African Hub of Culture: The TIV People of Nigeria

The Tiv people are a minority ethnic group in the Central Eastern part of Nigeria, comprising of Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Platue states.

[tiv people]


The Tiv have rich history of culture and traditions. They are believed to have wandered through Southern, South-Central, and West-Central Africa before settling at Swemkaragbe the rejoin adjoining Cameroon and Nigeria. The Tiv were a free people and so was led by the eldest man in the clan, called “Orya”.

The Tiv are believed to have their origin from an individual named Tiv, who had two sons, Ichongo and Ipusu. Tivs consider themselves descendants of either of the two sons of Tiv. The native attire of the Tiv is black and white stripes (Anger), depicting the stripes of the Zebra first hunted and killed by the Tiv ancestors. Other Tiv traditional attire are Ivvavtyo, lishi, godo, Gbagir, deremen, and tugudu.

The key instruments of the Tiv music are Kakaki, Ilyu, Indyer, Akya, Adiguve, Gbande, and Kolugh Ku Bua (Cow Horn). The kakaki is a royal instrument used to convey important messages like the birth of a prince, or the crowning of a king. The Indyer is a wooden instrument carved out of mahogany used to communicate the death of an important personality in the community or a call to war. Adiguve is like a violin used for music and dances at the Agbande festival and also played at funerals.

Traditionally, the Tiv perform an art of storytelling called Kwagh-hir. Stories are told using carved masks and puppetry as a form of masquerade. Just like in every other African culture, the Tiv use masquerades to express their culture.

Native to the Tiv is pocho, burukutu, rice and beans (chingapa sha alev), ahuma, ibyer, asondo (dried sweet potatoes), kuese (beans cake) and plenty other flavor packed dishes.

Deep rooted in culture, the Tiv have different ways of conducting marriage. The most common and popularly practiced form of marriage is one where the groom pays the bride price. This is common to most African countries. The families of the bride and groom engage in visits and exchange of gifts to get acquainted.

However, the Tiv do not believe in buying a woman, but that a woman should be courted the right way through a gradual process of negotiation.


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Written by Monsurat


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