Some information on Ron

The Ron language is spoken by about 115,000 people mostly in Bokkos Local Government in Plateau State, Nigeria. It is bordered by Kulere and the Mushere dialect of Mwaghavul in the south and southwest, Sha and Mundat in the west, Birom in the north and Mwaghavul in the east. The Ron people are also called “Chala” by their neighbours (“cala” being their most common greeting).


Map drawn by Klaus Keuthmann, published in Seibert 1998, p. 5.

There are three dialects of Ron, which may conveniently be referred to as the Bokkos, Daffo-Butura and Monguna dialect, using the names of the respective district headquarters.

Ron itself and a few closely related languages (Kulere, Sha, Karfa, Mundat, Fyer, and Tambas) form a group which is referred to as the Ron Group within the Western branch of Chadic, which is part of the Afroasiatic phylum.

Scientific research on the Ron languages started with Herrmann Jungraithmayr, who was able to collect material on five languages of this group during two field research trips to Northern Nigeria in the years 1962 and 1964. In his monograph Die Ron-Sprachen (Jungraithmayr 1970) he describes and compares the morphology and the basic vocabulary of five languages, classifies them as a group within the western branch of Chadic and relates them to other Chadic languages.In 1983/84 Phil Davison, a British member of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, undertook a field survey in the Ron language area. One result of his research was a small brochure titled A Ron Alphabet, which was published by the Ron Language Committee and Nigeria Bible Translation Trust in a trial edition in 1985. In this brochure a common orthography is proposed for the Butura- (including Daffo) and Bokkos ‘dialect’ of Ron.

In 1989/90 and 1991, Dr. Uwe Seibert spent several months in the Ron area, gathering information on the Daffo dialect of Ron for his Ph.D. thesis. The results were published in 1998 in Das Ron von Daffo (Jos-Plateau, Zentralnigeria). Morphologische, syntaktische und textlinguistische Strukturen einer westtschadischen Sprache, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

Apart from that, he collected wordlists in other dialects and languages of the Ron group:

  • Bokkos
  • Fyer
  • Karfa
  • Mangar
  • Monguna
  • Mundat
  • Tambas

Most of these materials have not yet been published.

A Ron Language Committee was first established in the 80ies. A number of young Ron men and women speaking the Daffo-Butura and the Bokkos dialect of Ron have been trained in Applied Linguistics and Bible Translation Principles at the centre of the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (NBTT) in Jos. Small booklets, pamphlets, charts and calendars in the two dialects have been printed in trial editions.

In 1999/2000 we started producing Findel, a Ron Language and Culture Journal. Three issues have been printed, but then the journal was discontinue.

Currently the Ron Language Committee is working on a translation of the gospel of Luke into the Daffo-Butura and the Bokkos dialects of Ron.

Up to now the following articles and monographs have appeared on the Ron languages:

Jungraithmayr, Herrmann

  • 1965. Internal A in Ron plurals. Journal of African Languages 4,2, p. 102-107.
  • 1965/66. Die Laryngale ḥ und c im Scha. Afrika und Übersee 49, p. 169-73.
  • 1966. Zur Bildung der Aspektstämme in den Ron-Sprachen (Plateau, Nordnigerien), In: Lukas, J. (Ed.), Neue Afrikanistische Studien. Hamburg, p. 117-25.
  • 1968. The Hamitosemitic present-habitative verb stem in Ron and Mubi, Journal of West African Languages 5,2, p. 71-76.
  • 1968. A comparative word list of the Ron languages (Southern Plateau, N. Nigeria), Africana Marburgensia 1,2, p. 3-12.
  • 1968. Ancient Hamito-semitic remnants in the Sudan, African Language Review 7, p. 16-22.
  • 1968/69. Hausa, Ron and Angas: a comparative analysis of their “aspect” systems, Afrika und Übersee 52, p. 15-22.
  • 1969. Der Applikativ- oder Zielstamm im Ron, In: Jungraithmayr, H. and H.-J. Greschat (Ed.), Wort und Religion, Stuttgart, p. 89-93.
  • 1970. Die Ron-Sprachen. Tschadohamitische Studien in Nordnigerien. Glückstadt.
  • 1972. Fyer-Sätze, Afrika und Übersee 52, p. 258-262.
  • 1981. Le daffo (ron). In: Perrot, J. (Ed.), Les langues dans le monde ancien et moderne, Paris, p. 429-33.

Lek, Mafulul and Uwe Seibert

  • 1991. Maɗafal. Stories and Tales from Daffo. Trial Edition. Jos: Zima Publishing

Ron Language Commitee

  • 1985. A Ron Alphabet. Trial Edition. Jos: NBTT.

Seibert, Uwe

  • 1992. Edition von Ron-Texten aus Daffo. Der Anfang einer literarischen Tradition. Frankfurter Afrikanistische Blätter 4, S 115f.
  • 1994. Die Erforschung der Ron-Sprachen. In: Jungraithmayr, H. und G. Miehe (Ed.): Mitteilungen des Sonderforschungsbereichs 268. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, p. 203-12.
  • 1995. Encoding Space and Time in Ron (Daffo dialect). In: Time in Languages, (CTS-95-06), Prag: Center for Theoretical Studies, p. 72-77.
  • 1998. Das Ron von Daffo (Jos-Plateau, Nigeria). Morphologische, syntaktische und textlinguistische Strukturen einer westtschadischen Sprache. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag. [Review: N. Pawlak (1998), Studies of the Department of African Languages and Cultures 24. S. Pilaszewicz (1998), Hemispheres, 13:155-159.]
  • 1999. (with Akila F. Mandiu und Mafulul Lek). FINDEL – Ron Culture and Language Journal 1.
  • 1999. (with Akila F. Mandiu und Mafulul Lek). FINDEL – Ron Culture and Language Journal 2.
  • 2000 . (with Akila F. Mandiu und Mafulul Lek). FINDEL – Ron Culture and Language Journal 3.

A number of articles and monographs – mostly by late Barbara Frank – treat the culture and history of the Ron and the Kulere. Some older sources are for example Ames, Gunn and Meek:

Ames, C.G.

  • 1934. Gazetteer of the Plateau Province, Jos.

Frank, Barbara

  • 1974. Handwerk und Handelsbeziehungen im Ron-Gebiet, Tribus 23, p. 91-130.
  • 1974. Zur sozialen Bedeutung des Pferdes bei den Ron oder Challa. Veröffentlichungen aus dem Übersee-Museum in Bremen. Reihe B, Bd. 5.
  • 1976. Initiation, Verdienstfeste und Kultbünde bei den Ron und Kulere, Paideuma 22, p. 123-50.
  • 1978. Historical Traditions of the Ron. Africana Marburgensia 11,1, p. 19-42.
  • 1981. Die Kulere. Bauern in Mittelnigeria. Wiesbaden.
  • 1981. Zur Bedeutung des Pferdes bei den Ron oder Challa (Plateau-Staat, Nigeria). Tribus 30, p. 135-142.
  • 1982. Diskrepanz zwischen Kultur- und Sprachzugehörigkeit der Kulere im nigerianischen ”Mittelgürtel”. In: Jungraithmayr, H. (Ed.), The Chad languages in the Hamitosemitic-Nigritic Border Area (Papers of the Marburg Symposion 1979), Berlin, p. 144-49.
  • 1983. Ron. In: Müller, K.E. (Ed.), Menschenbilder früher Gesellschaften. Frankfurt/New York, p. 204-221.
  • 1990. From Village Autonomy to Modern Village Administration among the Kulere of Central Nigeria. Africa 60 (2), p. 270-293.
  • 1995. Permitted and Prohibited Wealth: Commodity-Possessing Spirits, Economic Morals, and the Goddess Mami Wata in West Africa, Ethnology 34/4, p. 331-46.
  • 2004. Gendered Ritual Dualism in a Patrilineal Society. Opposition and Complementarity in Kulere Fertility Cults. In: Africa 74, 2: 217-240.

Gunn, H.D.

  • 1953. Peoples of the Plateau Area of Northern Nigeria. Ethnographic Survey of Africa, West Africa VI. London.

Jungraithmayr, H.

  • 1967. Scha (Westafrika, Nordnigerien), Tanz der Frauen am Abend vor der Hirseernte, Encyclopedia Cinematographica. E 586. Göttingen.

Meek, C.K.

  • 1925. The Northern Tribes of Nigeria, 2 vols., London.
  • 1931. Tribal Studies in Northern Nigeria, 2 vols. London.

Mohr, R.

  • 1960. Ein Besuch bei den Schalla des Plateau von Nordnigerien, Tribus 9, p. 107-20.

Temple, O. and C.L. (Ed.)

  • 1922. Notes on the Tribes, Provinces, Emirates and States of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria. Lagos.


9 responses to “Some information on Ron

  1. In modern statecraft, Disang is synonymous with the national governance chamber; in parliamentary terms it’s a unicameral legislature. Disang is the seat of power & source from where executive orders, legislative enactments and judicial pronouncements emanate.
    The sub-tier level of authority to Disang is Dikyil, which is a household.

  2. Religious orders also emanate from Disang; thus, in all, Disang is the source of authority where power flows and permeates through to the rest of the society.

  3. Jol Jonah mahanan

    what is the meaning of Jol in Ron,cos Dats my name

  4. What is the root for God in Ron?

  5. Dear Selbut: In most varities of Ron, I found the root for God is ɓwe, in some it is fat – both also meaning “sun”.

  6. Dear Jol: Sorry I can’t answer that question.

  7. Mallo Silas

    The NYOROG is not the mask, it goes beyond the mask. it the person of the chief priest who is the head of the spiritual deity.The high priest make the NYORONG not the mask. The mask is an object and every traditional religion is more than and object.

  8. Jonah Goselle

    i appreciate the level of work done in the Ron language. i would like to know the level of work done in the lis ma ron dialect syntax. i would also like to know the level of work done in the manguna language (or dialect).

  9. Dear Jonah,

    My Ph.D. thesis was a description of Lis ma Ron (Daffo variety) morphosyntax:

    For the Monguna variety, nothing exists so far.

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