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Tiv Pitek, Emily


The Tiv are a group of people who have historically lived in what is now the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, along the Benue River. The first recorded contact between the Tiv and Europeans occurred in 1852, and the British began occupation in Tiv lands around 1906 (Bohannan, 1998). More consistent contact with the British started around 1911, at which time Dutch Reformed missionaries arrived, followed by Catholic missions in the 1920s and U.S. Protestants in the 1940s (Bohannan, 1998). More substantial changes to Tiv social and political structure as a result of the British administration occurred in 1934. This entry focuses on the Tiv living in the Benue Province of Ethiopia around the time of 1920. Although the Tiv had contact with missionaries, their influence was minimal and Tiv religion maintained its traditional practices. According to the principal ethnographic authorities, Bohannan and Bohannan, “the total field of Tiv religion does not form a single, complete, or closed system of thought” (1953:81). Rather, several important concepts are associated with one another, such as tsav [ability/witchcraft potential], akombo [magical emblems and associated ritual], and mbatsav [individuals with tsav, who can utilize akombo]. No formal priesthood is present, but diviners are utilized, and mbatsav are capable of carrying out rituals. This entry considers the Tiv religious group to be coterminous with society at large.

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Attribution 4.0 International