DIBO or ZHITAKO or GANAGANA
All scientific researches are today unanimous that the Dibo-Ganagana people are a Nupe people and that the language they speak is a Nupoid language.
Colonial historians observed that the Dibo and Ganagana are one and the same people even though they spoke slightly variant dialects of the same Ganagana language. As a matter of fact, the Colonial authorities also observed that the Dibo must have been a section of the Ganagana stock that once upon a time got separated from the overall Ganagana stock and hence the slight difference in their dialect of the Ganagana language. Interestingly today, in the 21st century, the Dibo and the Ganagana have become one and the same people speaking the same Ganagana language without any dialectal difference anymore.
The Name Ganagana
Whatever the case might have been, the truth remains that the Dibo-Ganagana people are an ancient Nupe people. The Dibo-Ganagana people originated from the banks of the River Niger here in Central KinNupe and not from any other place outside KinNupe. Their very national name, Ganagana, is derived from the name of the River Niger here in Central KinNupe.
Ganagana is a repetitive form of Gana which is in turn a variant of Gara which is itself progressively derived from Gbwara, Gwara or Kwara the primordial name of the River Niger. That the Dibo-Ganagana people derived their national name from the ancient Nupe name for the River Niger here in Central KinNupe goes a long way in substantiating the fact that the Dibo-Ganagana people are a Nupe people through and through.
The name Ganagana is a repetitive form of Gana. So, contrary to the wild guess of O. Temple who claim that the name Ganagana is onomatopoeic of their high dialect, the truth is that the Ganagana people used to be known simply as the Gana people in prehistoric times. It was this Gana that was pronounced in a repetitive form as Ganagana which became their popular national name that have survived into history.
So, the Dibo-Ganagana people were originally known as the Gana people. And this Gana was actually more popularly pronounced as Gara. Note that Gana and Gara are morphologically one and the same names considering the fact that the phonemes ‘n’ and ‘r’ are dialectally interchangeable. The people we call the Dibo-Ganagana today were actually known as the Gara in very ancient times.
Gara and the Dibo-Ganagana
The Dibo-Ganagana people were originally known as the Gana or Gara people. But Gara was a super ethnicity of prehistoric times and the Dibo-Ganagana people were not the only Gara or Gana in prehistoric times. The various Nupe people we know today as the Gwagba, Kupa, Gupa, Koro, Gbagyi, Yoruba, and many others were all part and parcel of the Gara super ethnicity of ancient times.
In former times there was a great race or ethnicity of people called the Gara. The Gara people were so populous they populated almost the whole of ancient Nigeria and its neighbours. Leo Africanus, when he visited Nigeria in the 16th certainly, wrote that the Gara Nupe language was the Lingua Franca spoken over the whole of Northern Nigeria much the same way that Hausa is today.
These Gara people originated from the banks of the River Niger here in Central KinNupe in more ancient times. That explains why their national name remained Gara, or Kwara the River Niger, even centuries after they have expanded in population to cover the whole of ancient Northern Nigeria, other parts of ancient Nigeria and beyond.
Gara was not just an ethnicity, it was also a kingdom and, afterwards, an Empire. The capital city or throne-city of Gara was variously called Gara, Gbara, Gubara, Gobir, Birni, Bini, or Bornu.
There have been some Dibo-Ganagana traditions claiming that the Dibo-Ganagana people originated from Bornu. These traditions are obviously not referring to today’s Bornu because the Dibo-Ganagana people have already been in existence as a Gara Nupe people before today’s Bornu Kingdom came into existence in the 12th century far away on the reaches of the Lake Chad.
The Bornu from which the Dibo-Ganagana people originated in prehistoric times was the Nupe capital city of Gara which was also variously known as Gbara, Gobir, Birni, Bini or Bornu. That Old Bornu or Gbara was the capital of the Nupe Kingdom of Gara and it was located on the banks of the River Niger right here in Central KinNupe and not far away on the banks of the Lake Chad.
When it was a Kingdom the capital city of Gara was permanently located on the banks of the River Niger here in Central KinNupe and it was known as Gbara. Of course, Gbara – including its predecessors also variously known as Ibara, Gulu, Mokwa, Ileaba, Gbajibo, or Ebagi to the earliest Nupe historians – had remained the eternal capital city of the Nupe Nation until the advent of the Nupe-Fulani Jihadists.
But when Gara became an Empire it began to have a multiplicity of regional capitals simultaneously or at a variety of times located in different parts of the Gara Nupe Empire. Majority of these various capital cities of the Gara Nupe Empire derived their names from the eternal capital city of Gara, namely, Gbara.
AtaGara and the Dibo-Ganagana
After the fall of the Bini Confederacy the Nupe Nation divided into a Northern Half and a Southern Half. The northern half was known as AtaGara, Katagara or Kotonkoro. The Southern Half was known as Apa or Bini.
The citizens of AtaGara were known as the Zhi-AtaGara or Zhitagara which is the same that was pronounced as the Zhitakoro or, as we pronounce it today, Zhitako. As we all know today the Dibo-Ganagana people are also known to this very day as the Zhitako people.
It was at AtaGara that the Nupe people we know today as the Dibo-Ganagana began to take their formative shape as a definitive tribe or a tribal section of the overall Nupe Nation. It was as the Zhi-AtaGara citizens of AtaGara that they got their national cognomen as the Zhitako with which they are identified to this very day.
But the Dibo-Ganagana were not the only citizens of AtaGara, many other ancient Nupe people including the Gbagyi (Shintakoi), the Bassange (Shintakun), Kontagora (Ka-AtaGara), Oyo (Katunga), and others were also part of the ancient AtaGara Nupe Kingdom.
In any case the people we know as the Dibo-Ganagana today were part and parcel of the AtaGara Kingdom and it was at AtaGara that they got their national name as the Zhitako people.
AtaGara was one of the greatest kingdoms ever to emerge in the history of the Nupe Nation. For a century or so AtaGara reigned supreme over KinNupe and directed the geopolitical affairs of the Nupe Nation. Its rival was the Apa or Bini Kingdom dominating the Southern Half of the Nupe Nation – but AtaGara was more powerful than Apa or the Bini Kingdom.
AtaGara also grew into an Empire with several capitals in several places at different times. But its last capital city was located at Kwiambana and was known as Kotorkoshi-Kogo. This Kwiambana is today somewhere in Mariga local government of Niger State; Kwiambana is located right along the border of Niger State with Kaduna State. In former times the whole of the Kwiambana general area was within the confines of the borders of the Greater KinNupe of former times. Today Kwiambana is to the north of the territorially reduced KinNupe of modern times.
This last capital of the ancient Nupe Kingdom of AtaGara was destroyed by Tsudi the Nupe Founder during the era of his Tsudi Wars in the 13th century. The destruction of the AtaGara regional capital of Kotorkoshi-Kogo by Tsudi led to the 13th Apa Exodus which saw a large population of the Zhitakoro citizens of AtaGara migrating down from the North to today’s Central KinNupe. Among these migrants was, of course, a large population of the Zhitako Dibo-Ganagana people.
In fact it was the destruction of the AtaGara capital of Kotorkoshi-Kogo by Tsudi in the 13th century which led to the massive population displacement of the Zhitako Dibo-Ganagana people from the North to Central KinNupe that led to the identification, for the first time, of the Dibo-Ganagana people as a definitive Nupe subtribe people.
For the first time in Nupe history these people, known as the Zhitakoro or Zhitako, emerged as a population to be reckoned with. The Dibo-Ganagana people, who were among the Zhitakoro people, rapidly spread over the whole of Central KinNupe as a very populous people. Together with their closely-associated kinsmen, including the Gbagyi, the Akanda (Kakanda, Kiadia, etc.) and the Ibara Nupe (Gwagba, Bassange, etc.), the Dibo-Ganagana people were the people who inhabited and populated the Central KinNupe areas where Bida, Agaie, Lapai and other Central KinNupe settlements are located today.
Tsudi and the Dibo-Ganagana
It was the Empire-building activities of Tsudi the Nupe Founder that resulted in the emergence of the Dibo-Ganagana people as a distinctive Nupe tribal section. Before the onset of the Tsudi Wars and the Gara Exodus engendered by Tsudi in the second half of the 13th century the Dibo-Ganagana people were part and parcel of the overall Zhitako population of the AtaGara Kingdom and the Bini population of the Apa or Bini Kingdom in the South, they were then not recognized as a separate Nupe tribal section.
The first activity of Tsudi that led to the emergence of the Dibo-Ganagana people was the Gara Exodus. The Gara Exodus was the massive migration of AtaGara refugees from the fallen AtaGara Kingdom in the north to the Apa or Bini Kingdom in the South. The Gara Exodus was the direct consequent of the sack and destruction of the AtaGara Kingdom by Tsudi.
The story is that Tsudi was the son of an AtaGara princess and an Apa or Bini princess. He was conceived when his father the AtaGara princess came touring the Apa or Bini Kingdom and fall in love with a Bini princess. His father was recalled back to AtaGara in Northern KinNupe before the birth of Tsudi.
When Tsudi was born he grew up into a young man in his maternal Apa or Bini Kingdom. Afterwards Tsudi went up North to join his father who was by then the king of AtaGara. At the AtaGara palace Tsudi became the favourite son of his father the king of AtaGara.
Tsudi was however pursued out of AtaGara by his half brothers upon the death of their father. Tsudi fled back to his motherland Apa or Bini Kingdom where he ousted his maternal uncle from power and became the king of the Bini Kingdom.
Tsudi then initiated the Tsudi Wars through which he built the Bini Kingdom into the Nupeko or Kororofa Empire that eventually conquered AtaGara and so many other kingdoms and states into the fold of the Nupeko Empire otherwise known to the Hausa and Colonial historians as Kororofa.
It was the Tsudi Wars that led to the fall of the AtaGara Kingdom and the resultant Gara Exodus that translocated the Zhitako or Gara people of the fallen AtaGara Kingdom en masse from Northern KinNupe to here Central KinNupe. That was how the Dibo-Ganagana people, together with all the other Zhitako or Gara people including the Kakanda, the Gbagyi, the Oyo Yoruba, the Igala, and many other people, were translocated from Northern KinNupe to Central KinNupe through the Gara Exodus in the 13th century.
It was Tsudi who brought the Dibo-Ganagana people as the Zhitako or Gara from AtaGara in Northern KinNupe to Apa or Bini in Central KinNupe in the 13th century. In those days Central KinNupe was known as Apa or Bini. It should be noted, however, that there was also a significant population of the Dibo-Ganagana people known as the Gara in Central KinNupe even before Tsudi brought an even larger population of them from the fallen AtaGara in the North.
When Tsudi arrived with the Dibo-Ganagana people as part of the Zhitako or Gara people from AtaGara he immediately merged them with the indigenous Apa people into his new nation of Gara-Apa. This Gara-Apa was also pronounced as Koro-Apa or Koropa or Korofa which is the same that the Hausa historians pronounced in a repetitive form as Kororofa.
To Nupe historians Gara-Apa or Koro-Apa was pronounced progressively as Apa-Koro, Epa-Koro, Ipa-Koro, Nyipa-Koro, Nipa-Koro, Nupa-Koro, Nupe-Koro, Nupeko or, in its shortened form, Nupeko.
So, the Nupeko of the Nupe historians is the same as the Kororofa of the Hausa historians and it was the almighty and superpower Empire founded by Tsudi who merged his paternal AtaGara or Gara people with his maternal Apa or Bini people to form the United Kingdom of Nupeko which became the Kororofa Empire.
The Dibo-Ganagana people were among the leading people who, under the leadership of used by Tsudi, built the Nupeko or Kororofa Empire.
The Southeast Present Location of the Dibo-Ganagana
From the days of the Gara Exodus and the formation of the Nupeko Empire otherwise known as Kororofa in the 13th century the Dibo-Ganagana people, with their Gara and Zhitako related kinsmen, remained as the inhabitants of KinNupe for some half a millennium, from that 13th century to the beginning of the 19th century when they were eventually displaced from Central KinNupe by the combined effects of the Nupe Civil War at the end of the 18th century and the rise of the Nupe-Fulani Islamic Jihad at the beginning of the 19th century both here in Central KinNupe.
Immediately after the death of Etsu Mamman in 1796 the vicious Nupe Civil War broke out between the Gwagba dynasts headed by Etsu Zubairu Majiya and the Yisa dynasts headed by Etsu Jimada. This Nupe Civil War was so vicious it shattered the Nupe Nation into two rival kingdoms one an Eastern Kingdom headed by Etsu Jimada at Gbara and Zhima and the other a Western Kingdom headed by Etsu Zubairu Majiya at Zugurma.
This Nupe Civil War was so vicious it immediately generated a lot of population displacements of refugees and migrations in all parts of KinNupe. Ceaseless internecine battles and wars lasting for decades on end began to force many people to migrate en mass out of Central KinNupe. Among the many such people who began to migrate en mass out of Central KinNupe were the Zhitako Dibo-Ganagana people. This was how the Dibo-Ganagana people eventually got displaced en mass from Central KinNupe to their present location in Southeastern KinNupe.
Professor Kirk-Greene actually wrote that a large section of the Dibo-Ganagana people were killed and exterminated during the era of the Nupe Civil War at the end of the 18th century and that it was actually a small percentage of their original population that escaped to their present location in Southeastern KinNupe.
The Dibo and the Gwari
The Dibo-Ganagana people and the Gwari people have traditions in common to the effect that they both originated from Bornu. Interestingly the Bornu from which both the Dibo-Ganagana people and the Gwari people originated is Bornu Gungu which is different from the Bornu we see today on the reaches of the Lake Chad.
The Bornu Gungu to which both the Dibo-Ganagana and the Gwari trace their origins is the Old Bornu or Original Bornu which was a Nupe Kingdom located on the banks of the River Niger here in Central KinNupe. Sultan Bello and Sir H.R. Palmer both categorically wrote of an Old Bornu that was located on the banks of the River Niger.
The King of Bussa told Captain Hugh Clapperton in the 1830s that the Bini Kingdom here in Central KinNupe was the same that was referred to as Bornu by the people of Borgu and the earliest of the Hausa historians.
As a matter of fact, we can all see that Bornu was progressively derived from Bini as follows: Bornu, Barnu, Baranu, Birini, Birni and Bini. In other words, Bornu and Bini are etymologically one and the same ancient national name of the Bini Nupe people.
It was from this Old Borgu which was known to Hausa historians as Bornu-Borgu, to Colonial historians as Bornu Gungu and to Nupe historians as the Bini Kingdom or Apa that both the Dibo-Ganagana and the Gwari, and many other ancient Nigerian peoples, originated in the second phase of the history of their origin. The Dibo-Ganagana and the Gwari people, and many other ancient Nigerian people, began to disperse and migrate away from the Bini Kingdom in the days Songhai Invasion at the end of the 16th century which led to the eventual fall of the Nupeko Kororofa Empire of Tsudi at the beginning of the 17th century.
In any case scientific studies classify the Gwari as a Nupe people and linguistic studies have shown that the Dibo-Ganagana are the link between the Gwari and the Nupe proper. In other words the Dibo-Ganagana language is the midway between the Gwari and the Nupe, which also means that it was through the Dibo-Ganagana tongue that the Gwari language developed out of Nupe.
Professor Roger Blench observed that this process of the Dibo-Ganagana people transforming into the Gwari people is still ongoing to this very day in the Nigerian FCT in communities where the Dibo-Ganagana and the Gwari are both bilingual and live in the same compounds.