Monday, December 05, 2016

NIGERIA: On A New Tor Tiv

BY DONALD TERFA GAADI
GUARDIAN NIGERIA


Costumes and Regalia of the Tiv in Benue, Nigeria. Image courtesy of Funke Oyinbo



When the late Tor Tiv IV, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula died, a vacuum was created to be filled by the Tiv whose population is ranked as the fourth largest in Nigeria. Although the agitation to replace the Tor Tiv who until his death occupied the throne of the supreme traditional ruler of the Tivs began after his death a replacement is yet to be made. The throne of Tor Tiv is in the traditional headquarters of Tiv land, that is Gboko in Benue State, a state with the highest indigeneous Tiv population. Other states with indigenous Tiv presence are Taraba and Nasarawa, while some are natives of the Republic of Cameroun. However, the Tor Tiv is the supreme traditional ruler of every Tiv person irrespective of where he or she is in any part of the world.

Tiv are one of the best tribes of Israel that migrated into the African continent. From their Bantu origin in Zulu land, South Africa, they migrated to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa and into Nigeria in West Africa.

The Tiv nation was without a traditional ruler until 1946 when some of their sons came back home after a successful battle for the British during the Second World War which ended in 1945 and saw the need. They coined a name, the "Tor Tiv" for their traditional ruler. The first, second, third and fourth Tor Tivs were their Royal Highnesses Orchivirigh Makir Zakpe, Tor Tiv I (1946 to 1956), Orchivirigh Gondo Aluor, Tor Tiv II (1956 to 1978), Orchivirigh Akperan Orshi, Tor Tiv III (1979 to 1990) and His Royal Majesty, Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv IV (1990 to 2016). The occupancy of the Tor Tiv stool since its creation does shift between Ichongo and Ipusu among Tiv blocks.

In Benue State, the Tiv have five blocks: Sankera (Katsina Ala, Ukum, Logo), Kwande (Kwande, Ushongo), Jechira (Vandeikya, Konshisha), Jemgbagh (Gboko, Buruku, Tarka) and MINDA (Makurdi, Guma, Gwer East, Gwer West). There is a mixture of Ichongo and Ipusu in Sankera. For example, Ikyurav (Katsina Ala) and Ugondo, Turan (Logo) are Ichongo while Shitile, Tongov, (Katsina Ala), Ukum (Ukum) and Shitile (Logo) are Ipusu. Kwande also has a mixture of both Ichongo and Ipusu which include Ikyurav, Turan (Kwande) while Kparev (Kwande) and Kparev (Ushongo) are Ipusu. Only Ipusu are found in Jechira, that is Kparev (Vandeikya) and Kparev (Konshisha). Jemgbagh comprises of only Ipusu as well and they are Kparev (Gboko), Kparev (Buruku) and Kparev (Tarka) while MINDA has only Ichongo consisting of Ugondo Masev, Iharev (Makurdi), Nongov Iharev (Guma), Masev (Gwer East) and Iharev (Gwer West).

For Taraba State, there is a mixture of Ichongo and Ipusu descendants in two blocks classified as Central (Bali, Gassol, Gashaka) and Southern (Wukari, Takum, Donga, Ibi). The Central has Nongov, Iharev, Shitile, Kparev (Bali) Nongov, Shitile, Kparev, Ukum (Gassol) and Turan, Shitile Kparev (Gashaka) while Southern has Shitile, Ukum, (Wukari), Shitile (Takum), Ugondo, Shitile, Ukum (Donga) and Ugondo, Nongov, Turan, Shitile (Ibi).



Nasarawa State has one block of the Tiv and it is called Ichongo (Lafia, Awe, Doma,Obi, Keana). This block has like its name, only Ichongo descendants and they are Iharev (Lafia), Nongov, Iharev (Awe), Iharev (Doma), Iharev (Obi) and Iharev (Keana).

The first Tor Tiv was Ipusu-Kparev (Jechira), second from Ichongo-Ugondo (Sankera), third was Ipusu-Kparev (Jemgbagh) and fourth from Ichongo-Iharev (MINDA). All are from four out of five Benue blocks. The blocks yet to produce a Tor Tiv are Kwande in Benue, Central and Southern in Taraba and Ichongo in Nasarawa.

For unity and a purposeful achievement, it will be ideal if the Mzough U Tiv (MUT) with its national headquarters in Gboko, Benue State would remain the only umbrella body for Tiv social-cultural associations with chapters in all states of Nigeria and other countries instead of having different names in three Tiv indigenous states such as Mzough U Tiv (MUT) in Benue, Tiv Cultural and Social Association (TICSA) in Taraba and Tiv Development Association (TIDA) in Nasarawa. This will enable easy decision making on issues affecting the Tiv including that of naming a new Tor Tiv.

I would like to conclude that in other not to contravene the Tiv leadership principle of "Ya na angbian," only the blocks yet to produce a Tor Tiv should be considered in the selection of a new Tor Tiv by the kingmakers who make up the selection committee of the Tiv Traditional Council Supreme Assembly, "Ijir Tamen," which should embrace members from Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states who must have sound knowledge of the history of Tor Tiv kingship from the genesis to the present.
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