Free Knowledge Africa team members with a native at Pilgani

The Tarok Tribe of Plateau State

Free Knowledge Africa paid a visit to Plateau State in North Central Nigeria as part of its awareness advocacy campaign on the importance of documenting cultural heritage. The team visited the Tarok tribe to document the oral history of the tribe.

The Tarok tribe in Plateau State are predominantly located in Gunnung Village, Pilgani, in Langtang North, Langtang South and Wase  Local Government Areas of the State.

The tribe consists of 12 clans, namely:

  1. Shamot clan
  2. Piga clan
  3. Mwal clan
  4. Gwan clan
  5. Wang clan
  6. Laka clan
  7. Binding clan
  8. Jat clan
  9. Gbak clan
  10. Singha clan
  11. Langit clan
  12. Yinkur clan

All members of the 12 clans speak the Tarok language.

The ancestral knowledge of the Tribe informs us that they first settled at the Abam (Taroh/k Hill) before a man named Denden, who was the first Chief Prince of Shamot sub-clan and Head of Chief Prince of all Sa clan, migrated to Gunnung village where they are currently located in 500 BC. Denden’s footprint can still be seen on the rock.

Remains of the settlement of the ancestors of the Tarok tribe

The people of the Tarok practice traditional religion and worship Icir (God that saves them), who is worshipped ceremonially and  Orim- a masquerade (strictly for males 18 years of age and above)

Like every other clan, the Shamot clan hold annual festivals.

The Icir festival is held in honour of Icir which is a spirit that comes around at the beginning of the year, mostly around February or March.

The Nce-orim festival usually holds between August and early September, where the people come out and celebrate in their cultural attire. However, this festival can only be attended by men who are 18 and above because of the Orim- masquerade that comes out during the festival.

The Nang funeral festival sees the average Tarok man dressed in their local attire of a warrior to celebrate their victory against the Muslims who attacked them in time past.

There are a number of cultural heritage sites located in Gunnung village, the headquarters of Shamot sub-clan, which are the Ipang Iwang-wang (long rock), the Sim-krutu (cave) and the Mmamdam or Gindam arena.


The Ipang Iwang-wang (long rock) in the background

The Ipang Iwang-wang (long rock) is a historical site for the Shamot sub-clan. It was told that there is a small pot called Ibici which mysteriously relocated on the top of the rock and can only be accessed by one appointed person. 

This Ibici is permanently located at the top of the rock, where water cannot enter it even if the rain is falling and the mouth is not covered. Water from rainfall has never entered the Ibici, which has been on the rock for quite a number of years, as it is as old as the Shamot tradition. 

We could also gather from the ancestral knowledge that whenever there was no rain in the Land, Denden, the Chief Custodian of Shamot tradition and Shamot clan, would visit the “Ibici” for rain in the Land. We were also informed that he would go on top of the rock where the Ibici was sited and when he came down, he would tell those who came to him with complaints of no rain to quickly go back home or else rain would fall on them, and it was so.

The Ibici is only taken out for people to see on special requests by the appointed person. 

It is believed that anyone who goes on to carry the Ibici apart from the appointed person will face consistent sickness, which could result in the death of the or their family members.


The Simkrutu cave

Simkrutu is the name of the cave located in the Gunnung village, which is popular for hiding the aged, women and children during times of war for their safety. The Cave is as old as the People themselves and has served them faithfully in times of war.


Mmamdam or Gindem is the name of the Arena very close to the Shrine and the cave where the Shamot men from 18 years and above gathered for meetings to take major and sensitive decisions. 

Mmadam arena

The arena is also located on a high and strategic place where their warriors can see and identify their enemies coming from afar to make necessary preparations. The Arena is also used as a relaxation spot for people (men).

Generally, the people of the Shamot clan are dominantly farmers and hunters. They are peaceful and quiet people who are very hospitable in welcoming visitors. 

It is important to note that there has been no single healthcare centre in the village or nearby ones, as the people have to go all the way to Langtang to access healthcare facilities until recently when the Shamot clan built a modern healthcare clinic. However, the clinic still needs the government, individuals and private organizations to help put it into use so that they would not have to go far to receive medical attention.
You can reach out to the Chairman Development Commission of the Shamot Gulu Community, Hon. Danbong N Nanbol via email: Or contact him via phone: +2347054512892 or +2347015510310

Watch the video documentary of the advocacy on Youtube.

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