The Tiv People
Importantly today, among the vast and fast growing ethnic population in Nigeria is the Tiv people. They are industrious group that constitutes approximately 3.5% of Nigeria’s total population, and numbers about 6.5 million individuals throughout Nigeria and Cameroon.
Tiv (or Tivi) is an ethno-linguistic group or ethnic group that is the 4th largest in Nigeria.
Tiv language is spoken by about 7 million people in Nigeria with a few speakers in Cameroon. Most of the speakers of the Tiv language in Nigerian are found in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States of Nigeria. The language is also widely spoken in the Nigerian States of Plateau, Nasarawa and Cross River, as well as the FCT Abuja .
The Tiv language is part of the Southern Bantoid Tivoid family,a branch of Benue–Congo and ultimately of the Niger–Congo phylum. In pre-colonial times, the Fulani ethnic group referred to the Tiv as “Munchi” (Sometimes written Munshi ) (Duggan, 1932), a term not accepted by Tiv people.
From their point of view, the Tiv people says they emerged into their present location from the southeast. It is claimed that the Tiv wandered through southern, south-central and west-central Africa before arriving at the Savannah lands of West African Sudan via the River Congo and Cameroon Mountains. And as they did or when “Coming down,” as they put it, they met the Fulanis.
The earliest recorded European contact was in 1852, the Tiv people were already on the banks of the Benue River and the European met them there. British occupying forces entered Tiv land from the east in 1906, when they were called in to protect a Hausa and Jukun enclave that Tiv had attacked. The Tiv said in 1950 that they had defeated this British force, and then later invited the British.
The Tiv also came into contact with European culture during the colonial period. This was during November 1907 to spring of 1908 when an expedition of the Southern Nigeria Regiment led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Trenchard came into contact with the Tiv. Trenchard brought gifts for the tribal chiefs.
Subsequently, roads were built and trade links established between Europeans and the Tiv. But before construction of roads began, a missionary named Mary Slessor went throughout the region seeing to the people’s needs.
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