history of berom women Development association (BEWDA). 1952 – DATE.
The history of Berom Women Development Association (BEWDA) started as a group of Berom Women Dancers headed by Ngo Kumbo Dogo Chollom (Ngo Dede). It then became Berom Women Union (BWU) and later Berom Women Association (BWA). This idea was birthed by Ngo Hudung Mary Princewell, who stood out prominently as one who was said to have formed the Berom Women Union in 1952 to compliment the activities of the Berom Progressive Union (Tok, 2000). This foresight by Ngo Hudung Mary Princewell, motivated by her struggle for empowerment and recognition of women politically, with other notable women and men from other parts of Nigeria such as Mrs Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo, agreed to merge Berom Women Union with the Nigerian Women Union earlier founded by Mrs Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti in 1949. This union worked closely with other international women movements. Ngo Hudung M. Princewell has among other achievements the following:
- Formation of co-operative societies and access to loans and similar facilities by women.
- Preservation of the integrity of womanhood by fighting prostitution and divorce which became prevalent with the influx of miners on the Plateau.
- Transformation in dressing evident by discouraging the wearing of leaves by women.
- Revolution in the enrolment of women and girls in the primary schools.
- Mobilization of resistance to the resettlement of Berom people from Jos to ‘Sabon Zawan’ in 1958.
BWU started when Berom land was invaded by three categories of European interest: The British Government Officials, the Royal Niger-British Trading Company (Tin Miners) and the British Christians Missionaries. The Berom women naturally endowed and talented in their tradition, beliefs, culture are given to hard work and therefore have occupied special position in the decision making processes of their families and society.
Most Berom people were employed as domestic staff by the Europeans as cooks, gardeners, messengers etc. Their continual interactions with Europeans opened them to how things are organized and operated. They mobilized and formed informal associations where they shared their experiences and learnt more on their duties, and expectations as they worked for their employers. By 14/11/1956, this association was launched by Da Musa, Da Rwang Gyang, Da Choji Bot Yilang, (Provisional Annual Reports 1936/1937). This metamorphosed into Berom Tribal Union. However, the women formed a subgroup from the men where they could share their own kind of experience and encouraged each other on the home front.
The Berom Women had great desires to voice out their minds and contribute meaningfully especially during the problems in the Jos Native Authority in 1958, but owing to the fact that most of them were limited by Western Education, they remained at the background.
Ngo Kumbo Dogo Chollom (Ngo Dede) championed the moves for western education since she was knowledgeable in Hausa language and could communicate fluently in it. Ngo Kumbo Dogo Chollom was a creative artist skillful in pottery, music (dancing) and a designer, which endeared her to the white men. She was given the privilege to cook for the miners. She was also an instructor in Hausa language in the church for the women. Her husband, Da Dogo Chollom worked with the Europeans as Head man of the Tin Miners. The women met from time to time.
Shortly after, the Katsina Girls Boarding School was formed. This necessitated the giant move to go all the way seeking Western Education for their daughters. Ngo Kumbo Dogo Chollom championed this cause and took it upon herself to coordinate the girls. She took them to school in Katsina and brought them back on each vacation, which was a lot of sacrifice on her part, yet she did it joyfully.
Seeking to convey some of the prospects, virtues and challenges of these girls in school to their parents, necessitated bringing their mothers together with the Berom Women Union (BWU) which had grown strong and spread widely. With time proving their effort, quest and ambition, more girls and women became interested in education. Similarly, more women joined the Berom Women Union and these were from all Berom Districts.
With her prowess as a dancer, she started a Berom Women dance group which promoted the union to prominence and brought out the talents of an innovative drummer – “Mairafi” from Foron District, who went with the women from district to district performing cultural dances and were well rewarded. Soon, their fame spread beyond Plateau and brought them to national limelight. They were invited to Kaduna for cultural dance performances where they excelled and were popularly called “The women with rings in the nose.” Shortly after then Ngo Kumbo Dogo Chollom lost her life in a motor accident, and that affected the stability of the Union morally and financially.
After the demise of Ngo Kumbo Dogo Chollom, Ngo Mary Hudung Dung, of blessed memory took over the mantle of leadership, Ngo Saratu Bature succeeded her with Mary Rwang Tok as her Vice President and Secretary was Ngo Naomi Jugu. Ngo Gyang Shen was Treasurer, Ngo Rauta Gyang Danja as Adviser.
In the year 1978 – 1989 Ngo Naomi Jugu took over from Ngo Saratu Bature of Blessed memory. 1989 -1993, Ngo Felicia Dung of Blessed memory took over from Ngo Naonmi Jugu, with Ngo Grace Pwol as the 2nd Vice President. With the demise of Ngo Felicia Dung, Ngo Grace Pwol succeeded her for the remaining period of her tenure, and continued to lead until 2008. Between 2008 and 2012, there was a lull in the activities of the Association as all recognized Berom Organisations were suspended. Thus from the period of Ngo Grace Pwol until the reorganization and subsequent constitution of the BWA, which was renamed BEROM WOMEN DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION, (BEWDA), there were no activities. This followed the lifting of the ban on all Berom Recognized Organizations by His Majesty, the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da (Dr.) Jacob Gyang Buba, OON. Following the lifting of this ban, a Caretaker Trustees was constituted that worked assiduously with the Electoral Committee set by His Majesty the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da (Dr) Jacob Gyang Buba,OON to conduct the elections into leadership of the Berom Women Development Association (BEWDA).
With the change of name, a new Constitution was drafted, approved and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The election of the National Executive Council Members of BEWDA was conducted on the 17th September, 2016, with Ngo Florence D. Jambol emerging as the National President. The Executive Council has Three (3) Vice- Presidents, National Secretary General, Two (2) Assistant Secretaries, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Internal Author and Two (2) Advisers.
BEWDA Executive today seeks to continue the legacy of its founding members in promoting the dignity of the Berom Women to the world. It has constituted and appointed women and some men of honorable character into the following Standing Committees: Relief/Habitation, Electoral, Agricultural, Finance, Education and Media, Welfare, Cultural, Prayer and Programme, which have since swung into action based on their Terms of Reference. BEWDA also has an active Board of Trustees guiding her activities.
BEWDA, in its wholistic approach has integrated the girl-child training into its programme of activities. Highlights are:
- Engaging 10 young girls from each of the 13 Districts of Berom land on a one-day sensitization/potentials awareness training which has been stepped down to the districts.
- Some women have been engaged in various skills acquisition and entrepreneurship training programmes in such areas as Mat weaving, bags and purses production, creams and soaps production, snacks (using our local farm products: Acca, pwana). This also is to be stepped down.
- Constructed a block of public conveniences at the Wusal Berom venue at Vwai, Kuru.