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Written sources

Drawing by Stefan Lægaard Simonsen, 2014

Commented bibliography

There is not much academic work that has been done on the itinerant Kebbawa fishermen of the middle Niger river. A few reports, articles or books were published during the colonial period and soon after (around the construction of the Kainji dam in Northern Nigeria) in the mid-1970s.

Among the early authors who studied these fishermen:

  • Rouch Jean. Les Sorkawa Pêcheurs Itinérants du Moyen Niger. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Jan., 1950), pp.5-25. .
  • Salamone Franck A. The Social Construction of Colonial Reality: Yauri Emirate. In: Cahiers d’études africaines. Vol. 25 N°98.
    (1985). pp. 139-159.
    doi : 10.3406/cea.1985.1745
  • Salamone Franck A. The Serkawa of Yauri: Class, Status or Party? African Studies Review, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Apr., 1975), pp. 88-101.
  • Umar, S. and A.I. Illo. Performance Assessment of Artisanal Fisheries in the Kainji Dam Area of Yauri Emirate, Kebbi State Nigeria.  Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare, ISSN 2224-3208 (Paper) ISSN 2225-093X (Online), Vol.4, No.20, 2014: Pp. 18-23.
  • Suleiman Aminu B. Economic Analysis of artisanal fish Marketing in Kebbi state of Nigeria, Ph.D thesis (2007)

The early work of Jean Rouch is a corner stone in this poorly researched area. Jean Rouch is a French visual anthropologist who conducted a number of studies in western Niger during and after the colonial period. His work touches upon the Sorkawa nomadic fishermen. In this article (1950), Rouch gives a detailed account of their origins and describes their way of life, social organisation and economic dimension of their life as well as their travel from Nigeria to Mali.

Gibbal Jean-Marie (1994) has published Genii of the River Niger, University of Chicago Press: Chicago & London. The book explores the cultures of the people of the river Niger with a focus on the Ghimbala healing cult, ceremonies of spirit possession and water genii that inhabit the river.


Other sources to be explored which might mention or describe the itinerant fishermen or fishermen communities which settled along the Niger river banks:

  • Bovill. E. W. The Niger Explored. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. Pp. x + 263, illustrations and maps. 45s.
  • van Offelen Marion, Nomads of Niger. Photographs by Carol Beckwith. 224 pp. London: Collins, 1984.
  • Roderick J. Mcintosh: The peoples of the Middle Niger. (The Peoples of Africa.) xxviii, 346 pp. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.
  • Stoller Paul: Fusion of the worlds: an ethnography of possession among the Songhay of Niger. [xxiv], 244 pp. University of Chicago Press, 1989.
  • Temple O. Notes of the Tribes, Emirates and States of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, compiled from Official reports by O. temple, edited by C.L. Temple, Routledge: London & New York, second edition 2013 (first published in 1919).
  • Obert Michael: Magic of Rain: on the Niger to the inner Africa, München: Frederking & Thaler, 2005.
    ISBN 3-89405-249-X
  • Hausa Folktales from Niger translated and edited by Robert S. Glew and Babalé Chaibou, Athens, Ohio University Center for International Studies, 1993. Pp. x+136.
  • Warriors, Merchants, and Slaves: The State and the Economy in the Middle Niger Valley, 1700–1914. By Richard L. Roberts. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987. Pp. xii, 293.
  • Historical Dictionary of Niger. By Samuel Decalo. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press 1979. xvii, 358 p., maps, tables, bibl. (African Historical Dictionaries, 20).
  • Journal of an Expedition up the Niger and Tshadda Rivers in 1854. By Samuel Crowther. 2nd edition, London: Frank Cass, 1970 (Missionary Researches and Travels, no. 15). Pp. xvii + 234.
  • Journals of the Rev. James Frederick Schön and Mr. Samuel Crowther who accompanied the Expedition up the Niger in 1841. 2nd edition, London: Frank Cass, 1970 (Missionary Researches and Travels, no. 18). Pp. xviii + 393.
  • The Gospel on the Banks of the Niger. By Samuel Crowther and John Christopher Taylor. 2nd edition, London: Dawsons, 1968. Pp. 451.



Itinerant/nomadic fishermen in the world:

  • the Bozo (Mali)
  • the Vezo (Madagascar)
  • the Bede / Beday (Bangladesh)



By Eric Hahonou