Ura Yilan: The art and science of rain making among the Tiv of central Nigeria

  • Philips Adega Andrew


Rain is a natural phenomenon in which showers by means of natural causation down- pours water from the sky for the purpose of moisturing the earth, man, plants and animals for their sustenance. Without water, survival for man, plants and animals on earth will be a mirage. The fact that the Tiv are farmers who produce variety of crops implies that the Tivs necessarily need rain for their survival and for the crops and animals they rear. Thus, when the Tivs experience a dearth in rain, they employ the services of the yilan ura (rain maker) of the community for the purposes of ura yilan (rain making). The art and science of rain making among the Tiv is meant to avert catastrophe in the community for man, plants and animals. In making rain, the Tiv do not usurp or short change Aondo - the Supreme Being; but they do so conscious of the fact that Aondo has given them the arcane knowledge to tap into and control the natural resources of their environment for their benefit. Thus, the study is motivated by the factors responsible for ura yilan and the techniques employed by the Tiv to bring about rain and the derivable benefits there from. The study employed both the primary and secondary methods to collect data. Oral interviews were held with rain makers in selected parts of Tivland. In the secondary method, information was collected from books, journals, encyclopaedias, newspapers and magazines, etc. The study established that the Tiv, like other ethnic nationalities across the globe, make rain when circumstances demand. The Tiv therefore, make rain for different purposes including for productive, destructive/obstructive purposes as well as the detection of evil in the community. Ura yilan (rain making) among the Tiv was important in the sense that it procured bountiful harvest, regulated evil and cleansed Tiv society of defilement as well as bringing peace and happiness in the society. Expectedly, several taboos followed the making of rain among the Tiv; for instance, the genuine or yilan ura was prohibited from touching a corpse, never interacted with women observing their menstrual cycle and neither was he in the habit of collecting ingyato (consent fee) to cause the death of members of his community. In conclusion the study notes that although the art of rain making has drastically receded with the advent of western education and Christianity; where it becomes necessary for the Tiv to make rain, it should be for productive but not destructive ventures.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2227-5444
print ISSN: 2225-8612