Nigeria is a very populous nation, so there are a lot of tribes even in each of the 36 states. One of the largest ethnic groups in Plateau State, located in central Nigeria, are the Berom People (also spelt as Birom). The people are found in four Local Government Areas of the state, which are Jos North, Jos South, Barkin Ladi (Gwol), and Riyom. They are also found in Southern Kaduna state local government areas. Berom is a tribe and also a language (dialect). The total population is about 1 million. The people are mostly Christians. They are led by a paramount ruler called ‘Gbong Gwom Jos’. The traditional stool was created in 1935 by the British colonial administration of Northern Nigeria.
The people have a distinguished name that sets them apart. When you hear/see names such as Dung, Gyang, Pam, Kachollom, Kangyang, Chundung, and Jang and so on, then the probability of the person being a Berom is very high.
The major traditional food of the Berom tribe is called ‘acha’ (Hungary Rice). They are also the major producers of acha in Nigeria which is eaten in various ways. It could be eaten as Jollof, plainly boiled and eaten with stew or prepared in swallow form like fufu/tuwo. Another native food is ‘rizgah’ which is a finger let-type crop that is cooked, peeled and eaten without soup or any ingredient just like boiled groundnuts is being eaten.
The people have a rich cultural heritage. They celebrate a lot of festivals in which Nzem Berom is the most popular. Christianity and western education has made each festival in the land to be one, in the form of Nzem Berom. It comprises of festivals such as Mandyeng, Nshok, Worom Chun, Vwana, and so on. Nzem Berom is held within the first week of April, to coincide with the period when Mandyeng, Nshok and Badu festivals are held. Mandyeng is a major festival celebrated in the land to usher in the rainy season. In the past, it is regarded as the most vital festival which ensured good farming, hunting period and harvest, although not all the communities celebrate Mandyeng.
Music is life, so is the Berom people’s view on music. They have a number of musical instruments which include Yom Nshi, a two-string banjo made with calabash skin and skin resonators. Yom is another, which is a straw string instrument. Kwag or Gwashak is a native instrument (scraper) made from dry cactus played with a stick slid across the sawed body of the dry cactus to produce a scraping sound. The people also play a xylophone called Kundung which is made of cattle horns and cobwebs.