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BRIEF HISTORY OF GBAGYI PEOPLE


Gbagyi or Gbari (plural – Agbagyi) is the name and the language of Gbagyi/Gbari ethnic group who are predominantly found in Central Nigeria with a population of about 15million people. Members of the ethnic group speak two dialects.

While speakers of the dialects were loosely called Gwari or Gwagi (an dulterated form of Gbagyi) by both the Hausa/Fulani and Europeans during pre-colonial Nigeria, they prefer to be known with their original name of Gbagyi.

They live in Niger, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Gbagyi is the most populated ethnic and indigenous group in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, Abuja and their major occupation is farming.

Historically, the Gbagyi practice a patrilineal kinship system. The lowest tier of authority is found in the extended family compound led by the oldest male. The compound consists of small huts and rectangular buildings.

The Esu (king) is the highest tier of authority in a Gbagyi settlement and he is assisted by a group of kingmakers and elders.

The Gbagyi people are predominantly farmers but they are also hunters while some are involved in making traditional arts and craft products such as pottery and woodwork like mortar and pestle.

Gbagyi are good with mixing clay to produce decorative household products such as pots.

Significant Gbagyi towns include Minna, Kwakuti, Kwali, Wushapa (Ushafa), Bwaya (Bwari), Karu, Suleija, Abuja and Paiko.

There are some theories that posits the reasons for the scattered settlements and migration of the Gbagyi people. Some historians believe that the Gbagyi were displaced from their original settlements during the Fulani jihad, while some local historians link migration with the need for farmland by the Gbagyi.

Gbagyi settlements can be both large and small. In locations where farming is the dominant occupation, the settlements tend to be small so that enough land is available for farming.

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