Reshe / Reshawa / Bareshe / Gungawa / Tsureshe / Tsure Jas

The Reshe or Reshawa—known also as the Tsureshes, Tsure Jas, Gungancis, Bareshes, and Gungawas—are a group of approximately 125,000 people who live on the banks and islands of the Niger River in the Yauri División of Sokoto State in Nigeria.

Reshe People


They make their living as farmers and fishermen. They are primarily hoe cultivators, raising millet and guinea corn in the highlands and onions along the river.



They are surrounded by a number of other ethnic groups, including the Hausas, Shangawas, Dukkawas, Lopawas, and Kamberis. Except for the Dukkawas, who marry endogamously, the Reshawas are known to intermarry polygynously with the surrounding ethnic groups.



They are also known for their skill at wrestling, the hostility of all their male-female relationships (except that between mother and son), their cultural pragmatism, and their willingness to incorpórate people from other ethnic groups. Their conversión to Islam was, and often remains, a product of their need to get along with the dominant Hausas, who are also Muslims.



Ethnologists trace Reshawa origins in the Yauri District back to the fourteenth century. Briefly, during the sixteenth century, the Reshawas established political domination of the región, but the Hausas soon carne to power and have remained so ever since. The Muslim religion carne to the Reshawas via traders, Hausa administrators, and traveling mullahs. More than two-thirds of the Reshawas are now Muslims.

Because of the completion of the Kainji Dam Project in 1968, many Reshawas were forced to relocate off the islands and river banks into larger settlements where government schools, jobs, and health facilities are accelerating their acculturation and assimilation.



They speak Reshe, part of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo linguistic family.



  • James S. Olson / Peoples of Africa