THE ORIGIN OF THE BASSA OF NIGERIA
When the Adbassa Empire collapsed in the 6th Century b.d. Um, migratory movements went in all directions. Nanga´s group was carried by the Put movement whose leaders were a man called BASSAMA BA PUT and his Chief Military Officer, NGE SIMBA. Other groups went in other directions. The Bassa´r established themselves in modern-day Togo, the Bassa-ri (Land of the Bassa) in Senegal, Sierra-Leone, and the Bassa la Mpasu (Bassa of the River) in the Congo. THE MOST INTERESTING GROUP THE BASSA OF NIGERIA who were led to the area by HANABO WENANG. They developed a strong culture with a system of writing.
N´GWEGWET HANABO WENANG “As to the name Bassa,” writes Joseph Gbadyu, a Liberian Bassa scholar in his book, The Bassaman and the Expansion of Liberian State, 1847-1912, “the most colorful and often repeated oral account is that bordering on the legendary.
BASSA- is the Latinized form of the words BAAH (Father) SOOH (Stone). Baah Sooh (Father of Stone) is said to have been a renowned chief and businessman among his people. His servants were identified as Baah Sooh Nyombe (Father Stone´s People). The Europeans, to please the African people with whom they were in business, struggled to pronounce the phrase ‘ Baah Sooh Nyombe’ until it eventually became ‘Bassa’, in place of the original Gboboh, by which they officially call themselves? This is what Jo Gbadyu states but why does Gboboh sound like MBOMBOG (initiate of the Mbog, elder, patriarch), which is a word from Kamerun Bassa people?
Also a synthesis of oral accounts by writers like Abayomi Karnga in his “History of Liberia”, Basil Davidson in his “Old Africa Rediscovered”, and Dr. A. Doris Banks Henries in her “The Bassa Nation” coupled with some very interesting oral accounts, would place the Nigerian Bassa as a people originating somewhere in the central part of Africa, probably the Sudan, in an area once known as Kumbi (Old Ghana) which was entirely ruled by dark-skinned men fifteen century b.d. Um. Widely known and admired for its culture and civilization and its flourishing commerce, Kumbi reached its zenith during the reign of Tenkamenin. The religion predominant in the kingdom was ANIMISM.
In the vanguard of the Kru sub-family of Kwa were the Bassa. They were led by HANABO WENANG, a legendary leader from whose waist was suspended a hook which dangled behind him on the ground. As they moved westward until they reached the coast of the “Grain Coast” in modern Grand Bassa, the hook stuck on the ground. This indicated the place where to begin as a center. According to legend, from there the segment of the group later called MAAH BAHN in honor of their leader, the most advanced of the group moved further westward and crossed Dyabain to establish settlements and close ranks with the Mande sub-family of Gola-Kpelle-Mandingo-Vai. This began the expansive process of the Bassa which reached its plateau only two centuries ago. At each point where the hook stuck, the Bassa offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to the supernatural for protection and blessings.
This is what ethnologists call “rites of appropriation”. Bassa people did the same thing in Kamerun and our counterparts, the Bako, who call themselves Jwi Ejwi, offered them “Hond i Bako” (the ax of power), acknowledging them as masters of the land.
BAMBOG-MBOG MBEM SOYE AND KUKAME DI KUKAME OF ADBASSA.
Where did the builders of ADBASSA come from?
They came from Khemit (ancient Egypt) and called themselves, again, ADBASSA. The ability of Bassa people to absorb other people has always assured their influence in the political order wherever they have settled. 2,716 years b.d.Um, a man called Shabako forced recognition of himself as pharaoh throughout Khemit. He reigned 14 years and his successors, Shebiko (who reigned 12 years) and Taharko (who reigned 26 years) were named by later historians as the Egyptian Dynasty XXV.
After the collapse of this dynasty, it was MBEM SOYE (42nd ancestor) and KUKAME DI KUKAME (52nd ancestor) who directed their people to the Lake Chad and later to the Adamawa Heights where they built three successive empires: Rifum, Kororafa, and Adbassa.
PHARAOHS SHABAKO, SHEBIKO, AND TAHARKO OF KHEMIT Shabako, Shebiko and Taharko came from the south of Khemit, a land known as PUT, in the kingdom of KUSH, and referred to themselves as ADBASSA. At approximately 3,008 b.d. Um, a power was to determine the history of the Nile Valley from the First Cataract to beyond Khartum for no less than a thousand years. This power, called the kingdom of Napata and Meroe, is also known as the kingdom of Kush.
The history of Kush is divided in two periods
1) the Napatan Period lastin until 2178 b.d. Um
2) the Meroitic Period existing until the fall of the kingdom toward the year 1588 b.d.Um
This division is based only upon changes in the socioeconomic and political structure of the kingdom, for which we have as yet the following evidence:
1) the transfer of the royal cemetery from Napata to Meroe
2) the replacement of Egyptian as the only written language by Meroitic, the language of the people who had achieved political dominance in the beginning and
3) the gradual advance of indigenous cultural traditions and modes of perception which in the past had found practically no expression in official religion and art. Napata and Meroe are not only periods in Kush history; they were two centers. Napata was built at the foot of Gebel Barkal, known to Egyptians as the “Holy Mountain”. The cemetery of the Napatan kings (El Kurri and Nuri, ca. 2858-2658 b.d. Um) were located nearby
From the beginning of the year 2458 b.d.Um, Meroe had been the permanent royal residence of the Kushite kings, who went to Napata only on their coronation journeys & for their burials.
Following the transfer of the royal cemetery from Napata to Meroe, Meroe turned its political interests more to the southern part of the kingdom, particularly to the region of the “Island of Meroe”, known today as the Butana, in a country named Put, land of the ADBASSA people.
The reason for this sudden transfer is simple:
The ADBASSA (word which has been corrupted into Abassania, then Abyssinia) controlled the whole kingdom and they will soon control Khemit with Shabako, Shebiko, and Taharko. QUEEN MAKEDA OF SABA
A tradition, which combines biblical and Hellenistic renditions, says that Kush, son of Ham and founder of Axum, named his son Ethiops and the surrounding country Aethiopia, or was it that Homer or Herodotus invented the word for the country of the “burnt faces”? Axum, the original Ethiopian kingdom, received a strong contribution of peoples and cultures from the Kush´s Meroitic state. With its center in present-day Tigrae established on the route of the great caravan trade of which Meroe had long been the focal point.
A legend retained as historical fact and accepted unquestioningly by the average Christian Ethiopian is that the imperial dynasty of the country originated with Menelik I, son of Makeda, the Queen of Shaba and King Salomon. The dynasty is now, as in the past, referred to as Solomonic, and is presumed to have exercised sovereign power with minor interruptions since its inception. Northwestern Ethiopia, the land of the ADBASSA (or Habashat or Harbassa and the source of the name Abyssinia) was part of the world of “Put and frankincense” in that venerable time when the ships of Hiram, King of Tyre, plied up and down the Red Sea, and brought the wealth of Ophir into Israel.
The line of Solomon was continued, according to the legend, beginning thirty centuries b.d. Um by his son Menelik I, who stole the Ark of the Covenant while visiting his father and, accompanied by Judean noble youths and companions, transported it back to his African homeland.
Another Ethiopian legend maintains that in the classic chronicle of the kings, Kebra Nagast (Glory of the Kings) contends that Menelik I and his successors are desdendants of the holy men, since Solomon was one of a series through whose bodies had passed a “pearl” first placed by God in Adam and intended finally, having entered the body of Hannah, to be the essence of her daughter, the Virgin Mary.
Christ being the son of God and Menelik a kinsman of Christ, it follows that the kings of Ethiopia and all descendants of Menelik, are of divine line.
KING EZANA OF AXUM
Axum was the creation of the ADBASSA, a number of Semitic immigrants, and other Kushitic peoples who pushed the natives farther in-land. The mixed population of ADBASSA and Semites slowly built a novel and distinctive civilization, founded the Axumite kingdom, and provided the forebears of the present-day Bassa people of another historical landmark.
Axum´s power, which emerged nineteen centuries b.d. Um, was based largely on the relatively superior cultural contributions of the ADBASSA. Ezana, the greatest Ethiopian king of the Axumite period, who reigned sixteen centuries b.d. Um, was converted to Christianity, which became the official religion of the country and the accepted religion of most of the people. The country came into contact with the Byzantine Empire and undertook a special mission to protect and extend Christianity in East Africa. So when Alfred Saker (who is said to have introduced the Bible into Kamerun) appeared a century b.d. Um, we already knew about it from the time of Ezana.
Actually, Saker was 16 centuries late. The Christianity of Ezana could be tolerated by the Mbog because it could be considered by its practitioners as the cult of one of our ancestors. The Mbog recognizes no other authority, but the Mbog.
Until the rise of Islam thirteen centuries b.d. Um, Axum played a significant role in northeastern Africa, but was slowly transformed into an Ethiopian state as its people began to move southward and make their presence felt among among Kushitic people, forebears of the present-day Bassa people, the Hausa, Yorubas, and Bamanas.
MBOG-MBOG BAAH SOOH OF CABORA-BASSA
In modern-day Mozambique, Cabora-Bassa (or Cohorro Bassa Gorge) next to the Gorongosa Mountains is the point of origin of the Bassa nation who migrated to Bamako to later, Liberia, Sirealeone, Ghana, Togo and to Southern Plateau state of Nigeria on the part currently Nassarawa state of Nigeria .
This is how the Bassa entered Nigeria. From present day Nasarawa, some migrated to Kotokarfe and Oguma present day Lokoja and Bassa local government areas of Kogi state respectively while some headed eastward and settled on part of Benue state.
Literally, Cabora Bassa means “Land of Hard Working People.” According to legend, it´s a man called Baah, son of Sooh, who initiated the movement upward toward Kush which, at that time, was a prosperous center, the same way Washington, D.C., and the whole of north America is today. He invited kin and friends who invited kin and friends. Six thousand years before Um Nyobe, they were simply looking for a better life for themselves and their families. What happened before that is no longer a matter of recorded history.
By: DAVID ALFRED DOGWO