Are The Jukun, Yala And Ejagham People Related? – Obono Obla

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by crossriverwatch admin

Barrister Obono Obla
Barrister Obono Obla

Jukun are an ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in West Africa. The Jukun are traditionally located in Taraba, Benue, Nassarawa, Plateau, Adamawa, and Gombe states in Nigeria and parts of north western Cameroon. They are descendants of the people of the Kwararafa kingdom.

Most of the tribes in the north central of Nigeria trace their origin to the Jukun people and in one way or the other relate to the Jukuns. If not for the coming of both Christianity and Islam, the Jukun people were traditionalists. Most of the tribes; Alago, Agatu, Rendere, Gumai in Shendam, and others left Kwararafa when it disintegrated as a result of a power tussle.

The Jukuns are divided into two major groups; the Jukun Wanu and Jukun Wapa. The Jukun Wanu are fishermen residing along the banks of the River Benue and Niger where they run through Taraba state, Benue state and Nassarawa state. The Wukari Federation, headed by the Aku Uka of Wukari, is now the main center of the Jukun people.

The population speaks a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo family. The people comprise a congeries of many smaller groups, each organized on a different basis, although polygynous extended families seem to be the dominant unit.

The Jukun traditionally possessed a complex system of offices, which had both a political and a religious aspect; the priesthood practiced an involved form of religion marked by diurnal and annual rounds of ritual and sacrifice. The king, called Aka Uku, was a typical example of a semi-divine. This is similar to the Obol Lopon institution in Yakurr (a King/Priest).

The Yala people of Ikom, Obubra and Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State speak a language that is closely related to Idoma people of Benue State. Indeed the Idoma and Yala are basically the same people.

In 2008 my friend from Alago in Nassarawa State, Barrister Musa Elayo (former Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Justice under Obasanjo) told me that his people (Alago) are closely related to the Yala people of Cross River State. I also noticed that his language Alago is similar to Yala.

In his eminent work “Who is a Nigerian” Dr. Okoi Arikpo alluded to the fact that the Ekoi (Ejagham) are related to the Jukun through the Akpa tradition. The Ejagham started migration as a result of the upheavals that took place in 1600 in their original abode in the present Cameron.

In the Ugep tradition, we are told that the Yako, Okuni, Boki, Nsofang were living in Akpa country but an internal dissension led to a fight that scattered that country. Was it the Jukun people that confronted the Yako cluster?

Sultan Mohammed Bello in his treatise to Clapperton said that the Jukun (Kwararafa Empire) extended to Calabar. He mentioned that the King of Jukun had a port in the present Calabar know as “Atakpa”.

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