Swem: The Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Tiv of Central Nigeria





Cultural heritage, Tangible heritage, Intangible heritage, Swem, Tiv, Nigeria


The Tiv are a major ethnic group in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria. Scholarly writings about the Tiv usually make mention of Swem as either the ‘ancestral home’ of the Tiv, or an ‘Oath of justice’ sworn by the Tiv people to prove innocence and cleanse the land to avert calamities. To this end, ‘Swem’ stands as a tangible and intangible heritage of the Tiv. This paper examines the nexus between the Tiv and the Swem, and its impact on the culture and traditions of the Tiv people. Data for this research was elicited from primary sources such as oral traditions, and ethnographic survey. Secondary sources such as published books, journals, and monographs were also used in this study. Today, though the Swem tradition is significant in the cultural history of the Tiv people, it is fast going into extinction. Thus, this paper becomes timely and most appropriate for the documentation of the Swem tradition, being part of the cultural heritage of the Tiv people. This documentation will enable a scholarly preservation of the tradition for posterity.


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