Connect with us

Culture & Tourism

History and Mystery of Swange Dance of the Tiv People of BENUE State.



Spread the story

If you have ever lived among the Tiv people of Benue State, one noticable attribute you would hardly ignore is their love for music and dance, and especially their indigenous Swange dance.

To begin with, who are the Tiv tribe? The Tiv are the eight largest tribe in Nigeria, accounting for 2.5% of the Nigerian population. The Tiv are of the semi Bantu linguistic affinity living in the Northern and Southern parts of the middle course of the Benue River and its tributary the River Katsina-Ala. The Tiv share boundaries with Ebonyi and Cross River states to the south and with Taraba and Nasarawa in the North; to the West, they rub shoulders with Otukpo, Apa and Oju local government areas of Benue state; and the Republic of Cameroon in the east.

Like all indigenous African dance, Swange dance of the Tiv tribe takes a slow chorographic motion that intensively engages the body and soul of the participants to satisfy the rhythmic drum patterns provided by the flutes and drum and other musical instruments.

Swange dance that is well known and celebrated in Nigeria and Africa today started as a folk dance. Though the true origin is described as being obscure as a result of its changing and transitional nature,
Swange music and dance has historically gained popularity in Africa. Swange dance transcends the Tiv immediate social milieu to become a national dance.

Before chorographic dance became known in Africa, Swange was already an indigenous source of entertainment in the North Central region of the Benue basin.

Swange dance is highly functional and far beyond movements. It is purposeful; uses intentional rhythm; has cultural influences; uses nonverbal body movement in time, space and effort; communicates through locomotion, gesture, posture, stillness, the senses, music and costume. In the same vein, the dance cuts across the human physiological and emotional domain to his spirituality. Any time you hear the flutes play and the drums beat to Swange dance, it is either to express joy or grief; love or hate; or evoke prosperity and avert calamity and so on.

Dance generally has cathartic and therapeutic function to peoples’ well being, behaviour and identity. This includes both the performers and the viewers.

Swange dance among the Tiv and in Nigeria as a whole enhances the socio-cultural interactions and integration of the people and their neighbours; it facilitates the political revolutionary and repositioning movements; it aids socioeconomics restructuring, and serve as a viable tool for therapeutic and religious engagement.

Swange dance helps in boosting mental and physical health, as well as promoting social and emotional cognition. Its flexibility is discovered to help decrease muscular tension.

It is believed that the fluidity body movement of the Swange dancers no is inspired by the flow of the river, and considered mimetic, abstract and metaphorical in varying degrees characteristically.

Also, the prominent circular movement of the dancers depicts cultural continuity. In terms of its influence on the Tiv socio-economic restructuring. Swange dance as an arm of the cultural heritage of the Tiv nation, as well as an aspect of a versatile economic sector (music, dance and tourism), doubtlessly improves the economic impact of the state through direct and indirect trade system.

According to research, the indigenous Swange dance of the Tiv people is considered the most decent, popular and loved music style of the Tiv which has survived all kinds of oppositions till now. Historically, the
Swange dance is an evolution and fusion of various genres of traditional music in stages from Kwagh-alom or Kikya songs to the more choreographed Ibyamegh and Angye
songs and dance to a much more refined and dynamic stage of
Swange dance we have today.

Swange dance is classified into different major groups and subgroups which are being taught and learnt for cultural engagement and recreational purposes. Thus, adequate knowledge of the dance and all it entails is essential for outstanding performance at any time. This includes the positioning of the body- twisting of the upper and lower limbs, waist and neck and so on. Stage movement from one spot to the other, as well as corresponding gestures to a particular sound, rhythm or word. Also, the dynamics of stage interaction are taught by older members of the group standing in as instructors or teachers. Swange dance is usually presented as a choreographed dance movement, therefore, new members are taught the art of concentration and focus.

Written by Oche Onu with the help of academic materials on Swange Dance

Watch Video of Swange dance CLICK

Culture & Tourism

YAM FESTIVAL: Patience Jonathan Storms Igede Land in Benue, Sues For Peace and Unity

Spread the story

No Peace No Development



Spread the story

The former First Lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan had paid a visit to Igede Land in Benue State to mark the annual Igede Agba Yam Festival of the Igede people. The age-long festival is celebrated annually to mark the arrival of new yam in the community.

The First Lady who graced the occasion alongside other dignitaries including the governor of Benue State, Governor Hyacinth Alia came on the invitation by the Federal House of representative member representing the Oju-Obi Federal Constituency, Hon. David Ogewu.

From left: Hon Ogewu, Gov. Alia and Mrs Jonathan

Addressing the crowd, Mrs Jonathan encouraged the communities to embrace peace and unity in order for development to ensue: “Where there is no peace there is no development. You have talked about roads. You have demanded for so , any things. You have talked to your governor you need road, you need this and that. It is only when you have peace that you can achieve this. Please remember peace. It is only on peaceful atmosphere you can drive back here; and the workers will come in and work for you. “Because if anybody awards contract and there is no peace, that contract cannot excel. So make sure there is peace, Make sure there is harmony, make sure there is unity, make sure there is love, and make sure there is forgiveness. And remember my name, Patience in everything you are doing.May God bless Igede land. May God bless Benue State. And may God bless Nigeria. Peace will remain here forever. Thank you and may God bless you,” She said.

Her plea came on the backdrop of clashes between some communities in Igede land.

Celebrating the Igede culture

Continue Reading

Culture & Tourism

What You Might Not Know About The Igede People of BENUE State



Spread the story

Written by Faith Ote Uchara

The Igede people of Central Nigeria are an ethnic group in Benue State. The Igedes are natives to the Oju and Obi local government areas in Nigeria, with an estimated population of  267,198 people. Although the majority of them are residents in the two local governments,  however, many Igede people live in the various states across the federation and the globe. For instance, the Igede language is also spoken in Gabu, Yala in Nigeria’s Cross River State, and according to oral history, many Igede communities exist in Osun State and Ogun State. From what oral history and the earliest ancestors aver, the Igede language is a member of the Benue-Congo subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family.

Geographical Location Of Igede

It is crucial to state that Igede  happens to be the third largest tribe in Benue state. It has two local governments namely the Oju and Obi local governments. If not for the advent of technology and widespread literacy, the Igedes are only known for oral history and this oral history posits that the Oju Local Government Area was created in 1976 and shares boundaries with present-day Obi, Ado, Konshisha and Gwer East Local Government Areas of Benue State, Ebonyi and Izzi Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State, and Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State. Its headquarters is  in Anyuwogbu–Ibilla.

The  Obi Local Government Area was said to be created in 1996 and has its headquarters at Obarike-Ito. According to the earliest ancestors, the local government area derives its name from the Obi stream that flows in the area which shares boundary with Ado, Otukpo and Oju local government areas of Benue State.

Oral Migration History

Recent surveys carried out in both local governments in Igede reveal that  Igede people trace their origin to Sabon Gida Ora in present-day Edo state. The earliest ancestors stated that they are the descendants of Agba, a high chief in Sabon Gida Ora. The Igede people migrated from present day Edo State to Benue due to a  skirmish between the Igede and the natives of Ora. The skirmish was said to be due to a pot which the natives of Ora borrowed from the natives of Igede.

 The earliest ancestors stated that the native of Ora who borrowed the pot broke it accidentally, accepted the mistake and promised to replace the broken pot. However, the Igede people insisted on fixing the broken pot. Because it is not possible to do what the Igede people insisted, a fight broke out which led to the killing of an Ora native by the Igede people.

The feud continued for several days until the Igede people fled Ora through Nsukka in Enugu till they arrived at river Onyogo where after several consultations and sacrifices, the river parted into seven tributaries paving way for them to pass to their present place of settlement.

Occupations of The Igede People

The Igede are basically farmers who engage in peasant farming, cultivating maize, cassava, groundnut and yams. They also cultivate rice, potatoes millet but not on a large scale.

In the past, the Igedes like every tribe in Nigeria were not in support of education because they misconstrued the idea of education the Colonial masters were selling to them. However, the present Igede man is highly educated and very intelligent. So, they are not just known for farming but they are now erudite scholars, business tycoons and gurus in technology. In fact, it is very difficult to not find an Igede person in all the professions in the world.

Festivals of The Igede People

It is no news that Igede is home of the popular Igede-Agba festival, a colourful annual celebration that marks the yam harvest season in September. This festival is the Only festival that allows full participation of all Igede people across the globe. This festival takes place on the first ihigile market day in September, annually.

Although there are other festivals, the earliest ancestors stated that these festivals are only celebrated by members of the sect. Notable among these festivals are akpan and alegwu festivals.

Igede Traditional Attire

Igede traditional clothes have the blue, black, and white stripes. These colors symbolise the peaceful nature of the people as well as their agricultural progress.

Continue Reading

Culture & Tourism

USHONGO: Land of Culture & Mineral Resources



Spread the story

Ushongo Local Government Area
Ushongo local government was created in May 1989 by the Babangida administration.

The local government derives its name from Ushongo Hills located at Ushongo town in Mbayegh District.


Ushongo local government is located between latitude 70


North: Gboko Local Government Area and Buruku Local Governments Area,
South: Vandeikya Local Government Area,
East: Kwande Local Government Area, and
West: Konshisha Local Government Area
About 123,166 (26th November 1991 census)
About 191,935 (21st March 2006 census)

commercial quantities in Mbagir and Mbakuta wards/districts.
Already, such stones are being mined in small quantities for commercial purposes.
High quality marble exists in large commercial quantities at the Ushongo Hills in Mbayegh district.
It is now confirmed that large quantities of clay exists at Anwo Gbor in Mbaaka District capable of supporting and sustaining a ceramic industry. Consequent upon the absence of any such industry, such clay has since time immemorial been the source for clay that supports and sustains local pottery works by women in that part of Ushongo.
Although Ushongo is a new local government with a rural background, there exists moderate modern infrastructural facilities in the area. The area, for instance is effectively linked with other local government areas in the state by both federal and state roads. There are also many intra local government roads that are useful for the evacuation of agricultural products from the interior to urban or commercial centres.

The local government headquarters is soon to be hooked to the national grid. With these infrastructural facilities, the local government can conveniently support the setting up of the following industries:

Fruit juice,
Rice mill,
Cassava Processing Industry,
Flour mills,
Ceramic industry,
Stone crushing,
Mining industry, and
Glass industry

Continue Reading