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METAPHYSICS AND DEVELOPMENT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE TIV PEOPLE OF NORTH-CENTRAL NIGERIA.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1       BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The Tiv society has morally degenerated; this was observed in the character of some members of Tiv society in their pursuit of basic human needs, which are done to the detriment of self-actualization. The attitude of political leaders and traditional rulers revealed that they sought for these basic needs outside the socially approved bounds thereby triggering violence and destruction instead of ensuring peace and development. Development is based on the values and attitudes of a people, which in turn is derived from the choice of supreme beliefs and values that made their worldview achieve its core value orientations. The refusal of both political leaders and traditional rulers in Tiv land to apply justice in the art of governance for a sustainable peace and social development motivated the need to embark on this study.

There are several efforts by philosophers and non-philosophers around the globe to bring about development that can be sustainable in the nearest future. Some of the areas of interest include: developing the productive capacity of members to cope with ever changing environment for the well-being of the people, stabilizing and transforming human nature in order to provide the needs of members of society, and the ability to synthesize a cordial relationship between science, culture and development. It is with this kind of correlation that the researcher was stimulated to investigate the contributions of metaphysics towards making a difference in the quest to change the status quo of society from an under-developed to a well developed society in which the members will attain self-actualization without hindering the self-actualization of others.

1.2       THE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Traditionally, Tiv society was highly integrated, yet communalistic in nature. There was serious respect for values in traditional Tiv society. In fact, such values were manifested in the lives of those who grew to positions of leadership. The traditional leader in Tivland was aware of the need to seek the consent of other members of the society before taking any decision that would affect the general members of the community. The spirit of togetherness was exhibited through communal digging of farm lands, planting of crops, weeding of farms, harvesting of produce etc. In fact, there was the spirit of brotherhood in almost everything that the Tiv person did in society. No one was hurt because he was walking to his friend’s house at night. Children were not considered to be children only to their biological parents. Every adult person was seen as a parent and respected as such. The Tiv society was at this time very peaceful. The family name was cherished, recognised and appreciated. Friendliness, love and trust were values that were highly cherished and celebrated.

But in recent times, the Tiv people have demonstrated by their words and actions that they lack unity. Everyone is thinking of what will benefit him or her. There is an increasing spirit of individualism among the Tiv people. There appears to be lack of the spirit of collectivity. The high level of individualism has manifested itself in the attitude of most political leaders in Tiv land. This degeneration of the value system in Tiv society has created poverty in the land. There are so many cases of communal clashes, backbiting, gossips, armed robbery, child abuse, cheating and killing of innocent people as political opponents. Consequently, the Tiv society has become an epitome of underdevelopment in all ramifications. There is a silent agitation for a better Tiv society, but it appears that no one knows what should be done to improve the human mind, the standard of life and living of the Tiv person in particular and the Tiv nation at large. This is reason point where this study is very necessary as it emphasises the relevance of values such as respect, responsibility, honesty in the minds of the Tiv to serve as parameters for holding leaders accountable in their respective offices.

 

 

1.3       THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The major objective of this study is to examine the relevance of metaphysics to development with a view to applying it to the Tiv people of North-Central Nigeria. The other specific objectives include: (i) examine the level of underdevelopment in Tiv land, (ii) examine the extent to which political leaders in Tiv land have contributed to underdevelopment of the area through egocentrism, and (iii) show that an increase in the inculcation of metaphysical values like justice, transparency, accountability, equality, etc., in the art of governance will ensure political stability.

1.4       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study provides researchers with new strategies involving the growing relationship between metaphysics and development and how such strategies can benefit those who are dealing with issues of values in traditional societies. The study is an attempt at creating a social construct that would enhance the development of human consciousness and awareness. The theoretical framework that supports this study opens up possibilities for clearer analyses of the influence of a discipline like metaphysics on other disciplines like development, ethics, and politics. It also, provides a unique insight into studying the theories of development that can ensure an integral development of a person.

The findings of this study would assist policy makers to explore ways of empowering youths in traditional societies through enhanced education and wealth creation. The findings would also be a body of knowledge researchers would find relevant as a reference material in terms of improving on research in this field of studies.

The study is targeted at the realization of the self for the sake of reforming the individual as well as transforming the society. This is achieved by helping the Tiv people meet the challenges that the African value system in general and the Tiv cultural value system in particular face, as they lack the needed sparks to stimulate the waves of development in recent times.

1.5       SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study focuses on determining the place of value in traditional Tiv society. Metaphysics basically deals with values like respect, responsibility, acceptability, honesty etc. Understanding these values as reflected in Tiv metaphysics will hold members of the Tiv society accountable and motivate them towards effective development of their society. A comparative analysis of other nationalities is made in order to generate sufficient empirical data for the purpose of ascertaining concrete best practices.

1.6       RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The data for this research study were collated from bibliographical sources such as; e-books, journals, periodicals, textbooks, and Internet materials. Three methodologies were used for analysis. The historical method was used to examine the historical trends and strategies that contributed to the underdevelopment of the Tivland. The evaluative method was used to analyse the merits and demerits of the impact of metaphysics on development in Tivland.

1.7       BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TIV PEOPLE

The Tiv people are found in different parts of the world. In Nigeria they are found in Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Cross River states and Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The main place of abode for the Tiv people is in Benue State North-Central of Nigeria. The Tiv people share borders with “The Chamba and Jukun of Taraba State in the Northeast; with the Igede (Benue), Iyala, Gakem and Obudu of Cross River State in the Southeast; and the Idoma of Benue State to the South. There is an international boundary between the Tiv and the Republic of Cameroon at a South eastern angle. The Tiv nation is a unique nationality. Joseph Gbenda wrote that:

Tiv are a unique ethnic group of semi-Bantu linguistic affinity. They are the only set of people who speak one unified language known as Tiv language and have unique political ideologies, religious beliefs and practices.[i]

 

Anshi Martin Wang describes their uniqueness in the following words: “A stockily built virile race of farmers whose traditional aims in life are to fill their yam stores and granaries with food and their homes with children”.[ii] They practice subsistence farming, but cumulatively the yams they produce are also sold out to earn money. It is these yams that have earned Benue State the official appellation of the “Food Basket of the Nation”. Hence, land is held in high esteem. In fact, it is sacred to the Tiv people. Commenting on the sacredness of the land Shagbaor Wegh declared that:

… When one considers what it took them to acquire the land – the long treks, the attacks from their neighbours, then it is understandable that the Tiv are so serious about their land. They are always on their guard against encroachment on their land, and take every measure to protect the land against evil forces.[iii]

 

The land represents life for the Tiv people. Schwarz wrote that: “Before the declaration of independence. The Tiv people staged a general revolt with the colonial administrators with the hope of delaying independence until given their own region to enable them retain their vitality”.[iv] This is an indication that occupation of the Benue Valley was won through thick and thin amidst struggles and wars.

1.7.1    Origin of the Tiv People

There are several legends concerning the journey of the Tiv people to their present place of location. One of the legends holds that: “The Tiv people are considered to have come from the Southern Bantoid Tivoid family, a branch of Benue-Congo and ultimately of the Niger-Congo phylum”.[v] Another legend tells us that the Tiv people migrated from Swem to their present place of abode, but unfortunately the precise place called Swem is not very certain. Swem, for Akpenpuun Dzurgba is located at the, “Source of River Katsina-Ala in the Southern-Western Cameroun”.[vi]

This study adopts one of the most popular legends with empirical evidence to support it. This is given by Tor Tiv the IV, His Royal Highness Alfred Torkula who argued that: “The version that commands popularity and currency is that which traces their origin to the Bantu people who once inhabited the Central African continent, in the Shaba area of the present Democratic Republic of Congo”.[vii] The evidences corroborate the idea of uniqueness in the use of a single language. R. C. Abraham confirms this uniqueness in his compilation of a list of 67 Tiv words and juxtaposed them with the words of Bantu Nyaza showing a striking similarity in both phonetics and semantics. Therefore, the Tiv are “real Bantu”.[viii]

1.7.2    Socio-Political and Religious Life of the Tiv People

Socially, the Tiv people practice egalitarianism. Politically, they lack a central political authority. It is apt to declare in agreement with Anshi that: “The Tiv are an independent people, who have no tradition of royal families, cohesion, a central authority and a unifying code”.[ix] Moses Tsenongo reiterated this when he wrote that:

They had no king so every man was a ruler of his house. They lived in compounds administered by the oldest man. Many compounds formed clans (upyaven) and districts (ityar) met and discussed issues at those levels and arrived at democratic decisions that bound their sections.[x]

 

So what is democratic about a people who have no sense of central authority? Indeed, this is a fundamental question about the Tiv people. The Tiv people are descendants of an ancestral father known as Takuruku who had two sons; Tiv and his brother Uke. They are guided by this ancestral lineage in their political life. Takuruku is an ancestor who is the closest to Gba-Aondo (God the Creator). The relationship between Takuruku and Aondo (as is commonly referred to) can be demonstrated during invocation of prayers over a dead important Tiv person or famine, and when there is need for rain. In case of a dead person, the beating of indyer (wooden drum) is followed by a preamble before the announcement of the death of the person as thus: (Takuruku Anyamazenga tile jigh jigh keghen waningyo, wanigyo ngu kondon sha kumun u tamen).  Takuruku is referred to here as tiger-cat who is known not to have not failed and is being urged to stand erect and firm to welcome his kin who is ascending the great place (kumun u tamen). “Heaven where the dead travel to meet their great ancestor… Takuruku”.[xi]

Tiv was married to Aliwe who gave birth to two sons; Ichongo which means (circumcised) and Ipusu[xii] which literally means (uncircumcised). Whether circumcised or not all children of Tiv believe that they are from one stock (Tiv) and they need to live together. The idea of living together is greater than the issue of central authority. It is matter of brotherhood. Eugene Rubingh wrote about brotherhood in Tiv saying that:

One’s genealogy is important to the Tiv as securing one’s place in the tribe. The sense of corporate responsibility is great because of the common ancestry of the group. Each individual has a stake in the woe and weal of all; in fact, the individual is submerged into the group with whom he is identified. The genealogy also greatly influences the selection of office holders in the local structure … in fact, the genealogy formerly provided the door to all social organizations and indicated the available marriage partners.[xiii]

 

This unity is found under the local kinship based on the physical element called Tar. Indeed, the Tiv person is identified based on tar, which is the place where he is born, and would be buried when he dies eventually. This is because the Tiv people prefer to say one is at home (ya) when he lives in the village settlement no matter how natural the place is. Those who live in the towns and cities or abroad are said to have gone to the bush (Via ngu ke toho). This is affirmed by the work of Anshi who posited that:

The Tiv man is proud of his land, earth or tar, which is why he waves off the Western customs and ideas and would proudly and openly tell the white man that before his advent, everything in the Tivland was better… this attitude of the Tiv people informs the respect for their tar which is contained in the ontological quest to always keep the land right – sor tar. The phenomenon of sor tar is exhaustively expressed in the various metaphysical ideas of the Tiv philosophy.[xiv]

 

The Tiv people are ontologically linked with one another through the value of truth (mimi) and nothing else can come in between them. No doubt, the pride of the Tiv people is measured by their degree of truthfulness in words and deeds. This brings out the value of metaphysics in the society.

[i] J. S. Gbenda, Eschatology in Tiv Traditional Religious Culture: An Interpretative Enquiry. www.thembosdev.com/publications.htm

[ii] M. W. Anshi, Ieren: An Introduction to Tiv Philosophy. (Makurdi: Obeta Printing & Publishing Company, 2004), 1.

[iii] S. F. Wegh, Between Continuity & Change: Tiv Concept of Tradition and Modernity. (Enugu: SNAAP Press Ltd., 1998), 31

[iv] F. O. A. Schwarz, Nigeria: Tribe, the Nation, or the Race – The Politics of Independence. (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1965), 15.

[v] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiv_people.

[vi] A. Dzurgba, “The Church of Christ in the Sudan among the Tiv: A Sociological Perspective”. (MSS, 1992), 1 – 2.

[vii] A. A. Torkula, The Cosmology in Tiv World. (Makurdi: Oracle, 2006), 1.

[viii] R. C. Abraham, The Principles of Tiv. (London: Crown Agents, 1940), 25.

[ix] M. W. Anshi, Ieren: An Introduction to Tiv Philosophy, 1 – 2.

[x] M. Tsenogo, TYDSKRIF VIR LETTERKUNDE 48 (1) 2011, 134.

[xi] J. S. Gbenda, Eschatology in Tiv Traditional Religious Culture: An Interpretative Enquiry.

[xii] A. Dzurgba, On the Tiv of Central Nigeria: A Cultural Perspective. (Ibadan: John Archers (Publishers) Limited, 2007), 15. &  17.

[xiii]E. Rubingh, The Sons of Tiv. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969), 60.

[xiv] M. W. Anshi, Ieren: An Introduction to Tiv Philosophy, 2.

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