Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268
- 08, 049
Adaptation and delimitation: some thoughts about the Kanurization of the Gamergu
Abba Isa Tijani
- The area around the Lake Chad is characterized as an example for a region where ethnic changes abundantly took place and still do. For example some Kanuri districts, or the leaders of those districts, are (unofficially) named after other ethnic names (e.g. Margi, Shuwa) or Kanuri clan names are identical with ethnic names of other groups, eg. Tera, Bade. Both people speak a Chadic language and live in the south and west of the Kanuri respectively. These are indications that the Kanuri formerly absorbed and integrated these peoples. These processes are not only a phenomenon of the past. In the case of the neighbouring Gamergu people an ongoing process of ethnic change towards a Kanuri identity is observed until present. The research projects1 have revealed that the concept of "ethnic units" is far from being static which the term may suggest. This especially applies to the German Stamm, which implies a static concept of ethnicity. However, in Borno the dynamics of ethnic and linguistic change are prevailing. Therefore Ronald Cohen rejected the term "ethnic unit", or even "tribe" for the Kanuri and preferred "nation" instead. Umara Bulakarima argued along the same line but used "ethnic group" for Kanuri subunits, e.g. Manga, Mowar, Suwurti. There is no doubt that the Kanuri played a dominant part in the history of the Lake Chad area during the past centuries. Therefore the "Kanurization" process may not surprise. However, in the following it will be revealed that the processes of contact and resulting adaptations and delimitations are not necessarily unidirectional from Kanuri to other groups. At least in some cases they may go into the opposite direction, e.g. from Gamergu to Kanuri.