The Gwandara of Nigeria
Gwandara history relates that Islam was introduced into Kano in the fourteenth century. However, Gwandara, the younger brother of the ruling chief refused to convert to Islam. After a warning by the chief to convert or be enslaved, Gwandara took his followers and traveled southward to Gwagwa. Subsequent Muslim attacks led to yet another dispersion farther south.
The Gwandara finally settled in the Jukun territory during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Jukun had become a type of refugee zone for diverse peoples also fleeing their communities for various reasons, with the Gwandara dominating politically in the region for many years.
What are their lives like?
Most Gwandara are subsistence farmers with their farms located in the bush outside of their villages. Huts are built in a circle to form the compound that houses an extended family. There is only one entrance into each compound because each hut is connected to the next by a corn bin or granary. Each village has a chief who is responsible for handling village affairs and settling village disputes.
Gwandara men usually wear Hausa-style gowns. Most women wear cloths, although some wear loose strings around their hips with bundles of leaves hanging in front and in back.
Palm oil is important to the Gwandara because of its many uses. Therefore, a fair amount of it is obtained and kept in each village or sold in markets. Another major product sold in the market is mats. (Each mat takes four days to make.) Beer and tobacco are both important in Gwandara life, however, most Gwandara neither smoke pipes nor drink in excess, like many other groups in this part of Africa.
Young Gwandara men work on their fathers' farms until they marry, which is usually around age seventeen or older. Girls are betrothed as young children, but before reaching marriageable age, they have the right to break off the engagement, in which case the bride price is returned to the suitor.
Ritual dances are an important aspect of the Gwandara society. One dance is the "good and evil" dance. Old men sit in a circle and the personification of the spirits of good and evil—concealed under a long sack and wearing a high conical hat—whirl around them. Stepping to the beat of a drum, he tells the elders to get up and follow him. When the personified spirit dances, they all dance, and if anyone is struck by the knob that hangs from the spirit's hat, evil will surely befall him or his family. Another similar circular step-dance called "joy" is also practiced. The rhythm for this dance is made by the ornaments worn on the arms and legs of the dancers.
What are their beliefs?
Many Gwandara believe that they possess the power to turn themselves into hyenas, which supposedly respect the Gwandara.
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.