Berichte des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268
- 08, 349
Masakwa dry season cropping in the Chad Basin
- In the inundation area - the basin of the former larger Lake Chad - a special type of sorghum is grown on the clay soils (firgi). This dry-season guinea corn is also called dwarf sorghum or masakwa. In Kanuri, the dominant language in the region, sorghum is called ngawuli. The dry-season types are called ngawuli firgibe (lit. translated: sorghum of the firgi). During the dry season when the natural vegetation becomes dry and yellow, masakwa fields appear in prominent green covering large areas of the clay plains. The most important natural factor for this specialized dry season cropping is the presence of soils with a high clay content. For a better understanding of masakwa and its related issues, a multidisciplinary sub-project (G1) has been established within the SFB 268 (Joint Research Project: History of Culture and Language in the Natural Environment of the West-African Savannah). This project in which all disciplines participate is entitled: "Natural basis for masakwa cultivation and its meaning for the settlement history of the clay plains (firgi) in the Chad basin".
- 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.