1.0 GENERAL BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
This research work is based on the aspects of the noun Bura noun phrase. The study forms an important aspect of the syntax of the language. By syntax, we mean the branch of linguistic analysis which involves the arrangement of words to form grammatical sentences in a rule-governed way. It should be noted that there are many aspects of syntax, but this research will focus on the noun phrase of the Bura language.
A phrase could be described as a group of words that form an integral part a sentence. There are different types of phrasal categories, for example, Noun, Verb, Prepositional, Adverbial, Adjectival phrases, etc. Each phrasal category is named after the lexical category that heads the phrase. For instance, a verb heads a verb phrase, a preposition heads a prepositional phrase.
In this chapter, we will carry out a survey of the historical background of the language, sociolinguistic profile under which we shall describe the occupation, marriage, religion, festivals, culture and beliefs, language status, and the genetic classification of the language. Government and Binding theory is used as a theoretical framework the analysis of the study.
1.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The pabir and bura are ethnically different, but both speak the bura language. They are the major tribes Biu and Askira L.G.A’S of Borno state and Gombi L.G.A of Adamawa state. The population of bura people in Borno state is about 230,000 and there are about 46,000 speakers of the language in Adamawa state.(.N.P.C 2005).
The Bura’s lived north of Biu before being attacked by yata-ra-wara around the 16th century. The few people yamta brought with him intermarried with the Bura’s and built the Biu dynasty into a kingdom. Those descendants of yamta’s group were called Pabir or (babur),this is why the Pabir and Bura’s differ considerably in culture appearance until today, The Pabir are the ruling class among e Bura people and the Bura villages pay tribute to the Emir of Biu, the Bura’s still resent the Pabirs.
1.2 SOCIOCULTURAL PROFILE
The following could be observed among the Bura’s. The language bura is seen as a means of communication in the market and is also used in teaching in primary schools. The Bura’s found in Biu and Askira L.G.A’S in Borno state and Gombi L.G.A in Adamawa state. Their main language is Bura but they also speak Hausa, Chibok, Fulfude and a few speak Marghi.
The Bura people did not circumcise their boys until the practice was introduced around the 1920s. Boys are circumcised around the age of 7. When a female child is born, a suitor may propose by throwing a leafy branch of a certain tree in her mother’s kut. If he is accepted, he gives gifts as the girl grows up. He works on her father’s farm and makes zana matting for them. When she reaches the marriage age he captures her and brings her to his house, then the remaining part of the bride price is settled and arrangements for the marriage ceremony are concluded.
The bride is usually expected to produce a white cloth stained with the proof of her virginity and it may be displayed with pride, her parents will be ashamed if she is not a virgin. Another form of courtship/marriage is for a boy to look over the girls while they are collecting firewood or fetching water, when he sees the one he likes he asks her to marry him and if she agrees, he gets about 8 or 10 strong fellows to capture her and bring her to his house then the marriage ceremony is arranged. As a sign of respect, a man does not eat with his parents-in-law, when an old person dies he/she is buried on the second day when everyone has gathered in the evening. The grave is a wide circular shaft at the top, about knee-deep then a smaller round shaft is dug from the bottom of this into a floor of the cavity. There is traditional dancing for seven days after the burial, and if the deceased was an important person it lasts 14days, during which rituals are performed. There is dancing with the beating of the drum and things belonging to the deceased that show who he was being displayed, such as his/her tools and weapons. This is done to date, sometimes professional mourners are invited on one of the mourning days, the Fuinchambwi dance is done. The male dancers jump from the roof of the hut of the deceased back again until the roof destroyed. After this the date is fixed for the last mourning or sadaka, which is held about 6 months later but usually during the dry season.
Originally the Bura’s had no central government, now the Emir of Biu appoints the district heads (Ajia) who then approve the appointments of the village heads (Lawans). Today both titles belong to certain families. The village heads appoint the ward heads (Bulamas) over small villages and wards of larger ones. Anyone who has leadership ability ca choose as a Bulama.
The Bura had their traditional religion before Islam came around 1920 and Christianity later in the 1920s.Today these three religions can found among the Bura’s.
In traditional religion the Supreme Being is called Hyel or Hyel-taku, they approach Hyel through Haptu. Hyel they claim created everything, but a Haptu is a personal god who takes care of the individual. The Haptu have shrines where people worship and offer sacrifices. The gods are represented by various objects such as water (a lake or river), stones, mountains or forest. Usually, there is an attendant or priiest through whom consultations are made of the Haptu. Most sacrifices are on Saturdays so it is a special day. some gods are for particular clans, and there is no unified form of traditional religion for the whole tribe. One of the Haptu(gods) is Dlaminpr Kampeka, a large being living in space. His chief priest is called Mthakur Haptu, there is a Mthakur Haptu in each village.
The most common of the gods is represented by a covered pot kept by a family head. At the beginning end of the dry season in times of stress, he offers a chicken to the pot for the health of his household. The practice of traditional religion has now largely disintegrated before Islam and Christianity. However, witchcraft is still done. The belief that ancestors become when they die and still influence what happens in the world has not really died out. The total number of Bura Christians is under 60, 000, the percentage of Christians are actually less than 20%, though more may be nominal adherents. A rough estimate of the religious percentage is as follows: Muslims-78%, Christians-20%, Traditionalists-2%.
There is a certain amount of understanding between the Muslims and Christians which prevents too much religious tension in the tribe, but this does mean Muslims do not persecute relatives converted to Christianity.
The people of Bura are mainly agriculturalists as they engage themselves in the planting crops like maize, guinea corn, groundnut, and rice. Among them, there are also weavers, fishermen, hunters, woodcarvers, etc.
Fig. 1.2.4 Fishing Occupation of Bura People 1.2.5 FESTIVAL
Since the Bura people are mainly engaged in farming all their festivals are farming related, as they organize harvest festivals before fresh harvests are eaten.
An example is the maize harvest festival performed before fresh corn can be eaten, it is believed that it is sacrilegious to eat a harvest before the harvest festival, hence all farmers adhere to this law..