number about 15,000, of whom half are Moslems.
  7. Chawai (Atsam), with the Irigwe (Aregwa, lrrigwe, Rigwe). They number about 25,000
  8. Dakakari (Dakar awa), embracing the Bangawa, Fakawa, Kelawa, and Liliwa subtribes. They number about 65,000.
  9. Galim, with the Ndoren and Suga. This small remnant group was separated from the kindred Mambila by the Fulani invasion.
  10. Gure (Guri), with the Dungi (Dwingi) and Kahugu. They number about 6,000.
  11. Jarawa (Jar), with the Badawa, Bamberawa (Bambaro), Bankalawa, and Barawa (Mbarawa). This group numbers about 100,000 and is Islamized to a slight extent.
  12. Jerawa, with the Amap (Amo), Buji (Bujawa), Chara (Fachara, Pakara, Teria), Chokobo, Gusuwa (Gussum, lbau), J anji (Jenji), Piti (Pitti), Rebinawa (Narabuna), Ribam, Rukuba, Sangawa, and Taurawa. They number about 50,000.
  13. Jibu (Dschubu, Jubu). They number about 5,000.
  14. Jukun (Jukon, Kororofawa), with the Bashar, Kona, and other remnant groups in the north. They number about 30,000.
  15. Kadara (Adara), with the Ajure (Kajuru) and Kuturmi (Ada). They number about 25,000.
  16. Kamberi (Kambali, Kambari) , with the kindred Achifawa (Atshefa) and Dukawa. They number about 85,000.
  17. Kamuku, with the Baushi, Ngwoi, Pongo (Arringeu), and Uru. They number about 25,000.
  18. Katab, with the Ataka, Ikulu (Ikolu), Jaba (Ham), Kachicheri, Kagoma, Kagoro (Agolik), Kaje (Baju, Kache, Kajji) , Kamantan, Kaninkon (Tum), Lungu (Adong), and Morwa (Asolio, Moroa). They number about 115,000.
  19. Kentu (Kyaro, Kyeto), with the Nyidu (Nidu, Nyivu). They number about 5,000, of whom a considerable proportion are Moslems.
  20. Kurama, with the Binawa, Kaibi, Kihallo. Kmuku, Kinnu, Kono, Rishuwa, Rumaiya, Ruruma, and Srubu. They number about 15,000.
  21. Mada, with the Aike, Ayu (Ayob), Egon (Eggon, Hill Mada), Lindiri, Ninzam (Sanga), Numana (Numuna), and Nungu (Lungu). Some of these people, who number in all about 100,000, may possibly speak langualges of the Kwa subfamily.
  22. Mama, with the Kaleri. They number about 15,000.
  23. Mambila (Torbi), with the Abo (Abong), Daga, Guroji, Kamkam, Magu, and Wawa (Baba, Warwar). They number about 25,000.
  24. Mbula (Bula, Bulla), with the kindred Bari (Bare). They number about 15,000.
  25. Ndoro. This tribe numbers about 5,000.
  26. Reshe (Bareshe, Gungawa) . This tribe number about 15,000.
  27. Tigon (Tigum, Tugong, Tugun, Tukum), embracing the Ashaku (Arsuku), Mbembe (Dumbo), Mfumte (Kaka, Kaka-Banjo), Misaje (Metcho), and Nama. They number about 15,000.
  28. Tiv (Mirshi, Alunshi), with the Iyon, Ugbe, and Utange. They number about 800,000.
  29. Yergum (Yergam), with the Dollong, Sayirr, and Tarok (Talok). They number about 35,000.
  30. Yeskwa (Jesko, Yankpa, Yasgua, Yesko). They number about 15,000.
  31. Zuande (Bitare, Yukutare). This tribe number about 1,000.
  32. Zumper (Djompra, Djumperi, Kure, Mbarike, Zomper). They number about 15,000.

Chadic Peoples

  1. Angas (Angassawa), with the Ankwe. Bwol. Chip, Dimuk, Goram (Gworam), Gurka (Gerkawa), Jorro. Kwolla, Miriam (Merniang), Monrol (Monroil), Pai, Ron (Baram, Baron), Seiyawa (Sayawa, Seawa), Sura, and Tal. They number slightly more than 200,000.
  2. Bachama (Bashama), with the Demsa (Bara, Barra). They number about 15,000.
  3. Bata (Barta), embracing the Bolki, Bulai, Gudo, Kofo, Malabu, Muleng, Njei (Jenge, Kobochi, Nyei, Nzangi, Zani), and Zumu (Jimo). This partially Islamized group numbers about 30,000.
  4. Bura (Burra), with the Pabir (Babur, Barburr). This group numbers about 100,000. A few Pabir are Moslems.
  5. Dera (Kanakuru). This slightly Islamized tribe numbers about 10,000
  6. Gerawa, with the Denawa, Galembawa, Gerumawa (Germawa), Gezawa, and Kirifawa. This group, numbering about 50,000, is slightly Islamized.
  7. Gisiga (Gisohiga, Guissiga), with the Balda, Gauar, Mofu (Muffo), Musgoi (Musugeu), and Muturua (Moutou) . A population figure of 15,000, reported in 1935, probably refers to the Gisiga tribe alone.
  8. Gude (Cheke), with the Bana, Daba, Djimi, Gidder (Gidar, Guider), Hina, Holma, Kola, and the so-called “Fali” of Jilbu and Mubi. They number about 60,000.
  9. Gwandara, with the Gade and the detached Nimbia. This group, numbering about 10,000, is not merely Chadic but specifically Hausa in language.
  10. Hona, with the kindred Gabin. They number about 10,000.
  11. Kapsiki, with the Baza, Hiji (Higi, Hill Margi), and kafa. They number about 25,000.
  12. Margi (Marghi), with the kindred Chibak (Chibbuk, Cihak, Kibaku), Kilba, Sukur (Sugur), and the so-called “Fali” of Wuba. This group numbers about 75,000 and is partially lslamized.
  13. Matakam (Wula) , with the Bulabai, Diele (Zele), Hide, Mabass, Mineo (Minew), dare, and Wusei. They number about 80,000.
  14. Podokwo (Podogo), with the Mada, Molkwa, Mora. Muktale, Mukulehe, Sawa, Tala, Udjila. and Urzal. They number about 15,000.
  15. Tangale, with the Billiri, Cham, Chongee, Chongwom. Dadiya, Kamu (Kamo), Lofa, Pero (Fero), Tula, Ture, and Waja. They number about 100,000.
  16. Tuburi (Toubouri, Tubori, Tupuri). This tribe numbers about 65,000.
  17. Wakura, embracing the Chikide, Gelebda, Gbuwhe, Hidkala, Kuvoko, Tur, Wemgo, Vizik, and Woga. They number about 60,000.
  18. Warjawa (Warji), with the Afawa (Faawa, Paawa), Ajawa, Diryawa, Lipkawa, Miy awa, and irawa. They number about 40,000, of whom 10 per cent are Moslems.
  19. Wurkum (Urku, Wuruku), including the Bandawa, Kulu, Pia (Piyawa), and Walo. This group, numbering about 45,000, is of heterogeneous linguistic composition. Though most of its members are Chadic, the Kulu are Bantoid.

Eastern Nigritic Peoples

  1. Chamba (Camba, Dschamba, Tsamba), including the Donga, Lekon (Laego, Leco), Mumbake, and Wom. They number about 20,000, of whom some 15 per cent are Moslems.
  2. Daka (Dakha, Dekka), embracing the Dirrim, Gandole, Lamja, Taram, and Tsugu. They number about 5,000.
  3. Jen, with the kindred Munga. They number about 1,000.
  4. Kam. This tribe numbers about 5,000.
  5. Longuda (Nunguda) . This tribe numbers about 15,000.
  6. Mumuye, with the kindred Gengle, Gola (Cornia, Gori), Kugama, Kumba, Teme, Waka, Yendang (Yandan). Yofo, and Zinna (Zin). They number about 70,000.
  7. Vere (Werre), embracing the Bai, Boi, Koma, Lima, Marki, Sablo, Togi (Tuki), Yomni, and Zango. They number about 15,000.
  8. Yungur (Binna, Yunguru), with the Banga, Berra, Handa, Kwotba, Lala, Libo, Mboi (Mboyi), Pella, Pirra, Roba, Subkru, Tambo, and Yang. They number about 25,000.

Kwa Peoples

  1. Gbari (Goale, Gwali, Gwari) . They number about 180,000 and are linguistically akin to the Nupe. The majority are Moslems.
  2. Koro (Korro), embracing the Ache (Koro Ache) , Hunru (Koro Funru, Koron Hunru) , Iya (Koron Iya), Zani (Koron Zani), and Zuba. This group, numbering about 20,000, is slightly Islamized, and most of its members speak dialects of Gbari.

The Plateau Nigerians are sedentary tillers, practicing shifting hoe cultivation with fallowing and crop rotation. They grow practically all the plants of the Sudanic complex and have added onions from Southwest Asia, eleusine from Ethiopia, bananas, rice, taro, and yams from Southeast Asia and maize, manioc, peanuts, peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tobacco, and tomatoes from America. The three Sudanic cereals, sorghum, millet, and fonio—constitute the staples almost everywhere. They receive their principal support from the introduced grains and from tubers and root crops, both native and borrowed.
Most tribes, except in the extreme south, keep a few cattle, mainly of a dwarf humpless breed. They value these, amongst other reasons, for their manure which theu commonly use as fertilizer, but they almost never milk them except under direct Fulani influence. Goats, sheep, dogs (often eaten), and chickens are practically universal, and most groups keep a few horses for riding. Apiculture occur sporadically. Hunting, fishing, and gathering, though widely practiced, rarely contribute substantially to the diet. Trade is not highly developed, but regular markets are reported for a number of groups. The men hunt, tend livestock, and do all or most of the fishing, except among the Kadara and Kamberi. Both sexes, however, share in agricultural labor, with their relative participation shifting slightly from tribe to tribe.
Compact village, often protected by wall or hedges, constitute the prevailing settlement pattern, but clusters of smaller, discrete hamlets are common in the northeast, and neighborhood of dispersed homesteads predominate among the Birom, Tiv, Yergum, and some Angas group. The riverain Reshe live in quadrangular pile dwellings, but all other peoples occupy round huts with conical thatched roofs and cylindrical walls of mud or of wattle and daub, typically grouped in enclosed family compounds. This house type, however, is often modified in particular localities. Among the Katab, for example, the ground plan is oval rather than round, and the roof is asymmetrical with its peak in the rear. Angas. Borrom, Mada, Mama, and Yeskwa dwellings have two concentric walls, the inner cylinder serving as a granary and the space between it and the outer wall as living quarters. The Gisiga construct houses in pairs with an enclosed hall connecting them.
Political authority at the local level is usually vested in a hereditary headman assisted by a council of elders. The sources give no hint of a special ritual relationship between the headman and the land such as prevails among the Voltaic peoples and in vestigial form among the Nuclear Mande. About a third of the peoples of the area lack completely any political integration above the local level. Another third are organized under petty paramount chiefs over subtribes or small districts. The remaining third are subject, directly or indirectly, to Fulani emirs.
In the entire province only the Jukun ever developed a genuinely complex state. After a period of expansion in the seventeenth century, the state declined and was finally conquered by the Fulani early in the nineteenth century. At its head stood a typical divine king, the representative of and mediator with the gods. His person was sacred; his feet could not touch the ground, and he spoke to others only from behind a screen. Theoretically he enjoyed absolute power and could appropriate any property or woman he desired. If, however, he failed in his primary function of controlling the forces of nature—as was evidenced if he coughed, or sneezed, or became ill, or fell from his horse—he was put to death, and in no event was he permitted to reign for more than seven years. He ruled with the aid of a council composed of titled members of the royal family, who also served as provincial governors and collected tribute, but who could not be removed from office. In addition to household officials like a chief steward, a chief chamberlain, a chief groom, and a supervisor of the royal harem, the monarch was served by a prime minister, a chief priest, a military commander in chief, and a special minister, known as the Abun Achuwo, whose duty it was to kill the king and choose his successor. Two female figures held positions of special status and respect—the Queen-Mother, a widow of the previous monarch, and the Queen-Sister, a sister of the former king who had authority over all the women at the court.
Slavery is universal, and debt slavery common. In addition to war captives, the northern tribes frequently enslave criminals and suspected witches. Differentiated ruling classes are reported only for the Angas, Bata, Dera, Gude, Jukun, Ndoro, and Tigon. In a few Chadic groups, i.e., the Bachama, Bata, Gude, Margi, and Matakam, smiths form an endogamous but not a despised caste. Age-grades assume social importance only among the Kadara. Circumcision occurs regularly among the Angas, Birom, Butawa, Chamba, Chawai, Gerawa, Gude, Gure, Gwandara, Jarawa, Jerawa, Jibu, Kadara, Katab, Kurama, Mada, Mambila, Ndoro, Reshe, Tiv, Vere, Warjawa, and Zumper, and sporadically in several other tribes; but clitoridectomy is attested only for the Mada, Yeskwa, and some Basa and Gwandara. Nearly all groups formerly practiced headhunting, which the sources specifically deny only for the Borrom, Bura, Dera, and Rona. Cannibalism prevailed among the Jarawa, Jerawa, Longuda, Mama, Mambila, Ndoro, Tangale, Tigon, Warjawa, Yergum, and Zumper and in some subtribes of the Angas, Birom, Mada, and Mumuye.
Marriage involves a prolonged period of agricultural bride-service, coupled with gifts or a modest bride-price, in three-fourths of the tribes of the area. The requirement of service is omitted only in groups which have adopted marriage by exchange or a truly substantial bride-price. Monogamy—a rare phenomenon among African Negroes—prevails among the Oaka and Jibu, but all other tribes permit polygyny and usually practice it extensively, though only in the nonsororal form. The first wife enjoys a special status, but the co-wives each have a separate hut and the husband rotates among them. The household is typically an extended family occupying a compound, but among the Bura, Kapsiki, Podokwo, and Yergum extended families either do not occur or exist only as nonresidential units. Except among the Jen, Jibu, Tdoro, and Zuande, who prefer marriage with a cross-cousin, incest taboos prevent unions with any first cousin. The levirate is preferential, especially with the widow of an elder brother, but the sororate is rare and usually expressly forbidden.
One unique feature especially characterizes the marriage customs of most Plateau Ngerians, being reported from the Kamberi in the west to the Margi in the east and apparently absent only among the Chadic tribes of the extreme east and among the Macro-Bantu tribes in the south. This is the extraordinary latitude allowed to a married woman in eloping with a new husband. The situation among the Katab and their neigbhors, being particularly well described, may serve as an example, but it is closely paralleled in many other groups. A woman marries her first husband in return for a small bride-price paid to her father. Thereafter she is free, with the consent of her parents, to elope with a man from some other village. The latter is obligated only to make the customary marriage payments to her father, but not to recompense her first husband—except, in a few tribes, when she has not yet borne him a child. She may repeat this procedure a number of times, but in no case does it terminate the previous unions. Whenever a woman visits the village of a former husband, she resumes her marital relations with him for the time being. The entire social structure reflects these arrangements. No person of either sex can take a spouse, either primary or secondary, from among the members or residents of his own local community. Other communities, or sometimes particular segments thereof, are divided into two groups. From one of these a primary spouse can be taken, but never a secondary spouse. The other includes localities into which an original marriage is strictly forbidden but whose residents are freely available for secondary elopements.
Social organization on the Nigerian plateau presents a complex checkerboard of contrasting patterns. Fortunately the ethnographic sources contain reasonably satisfactory information on this subject for all groups save the Afusare, Angas, Butawa, Dakakari, Gerawa, Gisiga, Gwandara, Jarawa, Kamberi, Koro, fama, Reshe, Tuburi, Wakura, Yergum, Yeskwa, and Zumper. Data on the other forty-four tribes enable us to reconstruct with a high degree of assurance not only the system which originally prevailed in the province but also the various steps by which it has been modified to produce the forms occurring today.
The Daka, Gure, Kam, and Ndoro still retain the essential features of the presumptive original structure, namely, matrilineal descent, inheritance, and succession, premarital bride-service with nominal gifts or a very small bride-price, avunculocal residence and avuncuclans, and cousin terminology of the Crow type. The sole reported deviation from this pattern is the Hawaiian cousin terms of the Gure, due perhaps to the influence of the Kahugu subtribe, who have made the transition to patrilineal descent.
Modification of this system, involving a shift to patrilocal residence, occurred as a result of two innovations in the mode of marriage—either an increase in the bride—price to a substantial amount or the adoption of preferential marriage by the exchange of sisters. Since these had somewhat different effects, we shall consider them separately.
Sister exchange may well have been developed as a device to stabilize marital union, since a woman's relatives would naturally be less likely to sanction her elopement if they were to lose thereby the woman for whom she had been exchanged. At any rate, almost the only tribes which do not permit unrestricted elopement are those which have adopted sister exchange—the Basa, Batu, Kentu, Mambila, Tiv, Wurkum, and Zumper in the south and an occasional subtribe or local group elsewhere. All these tribes permit a man who has no sister or other close female relative available for exchange to obtain a wife in the older fashion by paying a nominal bride-price. This, however, gives the husband only a right of cohabitation, not a claim to the children, who are affiliated with the kin group from which their mother came. The son of such unions normally go to live with their maternal uncles and bring their wives there when they marry, i.e., in avunculocal residence. Since matrilineal descent has yielded precedence to the patrilineal rule, cousin terms of the Crow type have proved nonfunctional and have been abandoned in favor of Hawaiian terminology, as is specifically attested for the Kentu and Tiv.
The tribes following the alternative course of increasing the bride-price have in some instances failed to make the complete transition to patrilocal residence. Thus the Jibu, Jukun, and Vere still adhere to avunculocal residence in 50 per cent or more of all marriages. Their extended families consequently exhibit a mixed composition, lacking a central core of either matrilineally or patrilineally related males. This has destroyed the local basis for matrilineal descent without providing one for the development of patrilineal affiliation, with the result that all three tribes are today strictly bilateral. Cousin terminology has shifted to the Hawaiian pattern among the Jibu and Jukun, although the Vere have terms of the Iroquois type, doubtless a survival from their earlier unilinear phase.
All the other tribes have adopted patrilineal descent. The Chamba, Dera, and Longuda, however, have done so without abandoning their earlier matrilineal kin groups, and are thus characterized by double descent. Understandably enough, the Chamba and Longuda retain their old Crow cousin terms, since these have not lost their supportive matrilineal framework. All other groups have completed the transition to the patrilineate. The Bata, Chawai, Hona, Jerawa, Katab, Margi, Mumuye, Tangale, and Yungur, in doing so, have made the expected shift to the Hawaiian kinship pattern. Six tribes have achieved new types of cousin terminology inherently adapted to patrilineal descent—the Bura and Kurama with an Iroquois pattern and the Birom, Gbari, Kadara, and Matakam with Omaha terminology.
This reconstruction can by no means be discounted as speculative since the bilateral and patrilineal societies of the area, practically without exception, still display within their own social structures a variety of elements that point specifically to matrilineal antecedents. Several of these deserve special notice. Significant traces of matrilineal inheritance survive among the Bachama, Jibu, Jukun, Kentu, Mambila, Mbula, Tigon, Vere, Yergum, and Yungur. Avunculocal residence still prevails, at least as a patterned alternative, among the Bachama, Bata, Chawai, Gwandara, Hona, Jibu, Jukun, Kadara, Kacab, Kenru, Kurama, Mambila, Margi, Mbula, Mumuye, Tigon, Tiv, Vere, Wurkum, Yergum, Yeskwa, and Yungur. Submerged traces of matrilineal affiliation, including matrilineal exogamy, the matrilineal descent of totems, and the ascription of responsibility for blood vengeance and witchcraft exclusively to relatives in the female line, are specifically attested for the Bachama, Batu, Butawa, Chawai, Jen, Jibu, Kapsiki, Katab, Mambila, Mbula, Vere, Wurkum, and Yungur. It can scarcely be doubted, therefore, that the Plateau Nigerians were formerly characterized by social systems of a matrilineal and avunculocal type.
Linguistic relationships in this province hold a special importance for the understanding of African culture history. The Bantoid subfamily of the Nigricic stock breaks down into a number of distinct divisions. One of these, including such tribes as the Anyang, Boki, Ekoi, Ibibio, and Yako, is located in adjacent Southern Nigeria, where it extends to the Guinea coast. Of chose confined to the present area, one embraces the Batu, Galim, Jarawa, Mambila, Mbula, Ndoro, Tiv, and Zuande tribes. This may be termed the Macro-Bantu division, since all the far-flung Bantu languages, which extend from the borders of the Plateau Nigerian province eastward to Kenya and southward to Natal, resolve themselves upon analysis, as Greenberg has shown, into a single branch of this division and are strictly coordinate, for instance, with Galim-Mambila or with Tiv. Far from being a linguistic stock in its own right, Bantu is merely one branch of one of several divisions of one of seven major subfamilies of the Nigricic stock.
Since genetic relationships in language invariably reflect historical contacts and movements, the established facts in the present case force us inescapably to a historical conclusion of the utmost significance, namely, that the Bantu peoples originated in the area now under discussion, and specifically in it southern part, where most of the tribes with the most closely cognate languages still reside. Moreover, the degree of linguistic differentiation indicates that they originated not much more than 2,000 years ago, since which time the Bantu peoples have undergone an extraordinary explosive expansion. It will be the task of Chapters 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39 and 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, and 51 to explain, date, and trace this remarkable spread. For the present it must suffice merely to call attention to the fact and to draw from it one very important deduction.
If the Bantu originated on the Nigerian plateau, they must have started their dispersion with the type of culture and social organization then characteristic of this area. Since they have subsequently faced vast differences in geographic environments and cultural contacts, which have inevitably wrought substantial changes, whereas conditions have apparently remained far more static in the comparative isolation of the Nigerian plateau, it is probable that the related people who have stayed behind have preserved a number of the characteristics of original Bantu culture. It is a reasonable working hypothesis, for example, that the Bantu began their widespread dispersal with an avunculocal and matrilineal social system such as we have reconstructed for their nearest kinsmen.

Selected Bibliography