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o    General Background

This work is on Atsam morphology. Atsam is one of the languages spoken in Kauru local Government of Kaduna State. Another name for Atsam language is ‘Chawei’

This chapter will be devoted to the historical and linguistic background, geographical location, genetic classification, scope of study and synopsis of chapters.

·         Historical Background.

According to oral tradition, Atsam people are ethnic group found in Kaduna State. They are predominantly found in States like Plateau, Nassarawa and the Federal Capital Territory. Atsam people originated from Sango Kattaf.

·         Geographical Location

Atsam speaking people can be found in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State. They share boundaries with Plateau, Kaduna Local Government in the South and Zango Kattaf on the West. Atsam is spoken in six districts in Kauru L. G. A. they are:

1.       Damakasuwa, with its district head at Damakusuwa chawei. This district covers villages such as Kisari, Mangual and Refingura.

2.       Zambina chawei. It covers villages such as Baduru, and Kurmi, Risga.

3.       Fadan chawei. With its district head at Fadan chawei. This district covers villages such as Talo and Riban.

4.       Pari with its district head at Kaffin chawei. This district covers villages such as Kaffin chawei, Pari among others.

5.       Kamaru district with its district head at Kizakoro, with villages like Kihoba, Kamaru.

6.       Barkin Kogi.

Each district is headed by a district head.

·         Socio Cultural profile

o    Cultural practice

Culture is the total ways of life of a people in terms of their bliefs, way of life or art. Culture must be studied directly by studying behavior, customs, language and so on.

The aspect of Atsam that we shall discuss here covers their language, festivals, religion, marriage rite, types of food they eat and jobs they engage in.


One of the festival in Atsam is “SHAKDODO” Shakdodo is the name of a man who in account of the bad behaviors of his wives got angry and turned into a river. Shakdodo is been scarified as dictated by the priests, food and domestic animals such as Goat, Fowl, Guinea – corn are used to make sacrifice to the river

Women are not allowed to participate in this festival, any woman found, will be punished by bringing items like Goat, Fowl to appease the river.


For a man and woman to get married in Atsam land, few steps are taken. Firstly, there is an intermediary between the wife and the husband’s family. It is the duty of the intermediary to make known the intension of both families. The bride’s family will then decide if they want their daughter to marry the man. After many consultations, a date is picked, this time; dowry of the woman (bride) is paid along side with tubers of yam, kolanut, and some yards of cloth. But if the couple is willing to have a church wedding or a nikkah program, a separate day will be picked for it.


Burial ceremony is being conducted in several ways among the Atsam people depending on the sex of the dead person. If an old man dies, “SHANGBARI” a rite, is been performed in honor of the dead person for seven days, on the 40th day, another rite called “PEPIYON” is performed to appease the dead not to forget his family members, this rites are not done for women.


There are six districts in Atsam; each district is headed by a district head. The head are charged with maintenance of law and order within their domains. The district heads are supported by a number of village heads within their domains and below the village head are ward heads popularly known as the Mai’angwa. The Mai’angwa reports to the village head. Mai’angwa            village head      District head      Chief (Res – Tsam)

·         OCCUPATION

The major occupation of the Atsam people are farming, Craftmaking, Beekeeping, but the dominant occupation among the Atsam people is farming.

·         RELIGION

The dominant religion among the Atsam people is Christianity. According to the informant, Muslims are not many in Atsam.


Atsam language is used as a means of communication in School, Churches and Market places. Atsam is spoken in Kauru Lacal Government area of Kaduna State, though it was said that Hausa language has in one way or the other contributed to the death of many languages spoken in Northern part of Nigeria. Hausa is used as a medium of instruction in Schools while English language is learned as the target language. Atsam is a minority language among the Atsam people while Hausa is a language of wider communication.

Neighbouring language groups communicate with Atsam language due to their unique character in terms of accommodating, peace keeping and friendly act. Atsam speakers are only about 30, 000, is used as a means of communication within Atsam speakers in market places, during festive periods.


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