The Berom (sometimes also spelt as Birom) is the largest autochthonous ethnic group in the Plateau State, central Nigeria. Covering about four local government areas, which include Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi (Gwol) and Riyom, Berom are also found in southern Kaduna State local government areas.
The Berom speak the Berom language, which belongs to the Plateau branch of Benue–Congo, a subfamily of the large Niger–Congo language family. It is not related to the Hausa language (which belongs to the Afro-Asiatic family) or other Afro-Asiatic languages of Plateau State, which are Chadic languages.
The Berom people have a rich cultural heritage. They celebrate the Nzem Berom festival annually in March or April. Other festivals include Nzem Tou Chun (worongchun) and Wusal Berom. Its one of the major aborigine groups in Nigeria (Plateau State) that believes in a Judeo-Christian God (Dagwi).
Berom (also spelt as Birom) refers to a tribe; the people of the Berom ethnicity. Berom also refers to a dialect; the language spoken by the Berom people. According to some historians and narrators of the Berom history, the Berom tribe migrated from Egypt and eventually settled around the Vom/Kuru axis (whieh is regarded by some as the Ancient Kingdom of the Beroms). The Beroms by nature have farming, mining and hunting as their profession and stock of trade. They are also warriors.
The Berom people have a native food referred to as 'Rizgah' which is a finger let-type crop that is cooked, peeled and eaten (without soup, stew or any ingredient, just like eating boiled groundnuts. Just boiled groundnuts. The major traditional food of the Berom tribe however, is called 'Acha' (Hungary Rice). The Beroms are one of major producers of acha in Nigeria. This 'acha' could be eaten in a variety of ways; jollof (mixed with ingredients), plainly boiled (like white rice) and eaten in combination with stew. It is also prepared as 'Titwon Acha';'Tliwo' is the northern versión of 'fufu', 'amala' or pounded yam, but this time made with Hungary rice and eaten with some other soup. The Berom people however have a special local 'draw' soup, prepared from the bark of a particular tree and eaten when the soup is almost cold.
Festivals in Berom culture are primarily related to agriculture and hunting, which have been the main events revolving around Berom livelihood and cosmology.
Nzem Berom. The influx of Christianity and western Education paved way for many socio-cultural changes in Berom culture. The changes devalued the rich culture of the people bringing serious predicament of a severe social and cultural crisis. In order to avoid the danger of losing the socio-cultural practice of the ancestor, and the overall precolonial activities such as the Mandyeng, Nshok, Worom Chun, Vwana, ceremonies were brought into a single umbrella festival called Nzem Berom. Nzem Berom is held within the first week of April, to coincide with the period when Mandyeng, Nshok and Badu Festival was held. The Nzem is a period when different cultural displays are exhibited from different parts of Berom land, especially in music, dance, arts and culture.
Mandyeng. Mandyeng is a major festival celebrated in Berom land to usher in the rainy season. The festivals normally take place in March/ April. In the past the Berom regard Mandyeng/Nshok (they are very similar) the most vital festivals which ensured a good farming and hunting period and harvest. Not all the Berom communities celebrate Mandyeng and Nshok. Those that perform 'Mandyeng' claim their roots from Riyom, they include; Vwang, Kuru, Zawan, Gyel, Rim, Bachit, Bangai, Lwa, Sop, Jol, Wereng Kwi, Gwo, Kakuruk, Kuzeng, Kurak, Kuchin, Rahos and Tahoss. Nshok: Nshok slightly varies from Mandiyeng due to the fact that it also associates hunting with the rainy season farming. It is also held once a year around the months of April and May, to usher in the new season just as the Mandyeng.
In the pre-colonial era the Berom regarded hunting as both an occupation and a sport. Although economically it was not as important as farming, hunting was regarded as a show of skill and bravery. So much so, that most Berom names are derived from game animals, most importantly duiker, due to their perceived beauty. Names such as Pam, Dung, Chuwang, Gyang, Badung etc. for boys are most common, while girls answer to Kaneng, Lyop, Chundung, Nvou, Kangyang. These are names for different species of duiker. Others, such as Bot (frog) Tok (fish), Tsok (toad) etc. are names for other animals that are non-domesticated, but not game. These names clearly typify how important game was in pre-colonial Berom society.
Nshok was not the only hunting festival in Berom land. Festivals such as Mado and Behwol existed but are not as important as Nshok.
Some of the musical instruments among the Berom include:
The leader of the Berom tribe plays a highly signifícant role, not only in the co-ordination and provision of leadership for his people, but also in ensuring eohesiveness and unity within the different tribes in the Jos Plateau (alongside the other Traditional Heads). From the time Da Rwang Pam became the head of the Berom people (1947-1969) till date, the Head of the Traditional Couneil or Tribal Couneil in Jos has been, (and is still) designated to the stool or throne of the Paramount ruler of the Berom people. The Paramount ruler is referred to as the Gbong Gwom Jos.