Nyesam

Eveling Villa

Nyesam, commonly known as Kpasham (glottocode: kpas1242), is spoken in a number of villages on the southern side of the Benue River in Demsa LGA of Adamawa State close to the border with Taraba State. Kpasham is in fact the name of one of the villages where Nyesam is spoken. The speakers refer to their languages as ɲé sàm, where ɲé means ‘language’. Speakers of Nyesam refer to themselves as the Isam [ísàm], inhabitants of Asam [ásàm] the area which extends from the original mountain settlement to the current villages of Kpasham, Dakli, and Dem, among others.

Nyesam storytelling event

The north-eastern part of Nigeria has been a zone of conflict for quite some time, with difficult access to researchers, where there is no electricity or running water, and traditional housing represents more than 90% of the infrastructure of the village. For these and other reasons, Nyesam has been an underdescribed language until now. My work on Nyesam is part of the AdaGram initiative to explore Nigeria’s linguistic diversity and wealth through the creation of grammatical analysis and linguistic documentation of Adamawa languages.

Julius Philip Giroh David Tiyina Left to right: Julius P. Giroh, Markus Zakke (chief of Dem), and a member of the elder's council from Dem Markus Kaifas

The documentation of Nyesam started in March 2017 after a succesful completion of the Adamawa Language Survey in July 2016 by Tope Olagunju and Bitrus Andrew. I returned from the village of Kpasham (Adamawa state, Nigeria) in June 2017. During the entire duration of my fieldwork I was kindly hosted by a member of the honorable elder’s council, Francis Gayus Ngalato, his wife Naomi Ngalato, and his closest relatives Nicholas Ndatuwong and Sihiyona Maigaskiya. I also had the pleasure to work alongside Julius Phillip Giroh as a primary consultant. Without his learning curiousity, well-formed intellect, and deep understanding of his language, the advancements on the project would have been more difficult.

Eveling Villa and Francis Ngalato Kpasham area Rose Thomas

During my first fieldwork mission, I had an enriching experience: not only was I able to gather relevant linguistic material but also anthropologic and ethnographic data thanks to the generosity and the hospitality from the community who organized various traditional festivals displaying major events of the village life. I also participated in outreach activities that involved the community at large. These events took place on a weekly bases in the vicinity of several churches and further areas of the village. In addition to that, I had the chance to gather data from neighboring villages, Dem and Dakli, where the language is also spoken.

Part of the elders council Funeral rite scene Children and Eveling

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