The Nupe, traditionally called the Tapa by the neighbouring Yoruba, is an ethnic group located primarily in the Middle Belt and northern Nigeria, and are the dominant group in Niger State, an important minority in Kwara State and present in Kogi State as well, The Nupe tribes live in the heart of Nigeria in the low basin that is formed by the valleys of the two rivers: Niger and Kaduna
The Nupe are divided into different subgroups, including Batau, Kyedye, Eghagi, Ebe, and Benu, along with several others that speak related languages. Some Nupe have always lived outside the group’s boundaries, and other peoples have lived in Nupeland. Although the Nupe are scattered over several states in west-central and northern Nigeria, the majority resides in Niger State in Nigeria. A sizable population lives in Kwara and Kogi states as well as in the Federal Capital Territory. The main towns are Bida, Minna, Agaie, Lapai, Mokwa, Jebba, Lafiagi, and Pategi.
The Nupe call themselves Nupeci and refer to their language as Nupe. Their neighbors, such as the Hausa, Gbari, Birnin Gwari, Yoruba, and Kakanda, identify them by other names: Nufawa, Abawa, Anupeyi, Anufawhei, Tapa, and Anupecwayi.
Linguistic evidence suggests that the Nupe language belongs to a branch (Nupoid) of the Benue-Congo group of languages. Others languages in the group are Igbira (Ebira), Gbagyi (Gbari), Gade, and Kakanda. Nupe is related most closely to Gbari and Kakanda in structure and vocabulary. There are at least two markedly different dialects: Nupe central and Nupe Tako.
The Nupe live in large villages or towns called ezi. Small settlements are called tunga or kangi, words that signify a “daughter-settlement” of a village or town. The local arrangement of Nupe settlements is consistent, with clusters of compounds consisting of a number of walled compounds, or “houses,” forming a ward, or efu. The wards are separated by stretches of open land and farms. A Nupe settlement with its scattered wards used to be encircled by a large town wall, whose remains can still be found in many places. The militant history of the Nupe led to walled villages and towns to protect people from attack. The traditional house consists of a number of huts, mostly round, built of clay and thatched with grass and surrounded by a high mud wall. In the twentieth century Western architecture and taste became common, especially among people living in towns. Sheets of corrugated iron are used in place of thatch roofs, and concrete cement houses are replacing mud constructions.
The Nupe have only one word for kinship, dengi, which defines relationship in the widest terms as well as in a more restricted sense. The basic structure of kinship is the extended family, which entails living together in the same “house” and recognizing a common family head, emitso. Kinship and the access to political and religious rights vested in it are determined by paternal descent.
Traditionally, marriage could be contracted in one of two ways: The would-be bridegroom asked for the consent of the girl (sometimes the girl suggested to her father whom she wanted to marry), or the marriage was arranged by the heads of the families. Polygynous marriages were very common both before and after the introduction of the Islamic faith. Marriage involves the payment of a bride-price by the groom, and postmarital residence is patrilocal. Marriage has no real meaning without procreation. Barrenness is regarded as a curse and a misfortune, and traditional means are utilized to secure fertility or cure barrenness. Divorce rarely occurs because men want to avoid the publicity and ridicule of divorce proceedings in Alkali court (Islamic court). Most marriages are terminated only by the death of a spouse. Widows must remain in the compound for five months before they can remarry.

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