World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nupe people

Article Id: WHEBN0002470028
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nupe people  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nigeria, Nupe, Igala people, Ethnic groups in Nigeria, John Ezzidio
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Nigeria, Muslim Communities in Africa, Nupe
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nupe people

The Nupe, traditionally called the Tapa by the neighbouring Yoruba, are an ethnic group located primarily in the Middle Belt and northern Nigeria, and are the dominant group in Niger State and an important minority in Kwara State.


  • History 1
  • Population and demography 2
  • Traditions, art and culture 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


The Nupe trace their origin to Tsoede who fled the court of Idah and established a loose confederation of towns along the Niger in the 15th century. The proximity of Nupe to the Yoruba Igbomina people in the south and to the Yoruba Oyo people in the southwest led to cross-fertilization of cultural influences through trade and conflicts over the centuries. It is said that the famous Yoruba oba or king, Shango (also known as Jakuta) who was once an Alaafin of Oyo before being deified following his death, was the son of a Nupe (Tapa) woman.

Many Nupe were converted to Islam at the end of the eighteenth century by Mallam Dendo, a wandering preacher, and were incorporated into the Fulani Empire established by the Jihad led by Usman dan Fodio after 1806.

However, the traditions of Nupe were retained, hence the ruler of Nupe is the Etsu Nupe rather than being called Emir. The city of Bida fell to the colonialist British forces in 1897, the Etsu Abubakar was deposed and replaced by the more pliable Muhammadu (Vandeleur 1898). During the reign of Muhammadu, a Prince named Jimada moved to Patigi, northeast of Bida (not to be confused with near-identically spelt Pategi, southwest of Bida, on the southern and opposite bank of the Niger River) protesting against being ruled by a Fulani (Vandeleur 1898). Now Jimada’s descendants are fighting for the post of Etsu Nupe claiming to be the only existing pure Nupe ruling family. The present Etsu Nupe is Yahaya Abubakar.[1]

More detail on the history of the Nupe kingdoms can be found in Burdon (1909), Nadel (1942), Hogben & Kirk-Greene (1966:261-282) and Mason (1981).

Population and demography

There are probably about 3.5 million Nupes, principally in Niger State, although a small but growing diaspora of Nupe can be found in Knowle in the West Midlands of England. The Nupe language is also spoken in Kwara and Kogi States. They are primarily Muslims, with a few Christians and followers of African Traditional Religion. The Nupe people have several local, traditional rulers. The Etsu Nupe (Bida) is not Nupe and is actually part of the Fula tribe but they came to rule the Bida in the 1806. They have no present capital, although they were originally based at Rabah and only moved to Bida in the nineteenth century.

Traditions, art and culture

Burtu mask made out of wood and used during bird hunting. The hunter would tie the mask around his head and imitate the bird's movement.

The Nupe people have various traditions. Much of their culture was diluted by the Usman Dan Fodio jihad of the 19th century, but they still hold on to some of their culture which is very similar to that of ancient Egypt. Many Nupe people often have tribal scars on their faces (similar to an old Yoruba tradition), some to identify their prestige and the family of which they belong as well as for protection, as well as jewelry adornment. But these traditions are dying out in certain areas. Their art is often abstract. They are well known for their wooden stools with patterns carved onto the surface.

The Nupe were described in detail by the ethnographer Siegfried Nadel, whose book, Black Byzantium, remains an anthropological classic.


  • Blench, R.M. (1984) "Islam among the Nupe." Muslim peoples. (ed. 2) Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
  • Forde, D. (1955) The Nupe. pp. 17–52 in Peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence. IAI, London.
  • Ibrahim, Saidu 1992. The Nupe and their neighbours from the 14th century. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational books.
  • Madugu, I.G. [as George I.] (1971) The a construction in Nupe: Perfective, Stative, Causative or Instrumental. In Kim C-W. & Stahlke H. Papers in African Linguistics, I' pp. 81–100. Linguistic Research Institute, Champaign.
  • Perani, J.M. (1977) Nupe crafts; the dynamics of change in nineteenth and twentieth century weaving and brassworking. Ph.D. Fine Arts, Indiana University.
  • Stevens, P. (1966) Nupe woodcarving. Nigeria, 88:21-35.


  1. ^ Kasim Sule (September 12, 2003). "Yahaya Abubakar Kusodu becomes 13th Etsu Nupe". Daily Trust. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.