centred on the ethnic composition of the middle-belt state of Kwara are not new.
Politics in the state has always revolved around ethnic controversies between
the dominant Fulani and Yoruba ethnic groups. This turbulent history which
predates colonisation left behind many areas of contention, and the state’s
geographical and geopolitical location — between northern and western Nigeria,
has not helped matters either.
Read on as
I attempt to profile the different ethnic groups in Kwara State: their numbers,
how they came to be, and their location in Kwara State.


The Yoruba
are an ethnic group found mainly in south-western Nigeria, as well as southern
and central Benin Republic.
The Yoruba
speak the Yoruba langugage, which is tonal, and is the Niger-Congo language
with the largest number of native speakers.
The Yoruba
are the largest tribe in Kwara State, and are found in well over a dozen local
government areas.
noteworthy that despite the Yoruba  making
up the majority of the population of Kwara State, they have severally cried out
over their marginalization in the hands of the Fulani who have been in control
of power in the state for over a century now. This has led to the formation of
Yoruba activist groups like the Afonja Descendants Union who are agitating for
the creation of a Yoruba-only state out of Kwara State, and for the ascendancy
of a Yoruba into the throne of Ilorin.


The Nupe ethnic
group consist of several subgroups that all speak related languages.
The Nupe
trace their origins to Tsoede, an Igala prince from Idah during the 15th
The Nupe
live in large towns or cities called Ezi as well as smaller villages called
Tunga or Kangi. They live in clusters of compound forming a ward. Avillage
chief assisted by the village elders are the main authority.
The Nupe
are occupying around 6,950 square miles of lowland in the Niger Basin. They are
scattered over several states in west-central and northern Nigeria, but most of
them live in Niger State. Major cities include Bida, Minna, Agaie, Lapai,
Mokwa, Jebba, Lafiagi, and Pategi.
In Kwara
State, the Nupe are found in Edu and Patigi local government areas.
There are
over 1.5 million Nupe in Nigeria, majority of whom are Muslims.


The Bariba,
or Baruba, or Baatoumbu are found in Kaiama and Baruten local government areas
of Kwara State, and Borgu local government area of Niger State.
more than 80 percent of the Bariba are in Benin Republic. History has it that
the Bariba form the fourth largest ethnic group in Benin comprising
approximately one-twelfth of the population. They are concentrated mainly in
the north-eastern part of the Republic of Benin, especially around the city of
Nikki, which is considered their capital.
The Bariba
language is known as the Baatonum.
There area
around 400,000 Bariba in Kwara State, majority of whom are Muslims.


The Fulani
in Kwara State are mostly descendants of Alimi, an Islamic scholar that
established the emirate of Ilorin in the 19th century.
constituting just a small percentage of the population of Kwara State, the
Fulani weild a lot of influence in both the political, religious and cultural
sectors of the state.

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