Tiv - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Tiv are subsistence farmers. Their main crops—like those of peoples to their south—are yams, cassava, and sweet potatoes; they have in common with the peoples to their north grain crops, particularly sorghum, millet, and maize. Peanuts, peppers, several types of cucurbit, tomatoes, okra, and cotton are grown. Mango trees abound, although the fruit is eaten only by children; oranges were introduced by British agricultural officers. The Tiv gather greens, mushrooms, seeds, leaves, and plants to be used in sauces. They keep goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and guinea hens; sleeping sickness prevented the keeping of cattle or horses. Tiv men set great store by hunting, but in most areas all game has been hunted out.

Industrial Arts. Pottery is made by women; weaving of cotton cloth is done by young men; baskets are woven by men and boys. Chairs, both indigenous chairs and deck chairs, are made by mature men, as are beds, stools, mortars, and grinding stones. The Tiv share the general West African respect for blacksmiths; they made and hafted hoes, digging sticks, and spearheads as recently as the 1950s. All specialists is such crafts are farmers.

Trade. Although markets were indigenous, their importance and number increased vastly with the Pax Britannica. Markets meet every five days except in areas associated with mission compounds, where they are held on Fridays or Saturdays. Every area in Tivland maintains a calendar built on fiveday market cycles. Goods move from smaller markets to large central markets, from which they are exported, particular in the south.

Division of Labor. Tiv gender ideas are expressed primarily in terms of the division of labor, although the ideas penetrate every aspect of their culture. Men do the hard labor of clearing land and making mounds for planting yams; they also run the legal, political, and religious systems. Women do the rest of the farm work: weeding (which is often done by parties of women), harvesting, and carrying the crops to the granaries and storehouses in the compound. Women cook and are in charge of child rearing but traditionally had help from older children, either their own or those they "borrowed" from kin.

Land Tenure. Tiv land tenure, closely associated with residence, is an integral part of political and social organization (see "Sociopolitical Organization").

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