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- General Background
This research work is based on the aspects of morphology of Koro language.
By Morphology we mean the study of words formation rules in languages, Bushman (1976:314), says it is “the study of forms”, and also the study of word structures and description of the minimal, meaningful forms in a language. Yule (1997: 73)
The central of the core of morphology is morpheme. hence, morphemic analysis together with the types of morpheme shall be extensively discussed. Much attention shall be placed on bound morphemes and morphological processes like, affixation, compounding, reduplication, borrowing, clipping etc. in Koro language. These and many more morphological concepts shall be discussed in the subsequent chapters.
Also in this chapter, we shall examine the historical background of Koro language, socio linguistics profile under which we shall discuss the origin, religion, festivals, occupation, marriage, culture and belief, burial rites, educational, language status, the genetic classification of the language.
- Historical Background of the Koros.
There are many version of the origins of the Koro. Some primary and secondary sources of oral tradition, assumed monolithic origin for the Koros. However, all these contradictory versions reflect migrations and inter relations.
According to the story of the origin of Koros narrated to us by Sariki Muhammed Yawa, the present village head and 14th chief of Ija-Koro village, he said a group of Koro left Zaria area on a hunting expedition to old Abuja emirate, years before the Hausa Zazzau came to Abuja (Suleja) under the leadership of ‘Shiwoyi’ who later became the first chief of Ija-Koro.
They later discovered that the land was blessed with thick foliage and more game, the Koros decided to settle very close to the Gbagyi people who they met there and who also welcome them without any bitterness or rancour.
After living with the Gbagyi for many decades they left their former abode to where they presently occupy in Tafa local government area of Niger state. They later divided into two villages, Gbaraku and Ija-Koro with Ija-koro as the senior of the two. Today Ija-koro is made up of ten wards which include, Kacha, Kachago, Kachadato, Kugawa, Kugu, Adidipu, Gbaraku, Adiotolafu, Adesa and Tungan and Ladan. Ija-Koro is one of the ten villages under Bwarri district until the creation of federal capital territory Abuja.
Also according to Na’ibi and Hassan in their book ‘a chronicle of Abuja’ the Koro of Ija came from Jaban-Kogo in southern Zaria under the leadership of Idrisu who left Jaban-Kogo because of chieftaincy dispute. He traveled with his people through Jere and Garam and then settled on.
Another popular legend of the Koros claimed that they were evidently influenced by the attempt to link their origin to the universal perspective and centers of old civilization. This legend claimed that one koro and his younger brother ‘Jukun’ were born east of Mecca and settled in “Apa” which became the capital of Kwararafa Kingdom. He was blessed with four children named Igala, Nupe and two daughters. Igala in turn begot Alago and Idoma. One of the daughter of Jukun begot Bachama, while the second daughter begot Ankwe (Gojeh, Jatau and Mamman, 1998:9) from linguistic evidence, the legend of Koro and his brother Jukun were not from Mecca. Infact, some Koro, Kanuri, Jukun and Arab do not belong to the same linguistic group as evidenced in the recent linguistic classification of Gordon (2005).
The above legend contradicts the oral accounts narrated by Sarki Muhammed Yawa.
Linguistic consideration strongly point to the fact that all Koros couldn’t have one origin nor came together into central Nigeria, as they do not speak same language. Infact the difference in dialect from one Koro group to another further points to the fact that they have different origin.
Meek quoted by Goje, Jatau and Mammah (1998:18) classified it simply as “Nigerian semi-Bantu with no further refinement” Godon’s (2005) linguistic family tree traces Koro to have originated from among the Niger-Congo group of languages through the Atlantic Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Plateau Western to North-Western Koro. They are known with the dialects, Koro-Ija, Ashe, Gbegbe-Ejar, Koro Panda, Koro Ache, Koro Tandili, Koro Adong, Koro-Ujiji or mijiji. Koro is a cover term for the several dialectical groups while some of them have other names like Koro-Eger, Koro-Makama, Koro myamya, Koro miamiya, Koro-lafiya, Koro gbegbere and Koro Ala.
- Socio-Cultural Profile
The Koros are known for unshakeable peace and unflinching tolerance even with other distinct neigbours. They believe that this two things (peace and tolerance) are one of the things human being needs to survive and have a productive life. The puzzle of Koro social psychology attracts scholarly interest to examine the binding forces. Other groups are most comfortable with them for their strong believe or humour, human relations, accessibility, peace and docility. They are identical through joking relation, common facial marks, sharing of foods, traditional/cult consultation, moving together in the market or social occasion and sometimes forging common origin.
- Cultural Values
Cultural values are the cherished traditions and ethos, which are desirable to the society (Koro community) and taken as normative civilization. They value submissive character, readiness to obey orders, and fulfill responsibilities. Their expectations and practices that make life meaningful and anticipation of better tomorrow. One observable cultural value of these people is good mind and behaviour and predisposition to work as demanded. This is reinforced through organization of age-grades. A well-behaved man is favoured while there is also a severe punishment for the deviants. They also love organizing their societies with structured authorities some of which one religious and some administrative.
- Administrative System
The unit of authority starts from the house hold under its house-head called “Pinwada” or “Ikpunkiya”. The house hold heads are answerable to the clan-head (ebe-tuko) or ward head. All the village head are answerable to the chief (Osu) and the house hold head are also answerable to the village head. The Osu or Ghere-Ghabin is turbaned like an Emir since colonial days. Title holders have overlapping roles in the palace, but the most important ones are the secretary, Sarkin Pada, ‘Bochi-zaki’ (adviser) and Sarkin Dorgarau (in charge of security). Some of the earliest palace titles are, padawa or Sopada à The chief of palace officer.
Gaduma/Adogo – The judge.
Unir – ghokuci – Heir to the throne and disciplinary officer.
Tulaci/wuzili – Information or protocol officer.
Madachi – Treasurer and custodian of the armory and calvary
Zhekada – Tax collector
Sarkin muma – Judge over land
The committed leadership attracted the admiration of Arab and European writers, and remarked that “they were world famous is governance, better than European Asian, or American systems. Ibn Batuta, a famous historian observed in Western and central Sudan in 1352 that;
“The Negroes possess some admirable qualities. They are seldomly unjust and have a greater abhorrence of injustice than any other people. Their Emir shows no mercy to anyone who is guilty of the least act. There is complete security in their country. Neither traveler nor inhabitant in it have anything to fear from robbers or men of violence.
They do not confiscate the property of any man... They are careful to observe the hours of prayers.”
The traditional institution was not corrupt, it protected the weak, dealt with criminals particularly aimed robbers and could stop any violent clash.
However, the Koro system of government was found under confederal arrangement for sporadic consortium against invaders. In attempt to account for the semi – autonomous nature of the village groups, some information simply submitted that they were kingdom independent of external control and reduced every big settlement into a kingdom.
- Religion and Festivals
The Koros are dominantly traditional worshippers with every families having its own ancestral shrine. They also have clan shrines (ebe-tukwo), town shrines and individual or town cults and sanctuaries (ashmaukuk). Many pre-colonial polities were purely exercising cultural and religious control over tribes while excluding non-tribe even in the same settlement. Hence, individuals and families paid more respect to their kin and cultural cum religious head. Recently, the influence of Arab traders have firmly establish the religion of Islam. With the dominance of Islam, the Koros are very careful to observe the hours of prayers. Be that as it may, individuals and families paid more allegiance to their kin and cultural cum religious heads.
Festivals are organized to unite all their kins form far and near. The chief priest is regarded as the ruler of the tribe only, but without defined territory. Ceremonies were some of the arenas for hosting neighbouring groups. Some of these ceremonial are burials, turbaning marriages and animal festivals e.g Ghetiri – Nengwezi, Kebere, Ukodogu, Mwamwa, Usor, Ghokonor and of course, the two most popular festivals “Zhiba - je” “Zhiba means” ‘settlement’ while “je” means ‘beer/ceremony’ put together to mean town festival. It is usually celebrated after the harvest of guinea corn and when the first rain has dropped around March. Till today, the Koros are culturally vibrant. The second intriguing and popular festival is ‘Kuye’.
This festival (Kuye) is celebrated to the remembrance of the death of “Najaja”, the great hunter who emancipated the Koros from the shackles of invades and led them to their present location. An antelope must be killed as the festival’s rite, however, some of these festivals have reduced in importance because of the influence of Western education.
- Geographical Location/Population
The Koros are found in the federal capital territory Abuja (FCT), Niger and Kaduna state respectively. In Kaduna state, they live together in Kagarko local government area (L.G.A). Koro and Jere chiefdoms.
In Niger state, they live together in Kuta, Suleija and Chanchaga. In the federal capital territory, they are found or are living in the whole of Bwarri and Abuja municipal area council (AMAC). The population of the Koro speakers dwelling in Kaduna was given by Barret (1972) as 45,000. There was no estimate for the Koros in Kefi local government, Nassarawa state in Panda, Karu. The population of Koro of Niger state was conservatively put at 150,000 in 2007.
Agriculture is the main stay of Koro economy. Commercial and subsistence farming are what they do most. Yam and maize are the major thing they sell and it is their major articles of trade in their place. The land has varying proportion of Silica, suit, nitrogen and phosphorous. It is alluvial and sticky in the paddy areas and sandy on the up-lands. They make plant grow well. The boom in agricultural production is related to the fertility of the soils. It is interesting to note here that farming in this region is of great antiquity.
The ethnobotanical and archaeological findings suggest that farming dates back to 3,000 BC. Therefore, agriculture here doesn’t possess the rich potentialities that belong to it in the other regions. Agricultural produce are sold in a weekly market called “Ija-Koro market”.
- Marriage System and Rites
Marriage is a necessity to every human society. It is the only formal universal approach to procreation. The Koros make marital negotiations between both party in an highly confidential manner. The bride and the groom are excluded from this arrangement in other to avoid premarital sex and other forms of immorality that may perspire by virtue of their knowledge. Besides, premarital sex is forbidden and frowned at. The bride as a matter of tradition must undergo different physical fitness exercises like, carrying of wood for seven days. This exercise is meant to ascertain her level of fitness.
Marriage ceremony in Ija-Koro is usually elaborate, it is accomplished or organized with traditional display of all sorts. It is intriguing that, it may attract the attention of on lookers. The most frightening aspect of this display is the physical combat between young boys of similar weight. Unlike in other parts of Nigeria where marriage is celebrated in the daytime, in Ija-Koro, celebration galore starts at night with intriguing traditional dances. Maiden (s) are no ground to entertain guest with terrific dance step. One distinct thing about their marriage system is that a girl of 14 or 15 may be given out in marriage. Every father in Koro sees it as a pride to witness the marriage of his son. The father may cast a cause on the son if he decided not to marry at the appropriate time.
- Burial Rites
Death is accompanied just like any other tribes with sorrow and agony. Anytime a person travels to the world beyond, people gather at the village square to sympathize with the family of deceased. Interestingly relatives of the dead come out in mass with different masquerade and these masquerade are traditionally expected till dawn. Before the corpse is deposited in the grave, several processes are involved, first the masquerade jumps over the corpse seven times as farewell message. The body of the corpse will be designed with ashes culturally regarded as “Kaji”. After which a well fashioned clothe called “shachi” is designed for the burial of the corpse. As part of the burial rite, a mortar is placed at the front of deceased’s house, one of his relative sits on it while the corpse is placed at the front of the mortar like a living being. Relatives, friends, sons and grandsons, honour the corpse with money at his forehead. It is expected that, the money will serve the benefit of transport faire to his ancestors. Moreover a masquerade gives a violent shout to indicate or shows readiness for burial. All females are banned from staying outside during the burial proper. Before the female are sent indoor, a group of females traditionally called “Alarache” will bid a farewell to the corpse with their song. A goat and a fowl are slaughtered as burial atonement. The corpse will later be carried shoulder high in readiness for the grave. The specialists known as ‘Abuya’ are waiting by the grave side to do the final part of the burial. At the end, the two of the corpse relatives are called upon to bid the deceased goodbye seven days with dancing and a formal ceremony will be inaugurated as final relecdictory service.
The Koros are fairy educated. This is not to say that a limited number of the people are not well educated. However, the acquisition of Islamic education is placed at priority than any other forms of education. The submissiveness and readiness of the Koros to aquire Western education in something to note. Infact, the researchers of this work found as many as possible fluent English speakers. within the native community. Though, these set of people acquire their education outside the community. A survey of Ija-Koro primary school located at Tafa local government of Niger state points vividly to the fact that 65% of Ija-Koro children enroll as a starter in 2008/2009 academic session. This is indeed an evidence of a potential educationally developed community.
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