The Awak of Nigeria
The Awak are a small tribe, approaching only 12,000 in population. They speak Yebu, an Adamawa language, but use Hausa as a secondary or trade language.
Awak history tells us its people migrated from Yemen centuries ago. Over the years, the Awak resisted powerful forces, fighting and conquering various peoples. For many years, they could not be overpowered. Finally, during European colonization, the Awak were overthrown.
The Awak are closely related to the Tangale people who live west of them and with whom they share similarities in marriage customs, religious practices, music, and dances. The Awak also speak the same language and hold many of the same traditions as those of the Cham and Waja tribes.
What are their lives like?
When compared to many other peoples in the region, the Awak are somewhat modernized. They desire an education for their children; however, due to the need for help on family farms, only some children attend schools, and those enrolled cannot always be present regularly. Primary schools are located in Awak and other villages, but there is no secondary school in the area.
The Awak are divided into clans and live in compact villages surrounded by walls or hedges. Huts are usually round with cone-shaped thatched roofs and mud walls.
Arranged marriages are typical in other African groups of this region, but the Awak allow a man to choose a wife for himself. He must pay the girl's family a "bride-price" which usually includes goats, a number of fowls, a necklace, and pieces of metal. He must also do farm work for the girl's father in order to "earn" his bride. On the wedding day, the bride takes her household utensils with her to the groom's house where the groom awaits to offer her the food he has prepared. The village then gathers for two days of festivities to finalize the marriage.
Seven days after the birth of a child, the child's father prepares food and takes it as an offering to the Lole who is the personification of an occult power. The priest or the parents of the child then name the infant. When a boy reaches the age of ten, he is taken to the priest to be blessed. After the blessing, the boy's relatives gather together to celebrate by holding a great feast.
The Awak have distinct tribal markings which are considered beautiful and which distinguish one tribe from another. Both men and women have lines cut into their skin that run down the front of both arms. Women also have a deep line from the center of the forehead to the end of the nose and more lines from the top of the head to the jaw-bone.
What are their beliefs?
The priest (only an inherited title) prays to Yambah, "the supreme deity." The Awak believe evil-doers will be punished and those who have lived good lives will live in heaven with Yambah and his son.
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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