The People Called ‘Tongov’

Tongov are the children of Ton, the son of Ipusu (Ipusu was Tiv’s first son). At the time Tiv left Swem for Nigeria, Tongov were already inhabiting a mountain known in Tiv language as Sonkwalla. And during the migration of Tiv to Binda, Tongov were the last people to migrate.

Some elders in Tiv land have claimed that, in those days, Ukum (the children of Ikumura also known as Kum, who was the daughter of Ipusu) went to the farm and while working, they saw some people who came to them and the Ukum seized them. It is said that something happened to the people who were seized by the Ukum and they were fleeing before they met the Ukum on their farm. Then, the Ukum said that it was work that had given them these people and so, they named them ‘Tom’ meaning ‘work’. This is why the children of these people are called Tongov.

However, Akiga asserts that, IchÔngo (Tiv’s second son) captured a woman in the bush and that woman begot a son called Tongov and it is the children of that son who are now called Tongov. And according to Akiga, Tongov are not the children Ipusu, but are instead, the children of IchÔngo. But the Tongov people have rejected Akiga’s assertion and they have agreed that they are the children of Ton, the son of Ipusu. And in the whole of Tiv land, Tongov are known to be the children of Ipusu, because they are included among the children of Ipusu all the time. And during their migration, they were known to have walked with the other children of Ipusu even more especially the Ukum. Anytime the Ukum people moved, Tongov would also follow them behind. This is the reason that up till today, Tongov are living close to the Ukum. Thus, Tongov are truly the children of Ipusu and not that of IchÔngo.

At the time Tiv left Binda, Tongov went down and inhabited at a mountain and that is where the Ukan are now settled. It was at the time Tongov settled on the mountain that they appointed their first Tor Agbande (Chief Drummer). The first Chief Drummer of Tongov was called Ichen, a man from the district of Obaya. It was Mgbakpa that held the Ichen; chief drummer. Mgbakpa held Ichen the chief on the same road they had held Sir Asukunya, the Chief. According what Mr. Maddocks wrote concerning Tongov, he said that it was the Jukun that had left Katsina Allah (Katsina Ala) and went to give Ichen the Chief of Ilyu. But Maddocks claims cannot be true because, at the time Tongov were at Ilyu, it was Mgbakpa that drummed when they were at Katsina Allah. Tongov at that time, did not meet the Jukun until they got to the place which they are now inhabiting. The thing about the Chief Drummer in Tiv land started with the Mgbakpa, and not with the Jukun as some have written.

Mr. Maddocks said that in the year 1750, Tongov left Ilyu and settled in the place they are now. It is in this place that Tongov birthed Amarfu who later became the first Chief of Tongov under the white people. As Tongov left, they kept going until they crossed river Katsina Ala and then settled at the place where the Ikurav-Tiev currently are. At that time, Ikurav-Tiev had not yet arrived at the place they are. Tongov also did not live in this land for a long time before they left. Meaning that, Ukum went and found a vast land ahead and as they left, there was a lot of space in the middle of Ukum and Tongov. This is why Tongov left to go and settle at those places. It was as they (Tongov) left that Ikurav-Tiev finally arrived and properly settled at this place. Those lakes found at Ikurav-Tiev that are called in Tiv ‘Ber Awange’ and ‘ber u Apaaior’ all belonged to Tongov who worked there. At the time Ikurav arrived in that land, they paid tax to the elders in Utongo before they proceeded to carry out fishing. But now, these lakes are now owned by Ikurav-Tiev. In the year 1870, Tongov occupied and settled in the land they now are, they were farming and hunting.

Translated with simple modifications from the book written by Cpt. John W.T Gbor titled ‘Mdugh U Tiv man Mnyer ve ken Benue’.