This chapter is aimed at discussing the case study of the Gungawa people who speak Gunganchi language. It will note their general background, historical background, sociocultural profile, the genetic classification of Gunganchi language. This chapter will also discuss the scope and organization of study, the chosen theoretical framework, data collection, and the data analysis for this project work.
1.1 GENERAL BACKGROUND
The Gunganchi people are a tribe that are also called the “Bareshe” people by their Hausa neighbours which means “Island Dwellers”, it was told they were given this name due to their closeness to lakes and rivers. Among themselves, they are commonly called “Gungawa, Tsureja, Bareshe or Yaurawa” people. Their language has different names like: Gunganchi, Tsureshe, Gunga or Tsureja and the name given to their land is either Reshe or Gungu.
The present Gunganchi people are the tribe who fled to the nearby Island of Niger in the mid nineteenth century and eventually settled in a new site called Gungu or Yelwa. The Gunganchi people are said to be the original inhabitants of Yauri.During the British regime, the state of Yauri as an emirate and the state of Yelwa as the seat of the Emir of Yauri confirmed that both Yauri and Yelwa became Hausarized as a result of their contact with the Hausa people. Today, the Yauri people speak mostly Hausa language.
The Gunganchi people lived in islets (very small islands) and shores of the Niger above Bussa until the creation of Kainji Lake in 1974 which disrupted their settlement and their living outside Kebbi State.
1.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF GUNGANCHI PEOPLE
According to oral history, the Gunganchi people has different histories that has been narrated which associated with their origin that will be discussed below.
In the nineteenth century, a descendant of a warrior called ‘kasira’ who is also known as ‘Kachin’ allied with the Hausa soldiers to conquer the territory in the extreme North who later settled with his co-fighters in the present Yauri town.
A native speaker of Gunganchi who is known as “Agmalafiya” believe that the Gunganchi people came from Kabbawa. He said they were hunters from Katsina State and further explained that some people said the Gunganchi people are from the other Yauri’s ethnic groups which are Shangawa, Kambari, Kabbawa or Sarkawa, Dukawa etc.
Another history told us of their trace to the Songhai warriors who came from Mali to seek territorial control and they eventually settled in Yauri and parts of Lopa and Laru (Gunganchi’s neighbouring areas).
From the histories narrated above, it is obvious that the Gunganchi people has no specific history concerning their origin. They are divergent in their historical roots.
The Gunganchi people were about forty to sixty thousand in 1993. About thrity-five percent lived outside Yauri Local Government in Kebbi State, sixty percent lived in Yauri town, nine percent in Kotangora, Bussa and Borgu Local Government and one percent in Kiama Local Government Area in Kwara State.
Back to 1990, the population of the speakers in Yauri were referred to as Yaurawa or Reshewa in Hausa language. According to Agmalafiya who was mentioned earlier, the Gunganchi people were called Yaurawa by Queen Amina of Zaria but generally called Gungawa among the Gunganchi in Diaspora and sometimes call themselves Bareshe, which is the plural, or Ureshe, which is the singular.
1.3 SOCIOCULTURAL BACKGROUND OR PROFILE OF THE GUNGANCHI PEOPLE
According to the Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary, culture is the way of life, the customs and beliefs, art and social organization of a particular country or group.
The Gunganchi people have a social and cultural profile that is similar to that of their neighbouring ethnic group, Hausa. It is said that their lifestyle is centered on the Emirate’s system. The Gunganchi people have their sociocultural beliefs which are expressed in their culture, mode of dressing, occupation, religion, festivals, marriage system, naming ceremony, burial ceremony, their education system and political administration.
The Bareshe (Gunganchi) people are highly cultured which reflect in their mode of dressing, greetings, occupation and body adornment like decorating the woman’s legs with tattoos and heavy tribal marks on her face during the wedding ceremony.
1.3.2 Mode of Dressing
The Gunganchi people’s mode of dressing in the olden days is different from their dressing in these modern days. In the olden days, they used to dress in animal skin, while in these modern days, they dress in ‘Banbariga’ which is the traditional dress for men while the women dress in loose covered clothing with a local embroidery scarf which is tied around the woman’s body to wade off the sun. They are mostly dressed in loose robe for relaxation.