Jos - History


The earliest known Nigerians were the Nok people (around 3000 BC), skilled artisans from around the Jos area who mysteriously vanished in the late first millennium.

According to the historian, Sen Luka Gwom Zangabadt, the area known as Jos today was inhabited by indigenous tribes who were mostly farmers and according to Billy J. Dudley, the British colonialist used direct rule for the indigenous tribes on the Jos plateau since they were not under the fulani emirates where indirect rule was used,according to the historian Samuel N Nwabara, the Fulani empire involved most of northern Nigeria except the Plateau province, Tiv, Jukun and Idoma tribes. It is the discovery of tin by the British that led to the influx of other tribes such as the Hausa, Igbo, Urhobo and Yoruba thus making it a cosmopolitan city.

According to the white paper of the commission of inquiry into the 1994 crisis, Ames, the British administrator during the colonial period said that the original name for Jos was Gwosh which was a village situated at the current site of the city, according to Ames, the Hausa wrongly pronounced Gwosh as Jos and it stuck. Another version was that "Jos" was an acronym of the word "Jasad" meaning Body to distinguish it from the hill tops, it was called "Jas" which was mis-pronounced by the British as "Jos". (An alternative etymology is that "Jos" is an acronym for Jesus Our Savior, established by missionaries.) It grew rapidly after the British discovered vast tin deposits in the vicinity. Both tin and columbite were extensively mined in the area up until the 1960s. They were transported by railway to both Port Harcourt and Lagos on the coast, then exported from those ports. Jos is still often referred to as "Tin City". In 1967 it was made capital of Benue-Plateau State, becoming the capital of the new Plateau State in 1975.

Jos has become an important national administrative, commercial, and tourist centre. Tin mining has led to the influx of migrants, mostly Igbos, Yorubas and Europeans who constitute more than half of the population of Jos. This "melting pot" of race, ethnicity and religion makes Jos one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Nigeria. For this reason, Plateau State is known in Nigeria as the "home of peace and tourism". Despite this, in 2001, the city witnessed violent riots between the divided Muslim and Christian populations in which several thousand people died. In 2004, the former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, was suspended for six months for failing to control the violence. In November 2008, clashes between Christians and Muslims killed almost 400 and wounded many. In spite of the communal clashes, visitors are surprised at the amount of activities still going on in the city. There is still an influx of people into the city and the cost of accommodation and land is still going up daily. This shows that the city is still one of the most desirable cities in Nigeria, despite the communal clashes.

In January 2011 there were almost daily clashes between Christian and Muslim mobs in villages around Jos since a series of bombs had been detonated during Christmas Eve celebrations a month earlier, killing scores of people.

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