Google map showing Abisi Hill looking southwest toward the Zaria Plain.
The whole of Abisi hills can be seen with its ravine separating it partly from the Jos plateau. Their precise location is 10.016174 X 8.162843.
Abisi or Piti are a people living in Northern Nigeria, they numbered 3,500 in 1973. They are incorporated in the Kaduna State administration.
Nigeria is a colossal social and cultural geographical region of the world, home to hundreds of people with their history, tradition, and linguistic particularities.
In its center, there is a region called the Middle Belt of West Africa, a geographical transition between southern tropical forest and northern dry Savanna.
Abisi land /tijin abisi/ has different inhabited areas called /ukut (s) -akut (p) / the sum of which is the Abisi or Piti land the /kikut/ .
This area is a Plateau of 1,280 meters of average elevation with a landscape of rocky hills. The Abisi occupied a hill giving on the escarpment of the west flank of the Jos Plateau to the lower Zaria plain where they have moved gradually since early 20th century.
This hill is a rocky elevation with peaks separated from the rest of the plateau by a depression, a large ravine that gives a territorial boundary to Abisi area. Five to six miles of the horizon can be seen over the Zaria plain. Far away, other hills can be seen, some who were formerly inhabited like the Amo Hill on the north-east.
This region of Nigeria has one of the highest linguistic diversity index in the world, a place where people created a multitude of sociolinguistic communities.
The Abisi are a community whose language is not understood by neighboring groups, except by people who have learned it as a foreign language. However, they have linguistic affinities with the immediate neighbors, the Ribam whose language is easily learned.
The term Abisi derives from the name /ibisi/ attributed to both the language and the hill where they come from. Defining themselves as descendants of the original founders, they are /kitʃabisi/, the Children of Abisi Hill.
This hill, /uŋmabisi/, is where their ancestors took refuge from slave raiders and enemies. It is also where their worthy ancestors, old men and women, chiefs, warriors or hero hunters, are buried and where they have special ceremonial site /minog mideŋ/. |
Two names, one people
Abisi are also called Piti or Pitti that could be of Fulani or Hausa origin.
A British observer, Gunn (1953), suggests that it is a Hausa term, a transformation of the word Bisi.The Abisi themselves say that the word Piti is of Fulani origin and means the “invincible” or “trouble-makers” because, they were fierce warriors defending their hill against attacks and keeping enemies at bay with their head-hunting terror tactics.
Gunn mentions a possible link with Fiti people living on the Srubu hills and suggests that other Bisi could be established to Dama Kasuwa some 15 km south and also among Kurama and Janji people. The Abisi admitted that these links are possible, but added that some may be small groups or individuals assimilated to other populations.
Members of the community will give, to my knowledge, no explicit meaning to the term other than by reference to themselves. However, C.K. Meek (1931) attributed to this term the meaning “human” because the term /etubisi/ means “human” for the Katab neighbors.
Unable to reach this conclusion, we can, however, consider them Children of Abisi Hill .