When others wonder why Gbagyi women place heavier goods on shoulders rather than their heads, it is evidently clear that there’s nothing to marvel about because most people understand that every tribe is destined to ensure its cultural activities are enshrined.
History has already revealed that the Gbagyi believe the head represents the king of the entire body; hence, it should not be disturbed. They call the part of their body they place their goods ‘Bwapa.’
They also believe the load feels lighter on their shoulders than on their heads. It is very much still in practice to date. This unique culture is practiced by these wonderful and peaceful human beings popularly knowns as ‘Gwarawas’ by the general public.
Gbagyi or Gwari (also spelled Gbari) are predominantly agriculturalists, artistic, and Nupoid-speaking people living in the Niger, Kaduna states, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. Some of them are also found in Nasarawa and Kogi states in the central Nigerian Area. Although some people regard them as minorities, Gwari is the most populated ethnic Group and indigenous in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, where their major occupation is farming.
According to oral tradition, the first settler was a hunter who went hunting in Paikokun land, a thick forest in Abuja. Paikokun was the name of the mountain where the first settler inhabited.
They initially used to live on mountain tops because they believed they were safer on the mountain than at the plain before western civilization made most of them relocate to the plain.
A little glimpse into their marriage culture will inform you that they are such a unique entity. Marriage in Gwari culture is soaked in deep tradition. When a man announces his interest in a woman, he would have to serve seven years in the bride’s father’s farm, laboring and supplying grains and other produce to the bride’s house for her to be well fed.
But nowadays, the groom simply pays the bride’s price instead of serving seven years in the bride’s father’s house.
In their traditional religion, some Gbayi believes in a God called ‘Shekwoi’, the one who was there before their ancestors, but they also devote themselves to appeasing deities of the god such as Maigiro.
Indigenously, their main religion is Knunu, which they believe protects them from the evil that exists in the community. They worship the ‘Knunu’ by offering fowl and beer as a sacrifice to a special tree found deep in the forest.
With modernization, most of them become more enlightened more that Islam and Christianity play important roles in their lives, they found it easy to embrace the teachings of either of the two religions. The Gwari or Gwarawas make sweet delicacies because they enjoy eating a meal known as Wyizhe. It is made from Guinean corn which is also used to make a special drink known as Zhepwo. The Gwari people also enjoy drinking a soup known as ‘Knadolo’ made from locust beans.
If you do not know Gwari, you can easily identify them through their beautifully colored attires. They are a set of people who enjoy wearing a tie and dye clothing known as ‘Ajeside,’ made from local cotton and traditional woven and dyed.
As mentioned earlier, the Gbagyi are mostly farmers although they are also good in wood fetching, pottery, and blacksmith. They were also well known for their visual art most especially pottery. Other arts practiced by the Gwari people are sculpture, iron smelting, domestic craft, and smelting.