ASPECTS OF KOENOEM VERB PHRASE
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THE KOENOEM LANGUAGE & ITS SPEAKERS
1.0 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
This study focuses verb phrase in the Koenoem language and its speaker spoken in Shendam local government area of Plateau state.
As an introductory chapter, attempts shall be made to trace the origin, socio-cultural profile, administrative system, religion, geographical location, topography, (life zone) economy, marriage rites, map, genetic classification and the burial rites of the Koenoem people. In this same chapterr, we shall present the organization of the study, theoretical framework together with a review of the chosen theory, data collection and data analysis.
1.1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE KOENEOM SPEAKERS
There are contradictory versions about the origins of the Koenoem. Some primary and secondary oral sources assumed monolithic origin for the Koenoem people. However, all these contradictory versions reflect migrations and interrelations.
A popular legend of the Koenoem claimed that they were evidently influenced by the attempt to link their origin to the universal perspective and centres of old civilization. This legend claimed that they migrated from France to their present location for economic reasons. According to the present village head, the Koenoem speakers travelled from far Sudan and settled on in their present abode because of the unlimited economic potentials possessed by the area.
Linguistic consideration strongly points to the fact that all couldn’t have one origin nor came together into central Nigeria, as they do not speak same language. In fact, the different in dialect from one Koenoem group to another further points to the fact that they have distinct origin.
Literally, the word “Koe” means “to” while “noem” means “refuse”. This name emanated from a dispute that ensued between them and their neighbours over a river dividing them. The Koenoem people were the rightful owners of the river but their neighbours were claiming ownership. This is because the river has immense economic benefits.
The Koenoem couldn’t stand akimbo and see themselves being deprived of their inalienable rights, they beseeched terrestrial powers from their ancestors with which most of the neighbouring competitors were struck to death.
The neighbouring town later compromise their stand and left the land for its rightful owner. Till today, the Koenoem people are respected for their traditional prowess.
1.2 SOCIO-CULTURAL PROFILE
The Koenoem people are known for unshakeable peace and unflinching tolerance even with other distinct neighbours. They believed these elements (peace and tolerance) are indispensable for survival and productivity. The puzzle of Koeneom social psychology attracts scholarly interest to examine the binding forces. Other groups are most comfortable with them for their humour, human relations, accessibility, peace and docility. They are identical through joking relations, common facial marks, sharing of foods, traditional and cult consultations, moving together in the market or social occasion and sometimes forging common origin.
The Koenoem people are dominantly traditional worshippers with every families having its own ancestral shrine, town shrines and clan shrines. The intrusion of the colonial masters had propagated Christian religion to the point that, it has more preference today than traditional religion. However, Islamic religion is practiced by only those who are also sons of the soil. The language of worship is Hausa. For the traditional worshippers more allegiance is paid to their kins and cultural cum religious heads.
Festivals are organized to unite their kins from far and near. The chief priest is regarded as the ruler of the tribe only, but without defined territory, ceremonies are some of the arenas for hosting neighbouring groups. Some of the ceremonies are burials, marriages and annual festivals. There is a particular festival celebrated to commemorate the death of their heroes who had fought tirelessly to emancipate them from the shackles of invaders and other forms of oppressions. Others are celebrated after the drop of the first rain. There is also an annual festival celebrated on the 12th December. For this festival, an antelope must be casted to appease the gods.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Koenoem’s economy. The people here are gainfully employed in farming. Commercial and subsistence farming are dominant. Yam, maize, and guinea corn are the major articles of trade. The land has varying proportion of silica, salt, nitrogen and phosphorus. It is alluvial and sticky in the paddy areas and sandy on the uplands. They ensure proper growth of crops. In other words, the boom in agriculture is related to the fertility of the soils. It is pertinent to note here that, farming in this region is of great antiquity. Agricultural produce are sold to buyers from the urban centres.