Rukuba - History and Cultural Regions

The Rukuba claim to have migrated to their present territory from Ugba, a locality about 64 kilometers northward. Their historical tradition connects them closely with neighboring peoples of different linguistic subgroups, the Jere, the Buji, the Ribina, the Amo and, some say, the Chara. This migration is difficult to date, but the eighteenth century seems the best estimate, although it might have taken place earlier. Linguistically isolated, the Rukuba nevertheless have various formal links of a ritual nature with thirteen neighboring populations that are also small by African standards. In spite of the language barrier, these peoples formally invite representatives of other groups to communal hunting, to initiation ceremonies, to certain funerals, and so on. The British, while searching for tin on the High Plateau, subdued the Rukuba in 1905. Tin extraction by soil washing began in mining camps, providing an opportunity for the local peoples to pay a newly introduced personal tax without migrating away for long periods. This explains the relative conservatism of these Plateau ethnic groups, which met the monetary needs of the British administration by getting hired in mining camps for only a few weeks a year or by growing foodstuffs for the foreign permanent residents in the same mining camps. The town of Jos also offers some opportunities to work without going far away from home.

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