A Brief History of The Tangale People

taken from "Teach yourself the Tangale Language" by Rev. Samuila Kure

It is believed that the Tangale people migrated from Yemen through what is now Borno State.  Due to constant tribal wars, they had to keep on moving from one place to another.  They settled in seven different places before they came to their present location.  Some of the places where they settled include Sanum Kude (Big San) near Ngazargamu and Kupto. At Kupto they were together with the Bolewa, Waja, Songom, Kare Kare, Tera, Longuda, and some of the present neighboring tribes.  It was at Kupto that the tribes parted ways to search for new land and shelter.  Many of them moved into mountainous areas because they were safer places to settle.

According to Ankalai Tiling, the Tangale people got their name from "TANGAL," a chief of Billiri.  Tangal must have organized the clans under his leadership because, as it is customary in Africa, the name of a leader cannot be separated from the land and peoples he governs.  There are seven clans in Tangale: Banganje, Kalmai, Nathe, Tal, Tanglang, Tangaltong, and Todi. Billiri is one of the clans in Tangaltong.  The area called Tangaltong includes Billiri, Bare, and Kantali.   Each clan has kept its own identity and has its own chief who reports to Mai Tangalem Kude (The Big Tangale Chief).

According to the report of Joshua "Usman's committee page 6, eleven Mai Tangalem Kude ruled the Tangale people before the coming of the coming of the Europeans in 1904.  These Mai came to the throne in the following successive sequence:

1.   Mai Giu 7.   Mai Akwi
2.   Mai Tangar 8.   Mai Dule
3.   Mai Shomboro 9.   Mai Sheru
4.   Mai Asonong 10. Mai Bilam
5.   Mai Wuni 11. Mai Wana
6.   Mai Mela  

Other Mai who followed were Mai Yamba and Mai Iliyasu.  All of these Mai were from the same royal family.

It is believed that part of the Tal clan migrated to Pankshin in Plateau State.  When the people came there, they did not change their name.  They are still called Tal today. Their language and customs are similar to the Tangale.

One of theTangale clans, the Nathe, is not readily identified because its people are scattered throughout the other Tangale clans. Since this clan does not settle in one area or place, it does not have its own chief.

General Information