Abisi children looking for their roots
ABISI PATRILINE SEGMENTS
Each of the «Sitting Friends» sections regroups segments referred by the term /iɲana/ said to be descendants of a common ancestor. Members consider that they are /ut∫inak/, brothers and sisters. This is a consanguine kin group because the members trace their common relations through genealogical links.
These ties correspond to the idea of patrilines, a way of tracing kinship relation through males up to a founding ancestor. In these groups, people recognize each other as close kin because they share a common male line from fathers to grand-fathers and up until they forget the names and can only affirm their common ties to some ancestors named by Abisi /ugbaŋgbaŋ/ or “grand fathers of a long time ago”.
In Abisi, these genealogical lines may go up to four or five generations. They are said to be “putative” because the ties between all the brothers and sons are not remembered but an ancestors name may be recalled. What is important, is that each Abisi person is socially allocated to consanguineal patrilineal kinsmen group on birth. His or her rights and duties will be determined by this group affiliation: land ownership, mutual help, marriage rules, ceremonials, ritual duties, political office and so on. For example, if a land dispute arises, a judge may gather some elders who remember the ancestor who opened the field and define the descendant owner’s rights.
The following list shows that some sections are more diverse than others, having multiple patrilines. Their names have different meanings, like group or place of origin, landmarks, orientation etc. Even if there are many stories and family events about them that I did not hear about during my stay., it may be interesting to learn about them until more information is available.
Agiram descent groups: Alaŋ, Ekiporus, Doŋdoŋ, Krambare and Lↄkↄ
The Agiram section comprise five descent groups. In 1973, their population was 1119 persons.
Alaŋ people are from a Birom settler group called the Kibo that came to Abisi Hill. After a marriage dispute, some alaŋ moved downhill and became /alaŋ kit∫i/ east kidene people and the others that remained were called /alaŋ kidene/ east kidene because they lived on top of the hill.
The house of the Agiram chief, the San Gari, is from /alaŋ kit∫i/ but is said to come from Amo settlers and not from Birom.
Ekiporus people are from Rukuba of Ayu place. Lↄkↄ people descent from a Lazuru Fulani who had moved from a Nigertin patriline named Ejas who are said to be of Hausa descent.
Doŋdoŋ decend group is named after a tree where they lived.
Ekram bare group is named House of Bare, a women ancestor.
Agurasin descent groups: Ekanri and Edanra
The Agurasin are the smallest Abisi section. In 1973, their population was 121 persons.
Their descent group is /ekanri/ named for a tree, and /edaŋra/ which means “ horse grass”. They came down the Hill 50 years ago to Talo place. They encountered SDA Seven day Adventist in the 1960 and the RCM Roman catholic Mission in 1963.
Ekantin descent groups: Unmadjoiŋ , Etiboni,Ude∫, Etiloŋ, Ebõ, Emagan .
Ekantin had a population of 1026 persons in 1973.
Unmadjoiŋ or :/e:iŋ(u)madjↄŋ/ are people of the /uŋma/, the hill or the rock and /madjↄŋ/ which means “guinea corn syrup” .
Etiboni would be /e:tebↄɲi /people of the bↄgni, a kind of tree that grows near their first house and called /uboi/.
Ude∫ is /e:de∫/ from /mide∫/ a flat place near a rock called /usaka/.
Emagan were in the same group with /ude∫/ when it became too full. A dispute between brothers entices them to separate and some left to become Emagan.
Ebõ or /eban/ are a division of Agurasin because, according to San Gari, they get one pot of beer for both of them during some ceremonial funerals. They live near each other and do not marry together but both can marry with other Ekantin.
Igallik descent groups: Ekut∫irɜs, Etekan∫i, Ekrami
Igallik had a population of 604 persons in 1973.
Ekut∫irɜs comes from the word /kut∫i/ meaning West even if they lived in the East of the hill near a rock called /ripaŋ gallik/. The last Kut∫irᴈs man living at this place died in 1966 and there is still a 15-year-old ( in 1973) palm tree growing on a former chief tomb at this place.
Ekrami lived at a place called “urↄnu krami “a small garden place planted with okra and maize.
Etekant∫i are a group who separated from e:de∫ of ekantin section to regroup with some Igallik. They lived on a flat place on the hill where old men were meeting. The word /tekant∫i/ is used for people who change sides. They separated because of a marriage dispute.
The reason was that two men had to go the same day with all their section brothers to give a bride service for their marriage on the land of their father-in-law. Kit∫i group proposed to go first but the others refused and each organized their own separate workgroup and thus maintained the division.
Nigertin descent groups: Iŋmarokban, Egamso, Ajer, Ejas.
Nigertin had a population of 486 persons in 1973.
They were divided into two descent groups : Ajer and Iŋmarokban. which means “far away, up the hill”. They could marry each other’s daughters.
Edjas and Ugamso started from Adjer families. At that time, there were some Lↄkↄ families living with Iŋmarokban.
When Abisi had to pay tribute in horses to the Emirate, Lↄkↄ did not have any and asked Iŋmarokban for help but they refused. Lↄkↄ groups then moved to the Agiram section who decided to help them.
Changing section, changes marriage rules, the main one being that relations between married men and women of the same section is prohibited and seen as adultary. Since this separation, Ajer men may try to get Lↄkↄ wives.
Egamso are said the people of /gamso/ because they have the important ritual responsibility of sharing the beer pots in public reunion: /egap/ meaning “to share” and /so/, to “drink”.