The cross and the gods is an ethnographic study of Taraba and Adamawa States.


Bakula is not a tribe but an association of seven tribes or ethnic groups with common origin, culture, language and beliefs. These groups are the Bandawa, Kunini, Lau Habe, Shomo, Jiru, Minda and Jessi. They are found in the present Karim Lamido, Yoro and Jalingo Local Government Areas of Taraba State. All these tribes came from Kwararafa, are brothers of the Jukun and migrated over the Benue River. Five groups have their own names for themselves. The Bandawa are Shooh; Shomo are Lathu; Kunini are Nyeh; Jessi are Nbishi; Minda are Manda. The Karimjo have a common ancestor and are closely related to the Shomo.

The Shomo believe they came from Egypt through the Sudan to Pingiga in Bauchi State and on to Kwararafa. Due to an epidemic they left Kwararafa together with the many other tribes. Some, like the Shomo travelled up the river by boat, others migrated over land.

The Shomo were known at Kwararafa as Kinzimba. The Kona call them Asom. They are good hunters and fishermen and skillful with canoes which they use to ferry people across the Benue. The Shomo settled near Lau.

The Karimjo are known as the Eteye by the Jenjo, Yatoi by the Bambuka and Munga or Bibino by the Piya.  They admit that they were originally Jukun and came from Kwararafa, but refuse now to accept that they are part of Bakula. This might be because of the original ill-feeling in which they separated from the others. Their culture and beliefs are similar to the others, but they have some cults beside the dodo[masquerade] that the others have.
The dodo (Kwui) is divided into Nwatu, the female dodo in Karim Lawan, and Wagau, a male dodo in Lathai, and Naunwi, a male dodo found in Wadapi (Lata).  The dodos function to provide good harvests, give protection against evil spirits, and punish social offenders. Boys of about fifteen are initiated into the cult.

Bori possession cults are Sima and Shitta. The later is strong. Lawi is ancestral worship. Gila and Dampali are the rain cults.  In honour of these powers, all sorts of festivals are held each year, such as dedication of the firstfruits.


Bali is a sub-tribe of the Manyan association of tribes, which also includes the Kpasham and Yotti, all speaking the same language. There are about 12,000 Bali (estimate 1987) and they live in Numan Local Government Area of Adamawa State, primaily at Bali town, 30 kilometres from Numan on the road to Jalingo. They are mainly farmers, growing guinea corn, groundnut and rice.
According to their own oral history, they migrated from Sokoto with the Bwatiye. Bali people speak Hausa as their trade language and some speak Bachama and Fulfulde. A lot of children die every year from measles even though there is a dispensary in Bali. Traditional medicine is widely used. The Bali do not use facial marks. There are some body marks differing for men and women. In years past, both men and women plaited their hair.

Culture Highlights
If a new baby is a boy, an arrow is shot into the thatch from inside directly over the place where he lies. If she is a girl, some rope is tied around a Kpa’kla, the metal axe-like weapon women use to fight during war and hung above her.
Boys between the ages of 14 and 16 were initiated into manhood every year during the Kpetamamtale festival. Now it is done for boys who are 9 or 10 years old. Boys who are initiated together become age-mates.

An old man is buried in an L shaped grave. About a month later is the Sadaka (last mourning ceremony) which is the time to bid farewell to the deceased. Some food is also cooked and placed in the dead man’s hut overnight for him to eat. The hut is surrounded with a zana mat during the Sadaka. This mat, together with the skulls of animals he killed while he was alive, are taken outside the village and burnt. When the fire is dying out, they pour beer over it. He is not expected to bother anybody in dreams after this. Beer is also poured over the grave of the head of each clan by his successor once every year. (NNAK K6567 p 3)…  Order Now!