The Basa languages



The Basa languages are spoken in a wide swathe of Central Nigeria. Apart from the Hausa and Fulɓe, the Basa people may be the single most widespread group in the whole of Nigeria. The history of their dispersal remains to be written, but it is clear that heir movement into the Benue Valley is relatively recent and may be a response to early nineteenth century slave-raiding. However, none of these scattered groups have any knowledge of the existence of the others, and no oral traditions relating to these migrations have yet been recorded. A curious paradox of this expansion is that it is only the outlying groups who have retained Basa language and culture. In what is presumably the heartland, backing on Kambari country, the Basa have virtually completely lost their language, and now speak only Hausa. Most Basa communities are known as ‘Basawa’ but in some places Basa refuse to answer to this name today.


The Basa languages should probably should be treated as a language cluster. Following this research, there are probably seven groups as follows;




 Kɔrɔmba (formerly Basa-Gurmana)



 Basa-Benue (formerly Bassa-Kwomu)



A new version of the Basa-Benue dictionary can be downloaded here


Figure 1 shows the likely subgrouping of the Basa languages;


Figure 1. The Basa languages



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