Atando D. Agbu Ph.D

Department of History & Diplomatic Studies,

Taraba State University, Jalingo, Nigeria.

Bala Useni

Wukari Traditional Council,

Taraba State, Nigeria.


Tswenji W. Salla

Department of History & Diplomatic Studies,

Taraba State University, Jalingo, Nigeria.


The Jukun people of Nigeria have a unique tradition which they maintained despite colonial onslaught, and one aspect of that tradition is the Pánkyá of their king. On 14th January, 2022, the Pánkyá of Aku-Uka, Dr Shekarau Angyu Masa-Ibi, Kuvyon II, took place, accompanied with all the traditional rituals, leaving the world in limbo over the practices and their significances. Because this is a ritual that last took place 46 years ago, it became almost a new thing to so many people, even among the Jukun themselves. Consequently, there emerged different perspectives to the rituals by people all over the world. While some viewpoints condemned, others applauded the tradition as demonstrated. Therefore, it is in order to provide clarity on this particular aspect of Jukun tradition that this paper presents a discussion on the Pánkyá of the immediate departed Aku-Uka on 14th January, 2022. Using both primary and secondary sources, the paper revealed, among other results, that the Jukun people have well preserved traditional practices, among which is their stout esteem for their king. It revealed also that the information about the future of the horseman during the Pánkyá is totally false. Finally, the article concludes that, in order to create awareness and project their culture and traditions to people of the world, there is serious need for deliberate scholarly literature and art works on the Jukun and their culture.

Keywords: Aku-Uka, Divine, Jukun, King, Kingship, Pánkyá, Ritual, Tradition.


The Jukun people of Nigeria occupy the Benue Valley which falls within the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. They are largely concentrated in Taraba State, with their capital in Wukari, seat of their paramount ruler, the Aku-Uka. They are also found in other States of Nigeria, including Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau and Gombe, with few of them settling in Adamawa and Borno States.[1] They are the founders of the famous ‘Kwararafa’ polity.

Before coming in contact with colonialism and the two (2) major religions that dominate them now (Islam and Christianity), the Jukun had earlier evolved a very elaborate, but complex, political and social organisation through which the society was stratified.[2] Meek described the Jukun political organisation as ‘theocratic’, a State governed directly by the gods, or through a sacerdotal class, where the Aku (King) serves as head of priestly class which include other officials such as Abon-Acio, Abon-Ziken, Kinda-Acio, Kinda-Ziken and Nwutsi, among others.[3]

Similarly, the Jukun tradition and culture was seriously observed, particularly in the aspect of the Jukun divine kingship, which European anthropologists such as Meek labelled as Jukun religion. He states that:

It may seem out of place to begin an account of Jukun religion by a dissertation on the King… It would be impossible to understand anything of Jukun religion without first understanding something of what kingship means for the Jukun.[4]

However, in their resolve to understand the Jukun traditions, particularly the aspect of Jukun divine kingship, the Europeans, such as Meek, encountered challenges as he notes that:

I do not pretend to have any profound acquaintance with Jukun religion, for there is no subject on which the Jukun, who are always a reticent people, are more pledged to silence than that of their religion in general, and the religious position of the king in particular. Moreover, the full ritual surrounding the person of the king is not merely a secret from all strangers, but is unknown to most Jukun themselves.[5]

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