History of the Kusopa People – by Ndagi Abdullahi

The Kusopa are listed by Nupe traditions as being one of the Nupe tribal sections. They are today located in an enclave right in the centre of Central KinNupe. They are bordered by the Gbidigi to the west, the Ebi to the north, the Nupe Zam or Binu to the east and the Bataci to the south.

The Name Kusopa
It was Professor S.F. Nadel who famously stated that the Kusopa or Kusopaci got their national name from their occupation of being the forest tenders of KinNupe. Professor Nadel and his interpreters reached that conclusion from the fact that in the Modern Nupe language the word ‘Kusopa’ means ‘forest tending’.

Professor S.F. Nadel was, however, wrong because the national name ‘Kusopa’ is an Old Nupe language word whose original meaning cannot be interpreted or deciphered by the Modern Nupe language.

In the Old Nupe language Kuso actually means ‘many’ or ‘crowd’ from whence it acquired some of its varieties of tropical meaning, still in the Old Nupe language, as ‘settlement’, ‘city’ or ‘state’.

The national name we pronounce as Kusopa today was initially a compound of the Old Nupe word ‘kuso’ and ‘Apa’, so it was ‘Kuso-Apa’ that ended up becoming ‘Kusopa’.

Since ‘kuso’ meant ‘state’ in the Old Nupe language, Kuso-Apa or Kusopa will directly translate as ‘Apa State’. And that was the original meaning of the name ‘Kusopa’ when it was first used in the days of the Old Nupe language.

So, contrary to Professor S.F. Nadel’s wrong conclusion of assuming that Kusopa means ‘forest tender’, the truth is that Kusopa means ‘Apa State’.

Apa was, of course, one of the most famous of the prehistoric Nupe kingdoms. Apa existed in the form several Apa capital cities or city states at different times in different parts of KinNupe in prehistoric times. The last pre-Tsudi capital city was the AtaGara Kingdom, also known as Kotorkoshi-Kogo, which was located in Kwiambana to the north of today’s KinNupe.

AtaGara was located in Ebiland in today’s Northwestern KinNupe. Interestingly the Ebi Nupe people actually known as the Apa in former times. As a matter of fact we can see that the national name Ebi was derived from Eba which was also pronounced as Aba or Apa or Wapa or Wapan.

In another sense Kusopa also mean ‘Aboriginal Apa’ as kuso, in the Old Nupe language, also has this tropical sense of ‘earth’ or ‘autochthonous’ or ‘aborigine’. In this case Kusopaland here in Central KinNupe got its name from the fact that it was the original or aboriginal homeland of the Apa Kingdom even before it began to expand out with capital cities and regional capitals in other parts of KinNupe and even outside KinNupe.

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Kusopa and the Apa Exodus
Whatever the case might have been, Kusopaland here in Central KinNupe became the focal point for the arrival of the mass migration of ancient Nupe people from the North to Central and Southern KinNupe in the 13th century days of the Apa Exodus of Tsudi the Nupe Founder.

The Apa Exodus involved the movement of a large population of ancient Nupe people fleeing the fall of the AtaGara Kingdom in ancient Ebiland down to Central and Southern KinNupe under the leadership and sovereignty of Tsudi. Interestingly an overwhelming majority of these large number of people on the Apa Exodus came to settle down at Kusopaland here in Central KinNupe. It was more or less like Tsudi simply translocated the population of the fallen AtaGara Kingdom, also known as Apa, from the North to Kusopaland, the original homeland of the Apa, here in Central KinNupe.

Tsudi used the Apa Exodus to translocate the Apa people from his paternal Apa Kingdom (AtaGara) in the North down to his maternal Apa State (Kusopa) in Central KinNupe. As is clear from the maps, Kusopa and Ebi are adjoining each other and as far as Nupe historians are concerned the Ebi and the Kusopa people are one and the same Apa Nupe people of ancient times.

Kusopaland was the original homeland of the Apa people and the Ebi people actually spread out of Kusopa in very prehistoric times when the Kusopa State was expanding beyond the confines of Central KinNupe. The Apa Nupe people who expanded out of Kusopa to Northwestern KinNupe became known as the Ebi.

So, the people we call the Ebi today were also known in former times as the Apa. It is no wonder then that their capital city of AtaGara was also variously known as Apa, Wapa, Wapan, Kupa.

Kusopa and Kororofa
The large number of people who were brought from Ebiland or Apa to Kusopa by Tsudi through the Apa Exodus were not one single homogenous race of Apa or Ebi people. The Apa Exodus was comprised of different types of ancient Nupe people moving from the North into Central and Southern KinNupe in different waves of migrations over an extended period of time.

For a start we should mark the fact that the AtaGara Kingdom whose fall led to the initiation of the Apa Exodus was itself a highly cosmopolitan Nupe kingdom. The AtaGara Kingdom, also known as Apa, was made up of almost all the ancient Nupe people prominent among whom were the Eda or Nda (Akanda, Kakanda, Kiadia, Bataci, Gbidigi, etc.), the Eba (Ebi, Bini, Ebagi, Ibara, Gbara, Gara, etc.), the Yisa, and so on and on. All these countless number of different people that went into the formation of the AtaGara Kingdom were collectively referred to as the Apa.

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Because all the different races, ethnicities, and tribes that made up the AtaGara Kingdom were collectively referred to as the Apa when the AtaGara Kingdom fall the mass movement they embarked on southwards, towards Central and Southern KinNupe in general and the Kusopa State in particular, is referred to as the Apa Exodus.

The Apa Exodus particularly targeted Kusopa as its destination because Kusopa was regarded as the original homeland of the Apa people – this is despite the fact that the people on the Apa Exodus were not solely Apa or Eba people but were made up of a variety of ancient Nupe people.

In those days the Kusopa State extended from Central KinNupe right unto the banks of the River Niger in Southern KinNupe. As a matter of fact the throne cities of the Kusopa State in those days were actually located right on the banks of the River Niger in Southern KinNupe.

In those days the Kusopa State was an old Apa State located on the banks of the River Niger. When the Apa Exodus came to overwhelm the Apa population of the Kusopa State on the River Niger the new Apa arrivals and the old Apa population of the Kusopa State came to be collectively referred to as the Apa-Koro or the ‘Apa on the River Niger’. This appellation, Apa-Koro or the Apa on the River Niger, was necessary to differentiate them from the other Apa people in other parts of KinNupe most especially including the Ebi, the Eba, the Ebagi, the Bini, the Binu, and others who are also variously referred to as Apa people collectively or individually.

The people of the Kusopa State became known as the Apa-Koro or the Apa on the River Niger when a large number of Apa refugees arrived the Kusopa State through the Apa Exodus under the leadership of Tsudi.
Apa-Koro was also pronounced as Afa-Koro, or Ifa-Koro which was also pronounced in its mirror-image form as Koro-Ifa or Korofa which the Hausa city chroniclers transcribed in its repetitive form as Kororofa.

So, the famous Kororofa of ancient Nigerian history a Nupe. Kororofa was actually a Nupe Empire comprised of various Nupe kingdoms and city states with the Kusopa State being a central one among the Nupe states of the Kororofa Empire.

Kororofa was actually properly known to Nupe historians as Nupeko or Nupekoro. Apa-Koro was also pronounced as Afa-Koro, Ifa-Koro, Nifa-Koro, Nufa-Koro, Nufe-Koro or Nupe-Koro, Nupekoro or, as we pronounce it today, Nupeko.

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The Kusopa State was just one of the Nupeko or Nupekoro states used by Tsudi to establish his almighty Nupeko or Kororofa Empire.

Kusopa the ‘Forest Tenders’
In the days of the Nupeko or Kororofa Empire of Tsudi the Kusopa were a very warlike Nupe people – an overwhelming majority of their population were the warlike Apa people who fled the fallen AtaGara Kingdom through the Apa Exodus under Tsudi’s leadership. Throughout the Nupeko Kororofa Empire days, lasting for centuries on end, the Kusopa people remained a very warlike people who engaged in the endless expansionist wars and battles of the expansive Nupeko Kororofa Empire.

But after the era of the Nupeko Kororofa Wars the Kusopa people gradually abandoned their warlike lifestyle and eventually became farmers. Right in heart of Kusopaland are extensive forest grooves which the Kusopa people gradually came to use for their new occupation of farming.

The Kusopa farmers along the line also became obsessed with the farming of Kolanuts which thrive well within the forest grooves of Kusopaland.

When the Whiteman first arrived KinNupe he met the Kusopa people famous as Kolanut farmers in the forests of Kusopaland so the Whiteman came up with the naïve assumption that the Kusopa have always been Kolanut farmers and forest tenders. The Whiteman heard no stories or traditions of the warlike annals of the Kusopa’s Apa Exodus and Nupeko Kororofa Wars.

By the time of the arrival of the Whiteman the Kusopa people have lost almost all traditions of their warlike and great past. In fact so little did the Kusopa remembered about their past that Professor S.F. Nadel confidently wrote that the Kusopa have no past history as they just “appeared out of nowhere” in Nupe history.

Kusopa the Kola nut Farmers
The only thing Colonial historians ever said about the Kusopa people is that they are the Kola nut farmers of Labozhi. This made it look like apart from Kola nut farming the Kusopa people have known no any other occupation throughout history.

The truth, however, is that Kola nut farming was a latter adaptation of the Kusopa people. In the beginning the Kusopa people were warlike great warriors and the Kusopa State was among those ancient Nupe states that formed the nucleus of the Nupeko Kororofa Empire of Tsudi.

Kola nut farming began in KinNupe long before the Kusopa warriors finally laid down their weapons to become Kola nut farmers. The Kano Chronicle wrote that it was in the days of Queen Amina of Zaria that kola nut was first introduced to Hausaland – but that was several centuries before the Kusopa warriors became farmers.

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