Kamberi people

Kamberi

Kamberi / Kambari / Tsishingini / Kamberawa / Cumbry

The Kambari are spread over a large area from Kotonkoro District, Kontagora Emirate, west to Agwarra, Busa, and Wawa Districts of Busa Emirate, Borgu Division, Ilorin Province (Nigeria). The exact relationship between the names Kambari and “ Kamberi(n) Beriberi ” , and that between the peoples so termed, is not known precisely. The latter term is generally applied to peoples widely scattered, but generally in the Niger and Benue valleys, who emigrated from Bornu somewhat over a century ago.

Kambari map

Abbreviation of the compound term to “ Kambari ” in some cases gives rise to confusion. The term Kambari, at least in the compound form given above, appears to be cognate with Yoruba gatnbari, applied primarily to Hausa, but also, it is said, to miscellaneous foreigners in Yorubaland.

The Kambari are farmers growing millet, guinea-corn, groundnuts and yams. They are grouped into three dialects. The three dialects are Tsishingini, Tsikimba and Cishingini. Not all the dialects are mutually intelligible. Many Kambari people have a negative attitude to modern ways. The elite class among the Kambari feel that the traditional authorities have not approached this well and the authorities blame the elite for failing to cooperate with them.

The authorities have tried by gifts and decrees to get the Kambari to conform to the national culture, but this has been misunderstood and suspected because the authorities did not take the Kambari culture and world view into account. In most places the Kambari are ruled by non-kambari chiefs and their elite have began to oppose this. Most parents are against sending their children to school, feeling that it is a waste of time when the children could be doing farm work. The literacy level in Kambari land may be 3%.

Generally, the Kambari people are very friendly to strangers in their midst unless they deride their culture and religion. Social amenities like roads, health care are very inadequate in all Kambari land but especially south of Niger. Social gatherings like weddings and markets draw huge crowds and many celebrate Islamic festivals. Social vices in the land include drunkenness and sexual immorality. Stealing is not common.

 

Population & Ecosystem

150.000 Kamberi live in the fertile forested plains of Kebbi and Niger States.

 
Economy & Society

The Kamberi are farmers growing millet, guinea-corn, groundnuts and yams.

They are grouped into three tribes all speaking different dialects; Tsishingini, Tsikimba and Cishingini. Not all the dialects are mutually intelligible. Many Kamberi people have a negative attitude to modern ways. The elite class among the Kamberi feel that the traditional authorities have not approached this well and the authorities blame the Islamized and Hausa elite for failing to cooperate with them. The authorities have tried by gifts and decrees to get the Kamberi to conform to the national culture, but this has been misunderstood and suspected because the authorities did not take the Kamberi culture and world view into account. In most places the Kamberi are ruled by non-Kamberi chiefs and their elite have begun to oppose this. Most parents are against sending their children to school, feeling that it is a waste of time when the children could be doing farm work. The literacy level in Kamberi land may be 3%.

 
Culture & Religion

Kamberi women and men (at a lesser extent) still practice facial and body scarification and tattooing, despite attempts to stop the practice by the local authorities in Genu Emirate. Lower and upper lip piercing (small woods or blue glass beads) is still done among young women. Kamberi women take time decorating their hairs with metal wraps and beads and they put on colourful short skirts when going to the market or during ceremonies. The usage of plastic colour beads for necklaces and bangles is common between young women and men.

The majority of the Kamberi practice ethnic religions. They believe that at death they will join their dead ancestors. They believe in and claim to often see ghosts walking about at night. The ghosts are said to have fire coming forth from their armpits and are known to beat people to death. Most Kamberi believe in witchcraft and many gods. They are also animists (believe that non-living objects have spirits), and they worship and sacrifice to various inanimate objects. Medicines and oaths also play a role in Kamberi beliefs.

 

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